Why You Should Be Shooting on Film in 2021

If 2020 has somehow given you an appreciation of tactile experiences and a slower pace of life, you might want to consider periodically leaving your digital camera at home in in the new year and start capturing the world on film instead. Here are a few good reasons why.

Film geek Jason Kummerfeldt of grainydays is something of an evangelist when it comes to shooting on film, and while he has some slightly rude things to say about digital, his reasons for you to start shooting on film are compelling and might give you the nudge that you need to hunt down the Nikon FE2 that you've been pondering. Some of these reasons will be familiar, but Kummerfeldt’s presentation is well worth your time, especially for anyone who just needs a gentle push.

While the choice of film stock isn’t as extensive as it once was, there’s a good argument that there’s never been a better time to shoot on film simply because creating high-quality scans of your negatives has possibly never been cheaper or easier. You can rig up your existing digital camera or splash out on a secondhand scanner and then use the widely-respected Negative Lab Pro as part of your workflow.

Do you have plans to shoot more film in 2021? Let us know in the comments below.

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68 Comments

Tony Clark's picture

Crazy, next you'll be telling us to focus manually. I loved my Mamiya RZProII, Pentax 67II and Nikon F4s and F5 in that smaller format. Going to the lab was like Christmas morning but the instant gratification of digital is intense.

David Moore's picture

I use manual focus all the time! (cuz my 12 year old 70-200 f2.8 autofocus motor broke and I don't want to buy a new one lol. Thank god for focus assist on mirrorless cameras lol)

Rex Larsen's picture

I agree, shoot film and listen to 8-track tapes.

Reginald Walton's picture

I'm done with film, like I'm done with DSL and land lines.

Deleted Account's picture

I heard that!!!

Jim Bolen's picture

Hell no. I have shot a ton of film and processed a lot more than I've shot, a lot by hand. You can have that shit.

Deleted Account's picture

I have a Nikon FE2 with auto winder and Chinon CP7m but I'm old and I been there, done that. I don't need some hipster Z-Linial with a conceited attitude telling me I need to shoot film. LMFAO!!! I have better things to do with my time and money.

Shane Castle's picture

Yeah. Along with solid axles and drum brakes, this belongs in the past. I don't miss the hours in the darkroom, the stained fingers, the spoiled prints, and real dodging and burning, either. Plus, it's way more expensive now than it was then.

Stephen Strangways's picture

Some people never lived through the days of shooting film, so I guess it's a good way for them to understand why those of us who did all jumped ship around the time of 6 megapixel DSLRs and never looked back. Even as clunky and limiting as those are compared to current cameras, they made things so much easier than shooting film and should never be taken for granted.

Alan Klughammer's picture

100% agree. and I am speaking as someone who owned (and ultimately lost) a one hour photofinishing business...

Brandon Hopkins's picture

I lived through it and still prefer it, but i'm also not trying to push it on everyone else.

Jim Vehe's picture

Sometimes you guys are so bleeping stupid! Film SUCKED!! If you lived it, you understand. I really wanted a F3 and motor to replace my FM and motor, and my professor said the best shot would still be in between the frames. Treat your 35mm like a 4X5 and you might become a better photographer. You don't need to shoot film to slow down. And to repeat what everyone that ever shot film, FILM BLEEPING SUCKED!!

Tony Clark's picture

Funny, I remember the feeling I felt when viewing a well exposed 6x7 transparency on my light board. Yes, it took many more steps but the results were worth it.

El Capitan's picture

Speak for yourself. If it sucks for you, knock yourself out and stick to digital. No one wants your garbage negative input.

Vitor Munhoz's picture

Just curious if people actually write a new article every year titled "Why You Should Be Shooting on Film in ..." or do they just change the year on the headline? *roll eyes*

Andris Zauls's picture

I’ll have to dust off my M3. Great idea.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Really? Another "Why you need to shoot with film" article that belongs back in the 20th century, along with FILM???

I guess this is just more clickbait fluff to fill Fstoppers clickbait quota for the day...

