Digital vs Film Camera

Digital vs Film Camera featured image

The age-old debate over whether digital cameras are superior to film cameras has resurfaced with the rise of digital technology. On the plus side, digital cameras provide instant feedback and simple image editing.

However, the aesthetic and quality of film cameras cannot be matched by their digital counterparts. In this article, we will delve into the world of photography and compare the pros and cons of both digital and film cameras, ultimately answering the question of which is the better choice for you.

Whether you are a seasoned photographer or just starting out, this article will provide valuable insights into the world of photography and help you make an informed decision about your gear. So let's start our journey into the film vs digital debate.

What Is Digital Photography?

What Is Digital Photography

To put it plainly, digital photography is the practice to capture images using a digital camera. It "sees" your picture with the help of a tiny computer chip and stores it on a tiny memory card or internal memory.

Some recent digital cameras support Secure Digital (SD) cards in addition to Compact Flash (CF) cards. If you're interested in digital photography, the first step is to acquire a suitable camera.

If you already own a camera that takes film photography, you won't be able to switch to digital photography with it until you buy one of those tiny attachments that go into the camera and make it possible to shoot digital photos.

There is a wide range of form factors among digital cameras. The most often used ones resemble large boxes with protruding lenses. Because of their simplicity, these cameras are commonly referred to as "point and shoot cameras" .

You can simply aim and fire. Single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras provide you with more creative freedom and come in a wide range of sizes and forms if you're serious about photography.

These are quite similar to point-and-shoots, but with the added benefit of interchangeable lenses, allowing you to tailor your camera to the subject matter at hand.

Pros Of Digital Cameras

Pros Of Digital Cameras

The portability of most digital cameras is an obvious benefit. With a digital camera, you won't have to worry about the bulkiness of your equipment because it can easily fit into your pocket. You can put your hand down and let it do the work, unlike with a film camera.

A digital camera's key perk is that it's compact and simple to transport. Because digital cameras are compact and lightweight, you can shoot pictures anywhere you go.

Neither a large camera nor the anxiety of potentially capturing an image at the wrong time is required. Unlike traditional film cameras, which struggled in low light and needed specialized bulbs, digital cameras are equally at home in the bright sunlight as they are in the dark.

Digital cameras are easy to operate and don't demand much from the user. Digital cameras are perfect for everybody, whether you're an experienced photographer or just starting out.

To snap an instant digital photo, all you have to do is take your camera out of your pocket, turn it on, and press a button. In addition, classic film cameras necessitated the development of film photography before the photos could be viewed, whereas digital cameras eliminate this step.

Photos taken using digital cameras are ready to see immediately after they have been taken. Digital cameras make it simple to copy the data stored on the camera to a local hard disk or the cloud. Files can be copied and saved or edited from that location.

The digital editing tools available now make it simple to make changes to your photos. In the days of analog film, digital photo editing required a lot of time and effort. Editing is a breeze with the help of programs like Photoshop and Lightroom.

Related post: 5 Best Digital Cameras Under $100

Cons Of Digital Cameras

With a digital camera, you can get your digital images right away, which is a huge benefit. They are also fantastic since you can remove the images you don’t like and preserve only the nice ones.

While digital cameras have many advantages, they also have some drawbacks compared to traditional cameras.

There is no way to rewind the film because it is permanently attached to the camera. This means that once a photo has been taken, it cannot be undone.

You'll have to wait until your batteries are fully charged or replace them if you delete an image because you think it's not good enough to keep. Second, unlike their analog counterparts, digital photos degrade over time.

As long as analog photographs are stored correctly, their quality will remain unchanged for decades. The quality of digital photographs, however, degrades after being stored for a number of years. A high-quality digital camera may be more costly to purchase initially than its analog equivalent.

However, the cost of recording photographs on a memory card is lower in the long term than the expense of shooting digital the course of several years. The digital files might not have the same analog feel as the 35mm or medium-format film.

Digital editing software filters can make up for this shortcoming to some extent by convincingly simulating the effect of analog film.

What Is Film Photography?

What Is Film Photography

Film cameras are those that employ photographic film, which is sensitive to light. The film in your camera is stored horizontally in a dark chamber.

The camera will automatically expel the roll of film that has not yet been exposed and replace it with a new, clean roll before you take the picture.

The term "film canister" is used to describe this container. By the way, there's no magic to the process of developing photographs taken with film.

They just submit the exposed film rolls to a regular picture lab. Compact point and shoot cameras, medium-format SLRs for pros, and large-format Mamiyas and Hasselblads are just a few examples of the many different types of cameras available.

In order to provide the photographer more leeway in terms of artistic expression, these cameras often feature manual controls for altering aperture, shutter speed, and focus.

This camera type is visually and tactilely distinct in usage by professional photographers from its digital counterparts.

Many film photographers prefer this camera because of the tactile sensation and image quality they provide and the unpredictable nature of the film process, which can lend a more natural and candid quality to their photographs. 

