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Today's word on journalism

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dueling masters on words:

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

--William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962), on Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961)

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

--Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961), on William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962)

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 come.

Ed Buziak wrote on his Photos + Artwork blog on, "Photographers have always adapted...and their creative visions have and will always find new ways of making stunning images."

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 being used.

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 She's only had her camera for about a year, but she said her camera is going to be out of date in a couple of years, whereas she said a good film camera will last forever.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 film."

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 to get.

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 encouraging him.

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 enlarged.

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."


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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