The return of film?

Lac Vert, Alps, France. Pentax 645 35mm lens Fuji Velvia 50.


It seems I'm not alone. Kodak are planning to reintroduce Ektachrome 100 Transparency (slide) film at the end of next year. There are even mutterings about Kodachrome being reintroduced, though these days film needs to be scanner friendly and Kodachrome would need to have some changes to make it so. This is all apparently because people are buying and using film again in significant numbers for them to consider it worthwhile. So a similar situation to music and vinyl I guess and some sort of hipster / steam punk retro movement. But then that's no bad thing if it brings back a sensibility that values images over gear. 

I was somewhat amused by all the fuss over the Panasonic GH5 and it's 'pro' video features that few of it's probable buyers even understand, let alone know how to use. And I certainly include myself in that group, not that I'm going to buy one, since I spend my time looking for a good condition Leica M6 camera on ebay rather than checking out the new digital cameras. 

Yes you can get digital cameras that produce a quality of image that resembles film, Most Leicas and the Sigma Foveon Cameras being obvious examples. And by resembles I mean that the colour depth and contrast are similar to what scanned film stock produces. There is of course an anomaly here, in that to do anything with my film images, I have to digitise them. In my early days with stock libraries, I sent them the actual transparencies, but those days are gone and the entire publishing industry now requires digital images, though maybe working off a print from film stock might became a thing again if shooting on film becomes a trend.

Now this may well become a short lived fashion thing, but then vinyl records seem to be selling more and more. And there is definitely a 'digital backlash' that I knew would come. The world is currently coming to terms with the insecurity of digital data and while the majority will continue twittering and recording their banal lives on social media there are many who both value their privacy and aren't that impressed by instant everything and having the tools we use to create art becoming ever more intrusive by taking away that creativity. And film is a 'leap in the dark' since there is no way to check that everything is being recorded as we want in camera and no guarantee that the film is going to make it through the lab development process. 

And for me that makes the final result a little more special. Yes, that may well be some pretentious hipsterish bullshit, but for some time I've wanted some kind of reconnection with the creative process. The digital world is something that we are all becoming over reliant on and it's now become obvious that there are serious dangers involved. Plus all those '1984' type implications which mean that the more we use digital devices the easier it is for those we don't want to snoop on us to do just that. And apart from anything else the uniqueness of what we create becomes less and less possible to sustain due the ease of cloning digital media.

So even though the fact that I'm digitising my film images means a true 'analogue' creative process isn't possible any more, there is a certain satisfaction in creating something in a non-digital way and of course I always have the choice whether to digitise my film content or not and my negatives or transparencies start out as something that only I own and can see and the decision as to whether I share them is again my decision. Because it seems that anything we would like to consider private on our phones, computers and other digital devices may well be far from that. And anything that gives us Donald Trump as the worlds most powerful individual has got to be seriously flawed!!


Above - Leica R5 - 50mm f/2 lens - Agfa 100 Transparency film.