We all dream of capturing that picture-perfect moment, that one photo opportunity that breathes life, dynamic, movement, and meaning all in one. And street photographers go to great lengths, taking in the uncertainty of everyday life, to grab the chance of a random encounter that makes a thought-provoking shot.
Of course, no photographer is complete without their camera on hand, and you’ll find countless professionals who stand by their digital cameras and different lenses to achieve the perfect photo. However, just because most people prefer digital cameras doesn’t mean that film cameras have gone out of style. In fact, we argue that it’s hard not to fall in love with it once you give it a chance.
#1 Trying That “Film” Look
When it comes to film, there are specific characteristics that, although you could replicate with a few changes in settings, are hard to copy with a digital camera. And despite your best efforts to make them a complete clone of each other, it’s the “film” look that keeps the community for film cameras strong and alive.
- Grain: For photographers who enjoy photos that give the feeling of grittiness, a hint of impressionism, and a more vintage look, nothing comes close to the film grain produced by a film camera. And, depending on the format of ISO, a skilled street photographer equipped with film can achieve stunning results. In the case of digital cameras, while the option for grain does exist, it doesn’t come close to the real thing.
Film Tones and Colors: Depending on the film you use, pictures can reproduce colors and tones that are high in contrast and even stretch far to the exact opposite; bolder and more saturated colors. Your choice of film will dictate the emotion and expression behind each photo, whether you want it to be loud or calm. You could also opt for a black-and-white film to render no color at all, which means you won’t need any extra time editing your photos because the film is a guarantee.
#2 It’s Not As Expensive People Say
People like to point out that the economy of a film camera can get pretty expensive because you’ll need to constantly buy film to take a picture, but that isn’t necessarily true. Yes, you’re supposed to buy film, but the costs compared to a digital camera aren’t that different. Although you’re also paying for processing, Digital cameras alone are already expensive enough, and that’s not counting the extra software, equipment, and peripherals you’ll need.
Plus, a film camera encourages discipline, and because you can’t waste your film, you’re training your mind and body to be more thoughtful about when you release the shutter button. And when compared to a digital camera, zero drawbacks mean shooting discipline is least likely developed in the process.
#3 Simple And Direct Control
Film cameras rely on only three to four controls; focus, aperture, shutter speed, and maybe dabbling a bit in ISO. However, apart from those four, there isn’t anything else you need to think of, which makes the photo process much more straightforward and gives you direct control of the shot you’re taking. Unlike digital cameras that rely on so many menus, settings, and features, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes that makes it more complicated.
So, if you’re taking the perfect photo op as the door of a corner store swivels open, you won’t have to worry about the wooden floor not being the right color or how the lighting may affect your shot because you’re in control.
Can’t We Stick With Digital Cameras?
Likewise, we won’t deny that there are obvious advantages to using digital cameras, and there are many good reasons for sticking with them throughout your career as a photographer. From simple operation to reliability, the conventional choice would always lean toward digital.
- Instant Feedback: After the release of the shutter, there’s little to no waiting time if you got your desired photo, which is something film cameras do lack. You get the freedom to adjust your composition, focus, ISO, and even white balance, wherein film cameras cannot.
- Accessibility to Photos: Once you take the shot, you don’t need to send an actual printout for anyone else to see the photo. All you need is to upload the picture and share it online for everyone else to see, something you can’t easily do with a film camera.
Easy to Configure: No two photo ops are ever the same, and each opportunity that presents itself in street photography requires a few tweaks in the settings each time. Using a digital camera, you’ll find it very manageable as most modern cameras have a wide array of features. In comparison, a film camera may feel dated to others.
Never Be Afraid To Experiment
Overall, don’t let commonplace advice dictate your choices and give film cameras a chance to persuade you. For all we know, this simple change might be the push you needed to take your street photography to the next level.