Jump into film or digital photography?

I started to write these under my entry for the Epic Edits $50 film camera photo project. But, this deserves its own post.

When I was lured into photography, all I wanted to do was create cool photos. As you get into it, you start to see other factors coming into play.

  • Clutter
    • Film – Store and carry all the rolls of film you’ll stock up on. Once they get developed, you need to store the physical negatives, too. Also, what’ll happen if you lose that negative? If you’re scanning your film onto your computer, you’d also need hard drive space, backups, and electricity.
    • Digital – Hard drive space, backups, and electricity to keep those hard drive(s) running. If you use a SLR camera, you’ll acquire lenses, memory cards, batteries, lens filters, bags, cases, etc.
  • LCD screen
    • Most times I’m checking my LCD screen with my digital camera, I’m actually looking at the histogram for most of the photos to make sure they’re exposed properly. I’d miss that with film.
  • Cost
    • Film – The cost is gradual because you can buy a few rolls at a time. You’re limited to those exposures. Although you’ll be more selective than digital photographers, you’re [probably] storing scanned negatives on your hard drive(s). Plus, you’ll need to purchase your own scanner – if you want high-quality digital scans of your prints.
    • Digital – You can buy an expensive camera and a couple memory cards. With proper care, they should last for a long time. As opposed to a scanner, a card reader is relatively inexpensive. However, you’ll take more photos, use hard drive space, and – unless you’re good on deleting photos you’ll never use – need more hard drives.
  • Efficiency
    • Film – You don’t need to delete tons of extra photos later. But, if you’re using older film cameras, you’ll probably use manual settings, which takes more time. In addition, you don’t have the luxury of on-the-fly ISO switching – a nightmare if you’re switching from different lighting environments constantly.
    • Digital – Get more chances to capture moments quickly. You’ll most likely have auto focus, auto ISO, and continuous bursts to your advantage.
  • “Feel”
    • Sometimes, digital is too clean. We could fake those imperfections, but the development of film can be cool. I can go either way with this. 😉

Keep in mind that with a point-and-shoot JPEG camera, I didn’t feel a lot of the digital costs. Once I bought a DSLR camera and switched to RAW, I was “hit” pretty hard. (In my opinion, Michael Mistretta’s “RAW vs JPEG” post explains it well.) However, I hope to recoup the costs.

Despite everything mentioned above, don’t be shied away. The pros of the art outweigh all of the negatives.

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