ⓘ Analog photography is a misnomer for Film Photography which uses a physical, non-electronic recording medium, where light is captured by sensitive silver partic ..


ⓘ Analog photography

Analog photography is a misnomer for Film Photography which uses a physical, non-electronic recording medium, where light is captured by sensitive silver particles, and the image will remain printed when processed chemically. This method was traditionally used for more than a century, prior to more recent Digital Photography based on electronic sensors. Lomography defines analog photography as photography using an analog camera and film. This is incorrect as analog describes an instrument whose output is the continuous function of time, which has a constant relation to the input. Neither film nor film cameras are analog.

In a film camera that uses photographic emulsions, light falling upon silver halides is recorded as a latent image, which is then subjected to photographic processing, making it visible and insensitive to light.

In a video camera or digital still camera, light is captured by a video camera tube or charge coupled device sensor, which sends the picture as a digital signal to the cameras electronics. The signal is then transmitted or recorded on a storage device for later playback or enlarging.

Contrary to the belief that digital photography gave a death blow to Film, film photography not only survived, but actually expanded across the globe. With the renewed interest in traditional photography, new organizations like Film Is Not Dead, Lomography were established and new lines of products helped to perpetuate film photography. In 2017, BH Photo & Video, an e-commerce site for photographic equipment, stated that film sales were increasing by 5% each year in the recent past. Japan Times claimed that though Film Photography is a "dying art", the country could be the starting point of a movement led by young photographers to keep film alive. First Post claimed that a vast majority of photographers are slowly coming back to film.


1. 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. In 2006, Nikon, the Japanese Camera maker announced that it would stop making most of its film cameras. Incurring losses in analog camera line, Konica-Minolta too announced its discontinuation of cameras and film. In 2008 the first instant film maker Polaroid announced it would stop making instant film.

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

Film 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. Organizations such as Roll4Roll spread the artistic movement of double exposures.

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


2. Material

Film 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.


3. Format

Photographic Film

Silver-based Film supports come in various formats, of which the following are still in use:

  • 110 film mono-perforated roll in plastic cassette
  • Cinema 16mm / 35mm bi-perforated roll on metal spool
  • 120 film 60mm non-perforated roll in paper sleeve
  • Large format 4x5" 5x8" 8x10" etc. gelatin sheets.
  • Super-8 mono-perforated roll in plastic cassette
  • 135 film 35mm bi-perforated roll in metal can

4. Types

Films can be any of the following types:

  • Tungsten, in both negative and reversal color films
  • Infrared, mostly for black and white films
  • Daylight, in both negative and reversal color films

5. Processes

Black and White negative film may be processed using a variety of different solutions as well as processing time control, depending on the film type, targeted 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 uses C-41 process, while color reversible film uses E-6 process for color slides. Kodachrome used to have its own process with one developer bath per each film color layer.

Meanwhile alternative photographers experiment different processes such as Cross processing which yields unnatural colors and high contrasts. This basically means processing a reversal film using a negative developer bath, or the contrary.

Film processing does not use analog technology, since information is not translated into electric pulses of varying amplitude.


6. Popularity

Analog photography is frequently misused 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. 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 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 instant film in 2008. A company called Impossible Project now Polaroid Originals acquired Polaroids production machines in order to produce new instant films for vintage Polaroid cameras and to revive the Polaroid photography technique.

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

  • FOMA RETROPAN 320 soft
  • Ilford XP2 Super
  • Ilford Pan F Plus 50
  • FOMA FOMAPAN 100 Classic
  • ADOX HR-50
  • Film Washi "W" 25
  • FOMA FOMAPAN 200 Creative
  • ADOX Silvermax
  • Kodak TMY-2 400
  • Kodak TRI-X 400
  • Rollei also markets a line of black and white films
  • Ilford SFX 200
  • FujiFilm Neopan Acros 100
  • Ilford FP4 Plus 125
  • ADOX CMS 20
  • ORWO N 74 plus
  • Ilford Delta 100
  • Ilford Delta 3200
  • Kodak T-MAX 100
  • Ilford HP5 Plus 400
  • FOMA FOMAPAN 400 Action
  • Kentmere 400
  • ADOX CHS 100 II
  • Ilford Delta 400
  • ORWO UN 54

Color films mostly 135 and 120 formats sold on the market in 2020 are:

  • Fujichrome Velvia 100
  • Fuji Superia X-tra 400
  • Kodak Vision-3 500 Tungsten
  • Fuji Superia premium 400
  • Cinestill Daylight 50
  • Fujicolor Superia 100 R
  • Hillvale Sunny 400
  • Kodak Ultramax 400
  • Cinestill Tungsten 800
  • Kodak Ektachrome 100
  • Kodak Vision-3 250 Daylight
  • Fujifilm Pro 400 H
  • Kodak Ektar 100 Professional
  • Fujichrome Velvia 50
  • Kodak Color Plus 200
  • Kodak Portra 400 Professional
  • Yashica Golden 400
  • Fujuchrome Provia 100F
  • Fuji Superia Venus 800
  • Kodak Portra 160 Professional
  • Yashica Color 400
  • Fujicolor Superia 200
  • Kodacolor Gold 200
  • Fujifilm Industrial 100


6.1. Popularity Reasons for growing popularity

  • 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.
  • More scope for experiments and the thrill of returning to the unknown.
  • Though modern-day applications and software have the options to emulate the effects that are achieved with photographs on film, the creative opportunities film photography provides are much way ahead.
  • Lomography says analog photographers love the thrill of waiting to see their photographs only after the film roll is processed, scanned and printed. Film Cameras have no screen to preview the photograph which is about to be captured and the outcome is not immediate. Of course, Lomography is misusing the term analog by definition.
  • Young photographers say film has more soul than digital.
  • The colors on film photographs are rich, their saturation is dramatic and they give a nostalgic feeling.
  • Film Photography yields physical end products.


7. Pros and cons


  • Depending on the film sensitivity you can obtain a wide dynamic range.
  • In optimal processing and storage conditions, a film can have a lifetime duration.
  • Film equipment and lenses are much cheaper to acquire than their digital equivalent.
  • A film-printed non-editable image can help as a legal evidence of the subject pictured,
  • The time and expense of film photography instills craft and patience.


  • Pictures may suffer film grain and fogging, and also visible dust if not removed.
  • Film processing has a cost, if a lab can be found, and needs enlarging or scanning.
  • Reciprocity failure may occur during long time exposures.
  • Film photography needs more time and skill than digital does.
  • Film is delicate and needs careful handling, refrigeration, protection from sun, etc.