Are you using digital photography – or are you still film based?

I was doing a little research this morning to find out how many photographers are still using film, and how many have made the switch to digital.

In one survey, they found 82 percent of those surveyed were using digital cameras. And more than 72 percent own two or more cameras. (Sound familiar πŸ˜‰ )

This really wasn’t a surprise to me. I still run into the occasional photographer that prefers film, so 82 percent is probably an accurate figure.

But the thing I found most amazing is 23 percent of the respondents said both digital and film produced the same quality results, while the remainder of respondents were evenly split at 38 percent between digital and film.

When we switched completely to digital in 2001, we’ve never looked back. Digital allows so much more flexibility with the images. You can sell your images better, retouch easier, get better images because you can immediately see your work. We’re definitely in the 38 percent that prefers digital.

How about you?

35 thoughts on “Are you using digital photography – or are you still film based?”

  1. I shoot digital Photography and have been for the last 10 years.
    I make most of my money from Green Screen Photography and Instant Photography
    or print onsite Photos

  2. I only shoot film.

    I have a DSLR, it’s become nothing more than a prop on my bookshelf … I hate it, and only take it down to charge the batteries. I prefer film because the results look more natural to me, and because I find there is much more flexibility with film.

  3. I still like film (Fuji in an Olympus OM-10). but do have a Canon Eos Rebel 10mp digital SLR. It depends on what I want/need to photograph. If I need a lot of fluff or ‘throw away’ photography I use the digital. If it’s for advertising, real estate or portraiture I use film.It just creates better results, I think.

  4. I take photos for leisure and I like shooting using my simple digicam. Because it can store almost anything, I take loads of shots using that. And when I think that there’s a perfect shot, I use my Yashica Rangefinder. My digicam has let me down a number of times because I run out of battery. Good thing, I always take my film camera with me.

    When post processing, I prefer to work on the shots taken with the digicam. I feel that I can do more with it, rather than the developed and scanned photos.

  5. I prefer film, love the look, love the editing with contact sheets and slides, but it’s more expensive than digital now. In my area there are few labs and sending it out is not convenient for me. For this reason I am almost exclusively digital now, not to mention places like iStockphoto and Dreamstime want digital files.

  6. I’ve switched from all digital to about 90% film in the last year. I found that digital was too easy and my photography had very little joy left in it. It was just snap, snap, snap… I was tired of shooting hundreds of images and then sitting in front of the computer harvesting the best ones.

    Now, I use a Leica M or a Hasselblad medium format camera the majority of the time. I find it slows me down and makes photography more enjoyable. I take my time and get the picture right the first time. Out of 36 exposures I’m usually happy with 20-26 of the exposures and meh about the others.

    That said I do still use my DSLR when I know I’ll be in a hurry to upload pics or if I’m unsure of the lighting I’ll encounter. Nothing beats digital for speed and convenience. But a DSLR cannot touch a medium format negative for beauty and soul. Film still wins there.

  7. I shoot both.

    Digital CMOS sensors can not match the dynamic range of film. Do yourself a favor and try shooting with a medium format film camera and compare the end result to a DSLR.

    Digital makes you worst photographer because you know you can shoot hundreds of photos, you just end up clicking without thinking. If you know that you have a certain limit of shots you will end up being more careful and your skills are advancing.
    Most people eat junk food (digital) but that doesn’t mean that a chef’s cuisine is inferior.

  8. both-definetly.

    photography is my craft. like a cabinet maker uses different tools for each work i use different cameras for each job.

  9. Digital cameras have gotten to the point where they are just far better than anything film can do. I have thousands of great negatives under my belt with my hasselblad, but I’m able to produce my better results with greater dynamic range in digital, even with my 5D backup body. The only film cameras I still have are my decorative antiques and a few plastic cameras I hang onto for fun (though never use anymore). I’m really glad I dumped film early and was able to sell everything for decent prices.

    Digital does allow you to be lazier/less disciplined, but that doesn’t mean you have to be.

  10. I have been a photographer since 1982 and my first job was working in a film processing lab in Camden NJ called ViTech, they have since shut down, this is where I first fell in love with chemical process and printing so that is where my heart lies. I have been using digital photography since 1996 but I have plans to take it back to the days of medium format and B/W processing, that is the true art! Watch and see film is going to make a come back and separate the ” men from the boys” so to speak.

  11. Digital has no soul. It’s click click click to feed our cultural need for instant gratification. Virtually unlimited space on the memory card yields very little thought to the composition of the shot. Lighting becomes unimportant, because it can be tweaked in a multitude of different programs.

    Film has a different quality to it, as a result to having a finite number of frames to work with there is a level of consideration that goes into each shot.

    The printed output is not even worth comparing.

    I am a big film snob, I will admit it. I used to shoot digital, and have come to love every aspect of film, up to an including the smell of a fresh roll of film. I process and print myself.

  12. I use both digital and film + polaroid. Digital on a everyday basis and film on special occasions with my medium format or large format camera. Every medium has positive and negative aspects, it all depends on what kind of image you want to create.

