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These days everyone seems to have a digital camera. Is it really better than film? Digital cameras have many benefits over film:

  • No expensive film to buy and develop.
  • Preview your pictures instantly; delete at your leisure.
  • Upload pictures quickly to your computer for viewing.
  • Manipulate and fix pictures using photo manipulation software installed on your computer. No need to visit a photo lab or consult a professional.
  • Higher resolution on some cameras, which allows for higher quality images.
  • Ability to print pictures from your computer. No need to visit a lab for printing or development.

Yeah, and nobody gets to see the sleezy pictures you take with your girlfriend!

Devils Advocate...

No expensive film to buy and develop. -> Replace that with very expensive inks, expensive paper, photo inkjet, software, batteries and spare batteries, and a camera that costs 2 to 3 times as much as a comparable film camera, and one that will be obsolete within a year. Film "expensive"? Prices have dropped substantially to a couple bucks, or less, a roll for 35mm.

Preview your pictures instantly; delete at your leisure. -> Yes, advantage digital. However, you don't get a negative. Ever have a hard-drive crash, or a CDR become unreadable? It's not a matter of "if" it's a matter of when. Make sure you make multiple back-ups of your memories (and don't lose them, and label your CDRs...) Otherwise, rots-a-ruk. See those three years and hundreds/thousands of photos. Wave bye-byes.

Upload pictures quickly to your computer for viewing. -> You can scan film with a cheap scanner or get a photo CD from a lab and do the same thing.

Manipulate and fix pictures using photo manipulation software installed on your computer. No need to visit a photo lab or consult a professional. - "Consult a professional"? Huh? If you don't own a printer, or computer, or don't want to spend hours learning digital editing software you will still be making trips to the photo lab to make your digital prints. And isn't it nice to just drop off your film, wait a couple days, and have everything ready, already printed without sitting in from of a PC, fooling with software, or Wrestling with a printer, and watching your expensive ink get used up?

Higher resolution on some cameras, - That's just flat out false. A 35mm camera has the equivalent resolution of a 20 megapixel digital camera. The "some" cameras you must be talking about are digital 20 megapixel medium format "backs" used by pros that cost $10,000. Most consumer digital cameras - even DSLRs, have 3,4,5,6 megapixels. Less than half the resolution. That's why ONLY film can be used for big enlargements.

- which allows for higher quality images. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. All digitals have great difficulty with bright conditions and have a much lower latitude than film. It is very easy to over-expose, and you will get washed out or "blown out" highlights. They also have a lower dynamic range, and - excluding expensive DSLRs, have a wide depth of field - everything in sharp focus. Not something you /always/ want, expecially with portraits. With the digicams most consumers use, you're limited to iso 200 speed, othewise you get unacceptable digital noise (far more distracting than grain) but I /always/ use 400 speed film and not think about it.

Ability to print pictures from your computer. No need to visit a lab for printing or development.

- Again, that's not all it's cracked up to be. Inkjet printers are notoriously finiky. Hard drives containing /all/ your pictures may crash. Photo-editing software can cost hundreds of dollars, ink prices are outrageous, and photos use /a lot/ of ink. Good injet paper is also pricey.

I started using a digital camera, used it for a year, went back to film... Film is also more fun imo, and my film SLR is 15 years old. No need to charge batteries or carry spares, or for it to "boot up". It's ready to go as soon as I pick it up.

Will you still have that expensive digital camera in 15 years? Our will you have purchased 2,3,4 in that amout of time?

Digital is good for pros who shoot thousands of pics a week, where film costs DO become an issue. It's also good for camera companies, since like computers used to be, they're obsolete the minute you buy them.

Besides, film is just more fun...

