love / hate
Creative Commons License photo credit: ron.richardson

Film is a four-letter-word. It’s a hideous part of our photographic past, and we’ll be better off once it’s been eliminated from society. I’m ashamed to admit that I tried film once, but I quickly learned just how disgusting it really is and I’ve been clean ever since that occasion. Just take my word for it — FILM IS BAD (mmmkay). Here are ten things I hate about film:


Seriously, this has to be one of the things I hate most about film. That grain you get all over the photos is absolutely terrible! And the worst part is that you can’t entirely get rid of it with Photoshop — so you’re stuck with it. Those awful little specks show up all over the photo and add unwanted texture and inconsistencies. I don’t know about you, but if I want grain in my photo for “artistic reasons” I’d like to be able to at least have the choice of adding it in during post processing. That’s why digital is the way to go.


You walk into a photography store that carries film and what do you see? About 3 million different types of films hogging all that wall space. I mean, really, who needs 14 different types of black and white films? What’s the difference? And don’t even get me started on different film formats. It’s confusing as all heck, having to decide between a bunch of different film that supposedly does the same thing. That’s the nice thing about digital — you get one sensor, and you know that it’s going to produce consistent results with each photo.


Yikes, that stuff is outrageously expensive! The cost per photo skyrockets compared to digital, and the price of film makes you have second thoughts about taking useless photos. I think we’re definitely better off spending all that money on new digital bodies, super-fast glass, new computers, software licenses, and backup hard drives. Because you know that $3 to $5 per roll can add up really fast — especially since we all love to grab about 500 photos each time we go out with the camera.


A lot of people will tell you that the broad dynamic range of film is a huge benefit over digital. They’re just crybabies when it comes to setting the exposure on their camera. If you ask me, those film photographers just need that extra dynamic range because their ancient cameras can’t meter the scene correctly. Oh, but what about those really high contrast situations? Hey, silhouettes are always in fashion.


So not only does film cost money up front, but then you have to get it developed (and likely spend more money) before you can actually see the photos? Sure, there are places out there that can develop your film in under an hour, but who has time for that these days? Not only that, but while you’re getting the film developed, you might encounter another human being and be forced into a social situation. Personally, I’d much rather spend 10 to 20 minutes watching my photos download onto my computer from my full 8GB Compact Flash card.


This whole developing thing is such a pain! It cost money, it takes time, and get this… more choices that you have to deal with. There’s all these different chemicals that you have to decide on. Plus, you have the option of under-developing and over-developing the film — how confusing is that? Then you get these yahoo’s that think cross processing is some kind of toy to play with. Honestly, I take comfort knowing that once I press the shutter on my digital camera, the exposure is set in stone and the image “developed” without having to think about it.


I love my LCD on the back of my digital camera. I can check each photo I take for correct exposure and composition. No need to spend the extra 3 seconds getting it right the first time — if I screw up, I’ll see it on the LCD and just take another 3 or 4 photos of the same scene. I don’t know how those film photographers can live without seeing their photos immediately. I mean, what if you mess up an entire roll of film? You won’t know it until a few days down the road, and that might be too late.


I pride myself on being able to take more photos than anybody else when I go out with other photographers. If I were shooting film, I’d need to have an entire room just to file the negatives, not to mention the prints. I don’t know what the old photographers did with all that used film. Some people have this “thing” about holding and touching the photo, but what’s that all about? I think photos look their best on my 22″ widescreen display. Who needs to “hold” it? It’s a piece of paper, not a baby.


Have you ever seen one of those old film cameras? They’re like metal bricks. Those things will probably be around after the cockroaches go extinct. It’s like they never die, and they just end up getting churned back into society through places like eBay. Hey people — it’s old technology! It doesn’t belong here anymore! But those digital camera manufacturers got it right — build a camera that only lasts 3 or 4 years, and you won’t have to worry about outdated technology lingering about.