Tony J's picture

I learned on a K1000 when I was a kid. Good times and learned the basics. Now it cost too much. Hey, do whatever works (film or digital). I will stick with my XT20

C H's picture

It is amazing of the arrogance from so-called photographers these days who put down other photographers for using film cameras. It is like electric guitarist refuses to play acoustic because he or she think it sucks. I am so sorry that these guys above this comment sucked at film photography in the first place.

Irene Rudnyk's picture

I think most photographer that actually shot film when they started put don't understand why film is making a comeback and rightfully so, its slow, expensive and leave to much space for errors. But for someone like me who started their photography journey with digital, film is extremely exciting and different. I absolutely love it even thinking of trying out large format and printing next.

Glem Let's picture

Ha..!
So many of us oldies laughing our heads off at this.

But here’s why for some it’s a REALLY GREAT IDEA...
‘The youth of today’ spend an awful lot of time on screens, it’s not a criticism it’s a fact. They don’t talk they txt (we all do) they watch TicTok and YouTube and reality shows, they don’t actually do anything or make anything real.
So getting out there, buying something real (not a tech gadget) actually fitting it inside a tool designed to make an image is a real thing. Having to wind film on, and wind an exposed roll back is real, it’s like cutting wood with a power tool it’s real, you can’t hit delete or go back.
This has a greater kudos to younger generations than us and let’s be honest, back in the day we loved it too..! Remember that minty taste after finishing a roll of 120 when you had to lick the end of the roll tab and stick it down...?

So, like restoring and driving an older car, building a shed or bar in your garden shooting film is an opportunity to make something that doesn’t involve electronics.

I take my son fishing, he loves it, out in nature, no tech, no electronics.. no algorithms...

I can see why shooting film is a big draw for people who missed it first time.

G

Deleted Account's picture

I second what Tim said. It give the younger folks a taste of what we had back in the day when film was all there was. Hopefully it will give them some of the appreciation that us older folks have for digital.
However, some of them need to lose the attitude about it.

Luke Mullin's picture

If you regard photography as an art form (and I do) then film photography is an alternative medium to digital. It is not inferior, it is just different. We don't judge a work of art on sharpness or resolution. That would be absurd. Film gives you a look that you just don't get with digital. For some that "look" is part of what they are trying to achieve artistically. Digital art has not replaced other media like.oil paints or watercolour etc. Digital photography is not a replacement for analogue photography. It is just another medium.

Jan Holler's picture

It is strange to hear someone talk about an era which he hardly can know being so young. I still have about 15 rolls of film, b/w (Ilford 400), Kodachrome, Fujifilm which I kept in my fridge for about 30 years by now. My Nikon FA, my manual Nikkor lenses sit in a shelf ready to be used and yet I never had the feeling I should, besides some of the old lenses just for fun.

All what this guy is telling is just romantic kitsch. If you are a Nikon user you easily could attach almost any lens of the last 50-70 years to your DSLR and have the "characteristics" (another BS expression which just means the lens is bad compared to today's standards).

Please, FS, there are so many BS YouTube videos lately. Take care of curating a little better.

Steven de Vet's picture

well.. that was nonsense..

Comparing the money to shoot your images in this video. saying people spend $2000 every 4 years on new digital cameras. Then comparing that to roughly 5100 "film shots" in 4 years???... ok.. so.. I guess your film camera is free then????? and you don't have to buy a film camera every xx years?????
You can't compare the purchase of a camera, vs the purchase of film.. you need to compare purchase price of the digital camera vs film camera. And the purchase price of film vs SD cards

Either way, for most, film won't be the way to go. And it won't be for me.
I do get the charm of film, I get the challenge of making each shot count, I get the process of it (even better if you can develop the film yourself).. but... it's not going to replace my digital photography,

But I wouldn't mind getting some (working) classic camera's to have as display pieces in my office.. I did get 3 old polaroid camera's that I'm hoping to clean up a bit. And I might even use them on a trip or 2 as a secondary camera, as a bit of a laugh and a try at a different format. But.... at $2 per polaroid picture.. it's not going replace my digital photography.