  13. I switched to digital in 2005. It absolutely offers a much broader way to produce the image exactly as you wish. Using the available photo manipulation software also proves another exciting way to create images which would be virtually impossible with film.
    And yes, I do own more than one digital camera! One is my basic camera, with a 28 – 100mm lens. It can act as the overall use camera, which is always ready to shoot. The other camera is my “special use” camera, for which I maintain a selection of lenses from macro to long telephoto. This set-up has proved invaluable to me.

  14. I love film and will never sell my film Hasselblad and Nikon F5, however film is giving great results, it have it’s limitations due to the digital age. We all know what they are. I also own a DSLR for clients work. When working for myself I am so full of nonsence and just can seem to be happy with what I get from digital so forever I will shoot film for my personal projects. It makes you think again. NO Photoshop NOT 1000’s of shots only 12 get it right the 1st time.

  15. I only shoot digital now. I liked using film, but because I relied on commercial developing it would cost a fortune, and I would find myself limiting how many shots I took, which I know some photographers say is a good thing, but being an amateur some of my better shots have been the ones that I probably would not have taken.

  16. Film, with a 40yo minolta – they give me the best images but its tedious. The ones that I am actually happy with, I scan the hard copy at a high resolution, to give me the best chance at creating a quality art piece. A bit of mucking around taking out all the imperfections, but when the final result appears its very rewarding.
    A digital SLR has never been a financial option for me.
    My Nokia N8 12mp phone camera suits me for a lot of things. And now I use an iPhone4 but have downloaded the 12mp camera for that for about $1.99. This seems quite satisfactory for me.
    Then GIMP does the rest for me!!!
    But hey! On a tight budget you just have to make do. And it’s a hobby for me. I make a few tshirts and iPhone cases for redbubble, The odd film image makes it through for posters and framed prints.

  17. I enjoy the best of both worlds. I initially resisted digital, but now that’s what I use most of the time – you have to be pragmatic, especially when earning a living with a camera! However, as I also teach photography, I get my ‘traditional fix’ (scuse the pun!) working in the chemical darkroom. Ultimately, I love photography, full stop, no matter what the technology. Don’t forget, at one point film was the latest thing – photographers have always embraced the ‘new!’ I am sure that many revered artists from the past would have ‘gone digital’ had it been available. Conversely, many young people (and adults) still relish film, even though they’re growing up in the digital age. As a footnote, this Christmas we bought our grand-daughter a pinhole camera, along with trays, chemicals etc. I shot a wedding in digital this week, but it looks like 2012 might start on a traditional note!

  18. I’m a fan of digital photography because of the convenience of editing and quickness of deliverability. As much as I like digital, though, I’m still hanging on to a point and shoot zoom Fuji Film camera. At the turn of the century I totally loved this camera. I guess a part of me is having separation anxiety from the nostalgic feel of a tangible photo. I also find that since the surge in digital cameras I don’t collect photo albums anymore. Now I know you can still create the traditional albums with digi-photos, but because its so easy I tend to accumulate them on a hard drive. This creates a problem because its tough to actually sit down with your kids and flip through pages. Technolgy can be awesome, but I’m a traditionalist when it comes to certain things.

  19. I’ve always shot digitally.
    I think it was digital photography that facilitated my interest as I would never have been able to afford the expense of the learning curve you have to go through with film.
    I’ve subsequently developed skills and techniques I would never have dared try if it was costing me in film.

  20. Back in the day, I shot film, because it was all you could get. It was tedious, it was time consuming and it was expensive, making it kind of an elitist thing.

    Now I shoot digital for it’s speed, affordability, and most of all, so I don’t have to give up a huge chunk of my home and time to darkroom work.

    Editing on the computer is much more efficient, it’s faster, offers more flexibility, and takes less room. Most people have at least one decent computer in their homes, which is much easier to exploit than say trying to make room in the basement to do your developing.

    I have a career, a family and limited time to do my photography which is mostly for my own recreation, digital fits into my life much better, and I frankly do not think I’m sacrificing any quality, as I believe that most viewers will not be able to discern the difference between a film and a digital print.

    My work pleases me, and it looks good. I don’t have to wait until the lab/darkroom finishes working my film to find out if I got the shot or not. I don’t have loss of rolls of film due to lab errors (which still happen). I am in complete control of my photography.

  21. since i bought my film camera which is Nikon then i look forward for bigger size , so bought Hasselplad a used one with the lense i found my self doing a great at the art of photography and i am looking for large format and i got it and up to this moment i am using all of them , there is onething i found it in btween all of these film camera that i control the camera and do what i want and give the result what i want in my imagination , but when i use the digital one i feel that camera taking care of every thing is not me ,and most of my photographers friends after using their DSLR they are looking for another latest DSLR not going back using the previous DSLR is like a computer when its touch the market is like the end of this product .