If you’ve ever encountered those film photographers, you know what I’m talking about. They are not the type of people you want to be hanging around. Showing up to photowalks with their old cameras, talking about different films as if they were fine wines, trying to be all “artistic”, and thinking they’re better than everyone else just because they can take photos without batteries. If you see one of these film photographers walking the streets, hide your camera and walk the other way — they might try to talk to you and get you roped in to hanging with the wrong crowd.

By the way, if you haven’t figured it out yet there’s a hint of sarcasm in a few of the points above. But seriously, stay away from those film photographers — they’re bad news!


55 responses

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I hear you, that’s why I gave my 1973 SRT SUPER film camara to a homeless guy. I don’t think he has used it yet. Great post Brian.

July 15, 2008 10:13 am

Hey… I’m not homeless! I just dress that way!

July 15, 2008 10:23 am


At first I just read the headline and though… “what???”

nice article :-)

July 15, 2008 10:24 am

Yeah, I hear that those film guys hate the baby Jesus, eat kittens, and have been known to partake in human sacrifices. Stay clear.

July 15, 2008 10:26 am

Absolutely Right, great post indeed

July 15, 2008 10:32 am

agree with most of your points… the one in particular is a ruined roll of film. i once spent an entire weekend carefully taking pictures of shattering glass at high speeds only to have the developer screw up my film in the dark room, INCREDIBLE frustration ensued.

July 15, 2008 10:49 am

While many of the points you provide are accurate there is another side to the story.
1. If you digital data is destroyed at least with analog film you can rescan.
2. A lot of software companies provide products that mimick film grain and characteristics.
3. Most photographers that transitioned between film to digital are smarter about their approach to photography in that they really understand that products like Photoshop are based on analog algorithms.
4. Photography is not about glass plates, flexible film, or digital pixels. It’s about vision. Let’s not forget this.
5. Everything cost money. There are the computers, hard drives, lenses, software and so on.
6. While it may be true that some “film” photographers have unusual and opinionated personalities think of the great masters. One was Ansel Adams. He actually looked forward to changing technologies.

I could go on. But, consider the options as many have when they left film for digital. They never forgot the lessons learned there because they were able to have enough smarts to apply it to the digital world.

July 15, 2008 10:56 am

My dad showed up to my house a couple weeks ago with a couple old 35mm cameras. I immediately called a priest and had him exorcised.


July 15, 2008 11:01 am

Those are all things I love about film! We all know digital is just for glorified snap shots.

July 15, 2008 11:09 am

You’re a baby. Any person who dares call themselves a “photographer” has spent more time in a darkroom than in front of a computer running photoshop. Mr. Bell is not a baby. Shoot film for 5 years then switch back.

July 15, 2008 12:26 pm

I often think your sarcastic undertones are missed by a few people. ;)

July 15, 2008 12:40 pm

What sarcasm?

July 15, 2008 12:42 pm

That sarcasm.

July 15, 2008 12:43 pm

Uh oh. The truth is finally out, Brian. Some anonymous person has wandered in and told us that you aren’t a photographer. Time to put down all those cameras and find something else to do with your time. ;)

July 15, 2008 1:14 pm

This article was clearly written by someone who became frustrated at his lack of understanding in the mechanism of a film camera. You cannot compare the skill required for a film camera to the mere pushing of a button on a digital camera. You obviously realized that the results of airbrushed, artificial photos that are the products of a digital camera were much more satisfying and required less effort and mastery than required to obtain film results. Photography is not only about instant gratification–patience and process are equally as important.
Only people who feel inadequate about their products and possess a lack of understanding make grand statements about the characters of people who do things differently than you do. Making a generalization about the “analog type” is like not talking to somebody who uses a different type car from you.
And Wilson Bell is right: all those softwares and settings you have to create effects on your photos are merely attempts at mimicking what the hand can do with the manipulation of light through the use of film.
And here’s a suggestion–try focusing next time and using a different type film (yes, you’ll have to actually browse those millions of reels at the store) and you won’t get any grain. You clearly had a bad film experience…

Oh, and about #8. Anyone can take thousands of digital photos in one go…you just have to press the button…you “pride yourself” in this but it is not exactly a feat…

July 15, 2008 1:31 pm



July 15, 2008 1:40 pm

Mr Brian, love the sarcasm,

we done a test recently, I am a old film photographer and was trained on filmed before switching to digital. We got the new bloods on the office and gave em film cameras, they could not shoot it. Did not have a clue.

