What effect is digital photography having on traditional, film-based photography?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by MrOnlineIdentity, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. MrOnlineIdentity

    MrOnlineIdentity TPF Noob!

    Mar 10, 2010
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    Hi guys,

    I’m currently undertaking a university project looking into how new, digital-based photography is effecting the traditional methods/processes of film-based photography.

    It would be great to get some of your professional opinions to aid my research. Below there are 6 questions, and any response would be great and much appreciated!

    Thank you!

    1) Do you find that most of your customers come here looking for digital related products or advice, as opposed to traditional film photography products? Roughly what percentage is digital?

    2) What are your personal views on digital photography? For example do you feel like it devalues the traditional processes of photography, or does it enhance the medium of photography as it’s now easier for people to become involved?

    3) Do you think digital photography is casing the death of traditional ‘dark room’ methods and chemical processes. If so, is it redefining what photography means?

    4) Do you think photo manipulation is ‘cheating’ in that some people might think it takes away the skill from the photographer?

    5) Do you think digital cameras will ever fully replace film-based cameras?

    6) Finally, would you say that the digitisation of photography is overall a positive thing, or a negative thing?

  2. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Nov 15, 2003
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    North New Jersey, United States of America
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    Most definitely digital. 90%+.. Simply compare the num of posts in the equipment and digital forums against the number of posts in the film forum.

    Double edged sword.

    Attitude: I find individuals (of course of certain age) that only got involved in photography because of the convenience and ease of digital don't truly have the passion for it. Film required a certain amount of patience and dedication that brought out the best in photographers. Its difficult to find those that are truly passionate about photography now a days.

    Focus: Focus has now become the equipment. Equipment has become a regular electronics consumer item. Both of which hasn't really helped photography except the manufacturers' bottom line. Focus within the mind of a photographer has switched from quality to quantity.

    Education: This is where I like digital. I am a person who likes to learn and teach through experimentation. Experimentation is more effective with digital. Kinda like when studios would experiment with polaroid backs before actually exposing negatives/slides.

    No... people still enjoy riding horses centuries after the invention of the automobile. Darkroom will definitely be relegated to a niche market. I predict that at some point in time, the look of film will become favorable once again as digital images become "too perfected". Much like portraiture done in oil.

    Photography is not defined by the media in my mind. So no... it does not redefine.

    Nope.. I don't think it is cheating in the pure sense. If it is used to perpetuate a "lie" or a false sense of truth then yes. No, I dont think it takes away from the skill of the photographer... the initial capture is the foundation for a final produced image. You can't build on a crappy foundation.

    In the consumer and professional market, yes. For the hobby photographer, not fully. See comment above regarding a possible return to film in a niche market.

    I've seen more negative than positive to tell you the truth.... but I am not one to say that progress is a bad thing. Again a double edge sword.
  3. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Jan 4, 2007
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    Chicago burbs
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    95% digital or more. Except for the initial cost, there is very few advantages to film photography any more. Wide tonal ranges are still easier to get on film. (more midtones) Take a look at the galleries at rangefinderforum.com for great examples.

    It is a shame to see the old processes going. Anything without electronics these days just seems more romantic. But to the end customer, there is no difference. It is just like learning to do math by hand instead of with a calculator. The end result is the same, but the process is quicker, cheaper (time-wise) and more convenient. However, it also removes the photographer from how things work. For example, when printing in a wet darkroom, I can immediately see the effect of longer exposure.

    It is somewhat redefining what photography means, or at least processing. To me, it is really fun to develop film and print in a darkroom. I can spend 10 hours in there and only realize it when my wife or stomach or bladder tells me. Post processing on a computer is again easier & faster, but less engaging. (especially for someone who already spends all day looking at a computer screen for work)

    To me, it depends on the degree of cheating. If we cheat to make it look more like our eyes and minds perceive the subject, it is not cheating. For example, boosting color saturation, cropping, or changing exposure. Changing the content of the image is cheating. Then, it is not a photograph any more, but a digital image that was created on a computer. It is a subjective thing though.

    Not fully, but 99%. Just like people still drive cars from previous eras for fun, people will still shoot film for fun. (as long as film is produced) If the profit margins get low enough on film, the manufacturers will stop making it. Kodak's discontinuiing of Kodachrome is a prime example. It was the original color slide film. It didn't make business sense to keep producing it. Since film has a limited shelf life, it is not like cars in this respect.

    I think color film will eventually become completely obsolete. But not B&W print film. B&W is easier to process at home, so it will not be as business dependent as color.

    Positive. We have always been going toward making quick color photography cheaper, faster, more convenient, and more accessible to the masses. Digital is the final stage of this refinement. From now on, we will just continue to refine digital tools & processes.

    I love B&W photography, but without digital, I probably wouldn't have time, and would not be willing to give up enough time for other things to MAKE time for it. Also, a digital photo lab is much more compact, less expensive, and requires less maintenance than a wet lab.

    Good luck with your project.

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