David Gifford Photography

35mm Film v Digital

I've been working hard at uni for the last few months. I'm now on study leave for a month before my final exams... time I've put to good use playing with film!

I'd read claims elsewhere on the web that film is still top trumps for landscape photography (albeit with large format film). I decided to see how film would hold up for my type of photography using 35mm equipment. I loaded my old Canon 500N film camera with a spool of the legendary Fuji Vevlia 50, and the photo above is one of the results of my experiments (taken on the Isle of Skye during my New Year holiday).

My findings? Something of a love-hate relationship:

  • I love the colour of Velvia 50. Judicious post-processing of digital images can get you the same results, but nonetheless I was very pleased with the vivid colours coming straight from the university's mid-range scanner.
  • I love the sound of film advancing.
  • I love using a full-frame camera for landscape photography – my wide angle lenses are much more fun!
  • I love that I don't need to worry about my inexpensive film camera getting knocked about. You can pick up a used Canon 500N for about £20 now. However, the nice Olympus film cameras I'm watching on ebay do go for much more.
  • I love how my 'obsolete' film camera can capture the equivalent of a high-megapixel image using film costing less than £5.
  • I hate how dust gets so easily onto transparencies.
  • I hate the length of time it takes to scan film by yourself.
  • I hate that I can't check my exposures on the back of the camera.
  • I hate how I can't change film speed without changing film or carrying multiple cameras.
  • I hate that I need to be careful about storing my developed film - and that the film will degrade and get dusty seemingly regardless of how I store it.
  • I hate that film is so expensive when using a lot of it!

Bottom line: For my purposes and with the equipment available to me, I get better quality images from my Canon 40D Digital SLR than I do from 35mm film. I doubt that will surprise many.

My experiment with film was fun though. And, if I was to compare the images from my Digital SLR against those from a medium or large format camera loaded with Velvia 50, I think many digital aficionados would be taken aback. For those times when I don't want to carry an expensive digital camera around with me, I won't hesitate to load up my 500N with film.

Image #242