What are Some Benefits of Using Film Cameras?

Diana Bocco

With the advent of digital, film cameras seem to have become a thing of the past. While more and more photographers are going digital because of the easiness of use and the lower prices, however, cameras that use film still have many benefits.

Film cameras offer high-quality footage.
Film cameras offer high-quality footage.

The main benefit of choosing film cameras is photo quality. While digital photography has come a long way in the past decade, it's still far behind film when it comes to definition. If you intend on printing wall-sized prints or playing around with larger sizes, film prints offer the best quality. In the last few years, new digital cameras with high-definition clarity have come into the market, but they are still no match for much simpler film cameras.

Filmmakers use time-lapse cameras to record actions over a period of time, such as car lights on a highway.
Filmmakers use time-lapse cameras to record actions over a period of time, such as car lights on a highway.

Another benefit of cameras that use film is their price. Even the cheapest will offer high-quality photography; in digital, however, you may need to pay hundreds of US Dollars (USD) to get the same attributes. As an example, professional film cameras can be bought for about $1,200 US Dollars (USD), while the same level in digital will cost at least double. Also, because of new models continuously hitting the market, digital cameras tend to lose value rather quickly. On the other hand, those that use film will usually retain their value over the years.

Film cameras still hold their own against digital when it comes to image quality and price.
Film cameras still hold their own against digital when it comes to image quality and price.

Photography tricks involving variation in shutter speed cannot be reproduced in digital. Film cameras, however, allow for a variety of tricks such as time lapses and overexposure. Some of the new high-end digitals may allow for fast shooting, but only under certain circumstances. Even then, they have the disadvantage of consuming batteries much more quickly when performing the same processes.

Even cheap film cameras usually offer the potential for high-quality photos.
Even cheap film cameras usually offer the potential for high-quality photos.

Film cameras also allow for a variety of filters and lenses, giving the photographer a much fuller spectrum in which to work. While 50mm lenses are common in both types, wide-angle lenses, fisheye lenses, and perspective control lenses are only available for those that use film.

Single-lens reflex film cameras allow photographers to change lenses.
Single-lens reflex film cameras allow photographers to change lenses.

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Discussion Comments


@anon209079: You forgot to mention the cost of hard disk drives. That is the primary reason I want to switch over to film. With a digital camera, you tend to shoot anything and everything, and also tend to take multiple shots of the same subject hoping that one of them will be good enough. At the end of the day, your hard disk is full of junk. If you are a professional photographer, and your hard disk crashes, then you are finished! Those moments are lost forever! Plus sometimes the memory card itself can become corrupted, or even get lost as it is very small.

Let us not even talk of your self-esteem going down every time you see another photographer with the latest model.

Add to that the cost of batteries. You need several batteries if you don't want to be let down at critical moment, far from base. Even an amateur like me carries two pairs when I go on a vacation. Add to that the cost of the charger and sometimes the batteries get lost.

If you do not have power in a remote location, you cannot charge your batteries.

DSLRs are a complicated way of losing money while thinking you are saving money. Plus with DSLRs, or for that matter with any digital camera, you are casual and never compose your shots as you know you can delete bad shots, which you never do.

Digital cameras have a place. For example, if you are going out on a picnic and it is a very easy way of recording the outing with minimum effort.

DSLRs have their uses in sports photography.

Professional photographers who have mastered the art of photography may benefit from a DSLR, but not us the amateurs and semi-professionals. You cannot learn photography using a DSLR.


@parmnparsley: Actually, looking closer into film vs digital film is actually the cheaper medium as film can go between CAD$3 to CAD$15 per roll as with the Camera itself can be between CAD$10 to CAD$1400 (older SLR vs newer 135 SLR as in the Pro Photography Market, Photographers will always want the latest DSLR body and that would cost around CAD$300 to CAD$1500, but don't forget that they soon become out of date so they will need to upgrade again in say a year or two which again would be $300 to $1500 then eventually they will come out with a new lens mount, then you would have to get new lenses. However, with film, you can stick with the same camera your whole life and it will still be cheaper than digital and as most pros use Photoshop, they eventually have to upgrade that too, then in say three years, the computer dies and you have to get a new one. Well, there's a bigger hole burned in your pocket.


@ Parmnparsley- You may be right about the price of film versus digital photography, but you also pointed out another benefit of film shooting. Film shooting makes you a better photographer.

Film shooting makes the photographer responsible for composing the shots, rather than relying on in camera features and digital photography software.

I personally consider film photography more of an art form than digital photography. You still have to have skill to compose a digital picture, but you must have that extra level of finesse to compose a beautiful photo in film. You also do not have the luxury of reviewing your shots immediately after you took the shot with a film camera. You have to trust your eye when shooting in film.


I would have to disagree with the article on the issue of film cameras being cheaper than digital cameras. While this may be true for professional photographers (Who might spend $10,000 on a camera body), I believe it is the other way around for amateur photographers. The most expensive aspect of film photography is the film itself. For a pro who knows how to compose his or her pictures this may not be an issue, but for someone just learning, wasting film on bad shots can be an unaffordable luxury.

The body is the only part of a SLR camera that is more expensive for digital versus film. Most film and digital SLRs can share the same lenses, meaning that someone can have both a film and digital SLR body, and only one set of lenses.

While yes it is true that digital cameras often require digital photo software, there is high quality open source software on the market like GIMP. GIMP is free and is comparable to some of the older versions of products like Photoshop CS.

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