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abbydowns's avatar

Film or Digital, Why?

Asked by abbydowns (79points) April 13th, 2010

Film is something new I have began to experience. I have began to love it, but I have always been a digital person. What do you think?

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21 Answers

HungryGuy's avatar

Digital, baby! Digital! Film deteriorates with age, and each successive copy loses resolution, and requires a delay for processing before you get the final product. Digital is final right inside the camera, can be copied indefinite times without losing details, and can be retained forever (as long as you back it up whenever new media comes along).

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Digital is cheaper, provides better resolution, and doesn’t create waste.

Rather the media is cheaper whereas the digi camera SLR is a significant one time cost.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

Each has their own pros and cons but I love film. I’ve used a dark room many times and while it does create waste and use nasty chemicals, I just love film.

DarkScribe's avatar

I use both – have been a film photographer for more than thirty years – digital for about ten. Each have their own appeal, each have their strengths and weaknesses. But unless you have your own darkroom film does have some limitations. I use a number of systems, Nikon and Minolta with film, Nikon and Sony digital. The Sony allows me to use all of my Minolta lenses on either a film or digital body.

deni's avatar

i like both but you have to be realistic, and film is not always realistic. unless you are knowledgeable about it and really know what you’re doing, film pictures are not going to turn out well especially if you’re using an old camera that requires you to do everything manually (which, when used correctly, are the kind that i think provide the best results). So if we’re talking digital at it’s best vs. film at it’s best, i think film produces the best results. there is something about film pictures, and i dont know what it is, but you know when a picture is done with film, and it’s beautiful. digital is great too and makes taking pictures easy for people who don’t wanna invest a ton of time in it…but it’s not the same.

abbydowns's avatar

@deni film has a mood.

rangerr's avatar

I have 12 film cameras, and only 2 digital cameras.
I prefer film. I prefer manual film cameras. I like being in complete control of everything in the shot. I love developing my own film. I love the icky chemicals. I love adding filters when printing. I love everything about it.
I think it captures more details than digital cameras do.

filmfann's avatar

There is a warmth to film that digital cannon reproduce. It’s the same thing with Vinyl records and CD’s.

DominicX's avatar

Since I edit pictures I take in Photoshop artistically and printing pictures is not really my goal, there is really no appeal in film for me.

I do, however, enjoy B&W film photography. But the majority of the pictures I take are digital.

abbydowns's avatar

@filmfann i am so with you!

grumpyfish's avatar

My film workflow is film -> high resolution scan, so after the first scan, there’s no degeneration or copy failures.

You can think of 35mm film as a 20MP 3-shot HDR image on a single negative. Digital is limited to about ⅓ of the dynamic range of film, so you get dark shadows and white-white highlights.

Most of my work these days is digital, but I still have film cameras, and I still shoot with them.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Show me a digital and an analog photo side by side and point out where exactly film is better.
Is it because of the whole tactile experience of loading film?
Does the low res make it nostalgic?

grumpyfish's avatar


Film is generally higher resolution than digital—at least in theory. You can get a good 12MP out of just about any film shot that’s in focus. Good tripod work you can get 20MP.

As for a side-by-side, I don’t have exactly the same shots, but:

These were taken on the same day, under similar lighting conditions. Specifically, compare the detail in the clouds and the color of the sky.

I will note: shooting with a medium format digital (I’ve shot a Leaf Aptus) is about equivalent to what you get out of film, but otherwise digital only has film beat on convenience and price. (And again, I shoot maybe 5–10 rolls of film a year (360 exposures, max) vs. a thousand digital shots a month, minimum.)

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Hey that’s Oakland. The cranes are very distinct.

grumpyfish's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy Yep! Alameda NAS shooting towards Oakland, more here:

gailcalled's avatar

I have wonderful photos of my family from 1900 on. They are treasures and seem not to degrade. For example: my great grandfather isn’t he a cutie?) and then my mother (on right) in 1932 with Jimmy Cagney.

simpleD's avatar

Film, an analog process, allows for serendipity. Pleasant surprises. Even a poor negative can yield beautiful results. The digital process does not degrade gracefully. It is either on or off.

Film forces you to be deliberate. Digital makes it easy to be lazy. Either can yield brilliant results or crap. It’s all up to you, what you’re after, and what part of the art/craft interests you. Try them both. For now, it doesn’t have to be either or.

SeventhSense's avatar

I guess since I learned in the darkroom there is a certain nostalgic attachment I have to the craft but I can’t deny that the appeal of the digital has many advantage that film doesn’t have. Clearly the immediacy to see an approximation of your image is key. But that’s also the aspect of film which made it so important to be very careful about every detail. Understanding the aperture and shutter speed, lighting and film were crucial. Also there was the element of surprise and wonder in development where you really didn’t know what you had until the image came through. That can’t be beat and somehow added importance to it. It’s always the job of the artist to recognize the image but it’s not the same when it’s. “No that’s not delete…no that’s not it.. click delete…”

I remember a girl who I taught when I was doing student teaching and she put vaseline on some saran wrap in developing and her image was of her classmate. Only she looked like a waif and the tones were sepia and you would swear that it was taken in a European ghetto in 1900. There’s definitely something magic about seeing that emerge from the dark. But time marches on. All methods and means of creativity are tools in the hands of the artist and they all have their place.

filmfann's avatar

@grumpyfish I can see my mom’s house in the second picture!

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