|Brisbane Art Gallery [click to enlarge]|
I wrote about Film vs Digital back in September of 2013. Because I'm returning to the topic, I've renamed the earlier post as "Part 1."
Last time I didn't get into much detail. But, I keep seeing articles and posts extolling the benefits of film, and these don't ring many bells for me. I'm not going to say that those others are wrong; but I will talk about my own experience and views. And, this time I have also mentioned the benefits of mirrorless.
I admit that my experience in the wet darkroom wasn't extensive. But, for making prints it was all that I had, and it was all that I could afford. That meant that for making prints, it was a black-and-white exercise only.
A few of the general benefits of digital:
- Digital gives me the ability to check focus and exposure, and check for unexpected elements like blinks.
- Digital, generally, has autofocus, where film, generally, does not.
- I don't need to carry around film, and I don't need to carry around different kinds of film (colour, b&w, fine grain, hi-speed, colour slide, colour print, etc).
- This also means that I can quickly "switch" from black and white to colour without having to have two cameras.
- Digital allows me to use ISO settings undreamed of with film.
- I don't need to change film every 36 shots.
- The continuous drive features of digital leaves even the best motor drives of film cameras in the dust.
- Digital gives me fast and automated bracketing.
- With digital I can experiment to my heart's content for free.
- Many digital cameras and/or lenses have stabilisation.
- A few digital cameras have completely silent shutters; but with some other tradeoffs.
- Digital also usually give me video capability — better video than most dedicated, amateur camcorders.
Mirrorless (digital) benefits:
- Mirrorless gives me histograms and settings that I can see in the viewfinder;
- in many cases makes for smaller and lighter cameras and lenses (although, my A7II is both larger and heavier than my earlier OM2-S).
- provides me with focus peaking and zebras;
- gives me access to a broad range of lenses made for other mounts; and
- eliminates front and back focusing of lenses on SLRs (and DSLRs), and eliminates focus errors and the parallax issues of rangefinders.
Digital benefits specific to Black and White:
- With digital I skip developing film. This gives me immediate access to my images if I need it.
- Digital black and white gives me the resolution to do outstanding landscape work; only bested by large frame (larger than 4x5) film cameras.
- With stitching in post, I can blow the doors off even large-frame film resolution. (And stitching in post is easier than carrying around a large-frame camera and tripod — although I still need a tripod.)
- Exposing to the Right (ETR) and High Dynamic Range imaging (HDR) afford me exposure ranges wider than film and more flexible than zone exposure systems.
- Because digital cameras capture in colour, I can adjust the black and white responses without a collection of filters.
Digital benefits specific to Colour:
- I can proof my pictures for colour first in the camera and then in post.
- I have greater exposure latitude with digital than with colour film.
- I have more control over colour in post than I ever had with labs.
- I can print with a digital workflow much more inexpensively (although film users can scan their negatives to get the benefits of digital printing).
Benefits of Film:
- As film is usually 35mm, the format has inherent depth of field advantages over the usually smaller (APS-C and M4/3) digital formats.
- Using film slows the photographer down. (If you think that's a benefit, then it's a benefit.)
- Highlights "roll off" more slowly with many kinds of black and white film.
- Many ultra-wide lenses perform better with film, providing both better resolution at the edges and avoiding the corner color casts and the vignetting to which digital (and particularly mirrorless) is prone.
- Each film has a "look," and if you like those particular looks, then using those films is a benefit. (Some films, of course, are no longer made.)
- With increasing ISOs, the increasing a grain of film is more attractive than the increasing noise of digital (particularly in color).
- As there are very few innovations in film cameras, there are few pressures to buy newer gear.
- And, therefore, high quality film cameras are much less expensive.
If I've missed any essential points, please leave a comment. But, I'm pretty sure I'm going to stick with digital.