According to NYC photographer Matthew Milles, “I first became interested in photography in the days when film photography was king,”. “However, after returning to school to study Fashion Photography in Chicago I began to hone my skills and fall in love with digital photography.” Could there be anyone better, then, to explain the differences between the two disciplines than this NYC fashion photographer who has been in both camps? Here, he gives his opinions.
Sensors – The Primary Difference
Perhaps the clearest difference between digital and film photography is the sensor that is used for taking images. Film cameras use a film that is light-sensitive placed behind the lens. Whenever an image is captured, the shutter will open for a specified period allowing light to hit the film. The photo is then printed onto the film. Each time a new photograph is to be taken, the film must be rolled so a clean film will be placed behind the lens.
On the other hand, a digital camera has an electronic fixed sensor behind the lens. Built from small light-sensitive sensors that each represent a pixel, the sensor gives each pixel a value whenever the shutter opens and light hits it. When put together, every pixel comes together to make a single photograph.
When you take photos with a digital camera they cost, quite literally, nothing. Each photo is retained in the camera’s erasable memory so they can be kept or discarded without it costing a cent. On the other hand, film is expensive. You don’t just have to pay out for the film roll itself, but also for developing negatives and printing images afterwards.
Digital cameras these days have increasingly large storage capacities allowing them to hold up to thousands of images on just one media. This means your digital camera is capable of having virtually infinite capacity. Feel free to shoot as much as you like then dump them onto your PC. On the other hand, the capacity of a film camera is extremely limited. A 36-shot roll is only capable of holding 36 images. Once the roll is used up, changing over to a fresh one takes time. It can be difficult to accomplish in harsh environments or dark conditions.
Ease Of Adjustment Of Images
Digital cameras lend themselves to use alongside software that allows you to easily change, enhance and alter the images that you take to your heart’s content. If you want to crop the shot, reduce red-eye or remove unwanted items from the background it’s possible with a digital camera. With a film camera, this isn’t possible. The shot that you’ve taken is the image that you end up with. That means that if the shot is blurry, has red-eye or isn’t quite central in the frame, there isn’t anything you can do to improve matters. You just have to take another shot.
Which Is Best?
Although digital photography is Matthew’s field of work, he still has a love of traditional film too, especially remembering his passion for film photography back in the day. However, when it comes to convenience, ease and simplicity, even he has to admit that modern digital cameras have the edge.