Photographers love digital
convenience, but most are reluctant to abandon film
By Sarah West
March 9, 2006 | Despite speculation that digital technology
is killing film photography, it is still alive and kicking
and many professional and amateur photographers, using
both digital and film, think it will be for years to
Ed Buziak wrote on his Photos + Artwork blog on salon.com,
"Photographers have always adapted...and their creative
visions have and will always find new ways of making
According to the Let's Go Digital website, 96 million
digital cameras were sold worldwide in 2005.
A chart on the Washington
Post website, shows the sale of film cameras continually
decreasing, whereas the sale of digital cameras have
increased. But just because film cameras aren't being
purchased as much as digital, doesn't mean they're not
According to the June
2005 SLR Cameras Consumer Report, "Despite the growing
popularity of digital photography, shutterbugs are still
using film SLRs built 30 years ago. While digital cameras
can be obsolete within a few months of purchase, replaced
by newer models, film cameras can hold much of their
value for decades. They're less delicate than digitals;
some pro models are built to withstand harsh environments
and all kinds of weather. There's no memory card storage
limit, and film is available worldwide. Most film-based
SLR cameras are vastly less expensive than even basic
digital SLR cameras; these models start in the $800
price range, while film SLRs cost as little as $150."
Rebecca Rather, a mother of four young boys, said one
frustrating thing about her digital camera is the technology
is changing so fast. She's only had her camera for about
a year, but she said her camera is going to be out of
date in a couple of years, whereas she said a good film
camera will last forever.
Buziak wrote, "And remember... 35mm film stock is more
or less stable for a century, but digital retrieval
technology, editing software and storage media changes
every decade. If you're serious about photo images...
you have to think long term...period!"
Rather said the thing she likes most about her digital
camera is being able to take lots of pictures on her
memory card without wasting film. "If someone's blowing
out a candle at a birthday party, with film I'd have
to take about three shots," Rather said. "But with digital
I can take even more shots, put them on my computer
and see which one I like best, so I don't have to waste
Brett Jensen, who took a photography class in high
school, said he likes using film better, but digital
is more convenient.
Local photographer Branden Evans, of Images of Inspiration,
said digital photography is more expensive starting
out with the cost of the camera, batteries and memory
cards. He said film is just the opposite; it's cheap.
But he said with film you have the constant cost of
buying film plus the cost of developing it. "Digital
if it's not good it's just deleted... no extra cost
there," Evans said. "With film you don't know how it
looks until it's developed and printed... extra cost
for something that might just get tossed in the trash."
Despite the extra cost and possibility of wasted film,
Rather said, "I always loved taking a roll of film and
not knowing what the pictures looked like. I loved the
element of surprise." But she said on the other hand
it's nice with digital to know exactly what she's going
Rick Eckerts, owner of Eckerts Photography in Logan,
said, "Film, as far as print quality goes... has the
potential to surpass digital in every way." He said
print quality is the ability to extract all the color,
depth and detail of the image.
One problem with digital in the past has been the quality
of an enlarged print. Eckert said he now has a 12 megapixel
digital camera that he "wouldn't hesitate taking a picture
with." He said he's amazed at what he can do with that
camera. "It's just when you get down to really small
details like a landscape with a digital camera, if you're
going to make a large print, it's hard to retain those
details." But he said the way digital's going, it's
Rather said with her digital camera, she has the option
to set it to different megapixels so she can set it
to the quality she wants. "I know if I'm taking pictures
to blow up, I can set it to a really great quality."
Rather said digital and film just produce different
results. She said sometimes with her digital prints
she gets images that are super sharp and clean, which
she said is good in some circumstances, "but sometimes
you don't want something that's super crisp and looks
like you were there."
Although digital and film images vary depending on
what kind of camera you use, Visitors to the
Poynter website can see the difference of one particular
digital and film print by scrolling over and clicking
on two images of the same scene.
Rather said she was very hesitant to get a digital
camera, but all in all she's been really happy. But
she said, "If I'm just trying to get a really good quality
picture of my kids I would definitely do film."
Eckerts said for wedding photography, digital works
great. But he said he uses film mostly for a fine art
type of photograph, especially one that's going to be
Even though photographers use different methods of
getting that perfect shot, they are still just trying
to capture time standing still, and that is a feat in
and of itself.
Darrell Young said on the Discussions @ Nikonians forum,
"No longer am I a digital photographer. Nor, am I just
a film photographer. I am... a photographer."
Digital is definitely advancing, but Evans said he
thinks film photography will be around for quite some
time. "I also believe that digital is taking over, but
I don't think it will completely take over."