  22. not really sure why the “film snobs” are so hung up on that technology. i understand that learning to use Photoshop (or other programs) is difficult for those that cut their teeth on film in darkrooms, but that doesn’t make it worse or “soulless”. just like anything, you get out of it what you put into it. if you take the time to learn what your DSLR is capable of doing and how best to exploit that in Photoshop you can get results that equal or even surpass traditional methods. i think going digital can make you a better photographer. you can look at your shots instantly, examine the histogram and compare it to your settings, and figure out how to make the next shot better, without the time and expense of a darkroom. digital has also made it easier for me to maintain and adjust my portfolios with ease, and displaying them on my tablet is a lot easier on my back (and wallet).

  23. I might be unusual in that I started in Digital and now I am using film.

    I have a FF Sony a850. A friend whose intelligence I trust said that Velvia 50 has it all over digital. So I bought a Minolta 700si because it can use the same Zeiss lenses I have for my a850.

    After I bought the Minolta my friend sent me a couple of images that he said proved the superiority of film. He had taken side by side shots with a Leica S2 (Digital) and a Leica R9 (Film) and sent me the unedited results. I was very disappointed and think I have made a mistake in even considering film. Agreed, the saturation of the film image was richer but I know I could exactly emulate that in digital post. But what really struck me was the detail in the digital image. The resolution and local contrast control of the S2 image was vastly superior to my eye. Hmmmmffff. So what was this pro-film guy seeing?

    As I said to him, I am committed but unconvinced. I will shoot the 5 rolls of Velvia 50 I bought to see if I can convince myself. I would like to be considered old-school and quirky and all that, but I am not optimistic about this one. I think it will take me a while to get through 5 rolls. :-/

  24. I am a both digital and film. Film is my main Street Photography tool with a 24mm lens, And Ilford HP5.. I use digital for everything else. To get similar results in grain and DR for Street work, Only Film will do. No, I say NO, B&W emulating software can duplicate the classic film grain from a nice 400 ISO film. The grain (noise) is TOO SMOOTH w/o character, The Character of the film grain is makes it different. AND, as any artist will tell you, “Choose the medium that fits the subject… be it oil, charcoal, water color, pencil.. Each has it;s own character and mood. It isn’t “Film vs Digital”, it is “Film OR Digital” I also use digital for Street Work, but, I prefer Film. 90 Digital, 10% Film as far as number of frames per 100 total
    Now, Digital can resolve more detail than high speed films, but, it isn’t always about resolution is it?
    .. It’s about the final image, and if you need super detail or not to set the mood of the photo.

  25. I shoot both digital and film.

    I learned photography on a digital camera, and used the medium exclusively for my first three years or so. I was drawn to film because I felt that the workflow was more in line with my slower, more contemplative personality. While I’d always taken time to carefully compose and meter a scene using digital, that sense of immediacy just left something lacking. I see this as both a great advantage and a weakness. With film, you need to be confident that you got the shot before you trip the shutter, it fosters a condition of paying more attention to the scene and less to your camera; and the anticipation of seeing the image after removing your film from the tank is just addicting.

    I was also drawn to a certain aesthetic quality I’d seen from some film photos that I’ve yet to see in a digital image. I’m not claiming that I can spot the difference immediately between a film and a digital image, but looking through collections of photos shot on medium and large format film, I’m just filled with a sense of awe at what’s been achieved.

    I’ve spent around $500 each on a medium and large format kit; my favorite images that I’ve taken with either definitely have an edge over my $6000 or so worth of digital gear in terms of resolving power and dynamic range. This relatively slight edge comes at the expense of increased complexity, weight, cost of consumables and time to set up and take a shot. If left to my own devices, I’d probably shoot film 60% of the time. The need to produce images quickly, consistently and without undue complexity leads me to use digital for the majority of my commercial assignments, and film for a large part of my personal work. I’d rather not have to do without either.

    • Roy

      Yep, I know what you mean. When we shot exclusively film, we knew every shot would cost us around $1 with film, developing and printing costs. That makes you think before you shoot, plan carefully, and take everything into account before you fire away. “Pray and spray” has become the in thing now with digital because it allows you to capture what you want and delete the rest with no real cost minus labor. There is something to be said for film, yet with less of the “cool” films available because of demand, digital will forever be the way of the future.

  26. I think it’s sad that film has gone by the wayside. All the edited images from digital are really cool, novel in fact, but it doesn’t take much skill as has been reiterated in previous comments. I experience greater wonder from film images “wow!! How’d they do THAT without photoshop??” I’m not saying becoming an awesome graphics manipulator doesn’t require SOME talent, and I guess it really doesn’t matter if you’re not a fine artist vs a commercial artist. Everything seems to be focused on how to make money, so that’s the way people go. It’s the society we live in, so why not? It has allowed some very mediocre and untalented photographers creep into works, but it’s not to say some people don’t produce fantastic forms of artIn digital. I guess it’s the difference between being naturally beautiful and putting on makeup. Even the plainest girl can be ravishing with the right makeup. I dunno. I’m a fine artist. I do other things to make money. I photograph because I enjoy it and the process it takes to make it come alive. And the smell of developing chemicals.


Leave a Comment