Film versus Digital versus Instant

I know, I know, there are a million posts about the benefits of Film or Digital and which is best, which makes you more hipster, which has ‘better’ image quality, and on and on and on and . . . yawn . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Yeah, me too. The answer to which is best is simple – whichever you like best. As for which has the best image quality – it is so dependant on the scans of your negatives, the size of your digital camera’s sensor, the lenses you’re using, etc, etc that the argument is ludicrous. As for which makes you more hipster, film wins that hands down along with jeans and shrts that are way too tight and spending more time grooming your beard than the average person spends working for a living.

As for instant photography, it rarely seems to get a look in as part of the debate.

My question is more personal – which do I go with, how do I continue my photography journey? Lets start with the cameras I have and how they make me feel. Yes, ‘feel’, Not, ‘how great are the images’. I like the images I make with all these formats and genuinely believe the experience of making these images is as important as the final shot.

For digital photography I have mostly been using a nearly 10 year old (launched 2009) ‘entry-level’ digital SLR with a 10.2 megapixel sensor, the Nikon D3000 – and I love it. As for lenses, I have a Yongnuo 35mm, a Yongnuo 50mm and a Sigma 70-300mm. Before you say it, yes, I know these are not exactly high-end lenses with great reputations but they do everything I need.

In addition I have a Holga Digital, a camera with a mostly terrible reputation, which is . . . lets go with ‘interesting’ to use. I honestly haven’t decided yet whether I like it or not, I suspect that sometime soon I will make a decision one way or the other. Mostly I think I need to understand what it is for.

For film shooting I have a Zenit 11 with Jupiter 135mm and Helios 58mm lenses. From the weight of it I think it may be made from a melted down Soviet tank and it is pretty basic in the way it works. This is a camera I have loved in the past but am currently ambivalent about, as I am about film in general. I do have and adapter to use the lenses on the Nikon digital SLR so the Zenit isn’t essential if I want to use them.

I also have a Lomography La Sardina, if the Zenit is basic and tank like then there may not be a word for how basic this is and it is made of such lightweight plastic you would probably need 50 of them to get close to the weight of the Zenit.

Lastly, I have got a Canon Canonet QL17 – allegedly the least boring camera Canon have ever made! This came to me in non-working order, with a bashed about lens barrel and a shutter and aperture stuck solid. I’ve got it working but the Automatic mode is no more, the wiring inside was long destroyed. The front part of the lens barrel is not quite circular anymore and the retaining ring for the plastic lens-surround is broken but holds it in place. I have yet to properly put a test roll through it, will the use of a manual rangefinder reawaken my interest in film photography? I have no idea.

For Instant photography I have a Polaroid 635 Supercolour, it uses 600 film which is available from Polaroid Originals. The film is good but it is expensive, boy is it expensive. The one thing this camera does give me every time I use it, despite the expense . . . a big smile. It is just fun.

So, where do I go from here?

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