Digital Versus Film Photography - Convenience and Flexibility

Convenience and Flexibility

Flexibility and convenience are among the reasons for the widespread adoption of digital cameras. With film cameras, a roll is usually completely exposed before being processed. When the film is returned it is possible to see the photograph, but most digital cameras incorporate a liquid crystal display that allows the image to be viewed immediately after capture. The photographer may delete undesired or unnecessary photographs, or reshoot the image if required. A user who wants prints can quickly and easily print just the required photographs.

Photographic film is made with specific characteristics of Color temperature and sensitivity (ISO). Lighting conditions often require characteristics different from those of the film specifications, requiring the use of filters or corrections in processing. Digital photography allows color temperature and sensitivity to be adjusted at each shot, either manually or automatically.

Digital images may be conveniently stored on a personal computer or in off-line storage such as small memory cards. Professional-grade digital cameras can store pictures in a raw image format, which stores the output from the sensor rather than processing it immediately to form an image. When edited in suitable software, such as Adobe Photoshop or the GNU program GIMP (which uses dcraw to read raw files), the user may manipulate certain parameters, such as contrast, sharpness or color balance before producing an image. JPEG images can be similarly manipulated, though usually less precisely; software for this purpose may be provided with consumer-grade cameras. Digital photography allows the quick collection of a large quantity of archival documents, bringing convenience, lower cost and increased flexibility in using the documents.

Modern film cameras are not as power thirsty as modern digital cameras, and can last longer on smaller batteries. Some film cameras, especially older ones, can operate without batteries: some will function completely without batteries while others may lose some functionality such as metering and some shutter speeds. Batteries that only have to power light meters are often very small and can last a long time. This can be a boon for those who may be spending a long time with little or no access to power. Film cameras may also be carried as backups for this reason.

For large format and ultra large format photography, film may have some advantages over digital cameras, such as price and flexibility, when used outside the studio environment. Digital rotating line cameras provide similarly high performance, but scan mechanically rather than use a single sensor. Thus they cannot scan anything that moves, and are expensive, large, and rarely moved.

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