I love digital photography. I was an early adopter, buying a 1.3 megapixel Olympus D360 way back in 2000. I still own that camera and it still works. It uses Smart Media Flash cards and actually will capture photos in the TIFF file format. I paid $300.00 for that camera. From there, I upgraded to an Olympus C-3000, then the Fuji S-7000, and then to the Canon 20D. My current digital SLR is the Canon 50D for most of my photography and an Olympus E-410 for street photography. So, why am I listing all these digital cameras? It is not to brag, but simply to illustrate that I am not a digital hater, or some sort of luddite railing against windmills when I tell you that I love shooting film.
I am not a photographic historian, so feel free to call me out if I get something wrong. The earliest forms of photography were similar to Polaroid photography in that the photography used a camera to take a photo, applied a chemical, or chemicals, to the capture medium, and the photograph, seemingly by magic, appeared on that medium. I used the phrase "seemingly by magic" because I believe the first photographers were magicians in that they used new science to create art. Athough I shoot negative film, I still feel there is magic in film photography.
For me, there is something magical about using a piece of equipment to capture a photograph on film. There is no reviewing on the LCD screen on the back of the camera. There is no deleting the shot and trying again. There is no adjusting the ISO to get the perfect aperture and shutter speed combination. You have what you have. The photographer needs to use his skills and problem solving ability to get the shot when using film. Everything I just mentioned is what makes digital photography great. For the professional the must get the shot, I don't think there is any substitute for digital for the reasons mentioned above. Luckily, I am an amateur. When I shoot, I shoot for me. I can use whatever I want.
Pictured above is my Bronica medium format film kit. Currently, when I shoot film, this is what I use. The negatives are big and wonderful and create wonderful prints. The files that are created when I scan the negatives in to my computer are massive and full of information. Shooting with this camera is a completely manual affair. You need to either be able to intuitively judge light or use a light meter. Aperture and shutter speed are set manually. The film is advanced with a crank. It is very cool. For me, having to do all of this to capture a photo creates a very real connection to my photography that digital does not.
Another reason why I love shooting film is the anticipation of receiving my exposed negatives and seeing how successful I was in capturing the photographs I intended. There is so much in this world that creates an "I want it now!!!!" mentality, that having to wait, even for an hour, to see how my photos came out creates an almost palpable sense of anticipation. Now, the flip side of that coin is that anticipation can turn into disappointment rather quickly if the photos do not come out the way I expected. For me, possible failure is part of the allure of film photography. You have to be good at what you do, anticipate problems, think on your feet and be able to visualize what the photo will look like to be consistently successful with film photography.
If you want to get into film photography, there is no better time. Film cameras are so cheap right now, they are almost giving them away. Check out KEH or the used sections of B&H Photo or Adorama for some great deals.
To wrap it up, this is not a manifesto to say that film is better than digital photography. Far from it. This is simply a small article explaining why I still shoot film, and why you may want to shoot it as well.