Film vs. Digital : Images By Deidre Wildlife Photo Blog

Film vs. Digital

by Deidre Heindl on 09/14/10

Lately I have been pondering the pros and cons of Film versus Digital, especially for Wildlife Photography.

I have always photographed wildlife using film. Although, I own a few digital cameras, I stayed with film for my wildlife photography.

My Film Camera started giving me problems. I feared how much it would cost to be repaired.

Many people over recent years were stunned to see that I was still using a Film Camera, and my arguments were beginning to lose ground. I decided that this was an opportunity to review my fears regarding whether to  go Digital or not.

I decided to come up with a list of the Pros and Cons of each. Here is what I came up with:

Film Camera Pro's

  • Truer to life color (although this is changing daily, as digital is striving to compete)
  • A Film Negative to keep on file in cases of copyright infringement, as well as for the sharpest prints.

Film Camera Con's

  • Costs - Pay to process the Film Negative and to have prints made.
  • Time - The film must be changed in the camera after every 24 or 36 photos. Time to take your film in to be processed and wait for it to be completed. Time to scan both the negative and the prints that you want to use. Finally, time to crop/resize the image file to email or post to your website.
  • Disturbance - Most cameras are very noisy when they begin rewinding, often loud enough to scare off any wildlife that you were photographing.

Digital Camera Pro's

  • You are not limited to 24 or 36 photos at a time, as you are with a film camera. The only limits are determined by how much memory you have, and you can purchase extra memory cards so that you literally can take unlimited photos.
  • No disturbance sound from rewinding film or loading film. Sounds can be enabled or disabled on most digital cameras.
  • Time is significantly reduced. No film to take to a store. No negatives or prints to scan. No having to stop to change out film in the middle of photographing wildlife. Images can be uploaded to a computer immediately and cropped/resized.
  • Less costly because there are no Film Development or Photo Print fees.
  • Images can be previewed for sharpness, settings, and composition immediately. In addition, images that did not come out can be deleted.

Digital Camera Con's

  • Learning curve - You must learn about Histograms, Image Sizes/Sizing, Image Resolution, and White Balancing procedures. Highlight blowout and loss of detail in shadows are common complaints.
  • Lack of need to go to a store for development means that many photos never see the light of day, and are never made into prints to share with others.
  • Colors tend to be different than real-life colors. This technology is getting better every day to correct/compensate for this, but the film afficionados will argue the point every time.
  • Digital Cameras tend to be much more expensive than Film SLR's although as more choices become available the price goes down. Also, many Digital Camera bodies cannot be used with Film Camera Lenses. However, that too is changing as the need grows greater.

To conclude, I think that it is time, at least for me, to go Digital.

I have always been loyal to Pentax, and all of their Digital Camera bodies are compatible with all Pentax Lenses, so my only investment will be in the camera body.

I was fearful to make the switch previously because of concerns for an investment in all new lenses, filters, etc. Now that I know that this is not the case, I'm ready to take the leap!


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