Deciding Between the Old and the New


I’m never going to “go completely digital” or “use only film” since I cannot completely give up either. Not that I haven’t tried. One day I convince myself the only thing that matters is film, and I buy the greatest film camera I can think of because that’s all I’ll ever need or use ever ever again. A week (or month) goes by and I decide I’m frustrated with scanning or whatever and I think I’d prefer something quick and easy, so I find some new hot digital camera that will solve all my problems.

It’s never going to end, I know that. But knowing doesn’t help.

For example, I recently had a disappointing week shooting film in low light. Tri-X shot at 1250 ISO and processed in Diafine does pretty well, but even that pushes shutter speeds down to 1/30th or so and inevitably motion blur ruins everything. Tired of fighting it, I looked to digital.

I “solved” the problem by buying a Fuji X-Pro1 and a couple of lenses. How does that solve the problem? Well, I love the hybrid viewfinder, analog controls, and of course the excellent high ISO performance. ISO 6400 is usable, and The Fujinon 35mm 1.4 is plenty fast. Boom! It’s like best of both worlds.

Except then I picked up my trusty Leica M4. There’s nothing like the feel of that camera. It’s visceral. Besides, what else does one need? No batteries or whizbang features to get in the way. Pure photography! And I have an awesome and under-utilized wet darkroom just begging for more film, so I start shopping again.

You see how it is? It’s a grand form of rationalization. Eventually, I’ll need to accept the fact that I really love the very old film process as well as the very newest digital wizardry. It’ll have to be both. There, that’s settled. Right?