digital vs film

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by eileen_cronin, Jan 26, 2016.

  1. Can someone answer a question I've been thinking about for some time now? Just when I was getting used to film camera's the digital camera came out and I cant quite grasp it. I much preferred the the older conventional way and have always had an interest in photo darkroom work. Am I the only one or what?
  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Nothing says you have to do one or the other. Many do both. Both require study, practice and time to acquire proficiency. Follow your instincts.
  3. SCL


    The debate has been going on for many years. Most consumers have voted with their pocketbooks for digital & Iphones; most professionals have voted for digital; Luddites such as myself love mostly because I have some awesome film cameras and lenses designed for film use and digital for its convenience and short turnaround for results on a daily basis. Unless you develop your own film, it is becoming increasingly expensive to process, with fewer and fewer commercial processors. I develop my own and occasionally use my wet darkroom for printing, and always my scanner to put my films onto disk.
  4. FWIW I find that digital cameras are superior for certain types of work - and by that I mean in terms of practicality and value. For example, if I were to cover a proverbial Formula One race, I'd shoot with a digital camera.
    But film just looks better, darkroom or no darkroom. :)
  5. I learned the basics of photography from a young age on film. I never was able to practice as much as I wanted due to constraints of time and finances. Now, I can go out to make images (time still being an issue), bring them home, do the same manipulations I would have done in a darkroom, and more, and see the results immediately. All without the ongoing expenses of film, processing, and printing. For me, digital is all about accessibility. My photography has improved more in the last three years than in the previous three decades, simply because the entire process is more accessible to me.
  6. For me, it depends on whether I'm shooting black and white or color. For black and white, I can develop and print faster and better in the darkroom, and the prints look better. For color, it's not worth using the darkroom, digital printing is easier and better, but I still shoot film and scan as well as shooting digital, I suppose because I know and like film (mostly transparencies - easier to scan well than negatives).
  7. Eileen, just as a fair word of "warning": there is no trickier thread title than "film vs. digital". It's an old ongoing debate, with some fair share of zealots claiming one is obviously superiour to the other with varying degrees of credible evidence. And as a debate, it is as useful and as much fun as "Canon vs. Nikon", "Mac vs. PC" or "Ford vs. Chevy". In other words: it's the kind of debate that makes many run away. Luckily you found some levelheaded responses already :)
    Also for me, it's not an either/or, and to me there are more similarities than differences. If you know how to expose a roll of film well, know how to frame an interesting composition and how to use light to your benefit, then digital is more of the same. It's more about a preference on how to achieve a result, more than anything else.
    I'll take film for B&W, when the situation allows, but some of the advantages of digital can come into play (at night, where high ISOs are normal, digital is more versatile for me) - the choice of tool is simply dictated by needs/wants, not by some belief that one is inherently better than the other - after all, it's still me behind the camera. Regardless of the recording media, that'll limit the performance of any camera.
    As for darkroom work - also there, it's not an either/or, if you really want. It is perfectly possible to print negatives from digital files, and use those in a darkroom to get traditional prints (or, the reason why I got some, to try out alternative print methods that do not require a dark room). It's a bit a strange detour, but again, it all comes down to preferences and how you want to achieve your final result. Plenty of choice, and that's certainly a good thing.
  8. If you love film, shoot film.
    Of course, if you are going to post your photos here, you are going to have to digitize them, and, once you have made that first step, you are on your way to digital photography. . . too.
  9. Digitizing film is simply an extension of the tools available and nowhere near the same as digital photography. Same applies to post processing and printing.​
    That is true, Les, but once one has digitized images from film and post-processed and printed those images using computers and computer software, it is an easy step into digital photography.
    Once one has done both, one will be in a better position to evaluate the merits of each.
  10. There are a lot of different ways to take a photo. Myself, I shoot mostly B/W film, process at home and scan. It's fun. However, I shoot color with my digital camera. My daughter is happy with her cell phone camera and my sister does not take pictures at all. Somewhere in the many choices there is a great place for you and your photography.
  11. Eileen, you are part of a minority of photographers, but you need not worry about that. If you like it, do it. If you started with film there is a comfort in the process. However, for most photographers the power of digital in terms of adaptability, quality, speed and internet capability (for want of a better world) compared to film is why it is used by most people. Personally, if had a black and white darkroom, I would be shooting film more often, but I don't so I am almost 100% digital. Occasionally, I do shoot a roll of film that I still have in the freezer.
  12. I didn't "grasp" digital at the beginning either - and actually purchased a film camera after I purchased my first digital DSLR thinking I would do the "keepers" on film. That was some 12 years ago. Nowadays I am 100% digital (and have been for a while) - simply because it works for me and film doesn't (and never really did). I still have two B&W films in the freezer - their most likely fate is being tossed out eventually rather than finding their way into a camera.
    with some fair share of zealots claiming one is obviously superior to the other with varying degrees of credible evidence​
