Digital imaging and film photography have diverged and become two separate functions. Digital is about endless choices and limitless resources. Shoot til your battery dies, then recharge and shoot again. The only quantifiable downside to digital imaging is having to wade through the hundreds of thousands of image you might lay down in a year's time. Seems silly but I think digital teaches us that it's a good thing not to make up your mind and lock down a look. The endlessness of resources encourages us to believe that if we only shoot long enough and fast enough then, mathematically, one of the images will be a winner.
Film, with it's parsimonious resourcing teaches us the opposite message. That given a paucity of frames we'd better go into a situation with something in mind and the chops to nail it down. For this gentleman above it means getting your subject in twelve frames or less. Twelve distinct shots, each interrupted by the need to stop and wind the crank to the next frame.
With my Sony Alpha camera I lift it to my eye and the autofocus is automatic and begins as soon as my face gets close enough for an optical sensor to read my proximity. All I need to do is point the camera at whatever seemed interesting enough to me seconds before and then lean my finger on the shutter until.....I want to stop. Or I get bored. The camera will focus, expose, change ISO's to suit the prevailing conditions, all with very little involvement required on my part.
Yes. I know. You are a super evolved photographer. Not only do you not care about what anyone else thinks about anything but you are also capable------no, driven, to use your camera in a completely manual mode. The rest of us are subtly influenced by our laziness and the ripe availability of all those modes. We hardly have to think about what we're doing. It just happens. Almost by magic. We get separated from the viscera of the process.
On the other hand, the owner of the above Mamiya will lock himself into a "color space" and monochrome or color choice before he even gets started. No changes for the 12 exposures. When he sees something he must do a mental calculation to decide how much the potential image really means to him. When he decides to "go for it" it's assumed that the scene or subject is a "high value" target. He must focus and compose on a fairly dark and uncompromising screen. No green light will light up when and if he gets in the ballpark. There's no meter in that camera either so he'll have to make a well educated guess, or consult a meter. And then, because the "manual lag" between shots will be measured in full seconds rather than fractions of seconds, he will have to patiently but intently decide on the optimum moment to commit a frame.
Yes. I know. Even though you're shooting a digital camera that does 12 fps you are so well controlled; rational and self assured in your technique, that you use only one frame per object of enchantment. The rest of us are less assured and anxious to hedge our bets.
We head home, slip the card into a reader and push the colors around on our screens. We push a button and upload our "catch" to our online "collection" and we're done.
This guy will either need to head to a lab and drop off his film or crank up the wet darkroom and soup it himself. Another chance to ruin 12 perfectly good shots. And then he'll need to print or scan them.
Film is a process that thrives on slow and careful. Digital just thrives. Like weeds in a well watered lawn. They are totally different animals and the practitioners are practicing two different art forms. Neither has higher moral ground. And neither is "better." But as a device for learning, film will go toe-to-toe with the toughest drill sargeant around. And the lessons you learn stick harder because the film velcro costs more. $kin in the game = retention.
I notice an increase in Austin photographers shooting film lately. I wonder what their rationales are. Think you're a great shooter? Let's see you do it on some slow Ektachrome.