Digital slr or film slr for beginner?

Christie Photo

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Honestly, If you are going to scan and correct your images digitally I am not sure what the point is in shooting film.

Hey, yeah.... I forgot about that. MANY pro labs are gonna scan your negs for printing anyway. Adding one more generation is never a good idea.
 

Rick Waldroup

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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.
 

table1349

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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.


While digital sounds good, digital can be a hinderance. I meet a collage student a year or so ago that aspires to be a photojournalist. Her dream, like many others is to work for National Geographic. She shoots a 20D at her collage and I have seen some of her work. Her photographs are quite good. She needs more experience, but she is a good student of photography. She goes to a small collage, with a good journalism program but a small fine art program. I pointed out to her that National Geographic only uses film, not digital. She was surprised when she learned this as she assumed that like most papers and quick turnaround publications, such as Time and Newsweek, they had gone digital.

She is the now the proud owner of a fine Nikon F2 and a few good pieces of glass. They were hogging up space in the closet and were just gathering dust. I eagerly await payment for the camera, motor drive and lenses from her. For I will happily display a signed copy of that first published article of hers when I get it. I thought it was a fair price for a poor collage student with a dream and a whole lot of desire. That and the equipment has once again found a use and a home. My other F2 and accessories are lonely, but they will get over it.

Film and film education has a place. Not everyone needs to learn film, but there is much to say for a film education. I look at it a lot like a collage education. Unless you are in one of those education specific jobs, [FONT=&quot]Aeronautical[/FONT] engineer, Physician, etc. then the most important thing about a collage education to many human resource people is the fact that you went and you successfully completed the task, even if it really does not apply to the job you are now seeking.
 

Deena

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I am another who says Digital... I am not quite pro.. I have not shot film with a SLR, actually have not used a film camera in years. But when i started learning my digital SLR, I did not do the oh that is crap, delete thing that a lot do. I used patience and discipline to really learn (and still do). That is the key, just like others have pointed out. I would upload my images and look at them full size because that lcd screen really does not do them justice, some i though were crap were not so bad, others i thought were good, would be crap LOL Honestly I think having a digital SLR has helped me learn faster! And the fact that I can look at the exif data on every image and see what my settings were, so I can go, oh yea that's how I did that, or whatever is a HUGE bonus!
 

LokiZ

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Yes, I find that comparing exif data on the images I favor as the best of my shots to the ones that did not turn out as I had hoped to be a valuable tool in not only learning the basics of photography itself but my personal camera as well.

Not all cameras in my experience react exactly 100% the same from model to model and brand to brand. (Just like cars, the basics are there but the style of driving between the a Porsche and Ford Escort will be different. Both will get you there but there are differences in how that will be achieved.) So with that said Its nice to have data that records each and every setting to help you see what you did right and what you did wrong.

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> As an amature whose still learning I do how however study the exif data extensively. (which means I take multiples of a lot of my shots when I come to a situation I have not met or conquered before. ~ so shoot me) In my opinion when I took multiple shots from a film camera (which I did) I did not learn as much from them as multiple shots taken from a digital camera.
 

Sideburns

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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.
 

Steph

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Film.

If I was a true beginner today, I would be scared to start with digital: not because of the technical side of things but because the investment would be huge (camera+lense(s), memory cards, editing software, a new computer to be able to run this software...) and all that before knowing if this hobby would be for me!! If you have enough cash to buy a digital camera and accessories then go for it. If not, buy a secondhand basic film camera (maybe a Pentax K1000 or similar) and a fast 50mm lens for next to nothing, a few films every month and decide from there if you like photography and if it is worth investing a lot of money in digital equipment. I am not saying that it is better to learn on a film camera but to me in makes more financial sense if you are not yet sure that you will pursue photography as a serious hobby or more.
 

table1349

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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.

That may be fine if you are not result driven, then just taking a lot of pictures may satisfy. But if your approach is rapid fire shooting hoping to get a keeper, what happens when you only have that one instant to take one shot and you have no real clue how to do so.

A whole compact card full of overexposed or underexposed shots is no good either. Film forces those that wish to learn, to to learn and to come to an understanding of why that roll of film was wasted, and to not make those mistakes again.

While it is much less dangerous to spray and pray with a camera, in my profession, when we switched from revolvers to semi-automatic pistols, spray and pray began to creep in with some officers. Because of that we quickly changed the qualification course to force accurate shooting instead of trigger squeezing.


Trust me, you really don't want to be a customer in a bank being held at gunpoint when SWAT comes through the door and they rely on spray and pray to take out the bad guys. Ugly things happen.

Besides, if it is all just fun, then why not stick with a P&S and let the camera do the work for you.
 

Don Simon

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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>

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"?

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 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?
 

LokiZ

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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 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.

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 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.

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 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.
 

Don Simon

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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. :wink:
 

bellacat

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i learned on film and i know its considered old school now that digital is around but I wouldn't change my learning for a sec. I still shoot film but eventually plan on moving over to digital. There are still many photographers who will shoot using film but it really all depends on the nature of the project. There is so much more detail to be had with film when used correctly though I must say that digital has come such a long way in jsut the past 3 years. Think about what kind of photos you plan on shooting and if there is a value to you to learn on Film.
 

nomade

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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)

It's a very natural medium, one cannot claim to have full control of the photograph, even digital, I don't say I am not convinced with digital, but it's a totally different world. Besides since I've got my digital camera, money is more abundant in my wallet. :)

Yeah in general what goes for film, goes for digital, but the outcome is never the same. Because what you see in your view finder isn't necessarily what you'll get in your print, due to numerous factors, it's up to you, your time and budget.

I'd recommend film if you wanna learn photography. Because you learn to see and you learn how to get the shot you want. Call me an idiot, but i would take like 5 photos of the same subject using digital, none of them I really like. Ehen I used to get only one shot I need and will really like.

I am trying to have a bit more control on myself and be more careful shooting digital but my finger won't stop. What do you have to loose anyway.

Another thought, is that experimenting needs abundance, also there's the fact that walking around in the streets with my old antiques(cameras) is more intimidating than walking with one bigger digital modern looking camera.

Can't say that either is a bad idea, my point is that film gives me more pleasure, more self-esteem and more confidence. My manual mechanical cameras will never cry out for new batteries.
 

WonderWoMom

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It is entirely up to you. The world is becoming digital. But I can see why learning on film would be beneficial. It is like learning to drive. You used to HAVE to drive a stick but now you can get an automatic. Much easier to drive But you don't learn to listen to the engine in an automatic. And what happens if your car breaks down and there is ONLY a stick available??? Then what. On the other side of the argument. If you are spending money and equipment then you should buy what you plan on shooting with. Equipment is EXPENSIVE you might as well get what you plan on using ;)
 

LokiZ

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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. :wink:

That is a beautiful way to put it.

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)

If you are shooting too fast while shooting digital and you then slow down while shooting film I hardly see how the medium can be the blame here.

I would hope that there is one thing we can all agree on here. That being... regardless of the way you choose to learn photography the one thing to take away from your learning experience is this... A basic knowledge and understanding on how to capture the image you want consistently and in a way that you realize just how it was your image arrived at that outcome.

On that matter it really does not matter at all if you learn to do so with film or digital. It just matters that you learn. You can take that learning to either format IMO and if learned correctly... ohh what a reward.
 

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