Most professional photographers in USA prefer the film!?

Recently I read an article about an investigation of Kodak in America (the article is in Greek language from the site technews.gr), which shows that most professional photographers in USA (more than 75%) continue to use film instead of digital cameras! Specifically the article states:

"More than 2/3 (68%) of professional photographers prefer the film results than the digital technology, for a variety of reasons, such as:

- The film manages to captures more information on medium and large format film (48%),

- With film you can develop a personal photographic style (48%),

- Film capture more shadows and details (45%),

- Broad use of the film (42%) and,

- You can archive/store easier films (38%). ¨

Although I prefer the film (and particularly the black and white), before reading this article (which I would like to believe that it is telling the truth) I believed that most professional photographers mainly use digital cameras.

I would like also to have a digital full frame digital camera, but the good cameras are expensive. For example, the full-frame body camera of Canon EOS 5D is costing today 2060€ and the full-frame Nikon D3 is costing today 4650 €. (I want to have a digital camera as a second camera for taking color photographs.)

Note "full frame" are considered the sensors of digital cameras, which have the same size 36 x 24 mm of the 35mm film . If you mount a 50mm lens on a full frame digital camera body you have exactly the same view angle with a 50mm lens mounted on a film camera. If you mount a 50mm lens on an non-full frame digital camera (most digital cameras aren't full frame) you have a view angle of 70-80mm (depending on the size of the sensor).

In the article I read, that some photographers prefer black and white film Tri-X from Kodak. This film is an old technology b&w film with hard grain. This hard grain (=low resolution) for some photographers is not a disadvantage but and advance because of the artistic look.

The following photograph is enlarged version of photograph from a previous post (the film that was used was Ilford HP5/400ASA which is also old technology and hard grain, similar to Tri-X from Kodak):
If you look carefully, in the image you can see the grain of the film which is randomly distributed over the film surface. This effect some photographers consider it as a advantage. So, when you enlarge a film you can see the grain. From the other hand, if you try to enlarge a digital photograph you see just the pixels. The original image that the above image cropped from is:
Searching "film vs digital" in google, you can find several articles which compare film and digital cameras. Nowadays the prices of good digital machines are high and it is worth of buying a used film SLR camera - especially if you use black and white film where you can develop the film and have control to all the chemical photographic process. For example, a good used body of film camera such as the Nikon FM2 costs about 300-350 €. You can also find used a very good lens for this body, such as a Nikkor 50mm/1.4 lens in the price of 200€. The new Nikon D3 costs today around 4650€ (after 2 year it will have half prices -- an used it will cost even more cheap). So with 500 € as a whole have a good analog machine, which may have much better quality (or perhaps the same quality) with the new Nikon D3, which is costing today 4650 € (which in 2 years will cost half the current price -- and used body will cost even more less).
Link: Kodak: Most photographers prefer film (article 9th July 2007).


  1. u are totally right

    another film "résistant"

  2. Hi,
    I'm Roberto from FAST project. First of all, congrats for your blog and your photos, I know the quality would be high as soon as I saw your equipment (and I don't mean equipment makes the photographer, but you can see the difference between an amateur and a pro from that). Now, some comments about the post!

    - The film manages to captures more information on medium and large format film (48%),
    I agree.

    - With film you can develop a personal photographic style (48%),
    I don't agree. You can do it with a digital camera as well, if you are aware of some tricks of your camera.

    - Film capture more shadows and details (45%),
    Absolutely right.

    - Broad use of the film (42%) and,
    - You can archive/store easier films (38%). ¨
    I think the use of films presently is not so broad as the article says, or the prices for (B/W) films and development would not grow higher and higher. Plus, I think it's easier to store electronic than paper information. In both cases there is the chance that they get destroyed, but CD's take less space. It is true, however, that having more photos on a single item (a cd) is more risky that having a support for each photo, as happens with paper.


  3. @ghirigori

    The camera that you saw in the meeting: Nikon FM2 + motor drive + 50mm/1.4 you can buy used in a good condition for 600 euros.

    If you want to buy a good digital camera you have to pay more than 2500 euros.

    As soon as you shoot black & white where you can develop the film by yourself, there is no reason to use digital, till the digitals will have high quality and will be very cheap. And a negative doesn't take much space. I rarely develop photographs in printed format.

    Personally I develop the b&w films by my own using chemicals, and then I scan the film using film scanner. Then I make all the corrections using photoshop, and very rarely I print them using lamda prints on professional studios.

  4. Well, lately I've been losing a lot of sleep over this. A film photographer until I bought my first DSLR last summer, I'm itching to go back to my Olympus OM-1 and Elitechrome Extra Colour scanned with a Dimage 5400 onto my Apple Mac. The reason? I don't seem to be able to reproduce the 'look' and quality of film no matter how hard I try and I don't think it's just down to the kit lenses on my Olympus E-510. I shoot Raw, use Photoshop carefully and even employ DXO Film Pack to 'recreate' specific emulsions and I'm still bitterly disappointed.

    You can see what I mean on my flickr site. Compare the 'Dijon & the Cote d'Or' set (film) with the 'Prague' set (digital) then tell me I'm wrong. (www.flickr.com/photos/jonathan-posner)

  5. @best2worst

    I am waiting for the prices of the full-frame DSLRs to go down and then buy one.

    I love the results of b&w films (aesthetically) and I am not planning to stop shooting b&w films (since I develop by myself and I can control all the chemical process).

    But I want a digital camera for shooting color photographs. At this moment I am shooting Fuji Sensia 100ASA slide films, but it is expensive the developing (E6) and the result is depending to the processing lab. If you will try to scan a slide, you need a lot of time for scanning, color corrections in image processing software etc etc.

    The disadvantage of using a film scanner (I have the same film scanner with you - Minolta Dimage 5400) is that is very slow.

    The camera that you bought (Olympus E-510) has small CCD and as I see on the technical specs: 18.00 x 13.50 mm. If you want to compare the digital cameras with 35mm film cameras.. you have to compare with a full frame CCD camera: 36 x 24 mm like Canon EOS 5 D or Canon EOS 1Ds MARK II or Nikon D3.