It’s Never Too Late to Grab a Film Camera – and Here’s Why…

I am pretty sure most of you won’t say that film photography is outdated – and it is definitely not.

It does bring some trouble compared to all the magical capabilities of iPhones, Canon 5D’s and Nikon D800’s, but sometimes all we need is a challenge – and if we try hard enough – we’ll be rewarded with this euphoric feeling of “that was ME who shot it”. Shooting film could be this very challenge you quench for.

Of course this concerns mainly those of you who plunged into photography less than 10 years ago. If you are a cool Pro with decades of experience behind, you probably know all the sides of digital and film way better than I do. But if your admiration – just like mine – started with the release of first affordable digital cameras, and you somehow skipped the era of film SLR’s – you might probably want to know what you’ve really missed.

So let’s not talk about all the technical stuff like dynamic range, noise, resolution, gamma etc. – there are too many disputes on the technical side of film versus digital. And it’s pretty close to Nikon vs. Canon talks that will probably never end. It would always be a smart move to quit arguing and simply take advantage of the both sides.

So why shooting film is so cool?

1. It is a reasonably cheap way to try a full-frame SLR

canon film slr camera

Even though digital single-lens reflex cameras, or the DSLRs, have become much more affordable over the last years, a professional model can still cost a lump of money.
But today you can buy a used, but still professional film camera for $50-$300. And what you get is actually a full-frame SLR, the digital equivalent of which costs about 10 times more! Another option is to go to your attic/basement/garage and look through all the vintage stuff you have there. Sometimes one can spot a bicycle, a rocking chair, or a Leica M3 camera.

2. It will make your frames more valuable – for you personally of course.

photo print wall

Say you already have 100 to 300 Gb of your images on the hard drive. Some of them are cool, some are not, but ok, someday you’ll spend and hour or two filtering and organizing them. But tell me how much of your pictures will stay a series of “01101000011…” data forever – not having been printed or even viewed on a screen for more than 5 seconds?
And now imagine having just shot a single roll of 24 frames. You just can’t shoot it and throw it into the drawer – well you can, but you will feel a lot more guilty soon. In most cases, printing is inevitable – and printing is just what actually brings a photo to life.

3. You may have Christmas gifts as often as you wish.

gift box three

And your photographs will be your gifts – and the photo lab operator will be your personal Santa! We are all in some way spoiled by the digital era – we get everything in an instant – and the quicker we get something, the less it means for us. It’s so easy now, you can send a photo to Twitter or Facebook at almost the very same moment it was shot! It’s surely cool, but where’s the good old feeling of anticipation, of imagining the result of your efforts. It really makes you think more of your work – before, during, and after the shoot – and do you think, will it be useful for your growth as a photographer?
To be honest, I shoot film rarely, but that’s what makes it so special to me – I am pretty sure I can remember all of my film photographs!

4. Film DOES look different.

film slr camera lady portrait

Even though there are quite a few people stating that you can get the film-looking colors from digital by means of color correction, I bet you can almost always distinguish between “real film” and “film effect”. So even if you’re making a pro shoot with you digital SLR, why not try making a couple of frames on film too along the way? Some customers would just love it!

5.You will have a privilege to say:

“Digital media does not meet my professional requirements in regard to dynamic range and resolution”

film slr camera photographer

Well that’s what I promised not to do – talking about technical aspects of film vs. digital. But it is You who never promised that to anyone!

Also, even if you’re not too passionate about having a pro film SLR, you can always consider trying some hipster stuff like Holga or Lomo – it’s really fun and refreshing!

So how many of you shoot film from time to time?

By George Bailey

George is a professional photographer who sells his photos online. He focuses on both studio and outdoor photography, and also runs a photography blog you should definitely check out at