Monday, May 21, 2007

Black & White Film

With all the discussion of black and white in digital photography, and the seeminglly endless recommendation to shoot color and convert it to black and white in Photoshop using the various tools, we have forgotten the long proven, traditional black and white film. Granted you can't shoot film with a digital camera, but you can simply add a film body to many digital camera system because they share the same lens mount and operability.

Really? If you do the homework, all digital camera system grew from the company's film-based camera system. This was due to the newness of digital cameras and to gain acceptability in the market the company's had to make it a complimentary camera to an existing photographer's camera system. Simply buy and shoot digital, you have all the lenses. Most new digital cameras had a less than full size sensor and some rethinking was in order, but that was minimal as the same lenses worked on both cameras.

As digital cameras grew and surpassed film cameras, most new photographers simply didn't buy film cameras and became exclusively digital photographers. In the recent years though, some have found traditional film cameras to be a worthy addition to their digital cameras for a variety of reasons. And many photographers who grew of with film and simply continued to use both in varying proportions over the years.

Since I had a Minolta manual focus camera system, and it's unique lens mount from Minolta's AF and digital cameras - now labelled Sony cameras - I had no choice when I went digital. But after getting and using Canon's digital camera (5D, see my blog) I went back to film by adding a EOS-1N, and haven't regretted it. First because I have a choice of mediums to shoot and second because highend film cameras are selling at 50% of the price now, cheaper than many digital cameras.

Well, I grew up in photography with black and white, but mostly second to my color film work. I've never had the ease of printing black and white negatives at home and rarely had access to open labs. And printing through commercial labs was laborously slow as you printed, viewed and reprinted, beside costly for each print. So I more or less dropped it until Agfa's Scala black and white slide (transparency) film came along.

Scala had, and still has, a small and dedicated group of photographers, but Scala was part of the first cuts as film companies reduced the inventories and production. It's sad, but realistically a casuality of digital which can come close to replicating so well. It doesn't change the fact I buy it when I see it and have a refrigerator of 5+ bricks to use. I like the film, but have only found it hard to scan to replicate the actual slide.

Ok, I've wandered around the subject, but then all I really wanted to do was touch on it.

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