Why is it that the moment somebody articulates a liking for something, the instant reaction from some quarters is to try and knock that personīs position into the sand?
I am perfectly happy that someone prefers film in roll to digital capture; I am equally pleased that another thinks digital is the only game in town. Why would I choose to argue with either since it makes not a jot of difference to my life?
Asked to join sides, I would have to put a hesitant toe into both camps without committing weight to either foot. As I see it, film has a history of development (npi) that has brought it to a plateau where it will probably remain until it is no longer produced (I speak in terms of b/w film). Digital, on the other side of things, is relatively new and constantly being changed, tweaked and re-configured; I believe it to be far from anywhere near its peak yet, and because of that belief, I have my doubts that the future lies with MF digital. Nobody in his right mind wants to carry more weight and inconvenience around with him than he needs, unless, of course, his photography is all about impressing his fellow snapper, in which case I wish him the sore back he will grow to regret.
In favour of film (120) I would cite the beauty of the stock I used to use every day: TXP120. Developed 1+1 in D76 and rated 320ASA it covered just about every situation you chose to throw at it. As I write, I think of a shot currently hanging in the bedroom of my two kids back in the 70s - it was a film-finisher run off at the end of a commercial shoot and was on a 500C or CM through a 150 Sonnar wide open. Just a grab, it still looks beautiful today and the Kodak WSG has not lost an iota of quality. I would like to dream that should I live that long again, I could feel as pleased with stuff I print on Hahnemuehle Rag today! So what about digital, then? Well, my black/white prints certainly look more dramatic in the sense that clouds etc. can be tweaked to resemble imaginary thunderstorms where non existed, but are they any the more beautiful? I donīt know the answer to that - they certainly do look different, but then, in those days, I was working to order and not to please a retired photographer with nothing much better to do anymore. Neither was I shooting clouds or landscapes - it was people.
Digital, in my case, allows a relatively cost-free route to images on paper. If you choose to consider the cost of film to be the only consumable component, of course! Factor in all the real costs of digital and it becomes clear that it is really just a version of the oldest confidence trick in the world: self-deception. On every other item except film, I believe I have spent more money to less effect that ever was the case with analogue photography.
Would I go back to the wet? Had I not broken down the various ingenious devices that I developed over my pre-digital years to create a quickly changing office-to-darkroom scenario, I would have liked to have gone back to MF film and cameras (B/W only), got myself a top-quality scanner but still gone digital in the printing side. However, that is hindsight and there is no way I would finance all that now in retirement - an abuse of my childrensī inheritance comes loudly to mind, as does the wish/need for a new set of wheels as soon as the wretched pound regains it pride against the bleeding .
But does digital capture bring a smile to my face? Perhaps it does, but mainly as an adjunct to something else, the converting of paintings into photographic images. As for shooting people anymore, I doubt now that it will happen - models donīt do it for free if they are any good, and the continuing cycle that is that vicious circle demands a moneyed client etc. etc. And what else would I shoot with digital? What else interests me now? Not a lot, to tell the truth, and somehow, the idea of just shooting for no better reason than using the equipment seems sort of contrary to the love I have for the medium.
How sweet the lot of the amateur!