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Film vs digital UK

Ken Rockwell is an interesting guy. I check his site at least once a week since I discovered it. If not necessarily likeable, you must admit his style is quite unique and you read things on it that you don't usually read on most photo sites.

He does have the annoying attribute to disagree with himself: different entries may even support the opposite. It is not a disadvantage per se to change opinion, in fact it usually is a sign of progress. But it happens too often on his site to be considered progress.

In any case it is a bit based on the American reality. Here is what happens in the UK, on a matter he keeps changing opinion: film vs digital.

He always held that large format film is the best, especially for landscapes. However there have been articles claiming even 35mm film is so much better than digital on a) resolution (scanning in a shop which is 1 dollar where he does it) and b) price (assuming you buy a new digital camera body every year). The colour rendition and behaviour in extreme light have largely been dealt with by new Nikon and Canon cameras with tricks for high dynamic range, or by working with RAW files.

Shooting film has some benefits I have experienced first hand. You think about the photograph more because each photograph costs and the number of shots is limited. Also the film camera is lighter making it more pleasant and comfortable. Film bodies are much cheaper than digital, do not need replacing, and batteries last longer.

But UK film development sucks. It is expensive, slow, mistakes are made, and scans are terrible. Buying a scanner to do it yourself is extremely time wasting, and partly beats the price argument for film. Film is ridiculously expensive too. £5 to buy a basic one and > £5 to develop?

I concluded that the film camera is only good as a second body to take a shot of something that worked already with digital. Maybe the printing in large size is still worth it...

Then I read Bruce Barnbaum's amazing [book]( Photography-Approach-Expression- Photographic/dp/1933952687/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1) on photography. It seems that if you take film photography seriously, you should go for black and white and develop yourself, so you can dodge and burn. You end up doing manipulations with physical media that are much easier and cheaper to do with digital technology.

Even if film photos looked significantly better than digital, the extra trouble is really not worth it. And sharing, geotagging and other social features, that make modern photography interesting, are more difficult to implement with film photos.

I would have expected a mature technology to stand its ground better. I did experiment with a used Nikon film body I got off ebay for £40, but ended up selling it after being repeatedly disappointed. I am sure film works well for some people, but after trying it I have realised that digital allows me to do what I want and gets out of the way of making pictures. Maybe it is that I started with digital, but I don't see any point, other than the different feeling while shooting, in doing film photography.

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