The biggest debate in the photography industry is one of the most passionate ones in the artistic world. Which is better? Film or digital photography? In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each. Get ready to learn more about film vs digital photography.
Difference Between Film And Digital Photography
Although both are valid photographic styles, the main difference between them is that film is analog and digital photography is, well, digital. Analog film photography entails the usage of a camera that requires you to add a roll of film, develop the pictures with a lab, and discover your results.
Digital photography works with digital cameras that capture images on memory cards, which can be immediately transferred to your computer or smartphone for editing or sharing purposes.
Digital photography replicates traditional film photography by using an electronic sensor (instead of film) to capture images. This type of photography is more and more common every day. With cameras available on every smartphone, people are no longer limited to carrying DSLRs or instant cameras.
Advantages of Digital Photography
The main advantages of digital photography include:
Thanks to viewfinders and digital camera rolls, you have the option to immediately review the pictures you took and do adjustments on the fly. This can be particularly useful for beginner photographers.
Seamless File Transfer
Transferring images from your camera or phone is easier than ever. You have the instant opportunity to edit, share, and adapt your pictures - no waiting time required.
Since digital photography is stored in a memory card, you have the flexibility to take multiple shots without worrying too much about them taking up space. And even if they do end up filling up your memory card, all you need to do to continue taking photos is erase a few of them!
Disadvantages of Digital Photography
Not everything is flowers and rainbows with digital photography. There are a few disadvantages to choosing this style of photography. Below, we outline a few of them:
- They can provide inconsistent quality. Digital cameras may suffer from inferior dynamic range depending on the camera model you buy.
- They have higher initial costs. Sadly, digital cameras are all the rage today. This means that they tend to be more expensive, and can also become obsolete pretty quickly because of all the recent innovations.
- They can hinder professional progress. Digital photographers can tend to click the shutter first, think later. If you’re looking to increase your professionalism in photography, it can hinder your progress.
According to Masterclass, “traditional film photography captures images by exposing individual frames on a roll of film to light.” These films are normally made of plastic and contain layers of silver halide crystals that darken when they’re exposed to light. This is what created the negatives of your images! Once you’ve used up the entire roll of film, you can develop the pictures yourself or take them to a photo studio to be developed.
Advantages of Film Photography
Film photography has clear advantages, which have kept this art form relevant throughout the years. Below, we outline some of the main ones:
According to The Dark Room, film can be better at capturing the details in the blacks and whites of your pictures thanks to its higher dynamic range. This is why analog film is often preferred for black and white photography - the contrast between both is incomparable.
They Cost Less Money
At an initial cost, an analog camera can cost you less money than a digital one. Since it doesn’t have any fancy features, this means that they become a piece of traditional equipment that doesn’t go out of style or can become obsolete. All this adds up to a more budget-friendly option.
Film fanatics prefer the look that comes with analog photography. The film grain of images allows you to create a different ambiance - one that has resonated throughout the years and continues to be relevant today.
It Enhances Professionalism
When you take a photo with an analog camera, you won’t be able to visualize what you’ve captured immediately. Although this can be tough for beginners, it’s a great way to practice and perfect professional photography: you only get one shot to get it right. Or as many shots as your film can handle. But you catch our point.
The Surprise Element
There’s nothing better than the excitement that comes from revealing your set of photographs. What did you take? Maybe you had even forgotten about a certain frame, a portrait, or a landscape. And it’s there, immortalized in your hands. To quote Forrest Gump, analog photography really is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you’re going to get!
Disadvantages of Film Photography
There are three main drawbacks to using analog film:
- You have a limited number of shots. While we view this as a nice challenge, some photographers like to have plenty of shots to choose from. An analog camera can be tough to use, especially if you’re a beginner and don’t know how to calculate exposures yet.
- The developing process can be time-consuming. Although getting your final shots is exciting, patience truly is a virtue. The developing process can be slow and many may not have the patience to wait that long to get their hands on their pictures.
- You can ruin your film. If an undeveloped roll of film is exposed to sunlight, you run the risk of washing out your entire roll of film. This means that all your effort can be undone in a single moment. Even as a lab owner (Mike), I've done this before!
All of these drawbacks can be easily managed and shouldn’t keep you from trying your hand at analog photography. You just need to be careful when removing your roll of film and ensure that the canisters are fully rewound. You can practice and get better at exposure calculations or start using a light meter. And finally, you can sit back and relax while waiting for your pictures to be developed. It will be worth the wait.
Film has a signature look that will remain classy and timeless, no matter what year it is.
At Reformed Film Lab, we believe there’s no comparison between analog and digital photography. Film is the clear winner, which is why we specialize in 35mm & 120 film development, image scanning, and printing. You can also purchase analog film, 35mm cameras, Polaroid film and cameras, and various film photography gear in our store.