Jan Holler's picture

You forgot the cost of a scanner (expensive if you look for a good quality) and the time to scan (a slow process, i.e. with the infra-red channel to remove dust). But the funniest thing is: As soon as you want these photos on paper they normally get scanned and then printed digitally. So there will be a conversion process from analogue to digital and therefore a translation of the gamut. Gone is most of the analogue part of the photo.

Steven de Vet's picture

Well, yes.
The 5100 shots or so he mentioned in this video, did take in account the cost of getting your images developed. But.. obviously.. yes. There will be more stuff to invest in if you plan on doing things yourself, like the scanner. Or all the equipment needed if you are planning to develop them yourself, chemicals, darkroom, etc.

But, then you could also say the same thing about digital photography. Where things like SD card readers, the computer, software, printer, etc all come into play when it comes to the cost.

but it is certainly true that most ways of developing film these days, will involve some form of the digital medium. I believe a lot of film-developing-services will even provide computer files of your negatives these days.

Brandon Hopkins's picture

Many people have gotten film cameras as hand-me-downs from relatives and friends, or have gotten a cheap one, which can be as little as $50 for a full setup, or even $5-$10 if you get lucky in a thrift store, so it's not really much compared to digital cameras. Even then, a film camera will last a lifetime, so no, you're not buying a film camera ever xx years..lol. I have a K1000 that I used in late 80s/early 90s that still works perfectly fine if I wanted to use it.

Jan Holler's picture

Well, that is an absolut no-go, what you did on YoutTube, Andy! You rant about you readers? Anyeurism (sic!
) you like to induce? How very nice of you!

Andy Day
5 hours ago
I wrote up your video for Fstoppers. Here's a few of my favourite comments.
"I don't need some hipster Z-Linial with a conceited attitude telling me I need to shoot film."
"Along with solid axles and drum brakes, this belongs in the past."
"Sometimes you guys are so bleeping stupid! Film SUCKED!! If you lived it, you understand."
I'm keen to post more of your videos to see if I can trigger some sort of explosion. Good times.

grainydays
4 hours ago
Much like the comment section of this video haha

Andy Day
41 minutes ago
@grainydays People are lovely, aren't they. Let's see if we can induce an anyeurism.

mark evely's picture

As someone who started out in the late 70s on film and work as a photographer + large photographic labs + the oldest photographic company on film and paper.

Digital allows me to get the images I aim for, the colour sharpness design. I can afford to experiment and rework images from 10 years ago.

So while I am glad film is still around I can't really see the point of shooting film and scanning it sort of defeats the purpose of film.

Tim Hilts's picture

I have that same Fuji GW690III! Been shooting a lot of BW with it, seems to suit the times

Mike Kampe's picture

For me, the issue was the use of the word "should" in the title. It's good to know how to soup film, how to print from negative, how to convert to digital, and back again. But there are no compelling reasons beyond curiosity, and artistic choice. Digital has now surpassed the performance of film in almost every regard.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

If you have never been on a 2-3 days shoot with clients on polaroid (for tests) and film I totally understand your immature comment. Grain sucks too unless it's for the art world, which some see as the only reason people ever shot film.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

I just don't get your "Depends" comment. I've been done with film for nearly 20 years with no interest in it, but I totally understand why some want to learn. May be I'm old because I made the switch to digital 20 years ago! (?)
Yeah you pulled your dick with your critic and name calling for sure. This said, I have no clue what the "gramps" here shot but I know that in advertising none of them would want to deal with film again. We all have had different experience with film and I don't see why someone who describe his dislike should be classified as a Gramp in depends. My opinion.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Film was great back in the day and still is but it's almost exclusively an art form today. I was very heavily involved with film in the 90's working for many types of labs from your continuous line to custom labs and freelancing as a photographer both in Europe and the US. Lots of people who made a living from film and prints for years to a decade are not as old as you seem to suggest. I have no clue why you assume that I hate film, it's just not practical and I could not make a living from it today, but I have never criticized anyone for doing it. Instead when I started shooting digital I also had the opportunity to learn and operate a ChromaGraph S3400 drum scanner, so I still dealt with chromes from 35mm to 8x10 until 2005. But it was more about chasing bubbles than dealing with chemicals and to me that's what most of these guys do apart for a hard core minority that process and print their own stuff.

