Digital vs. Film: Is It Really a No-Brainer?

In the photography world, many still debate on whether or not the digital format is better than traditional film for the photographer. Many of us can argue “But digital photography allows for so many more images,” and “Digital photography only requires a one time fee of a digital camera and a memory card unlike film.” All of this is true and it may seem like a no-brainer, but there are some things the digital world hasn’t been able to substitute when it comes to the quality of the photographs that film can provide. Of course they both have their advantages and disadvantages, but only an experienced photographer can fully understand what is lost when the convenience of the digital compromises photographic quality.

I grew up around a film photographer dad and later a professional photographer cousin. My dad didn’t really have the option of “film or digital?” when he was taking pictures in the 90’s. My cousin Dan on the other hand, got to experience the world of both; He got into photography at the very moment when having a digital camera became a common ‘luxury.’ He told me that he loved shooting in film, because of the vibrant and soft colors that film-processing produced (I couldn’t notice the difference until I went through at least three of his photography albums). As he began to shoot weddings for a career, he realized that film wouldn’t suffice, even though it produced great colors and beautiful images. Only with digital could he view his images instantly for focus and shoot as many pictures as his memory cards could fit (not to mention the peace that came with knowing that the images were turning out well at an event that couldn’t be “redone.”

Being a photographer, I have researched many talented photographers; I only know one who chooses to shoot his weddings in film. You can see the amazing images that he takes here, but I can only imagine the talent and skill that keeps him confident to know that his images are turning out great technically and aesthetically.I wanted to see what the online community thought about this debate. An interesting article came up, discussing that advantages and disadvantages of both, praising the quality of film over digital a good way through and then making the point that “The most important variable here is what the digital photographer does with the digital files after the shoot.” Yes, film can create colors and highlights that just cannot be substituted by digital photography, but it is the accommodating digital processing like Photoshop, that allows digital photography to have an equal race against film. Film can also be edited on the computer, but the process is much more difficult and can take up a lot of time.


My concluding point is that although digital photography is convenient in immeasurable ways, film produces a quality that can never be replicated and that with enough patience a photographer can outdo the the glory of the digital photographic world (the film photographer I mentioned is a great example of that.)

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2 responses to “Digital vs. Film: Is It Really a No-Brainer?

  1. Pingback: week 11 – subject matter posts « Digital Communication Technologies

  2. I really like your comparison here of digital vs. film. I am really interested in photography as well. I used only film for four years and developed all of my own prints. After I graduated high school and lost my access to a fantastic dark room I was forced to go digital. I definitely agree there are benefits to digital. It’s faster, easier, and offers an instant review option. However can’t help but feel there is still something lacking with digital pictures. I definitely miss the softness you get from film. Great comparison though! Love the links you provided too, very cool!

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