Film or Digital: Which Is Right for You?
Thanks to the resurgence of film photography in recent years, many photographers have found themselves asking an unlikely question: Which is better, film or digital photography? The rising popularity of lo-fi photography means that many young photographers are opting for film cameras instead of their digital counterparts. From secondhand 35mm SLRs to modern instant cameras, film photography is well and truly enjoying a second wind.
Still, the question of whether to use a film or digital camera is more complex than it may sound. Both types of camera have their own unique features, advantages, and quirks that can help you become a better photographer. Read on to discover the pros and cons of digital and film cameras and decide which is best for you.
3 reasons to use a digital camera
Even in the face of growing nostalgia for analogue photography, there are plenty of reasons for beginners and photography pros alike to use a digital camera. Scroll on to discover the best things about shooting with a digital camera below.
When it comes to learning photography basics quickly and easily, it doesn’t get much better than digital cameras. Modern mirrorless and DSLR cameras are equipped with a range of features that make it simple for beginners to get their head around things like photo composition rules and shutter speed.
Rather than being intimidated by things like manual photography settings, beginners can simply put their camera into “Auto” mode, start shooting, and worry about perfecting their technique later.
One of the best things about digital photography is its immediacy. Unlike with film cameras, there’s no need to wait days or even weeks for your prints to come back from the photo lab to see the results - all you need to do is check your LCD screen! If you’re not happy with the results, you can simply recompose and shoot another one.
In addition to convenience, speed, and ease of use, modern digital cameras give you a chance to control every aspect of your image. Upload your photos to your computer or tablet and tweak everything from the exposure levels to the composition, saturation, and hue. Make as many adjustments as you want, safe in the knowledge that you can always revert to the original file if you change your mind.
3 reasons to use a film camera
Similar to their modern, digital counterparts, there are a number of great things to celebrate about film cameras and several features that make them ideal in certain situations. Read on for our top 3 reasons to try your hand at film photography.
There’s no denying that film photography gives you a unique, lo-fi aesthetic that’s hard to replicate. Though many smartphone apps allow you to add grain, colour casts, and light leaks that emulate the look and feel of film photos, they’re never quite accurate. For this reason, it’s always best to just use an actual film camera.
Improve your photography skills
Because every roll of film only includes a limited number of shots, film photography forces you to slow down and consider each shot carefully before pressing the shutter. In turn, taking the time to really focus on your composition and lighting will help you take better photos.
Master the basics
The majority of film cameras, including modern film cameras, don’t have an LCD screen. Instead, they’ve only got a viewfinder, meaning you’ve got to lift the camera up to eye level and pay close attention to your framing. This additional step is a great opportunity to master a range of basic photography skills including composition, choosing a subject, and deciding what to crop out.
How to get into film photography
While the above proves that there’s a time and a place for every type of camera and that the film camera vs digital camera debate isn’t so easily settled, one thing is clear: Every photographer should try a film camera at least once. Ready to dive in? We’ve put together a list of our three top tips for anyone starting film photography below.
1. Start with an instant camera
Starting with an instant camera is a great, low-risk way to dip your toe into the waters of film photography. Models like the Instax instant camera or classic Polaroid allow you to view your results in a matter of moments, so you don’t need to wait for labs to process your film. Plus, these cameras are simple to operate and have minimal settings, most of which are similar to those of your smartphone or digital camera.
2. Choose the right film
Unlike with digital cameras, film cameras mean you have to choose whether you’ll shoot in black and white or in colour - and stick with it. When choosing your camera film, always take this factor into account.
At the same time, be mindful of the ISO, or speed, or your roll of film. ISO can easily be adjusted on a digital camera, but can’t be changed on a film camera: Once you’ve picked one, you simply have to finish the entire roll. As a rule of thumb, ISO 200 is a good choice for shooting in bright outdoors settings, while ISO 800 is ideal for indoor environments. Beginners shooting both indoors and outdoors may want to opt for versatile ISO 400 film instead.
3. Invest in a film scanner
This nifty photography accessory allows you to digitise your film photos, making it the perfect way to experience a blend of classic and modern technology. They’re also the best way to share your analogue shots on social media! When choosing a scanner, bear in mind that dedicated negative scanners will generally give you a higher image quality, while flatbed scanners can also be used to scan documents and other printed material.
Get started on your film journey today
Choose the best camera for your photography style & needs
Although there are plenty of reasons to try film photography today, it’s worth remembering that the best camera for you will ultimately depend on your style, skills, and taste. When deciding whether to use a film or digital camera, take all these factors into account and remember that there’s no “right” or “wrong” decision. If all else fails, give both a try!
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