Is Film Really Dead?

These days, there aren't many people that are still shooting with film. For some people who used to shoot professionally with film, the idea of going back is simply unbearable — the chemicals, missed shots, and the hassle to finally produce an image that takes all but a simple click on a digital camera. Have we gotten to a point where film is finally dead?  

In his latest video, Matt Granger discusses his thoughts on film photography. In order to illustrate his points more effectively, Granger also performs an extensive shootout, comparing several digital cameras along with a film camera. Shooting with nothing but Leica M series cameras, Granger levels the playing field in order to see if 35mm film offers anything significant over its digital counterparts

For many people, the most compelling argument is the cost of entry. Buying a film camera and lens costs significantly less than most "equivalent" digital cameras. For less than $100, you can purchase a film camera and lens here in the UK. The cost of individual film rolls are not much either, and this is what many people use as a way to justify the system. 

Granger does discuss the cost of being a professional film photographer. Although the entry costs may be lower in comparison, long-term running costs could catch up pretty quickly. In my own experience, other points about aesthetics and the process could be used to discuss why film is still relevant; however, for many people in the industry, film might truly be dead. 

Do you agree or do you think film is making a comeback? 

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Tom Reichner's picture

Usman Dawood asked,

"Have we gotten to a point where film is finally dead?"

That depends upon how one defines the term "dead".

Luke Bateman's picture

I work in a photo lab, we do 100s of films a day, it's not dead at all.

John Xantoro's picture

I think the main problem is the rising film/developing cost. There has been a substantial increase in the last year or so. Film photography certainly could carve out a nice niche but if the prices keep rising it just gets really unattractive sadly. Its especially problematic because it's a high barrier of entry for many young people.

Jarrod McMatt's picture

Hey look! Another article and/ or video about film being dead! Original idea! What next? A 'I switched to ______' article/ video? Or, how about a 'DSLR's are dead' article/ video. Have not seen one of those in a couple of days.

Wolfgang Post's picture

The energy that some people spend justifying any technology is inverse proportional to the amount of users.

Guy Butterworth's picture

So here we go again for probably the 900th hundred time this decade, its getting quite old now this discussion , I wish people would actually just look at the sales figures and profits that the film manufacturers and support companies are making or simply just open their eyes And see how many people (kids especially are walking around with film cameras or starting film photography related you tube channels or just posting film images on Instagram... HOWEVER as must informed people know , film sales unlike digital camera sales are growing ,More film stocks and cameras and prephials are being developed and are selling well .. as many of us know digital camera sales are dropping of cliff , and level of engagement is down . Smart phones are the tool of choice for the masses .. film sales have Been growing year on Year, as more and more people become bored with the automation and computerisation of photography, the dark room and development challenges, the skill and attraction of A manual Tactical process , the attraction of a process were you have to think and learn a skill is pulling people in at an increasing rate .....ask yourselves WHY do you think film has to die ? Why cannot people learn that their is space for all creative mediums , from wetplate and larger formats , to 120 and 35 to plastic and pin and Polaroid , the latter is earning more money for Fuji than its digitial sales , plenty of high level professionals And OTHER professionals still use film, plenty of professional commercial work Is done with film , What is better doesn’t really matter , it is what you can create with the medium of your choice which does... The wider The choice in mediums or tools the better for all of us ... why should creativity just be done on a computer. Were is that written ... ? Are we that brain washed and zombified cattle to think that their can be only one way ... do painters or sketchers all use the same equipment or mediums in 2020?, or do some use ,ink,pencil,chalk,oils,acrylics and watercolours ... creative people should be celebrating Diversity in styles and working practices and tools which people use ,taking inspiration and joy and learning from one another ... let’s have less of these click bait, passive aggressive articles which are designed to do nothing but provoke and trigger people’s sensitivities...and start actual celebrating the fact that people have choice between film and digital or wet plate and other alternative methods And stop worrying about the next big camera , And focus on creating .. FILM is on the rise and had been for a number of years , increased prices are to ensure enough monies can be invested in bringing back additional film stocks and increasing existing stocks production ,helping manufacturers to keep up with demands.. We know that in 2019 a lot of film stocks sold out in many parts of the world as manufactures could not keep up with demand .. and finally don’t over look the fact that last year Hollywood signed a much larger and longer contract with Kodak for film ... There are a lot of famous and very successful photographers and movie/tv directors who only want to use film.. Taraninto being amongst the most vocal , those that tell him film is done , often end up like the villains at the end of his movies , its not pretty ! But very comprehensive the verbal lashing and mockery he can unleash on those who say film is dead ..You can use whatever tool, and medium you want to , But mostly you must respect others people’s right to do the same and stop shitting on people who are different to you or work differently from you ...

