Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Film vs. Digital (Again)

To say that digital is superior to film is an opinion; it depends on what you value and you cannot really prove it. Last night I developed three rolls of film. I still shoot film and value the way film responds to light. A digital sensor will only respond to light one way. Digital cameras only have one personality. A camera raw file is merely a data dump of what is on the sensor and that is the response of the sensor to light and that is the only way that camera will respond to light. You can tweek the camera settings but you cannot tweek the sensor.

A film camera will respond to light many different ways depending on the film in the camera. The latent image on exposed film is like a data dump of the reaction of the material to light. All the rest is post processing whether you are talking photoshop or D76. Film cameras have multiple personalities because there are different films available. I can say film cameras are superior to digital if I wanted; again based on my values and opinions that could be true. In the last two years Kodak has introduced two fine new films.

So, if your vision is best expressed with a plastic Diana, or a Speed Graphic, or a Nikon F6, or a Nikon D3; then that is the superior tool for you. I am glad the choices exist for us all. The analogy to painting vs. photography is apt. In fact I would even say it is even more like water colors vs. oil paints. They are both painting after all. But, how can you say which is superior? Because, after all, it is all about vision and converting that vision into an image and we all see things a little differently. In that context it matters less how you get that image and more that the tools let you do it.


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