Which is Better? Film or Digital?

In the world of professional photography, there are those who still use film and have been too stubborn to make the switch to digital photography despite the increase in amazing camera technology. These people are often older photographers, but recently there has been a rise in college students regularly shooting on film. 

Why is film having a big moment right now? Film is expensive, inefficient and difficult. These three things are exactly why people choose to shoot film. Because these three things help a photographer learn much faster than they will on a digital camera. Cost effective photographers will make an attempt to make every picture they get on a roll of film perfect. Shooting just 36 photos will cost you around 15-25 dollars total depending on the film type, and the developing process you use. So it has to be perfect, otherwise you just end up throwing your money away. Film being a more efficient way to learn is also why universities like NMSU teach film and darkroom techniques! 

The major downside of film besides cost is that it's 2019. Unless you have the tools to develop your own film, you will likely have to send your film out of state. Taking it to places like Walgreens and Walmart will take 2-4 weeks to receive your film, and sometimes you don't get your originals back. However, if you're lucky enough to live in a city with a small lab, you'll only have to wait up to a week. Those cases are rare. New Mexico only has one lab in Albuquerque, called Picture Perfect Restorations. A second downside that is easy to get around is that with film, you get what you pay for. If you shoot on a really cheap kind of film you will not be happy with the end product. A lot of people say that different brands of color film have different tints. Kodak has a warm tint and Fuji has a cool tint. When shooting with black and white film, oftentimes the largest problem is the amount of grain you will end up with your finished product. A good rule of thumb with black and white is that the more you spend the better the product. My personal favorite brand of black and white film, recommended to me by an employee at Picture Perfect, is Ilford. The problem that photographers run into a lot with Ilford is the cost--it's a lot more than the competitor, Holgas film. However, I was extremely unhappy with my roll of Holga film so it is worth the extra money to go with Ilford. 

Digital photography is much less costly than film, especially for those who just shoot 10 pictures in one go. It's really good for people who aren't very good and don't care to get much better. Lots of times, you have a lot more control when you shoot digitally and you have that instant gratification of knowing your exposure is right as opposed to waiting until your film is developed. Most DSLR cameras have a setting where you can shoot in what is called raw. Shooting in raw gives you as an artist a lot more control over the end product. Beware however, raw photos are huge and at least one terabyte of external storage will be needed for an avid photographer who uses raw. On the other hand, shooting in JPEG or on some cameras will yield similar results and just as good of a photo. All it takes is a good eye and a lot of practice. 

In the end, it's up to the preference of the user. There are many factors that come into play, like film size and camera type. You can go from a 12 dollar disposable camera to a room sized camera invented by still life  photographer, Richard Learoyd. You can use your phone's camera or buy an expensive DSLR. If you decide to go for the plunge, I recommend starting out on a Canon Rebel or Nikon D3500. The photos here are photos I have taken, one is digital, the other is film. See if you can tell the difference!

Photographs by Mira Rector

Instagram @my_mira16