Why film is not dead
Over the last years, Kodak doubled the number of film sales. This is not only caused by a few film photography enthusiasts. Also more and more Hollywood film directors go back to film to express their creativity.
Still a big part of Hollywood movies is produced on 35mm motion picture film. 4 of the 9 Oscard nominated movies in 2020 were entirely shot on a Kodak Vision 3 motion picture film.
The 35mm film is Quentin Tarantinos’ first choice when it comes to bringing his creativity on screen. The Hateful 8, The Expendables 1 and 2 are shot on Kodak films.
For me, as a photographer, it is only natural first to think of how to bring my photographic ideas on film. It is the behavior of the film itself. The natural feel and look of each film plays a big role on how the final image will be. For sure, this can also all be nearly achieved digitally, but it is the handmaking process, the work with something physical, that makes the difference.
Over the last years, many professional Photographers went back to use film. Yes, it is more cost-intensive, yes, it is not as easy as clicking the shutter 1000 times, and hope to have a good image. But I think here the artists and professionals separate from the pure digital new risen so-called photographers.
Working with film requires a deep understanding of light and shadow and all the settings around to get the result you want. It takes preparation and patience. You need to plan the shooting, and once the pictures are taken the work starts. Shooting on film means also that you either go to a lab for the development or do it yourself. The last part requires a bigger knowledge of chemical processes and equipment to do it. A lot of things can go wrong, and only your experience and knowledge can prevent a complete failure. These are the things that make photography on film so special, but also more expensive. You pay an artist for his knowledge and his experience to create something unique for you. Every print he is doing is a unique piece of art and not just clicked on a button in Photoshop. The Photographer invests a lot of time and patience to deliver you a unique piece of art.
After more than 25 years of photography, I can prove, no print I am doing is ever repeatable. They all are different, even when I use the same paper, chemicals, same time, etc. These little imperfections are the things that make the image perfect.
One of the last benefits of using film is the life cycle of film. When negatives are stored correctly, they last for hundreds of years. In the best case, a digital file lasts 20 years before it is damaged or not readable anymore. Images taken on film, printed on paper, will still be here, even when we are long gone. As an artist, I love the idea to create something special, that lasts longer than my own lifespan.
I also use digital, this is not the question. They both have their benefits, and during the last years also a mix between film and the digital world took place. When it comes to image quality nothing can really compete against film. The correct film, can deliver image results way beyond a digital. For example, a scanned Adox CMS 20 B&W film delivers a resolution of approx. 500MP when it is scanned correctly. This allows loss-free enlargement for big advertisements up to 3m picture width. For comparison, the most common professional cameras like the Canon EOS 5D MkIV have a resolution of approx. 21MP