Advantages of digital

The advantages of digital photography over traditional film include:

  • Instant review of pictures, with no wait for the film to be developed: if there's a problem with a picture, you find out immediately and can correct the problem and take another picture.

  • You only pay for the printing of successful pictures.

  • Colour reproduction and gamut is not dependent on film quality.

  • Permanent storage on digital media is considerably cheaper than film.

  • There's no need to scan the picture before using it in a computer.

  • Digital cameras can be smaller and lighter than film cameras of equivalent quality.

  • Image quality does not degrade with time.

Recent digital cameras from leading manufacturers such as Nikon and Canon have promoted the adoption of digital Single-lens reflex cameras (SLRs) by photojournalists. Images captured at 2+ megapixels are deemed to be of sufficient quality for small images in newspaper or magazine reproduction. Six megapixel images, found in modern digital SLRs, when combined with high-end lenses can match or even exceed the detail of film prints taken with 35 mm film based SLRs, and the latest 12-megapixel models can produce astoundingly detailed images better than almost all 35mm images. Some professional models can capture 20- to 40-megapixel images. These ultra high resolution pictures may not be very useful to ordinary users, but they are useful to artists, scientists and commercial uses.

Advantages of film cameras

  • Film cameras are quicker to use: you don't have to wait for the camera to start up, for the photosensor to capture the image, or for the picture to be compressed and saved to the memory card.

  • Batteries last much longer in film cameras.

  • Film camera batteries are of standard types and are easier to replace.

  • A digital camera's LCD may become unusable in very bright light.

  • Image noise, a major problem of digital cameras, is of no issue with conventional film.

  • The user does not need to know how to handle a computer.

  • A picture on film is likely to last longer than a harddisk or CD-R used to store digital pictures.

With the acceptable image quality and the other advantages of digital photography (particularly the time pressures, of vital importance to daily newspapers) an increasing number of professional news photographers use these devices.

It has also been adopted by many amateur snapshot photographers, who take advantage of the convenience of the form when sending images by email and to place on the World Wide Web.

Some commercial photographers, and some amateurs interested in artistic photography, tend to avoid digital photography at this stage, as they believe that the image quality available from a digital camera of a given price is still inferior to that available from a film camera, and the quality of images taken on medium format film is near-impossible to match at any price with a digital camera. Some have expressed a concern that changing computer technology may make digital photographs inaccessible in the future while printed images have a very long lifespan. A related concern in a specialised application is the use of digital photographs in court proceedings, with the perceived difficulty of demonstrating an image's authenticity.

Other commercial photographers, and many amateurs, have enthusiastically embraced digital photography, as they believe that its flexibility and lower long-term costs outweigh its initial price disadvantages. Almost all of the cost of digital photography is capital cost, meaning that the cost is for the equipment needed to store and copy the images, and once purchased requires virtually no further expense outlay. Film photography requires continuous expenditure of (much higher amounts of) funds for supplies and developing.


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