Film Camera vs Digital Camera

This is a discussion on Film Camera vs Digital Camera within the Casual Chat forums, part of the OTHER FORUMS category; I've been into digital photography for some years, now, and currently use two Nikon DSLRs and a Nikon P&S. Seen a lot of posts in ...


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  • 1 Post By John B.

Thread: Film Camera vs Digital Camera

  1. #1
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    Film Camera vs Digital Camera

    I've been into digital photography for some years, now, and currently use two Nikon DSLRs and a Nikon P&S. Seen a lot of posts in various places about film cameras, and how many digital photographers are recommending them. Before the advents of digital cameras, I gave up on film photography due to ruining so much film due to leaving the camera in a hot vehicle all day. (I had no choice.) So I gave the camera and other gear away when I couldn't sell it.

    Now, seeing so many people saying why film cameras are better, I thought perhaps I might be missing something. Searching eBay I found a nice Nikon EM in mint condition, complete with a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens. Okay, it's a beginner's camera but it's still a film camera. Fortunately, I didn't pay much for it - $46 including shipping.

    I consider it a failed experiment, and I disagree with everyone's reasons for using 35mm film. You're not going to know exactly what you got until the film is developed and printed. At that point you can't post-process it unless you convert it to digital which negates any reason for using film. At a cost of $10 for processing plus prints and a CD, plus the cost of the film, it's an expensive way of taking photos. And the problem of leaving the camera in my truck in the summertime comes back.

    Chimping a digital camera has an advantage. I check the first image to make sure the camera is set right. Sometimes I've left it on monochrome or some other setting I didn't want. I don't want to take a whole series of photos and later find that they're all monochrome. You can't chimp a film camera, but then it's hard to go wrong with the limited settings that the film camera has. You can't switch from color to monochrome unless you change the film.

    So back on eBay it goes!
    bert likes this.


  • #2
    bert
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    For me, the economy, convenience, graphical flexibility, and resolution of digital beats the pants off film.

    35mm film is only "better" in an old-fashioned, idealised, romantic way.

    Medium format, and large format, are way better than 35mm, but even they can't compete

    with modern digital cameras.

    The (digital) Nikon D800, for example, is even more high-res than medium format cameras (digital or film).

    The only advantage that film has over most digital cameras is its better contrast range.


    Anyway, John, I'm surprised that you are in the habit of allowing primates to play with your cameras !!

    Ye gods, man !

    Whatever are/were you thinking !?

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    I was thinking I had forgotten how it was, twenty years ago, Bert! I would have had no rest until I gave film another try.

    I think there's some snobbery involved. Comparing 35mm with digital, I think the digital is the future. I doubt if a person could tell the difference between a print made from a 35mm negative and one made from a digital file. Contrast? You can make a digital print as contrasty as you like. And I don't know how many people keep photo albums anymore. I know there are reasons to have portfolios to show a client if you are a pro, but for the average Joe, I see no advantage of film over digital, only a disadvantage.

    Anyway, I just had to find out for myself what filmophiles (I just made that up) were raving about.

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    Well, since the day I started photography I just took my first shot by using the digital camera and nothing to say about the quality. And still I am using the digital camera. Not much knowledge about the film camera as I have never used it.

  • #5
    bert
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    "I doubt if a person could tell the difference between a print made from a 35mm negative and one made from a digital file."

    If the print examples were big enough, you would be able to see the difference, ie, if the digital print is hi-res it will look fine, but the 35mm blow-up will look blotchy as hell.

    "Contrast? You can make a digital print as contrasty as you like." That's the problem, unless you have a fairly expensive DSLR, you can't generally resolve the disk of the Sun.

    But, John, when I expressed surprise at the end of my post, it was merely to convey the sentiments of shock I experienced at the thought of you allowing

    chimpanzees to interfere with your cameras

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    Quote Originally Posted by bert View Post
    "Contrast? You can make a digital print as contrasty as you like." That's the problem, unless you have a fairly expensive DSLR, you can't generally resolve the disk of the Sun.
    Yes, but post processing can change the contrast, even of photos taken with a P&S.

    My Nikon D5100 is a nice camera but far from the most expensive. I think I paid around $700 (435) for it, and it has all kinds of stuff for fine-tuning photos prior to taking them, and even afterward.

    But, John, when I expressed surprise at the end of my post, it was merely to convey the sentiments of shock I experienced at the thought of you allowing

    chimpanzees to interfere with your cameras
    Bert, you tasty geezer, you! I'm sure you know what "chimping" is. I was reading a forum, recently, where the discussion was about "chimping." The snobs look down on anyone who dares to look at the photo they just took, in their viewing screen. Personally, I think it's a great thing and I'm not ashamed to "chimp" but I usually only do it for the first picture I take of a series. Yesterday, for instance, I went out to a national nature reserve. At one point I set the camera to take some black and white. From there I got in my truck and drove to another area. After taking several photos, I dared to chimp and saw that they were all in black and white when I wanted color. Had I not chimped I would have been quite upset when I got home and found the mistake. That can't occur with a film camera simply because you'd need to change the film. And when one considers the numerous settings on a DSLR, you can end up with a card full of spoiled images if you didn't chimp, occasionally.

    When you get to my age you'll understand how easy it is to forget which settings you have on your camera from the last time you used it. And a chimpanzee might even take better photos than mine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leonarrd View Post
    Well, since the day I started photography I just took my first shot by using the digital camera and nothing to say about the quality. And still I am using the digital camera. Not much knowledge about the film camera as I have never used it.
    If you ever have a desire to try film, Leonarrd, I'd suggest buying a cheap throwaway camera already loaded with film. You just point and click, and you won't really know what you've got until you get the prints. If you like film, you could move up from there. Unless you're doing professional large format film work, I doubt you'd care for the 35mm film.

    With the film camera I just bought I soon found that I can't control the depth of focus. It has a match needle which, when you look through the viewfinder, simply needs to be adjusted by turning the aperture ring on the lens. That match needles shows the shutter speed. You have to use the aperture that the camera determines is correct. That's not good. It's the ability to control aperture that determines the depth of focus. Perhaps more expensive film cameras permit that option, but it still ends up with you not knowing what you've taken until you see the prints. And post processing is out of the question unless you convert the film to digital. But then that negates the purpose of film.

    This whole discussion about film cameras is making me realize how little I know about them. My first camera was a Zenit E, a clunky Russian 35mm camera with pentaprism focus and match needle, which is the same as the Nikon EM I just bought. My second film camera was a Pentax K1000 but it's been so long since I used it (20 years or more) that I've forgotten what kind of controls it had. Back then, though, I knew nothing about depth of focus so it really didn't matter to me. I just pointed it and clicked. It gave me good photos but as with all film cameras it lacked the artistic fine-tuning capabilities of digital cameras.

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    For convenience sake I'd say digital but for overall experience I absolutely prefer analog. When you have a roll of film with less than 30 pictures on it, you're so much more thoughtful and calculated with which image you take. Plus, the whole processing experience takes longer but when you finally have a print you are so much more attached to it. I just love taking a roll of film but not developing it for a little while. When you finally do, you realize you've forgotten which pictures you took and have no idea how they turned out until you develop them. But there is something to be said for the instant gratification of digital. For more artistic things I keep with analog but for social events or occasions that I know I'll take a ton of pictures ie Travel, I'll stick with digital.

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    If it is for convenience, I'd pick digital. But if it will be about the excitement per se, film camera it must be.

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    Pay attention to posts. This one is 5 years old and probably more relevant back then.


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