Analog photography

Film photography is photography that uses a chemical process based (e.g., photographic film or plate) recording medium. Lomography defines analog photography as 'photography using an analog camera and film'.[1] For more than a hundred years, this was the only kind of photography available.

In a film camera that uses the gelatin-silver process, light falling upon photographic emulsions containing silver halides is recorded as a latent image. The latent image is subjected to photographic processing, which makes it visible and insensitive to light.

Conversely, in a video camera or digital still camera, the signal is captured with a video camera tube or charge coupled device sensor, a device which sends the picture to be digitized and otherwise processed by the camera's electronics. The signal can be transmitted or recorded on a storage device for later playback.

Contrary to the apprehension that digital photography gave a death blow to the previous medium, analog photography not only survived, but also has been expanding across the globe.[2] With the renewed interest in analog photography, new organizations (like Film Is Not Dead, Lomography) have been established and new line of products came into existence to protect and preserve both film and analog photography. In 2017 an e-commerce site for photographic equipment, BH Photo & Video stated that sales of film have been increasing 5% by each passing year for the recent past.[3] Japan Times claimed that though Film Photography is a dying art, Japan could be the starting point of a movement led by young photographers, to keep it alive.[4] First Post claimed that a vast majority of photographers are slowly starting to get back into the film.[5]

Decline and revival

As digital photography took over, Kodak, the major photographic film and cameras producer announced in 2004 that it is would stop selling and making traditional film cameras in North America and Europe.[6] .[7] In 2006, Nikon, the Japanese Camera maker announced that it would stop making most of its film cameras.[8] Incurring losses in analog camera line, Konica-Minolta too announced its discontinuation of cameras and film.[9] In 2008 the first instant film maker Polaroid announced it would stop making instant film.[10]

Interest in all types of analog photography have been in the process of a revival. The Lomography movement started in 1992, which, BBC claimed, has saved film from disappearing [11] Lomography started manufacturing updated versions of Toy cameras like Lomo LC-A (as Lomo LC-A+), Diana (as Diana F+), Holga, Smena and Lubitel.

Analog photographers started experimenting with old alternative photographic processes such as cyanotypes, double exposures, pinholes, and redscales. Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is observed on the last Sunday of April, every year.[12] Organizations such as Roll4Roll spread the artistic movement of double exposures.[13]

Film Photography Project, a web-site dedicated to analog photography, announced in 2007 the comeback of large-format camera by a new startup called The Intrepid Camera Co.[14]


Analog Photography does not just mean Photographic Film and its processing with Photo Chemicals. An example is Tintypes. A tintype, also called ferrotype, is a positive photograph produced by applying a collodion-nitrocellulose solution to a thin, black-enameled metal plate immediately before exposure. The tintype, introduced in the mid-19th century, was essentially a variation on the ambrotype, which was a unique image made on glass, instead of metal. Just as the ambrotype was a negative whose silver images appeared grayish white and whose dark backing made the clear areas of shadows appear dark, so the tintype, actually negative in its chemical formation, was made to appear positive by the black plate.

On the other hand, there is Instant film which develops the image instantly as soon as it is ejected from an Instant camera (without any processing by the photographer or in Photographic Labs). Photographic paper, however should be processed after exposure in a dark room or Photographic Labs.


Photographic Film

Photographic Film (Film Rolls or Film Sheets) come in various formats. A few of them:


Films can be any of the following types:


Black and White negative film may be processed using a variety of different solutions depending upon film type, desirable contrast or grain structure. While many B&W processing developers are no longer made commercially, (Dektol, D-76 and T-Max developers are still made) other solutions may be mixed using original formulas. Color negative film is processed using C-41 process. Color reversible film is processed using E-6 process.

However alternative photographers experiment with different process (which is intended for a different type of film). This is called Cross processing. Cross processing yields unnatural colors and high contrasts.

Processing film does not use analog technology as information is not translated into electric pulses of varying amplitude.


Analog photography is frequently used as a title for those who are keen to work with, or do work with more traditional types of photography; dedicated online communities have been established in which like-minded individuals together share and explore historic photographic practices.[15] Analog photography has become much more popular with younger generations who have become increasingly interested in the traditional photographic practice; sales in film-based cameras began to soar, and youth were seen to embrace some 19th-century technology[16] Urban Outfitters, a clothing retail chain, has joined the trend and offers more than 60 product combinations relating to cameras, most of which are film-based.

