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Comparing Digital and Film Cameras for Beginners

Digital cameras are taking over the world. They come in a wide range of prices and with many choices in features. With digital cameras, you can see immediately what you captured. You can immediately reshoot with different exposures or framing. Because there are no development costs, digital photography gives a beginner an inexpensive way to shoot many photos to learn what works and what does not. It is “free” and easy to delete the shots that did not work.

With digital, there are many costs to consider. Digital cameras are more expensive than film cameras. While the memory cards are more costly than a roll of film, they can be used repeatedly. While there is no cost to develop digital images, there are some hidden costs. Many people still want prints that you can touch and manipulate. There are many choices for digital prints from great home printers to discount stores to fine art quality prints from several websites.

While it is possible to take your memory cards straight to one of the many places that print digital photos, most people will need a computer to download their shots. Storing digital images eats up space on your computer’s hard drive. Digital images should be backed up with either CD’s, DVD’s or external hard drives. The rule of thumb is to have at least two copies of each image to protect against hardware failure.

Most people who shoot digital photos also spend more time in post processing than was done with film photography. The most commonly used programs are Adobe’s Photoshop, Adobe’s Elements, and Paint Shop Pro. There will be regular costs to upgrade to the more recent versions of these programs.

Currently, the technology for digital cameras is growing rapidly. While it may have slowed down a little, the digital camera you buy today, may be “out of date” in 6 months to a year. While it will still take good photos, there will be better cameras, with more features and more megapixels for less price. Film and film cameras are an older technology with much less change over time. Upgrading the camera to keep up with the technology is also one of the current costs of digital.

One advantage that film has over digital is the wider dynamic range. While digital cameras are improving rapidly, film still gives better results when you have wide ranges between the light and dark areas of a photo. For most beginners, this will not be an issue.

Both film and digital cameras come in varying sizes. Beginners should think about what kind of photos they will be taking. Do they want a camera that will fit in their pocket, that can go everywhere easily? Would they rather have a larger camera, with different lenses that will give them more versatility, but be heavier to carry around?

For those photographers using digital cameras, there are many websites where you can post your photos and receive critiques and helpful advise on how to make your photos better. While some of these allow film scans, most are set up and encourage digital photography. Most of the places that still develop film provide a digital CD of the images, so this may not be a major issue.

The last thing to consider: Is photography something that you are trying out? If so, buy an inexpensive film camera to play with. However, if you know that you will be serious and taking a lot of shots in the learning process, digital may be the better choice.

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