Why shoot film?

I remember the first time someone told me "film is dead - it's just a matter of time till you won't be able to buy it anywhere."  That was back in 1998. 

Today, B&H Photo of New York still offers 205 different options in color and black and white emulsions for the roll film shooter; they offer 84 different options for sheet film photographers; they offer 27 different movie camera film choices and 48 different instant film options.  Apparently it is taking film an awfully long time to die...

But why would anyone want to use film today, especially since there are many full frame 35mm format digital cameras that equal or exceed even medium format film in terms of printed image quality at a given size?  Why would anyone want to bear the burdens that come with film - the cost of buying film and paying for processing, or the cost (although minimal) of developing it yourself, the cost of having prints made and the issues of space and proper storage of an archive of film negatives and/or chromes (transparencies or slides)? 

There are many reasons.  The fingerprint of each film emulsion is unique and different.  Digital processing of DNG files can approximate the fingerprint of some emulsions - they are fairly close but not exactly the same.  There is a world of different options with film cameras - rangefinders, 35mm, medium format, large format, panoramic, instant - and most of these cameras are available on the used market for a song compared to what they sold for before the advent of digital photography.  Some photographers just can't get over mechanical film cameras (and I'm one of them).  These miniature little precision machines are nothing short of wondrous. 

Film based photography gives a photographer many more choices - cameras, lenses, emulsions, developers.  The array of options that film photography presents is dizzying.  Another reason to use film and film cameras is simply that it's enjoyable.  It's fun.  And fun is one of the main things that photography is supposed to be about; if it's not fun, you are not doing it right.

I have already seen my digital photos from our recent trip to Ireland.  My panoramic shots that were made on Kodak Tri-X with my Hasselblad XPAN II and 45mm lens are still hibernating in their yellow film canisters, waiting to be developed.  I'm starting to get the itch to see them. 

That's another thing about film - there's no chimping like there is with a digital camera.  The latent images simply sit there in their canisters, patiently waiting immersion in developer - silently mocking you... 

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