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Cameras and Film

Cameras and film comprise the basic tools of a fascinating hobby and profession.

Digital cameras are becoming more ubiquitous than those that employ film. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Digital cameras are becoming more ubiquitous than those that employ film.

Cameras and Film

Many people today opt for the convenience of digital cameras, but when it comes to quality, there is nothing quite like traditional cameras and film. Sure, digital camera technology allows people to view their images immediately and print them with the click of a button, but there is something satisfying about watching a negative slowly come to life. And whatever film cameras lack in convenience, they certainly make up for in quality.

According to Photo.net, commercial color film first became available in 1907 in France. Still in use today, those who choose to use film rather than digital cameras reap the benefits of sharper images that are more true to life.

Create Larger Prints with Higher Resolution

For the amateur photographer or one who only wishes to create 4x6 or 5x7 snapshots, digital cameras are fine. But if a photographer wants to print stunning, gallery-sized images, film cameras are the only way to go. The latest, most high-tech digital cameras cannot create images that compare in quality and resolution to those printed even from film cameras that are decades old.

When it comes to resolution, many people relate the concept to the number of megapixels on a digital camera. While pixels are related solely to computer mediums and, therefore, not really applicable to printed film images, using megapixels to compare the resolution of digital and film cameras is the easiest way to go. While many digital cameras have five or six megapixels, very fancy and pricy digital cameras are 11-megapixel varieties. But to equal the resolution of 35mm film, a digital camera would need roughly 25 megapixels. Most commonly used by amateur film photographers, 35mm film generally has three times the resolution of most digital cameras and the resolution only gets better with medium and large format films. Granted, an 11-megapixel digital camera is great for printing images as large as 13x19 inches; however, they do not have the necessary resolution to print sharp, wall-sized posters, or even full-page spreads in glossy magazines. If seeing every grain on a sandy beach or being able to imagine the roughness of a jagged mountain is not important, photographers can stick to digital cameras; those who want people to feel the realness of their images are better off with film.

Capture True Color and Light

Anyone who has used a digital camera to photograph into the sun or to capture a stunning sunset knows the disappointment of images that turn out overexposed or of colors that do not look quite as vibrant in print. One of the great benefits of film cameras is their ability to mimic in print exactly what the eye sees in reality. Bright clouds and sun-kissed waters reproduce beautifully on film prints, but as soon as too much light enters a digital camera, the bright area turns plain white. While film cameras can capture the gradual differences in light, there is little wiggle room between medium and bright light on a digital image.

Film cameras are also far superior in terms of capturing true colors in nature. While it is difficult to tell if one has nothing to compare it to, a digital image of deep red flowers will actually show these flowers as dark reddish-orange. Digital mediums do not have the capacity to display proper deep red. Film, on the other hand, creates a true representation of color, including the elusive deep red.

Save Money over Time

Some people may be put off by the costs associated with film cameras. They require repeated investments in rolls of film, as opposed to a one-time investment in a digital camera memory card. And for avid photographers who develop their own film, there are the added costs of setting up a darkroom and stocking it with necessary chemicals and printing paper.

However, if one takes the time to break down costs and assess how long equipment lasts, film cameras come out well above digital ones in terms of saving cash. It is not cheap to create and maintain a darkroom. According to Guide to Film Photograph, a person is looking at around $100 to set up a darkroom capable of producing only black and white photos; and it will cost roughly $150 to set up a darkroom for color printing. Also, there is an extra $500 or so for necessary equipment, plus the cost of replenishing chemicals. However, considering that the equivalent printing materials for digital cameras include a pricy computer, photo-quality paper and a printer, film camera setup costs are not so bad by comparison. And while digital buffs do not have to constantly shell out cash for rolls of film or extra chemicals, they do have to periodically pay for computer, printer and software updates, which can make a considerable dent in a pocketbook.

In addition, the initial cost of the actual camera is far less for a film camera than a digital one. While a good-quality digital camera costs about $1,000, one can purchase a decent 35mm film camera for about half that price. Plus, film cameras have longevity on their side. A good-quality film camera will be just as good in 20 years as it was the day it was purchased. Digital cameras, though, tend to break, and with constant technological advancements, one purchased today will be obsolete in five years.

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