Results tagged “Exposure times”

Film V Digital

Thanks to Nettsu a contact on twitter, I was pointed to this article about the benefits of film. It is a good read and given my own background in film photography, made plenty of sense.

Way back in 2003 I wrote an article on the issue of film versus digital. Back then cameras, where prohibitively expensive, and digital storage was far more expensive than it is today. Photoshop of course, was the, mostly widely used application used to open and edit photographs on a computer, in some cases the only application. RAW files were yet to be part of the mainstream.

Raw files and new applications for sorting and editing photographs aside things haven't changed that much. Making a good image still requires a modicum of understanding about, lenses, light, at the minimum, making a print either digitally or via analogue requires it's own skill set, making a body of work, requires another skill-set, that has no bearing on technique or the ability to understand how your camera works. Making prints and using cameras are skills with a plethora of manuals [10,723 Results on Amazon today alone] available to anyone with enough interest in the medium to buy a handful of books and get access to the machinery to do this. Creating a body of work can often be done in isolation, or done in a more formal manner through training in a fine art degree program. Learning to 'pre-visualise in photography can be both learnt and taught, but is I feel the most difficult part of the process to really master.

Many of the points alluded to in the article above by Ken Rockwell, assume you have mastered the craft of photography, something that can be quite expensive to learn as a beginner in photography, and this is where digital shines over film, I feel. Making mistakes is the quickest and easiest way to learn the basics of exposure and composition. Making mistakes with film, on the other hand can cost a lot of time and wasted effort, if you haven't already mastered your camera craft. Finally the biggest issue I had with Mr Rockwell's article, was he seemed to sometimes refer to colour neg and other times colour slide, or positive film, two films with vastly different exposure latitudes, and some of his points were invalid if you used negative film as reading a colour neg over a light box, requires considerably more skill and knowledge than a slide film, which is simply a positive of the scene as taken.

So, here's a new table of the pros and cons of digital over film, based on my own experience of teaching camera craft, and using a variety of film cameras since the early 1980's, and digital cameras since the mid to late 1990's.

I do however agree that digitial has it's place in industries like catalogue photography fashion, and photo-journalism.

Pros and Cons of Digital and Analog Photography
Digital Pros Cons
  Speed. May mean practicioners, will shooot 'by the pound' and add to a future worload of sorting.
  Ease of Use Storage mediums can be a problem, as technologies upgrade
  Limitless copying. Manipulation Applications don't allow an under the hood approach to most users, compared to film developer and paper developers.
  Instant feedback. Can be distracting as it will draw your attention away from what is going on around you, meaning less possible opportunities, photographically.
  Storage space for images/files. Ease of deletion could mean a loss of cultural history, or just an overwhelming amount of bad photographs, anecdotally 3,000 images a minute are uploaded to flickr alone.
  Democratic process, can be easy to learn. Small to non existent history of published texts
  Only requires a desk and electricity, no special room. Storage types and Mediums change making large archives difficult to manage, you must have electricity.
  No ongoing film costs. Sorting and archiving of files requires all manner of software and tools to operate
  Camera Prices drop exceptionally every two years or so. Hardware and software requirements may mean constant upgrades.
    Location shooting requires hardware to process, archive and sort. Adding considerably overall weight of a camera/travel bag, and to time and cost involved in 'editing', batteries must allways be charged and ready, spare batteries for cameras a must, if you are a prolific shooter.
  Raw files allow more exposure options, thereby enabling richer fuller print. Raw formats at the date of writing are a moving target, some software, photoshop for example needs to be kept up to date to open and process these files, from recent cameras.
Analog Pros Cons
  Easy to learn Can be hard to master
  Comparatively cheap basic/starter equipment Mastering of technique often requires and 'apprenticeship' of sorts
  Processes can tinkered under the hood easily, long history of published texts Storage of film and prints requires physical space.
  Simple to control {once mastered} Unexposed materials require special handling, refrigeration/darkroom
  No loss if treated with the right approach to entire process Losse are uneditibale if too extreme.
  Film has better exposure latitude than CCD especially negative films Calibration maybe required to really understand what is going on.
  Older film Cameras, were made to last many years, many require no batteries thereby lowering the load of the photographer 'on location' Film needs to be stored correctly and may one day cease to be made.


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