Film Vs. HD: 35mm Film Remains Costly but Offers Advantages to HD Video

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Film vs. HD Costs

When it comes to the average low budget filmmaker or digital videographer the idea of using film seems completely irrational. With HD video now being ushered in as the standard you can get high quality images for a price that is so far below that of film stock that it puts it into reach for those outside of the larger budgets. Even though film seems as though it is out of the question, there are still some things that you get from things like 16 or 25 millimeter film that even the highest quality HD camera will not give you.

Quality of Film and HD Video

There is one simple truth and it is that image quality is relative. You can look at the clarity of HD video and talk about its technical benefits, but it does not have the same look and feel as film. Film has a specific look that is native to its technology and stock. The production values still look better with film and the color is often easier.


It also tends to cover up mistakes with camera positioning, such as those that happen with quick shoots. On digital video of any kind the stock immediately looks closer to that of a camcorder than a theatrical film and therefore the faith of professionalism is not extended by the audience. If there are unconventional choices made or accidents film will give them a sense of legitimacy.

35mm Film

When it comes to 35 millimeter film specifically, over the independent favorite 16 millimeter, you are going to even get superior image quality in terms of things like clarity and shading. HD is clearly an advanced technology, but 35 millimeter is that synergy of picture quality and classic image composure.

Positive Limitations of Using Film

The limitations that come with film also add to its benefits in some ways. The film stock is expensive so you often take better economy of shots, have shorter shoot schedules, longer rehearsal times, and make sure you know what you want ahead of time. The cameras are larger and more complicated so you need a more experienced person operating it.

Deciding if Film or HD is Better for You

Film is going to look better for some time into the future, but you have to make a choice about the kind of film you are making and how important it is to have filmed images. For most films you are not going to need anything more than a good HD digital video camera, but to capture the vistas you still should look toward film.