Is Film Photography Making a Comeback?

When Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in 2012, many people sort of believed—and tried to come to terms with the idea—that film photography was dying out. We had transitioned nicely into the world of digital photography, a much more convenient and cost effective format, but there were still photographers out there who weren’t (and aren’t) ready to let film go.

Lomography has been around for 22 years now and is going strong. The Impossible Project reproduces Polaroid film. Not only is film not dead, it is actually making a comeback:

True, film is expensive. People stopped buying it when digital became the norm. It was the decline of the use of 35mm prints that played a major role in the bankruptcy of Kodak.

But, film has more magic. There’s so much more emotion that comes with shooting film—fear of the unknown, excitement of the unknown, disappointment or sadness when you don’t get the shot, complete elation when it turns out better than you ever imagined it would.

film making a comeback

The magic comes with the wait. With digital, everything is instant, but with film you have to wait for the results. As the general manager of Lomography UK, Liana Joyce says, not all the images will work, so many factors can cause a photo to bomb, but there could be that one image on the roll that turns out better than you even saw it with your own eyes.

Digital is very useful and easy but it just doesn’t have the same look as film. Funnily enough, the filters that so many people use on apps like Instagram and Hipstomatic are all about making digital photos look more like film. Maybe these apps have instilled new interest in film photography in the younger generation.

smartphone photography apps

No matter what inspired it, enthusiasm for film has grown again. Colleges, for example, are rebuilding darkrooms to bring back the medium. Lomography UK has only seen growth—more interest in film—s the years go by.

Could film be here to stay? Are younger people interested to know how the effects found in today’s apps were created originally? What do you think?

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3 responses to “Is Film Photography Making a Comeback?”

  1. Geoff Harding says:

    Yes, film every time! Digital is great but after a decade of using it I realised that I had stopped looking at photos again after the initial viewing soon after they were taken and yet we often got the old albums out to show around with friends-its the waiting, the unknown and the limited number of shots that do it for me.
    After a recent trip to China four of us took camers only I used film and guess what mine are printed and in a book which has been looked at, the others are on an SD card waiting to be seen- my wife took 4000 pictures I took 200.
    That’s just me, not suggesting its for everyone but you should at least give it a try before writing it off-you never know you might like it !

  2. BobGrosh says:

    Kodak Ektachrome film fades at a known rate. In 980 years the yellows will reduce by half. The other colors fade at a slower rate.. Scan them and a formula can correct for the fade. Without a computer you can correct them with filters. Our current digital technology begins dropping bits as little as 15 years. Sure, there’s the new millennium DVD with its mineral layer that will last for 1000 years. Really! Do you expect to have a DVD player in 1000 years. DVD player production peaked 6 years ago. The average production lifespan of technology these days is 15 years. All electronic devices fail over time, even if not used. It’s extremely unlikely you will find a working DVD player 50 years from now.
    Experts agree, we are entering the digital dark age.
    I have over a 2000 of my dad slides. Some from 1940. I scan them to create 22 megapixel images, but the dynamic range is nowhere nearly as good as the slides. Sure, I make millennium DVDs for my grandchildren, but I’m also reproducing the slides and bought simple vintage 35mm projectors for them. The old projectors are over 50 years old and work perfectly. With a supply of bulbs, and assuming they show the slides twice a year, they should last another 1000 years. Assuming that 110 V AC is still available 1000 years from now, my 50th generation of grandkids will be able to view them. Assuming power is not available, they’ll still be able to hold them up to a candle.

    As a computer tech, I am asked four or five times a year to recover photos from floppies CDs, DVDs, or hard drives.

    Occasionally I’m asked to convert slides to DVDs, and the clientele’s say, “throw the slides away.” I aske them why. They are usually under the misguided belief that DVDs are permanent, and I have to educate them.

    I carry 2 cameras. A Sony alpha digital and a Minolta 7000. The lenses can be used on either. I’ll take several shots with digital, check the exposure focus and composition and then set up a shot on 35mm slide film with a Minolta.

    By the way, my favorite camera to use is an Argus C-44R viewfinder 35mm made the 50’s. I won it on eBay for $.99, restored it, replace the selenium solar cell in the M3 exposure meter and bought all 4 lenses off of eBay. There’s something very satisfying about its weight and feel and the very solid click the shutter makes when you squeeze the release. I’m not sure why but the photos I take with its look better than the 90s era Minolta and way better than the Sony alpha digital. It’s even more satisfying to know that if I keep them in a Barnett and Jaffe slide storage box made from cedar, in an interior closet, my grandkids 50 generations from now can hold them up to the light and see where they came from.

  3. RICHARD KAMEL says:

    I agree with everything you have said here! Film photography is an art, it has an inherent attraction for those that yearn to produce something of lasting value.There is a skill needed to take great pictures, and yet I have taken some fantastic shots when simply the scene moved me and I took the picture! It is man’s nature to want to communicate and so the digital age has enabled us to communicate through photography like never before, but is there a quality and validity to this medium, will it be as long lasting will we pine over old digital shots?

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