Ever since the introduction of the digital camera, a war has raged within the photography community. There are those that claim 35 mm film is the one “true professional” media and digital its casual counterpart. Conversely as costs go down and quality increases, there is an ever expanding group of professional photographers who shoot only in digital. So what is a consumer to think? Is 35mm still the way to go, or is it time to trade up for a new digital model? It’s time to break each format down and seal this deal, once and for all.
Digital Photography: Amateur?
It is true that there are many digital cameras on the market, and like their 35mm counterparts there is an endless supply of variables that can impact the images each one is capable of producing. Image quality (in terms of color contrast and depth of field) have always been a major concern for those taking digital images and is still one of the common excuses heard from the opposition. Add to this the fact that finding a digital camera that could match the sheer raw data contained in a photograph on film was both arduous and incredibly expensive, and the 35mm enthusiast has a fairly solid argument.
Fortunately for the consumer, the price of an high quality digital camera has dropped sharply in the last few years. Canon’s popular “Digital Rebel” line of SLRs has given people an affordable (under $1,000) entry-level camera that produces near professional results. And since Canon isn’t the only camera company, it’s a safe bet that consumers can look forward to even better cameras at lower prices in the near future.
35mm: Is it Antiquated?
These days why use film at all? It’s certainly no secret that film has an unforgiving and often expensive learning curve, and recent trends show professionals leaning heavily on digital for precisely those reasons. After all, when shooting a big event like a Super Bowl, would it be better to have the potential for thousands of shots, or just the film in the bag? Sports Illustrated photographers answered that question by shooting over 16 thousand images in 2004’s bowl, entirely in digital.
However, just as some music enthusiasts claim that everything sounds better on a record, there are plenty of photographers who agree that there is no matching the warmth and familiarity of a fresh roll of film. In fact, developing film manually and printing photos in a darkroom is one of the most rewarding and hands on photography experiences one can have. Sure, photos can be powerfully edited using tools like Adobe Photoshop to remove almost any imperfection, but clicking a mouse is very different than the tactile sensations of a darkroom. And of course, having someone else print up a roll of film only takes an hour or so.
And the Winner is…
Neither! Based on the availability of technology and the vast resources devoted to this topic, there’s really no single point that wins this battle. As with many debates, the winner here is going to be entirely up to the needs and desires of the individual. Families wanting to shoot and print their pictures on the fly may choose digital due to its instant gratification and convenience, while others may stick to good old film so they can print up doubles and put them into family photo frames. No matter what you choose, in the end, people can still easily print out their pictures so they can hang them on the wall in collage picture frames or display them on a desk or dresser in a special unique picture frame.Thanks to powerful yet affordable innovations in digital and the classic, “do it yourself familiarity of film” the choice is now directly in the hands of the consumer- right where it belongs.