Film Is No Slouch

I know I talk about film and digital. I am not "anti" either medium. I probably talk about film more than I "should" given that 99% of people reading this either don't shoot film or never have. I do this because I do believe it is a worthwhile endeavor for many many reasons - hence the F3 giveaway that I will be putting together later this month. I shot film for longer than digital has been around. I still do and I still learn things in doing so. It's also a nice change of pace, a nice bit of freedom in many cases but make no mistake it's not just nostalgic and quaint.

Film is no slouch in it's proper context and used correctly. When you optimize your equipment and format size for it's intended purpose and output it can shine like nothing else. Of course you can subject it to all the digital torture you wish in all it's 16 bit tonal depth glory. Even without that a simple camera that is currently "obsolete" can not only be a pleasure to use and experience but equipment you couldn't have dreamed of affording can also give you stellar results in digital for the price of a quality scan.

Take my winter doldrums project from last year. The goal was to get shooting in the mid-winder depression I always experience. I decided to shoot a subject that I am not very good at and consider extremely challenging as I do not see many decent images of trees from anywhere. I find some trees very interesting but have never been able to put the on film in any competent way. I decided to shoot a winter tree series on medium format Kodak TMAX 100 black and white film, develop them in Pyrocat HD, and of course make real black and white prints from the acceptable negatives. I still can't shoot landscape or trees for shit but at least I was shooting, learning, and was better than last time I tried.

Since my output medium was pure analog I didn't pay for a decent drum scan but for illustration purposes I used my crappy ass Nikon 8000ED - it's okay, it's 14 bit but if I were going for the gold I would have it scanned on a drum scanner at 8000dpi and 16bits - that's 324 MEGA pixels for you digital heads. TMAX100 may actually benefit and have the detail to warrant a file that big. With todays scanner technology and competent operation I can tell you that that file will blow away just about anything you would or could buy today - of course 3200 speed film would not but it would still be fantastic.

Want to really do landscape - try competing with the same scan of a 4x5 negative. The kit can be had for a song - relatively speaking. If you ever wanted to now is the time to shoot film. The only thing standing in your way is a couple of dollars in cost and a small wait when you do. Is everything you shoot really really really important to have out the door in 5 minutes? Hell shoot digital on something acceptable AND shoot film when you really mean it.

Just some food for thought. I am not going to bother posting the traditional "100%" bullshit. If you can't surmise the level of detail TMAX100 or similar color film can capture with a modern Zeiss 40mm CFi FLE  or similar quality lens on medium format from the small one than there is nothing I am going to do that will convince you to trust me on this.


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