Whether you enjoy photography as a casual hobby or a prospective career, at one point or another, you’re bound to face one of the medium’s most important questions: digital or film?
Film (or analog) and digital are the two basic ways to capture images, and each one comes with its pros and cons. Depending on your style, as well as your desired final result, one or the other might be the better fit.
We’ve created a useful guide that examines the basic differences between digital and film photography so that you can make the right choice for yourself.
What is the Difference Between Digital and Film?
Most people are generally familiar with the basic difference between film and digital photography. In a nutshell, the key difference is the media and technology used to capture and create an image.
Film photography relies on film, a photosensitive (light-sensitive) medium, to take photographs. In contrast, digital photography uses a camera’s digital sensor to capture and store photographs in a digital format.
Photography was first developed through the medium of film, so many people consider it to be the true original. For this reason – and others – the film is often preferred by those who think of themselves as traditionalists. On the other hand, digital photography is so accessible that it has become the medium of choice for the general population and many professionals alike.
And yet, it’s not easy to say whether one is necessarily better than the other; rather, they are simply each unique in what they have to offer.
Film Versus Digital Photography
If you’re contemplating how to choose between film and digital photography, better understanding their key differences can be extremely helpful. Certain factors, such as quality and resolution, can make a world of difference in making the ideal decision for your needs.
When you compare film resolution vs. digital resolution, the film almost always comes out ahead. Because a film can capture photographs at a higher resolution than most digital cameras (as a result of more pixels per inch), a film camera is a great option for high-resolution photography. Of course, the exact resolution depends on your camera and film type, but in general, the image from a film camera will be noticeably crisper and of higher quality.
Does that mean that digital cameras only produce lower-quality images? Not at all. Even a standard point-and-shoot camera can offer a resolution that is upwards of 20 megapixels, which is still excellent image quality.
So, is a film better than digital when it comes to quality? Well, the answer to that question isn’t as clear-cut as you might think. Much of it comes down to personal preference and the specific circumstances in which a specific photograph is being taken.
Technically speaking, since the film is usually the higher-resolution option, it can usually be considered the higher-quality option. That being said, digital cameras remain a popular choice for professionals because they offer a level of convenience that film cannot.
When to Use Digital vs. Film
You might want to choose a film camera if:
- You are an experienced photographer
- You are capturing highly detailed photographs
- You want to enhance the nuances of black and white photography
- You’re planning to create large prints
In contrast, a digital camera might be ideal if:
- You want a good on-the-go camera
- You’re a beginner photographer
- You prefer the benefit of virtually limitless digital storage
- You want to experiment with various settings
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Image by Dmitry Zagurskiy/ shutterstock.com