Digital Photography Versus Film – Pro’s and Con’s

The two forms of image capture, film and digital, have each well-formed their niche on society. One can probably assume that those with a true passion for photography prefer to explore both mediums, but for anyone who has yet to dive into this art form, whether young or old, consider the following:

The Pros of Film, and Cons of Digital

  • Film allows for more control over your pictures. The use of a manual film camera gives the user many options, which permits experienced photographers to do things with film that cannot be done with digital cameras. Many digital cameras may have settings that permit manual adjustments to shutter speed, brightness, contrast, as well as various effects such as solarization, b&w, and sepia tone; however, these do not supply freedom to create trails, time lapse in a single picture, or intentional double exposures.
  • Film is a direct translation of light, not a representation with pixels. In other words, when you snap a picture with a film camera, your image is accurate down to the fine resolution of light particles. With digital photography, small squares (pixels) on a “digital grid” represent that light, and these pixels are much larger than the light particles themselves, therefore missing out on many, though very tiny, details.
  • With access to a dark-room, many effects can be achieved. These tricks can be utilized during the self-developing process for more authentic looking effects. Sure, the use of digital photo editing software can achieve effects, but for an experienced developer, or the trained art-savvy eye, only effects performed inside the dark room on film will look authentic, where the digital effects appear campy, cheap, or very artificial.

The Cons of Film, and Pros of Digitial

  • Film is more expensive, more time consuming, and ever-growing harder to purchase. Consider the price to buy the film camera and film, take your 24-48 pictures to have them developed, and pay extra for duplicates to give to your family and friends – or to share them via email or printed from your computer, buy a scanner, scan all the pictures in, and print them out (or email them to friends and family). With digital photography, all you need is the camera (which usually comes packaged with a cable or memory card for transfer).
  • There is no instant gratification with film. you have to wait until you get the pictures from the lab to see them. If you took a bad picture, there is no re-taking it at that point. With a digital camera, within a matter of seconds you will see a preview of your image. Furthermore, you are not limited to a number of photos. Many cameras can store hundreds of images on internal memory alone. If you have a memory card handy, that number will be closer to the thousands.
  • Accidents happen. Suppose you take your film to get pictures developed and an inexperienced technician cracks the film canister wrong, or mixes the wrong chemicals. That’s it, the film is ruined. With digital, there is no risk of losing images, short of the camera itself being destroyed. Of course, you run that same risk with the film camera.
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