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Film Photography vs Digital Photography

Film photography and digital photography follow the same concept and aesthetics; the mere difference between them lies on the technical means of creating the image

While digital photography offers convenience and practicality, the use of film photography, especially when using manual SLR cameras, allows you to better understand how exposure, shutter speed and aperture work. These terms are used both in film and digital photography 

Film and Digital Cameras

Before digital cameras and memory cards came into play, photography required the use of a film negative loaded into the camera, using up the entire roll of negative, unloading it from the camera and bringing it to a photo laboratory for developing of the negative and printing of the photos. A digital camera allows you to see and print your photos without having to use up all the space in the memory card. You can either connect the digital camera directly to a computer to download the image files or insert the memory card into a card reader to download the images to your computer.

Film Photography: Film Processing and Printing

Both a film negative and the photo paper where an image gets printed are made from light-sensitive materials. The emulsion is the light-sensitive portion of a negative or photo paper that records the image. It has silver halides, also called silver salts, along with other special sensitizing dyes. Depending on the amount of light and the type of silver halide, the light produces a visible or invisible change to the halides of a film. The invisible change is made visible by film processing, also addressed to as film developing, and the film printing of the photo which also involves the use of chemicals and specific technical procedures.


Whether using regular or high-end film camera or any brand of negative, film photography provides standard resolution that allows enlargement and projection of a photo without compensating on the image’s resolution. This means any photo shot on film can be blown up to poster size or even larger sizes without suffering on the resolution. This is done by using the film negative as the image source for the blown up copy. Unlike a digital photo that has a threshold on the maximum print size possible (depending on the megapixel count), a film photo doesn’t get “pixilated.” This is because film is made up of very small grains that are circular in shape as compared to the small squares (pixels) of digital photos.

Given the very small circular properties of film grains, a blown up photo from a film negative allows enlarged printing without sacrificing the general quality of the photo. Even if the grains show up, especially in very large prints, the photo doesn’t get the digital problem on pixels that fill oversized digital photos with conspicuous little squares.

Digital Imaging

The image sensor of a digital camera reads the intensity of light getting into the camera to process an image; while the digital memory space, whether through a camera’s internal memory or through an external memory device, stores the digital information as an image file. Unlike with film photography requiring film developing and printing before seeing the actual photo, a digital camera readily displays the photo taken through the LCD screen. The camera can be easily connected to a computer for archiving, photo manipulation or printing. Some cameras also allow manipulation of the photos from the camera or direct printing from the camera.

You can even come up with 3D photos using regular digital cameras by employing a few additional steps. Once applied, you can see its three-dimensional depth by wearing 3D glasses.


Digital photography is generally a more practical choice because it allows you to instantly see the photos you shoot, delete unwanted photos without wasting any resources (unlike a film negative which can only be used once), reuse memory card by easily transferring the photos to a hard drive and other storage device, and readily enhance or edit the photos using imaging software (editing film photos requires digitizing them first by using a scanner). You can also control the size and resolution of your photos in most digital cameras.

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