Analog over digital—because there’s something about film that camera filters just can’t replicate

Home of Sanchez's

Written by Pau Gutierrez, with photos by Monica Cabungcal

The unpredictability of film photography in an ironically perfectly-curated online space proves how nostalgia fuels the rising popularity of “retro/old school” trends.

Home of Sanchez's
Home of Sanchez’s

My first film camera was an old Kodak Instamatic 233—a simple, no-nonsense analog with a flashcube socket and two-speed shutter: 1/40sec and 1/80sec. An uncle, or perhaps a godfather who worked abroad and made it just in time for Christmas, gave it to me as a present some years ago. The roll of 35mm film inside it had already expired, and the 126 cartridge film was, sadly, discontinued in 2008.

A picturesque neon sign displayed in Common Room, Katipunan
A picturesque neon sign displayed in Common Room, Katipunan

Still, I wanted to try and shoot some fresh film just for the heck of it, so I bought a Fujifilm QuickSnap Simple Ace 400. It comes with 27 exposure roll that has Fujicolor Superia X-TRA and 400 ISO film designed to produce bright, vivid photos in a variety of lighting conditions. Most of the photos turned out beautifully, albeit some that were underexposed.

neon sign displayed in Common Room, Katipunan
neon sign displayed in Common Room, Katipunan

There’s a plethora of photo app filters that emulate the look of film: Huji Cam, Gudak, Filmborn (which, by far, creates the closest realistic film presets), Calla, and many more. These apps are designed to recreate the experience of shooting analog, but is it really the same with the real thing?

Admittedly, the answer is no.

Not long ago, I asked a friend, Monica, who also use a Fujifilm Ace 400, to send some photos she took with her disposable to strengthen my case. And hey, there are a lot of cool reasons that make film photography interestingly unique! Here’s what’s on top of my list:

Each film counts.

Bean Bags at Real Coast and Surf Resort
Bean Bags at Real Coast and Surf Resort
Shower area at Real Coast and Surf Resort
Shower area at Real Coast and Surf Resort
Beachfront of Real Coast Surf Resort
Beachfront of Real Coast Surf Resort
The Calm rhythm of waves, perfectly captured in stills
The Calm rhythm of waves, perfectly captured in stills
Dogs at Real Coast and Surf Resort
Dogs at Real Coast and Surf Resort

The film, inarguably, is a little expensive: a typical roll of film only has about 24 exposures compared to the 10,000+ JPEGs you can store on a 32GB memory card. It only makes sense to capture moments that really count, unlike in this age where people have 68 photos of their Starbucks cup simply because “the photo before could have been just a little bit better.”

They’re made to last forever.

Manila Bay taken from New World Hotel
Manila Bay taken from New World Hotel
Sunset over Manila Bay taken from New World Hotel
Sunset over Manila Bay taken from New World Hotel

I think everyone is guilty of hoarding photos, but either by intention or accidental loss, files have either already vanished in some hard drive or a file folder doomed of never being seen again.

Film just looks, well, better.

Mundane Routines
Mundane Routines
Colorful Blooms
Colorful Blooms
Colors of Summer
Colors of Summer

Sure, Lightroom filter packs can give you beautiful photos just the same, but have you ever wondered why photos taken from the ‘90s, particularly those stored in vernacular family photo albums have this imperfect symmetry to them? I guess there’s just something about the laid-back vibe, grainy look, and nostalgic feel of a photo taken by a film camera.

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Also read: Simple Travel Photography Tips for Beginners

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