Which is better- film or digital?

If you're asking because you're new to photography and aren't sure what kind of camera to get or which direction you'd like to go in.. I guess I have a strong opinion!


So...Digital vs. Film? In actuality, one is not better than the other, they are just different. There are varied opinions on this but here's mine for what it's worth.

I really think a digital camera is a better option for most photographers (not just newbies) because it is much easier and faster to learn on than a 35mm film camera. MUCH. Not only because you can immediately see the image you just shot, but because of the volume of practice you can get in relatively quickly and inexpensively. Even professional photographers are constantly learning and trying to get better. When you can take 1000 images instead of 100 and edit them the same day, you are able to improve at a much faster rate.

A digital camera is also much cheaper to shoot with. The cost of developing film versus maintaining digital media that you can fit thousands of images on and use over and over again just doesn't even compare. It has been a couple of years since I purchased new SD cards and I've shot and edited over 70,000 images on them (I have about four I rotate... cost around $100 total!).

The workflow with digital versus film is also faster, simpler, and easier to control. I could theoretically shoot a wedding and deliver it within a day or two, completely edited to my exact specifications. Film requires sending out for developing (usually through the mail). The lab develops the film and for an additional cost will scan the film and send you digital copies so you can edit them on your desktop. Or you could develop the film yourself and even make your own prints but that is really another thing altogether.

With digital you will likely shoot significantly more photos than with film. This is a pro and also a con because it allows you to take many similar shots and choose the best one, but also makes for more work all around. With film you will learn to be disciplined and only press the shutter button when you are confident it's a good shot. I really do like that in theory... buuuut I also like having the freedom to shoot a lot and not worry about missing something important. It's amazing how much better one photo of the same exact subject, taken just a half a moment later or from a slightly different angle can be. At the end of the day, I feel I'm able to deliver better images because of this. Editing thousands and thousands of images (sometimes similar ones) has also trained my eye to appreciate things I would never have noticed any other way and I think has made me a better photographer. My goal is always to take as few photos as possible and get it right the first time... but the volume of practice I've had is what is helping me get there.

Digital images can be edited with presets designed to mimic film, if you prefer the film look. Mastin presets are a really popular example and were made for hybrid pro photographers who use both film and digital and need to match them. You literally cannot tell the difference unless you are a pro who regularly shoots film, and sometimes not even then.

So why shoot film? Shooting and developing film is a fun experience that you can't replicate with digital. But beyond that, the main reason to use film is it's overall superior image quality. A relatively inexpensive 35mm camera can yield finer quality images that can only be achieved using higher end professional grade digital cameras. Although this is important, it's not a difference that will matter to the vast majority of photographers, even the vast majority of pros. That's because the digital quality is still great and the difference is so minor that it can only be appreciated in specific situations.

All that to say, if you want to use film and you're shooting purely for the fun of it and if you have the time and money to work with film, then do it! Film photography can be a really rewarding and enjoyable hobby.

For everyone else, digital is a great way to start, and even if you eventually decide to try film, it probably won't replace your digital work, it will only supplement it. Later on you will understand more and more if film is a good choice for you and by then your skills will have improved so much that the cost might make sense. Digital and film cameras work in basically the same way, and you can definitely transfer your skills between the two almost seamlessly. Also, they can typically use the same lenses which makes doing both or switching between the two super easy.

So there it is, my two cents! I'll pretty much always recommend digital over film but both have an important place in photography.

Hope this helped! Drop me a note and let me what you decide!