Ian Goss's picture

Paragraphs are a useful tool for readability. Punctuation is important too. Multiple dots are confusing.

Guy Butterworth's picture

no one needs an English lesson to right shit on the internet ... relax and light a one up , you need to chill if that's all you can get or comment on from all that ..

Nick Rains's picture

Answer to title's clickbaity question : No.
Look at Platon's work - film.
Leica's MP is on backorder almost permanently.
Wrong question.

Timothy Gasper's picture

The answer to your qeary uh...nyet...mai...nein...meiyou....etc..etc.
I'm using too much of it for that to happen. Oh, and so are many of you.

Sam David's picture

I recently refurbished three ot my old film cameras -- a Yashica Mat 6x6 from the 1960s, a Miranda Sensorex from the 1970's and the workhorse Nikon F4 from the 1980's. With their great age, just as I have, they have become somewhat balky, but I have made some wonderful images with them. The most important reason to go back to film, at least once it a while, it makes you think about every click of the shutter. As Ansel Adams taught, every piece of film is precious and you have to think about the image before you use that film. In my case, living on a remote island, I have to send my film to a processor several hundred miles away. She does brilliant work -- but with the mails and her pretty full book, it takes about three weeks before I know whether the images are what I hoped for when I clicked the shutters. It makes you work harder before that click -- but the reward is that much greater.

Brigham Brown's picture

Nothing quite like a well done contact print from a 5x7 and larger negatives. View camera movements are absolutely wonderful to have for control and correction for some images. The old Circuit cameras with images to 5 feet long are still with us and still being used commercially by photographers who specialize in large group photography.
Then... there is the Polaroid 20x24 camera. Instant images big enough to see.

Usman Dawood's picture

Large format is simply incredible.

Frank White's picture

I have to concur with Sam David. Shooting film makes me slow down, visualize the image, and anticipate the results. Shooting black & white film again has taken me back to my roots in 35mm photography, including developing my own negatives just like I did in the 1970’s. Now, instead of spending days in the darkroom, I can scan the negatives and use software to process my images. Still waiting on replacement light seals for my vintage OM-1 and OM-4T to complete my personal project- shooting a roll of film thru each of my vintage cameras...

Jon Premosch's picture

It's dead for people who have really fast turnarounds, thats about it...

David Burke's picture

I have returned From digital photography to using film photography!, I find that the resulting photographs are much more organic and unique in comparison to digital pictures which are too perfect and look artificial, especially the skin tones. I think that the new generations of people who are used to look at digital pictures develop a sensitivity and a like for these digital photographs. The big problem for film photography is the ability to show all of the nuances of the hues produced by a well developed photograph to be viewed directly by the human eye without having to go through the optics of a scanned (therefore digitized) print to be showed in a digital album. When one looks at film photograph it is through the optic of a digital screen and therefore not a true analogue picture. It is like learning about master painters through the optic of a digital screen and not seeing the real painting!. My wedding pictures in the 1990 were taken with a film camera and the resulting photographs were quite amazing and cannot be duplicated with photoshopped digital pictures. In conclusion when one makes a comparison between a digital and Film print, the comparison should be made by looking at the print and not looking at a digital representation of a film print viewed with a screen. David

Timothy Gasper's picture

Thank you. Exactly whi I never did give up on film. Most all my serious work is in film. You are very correct about digitizing them. Yes, I also digitize them, but the true and organic,as you say, image is still retained via the slide/negative.