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Film or Digital Camera?

Hints & Tips

Since digital cameras have been introduced they have made a large impact on the traditional film camera market. Both types of cameras have their own benefits and weaknesses depending on the individual photographers own needs and requirements. Here we provide an introduction to both styles of camera.

Digital cameras

The development and introduction of digital cameras has made a huge impact within the camera market. A digital camera takes photos by digitally recording images onto a light-sensitive sensor which then records on digital memory rather than film. Digital images can then be transferred and edited on a computer.

The sale of digital cameras now eclipses the sales of traditional film cameras with some retail outlets ceasing the sale of film cameras altogether. Appealing to both professional and amateur photographers due to their ease of use digital cameras give the photographer the option to see instant results and offers further simplicity in uploading and editing them onto their own computer. Your choice of digital camera will depend on how you intend to use your camera and on your finances; the market caters for many different requirements from amateur photography to professional photography.

Digital cameras are rated and sold according to their megapixels. A pixel, which is short for pixel elements, is a single point in a graphic image. These dots can be reproduced and the number of dots that are used to create or make up an image can be known as the resolution. A mega pixel is one million pixels and cameras are rated from one megapixel to anything over twenty megapixels. The resolution of the camera will determine the largest photo size that the camera can produce, the more dots or pixels that are used the closer the result will resemble the original image. In general the more megapixels a camera offers the higher the resolution and therefore you will be able to produce larger print sizes of an enhanced quality. Particularly good for the professional photographer.

Digital cameras are popular as they provide the user with instant results; LCD screens are situated on the back of the camera and can be used to display photos as they are taken. The LCD screen can help the user compose their photo and display the image before they have taken the shot which can prove easier for the amateur photographer. The viewfinder as featured on traditional film cameras is not needed, and can provide the photographer with a better idea of the picture being taken and if the shot works.

One of the main benefits of digital cameras is that the user sees instant results so they can save money on developing and printing costs in the future. Photographers now do not have to worry about cost of purchasing film and the cost of developing unseen films; digital cameras present the user with immediate results and the option to decide which of their pictures they would like to develop.

Digital cameras have limited memory space to store photos so it would be advisable to use a compatible memory or media card to transfer the images too. The card is normally a thin piece of plastic which contains a memory chip; images can be transferred from the memory card to your computer and then deleted to allow space for more photos.

When purchasing your digital camera it will most likely be supplied with a graphics software CD to allow you to download images from your camera to your computer. Most cameras will be connected to the computer through a USB port or serial port with an appropriate cable, which is usually provided with the camera when purchased. Uploading pictures from your camera to your computer is a quick and simple process and means that your images can be stored on the hard drive of your computer, however it would be advisable to make back up copies of images just in case of a computer fault. The graphics software will enable you to display, edit and print your photos directly from your computer. There are now cheap and easy to use printers specially designed, allowing you to develop photos instantly.

Film Cameras

Film cameras have become less fashionable within the camera market due to the development and availability of digital cameras. Traditional film cameras consist of a lightproof box which is fitted with a lens through which the image of an object is recorded onto photographic film or photographic plates.

Film cameras were the camera of choice for many years prior to digital and some professional photographers argue that film cameras still offer more superior results. Sales of film cameras though have declined due to the development of the digital camera. There are differing types of film camera that are available and your choice of which one to use will be dependent upon the type of images you wish to create and also the actual subjects that you will be photographing.

There are two main types of film cameras available, either the conventional 35mm film camera or APS cameras, both are available with either automatic settings for the less experienced photographer or manual settings to enable the photographer to choose.

Film cameras work by being manually loaded with film; there are many different types of film available to achieve different effects and results. The film itself is a piece of celluloid which has been covered with a photographic emulsion; this film is then made into negatives or transparencies. The film is wound onto a spool to avoid it being exposed to light.

Films are available in either 16mm, 35mm and 70mm, and this describes the length of the individual film negative frames which are exposed in order to capture the image, the larger the negative, the higher the resolution of the projected image. Selecting the right type of film for the conditions that you are photographing will ensure you achieve the best quality result. A film that is right for one type of picture may not suit the next picture you take.

There are different speeds of film that you can choose, these are measured in ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400 to ISO1000. ISO 100 is a slower film and can be used for brightly lit and still life subjects where as ISO 1000 which is a faster film can be used in low light however it does provide a grainy detail. Most general photographer use ISO 200 which is a medium speed film which works best indoors and outdoors in everyday situations. Films do expire, the newer the film the better results you will achieve so check the expiry date before you start using your film. It is also important to process the film quickly once it has been used. Film should not be exposed to extreme temperatures, especially heat. The temperatures can harm the quality of the film. If you are not happy with the results from one brand of film then try another, the different makes and brands of films can provide varying results, try a few and see which one suits you best.

Although digital offers many benefits to the user, many photographers still prefer film to digital for a number of reasons. Film photography requires a polished technique to produce good results, to take a good quality picture with a film camera everything must be perfect, excellent lenses, perfect focussing, perfect exposure and perfect development. Many argue that the quality of film is better than digital, only film can be increased in size to produce good quality enlargements and that film cameras offer the photographer the option to try a huge variety of different films to experiment with therefore helping develop your photography skills. A main advantage is that you always have a permanent copy of the photo in the form of a negative or a slide.

However film can be difficult to work with, until the film is developed the user has no idea how the shot will have turned out. This can prove expensive developing pictures that are of poor quality or no use. The developing process can also prove tricky and heat and moisture can affect the film and therefore the pictures. Loss of business and profit can be a huge risk to professional photographers, so they must be sure that the photos are being transferred onto a correctly inserted film.