How digital is better? It is worse in every aspect! 1. First of all film is much more fun. 2. Quality of 35mm film is better than some $10.000 digital. 3. Film is MUCH CHEAPER to shoot and to develop: SnapFish.com develop whole role for $3. The whole role of slide film to developed and mounted $4 with Fuji mailer.. 4. Film lasts for as long as we need and digital requires backup and how doing you know it will be readable in let say 10 years? Can you read the 8 inch diskettes now? 5. Film make you better photographer and offers HUGE variety of different films to try and to experiment: any ISO is available. 6. Film is getting better every year, but not your digital camera sensor is growing. 7. With 35mm I have a REAL WIDE ANGLE shots. 8. I don't have to keep half of pocket of batteries with me. 9. The camera from some $150 will do better than digital of $2000. 10. I can have the real high quality slide show, not that crappy and dull multimedia projection. 11. After all I can have my slides and negatives be scanned and have a "digital" if you whish. 12. I have the whole bunch of photos after vacation developed by the same SnapFish, scanned and put on CD for less than half of your ink jet paper cost.

AND AGAIN FILM IS FUN, ENDLESS FUN. Photography it is about imagination it is not what you can see in the LCD.

Agree with everything in the last two posts. Film is just more fun, and it's less expensive. I like to experiment with different lenses and different types of films. The $100 SLR I bought a decade ago, still going strong. Tried digital, it's "okay"... imo, more hype than anything. Okay if you want to post pics on a web. Get a cheap one.

Disadvantages of digital point and shoot:

1. Limited to 200 iso. 400 iso downright ugly due to noise. Grain is not as obtrusive.

2. Wide angle lenses! Love'em. Forget it with digital. 35mm best you can do without expensive, ridiculous teleconverters and "the widest" you'll get is 24mm, with a huge, heavy WCON on Raynox teleconverter hanging off your camera. I can get a 19mm, 20mm, 21mm fixed wide angles that are small.

3. Price/Quality. The average price for these things is $400 to $500 for a camera that is obsolete at purchase, with a fixed lens.

4. EVF or LCD screen... bleh. Hard to see, wash out in bright light, go dark in not so low light. Keep'em.

Why spend this kind of dough, for a fixed lens camera that limits you to iso 200, when you can get a good new SLR with a prime lens for $150, that simply takes better pics.

If you want a digital, get a cheap $100 Kodak for quick snaps to post on the web. Don't worry about megapixels. Even the cheapest has suffient for okay snap-shots.

DSLRs Good cameras, can't argue with that. But a DSLR kit will set you back $800 min. for just a body. Lenses are outrageous. Figure on parting with $1500 min for a body and a couple lenses.

- Battery eaters - "Start-up" time - Dirt on CCD nightmare - VERY expensive - Just not as much fun - Blown out highlights - Moire patterns - Durability - Fragile --- extreme temp damage --- moisture (don't get caught in the rain or humid contitions) --- static electricity --- overall build quality

Digitals require expensive software, printers, inks, and papers to make prints, and good luck with that storage media. Years from now, will it work when you want it to? Will it still be used? Can you find it?

Digitals produce "high resolution digital images". They don't look like film. That's why films are still shot with film on film cameras, even though it's less expensive to shoot on digital and transfer to film. Even TV dramas are still shot on film.

The only thing the "so called" digital revolution did was sold a lot of crappy overpriced cameras to people. Due to planned obsolence, people are buying expensive new cameras with more megapixels every couple years. Whereas, a film camera will last decades. The only people who benefited from the "digital revolution" were consumer electronics companies and commercial photographers, who spend tens of thousands of dollars on film and processing a month. For the average shooter or hobbiest, the -'s of digital outweigh the plusses.

Digital. This is progress? No thanks, I'll stick with film.

9-07-2006

I'll use digital from now on probably. If only for one's personal use and looking at, why take all the time? If you have time, and someone is buying your work, or you are having it shown in a gallery, film is nice. I have been using digital now for several months, and now I have grown so old that I now get a kick out of just looking at the 2.5 inch LCD on the back of my camera!! Film or Digital, I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY!

One thing I didn't see mentioned is that film will degrade over time, unless kept in pristine conditions. Digital media will not. You can reprint your pictures with the same quality as the first time. Try that with film. Now given, if you are the photographic equivalent of an audiophile, go with the film by all means. But if you are just a novice photographer like myself who might like 10 of the 96 pictures you snapped, go with the digital.

A novice photographer doesn't have the experience or authority to judge this. I hope you have your files backed up.

