Which is best for photographers?

The Phoblographer has long been host to writers and photographers shooting movies. Here’s the thing; I’m one of the few here who chose not to embrace the photographic practice of analog photography. I mean, after all, I don’t need it because I shoot Fujifilm, do I?

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Why I don’t do film photography

Let me be honest with you; I am impulsive and impatient. I am everything the old school photographer hates: needy and entitled. Why wait for something when you can have it now? And even though I’ve mastered patience for most of my life, photography is one area where I don’t even try to perfect it. Who has time to load rolls of film, take pictures, take them to a lab, wait for the lab to process them, and then have them in their hands again? Man, I have Netflix to watch.

Plus, all I’ve ever known is digital photography, and it’s always served me well. That, and I have a Fuji film cameraof cours.

Fujifilm versus film photography: the process

I think there are two reasons why photographers flock to film photography: process and aesthetics. I also believe that it is possible to love one and not the other. When I walk with my Fujifilm XT2, those who don’t know ask me if it’s a film camera. It makes sense; Fujifilm has modeled its XT series on the classic analog construction.

And that’s one of the main reasons I shoot with Fujifilm. I love programming the dials on the body and moving the aperture ring on the lens. For me, it makes the process of using the camera more enjoyable and I feel like I’m more invested in the process. Other digital cameras I’ve used have never given me the same experience. So if we ask ourselves why I don’t do film photography for the physical process, it’s because Fujifilm gives me everything I need.

Fujifilm against film photography: the images

Beyond the process, people take film photos because of how the images look. They covet Kodak Portrait 400 and Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400. I totally understand. Personally, I love the aesthetic of the film and have spoken to several photographers who use it for their work. However, Fujifilm has its own film simulations available as profiles inside its digital cameras. I like to use Pro Neg Hi for my street work and Astia for portraits. That said, I don’t think Fujifilm’s film simulations are as good as they could be. Most of them blend into one, offering such a subtle difference that one doesn’t overpower the other. And, despite best efforts, I don’t think Fujifilm has yet developed a film simulation that truly matches the aesthetics of film photography.

That said, I try to make my images look more cinematic when processing them in Capture One. I play with color tone, reduce contrast, and always apply some form of grain to the final edit. I think I’m getting closer to the film look than Fujifilm, but still, it’s never the same end product that comes out of a roll of film.

final thought

Fujifilm and the editing tools can’t compete with the look of film photography, although I appreciate that they try. The reality is that I don’t aspire too much to the look of the film. Of course, I like that, I like all types of photography. However, I never felt the pressure to dive into short or long term practice.

The title of this piece created the battle: Fujifilm against film photography, but there is no competition. These are different mediums that offer different looks; it depends on what you prefer. For me, it will always be Fujifilm.

What do you think of Fujifilm’s film simulations? Can they compete with the look of the film? And which practice do you prefer, film or digital? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

Stewart C. Hartline