Digital vs. Film Photography


With many photographers switching to digital cameras, is film obsolete? Both technologies have advantages and pitfalls.




Easy to obtain:

You can pop into stores everywhere and buy a roll of film. Will that availability change over time? You canąt buy a digital memory card just everywhere. Will that change?


Cameras are inexpensive:

A disposable film camera is about as inexpensive as a roll of film.


Greater detail at less expense:

The detail in a 35mm negative exposed by an inexpensive film camera can only be matched by a top-of-the-line digital camera.


More data at less expense:

The quantity of information stored in a 35mm negative is essentially the same whether the film was exposed with a $99 point-and-shoot camera or a $1999 camera.


Easy to store:

Negatives and slides are efficient storage media, holding a great deal of data in a small space. They can be kept in a shoebox.


Mechanical cameras need no batteries:

Want to trek across the tundra? Plan to carry a mechanical film camera that doesnąt need batteries or else pack a solar panel to recharge batteries.


Easy to scan images:

Scanning pictures into a computer is easy if and when you want to manipulate your images with a computer.





Easy to send photos to friends:

No need to scan prints. Camera software facilitates point-and-click e-mailing.


Images are free:

After you buy a digital camera, accessories and batteries, the pictures are free. The cost of digital looks high until you figure savings on film and processing.


Instant feedback promotes better pictures:

The LCD screen on a digital camera lets you check photos instantly. The ability to learn quickly from mistakes is a big advantage.


Exact duplicates of originals are possible:

You can store exact copies of original digital images in multiple locations for safekeeping. With film you have only one set of original negatives, which you can store only at one location.


Change film speed anytime:

Rather than carrying multiple cameras loaded with a variety of fast and slow films, you can change digital camera speed as lighting conditions change. Change the ISO at any time.


Print only the best images, save money:

Typically, a processor prints an entire roll of film is printed, not just the good pictures. Digital avoids printing bad photos because the photographer can review photos before printing on the camera's LCD screen or on a computer.


Make your own prints:

You can print your on photos. Better inkjet printers for photos make prints that rival prints processed from film and the pictures won't fade quickly.  However, photo printers and inkjet cartridges cost money.


Batteries required:

Fresh batteries must be kept on hand. As with any electronic device, digital cameras deplete batteries.


Electronics are delicate:

Digital cameras can be broken or fail without warning. On the other hand, rugged and reliable manual film cameras also can malfunction or be broken.


Shutter slowdown:

To prepare the digital camera for an exposure, press the shutter release button half way down. Then, to open the shutter and take the picture, press the button all the way down. Some models have a significant lag between the time your finger presses the release button and when the exposure is made.


Digital photos store differently:

Organizing computer files is an important habit to be developed. While photo prints and film negatives can be kept in a shoebox, digital images are stored on disks, CDs or DVDs. Sorting a thumbnail catalog of a storage medium replaces rummaging through photos and negatives in a shoebox. Of course, a time will come when devices capable of reading CDs and DVDs will be hard to find making it necessary to move image files to a future storage medium.