Polaroid was once a power in analog instant photography. Facing the digital revolution, Polaroid stopped production of analog instant film in 2008. A company called Impossible Project (now Polaroid Originals) acquired Polaroid's production machines in order to produce new instant films for vintage Polaroid cameras and to revive the analog Polaroid photography technique.

Black-and-white films still produced as of 2013 include:

  • ADOX CHS 100 II
  • ADOX CMS 20
  • ADOX Silvermax
  • ADOX HR-50
  • Film Washi "W" 25
  • FOMA FOMAPAN 100 Classic[17]
  • FOMA FOMAPAN 200 Creative
  • FOMA FOMAPAN 400 Action
  • FOMA RETROPAN 320 soft
  • FujiFilm Neopan Acros 100
  • Ilford Pan F Plus 50
  • Ilford HP5 Plus 400
  • Ilford FP4 Plus 125
  • Ilford Delta 100
  • Ilford Delta 400
  • Ilford Delta 3200
  • Ilford XP2 Super
  • Ilford SFX 200
  • Kentmere 400
  • Kodak TMX 100
  • Kodak TMY-2 400
  • Kodak TRX 400
  • ORWO UN 54[18]
  • ORWO N 74 plus

Rollei also markets a line of black and white films.

German photographic supply house Fotoimpex produces Adox films and fiber-based photographic papers. The company is also running a commitment-to-buy campaign to determine if there is sufficient interest to attempt to re-issue Polytonwarm - a highly specialized fiber-based paper originally produced by now defunct Hungarian manufacturer FORTE.

Reasons for growing popularity

  • Lomography says analog photographers love the thrill of waiting to see their photographs only after the film roll is processed, scanned and printed. (Analog Cameras have no screen to preview the photograph which is about to be captured and the outcome is not immediate.)
  • Though modern-day applications and software have the options to emulate the effects that are achieved with photographs on film, the creative opportunities analog photography provides are much way ahead.
  • The photographer feels the ownership of the photograph when they know what settings have been done and how the photograph has been developed than that when it is printed just by altering it with an application or software.
  • The colors on film photographs are rich, their saturation is dramatic and they give a nostalgic feeling.
  • More scope for experiments and the thrill of returning to the unknown.
  • Young photographers say film has more 'soul' than digital.[19]
  • Analog Photography yields physical end products.

Pros and cons


  • The time and expense of analog photography instills discipline.[20]
  • Depending on the film you can gain a great dynamic range.


  • Analog photography needs more money and more time than digital does.
  • Film is delicate and needs careful handling, refrigeration, protection from sun, etc.
  • Pictures may suffer film grain and fogging.
  • Film processing costs extra, if a lab can be found to do the work.
  • Reciprocity failure during long time exposures.[21]

See also


  • Glenn D. Considine, Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Two-Volume Set, 9th Edition (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2002)
  • Peter M.B. Walker, Chambers Technical Dictionary (Edinburgh: Chambers 1999)
  • William J. Mitchell, The reconfigured eye: visual truth in the post-photographic era (MIT Press, 1994)
  1. Lomography defines Analog Photography
  2. The photographers who refuse to abandon traditional film cameras ( - 18-April-2015)
  3. BH Photo & Video reports increase of sales of film by 5% every year (The Great Film Renaissance of 2017)
  4. Japan could be the starting point of the Analog Photography movement (Japan Times 07-July-2019)
  5. Starting with the niche world of Film Photography in the era of Digital Photography (First Post 07-January-2019)
  6. Kodak embraces digital revolution ( 13-January-2004)
  7. Kodak to stop making 35mm cameras (The Guardian - 14-Jan-2018)
  8. Nikon stops film cameras (NBC news - 13-Jan-2016)
  9. Konica Minolta to stop making cameras and film amid big losses (The Guardian - 20-Jan-2016)
  10. Fans bid farewell to Polaroid film (CNN News - 08-Dec-2008)
  11. Did the Lomo camera save film photography? ( 22-Nov-2012)
  12. Website of Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is organized on the last Sunday of April every year.
  13. Roll4Roll, a web-site that promotes film-swap movement
  14. The Intrepid Camera Co., a start up firm designing Large Format Cameras (14-Jun-2017)
  15. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-10-02. Retrieved 2006-11-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. "Teen hipsters discover joys of analog photography". 16 May 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  17. "FOMA - Films". FOMA. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  18. "ORWO FilmoTec - Camera Films". ORWO FilmoTec GmbH. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  19. Young photographers find film having more 'soul' than digital (The Guardian - 28-Jan-2018)
  20. Just When You Got Digital Technology, Film Is Back (The New York Times - 30-May-2012)
  21. How to calculate reciprocity correction
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