Digital slr or film slr for beginner?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Kross74, Aug 13, 2007.

  1. Kross74

    Kross74 TPF Noob!

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    :heart: I'm reading a book about the basics of photography. In the book it suggest that beginners should learn photography with a film camera instead of digital.

    What do you pros suggest and please include your experience.

    Thanks for all your help!:p

    Just to ad this...I don't plan on developing any films, at least not yet. Unfortunately, the house we currently have has no basement. We have 4 small children and the chemicals are a huge concern. I played around with the idea of turning one of the spare rooms into a darkroom but tossed it out because the rooms aren't off away by itself. So again, I have no plans for developing film, at least not now.

    Thanks guys!
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    What do you think?

    I would think that digital is a better earning tool because the feed back in instant and you control the whole process from camera to editing to final image.
    With film, there is a wait before you even know if the image is going to work out.

    Also, with digital, there is not an associated cost with shooting a lot. You can just keep shooting and deleting if you want. With film, you obviously have to buy the film and pay for developing (or do it yourself).

    I think what the author of the book may be getting at, is that when shooting film, you might tend to take your time and think about what you are doing rather than just snapping as many shots as you can. Of course, with a little discipline, you can take you time with digital as well.
     
  3. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    First of all I am no pro, so I may not be qualified to answer ;)

    I think there is definitely something to be said for learning with a film camera and black and white film, while also learning to develop the film and make your own prints (if you can get access to a darkroom)... this way you have control over the whole process, just like with digital. With colour negative film there is a lot of exposure latitude and if you have a shop make the prints then they will also adjust for over or under-exposure... so for learning exposure I would recommend either digital or black & white film. For learning composition... I don't think it really matters what you use. Some people who learned on film will swear it's the best way and some will say they wish digital had been around; some who started with digital say it's best to learn on while some say they only really started to learn when they tried film... we all learn in different ways. Digital gives you instant feedback while film forces you to take notes... both can be useful.

    As Mike says, shooting a lot may not cost as much with digital as with film... especially if you have whole sets of prints made for each roll. This doesn't mean digital is cheap though... you may have to pay quite a bit for a camera with adequate manual control, whereas a film SLR or rangefinder can be had very cheaply indeed. If you can comfortably afford digital then I would suggest trying both, since the cost of using film as well can be less than $50. Then you can make your own decisions based on your experience.
     
  4. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    No I don't and I'll tell you why. When you go and get a roll of film developed, they mess with it. They adjust the brightness and the contrast. Most often these things happen automatically and when you ask the attendant about it they give you a funny look. In such cases you will never know if the film was or was not miss-exposed until it is so poorly exposed that the dynamic range can't be recovered anymore. Digital on the other hand gives you the instant result of what you did with no automatic adjustments. Setting a digital camera to daylight whitebalance and Aperture priority mode you end up with the exact same results as film except without someone messing with it.

    However in favour of film. Film is expensive. It will make you stop and think before you push the button. There are other ways to slow you down in digital too. Grab a small memory card for the day, and taking every photo with a tripod also often makes you slow down and think about how something is framed.

    This only applies if you don't plan on developing the stuff yourself.
     
  5. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well... I haven't bought a roll of film in more than 3 years. I see no sense in teaching/learning photography with a medium than is clearly and rapidly disappearing.

    I learned on film. All the same principles apply to digital. The only real advantage that comes to mind is you won't have to buy filters for color balance problems.

    As for instant feedback/results... the histogram is invaluable, but don't think you can rely on that lil LCD screen... at least not for anything critical.

    -Pete
     
  6. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I learned on film 30+ years ago and still believe that film is the best way to go if someone is truely serious about learning photography. That is not to say that you can't learn to take excellent photographs with digital.

