Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Digital Man Yearning For Film

I am hard-core digital. I love digital photography and would always choose it over film. There are disadvantaged to digital, but they are vastly outweighed by the advantages. The big one is digital frees you to take photo after photo. Willy-nilly. Want to take 5,000 photos in a day? No problem. All you need are a few memory cards. Trying to do the same thing back with film was absolutely impossible.

But there is a quality to high-end film that digital has not yet matched, and even I have to admit that. It's strange. It's something that is difficult to, but somehow still can be, communicated over a computer monitor. Pictures taken with, say, Ilfochrome project a tonality and color gradation that even the best digital cameras have not yet matched. This is most blatantly visible in the gradations of rich colors into black, like green leaves in shadow. I can only assume that it is some fundamental limitation of the Bayer interpolation process that cameras use to deduce colors.

Every time I'm shown a high-end print from someone's medium format or 35mm camera, I wish that there was a reason aside from personal, hobbyist satisfaction to using them. I can't be a photographer in this high-speed world with film, and I sure as hell won't feed myself as an are-teest by taking purrty pictures. But film does have an aesthetic appeal. I'm sure that digital will eventually match film, but for now, I still kinda' wish that I had the time and the money to play around with film.

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