Pros Of Film Cameras

Pros Of Film Cameras

Film cameras have greater advantages than digital ones due to their superior usability and superior image quality. However, film cameras have significant drawbacks that make digital cameras preferable for many people.

The high image quality that film cameras provide is a huge advantage. Electronic sensor is used in digital cameras to take pictures.

The sensor consists of millions of light-sensitive pixels arranged in a grid. These medium format cameras are quite similar to digital ones; the only difference is that silver halide crystals are embedded in each pixel on the negative, allowing for the formation of a latent picture upon exposure to light.

Film photos, in contrast to their digital counterparts, are sharper, have more detail, and have more natural color.

The benefits of digital photography over traditional film cameras are numerous. The biggest perk is that you can see results right away.

Unlike film photography, digital images can be viewed immediately after they have been taken. The advent of digital photography has made it possible to print photos whenever you need them, share them instantaneously online as an attachment in an email, or print them out at a photo lab.

The tonal range of conventional film is much wider, making for striking images. In black-and-white photography, this effect is accentuated.

The warm film grain of photographs captured on non-digital single-lens reflex cameras appeals to film connoisseurs in the same way that vinyl records appeal to audiophiles (SLRs). Using high-end films like Velvia 50 or Kodak Portra 400 emphasizes the film's natural warmth.

In most cases, traditional film devices are less expensive than their digital equivalents, whether you're looking for an entry-level 35mm film camera, a medium-format camera (with a larger sensor), or a large-format camera (with an even larger sensor). Remember that buying and developing film is an expense that will build up over time.

Cons Of Film Cameras

They simply don't provide fast feedback. Because you can't view your shots in real-time, you risk missing the action. The results won't be seen until the film is developed and printed.

Because of the time involved, you may miss your chance to capture a fleeting moment with a subject like a youngster if you send off the film to be developed.

This camera type will typically cost more unlike digital cameras. The equipment is more expensive than in digital mode, and then there are the additional expenditures of film and development.

When compared to the cost of a digital camera, the cost of a film camera can is quite expensive. The images don't always measure up to the quality of their digital counterparts. There is a finite amount of shots you can take with a single roll of film.

This can be problematic for film photographers who rely on taking multiple similar photos, as is the case with those who employ the bracketing technique. Time is wasted in the darkroom developing traditional films.

Additionally, your photographs may be ruined: Your photographs will come out looking utterly faded out if you expose the undeveloped film to sunshine.

Over the course of several years, the cost of film for an analog camera could exceed that of a digital camera. It's far more cost-effective to shoot directly onto memory cards than buying multiple rolls of film.

Film vs Digital – A Comparison

Film Vs Digital comparison

Photographers have been debating the merits of film cameras ever since the introduction of the first commercial digital camera in 1988.

Numerous debates have broken out amongst working general and film photographers and aspiring photographers over the merits of film versus digital. The question is, though, how to determine which option is optimal for you. 

Compared to their digital cousins, film cameras are more portable. While 35mm film cameras might weigh as little as a pound, digital SLRs can be up to two pounds heavier.

It may not seem like much of a difference, but when you're out all day taking photos or hiking through the woods, every ounce counts.

Film cameras also have the added benefit of requiring fewer battery replacements over time. There is no need to constantly download photographs or reformat the memory card with software when using film. 

To transfer photos from a digital camera to a computer, you'll need a memory card and the appropriate software, which can add up to several hours of your time depending on how many photos you took.

The cost of shooting on film is less than that of digital. They're more convenient because you don't have to wait for a download before taking another shot after each use. 

Film Offers Color Consistency and Dynamic Range over Digital

Photographically, nothing beats film. The digital equivalent is inferior. Fujifilm's efforts to replicate the film's gorgeous color constancy are a good case in point. A technological "advance" like this is really just a clever advertising ploy.

For instance, Fujifilm's attempts to bring the look and feel of their Provia and Velvia film stocks to their mirrorless digital cameras were a huge disappointment. Film production was halted while they focused on recreating the color science in camera. 

Digital mirrorless camera users were overjoyed to learn they could now take pictures enhanced with "Veliva" and "Provia" simulations.

Looking at the digital photographs produced by these cameras, the film simulation effect is little more than a jolt of contrast and saturation together with some embedded information text.

We've been shooting on conventional film stock for years, and this advertising gimmick can't compare. Because of this, when you take up the role of Velvia or Provia, you know that nothing can compare to the real thing. When compared to a digital copy, the film version's color accuracy is far more renowned.

The resolution of the Film is Higher Than Most Digital Cameras

resolution film vs digital cameras

If you're not familiar with movies, the aforementioned title may sound absurd. Numerous film sizes are produced to accommodate a wide range of cameras. This corresponds roughly to the size of the sensors found in modern digital cameras.

