Great song, great album – you can even get it on vinyl. Does it apply to me – an analog man in a digital world? I don’t think so.

I suppose there are lots of ways to go analog today – write with a fountain pen, read books, drive an old car, use a Daytimer or (cough) slide rule. But in my case going back to analog would be in two major areas – music and photography.

Music

I do have a fair vinyl collection of LPs dating back to the mid-60s. I have my 1983 Akai turntable. I even got a small cheap preamp so it would work with my 2014 Sony amplifier. Am I about to join the Millennium generation in buying vinyl all over again? What do you think?

The truth is, I have had all the aggravation I need with the click, Pop, WHUMP! of a well-worn disk, or the wow and flutter of a stretched cassette. Maybe a CD lacks some of that “character.” However, a casual listen to the digital remastered Stones and Beatles classics in my CD collection sounds amazing.

And there’s more. The ability to stream music with Spotify anywhere in the house is something an analog man would never have. Right now I just dialed up “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” on my desktop. My little Android tablet lets me play it through my old school stereo if I want.

I might add that my digital hearing aids also vastly improve my appreciation of classic rock – probably more than the difference I’d see between streaming and vinyl. With the hearing aids, I experience the opening acoustic riffs on “Street Fighting Man” the same way I did 50 years ago. The sitar and piano are crisp and clean. Not bad.

Photography

I have two analog (35mm) film cameras in my closet. I have had each of them since 2002 or so.

The first is a Rollei Prego 30 – a small light travel camera with a simple fixed lens. It was cheap to buy but high quality – Rollei never made junk. I used this camera early on in my business travel to document plant trials and runs at co-packers. Here is an example from a plant run in Edmonton in 2002.

I had to get the film developed and scanned to use it in presentations, so the Rollei got replaced by an early digicam.

My second film camera is a Nikon F80, which has a lot of great 1980s AF lenses that still fit my digital camera. The film camera body was last used in 2010. Here’s a pic from that film shoot with some old Fuji 400 film.

Both cameras are “stored serviceable.” Both still could be put back into use with the purchase of some 35mm film – in fact, I still have some old film around that might still be OK to use. But I don’t think I will be shooting film again for a few reasons:

  • Options to buy your favorite film are decreasing. You can still get color print film easily enough. Slide film is a bit harder. However, companies like Fuji are discontinuing multi-packs so it’ll be costlier. Kodak film is still around even though the company isn’t.
  • It is getting harder to get film processed. Local one-hour photofinishing is dead. You have to mail your film in or take it into the city for developing.
  • Traveling with a film camera is a hassle. You need to take enough film with you, as who knows if you can pick up the odd roll if you forget to bring enough. Digital cameras can store thousands of images.
  • X-ray machines at airports haven’t been a problem in the past – but who knows how they treat film today?
  • Digital shooters are used to changing ISO to compensate for low light. That can’t happen with a film camera unless you change the film roll.
  • Let’s face it – it’s a lot more convenient to review your photos at once than to wait weeks to see your images. Fuji has made quite a splash recently with its instant film photography – that seems to intrigue the younger set more than the old school 35mm.
  • Shooting film has a convoluted workflow and I don’t think the majority of smartphone/Instagram photographers would want to shoot, wait 2 weeks, download scans and upload them later.

In my life, tossing out vinyl records and cassettes plus photographic film takes a lot of analog man away. And I stopped using a slide rule a while ago. So digital appears to be my future. Oh yes, I don’t read newspapers either.