It may seem odd in today’s world to even consider using a camera that takes film rather than digital, especially as virtually everyone has a pretty good one on their phone. For many, the times of dropping films off at the photo lab and coming back in an hour to pick up prints is just a funny memory from a few decades ago. Yet, if you’re serious about taking great shots for special events or just as an amateur hobbyist, there may be a few advantages to using a film SLR, or single-reflex lens camera instead of a DSLR, where the ‘D’ means digital.
The Pros of an Old-School SLR
There are two major advantages that an SLR has over many digital cameras such as those on your smartphone, with the first one being that the quality to price ratio on the camera is very appealing indeed. While casual snaps of your vacations or parties will be served just fine with an iPhone camera, if you want to capture a lot of detail and really make your photos ‘pop’ then an SLR is the way to go.
Also, the upfront cost for an old SLR is extraordinarily low. A quick browse on eBay reveals that the demand for these is apparently nonexistent because you can pick up a decent one for about $5 or so. It’s true that DSLR cameras are the practical and obvious choice for the professional who has no time to wait for their film to develop or do so themselves, but compare that to the thousands you’d spend on the digital version and an SLR suddenly looks a lot more appealing for the amateur.
The Cons of the Old Way
The main drawback of a camera that takes film is, of course, the fact that you need to use film. That means paying roughly $10 per roll when you consider buying the film and getting it developed and also investing a lot more time in getting them to a lab and waiting for them to come back. There are online services where you can do this by mail, which may save a trip to the store but also take some time. Still, if you’re only taking photos as a hobbyist then waiting to see your results can actually be pretty exciting.
The other drawback is that, unlike a modern DSLR, you need to do everything yourself. The real professionals will master every aspect of their equipment and be sure to know how to manipulate aperture, shutter speed and the like depending on the situation and environment, but many times the auto function on digital cameras will give amazing results. With an SLR, you may have some assistance with an inbuilt light meter, but you do have to adjust everything yourself, even focusing, otherwise your photos won’t come out at all. Some people may actually consider this as an advantage and an opportunity to have some fun because it gives them the chance to experience something raw and real as opposed to always experiencing the fineness of the digital cameras.
Overall, many will continue to look at cameras that take film as a novelty that makes no sense in today’s world of 12-megapixel smartphone lenses and the ability to instantly capture and share every moment. Yet, it may be worth considering film if you’re interested in taking your photography a step further but don’t have a thousand bucks ready to pay upfront for a proper DSLR.
About the Author
Hi there, I'm Kush Sharma, the founder of Creative Pad Media, an organization dedicated to simplifying photography and videography education.
We have over 40 online courses that cover various genres in photography & videography, catering to both beginners as well as professionals. These courses are available via Udemy.com. Our courses have been downloaded in over 170 countries.
I hope to see you inside a course very soon!