However, the film has the advantage of being able to record and store images at higher resolutions than digital cameras. To be more precise, the number of photons on the film's surface increases in proportion to its size.

To illustrate, if we were to compare the resolution of a 35mm full-frame digital sensor to that of a 120mm negative, the film would win hands out.

This is especially true at lower ISOs, but as ISO is increased, the signal-to-noise ratio changes dramatically, and the digital sensor's resolution advantage becomes more apparent.

Therefore, the resolution you can acquire will surpass a smaller sensor if you plan to shoot film at a lower ISO (Let's say, Under 800).

Film Processing And Editing Is As Creative As Taking The Shot

The ability to make aesthetic decisions at each level of processing and editing is a major selling point for film photography. Film editing is more of a multi-step procedure than one-and-done editing of digital.

It's a fun and demanding venture over which you have complete say. Film editors have more control over the lighting conditions in the darkroom, which is a major benefit.

Film's broad dynamic range means less highlight and shadow detail loss, as well as less highlight clipping. These problems can oftentimes render digital files irretrievable. Since digital editing may be done in-camera or on a digital device, it is typically done on the fly.

In this fast-paced world, taking time out to focus on a project in a quiet environment like a lab or darkroom may be quite rewarding. Instead, many people today are spending time scanning their film photographs at a high resolution. 

If processed properly, film negatives can be scanned and printed repeatedly. Computer crashes, hard disk failures, and memory card corruption are persistent threats in the digital age.

The worst thing that can happen when you're out in the field or trying to upload photos to your computer is for the memory card to not read properly.

The editing process should include much more than just dragging sliders around. Editing a film has an effect on all of the senses and takes the filmmaker closer to the final product.

The Cost Of Film Photography Is More Manageable Than Digital

cost film vs digital cameras

Many people's decision to engage in artistic pursuits, such as photography, is influenced by the perceived or actual financial burden of doing so.

There are differences in the costs associated with film and digital photography that are worth looking into; nonetheless, film photography is more forgiving and affordable.

The initial investment for the film is much smaller than that of a state-of-the-art digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) or mirrorless camera set.

Some of the most premium versions have jaw-dropping prices that would put a serious dent in most people's budgets. Additionally, you are bound by the numerous disadvantages of being dependent on digital media.

Unlike digital photography, the expenditures of shooting film can be spread out over the photographer's career. In addition to the camera itself, the film is a relatively inexpensive consumable; it's best to stock up on film in large quantities, as doing so increases the likelihood that you'll actually use the camera.

When you buy in bulk, you can save money on each roll. Depending on how in-depth you choose to get, you will then need to factor in the expense of a lab or darkroom. If you're looking to cut down on lab fees, scanning your film digitally is a common option.

Incredibly high-quality, these scans won't change a thing about your photos. As an added bonus, you can now do whatever you want, however, you want, regardless of how much money it costs.

Depending on your preferences, you can now take your digital scans and alter them in further detail using the editing tools of your choice. Scans can be printed at home or sent to a lab in any size or orientation you like.

You can also publish your results online through channels like your blog or website, or even on social media if you like.

It's obvious that throughout the course of your photography career, the film camera will cost you significantly less money than a digital. Digital cameras only last as long as their circuits do, whereas film cameras can last for generations.

Film vs Digital Photography: Which One Is Better And Why?

Film Vs Digital Photography

Many of us mistakenly believe that film and digital photography are interchangeable. That is not the case; there are significant differences between the two, particularly with regard to the clarity and fidelity of a photograph.

Truth be told, digital photography improves each year. While the movie is just as good now as it was back then.

Film vs Digital Photography: Quality And Resolution

While high-quality photos can be captured using film cameras, the final resolution is always dependent on the quality of the original capture. This explains why film images have such a grainy appearance and feel than the digital images.

If you have enough hard drive capacity, however, digital cameras may create extremely high-resolution photographs.

How well your camera sensor captures light and what kind of photo editing program you use to determine the final product's quality.

You might also be interested in How Does A Digital Camera Work, our article will show you the answer in details. Read on!

Film vs Digital Photography: Storage Capacity

With digital photography, there is a lot more leeway in terms of file sizes. When compared to the limited capacity of a roll of film, your computer's hard disk and external storage devices may hold thousands of photos.

Additionally, you can keep thousands of high-resolution images on your preferred online photo-sharing platform or at the office.


The pros and cons of digital and film cameras are different enough that choosing one over the other boils down to individual preference and practical considerations.

Quick results, simple editing, and adaptability to different lighting situations are just a few of the benefits of digital cameras.

However, film cameras have their own unique style and quality that shooting digital cameras simply can't match. The best camera is the one that lets you convey the story you want to tell with the visuals you imagine.

The most essential thing is to choose a camera, digital or film, that lets you be creative and keeps the memories that matter to you. So choose wisely and have fun on your photographic journey!

Ryan Mills
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