Disclaimer: I do not want to change your world view with this article. Any tools, as long as they work and are capable relaying your vision are perfectly fine to use. There is no better choice as far as I can see. What I wanted to find out while writing this, is the magic and romanticism that comes with analogue tools as well as results.
Let’s firstly look at sound.
In a studio session, captured on tapes, there’s a “record” of time, space and most importantly, the music. With no limits in regards to bit rates, all is captured in that recording. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if in future we can read more information from a tape or a vinyl records than we do at the moment, even how the room smelled at the time of recording. We just do not know how much is actually being recorded whereas in digital we record a specific range to begin with.
When sound waves hits the membrane of a microphone, they travel further as voltage, voltage that vibrates in same manner as air particles when sound travels. Thus, the membrane of the speaker will vibrate in the very same fashion as the membrane of the microphone at the input.
In a similar fashion, in photography, light enters the lens. It is then recorded onto a medium. With film, the crystals on film’s coating get exposed to light and chemical reaction happens there and then. On top of that is the way that the neighbouring crystals interact with each other. In digital world this gets converted into a stream of zeroes and ones, with no interaction whatsoever between the pixels. It works just as translating one language into another. In a similar fashion, certain “feel” of the original story is getting lost (lost in translation, hey?). To add to the confusion, this needs to be translated back into an analogue signal for us to “see” the results. That sort of double translation can be very confusing. Just have a look at the example below to see what I mean. I have translated a simple text written in English into Spanish. I then copied the Spanish version and translated that back into English. In the bottom two you can see the differences.
You can still make the story out from the final translation but the flow, feel and emotional response is almost completely gone. I am aware that this might not be the best example but it is in that very fashion in which computer language works and this sort of translation happens with your original input. Of course book translations are done by humans and they work really hard to keep the flow of the original story, which often means they will use different words and expressions than in the original. We are still a bit away from AI that can achieve that.
And here is the same scene, photographed on Fujifilm Provia 100F and then with Nikon D800:
I will let you decide which one you prefer and which one of those feels more “organic”.
I really do not want this to be yet another analogue vs. digital write up. There really is no need for that. Endless comparisons that eventually lead nowhere. 100% crops of photos of cats, recordings of a single pluck on the guitar or what not. There is no winner. There was never any battle to begin with. It’s all made up folks. The only thing is, we as human beings are analogue (carbon) and silicon is yet to show its true self. Using analogue equipment, whether it is shooting on film or recording on tapes, is somewhat romantic. It’s like that old best friend whom you have not seen for years yet when you run in to him it feels familiar, at home, regardless of what changes happened on both of your lives (and this comes from a bloke who started off using digital). I am really struggling not to use word “soul” or “passion” when talking about analogue gear (if you ever seen James May reviewing an Alfa Romeo, you will understand). But the truth is, analogue love is romantic, passionate, gritty and soulful.