Do you still develop film?

October 14, 2016

Why film is still relevant in the digital age.

Here at the Springfield Creve Coeur Camera we have several customers who use us to develop film (yes, we still sell and develop 35mm film). Some people may ask why, in the age of digital cameras, would someone continue to shoot film? Each film photographer has his or her own reasons for shooting on celluloid. For me it is because it remains a relevant format that offers creative challenges and opportunities.

For those of you who have never shot with film, it is a very different experience from shooting in a digital workflow. There is no “chimping” where you constantly check your photos on the camera’s LCD screen. You rely only on your experience and your knowledge of your equipment and film. You also have to consider the cost of every shutter click–the cost of the film, paper, and developing chemicals can quickly send the cost of a single photo upwards of $0.75 per frame. Add in the fact that you only have 36 frames, at the most, in a roll of film and you start to evaluate every photo much more carefully. These constraints forced me to learn and understand exposure very quickly, a skill that comes in very handy when shooting digital cameras.

Each film stock has it’s own look and feel that manifests in the final images. Kodak Portra has a warm tone that is slightly less saturated and looks amazing for portraits. Fuji Velvia is an extremely saturated film with strong blue and green tones that look phenomenal for landscapes. All these nuances between films were so important and popular that you can now by plugins for your post processing software that will mimic these effects, but they only get close. There is no substitute for the real deal.

Digital cameras have opened up the world of photography to a whole new community of people. They have expanded sensitivity to what were unfathomable ranges just a few years ago and offer frame rates that bogle the mind. Digital photography allows us to do what was impossible 10 years ago and I would never argue that film is superior to digital. They are simply different formats. Every once in a while it is fun to step back in time, blow the dust of the old manual camera, and shoot a couple rolls of film. It will make you think more about the images you are taking and often make you a better digital photographer.

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-Wade Ambrose, Springfield, IL Assistant Manager