Photography is film

Erwin Puts:

“Most people assume that digital photography (a huge misnomer) is simply photography by other means than the use of film and chemicals. ... This attitude is not only widespread it is the conventional wisdom worldwide. Being universally accepted does not make it true.”

“The essence of film-based photography is not only the fact that the mechanism of capturing an image and fixing it in a silver halide grain structure creates a final picture that can hardly be altered. The fundamental issue here is the fact that the laws of physics create the image, in particular by the characteristics of light rays and the interaction between photons and silver halide grains. Photography is writing with light, and fixing the shadows.”

“Photography is not only intimately linked to the use of film, but in fact depends for its very existence on film.”

“The scene we want to photograph exists and is real: the scene emits electromagnetic energy that is collected by the lens and is transmitted as wave fronts that are captured on a recording medium consisting of silver halide grain clumps. Image formation then is physical and the image recorded by wave fronts in the emulsion layer is molded and fixed in the structure and distribution of the grain clumps.”

“Film has a more human texture, an emotional weight that can be seen ... Celluloid imagery is real and it shines through the grain of the film, the subtle colour space and the depth of the image. It is this sense of reality that is the defining characteristic of silver halide photography.”

Bruce Weber, 2013:

“When I take photographs I still use film. ... I'm just from a different time.”

Peter Lindbergh, 2016:

“Digital photography looks heartless and terrible.”

Arthur Elgort, 2021:

“Now magazines are terrible. If you look at Vogue now, it's terrible. ... Everything is wrong.”

Cellulose triacetate rollfilm in 2024:
135 (35mm) 120 (6x6cm, etc.)
  • Color reversal/transparency/slide
    • Kodak Ektachrome E100
    • Fujichrome Provia 100F
    • Fujichrome Velvia 50
  • Color reversal/transparency/slide
    • Kodak Ektachrome E100
      • (polyester base in 120)
    • Fujichrome Provia 100F
    • Fujichrome Velvia 50
  • Color negative
    • Kodak Ektar 100
    • Kodak Portra 160
    • Kodak Portra 400
    • Harman Phoenix 200 (experimental)
  • Color negative
    • Kodak Ektar 100
    • Kodak Portra 160
    • Kodak Portra 400
  • Black & white negative
    • Kodak Tri-X 400
    • Ilford Pan F Plus 50
    • Ilford FP4 Plus 125
    • Ilford HP5 Plus 400
    • Ferrania P30 80
    • Ferrania P33 160
    • Fomapan 100
    • Fomapan 400
  • Black & white negative
    • Kodak Tri-X 400
    • Ilford Pan F Plus 50
    • Ilford FP4 Plus 125
    • Ilford HP5 Plus 400
    • Ferrania P30 80

Cellulose triacetate film base:
  • Island Polymer Industries, Germany
  • Daicel Corporation, Japan

New film camera equipment in 2024:
  • Leica rangefinder cameras (135, 35mm film)
    • MP
    • M-A
    • M6
      • Leica M lenses (also vintage Leica and Leitz lenses)
      • Zeiss ZM lenses (made by Cosina in Japan)
      • Voigtländer VM lenses (made by Cosina in Japan)
      • Rayqual L-M adapter to use vintage Leitz, Canon, and Nikkor screw/thread mount lenses on Leica M-series cameras
  • Linhof and Alpa technical cameras (120, 6x7cm and 6x9cm film) and the excellent Linhof Super Rollex rollfilm backs to fit them are still made, but the lenses with Copal mechanical shutters will have to be obtained secondhand nowadays

Secondhand film camera equipment:
  • Leica rangefinder cameras (135, 35mm film)
  • Rolleiflex 2.8 and 3.5 twin lens reflex cameras (120, 6x6cm film)
  • Hasselblad 500 series single lens reflex cameras (120, 6x6cm film)
  • Anything you like that is in good condition

1990s cameras that I wish they had made forever:
  • Nikon F5
  • Nikon FM2
  • Nikonos-V
  • Hasselblad 501CM

Exposure meters:
  • Gossen
    • Digipro F2 (AA 1.5V Alkaline battery)
    • Sixtomat F2 (AA 1.5V Alkaline battery)

Lens filters:
  • Heliopan (they use brass filter rings and also offer a nice range of brass step-up rings; the filter range is pretty limited nowadays, they seem to be discontinuing most types)
  • Tiffen (they use aluminum filter rings; one of the largest filter ranges still available; can make some sizes not in the standard offering; most of the filters are uncoated)
    • Sky 1A: Good general filter. Some color correction for color transparency film without much warming. No exposure compensation necessary.
    • 812: Warming filter unique to Tiffen. Can be nice with color transparency film.
    • 81A, 81B: Warming filters with different color tone than the 812. Might be preferred sometimes with color transparency film.
    • 85B: Filter to correct tungsten-balanced film to daylight.
    • 80A: Filter to correct daylight-balanced film to tungsten/incandescent lighting.

