Picking the Right Camera: Film or Digital?

Dan Knight

Althought Digigraphica puts the focus on digital photography, that doesn't mean a digital camera is always the best solution. We're realists. We understand that traditional film cameras are sometimes a better solution. It's in that light that we present our guide to picking the right camera.

We will explain some of the issues involved and then let you to go to the next article or choose from two or more alternatives. We hope this will help you understand the basics and lead you to the type of camera that best suits your needs.

Film or Digital?

We're basically looking at digicams vs. 35mm cameras, not the roll film or sheet film equipment pros often use. There are several factors that might push your decision one way or the other. (Or you could go both ways, choosing between a film camera and a digicam based on circumstances.)

  • Do you need to produce slides? If so, film may be your best bet, although good slides can be produced from digital images as well (you need a lot of megapixels).
  • Do you need to produce huge prints (16x20 and larger)? If so, film may be your best choice, although many of today's digicams have sufficient resolution to go that big.
  • Do you need to put your images on the Internet right away? If so, go digital.
  • Do you want to email pictures to friends and family? Digital has the advantage.
  • Do you want the ability to change lenses? For the most flexibility, go film, where there's a huge selection of used cameras and lenses as bargain prices. That said, today's digital SLRs (which now start at under $600 with a zoom lens) are excellent alternatives.
  • Do you need extreme lenses: superwide, long telephoto, 1:1 macro? If so, your best bet is probably film, although digital is catching up in this area.
  • Do you need to shoot in low light conditions? If so, go for a digital SLR. You'll have access to high speed lenses, be able to turn up the ISO to 1600 or even 3200, have the option of a powerful flash when you need it, and be able to adjust color balance to compensate for different light sources.
  • Do you want to be able to make your own color prints at home without the expense of building and maintaining a darkroom? If so, go digital.

Picking the Right Camera Series Index

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