I go into photoshop and it makes sense to me as all my darkroom tools are there, feathering, dodging, burning. Magenta filter increase and red together bring out skies. Cyan to drop contrast. masking the only thing i miss is the smell of dev and fix.

The new bloods would struggle on film, where as old bloods are a little more disciplined with regards to taking the shot. I can go in awithout chimping. You learn to get it right first time. I am not one of those people who have a film camera.

I had a enthusiastic phot come up to me with his whiny voice I have a 8 gb memory card what do you have, looking at my 2 d2xs hanging off my shoulders. 2 gb in each one. He walked off remonstrating that I have given myself enough space to get a decent shot. I caught up with him and showed him the LCD. Each shot counted and was perfeclty exposed, composed I asked him to show me his. Reluctantly I had a look suspicion confirmed machine gun photography.

Dont lay on the film is bad comments, digital is better ,as I have seen the negative and positive (excuse pun) side of both camps. Exposure latitude was a saving grace, pushing and cross processing.

On another test we timed a shoot and post processing digital and film. You would not believe it both took nearly as long as each other. With a a skilled darkroom operator.

Film got me paid a lot more, digital has flooded the market and now my revenues have diminished now I am more salemans photography has took a back burner.

Naughty brian!!!


July 15, 2008 1:47 pm

this could be the best article ever. I am only hoping that some of the responses are as tongue-in-cheek as the post was. Otherwise, there’s a buttload of idiots walking around out there. And that frightens me a little. :p

July 15, 2008 2:00 pm

I’m loving the comments… they’re probably more amusing than the article.

July 15, 2008 2:00 pm

Many of us bloggers know that a vast majority of people out there skim the content. Few dig deep and read everything.

Seeing as Brian clearly told readers he was being sarcastic, I’d say this is DEFINITELY true. Good experiment.

July 15, 2008 2:06 pm

Oh, help me Jeebus.

July 15, 2008 4:08 pm

And don’t forget #11

Film is not “Green”. In fact, many of you might be surprised by the process of manufacturing film and its effect on the environment.

Film is made from a very involved process of boiling down several barrels of crude oil per frame to a thick paste, which is then pressed and dried in a coal burning oven.. it has to be coal, or you won’t have any of that dirty grain you mentioned…

The process also creates TONS of waste sludge, which most companies dump underground, deep into aquifers that we use for drinking water when available, if not, its trucked in very low fuel economy tractors trailers to pristine alaskan coastline where its dumped in prime baby seal habitat…You can read all about it on wikipedia:

I can’t believe you didn’t mention this part of it Brian… Obviously you don’t care about earth.

July 15, 2008 6:41 pm

Agree with your points, mostly (I mean, the actual, underlying points). But there are a few real strikes against film, apart from the slow workflow (which is perhaps the main reason paid photography has largely left film now).

* Grain. Some amount of noise is necessary or any image will look flat and vaguely out of focus. But substantial amounts of large grain is only a stylistic choice, and one that is somewhat anachronistic today. Viewers are no longer expecting or accepting substantial grain as an inevitable part of an image, and so large-grain photos don’t have the same positive impact on the viewers it had in years past. Of course, just shoot Neopan 100 or something similar and it’ll be as smooth as any digital image.

* Backups. Yes, you have a physical object. _One_ physical object. Copies are non-trivial and inevitably degraded from the original. Lose that one single object and you’ve lost the only original you had. Longevity is a major problem – just ask any movie or film conservatory about all the well known, even famous images and movies already lost forever when their one extant copy was lost in an accident or mistake.

