Craig Mod says goodbye to cameras in his New Yorker piece, and reflects on his love of film photography:
In late 2004, after graduating college, I scrounged together enough cash to buy my first real digital camera: the Nikon D70, which was almost identical to the 8008 except that, when the shutter opened, light hit an array of sensors rather than film. Even though that difference seemed small, the purchase made me nervous. I had developed hundreds, if not thousands, of rolls of black-and-white film in my badly ventilated, chemical-filled university apartment. Would I miss watching ghostly images appear from the silver halide salts, the sting of acetic acid on my hands and in my nostrils?
I stopped using film almost immediately. The benefits were too undeniable: results were immediately visible on the camera’s rear screen, and I could snap thousands of photos on a trip without worrying about fragile rolls of film, which were always an X-ray machine away from erasure. But the D70 was unromantic. It didn’t have the strangely alluring mechanical rawness of the 500C, while the shift to digital imaging disrupted the compartmentalized, meditative processes that had punctuated photography for the previous hundred and fifty years: shooting, developing, and printing. As anyone working in a creative field knows, the perspective gained by spending time away from work is invaluable. Before digital (and outside of Polaroids), photography was filled with such forced perspective. No matter how quickly you worked, it was common for hours–if not days, weeks, or longer–to pass between seeing the image through the viewfinder and reviewing it in the darkroom. Digital technology scrunches these slow, drawn-out processes together.
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