Is Film Photography Dead?

Is Film Photography Dead?

When people call me to inquire about Camberwell Camera Club, they have often had experience with a film camera and want to learn more about digital photography.

I am often asked if anyone shoots with film anymore and will it be hard to learn to use a DSLR camera?  The jump can seem steep from film to digital. I guess that’s because people feel like they have to start from scratch.  Members who attend our ‘Beyond the Point and Shoot Digital Photography Course,’ seem to leave with a good grasp on how to use their DSLR camera. We are very fortunate that we have some fabulous volunteers to run this course.

This brings us to the question…
Is film photography dead?
We have two members that I know of who still shoot with slide and some film.  The problem is getting the film processed and printed. It’s extremely expensive now and only a few places still do it.  The other option is to scan your film and work on it using the computer.  But let’s face it, the best thing about digital photography is not relying on chemicals anymore and less print wastage.  This can make us sloppy photographers though. The danger is we rush our photographs (knowing they are free to take) and assume we can ‘fix’ it with Photoshop.  An ordinary shot is still an ordinary shot.  We also fall into the trap of never printing any images.

Award winning images still take time whether you work in a darkroom or a light room (he he).  Award winning images still need many small touches to make them even more outstanding. The techniques we use are just different.

A film photographer became excited on seeing the printed images from the lab. Now the excitement level is instant!  It’s what often spurs me on at a shoot to keep going and trying more new ideas.

Many techniques film photographers used are still important when using a DSLR. The buttons just look different.  A correct ISO, shutter speed and aperture are still very important to creating a great image!

Digital photography has made us take more images. Digital photography has made us worry less about making mistakes. Digital photography has most definitely revolutionalised photography.

I think a better way to describe film photography now is … boutique.

Happy Shooting,

5 Responses to “Is Film Photography Dead?”
  1. barneymeyer says:

    I like it Bec, so true!
    Most recently this was highlighted to me by a film photographer.
    For my joint exhibition at BSG, “Panoramic Perspectives” I flew to Perth to photograph a derelict power station at sunrise. That evening I met with my co-exhibitors John Warkentin and Natalie Blom. John and I are staunch digital advocates and we were discussing our techniques over dinner. Then we asked Natalie how she produced her dreamscapes of the city. Our jaws dropped in surprise when she hauled a Holga camera out of her bag and said “on film – all done in camera”!
    She makes multiple exposures right in camera and makes all the artistic decisions about exposure of each scene and how to overlay the scenes at the time of capture. A true artist!

  2. barneymeyer says:

    Hi Bec
    One of the main advantages of digital for me is that I now have more artistic control over my shooting.
    Firstly, I choose a lens for the scene.
    Secondly I choose the aperture and focal distance that I desire. For example, to archive hyperfocal distance aperture and focal distance must be strictly controlled.
    Thirdly I choose the shutter speed that I require for the subject or shooting conditions.
    And LASTLY, with digital I now have the freedom to choose the ISO to give me the correct exposure!
    This extra dimension of freedom means that I don’t have to make compromises due to the fixed speed of the roll of film in my camera. I can swap from ISO1000 to 1600 or even higher as I require. How good is that?

    • That is good Barney! As a portrait and wedding photographer I rely heavily on my DSLR to ensure I get accurate exposures and capture the scene as I imagine it. SO much easier than when I used to shoot on film. There was always a ‘hope and pray’ element to it!

  3. jankrestyn says:


    I believe that the basic principles are the same. With digital we don’t have to rely on dodgy labs or get our hands dirty in the dark room, but may need aquire a different set of skills with post processing. The latter may be a stumbling block for particularly older users of film cameras. Personally I am a digital convert. I can experiment with my camera without worrying about the costs of developing the film, “develop” my images myself on 1 sq. m of space or even less, but I still miss having the opportunity to learn the dark room craft.

    Now, Is Film Photography Dead ? I hope not, because with it being gone we would lose another skill. Someone has recently told me about recently developing his grandfather films from WW I, and living the story again. Can you imagine the loss as a result of not being able to do that?

  4. steve says:

    ive been into photogarphy for 12 months, first camera i used was a digital canon 60d… i read everything i could about photography and only shot manual mode, id read about full frame and medium format… both were out of my price range. when i realised full frame digital was the same as 35mm film slrs… i hunted the second hand shops for a film camera… to my luck i picked up a 1961 pentax sv with 2 super takumar lenses. well the first roll of fim i shot left me amazed… i couldnt believe how nice it looked… ( those colours) that my digital couldnt produce….i was in love with film… since then ive collected lots of 35mm slrs and a few twin lens reflex cameras…. after shooting medium format… i still wanted more.. so next on the list was to try slide film… all i can say is wow. id never seen anything like those colorful negs…. and after trying to scan those negs to view on the computer…. with bad results( the computer could not reproduce those colours and fine sharp details) i bit the bullet and hunted for a slide projector…. these days i shoot mainly film….. slide velia , black n white and colour negs… i only used the digital for the fast moving things like sports or birds…… yes i believe both digital and analog have their place….but i just love the challenge of using a 50 year old camera, shooting slide film …. and the joy i feel when i get it right… and to be honest film looks much better than the sterile digital image……so i say to people… before u totally give up on the idea of film. at least give it a try before u miss the chance…. like all great things. u dont miss it until its gone. dont leave it too late. these days u can pick up a medium format professional camera for a couple of hundred dollars. how good is that… and after seeing those images you probably wont want to touch the digi again…. long live film.

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