Digital vs film photography -The Showdown
In this Digital vs film photography basics page were going to look at some of the pros and the cons of both.
I must admit, that years ago when digital photography first became fairly common place, I had my reservations. It just didn't seem 'right'.
After all, the post processing, developing and printing stage were the second part of the creative side of photography, not to mention whether it was actually possible for a digital image to be able to replicate the look of film.
A long time photography enthusiast friend of mine stated “That's not photography!” after I told him one of his bum shots (I mean bad shots, not a shot of someones bum) could easily be rectified by using some digital
Due to the fact that he had never printed a photo in his life, he was unaware that photographers often 'tweaked' their shots in the darkroom after the shot had actually been taken. Then and now.
The pros & the Cons
Digital vs Film Photography
I surmised that the only real way we can be sure which is better in digital vs film photography, would be if we compared the two. This is not so easy to do, as to be honest there are many factors involved, and your criteria may be different to mine.
This debate has been raging since the dawning of digital photography, and it's not an easy one to argue. So, after much thought and deliberation, I decided the only way to finally lay this hot-potato to rest would be scientifically.
After much research and scientific study, I therefore present to you the only true comparison in digital vs film photography...
The 'Smile-o-Meter' Table of Scientifical Thought
There you have it! Digital photography receives five out of seven smiles 5/7, whereas film photography receives just two out of seven smiles 2/7 in the digital vs film photography showdown, the grudge match.
OK, so perhaps I was stretching it ever so slightly when I said it was a scientific study. But I can assure you the 'smile-o-meter' always comes in useful when I want to prove beyond any reasonable doubt (of my own) the efficacy of my argument.
In all seriousness, let me explain myself:
Cost: Although you can pick up film cameras pretty cheap now, over the long-term the cost of film, processing and printing, will really add up and exceed the cost of digital photography. Initially digital photography equipment is more expensive, but it really makes back all of that money by comparison.
Flexibility: In view of taking shots and digital vs film photography, the ISO, which was the film speed setting as marked on the box of film, still exists in a digital camera, and is now used for creative purposes, and the taking of shots in low level lighting and various other conditions/situations.
What involved buying and loading different film now simply involves turning a dial. You don't need a whole film at one ISO speed as before, you can change it for each shot. You can also change the lens without worrying about exposing a frame or even the entire roll of film, as was the case with a film slr.
Further more, the ability to manipulate the image afterwards far far exceeds the possibilities as they were with a print from film. Some kinds of photo editing were practically impossible with film.
Longevity: Digital images are notoriously easy to lose if you don't back up your files. Unless you print out your picture, your image doesn't really exist in the real world (you may know this already).
An actual negative and/or print is only likely to be misplaced. It could get scratched mind you, but unless you are in the habit of taking them out of the plastic neg-holder, it's unlikely, if handled with care.
Digital Photography Storage
hardware itself isn't infallible, so for this reason, and the reasons above, film definitely wins on this count.
Storage: It's way easier for a professional photographer to have thousands of images stored in a hard-drive, than to have a huge filing cabinet with reams and reams of negatives, and the time and effort it would take to categorize them all, as opposed to a bit of cut & paste and file transfers from memory cards. Digital wins this one hands down.
Creative Potential: Sad as it may seem, digital photography wins this one too. Although technically speaking, the taking of photos in digital photography and film photography is pretty much the same, aside from film being the receiver of the light, it's the flexibility offered in post editing that really edges digital photography into the winning position.
Couple this with the ability to see the actual shot you took seconds after you took it, creating an almost instant feedback-loop, and this one point really hammers digital photography home.
As much as I love film photography, I can't tell you how frustrating it is to waste a whole day taking shots you thought were great, only to end up slapping your forehead after the rolls were processed and printed, and you realized what you did wrong.
The Cool Factor: Let's face it, anything a bit 'retro' and romantic is always sure to win 'the cool factor'. 8mm film always managed it in comparison to video for years. Digital vs film photography is no different. Film wins.
Saleability: As long as the image resolution is high enough for its use, publication or the web having quite different requirements, the speed and ease at which an image can be delivered is often paramount.
I'm not sure the exact figures, but it's pretty obvious almost no one is receiving images by mail these days. Unless you're involved in art photography and the sale of your prints, you will pretty much always need a digital file. It is possible to get a digital file from a negative that's true... but why bother?
The Gunslingers Remorse
From Digital vs Film Photography to How to take Photos With Style: Click Here
With the above considerations in mind, I can't see how film can ever make a real comeback; in the digital vs film photography showdown, film was definitely slower on the draw (no puns about 'slow film' please).
The purists will always disagree, but as much as from a sentimental viewpoint I might like it to be true... it just isn't.
Incidentally, you may say you prefer 'the look' of a photograph made with film, like in the comparison pictures at the beginning; but just to let you know, they are both digital shots I took, with one being edited using a plugin that mimics the look of ISO film speed and the look of certain famous film types from yesteryear. Sorry 'bout that... just trying to make a point.
In short, no one cares where or how the image came about, film or digital, they only care about the result... the main point was always to create the image how you wanted, not to come up with ever more complex ways to achieve that aim and then hold them up as the best way, no matter the evidence contradicts it.
Film was just simply a convenient medium at the time, more convenient than chemically treated silver plates. Now a digital image is the more convenient than film. It's all about the image, and the most effective way of getting it... it always has been, and it always will be.
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