I can’t tell you how nice it has been to fall back in love with photography after getting pretty numbed out through many years doing it professionally.

I would urge anyone in the same boat to seriously consider taking another look at film photography.





Film photography is

  1. (way) more fun than digital,
  2. better quality than digital for almost everything, and
  3. _significantly less expensive_ than digital (yeah you heard me)

Supporting evidence for my claims is way too overwhelming to cover, but here are a few points:





Lack of constraints is terrible for creativity. Unlimited, automatically-exposed images that you can check immediately upon shooting (photographers refer to this as “chimping”) creates an unaware, disembodied, screen-centered photography experience.





Knowing you’ve only got a limited number of shots makes you take them with much greater care, and not being able to chimp keeps you in the moment, seeing, experiencing.

And don’t even get me started on editing.


Going through hundreds of digital images is anxiety-producing, tedious, and soul-draining, comparing slight differences between 25 of the same shot to figure out which one is the keeper… We end up with thousands of unedited photos in our backlog that never see the light of day.

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With film, the editing experience is the exact opposite: You _can’t wait_ to see your developed images. Each keeper feels like a gift from the gods. There is intense excitement and joy every step (the feeling is even better when you develop yourself).





Pretty much every improvement in camera manufacture and editing software is designed to make our images look more like film… Just shoot film to begin with.

Here’s a film shot followed by the digital version with some editing. The digital setup cost 3x as much.



Yes, film photography is way cheaper. You can get an incredible camera a) with lenses, b) that’s already lasted 50 years and c) will last another 50, for less than $200.

The best bargain out there right now is the Olympus OM-1, by the way. It’s… amazing.


A “full-frame digital” equivalent (it won’t even be half as good) with lenses will start at $3,000 and will be broken or obsolete in less than 10 years, and I’m being being charitable.

Digital photography is a trap, and this is from a guy who owns a _lot_ of digital cameras (which have their place/uses, just not for maximizing the enjoyment of photography).

One of my favorite cameras is this little half-frame Olympus Pen from the 1950s that I got for less than $100. It’s got a beautiful lens, fits in a jacket pocket, takes 72 shots per roll, and like most of my film cameras, needs no battery.


Think about that for a second… how refreshing that is. This camera could sit in a drawer for 5 years, 10 years, and be pulled out and take a beautiful shot that very moment. Here are some grainy black-and-whites.




Here are a bunch of half-frame shots I took with the Pen in the winter before the world locked up. It didn’t take any time to clean up or color because it just looks nice. The Pen is in portrait mode by default, so you get these unintentional side-by-side mini-stories/diptychs.




And with the Olympus Pen, I’m intentionally showing you the “lowest quality” film camera I have.


Film is the best quality and the least costly. Look, is it the most convenient thing in the world? Not usually. Is it the best tool for low light and sports and nature photography? No.

But it’s the most fun. And why are we doing any of this stuff anyway?