10 Things I Hate About Film

love / hate
Creative Commons License photo credit: ron.richardson

Film is a four-letter-word. It's a hideous part of our photographic past, and we'll be better off once it's been eliminated from society. I'm ashamed to admit that I tried film once, but I quickly learned just how disgusting it really is and I've been clean ever since that occasion. Just take my word for it — FILM IS BAD (mmmkay). Here are ten things I hate about film:


Seriously, this has to be one of the things I hate most about film. That grain you get all over the photos is absolutely terrible! And the worst part is that you can't entirely get rid of it with Photoshop — so you're stuck with it. Those awful little specks show up all over the photo and add unwanted texture and inconsistencies. I don't know about you, but if I want grain in my photo for “artistic reasons” I'd like to be able to at least have the choice of adding it in during post processing. That's why digital is the way to go.


You walk into a photography store that carries film and what do you see? About 3 million different types of films hogging all that wall space. I mean, really, who needs 14 different types of black and white films? What's the difference? And don't even get me started on different film formats. It's confusing as all heck, having to decide between a bunch of different film that supposedly does the same thing. That's the nice thing about digital — you get one sensor, and you know that it's going to produce consistent results with each photo.


Yikes, that stuff is outrageously expensive! The cost per photo skyrockets compared to digital, and the price of film makes you have second thoughts about taking useless photos. I think we're definitely better off spending all that money on new digital bodies, super-fast glass, new computers, software licenses, and backup hard drives. Because you know that $3 to $5 per roll can add up really fast — especially since we all love to grab about 500 photos each time we go out with the camera.


A lot of people will tell you that the broad dynamic range of film is a huge benefit over digital. They're just crybabies when it comes to setting the exposure on their camera. If you ask me, those film photographers just need that extra dynamic range because their ancient cameras can't meter the scene correctly. Oh, but what about those really high contrast situations? Hey, silhouettes are always in fashion.


So not only does film cost money up front, but then you have to get it developed (and likely spend more money) before you can actually see the photos? Sure, there are places out there that can develop your film in under an hour, but who has time for that these days? Not only that, but while you're getting the film developed, you might encounter another human being and be forced into a social situation. Personally, I'd much rather spend 10 to 20 minutes watching my photos download onto my computer from my full 8GB Compact Flash card.


This whole developing thing is such a pain! It cost money, it takes time, and get this… more choices that you have to deal with. There's all these different chemicals that you have to decide on. Plus, you have the option of under-developing and over-developing the film — how confusing is that? Then you get these yahoo's that think cross processing is some kind of toy to play with. Honestly, I take comfort knowing that once I press the shutter on my digital camera, the exposure is set in stone and the image “developed” without having to think about it.


I love my LCD on the back of my digital camera. I can check each photo I take for correct exposure and composition. No need to spend the extra 3 seconds getting it right the first time — if I screw up, I'll see it on the LCD and just take another 3 or 4 photos of the same scene. I don't know how those film photographers can live without seeing their photos immediately. I mean, what if you mess up an entire roll of film? You won't know it until a few days down the road, and that might be too late.


I pride myself on being able to take more photos than anybody else when I go out with other photographers. If I were shooting film, I'd need to have an entire room just to file the negatives, not to mention the prints. I don't know what the old photographers did with all that used film. Some people have this “thing” about holding and touching the photo, but what's that all about? I think photos look their best on my 22″ widescreen display. Who needs to “hold” it? It's a piece of paper, not a baby.


Have you ever seen one of those old film cameras? They're like metal bricks. Those things will probably be around after the cockroaches go extinct. It's like they never die, and they just end up getting churned back into society through places like eBay. Hey people — it's old technology! It doesn't belong here anymore! But those digital camera manufacturers got it right — build a camera that only lasts 3 or 4 years, and you won't have to worry about outdated technology lingering about.


If you've ever encountered those film photographers, you know what I'm talking about. They are not the type of people you want to be hanging around. Showing up to photowalks with their old cameras, talking about different films as if they were fine wines, trying to be all “artistic”, and thinking they're better than everyone else just because they can take photos without batteries. If you see one of these film photographers walking the streets, hide your camera and walk the other way — they might try to talk to you and get you roped in to hanging with the wrong crowd.

By the way, if you haven't figured it out yet there's a hint of sarcasm in a few of the points above. But seriously, stay away from those film photographers — they're bad news!