RicD - Hi Tova, Film and processingis costs is a much asked question. Yes, there are costs associated with film, and with digital as well. As with any business desiring to be profitable cost is always passed to the customer. Some folks will say the cost of film and processing is too much; I think not. When I shot digital the cost of my pro equipment cost me over $3,000 almost each year. That cost had to be paid by someone, surely not me; it was built into my bill to the client. Keep in mind, digital cameras are computers that capture images, thus are disposable. With pro usage, many sessions a year, they usually last a couple years whereas film cameras last decades. To upgrade a film camera load another roll of film. Every five or more years send the film camera in for a CLA, usually cost $150-ish. Around the world there are many excellent pro labs. Find the labs closest to you, interview them. The USA have some of the finest labs in the world, one most reference Richard Photo Lab. Pro labs accept film from around the world. As for editing, yes be it either digital or film. My experience, film requires considerably less editing than digital. Shooting film I spend 1/5 the time in front of a computer than I did with digital. Reason, the lab does most of the work. When my scans arrive my process is crop, straighten, maybe a few other slight tweaks, send them for printing. With digital there is the raw workflow, quickly I became annoyed with that, switched to JPEG. Sadly, many photographers are more enchanted with their photo editing skills than their photography skills. They spend hours in front of a computer monitor working in a software editing suite moving sliders, that is graphic artist activity not photography. Shooting film is quite easy. Someone stated (cannot remember who) “our mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers, shot film. Truly, how difficult can shooting film be?”
Russell Hayes - Great post with great insights! I am currently trying to decide between the Contax 645 and the Pentax 645N. I have heard great reviews about both. Have you had any experience with 645s besides the Contax? Thank you!
Melissa Jill - I haven’t unfortunately, Russell. Sorry! Wish I could be of more help!
Paul - Melissa, Love your work. Where do you purchase your Contax camera bodies, backs, parts and service? Contax 645 is the gold standard out there and sadly, no longer in production.
Kari Jeanne - I'm still just SO PROUD of you for making this huge leap into film! Even more so I love seeing how it has re-inspired you & how that inspiration has translated into the most beautiful photographs I've ever seen from you! It's like a match made in heaven - you & film. Love this journey you're on friend xoxo
Brian Davis - This is such a good post. I started primarily in the digital era and have always been intrigued by film. I recently bought a newer age film cam that will accept my digital lenses to ease the transition. I especially liked the last paragraph where you talk about the realities of film and how it forces you to slow down and take your time.
Susanne Ashby - Hi Melissa! I was wondering about the process with the film lab... Did you have to work with them to get the images looking the way you wanted? I've heard that they don't look quite so amazing straight from the lab without some tweaking. I wanna switch to film so bad! It's true that I'm super nervous about making the jump! Thanks for this blog post!!
Tova - Just wondering: how do you deal with the additional cost of film? Do you pass on an added cost to your clients? Where do you process your film and do you still need to edit the photos? Thanks Melissa for sharing your journey! :)