    Part of learning film is learning to process your own negatives and printing them in the dark room. While the feedback is not immediate, the big advantage in my eyes for film, is that you learn to get the shot right the first time. Digital makes it far to easy to "spray and pray" shooting tons of shots to get one picture. I am always amazed that there are wedding photographers that commonly shoot 400-500 shots at a wedding with their digital cameras.

    IMO learning film is a better teacher for seeing a photograph in their mind before it is taken. Not just the composition, but film choice, lighting, DOf. mood or style created by the selection of a certain filter even timing of when to exactly take that shot.

    To do this however, I also believe that this needs to be done in classroom setting. If nothing else, the use of a darkroom allows you to be able
    make mistakes and learn at a reasonable cost. I love my digital equipment, but I still value my film training.
     
  7. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree with all the digital guys. Why bother learning on a dying medium?. I have not shot a roll of film since I went digital and I have no regrets. Your future will be in digital and I think digital is a great learning tool as has been said because of the instant feedback. If you shoot an image at different settings you can instantly look back and see what you got and how aperture, shutter, etc.. effect your image.
     
  8. little_earthquakes

    little_earthquakes TPF Noob!

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    I think that every photographer should at least learn on film. I think it will make you a better photographer in the end. Without the instant, immediate results that digital gives, you're forced to think more about your shot. You're forced to get it right the first time (whereas someone shooting digital can shoot an infinite amount of frames to get that "perfect" shot).

    With regard to exposure, film is a little bit more forgiving. You won't get the completely blown highlights in an overexposed shot that you do with digital with film (you'll still see a little detail).

    But, film is expensive. Although purchasing your *camera* is going to be cheaper initially, a digital camera will pay for itself within a month or two what you would have spent in processing film (I shoot film and I literally spend at least $50 every single shoot I do in film and processing).

    With regard to the comment about photo labs adjusting film's brightness and contrast, a good photo lab will turn off auto correct if you ask them. And, if not, you can adjust that in post processing. If you're pro or avid photographer, you're going to scan in your negatives and do some post processing in photoshop. Brightness and contrast is an easy fix in photoshop. Yes, it would be best if you didn't have to fix anything at all but...it's not a perfect world.
     
  9. little_earthquakes

    little_earthquakes TPF Noob!

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    YES! Exactly.
     
  10. LokiZ

    LokiZ TPF Noob!

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    If National Geographic photographers are not pros I am not sure who is. They did this with film not just digital.

    As far as "spray and pray" I am not sure who or how many wedding photographers you have watched in action. The ones I have watched while videoing weddings got the large number of captures they take without the use of continuous shooting like sporting photographers use. also with todays wedding photos turning up on DVD slide shows it really does pay to have a considerable array of images rather then 48 images all taken at just the perfect time.

    Learning photography basics and wedding photography would be two different classes in my book. As would sports photography or any other niche type photography subject.

    I would say choosing film or digital medium should depend on what you plan to use after you have learned the basics plain and simple.
     
  11. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Digital.

    I too learned 30 years ago on film, but I can tell you I would have switched 30 years ago if digital had been available then, and so would 95 percent of the rest of the photographers out there.

    Digital is cheaper, more immediate and about a billion times more friendly to the environment.
     
  12. Kross74

    Kross74 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you guys for all your info...I'm taking it all in. I do agree with digital you're able to see what you have...And..that film may force you to think before pressing the shutter. Although, I must have to admit that digital is alot convenient. To share with you how inconvenient film is, I' have at least 5 rolls of films that are waiting to be developed from 4+ years ago. LOL

    Years ago my father-in-law called himself a so-called photographer. (big mistake) Then it got really bad he decided he wanted to do weddings, (huge mistake/ couldn't take pictures if his life depended on it) Anyway, he did about one or two weddings.

    I strongly believe if he had a digital camera probably would have saved him a little time he spent going to court. Anyway he took pictures of every and anything. The pictures were pretty darn awful, maybe he couldn't see. I don't know..

    Ok...just wanted to share that with you guys! LOL
    Keep'em coming
     

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