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There are a growing number of apps to turn your smartphone camera into a film camera.  The goal is to recreate the film photography experience.  This app brings full manual control to your smartphone camera. There are physical options to add camera lenses and now buttons to your smartphone to make it look, feel and function more like a “real” camera.  Granted, these physical features arguably emulate digital and film cameras.  Taking it one step further, however, the overwhelming design trend in digital cameras has been retro.  High-end digital camera design not only emulates the look of film cameras, but the functionality as well (e.g., dials and knobs to select settings, over LCD and touch screens).

The film emphasis is more apparent with apps that require users to wait for their pictures to be “developed” and then seen. Indeed, one such app markets the value of the waiting for pictures to be developed to improve photography skills.  Another app goes the extra mile by requiring users to wait a week or so for photo “development,” after which point they send users photobooks with their pictures (presumably without negatives).

So why the interest in film photography in a digital world?  Experience.

The more deliberative process of film photography enhances the picture-taking experience and results, as well as the experience of whatever you’re photographing.  If you have an unlimited supply of anything, you will likely not use it judiciously.  But, if you only have 24 exposures in a roll of film, for example, you will motivated to take your time and think about each shot.  Additionally, if you can’t study your photos immediately after taking them on a 3.5 inch LCD screen, you won’t be distracted away from the photo-worthy event that you are experiencing, which in turn should theoretically enable you to remain immersed in, and remember, the moment. Thus, the film photography experience fosters a better experience overall.

The visual and artistic qualities of film pictures are more than nostalgia.  Film photography arguably still has unsurpassed color, resolution and warmth – yes, even compared to today’s digital cameras.[8]  For example, almost every smartphone camera app, ranging from stock camera apps to Instagram, includes editing features to make pictures look more like film pictures (e.g., borders and filters).  Warmth is what those different filters in Instagram add to pictures in order to make them look like film pictures from the past.

Resolution is a more objective benchmark than color or warmth.  Film has superior resolution to digital.  Specifically, a digital camera would have to be 156 to 175 megapixels to provide the same kind of detail as 35MM film.

The film versus digital photography debate is subjective to a great extent, and consequently almost endless, or even pointless.  The experience of taking pictures with a film camera is distinct and unique – it produces better images (at least in terms of resolution), as well as memories.  Film is the superior experience.

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