Tripods and heads:
  • Berlebach (unfinished wood by special request)
  • Ries (natural finished wood by special request)
  • Linhof (wood and aluminum)
  • Foba (aluminum)
  • Slik (aluminum; look for the made in Japan models)

Cable releases:
  • Linhof
  • Silvestri
  • Nikon
    • AR-3 (if you can find it)

  • Silvestri
    • 5054 4x (45mm field of view)
    • 5056 6x (35mm field of view)
    • 5058 8x (45mm field of view)
  • Peak
    • 1990-4 Anastigmat 4x (58mm field of view)
    • 1990-7 Anastigmat 7x (41mm field of view)
    • 2038 Achromatic 4x (45x45mm field of view)

Light boxes:
  • GTI
    • GL transparency viewers
      • with GTI Graphiclite 100, 5000 Kelvin fluorescent lamps
  • JUST Normlicht
    • Classic Line transparency viewers
      • with JUST daylight 5000 proGraphic, 5000 Kelvin fluorescent lamps
  • Kaiser
    • Prolite Scan SC transparency viewers
      • with Dulux, 5000 (5400?) Kelvin fluorescent lamps
  • Logan
    • Tru-View 810 transparency viewer
      • with 5000 Kelvin fluorescent lamp
      • most affordable model; not sure if replacement lamps are available

Slide mounts:
  • Reflecta (135, 35mm film)
    • CS2 slide mounts
  • Kaiser (135, 35mm film)
    • C.A.M-System-CS slide mounts (these are the Reflecta CS2)
  • Archivtechnik Kunze (120, 6x4.5cm, 6x6cm, 6x7cm)
    • JOURNAL FIX 645
    • JOURNAL FIX 66
    • JOURNAL FIX 67
  • Jensen Diaprojektoren (120, 6x8cm, 6x9cm)
    • 6x8
    • 6x9

Slide projectors:
  • Braun (135, 35mm film)
    • NOVOMAT E130
    • NOVOMAT E150
  • Jensen Diaprojektoren (120, 6x9cm)
    • GMF690

Cotton cloths for cleaning equipment and making pouches:
  • Selvyt
    • SR Type, cotton
    • PR Type, cotton
      • The small premium cloths are also nice for cleaning lenses and filters

Glassine or pergamyn paper envelopes, sleeves, and pages for film:
  • Hama
  • MACO (Hans O. Mahn)
  • CTS Conservation
  • Kenro

Archival paper envelopes and boxes for film, slides, and prints:
  • CTS Conservation, Italy
  • Conservation by Design, England
  • Conservation Resources, England
  • G. Ryder, England
  • Preservation Equipment Ltd, England
  • Gaylord Archival, United States
  • Hollinger Metal Edge, United States
  • Talas, United States
  • University Products, United States

Darkroom, film and print processing equipment:
  • JOBO
  • Paterson
  • Beseler

Darkroom, chemicals:
  • ADOX
  • JOBO
  • Moersch
  • Bellini Foto

Darkroom, paper:
  • Foma
  • Ilford
  • Slavich
  • Fujifilm (color)

Darkroom, enlargers:
  • Dunco
  • Kaiser
  • Kienzle
  • Beseler

Darkroom, enlarging lenses:
  • Rodenstock
    • Rogonar-S (good)
    • Rodagon (better)
    • Apo-Rodagon-N (best)

Darkroom, mechanical stopwatches:
  • Hanhart
    • 115.0104-0S Robust 100 crown stopper
    • 125.0104-0S Robust 200 addition timer

Lab-size photographic processing equipment:
  • Colenta (roller transport film processors, print processors)
  • Polielettronica (silver halide printers, LaserLab 50x115, LaserLab 76x125)
  • Noritsu (silver halide minilab printers, QSS-3904G, QSS-3901G)
  • Fujifilm (silver halide minilab printers, Frontier LP9700, Frontier LP5700R)

Scanning, film scanners using PMT:
  • Labs looking to offer the highest quality might consider the old-school circa 1990s photomultiplier tube (PMT) drum scanners from Linotype-Hell and Heidelberg, the ChromaGraph, Primescan, and Tango models. These will have to be obtained secondhand and require a significant amount of accompanying hardware, old software, and operater knowledge and skill. Photomultiplier tubes with incandescent lamps are the oldest scanning type and still the best.