“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” -Mark Twain
With ease of use, sophisticated computer control for focus and exposure and the speed that an image can be electronically available, why would anyone choose to make photographs with film? An outstanding black and white silver print from one of the masters of photography looks different from almost any digital print. A big reason for this is because the materials are different. To photograph with film involves a different discipline, skill set and way of working. Film requires you to slow down and pay more attention to light because film is less forgiving than digital capture. You have to learn to work more economically with your exposure because at most there are 36 exposures on a roll and for each roll or sheet of film there is the required time processing in the darkroom. Furthermore, you will have to master darkroom skills (learning papers, developers and toners) to make final prints. Film cameras come in a variety of formats not available in the digital camera. Finally, you aren’t working on a computer (which for me is an advantage).
Is it better to do it this way? No, just a different way of working, and one that will be a good match for some, but not others. Whether you are new to film-based photography or returning after a hiatus, you might be curious about the black and white films available today and what you need to know to use them.