In San Francisco, in March, in a museum, a man came up to me to say, "I see you have one of those expensive DSLRs. I really want to move to digital, but it's just too expensive for the camera, software, and an expensive computer to edit the photos." That statement blew me away, as many travelers, have discarded their film cameras precisely because digital photography is much less expensive than film.I think it’s time to dispel the digital versus film photography myths.
- Digital photographs are inferior to film photographs
Early on, film was better than digital. Digital cameras in 2001 generally produced grainy, off-color images. Even a few years later with digital camera sensor improvements, the cameras’ internal computers still didn't interpret sensor output very well, and there were other problems too.
Today, the better digital cameras in each price range, produce photos of equal quality, or better, to film. Professional digital cameras often exceed the capabilities of their film camera counterparts. Today's professional digital cameras can produce great photos, even when projected on large screens, or made into poster sized prints or larger. This isn't to say film isn't good anymore. It is good, but digital is now as good or better.
- Digital photography is expensive
If you want to, you can spent a “fortune” on top level digital photography equipment and software, but then again, it’s possible to spend a “fortune” on top level film photography equipment and chemicals too.In the early ‘90s, some of the first professional digital cameras cost more than $15,000. Today, you can purchase a Nikon professional DSLR, the D300, for $2,000. Nikon’s top SLR film camera, the F6, costs $2,500, while their top DSLR, the D3X costs $8,000, but don’t let that throw you. The D3X or the D300, for that matter have features that F6 owners can only drool over.
My professional DSLR costs more than a typical traveler’s point and shoot (P&S) film camera, but you can get a great P&S digital cameras for less than $300. For editing and touching up, I use Adobe Photoshop CS4 ($700), but Adobe Photoshop Elements, typically overkill for most non-professionals, costs under $70. You can also use an online program like Picassa for free. Prints at your local Costco or BJ’s cost about the same for digital and film. So please, don’t tell me how expensive digital photography is, because it’s not.
- Digital Cameras are heavy, bulky, and won’t rapid fire
My DSLR with vertical grip and zoom lens is bulky and heavy, but the weight and heft is typical for pro level SLR or DSLR.
Today's digital P&S cameras are light weight, and the majority are quite small. A typical Canon Powershot weighs 5.3oz, and is only 3.5”x2.3”x1”. It doesn’t have all the features my DSLR has, but it takes wonderful photos, to make a great pictorial travel log, share on a web site, or even print up to 8”x10” enlargements.
As far as rapidly taking photos, DSLRs are equal to SLRs. Early digital P&S cameras had a serious shutter lag, but today, the lag is gone. Some digital P&S users complain that after they take each photo, they have to wait several seconds before they can take another. If they would turn off their multi-second photo review on the LCD, they could generally rapid fire their camera.
- Organizing and storing digital photos is costly and time-consuming
I organize my photos in folders by location and date, using a program which also renames each photo with a name combining location and date, with a sequence number. You can’t get much easier. If you’re using a P&S camera, or a consumer DSLR your file size is small enough that your photos won’t take much hard drive space. To back up, you can write them to CDs, which is inexpensive.
My DSLR photos have a large file size, and I take thousands of photos each year. My hard drive and CDs don't have a large enough capacity. I use a 1TB (Terabyte=1,000GBs) external hard drive which only costs $130.
- It’s hard to print digital photos, and they don’t look very good
That changed quite some time ago, as the printer manufactures like HP and Epson, designed better, and more sophisticated photo printers, along with excellent professional quality photo paper and inks.
I print my own photos up to 13"x19" with no trouble at all. Home users can make their own quality prints on inexpensive photo printers and for big enlargements send them to Costco or other companies online.