No Substitute

Man takes a break from shopping while bird looks on.

Time to take a stance. But I’ve done this before regarding this topic. I LOVE FILM. I love the smell of film, I love the taste of film, and if I wasn’t already married I’d marry film. Film to me just plain looks better. Better than what you ask? Digital.

There, I said it. Film is better than digital. I’ve always felt this & I still do. I agree with Ralph Gibson when he said: ” There have been more images taken in the past 10 years with digital, than in all the history of film based photography, and yet no masterpieces.”

So what do you think?

10 thoughts on “No Substitute

  1. A very timely post, Eric. Yesterday I went for a bike ride, so I just took a 50mm lens and one body – but which one to take? Film or digital? I look at the film M: man, I love that camera, it looks and feels so good in the hand; a joy to use. I mount the 50 on the film M and then look at the digital M, and remember the test I did a few weeks ago of boats on a canal, taken from a low bridge. The resolution of the digital M was amazing! Much more detail than film, or at least detail not masked by grain (HP5+ rated at ISO 200), so I take the 50 off the film M and mount it on the digital M: and then I look at the film M…..

    I love to use film and I hate that digital photographs are ephemeral ones and zeros that require software and hardware to become visible. I recognise the benefits of digital with regard to being able to change ISO as required and being able to take quality colour photographs at high ISO knowing that I will be able to make an equally good black and white photograph from the digital file. Coming from a film background I don’t over-shoot a situation and the LCD screen is switched off.

    The majority of film photographs are going to be scanned into digital files for printing or internet use. Very few people have access to a darkroom these days. Although a film scan does still retain a film signature, it is still a computer-generated digital file. Sometimes I wonder if we film users are just hiding our heads in the sand instead of embracing the revolution in quality that digital brings us. With digital software we are no-longer shackled by film’s constraints and a colour palette decided by the film manufacturer. The ephemeral digital file can be given substance by making a digital print, at home, in daylight.

    Perhaps it’s not film that I love but film cameras, and specifically Leica M film cameras? I still hate having to learn software skills though.

    I’m still undecided, but Ralph Gibson is now using a Leica Monochrom camera.

    Good post and photograph, Eric.



  2. Continuing from my first post, I’m beginning a new essay and have to decide soon whether to use film and digital. I’ve been looking a more comparisons today and I find that film has greater depth than digital; even when the film is scanned. I don’t think that a straight comparison can be made, as some situations will favour one or the other, but I think that the draw of digital is that it is easier, I can check the histogram and up the ISO at will; with film I will have to work harder and sometimes I will be stretching what is possible, but often this is precisely when something special is captured. I’m going with film, I know from experience that digital will soon annoy me.
    Next month I hope to be able to process and print my photographs at my local university darkroom. Can’t wait.



  3. Mike,
    Sorry I’ve been remiss at responding to you.
    I firmly believe that we’re comparing apples and crocodiles in this issue. Film does have kind of a “3D” look to it like you said, even if it’s scanned.
    In my 25 year quest of photographing on this planet I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, film fits the vision I had when I pushed the shutter button, plain & simple. And frequently the look of film exceeds my vision. And sometimes, you get that “happy accident” that can never be repeated ever again. I love that.
    That’s a word i’ve never used to describe anything I’ve shot using digital “capture”. At the fear of sounding like a luddite I hate the “process” of digital capture. To quote something Charlie Kirk recently said. ” If you use film you’re a photographer, if you use digital, you’re an editor”.
    Oh yeah, everybody knows film Leica M’s are Taco proofed at the factory. It says so right in the brochure. If you had a pool of tacos, you could plunge that little buddy in up to 3 feet of tacos. Watch out for bears after that though. Ravenous taco eating bears is NOT covered in the passport warranty. Also in the brochure.


  4. Eric, I just checked my warranty and yes, polar bears eating a taco encrusted Leica are not covered. Missed that. I earned money working badly in I.T. – but I never belonged.

    You can’t program a happy accident.



Leave a Reply to Mike Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s