Film or digital? Digital or film? The debate rages on.
Unfortunately, due to the film manufacturers phasing out of film, the debate is about to be decided in favor of the "Digital" crowd. And photography is going downhill in a hurry!
Now, before all you digital fanatics order a hit man to pay a visit to my house, let me explain that I have no problem with digital. In fact, it is the indisputable future of my profession. I believe it can help us learn to be better photographers, and in the long run, it may save money too!
But, those very points are also our potential downfall.
The first thing everyone tries to pound into our heads is that by "going digital" we save money on film and developing. Rather than drop $ 6 or $ 7 dollars for a roll of film, we can shoot as many shots as we want and just erase the bad ones. Rather than paying $ 15 for developing and printing, we just print them ourselves with our computer and printer.
Ok, let's talk cost.
If you do not mind seeing your gorgeous sunsets, kids portraits, holidays and special occasions as a two inch thumbnail, digital is for YOU!
A cell phone with photo capacity, or a cheap – low end camera will work admirably.
But, if you actually want to SEE your photos and try to enlarge them, you're going to end up inventing a whole bunch of brand new curse words. (As photographers, we can be very creative!)
It will not take you long to dump that camera and go back to the camera store.
Enter the high end camera …
I have several high end film cameras. (Nikon F4's and F5's.) To go digital as a professional, I need a high end camera. Actually, I need two of them so I have a spare body in case one breaks down during an important assignment. The photo capacity of my cell phone just will not do.
When comparing prices, I found the best digital cameras run about TWICE what I paid for my film cameras. I imagine the cost ratio is about the same when comparing medium level film and digital cameras.
The good news is, the high end digital photos ARE as good, but they are not any BETTER than film. It shows that I'd be spending a ton of money to get – what I've already got!
We will not even get into the fact that you need a good computer, a high end printer and $ 700 worth of Photoshop. (Have you priced printer ink and photo quality paper? – WOW!)
I've got to shoot a LOT of pictures before the savings will pay for a camera. But to be fair, sooner or later the film savings would offset the costs and start saving me money. If nothing changes!
What I mean is …
I shot my first professional photos over 16 years ago with my trusty F4. Just last week, I used it again! The SAME camera! It's in my camera bag right now! Question – if I bought a top of the line digital camera today, do you think the technology will still hold up in 16 years? How about 16 months? How about 6 months?
Sorry, saving money is NOT the reason to go digital.
The next benefit to going digital is the ability to see the photo immediately. If you do not like it, simply hit delete and try again. After all, you do not even have to consider cost.
We're developing a whole generation of photographers who will shoot thousands of pictures just to get a good of good ones. How does that old saying go? "Even a blind duck finds a kernel of corn sometimes!"
They are not learning photography. They are learning – save or delete.
The problem is, they actually get a few dozen decent shots. They forget about all the deleted ones and start to think they're pretty darn good! So they go pro.
Weddings are the first target of almost everyone turning pro. Let me ask – would you want a "blind duck" photographer shooting YOUR wedding? Or someone who learned the hard way – paying actual money for every mistake.
Weddings are the worst way to start out a photo career. Fortunately, ANYONE can make money selling their photography AND, with just a little experience and they'll always get good enough for weddings – if they only know a couple tried and true marketing strategies – see the resource box below.
Being able to immediately see your photos is really the BIGGEST and sometimes ONLY reason to go digital.
The immediate feedback will take your photography to levels you would have never dreamed. If you only drop the shotgun approach, slow down and look at each picture with the question in mind – "How can I make this better?" If you approach every session thinking it will cost you a dollar each time you press the shutter button in no time you will be better than 75% of all the photographers out there.