This is one area where digital absolutely rules: you can make dozens, hundreds of copies, all completely identical – no cost, no degradation. Spread copies out into the world, and it just doesn’t matter if a few get lost, since you have plenty other – identical, original – out there anyway. In other words, don’t treat your digital images like film, with one, heavily protected CD or DVD or backup drive with your precious images. Have them on the backup drive. And on two or three discs (one at home, one at some relatives’, one at work, one at a friends place perhaps – I just recopy each disc every two years and spread the old versions around). And a copy on Flickr or other photo site. And one on some other on-line storage. Any of these get lost, no problem at all.

Yes, I like film too. It’s not all good, however.

July 15, 2008 7:21 pm

Jerry, concerning your first comment re: film guys, humph, I’m a vegetarian.

July 15, 2008 9:17 pm

Yeah Otto, but I have seen the soy kittens. It’s just as disturbing to watch. :p

July 15, 2008 9:54 pm

Ha! Brian, you’re such a troll. I love this article, and I love the comments.

Why is it that people can read an article like this, think you’re totally serious, read the comments, still think you’re serious, and then leave a comment, thinking you were serious? It makes them look so silly.

I bet this takes your unique impressions up to the next level.

Way to go!

July 15, 2008 9:56 pm

See the problem with film is that you have all that extra stuff you need to store! It’s a serious pain in the “you know where” trying to find somewhere safe to store those pesky negatives. Digital? Simple! Stick it on a drive and you never have to worry about it again! And you can carry your entire photo collection everywhere! Not to mention that you don’t have to worry about prints getting all dirty and sticking to the pages of aging photo albums.

Who’d want a collection of dusty old relics hanging around anyway?

July 15, 2008 10:33 pm

the_wolf_brigade, when you use film as an adjunct to digital you don’t have that problem. I use about one roll of film a month, which is no storage problem at all. And I of course scan the film (I never print anything) so I have those images with me just like any other.

Using only film would be a frustrating experience. Using it as another tool among others is just plain fun.

July 15, 2008 11:19 pm

@Janne: Might be worthwhile to click on my name to find my flickr stream :D

July 15, 2008 11:48 pm

Quality article Brian! Had me chuckling all the way through.
Film – it’s a nightmare innit! ;-)
About time I dug out the Hassy again….

July 16, 2008 2:39 am

Janne it is worth noting that the point you give as Digitals primary attribute – I qoute, ‘this is one area where digital absolutley rules’ is actually incorrect. The archivability of digital media is the biggest headache facing digital photography equipment and consumable manufacturers today.

If treated correctly, a negative will last forever. If treated correctly a digital file will last as long as the disc or drive it is contained on – typically 3-4 years. Yes you can make a thousand copies – but when the people of the future dig up your disk – it won’t work.

You could make a print – but then todays inks and paper do not last the same as darkroom produced prints.

With the advent of digital – I fear for photography. Why worry about the image being right when you can ‘machine gun’ the shutter – one image will surely work! Why worry about having a properly stored negative when you can make a zillion copies. With digital the photographer has become sloppy.

July 16, 2008 4:33 am

I hate the most a lack of logic

July 16, 2008 5:30 am

Aw, Brian, this article is such a great bait! Love it :)

I can still agree on some of the points about “the bad crowd” though, as I keep seeing those snubbish artsy girls here in Moscow going around with Holgas as some kind of fashion accessories (yeah, I must admit, stock Holga flash does indeed look like cheap jewelery). C’mon, at least be patriotic, “wear” LOMOs and KIEVs! But hey, this will pass, I’m sure.

July 16, 2008 5:38 am

Brian: Great post. However, I disagree. Film is wonderful. The reasons you’ve listed here are preposterous! Film is very much alive… And doing well. I shoot film almost once every year!


Great Post.

July 16, 2008 11:06 am

Hahahahahah! Serious comments are cracking me up! People are soooo mad. Can’t breath. Must. Stop. Laughing!!!

July 16, 2008 6:10 pm

Ah! the love hate relationship between film and digital. One would think people would finally lay it at rest but…

July 17, 2008 12:40 am

Well, gosh, call me stupid, but I didn’t get the satire until you told me, and if you have to tell me, then maybe the satire was not done so well.