    I never had the chance to compare them on equal footing (i.e. having a fully equipped color/B&W darkroom to do my own processing). I stated above that digital works for me, and film doesn't - and one main reason is that I control the entire process with digital.
  13. The best system is the one that gives you the results you want. If you like film, that is the best system for you.
  14. I agree with Ross, it is fun. If it does what you want, and you enjoy it, why not?
  15. I love them both, but I am lazy and impatient and so shoot digital most of the time. Once one gets the hang of it, it is simple and convenient.
    I have to say, though, that I agree with those above who say that they like digital because it gives them control from start to finish. I feel the same, but perhaps the reason is that I never had a wet darkroom. I simply shot film and carried the rolls to the nearest drugstore. Looking back, though, I still managed to get some good shots over the years with film, and I still shoot it from time to time.
    So, for me it is not film OR digital, but film AND digital. They are both worthy in their own ways.
  16. I appreciate all your responses. I helps a lot.
  17. "So, for me it is not film OR digital, but film AND digital. They are both worthy in their own ways."
    Lannie, well put.
  18. If cost were not a consideration, and if I had access to a film processing lab within a fifteen or twenty minute drive, I'd load more film into my film cameras. There's something about the process, the unknown and the waiting to see what came of it. Maybe I'm still connected with the nine-year-old kid who shot B&W roll film and biked it to the drugstore for a two-day wait. On the other hand... (finishes the same as many who already posted the advantages of digital).
  19. Both has pro and con. Use what you want. I like to use both but I found today it's difficult and expensive to buy film, get film developed. Too many labs running low volume and thus can't keep their process well under control. The cost is also significantly higher. It also difficult for me to get supplies to do my own processing. Just beware of that otherwise film is fun.
  20. If you would have posted this a few years ago you would have ignited a vicious debate that would have lasted days and would have required the intervention of the moderators. These days film vs. digital is not an issue anymore. its just a different medium just like a painter has different canvases.
  21. Harry or choses water color vs oil. Or for you that remember, use Bill Alexander's un mighty brush.
  22. Although I feel able to enjoy a certain amount of film photography, I'm really glad to have digital too. It can be cheaper and allows spreading the work to be done over those whom it might concern.
  23. I tasted digital is a very simple way and virtually gave up film though it took some seven years before I realised I had no need for my film gear, it was nice to have it:)
    What was the crunch point was the realisation that with a good editor I could do SO much MORE than ever I could in the fume room.
  24. Maybe I'm old fashioned but primarily I'm interested in the darkroom work although I'm using digital cameras at the moment but if I had a darkroom it would be different.
  25. eileen said: "Just when I was getting used to film cameras. . ." Your experience is quite a bit different from mine. My story is I "got used to film cameras" in the 1960's. I shot, developed, and printed black and white film until about 2004. I shot all formats up to 4x5. I didn't do much color though, because I didn't do color darkroom work, but I did do 4x5 transparencies. When scanners and ink jet printers became good enough to produce decent prints, I began to do more color by scanning medium and large format film, using photoshop, and printing digitally. Still, with a medium format camera you get typically 12 shots per roll. In 2005 I dove into digital just to explore it and got a 6 mp Nikon D70. Suddenly, I instantly had digital files I could print. I could get hundreds of shots without buying or developing film. My 8x10 size image rivaled the smoothness and sharpness of medium format, and I had more control over color balance, dynamic range etc. Sure, I was limited to smaller prints, but I found I could go up to 8x12 pretty easily, and I had no real need for larger prints. Hence, I gradually sold the medium format and large format gear and never looked back. The other big factor was time. I work full time and have a busy family. The darkroom actually never got used since the 80's when I had children and was in grad school and working full time. After they grew up I started back into photography, and that was when I got the D70. I am so glad not to have to do darkroom work! I can fully express my creativity now, taking pictures of my family and landscapes during my bike rides. My D7100 makes crystal clear prints at 16x20 and that's big enough for me. Film takes just as much learning as digital, they are just different technologies. Darkroom does appeal to people and I see no reason to not do it if it is enjoyable for you. You have to find the most satisfactory way to express yourself and not be concerned what other people are doing.
  26. Both if possible.
  27. Darkroom work is a lot of fun. I do my color darkroom for many years.
  28. Pre-digital, I often had two cameras, one with color negative film, one with slide film. The former usually for family (people) pictures, the latter for scenic vacation pictures. Having two was easier than getting prints made from slides.
    For some time after I got a DSLR, I kept a film camera along for the right occasion.
    More recently, when I got back into black and white darkroom photography, I often carry a DSLR, and a film camera, usually with black and white film, but sometimes color film.
    But mostly, I use film because it is fun. (I also to a Canon WP-1 to Great Wolf Lodge because I don't have a waterproof digital camera.)
    So, use both. Then you don't have to choose.
  29. I shoot with both, but I much prefer my film cameras to my digital ones so I end up shooting much more film than digital. While the technology is amazing today, I just don't enjoy 300 page camera manuals and multiple menu layers and every possible function under the sun in today's cameras. I get enough of all that on computers, phones, and tablets - I prefer my cameras with simple, mechanical controls; and that means film.

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