Kevin Berry's picture

You really are an arrogant idiot aren't you. You are the only person who has gone round this comments area trolling or insulting people.
This is an article that allows people to share their opinions on the subject matter, so what if almost everyone said nope not for me or rubbish it wasn't that fun in the day, that is their right to say. You are the only person doing the dick swinging in the comments section and trying to pick fights.

Jan Holler's picture

Yes, look at his profile. A third of his votes are downvotes. I also had this unpleasant encounter with him just a few days ago. He likes to call people names, is a know-it-all and always has the last word.

Khuất Nguyên Vũ's picture

For fun of course.

Heratch Ekmekjian's picture

Wow! I have to begin by admitting to a big mistake... I read a few comments before viewing the video itself.
The video was far more insulting than I had imagined.

To paraphrase Mr. Kummerfeldt, I "don't give a rat's furry ass" if he (or anyone else) chooses to shoot film, but I wonder why he insists that everyone embrace or even care about his opinions.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Here here... I just watched the video, and OMFG, this guy is the poster child for pretentious, obnoxious, self-absorbed douchebag!

Frankly, I've seen MANY images taken on film by self-proclaimed film professionals who claim the photo was taken with intent and careful thought, and yet, the photo, to paraphrase this douche, looked like total ass, so I guess shooting film won't magically turn you into this creative genius this guy implies it will, and will just burn a hole in your wallet when compared to digital.

The arguments he makes are LOL material at it's finest. I have never felt the need to get rushed while shooting digital, and often will canvas a scene for a LONG time before ever taking even a test shot with my digital camera, let alone a final image.

This is straight-up hipster bullshit, trying to make what's old, new again, for no good or practical reason.

Brandon Hopkins's picture

The guy's whole youtube channel is based on obvious sarcasm. I think you guys are taking it way too seriously...lol

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Sarcasm is one thing, and that's fine, but what this guy says, in just this one video, is WAY beyond any form of acceptable sarcasm, and he acts like a petulant douche, full stop.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Given your obtuse comments made to Benoit Pegion above (and others in this discussion), I see ZERO reason to justify myself to someone like you, given you're the kind of person who would side with a douchebag.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Oh I knew you were being sarcastic, which has proven to me, as it has to others here, you're nothing but a troll, based on that ever so meaningful reply, thank you.

James Fulton's picture

You can now successfully replace scanners of almost any quality with a full-frame digital camera, a macro lens (with extender adapter) and Lightroom. Lightroom has introduced its own Photomerge capabiity that overtakes Photoshop's feature, giving you a RAW (actually DNG) result obtained by multiple exposures of any given negative. For 35mm, you will need 4-6 shots (overlapping) and for 4x5 roughly 20-30 (I find 20 is sufficient). You can fashion a paper template on the edge of the mini-lightbox to guide you in moving the negative around. There are a number of inexpensive LED small lightboxes available for this purpose.

The technique I adapted from these links

Scanning film with a digital camera
https://www.japancamerahunter.com/2016/02/scanning-film-digital-camera/#...

How to Scan Your Film Using a Digital Camera and Macro Lens
https://petapixel.com/2012/12/24/how-to-scan-your-film-using-a-digital-c...

The resulting Lightroom DNG just needs a reversal on the tone scale...and you have a positive that you can then adjust non-destructively. Remember that all the adjustments you make are backward (!) since you have reversed the image. The file size is huge. The results are spectacular.

S Lejaune's picture

Or you can do the opposite. Shoot everything with your full frame digital camera. You pick the ones you like to be on film and display the images on a 8K monitor. Then you use your beloved film camera to shoot the images on the monitor. Just kidding :-)

James Fulton's picture

The digital 'scan' is really useful for old negatives...I am not advocating it as a current-photography approach, shooting on film and then digitizing.

El Capitan's picture

Your digital camera, I don’t care what it is, will NOT measure up to Noritsu or Frontier drum scanner. Don’t kid yourself.

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