Digital photography is great, the resolution in even point-and-shoot cameras, which is often 12 to 20 megapixels, is high enough resolution for large prints. Digital cameras also have the advantage of being able to change film speeds between individual photographs. The cameras are generally lighter weight than film cameras, and memory cards are tiny and can store many images. Of course, there is instant gratification and images can be viewed immediately.
Is film photography still relevant?
One area where film has a clear advantage over digital is in natural light. Film is meant to be shot in natural light, and that’s where it thrives. It is much more forgiving when it comes to overexposure, and it doesn’t blow out highlights as easily as digital cameras.
Digital camera sensors, are made up of millions of tiny squares that store ‘data’. Film isn’t split up in such a linear way, so, it naturally blends light and colors better. One of the worst things about digital cameras is also one of the best things about film, the grain. The grain that you get from film is much more pleasing and natural than digital cameras, and it adds to the texture and character of the photo.
One of the best things about film is how tactile it is. Digital images require working computers with specific software to become visible. Film, on the other hand, you can see the picture stored on film with a naked eye. You can store them in a box, and then pick the photo up and hold it. When my dad passed away, I inherited his huge trove of photographs (many boxes), some going back to the 1920s. Will someone be able to retrieve the digital images of your life after you are gone? Where will they find them?
PetaPixel recommends archiving the most important digital images on film. Bit rot — or file loss/corruption — can destroy images completely. Physical medium such as film is not susceptible to bit rot. Negatives degrade in a slow, predictable fashion over hundreds of years.
99.999% of all black and white digital images are full-colour photographs converted to monochrome. The conversion involves using a filter to destroy colour information.
Capturing images in true black and white has the advantage of retaining more detail with better handling of various light sensitivities. This technology is cheap on film and available in all formats. Digital cameras that capture greyscale images w/o downsampling colour are few and extremely expensive; see Sony A6000 Monochrome and Leica Monochrom.
Analogue camera’s lack of instant feedback — as you often have to shoot an entire roll and wait for the lab to send back the photos.
And this is a good thing.
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