My grandmother can use a digital camera, but that doesn't make her a photographer. Digital cameras make for lazy photographers. You don't have to take the time to get the lighting or the shot exactly right because you can just take it to Photoshop later and alter it.

They aren't.

They are different and neither one is better than the other.

Digital makes for lazy photographers is BS. Lazy photographers make for lazy photographers. On a good dSLR you can have complete manual control, but most professional (make their living with it) photographers stick with Aperture priority (Av) or Shutter Priority (TV) .. this is the same from 30 years ago: look at the auto film cameras fom 70's on, they were set like this. No pro I've ever met use 'auto' for most of their pictures, they knew what settings worked for the environment and used them. Auto (your complaint) is meant for grandma, not artist Suzie or photo-journalist Bob.

Any work done by pros on photographs (NOT images) is meant only to correct what they camera can't show, not to produce new graphics. If you can't take the picture in-camera, you're not a photographer.

The newer dSLRs are as good or better in a lot of cases than a 35mm SLR: 5-18MP, ISO that's good to 800, even 1000 with light grain, batteries that last 1500 to 2000 images, and better capture software arrives ever day.

Film is good for enlarging: 10MP or more 3/4 sensor sized images are a minimum for poster sized enlargements, 20MP and full size sensors are needed for 4 foot and bigger prints. How many people do that?

I still take pictures with film. In fact I prefer film over digital but the wait for results is less important with my landscapes than my people pictures, so I often use digital. My camera bag has 2 Nikon dSLRS, a point and shoot Canon (goes everywhere the Nikons can't go), 2 auto 35mms (Canon and Nikon), 2 manual 35mms (Canon and Nikon): The autos are for sharing with others, the digitals are for when I'm taking lots of pictures or I have a real weird environment, but for permanent and professional looks it's the manual 35s. The lenses are better, the consistency is better and they work in any condition (blazing hot, freezing cold, wet, snow, hail, dirty or... well whatever!)

Want to learn how to make photographs? Get an old 35mm film camera and practice, practice, practice. Photoshop can't fix bad photography; if you didn't catch the subject in focus and focus was on another subject, nothing in PS can fix that. That's why some people still make 100's of thousands of dollars as photographers; they can do what photoshop can't.

There are so many things involved here. The main question asked by the respondents should be: what are you using the camera for?

If you want pics to look at on your computer monitor (eBay, kijiji, pics for facebook) use any digital camera, a monitor only resolves at around 75 dpi anyway.

If you want to produce art and print it on paper at poster size or greater use film, especially if you want it in black and white.

I have been doing this for over 30 years and I use both digital and film, it depends upon the requirements of the job.

Decide what you want to use the camera for and buy accordingly.

- - - - -

I always love the "higher resolution" comment about digital cameras. Let's play.

A popular digital camera has 12 megapixels. (There are a bunch of these out there.) That will give you a file approximately 4000 pixels wide x 3000 pixels high.

If you take your pictures to a photofinisher to have them printed, their machine runs at 300 dpi...so for the highest quality out of this file, the biggest picture you can print is 10 x 13.

Now, a 10 x 13 is a nice size picture, but you look over there and see "Poster Size Prints Available Here" on a sign. And they have 24 x 36 prints available. You will need a file that's 7200 x 10800 pixels, or 74 megapixels, if you want to print that at 300 dpi. An $18,000 Better Light back for your view camera can do that, but most people would rather spend $18,000 on a new car than on a part for a camera. (You have to supply a view camera separately and they are expensive.) On the other hand, you can buy a $350 Plustek film scanner and crank out files this big from 35mm negs all day long.

And this is the most important thing to realize about digital camera files: they can never get any larger without damaging them. If you take a picture on a 12 megapixel camera, and a year later buy an 18 megapixel or a 22 megapixel camera, all the work you shot on your 12 megapixel camera will remain 12 megapixels. If you enlarge them in Photoshop, they get ugly quick. If I scan a negative this week and need it larger next week, I just need to put it back in a scanner and make it larger.

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Q: How are digital cameras better than film cameras?
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