I would say digital. I'm one of these old timers that learned with film over 30 years ago. But digital is the choice of medium today. The same basic principles apply to both so I would start with digital.
The one thing I do not agree with that I see on some of the posts is that film is a medium that is on it's last legs. Film is going to be around for a long time- maybe more expensive and not widely available as before, but it is not going anywhere anytime soon. There are already film manufacturers in Europe that are starting to pick up some of the slack. And I think that you will start to see color film disappear quicker than B&W film. There will be a niche for B&W shooters for many years, I believe.
I hear it all the time, but let's be honest...why learn on film? For a beginner especially, it can be quite daunting and you probably won't want to continue. I mean....you can take a whole roll of pictures and they're underexposed or overexposed and you have no idea why...or you take a roll with flash and realize you don't like it...or your camera gets jammed...or whatever.
Film may be cool for large prints, but the "fun" of the darkroom gets old fast, when you can just use lightroom instead and get much better results. There's nothing wrong with rapid fire shots, either...wasting CF card space is the beauty of digital. You have tonnes to work with.
Quite frankly when I shoot film I do not write down every minute setting made prior to or after the shot. Maybe most of you die hard film shooters do. <shrug>
I am sure that those just learning would try to as well. If I was a teacher I would want to know each and every setting they chose and why regardless of how well the shot turned out. Your photo after development does not show the ISO, if flash was used, whether or not you used a remote, if the shot was taken with the ability to "spray and pray" Film cameras can do this as well and you can shut off the option for digital. I am sure I am missing some settings but you get the picture. In a class setting you had better be able to tell me everything about your shot. Because when your new and you get a good capture if you can't tell me how then I say as a newbie you were just lucky. Explain it to me and prove me wrong in class. F8-60 doesn't tell me the entire story.Nope... I try to meter properly so I don't need to write anything down ... although is it really that much of a terrible inconvenience to scribble "f8-60" or "Meter+1"?
I have never had any of my manual film cameras jam. I would think that this is one area the manual film cameras far exceed the digital world. They can be much more rugged. That might be a reason to start with film.Sideburns, I see where you're coming from... but if someone is interested enough to be willing to spend a lot of money on a good digital camera, then would they really give up on photography once their first rolls of film don't turn out how they want and they can't work out why? As for cameras getting jammed, you do know digitals can develop faults too right?
I agree with that totally. What I debate is the fact that it is the better way to learn. If some one came up to me and said I want to learn photography I would ask A) what camera do you have and B)Is that the format you plan on sticking with. If they have a digital or want one I would not stop and point them the other way. And as far as "taking the picture" opposed from developing it you could teach faster with a digital as you don't have the time involved in developing. I would however require them to not use multi-shot modes unless they were working on sports assignments. And with sports assignments the goal would not be to get one good shot out of a burst but the whole burst.I guess I just don't see what's wrong, even if you're planning to go digital, with spending under $50 and a little bit of time giving film a try... what can you really lose? The cost of film and processing and a few hours of your life?
I totally agree there is no inherently better way to learn. Shoot digital or film as long as you have control (so not colour negs lab-processed for example) and some might find one or other medium more conducive to learning but it can't possibly apply to everyone. It's fairly cliched and obvious but the one thing people really need if they want to learn, is to want to learn.
Film is more expensive on the long run, buying, processing, and then printing. It takes a while, eats my money and slow me down. On the other hand, looking in the VF feels much better, taking the time to adjust your position, knowing this single photograph is valuable will make you be careful. You can shoot 1000 shots of digital and how many you'll get to call good, you will get more than that out of 36 frames in a film roll.(I should be exaggerating a bit)