I’m only commenting on this because I think you made a catchy headline, and pulled me in to read this. Frankly, as one who actually made my living in photography for a number of years (with film) I didn’t know there was a film vs digital war. I should have known. Everything on the net is “mine is better” Mac v Windows v Linux, ad nauseam.

Finally, what do I care if you hate film? You do not understand photography if you have to shoot like you say you do. Yes, you have to actually make choices and understand film to make it work. I use digital, but will never give up my Nikon 35mm cameras. There is nothing like using a view camera with 5×7 or 8×10 sheet film for kicks, and the most beautiful pics I ever made.

Oh, this is not satire. :-)

July 17, 2008 5:51 pm

Great post. :) I was giggling as I was reading it. It’s amusing how some of the readers completely missed the sarcasm, though. :)

July 17, 2008 9:40 pm

sorry but the sarcasm was really badly done–you just wrote an article from the opposite point of view than what you have, and said it was sarcasm…good luck next time

July 18, 2008 9:47 am

Why is it that when people don’t understand something, they blame the person that wrote/said it? Mind boggling.

Good luck to them having some form of reading comprehension skills next time.

July 18, 2008 10:05 am

Thanks for the laugh. It’s a shame so many people couldn’t get past the literal level – does that mean film fans are a humourless bunch, too?
The first rule of irony though, is that it always contains a measure of truth…

July 20, 2008 8:15 am

LOL most amusing photographic article in a long time ;
I especially love the comments and who wrote them
can’t stop laughing at ansel adams ^^
nice job there

July 29, 2008 5:41 pm

A majority of the “bad crowd” is located on school campuses. I always see students carrying around cameras dating back to the 60′s like it’s the shit.

July 30, 2008 9:17 am

Loved the article. Based on your hatred of film, I went and bought myself a film camera. I wrote about it here:

“One article I liked in particular was It was a joke article about things that Brian actually loves about film and the loyal internet angermongers came out of the woodwork and took immediate offense without actually reading the article.”

August 3, 2008 10:18 pm

Interesting post
But I think you tried too much to get to the even number 10.

“Developing Choices”? So it is bad to have choices, hmm. What about choices in Photoshop? There are more than enough to make you go crazy sometimes. And you try every one and go back and forth to choose the best, and you still cannot.

“A bad crowd”? That’s interesting.

Don’t get me wrong, I shoot digital but I cannot get over the nice feeling of medium format film. And 35mm too. When it comes to resolution, a consumer or semi-pro digital camera (like a Canon 5D perhaps) can’t give you the resolution that film provides…. For now of course, and the future? Who knows..

September 2, 2008 7:25 pm

funny, and good points, but I’m not going back!!!

September 16, 2009 11:19 pm

I’m still waiting for a digital rangefinder that costs the same as my Yashica GSN – $30

Also, don’t say that film grain is ugly. High ASA, film or digital, means grain. It just looks better on film, with no Photoshop bull$hitting.

April 1, 2010 10:52 pm

I searched google using “hate photography” to see why some people don’t like photography. Two things are funny: 1. The article is the opposite of what i was searching 2. i’m currently listening to photography netcast.

What are the chances of that!?

By the way, great list.

August 9, 2010 9:36 am

sorry but you probably have nothing to do with photography.
you have so many things to learn before you can see the difference between film and digital photography.

November 13, 2010 4:58 pm

Funny but the thing is, for those of us who grew up with film before digital was even a science fiction dream, it is easier to continue using film because we know how to get the best out of it. Those who started in the digital era would be best sticking with digital. but then if you like to experiment then you may want the best of both worlds.

December 2, 2010 8:53 am

Word. I just went to pick up a roll of film and the guy at CVS showed me an empty negative strip. It is beyond disappointing – I am floored after months of working this the same camera and film.
Digital is something that will not let me down.

December 7, 2010 4:03 pm

I know I am late to the party, but goodness, how can anyone not see that this was intended to be humourous? Cool article, its always good to challenge what people thought they knew. Next time, try not to be so subtle :)

December 28, 2010 9:58 am

Comment now!