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Digital versus film photography – which is best?

Steve Jobs said the best camera is the one you’ve got with you, and the digital versus film photography argument is a very geeky academic discussion. However, there is one area where film beats digital every single time.
Recently, on a photography course we had a customer who had just bought a new camera. Like most new camera owners, he had played with it thoroughly, checked out all the modes, pressed all the knobs and switches and generally had a good look at it before he went away. He then went to New York City with his camera, with the intention of taking lots of amazing shots in that spectacularly photogenic location.
The problem is, he had forgotten to take a charger with him and he had almost completely flattened the battery before he went. His solution to this was simple – use the camera like a film camera.
The thing that uses the battery the most on your digital camera is the screen. The bigger the screen, the higher resolution it is, the more battery power it will use. Knowing this, our customer wisely didn’t look at any of his pictures in New York, just taking pictures using the viewfinder (which  on an SLR uses virtually no power), hoping they were good and waiting to look at them after he downloaded the pictures later.
He took the best pictures he’d ever taken. Think about it – not reviewing pictures in the field, not “chimping”, not thinking how a picture can be improved while you’re trying to take it. Just doing your best to take a good picture in the field, and then downloading it afterwards.
 The lesson we learned from that is that digital is great for experimentation, and gives you the chance to take slightly dodgy pictures that may not work knowing that isn’t costing you money. The conservative style of shooting on film comes from the fact that they cost a lot to produce. But film with its emphasis on getting the picture right the first time is a whole different business and we feel getting the picture right in camera, the first time, is the most important thing you can do.
So, film or digital? We think the answer is clear – Digital has loads of advantages, not least the fact that it is effectively free to take a picture. But this freedom has a price, and people tend to not think about images when they are doing their photography. If you don’t think about your photography no one will think about your photographs. So use digital and think like a film photographer.Are
Try it if you don’t believe us – just take the picture and move on. Look at it later – it will be much better than you think!

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