35mm Film vs. Digital
Ah, the much debated topic. Truth is, there are many benefits to each format.
Ideally, we recommend taking advantage of both if you can do that financially
(or working with other Agents). So letís take a closer look at film vs. digital
As much as you might hate to hear it; yes, film is the better quality (in case
you didnít know). Its resolution is much greater than digital. The quality of
film though is microscopic and is measured by countless colors that blend
together. Digital is comprised of ones and zeroís (no you canít see them and
yes, kind of like the matrix).
In some instances, you can hardly tell the difference between film and digital
photographs. And the bridges are continuing to be narrowed.
ďBut George Lucas shot Star Wars II in all digital and you couldnít tell the
differenceĒ you may say. True, but those were VERY expensive cameras that were
custom made (plus they probably had some filtering process). Other photographic
professionals have either experimented in digital or even switched over entirely
(to top of the line digital SLRs costing in the upwards of $4000 USD).
Eventually digital might catch up to the quality of film, but it is true that it
is a consumerís best friend and in certain cases, useful for professionals too
(at the higher level). The benefits of digital are well worth it for anyone with
a computer (which should be most of us). Letís look at some of the Proís of the
The ability to erase pictures you donít like on the spot.
The ability to see exactly what you just shot and choose to keep or adjust from
A cost-effective production solution (once youíve made the initial investment):
for example, 128 mb memory card can store around 1000 ďFineĒ quality shots at
640X480 or 200 shots at 1600 X 1200image size and these can be uploaded, cleared
from your camera and you can just keep re-using the card forever
No more buying film!
No more paying for film processing!
No more scanning photographs tediously
Just plug into your computer and upload all of your shots
Email-ready and PC-user friendly (kid tested, mother approved)
Ability to record short MPEG movies on many models
Usually very small and portable size to carry anywhere (great for the
go-anywhere, do-anything club agent).
Nikon just came out with a "wi-fi" camera/transmitter to upload your
shots straight to a computer within 80 feet.
5 Mega Pixel top end SLRís (ie. D9Ö) are getting closer to film quality. (The
larger the mega pixels = the better image quality at enlarged sizes/ because of
filmís dense resolution they are perfect for enlargements)
Here are some Conís
*Set resolution (once taken you canít improve upon it).
Not very good at making enlargements (hence, the chunkier digital look b/c of
the set resolution)
Easier to lose your data format card (or camera itself) because of the small
Overall quality doesnít fully compare to the detailed color, depth, and
true-to-life quality and resolution of (35mm) film.
1MegaPixel or less or no brand-name cameras can do injustice to shots
Cameras that donít list their MegaPixel Resolution (per inch) donít have any
7. Are more expensive than their 35mm counterparts
8. Little to no control of shutter speed or aperture in most models, hence
limiting your creativity and technical prowess (if you have any).
So, with film you can not only produce true-to-life productions but often better
than real-life portrayals (with a good SLR camera & experience or knowledge).
Digital still has limitations until you get into the higher end models. And we
mean high end models.
Some quick advantages of film
Age old, universal appeal
Unparalleled resolution, warmth and quality (true-to-life color)
Flexibility (when combined with the right user and camera) as in purposeful over
or underexposure based off of the ISO rating
The format to create enlargements or posters from (because of the dense
More realistic texture, depth and shadows
When you scan 35mm print photographs, you are turning a photo digital but it is
processing and saving at the original resolution that you determine when
scanning (ie. 1200 or 720 dpi). Even at 1200 dpi youíre stepping down in filmís
resolution but 720dpi is just
right to scan photoís in to retain a high resolution if you are going to be
making enlargement prints and you can go down from there (ie. for normal prints
Normally you might just want to scan at 300 which is print resolution
but if you have photographic prints you're scanning in at least you have
the option to choose a higher resolution. Digital will upload at
whatever resolution each photo was taken at and you can never go up in
resolution without losing quality. You can view camera exif data
and ALL possible data in the new Photoshop file browser.
If you can afford to, take advantage of both formats. For club
photography, both have benefits. For official production weíll always use our
outfitted 35mm SLR (with camera, flash, lens, batteries, film). A digital is
especially handy when youíre just promoting to carry with you. (I will almost
always have one with me. Iím a habitual producer, always looking for great
opportunities.) You can sometimes even dance with a digital but not with an
I used the Sony IP220 at backroom in kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and with some
minimal post-production came up with some great results (showie). When I travel,
I use the SLR strictly for club production and the Sony digital Iíll take
everywhere with me to capture the sights and scenes of wherever Iím
traveling or staying: itís a perfect combo until I invest the 'higher
than film cost' of upfront money in a top end digital SLR. Just
recently I saw Sony does have a 256MB Memory Stick for my digital (I
have a 128mb) so that was exciting.
Email me with more questions on digital or film formats and I can
post them on the site. If you are new to digital you will have
lots of questions (and hopefully this has helped answer some of them).
Will film ever phase out? I don't think so, because it does have
distinct advantages and also...look at the phonograph (record player)
it's alive and kicking in every night club and by every 'real dj' in the
world. But the digital age has arrived nevertheless.
- Orion Williams copyright 2004
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