Digital imaging has taken over and the technology has expanded the tools available for the photographer, but for Pinhole photography, film is still king. There is really nothing you can do to change the physics of passing light through a small aperture. Digital camera sensors are not really designed to capture all the detail that pinhole photography can provide in such a small area – even if you are shooting with expensive full frame cameras. With film you can have access to super large area recording surfaces. Shoot a 6×12 or even 6×17 panoramic, or if you have access to one of the hundreds of available everlasting large format cameras, you can be shooting negatives that go from 4×5, 5×7, 8×10 – or even if you want to build a monster 11×14 or larger black box – you can do it.
Shooting with film is an art that will provide a superb analog vintage look that is hard to recreate with digital media. Images that take 1 or 2 hours have a special quality to them, as the sun moves and the angle of incidence of light changes, the image keeps transforming.
Film is not that hard to develop, and fairly economical to purchase and process. Especially if you use paper negatives – they are low cost, and super easy to process visually under safe light.
There are thousands of people experimenting with Pinhole Photography all over the world – and there are probably as many reasons and opinions as to why making pinhole images is fun. There as a group of people that argues that part of the fun is the uncertainty of what kind of image you will get – will it be framed correctly? – were my exposure calculations accurate to render a usable negative? For me the creative process focuses on the subject and the adventure to get to that special place and capture the image I have created inside my mind. Now imagine, if you have a good deal of certainty that your images will be properly exposed – That whatever time an effort you take to find and execute the images will be worthwhile and they will come out great. Now that is more fun for me – the ability to concentrate on the image. Understanding the math and all the small complications of pinhole photography is great, but it takes me away from my images. I don’t want to risk all my time and effort spent to create an image on a bad exposure – I just want to make the best images I can to my ability and creativity.
Then you have the grounding reality of an expensive art form (or hobby). In film photography each shot you take has a steep cost – not just in materials and development – but on your time. Why not make the most of it with the proper tool.