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Digital Cameras vs. Film Cameras in Photographing Essay

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Updated: Oct 14th, 2021


The imaging and photographing domains have been facing tremendous developments in the ensuing milieu characterised by cutting edge innovations in information technology and media. The old adage that necessity is the mother of all invention aptly applies to what has become of contemporary technology. The film camera has enjoyed its protracted years of limelight in the billion dollar filming and entertainment industries as well as in other motion pictures realms. Modern technology in IT and media fronts has seen the introduction and the growing popularity of the digital camera as a unit product and as a plug-in in various mobile technological units such as cell phones.

Main body

Film and digital cameras are expansively dissimilar media devises. Although the two are used for similar purposes, the two models’ functionalities are completely unrelatable to each other. One major aspect in which the two media devised can be differentiated is the matter of controls and output quality. For the digital Camera unlike in the film model, controls manipulated off default settings will yield superb tonal quality. This must however be complemented by an appropriate adherence to the particulate processing steps. Graphic professional Segura Francisco (2008) notes that using film camera will demand more work and well skilled and experienced photographers normally get better results on film in cases where the requisite photographing steps from shot to print are completed meticulously. “This is the reason why many photographing novices prefer using digital cameras to ensure getting better results weathering the challenges posed by using film camera for beginners” (Segura, Francisco 2008). Needless; to say unlike film cameras digital cameras have fewer aspects and variables to control.

Graphic and photography scholars Ashihara, K. et al (2005) note that one major difference that exists between the two media and photographing technological components, film and digital cameras; is based on that film cameras will depend on the human eye judgment in the processing of the negatives which often leads to the generation of poor quality results. “As such many photographers prefer the consistency that comes with digital technology.” (Ashihara, K. et al 2005) The scholars underscore that this is despite the fact that film cameras offer great results when much expertise and acumen are applied right through the photographing up to the processing stages of a capturing exercise. They note that this is the reason why many photographers go the slide transparency filming route in the sense that the printer can detect the intended output impressions. (Ashihara, K. et al 2005)

The popularity of the film camera has survived the surge of the popularity of the digital Camera that gripped photographers and publishers particularly in the post 1999 milieu. The growing popularity of the digital model ha snot dislodged the use of the film camera in domains where it excels. This ahs been evidenced by the continued use of the film camera in various serious image capturing contexts. Photography Scholars Borwick, J. et al (1994) note that huge format film camera is still popularly used or serious landscape photography while the digital counterpart is common for fun shots also factoring in its convenience attribute. The film camera is recommended for its optimality in the manner in which it handles and renders the photographing highlights. According to Borwick, J. et al (1994) film camera overloads smoothly when highlights get too light or in case where there are wash outs. The analysts observe that the film model mimics the human eye far better than does the digital model. “The weak point of the digital models is that highlights abruptly clip and appear horrible as soon as there get to white colour impression.” (Borwick J. et al 1994) Unlike in film photographic processing digital camera does not offer any graceful overload to white impressions. Croll, M. (2001) notes that digital cameras’ characteristic curve shoots straight to 255 white and just collapses into the wall.

In comparing the two models; film and digital camera, it is worthy mention that for the film camera especially those of larger photography design; film cameras have a formidable resolution. This is essential since print size increase to wall proportions yet is it invisible in 5 x 7prints. (Opcit) Despite the notable characteristic of either of the two photographing models none of them can be said to be better that the other in absolute terms. The selection of any model would depend on the application scenario and attributes where a photographer intends to shoot. What some times nullifies the logic in debating on which of the two is better of the two basing on output is that; for instance the artist (in production processes) has the influence over output. As such arguing from the base on output to evaluate the two photography models can not be the best thing to do considering that in some cases optimality of output depends on the artist and not necessarily on the model of the medium.

Croll, M. (2001) presents that the debate normally culminates from the premise of levels of competence stating that those who are not adequately skilled to manipulate the film camera for obtaining optimum results often dash to the other end and argue for the digital. “Yet for one photographer who has mastered the arty of obtaining every last drop from the film’s camera model, which is in large format film; the film camera is technically better than digital in every way” (Croll, M. 2001) The scholar has underscored that many exponents of the film camera model argue against the film model largely due to the fact that they are not competent enough to manipulate it to obtain optimal filming and photographing results.

In summation it can be stated that both models have great results in cases where the devises attributes and controls as well as variables are skillfully manipulated during the photographing and image processing stages to get desired results. The digital has proved put to be more convenient for reasons entailing portability whilst the model also provides great quality much needed and tailored for photojournalism as well as fun portraits. On the other end optimum results can also be obtained through film model in jobs that require large prints. Film is particularly essential in reproduction process where textures in nature as well as landscapes are critically important.


Many photographing activities have made use of the two models considering the merits of each of the two models in different aspects of photography. Film and digital cameras devises thus can be said to accomplish different aspects better whilst from another perspective the two model functionalities and attributes can complement each other. Croll, M. (2001) cites that one model will diminish where the other excels. He states that the war like pitting of the two photographing and medium devises is just an editorialising gimmick to up magazine and news/reviews publications sales. This is well highlighted by the fact that film usage has already diminished in professional newspaper in the two years or so despite the fact that the model is still used in entities that for mainly financial reasons have not switched to the digital era.

”Equally; note that there has been no digital camera that has come close to dislodging the popularity of “8X10” huge format film model for large exhibition print outputs which require hellacious detailing” (Croll, M. 2001)


  1. Ashihara, K. et al, Detection threshold for distortions due to jitter on digital audio, Oak Press, NYK, 2005
  2. Borwick, J. et al,The Loudspeaker and Headphone Handbook, Floyd Toole, Focal Press, 1994.
  3. Croll, M, “Pulse Code Modulation for High Quality Sound Distribution: Quantizing Distortion at Very Low Signal Levels”, Research Department Report No, Millennium Press, US, 2001
  4. Segura, Francisco, ”“. 2008. EzineArticles.com.
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IvyPanda. 2021. "Digital Cameras vs. Film Cameras in Photographing." October 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/digital-cameras-vs-film-cameras-in-photographing/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Digital Cameras vs. Film Cameras in Photographing'. 14 October.

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