If you browsed through my personal Instagram feed you’d find a mix of digital and film images all collaged together in a seemingly harmonious cluster of hipster chic. In truth, I have often fallen prey to the cyclical revival of antiquarian tech and oddities; I own everything from Tony Bennett vinyls to an original 1993 Jurassic Park t-shirt (they had an exhaustive paragraph long copyrighting under the logo and it looks fake as a result).
The most expensive mistake these tendencies have driven me to make was my exhaustive usage of film. I’ve experimented with everything from standard 35mm cameras to 4x5 inch large format cameras. I’ve shot holgas, minoltas, dianas, fujifilms, polaroids, and soviet knock-off lecias and hasselblads.
It’s not cool to only have seventy two pictures from your week long vacation on two separate rolls of black and white kodak. It’s unnecessary, stressful, extra work, and egotistical. The greatest crime though? The expense.
Sure you can pick up a film SLR body for $35 on eBay, but lenses still cost relatively the same as the DSLR equivalent, as in many cases they are interchangeable between digital and film. Film isn’t cheap or accessible anymore either, and even ordering offline you run the risk, as I so often do in the Texas heat, of film arriving ruined by temperature. Additionally, if you send your film off to be developed, as you surely must if you want color images, it’ll run you close to $20 to develop your $6 roll of film or else you’ll have to get heavily invested in developer and other chemicals.
And then there is printing costs. Either you scan in your negatives or ruin your relationship with everyone you live with by turning the bathroom into a creepy makeshift darkroom. That means heavy investment in antique and hard to source machines or cruddy contact prints.
My two sense (and hundreds of dollars wasted)? Just buy the DSLR (like Daniel), or mirrorless if you are so inclined (like Rosemary). Your wallet will thank you longterm and your pictures will be much better.
I love film and the lessons I have learned from hours pining over prints and vats of cancerous chemicals in the darkroom, but I do wonder where I’d be at today if I’d been in Lightroom instead.