Why You Should Consider Shooting Both Film and Digital

There is no doubt that digital is by far the choice of the majority of professionals nowadays, but there is still a contingent of photographers who are avidly devoted to shooting film, either exclusively or in tandem with digital. This interesting video takes a look at using both simultaneously and why that can benefit you as a photographer.

Coming to you from Steve O'Nions, this video examines the interesting topic of shooting with both film and digital at the same time and how this can actually be most beneficial for hybrid shooters. I have personally always liked this approach; when I go out to shoot landscapes, I typically take my Sony setup since it has tremendous resolution and dynamic range, making it an incredibly versatile tool, particularly when I pull the files into post-processing. On the other hand, I grew up shooting film, and while the nostalgia is a large part of why I still shoot it, I also simply enjoy the process for many reasons. That is why I like to also throw a few rolls of Velvia 50 into my bag when I head out shooting, particularly for its brilliant colors. Check out the video above for O'Nions' full thoughts. 

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Nah, im good.


Nah, I am good.

The only digital I partake in is capturing my negatives via DSLR scanning.

imagei _'s picture

I tried the dual approach. The problem I found that if the photo was important I'd shoot it on film, *and* on digital to ensure I got it right and in maximum quality. And if the photo was not important then why bother shooting at all? In the end I was shooting a lot of the same photos on two cameras for a while.

After some time, comparing them side by side, I found no obvious reason to keep using film. I didn't enjoy the extra hassle and time spent developing, carrying an extra camera was a burden; the results were perhaps different but, to my eye, not clearly better and so my experiment came to an end.

Timothy Gasper's picture

Been doing this since digital got serious, 2007. I use digital sometimes to meter the subject for my meterless cameras and for family shoots. Use film for professional projects.

Jon The Baptist's picture

I have a colleague who shoots fashion editorial on both digital and 35mm.

The 35mm stuff is always getting out of budget and never meets deadlines.

That being said, I adore shooting 35 for personal stuff. Scanning it in with my DSLR and using the Negative Lab Pro LR plug-in is super easy too. Tabletop tripod, Nikon ES-2, and lettrrip

Robert Montgomery's picture

Have never missed a deadline burning film, 4X5 and 120 MF.

Robert Montgomery's picture

Nah, think I'll stick to chromes and Silver Halite for me. Also if you are using a DSLR to meter. I would suggest an actual light meter. Sekonic L 508, L558, Minolta IV, or even a Gossen Luna Pro/F does wonders. Never hurts learning something . All available used for reasonable prices . And lighter than a DSLR used for metering .

Timothy Gasper's picture

Agreed. I just used the digital as a meter when I didn't have one with me many years ago. Have a few meters now and love the Pentax V for spot.

Robert Montgomery's picture

Still have and use a Pentax V. Mines is null meter needle. Modified slide rule dial caculator with a Zone overlay. Could explain how to make one.

John Dawson's picture

Do you film folks also use corded phones and phone booths? Oh, and you prefer vinyl for music, right?

Tim Ericsson's picture

I’m not sure. Are people who mock others‘ creative decisions inherently insecure or does it come from years of perceived personal inadequacies?

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Why? and it's the kind of why that is not expecting any more of the same.

Timothy Gasper's picture

Why yes....yes I do. I am SO sorry that my (our) camera choices have given you such a rash. They do make creams and suppositories for it though.

Norman Thomas's picture

I guess for you paintings ought to be replaced by Illustrator art and sculptures are also outdated because we've got 3D printing now?

Greg Pierce's picture

Film or digital? Yes please. Thanks for a great video and sharing some beautiful countryside. I agree with the approach - use digital and film differently by applying each to their strengths. When out shooting landscapes I sometimes run a Canon 6D for colour work and a Canon EOS 3 for monochrome film, which saves carrying two different lens systems. (You can do the same thing with Nikon SLRs and Leica rangefinders). The main thing is to use whatever medium will achieve the image you desire.

Tim Ericsson's picture

Don’t knock anything until you try it. And if you don’t like it, keep doing your own thing and move on. Good idea for film and digital, and life.

I don't think I want to have to go back to cataloging negatives and slides again. It was a real pain in the ass.

Nicholas Monteleone's picture

I love shooting both. I don't do it at the same time, though. I enjoy how much more film makes me have to think about the process. I also like the process of developing it. However, I only use it for personal stuff. Digital is always for work. I'm not good enough with film to use it for paying gigs.

Why should you drive two cars, a sitck shift and an automatic, unless you need to?

Alex Cooke's picture

One for work, one for pleasure.

Tim Ericsson's picture

I think we stumbled upon a great comparison between car and camera culture. Both have their zealots and purists who debate endlessly about minutia and judge others for their decisions, when in the end but cars and cameras are either a means to an end, a passion, or some combination of the two.

And if people don’t understand that, and instead would rather quibble than enjoy themselves, well, sucks for them.

Paul Smith's picture

My arrival to digital was late (4 years ago) and occurred after having shot a Hasselblad for over two decades prior to the switch. The cost of professional film, processing and scans became prohibitive and labs providing the services less plentiful. I fully recognize the advantages of the newer technology but must admit the thing I miss most is the sumptuous square format which provides 50% more image area on every exposure. Many of the nature landscapes I photographed in the past would have been lessened without it. Now it's getting adjusted to the narrower, less generous rectangle.