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Why digital cameras = better photographers
January 20, 2004 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Why digital cameras = better photographers. Digital cameras don't only eliminate the cost and hassle of film processing, they should help do away with bad holiday snaps and see us all become better photographers.
posted by riffola (39 comments total)

 
1) Shoot at will.

This also (if used wrongly) removes the thought process required to take THE shot so you end up with just any shot.

2) Experiment.

Talk with too many other experimenters and you'll pat yourselves so heartily on the back that you forget the world has enough fuzzy, out of focus, blurry photos of the inside of your cat's nostril.

3) Forget Film.

It's give and take ... now you remember media cards (which you can't just buy anywhere). Now you remember media card failures (when it happens, it happens big). Film and low light really only differs from digital at those really long (ah yes, experimental) exposures.

4) Compose from a distance.

... and have wobbly, blurry, soft shots because you're holding the camera out at arm's length as if you're scared of it!

5) Photo Editing Software.

... spoken by someone who's never heard of a film scanner.


I'm not saying digital is bad. I shoot digital myself, and have become a better photographer because of it, but digi is not the answer to the world's overabundance of bad holiday snapshots.

A snapshot is just that, regardless of how it was taken.
posted by devbrain at 1:50 PM on January 20, 2004


That said ... even though I disagree with almost the entire thing, it was an interesting read (thanks for posting)

(one comment for "Katie, England" who thinks she's never taken a bad pic with her digicam ....... I beg to differ)
posted by devbrain at 1:51 PM on January 20, 2004


The idea is that digital gives the chance to take more pictures, to experiment with them and to sometimes come up with something that you'd not originally seen when you lined up the camera.

I know that I've become a better photographer because of my digital. Film costs too much, takes too long and is too process intensive for most people.

The digital revolution continues, much to the chagrin of those married to the old tech way. Heck, even Kodak is stopping selling film cameras.

And the best part is that it is very easy to get rid of the crap shots and keep the best of the bunch.
posted by fenriq at 2:07 PM on January 20, 2004


A drawback is that while digital information is supposedly long-lived, it is volitile and easily lost, compared to hard copy.
The is a debate about the decreasing viability of storage media: Ectochrome and Kodachrome lasting some 40 years, VHS tape lasting perhaps 10; hard copy photos lasting 100, but digital photos lasting ?.
Remember what happened to nitrate-based movie film.
posted by kablam at 2:10 PM on January 20, 2004


I'm going to have to go with devbrain on this one. I know my photography has suffered going digital. Having a virtually unlimited amount of film at my disposal, I just shoot and shoot and shoot with the mindset that I'll get a few good shots. At least I did that in the beginning, I'm finally starting to reel it in.

Back when I used a film camera, I thought about each shot. I thought about positioning, framing, lighting, etc. These are things that can supposedly be fixed after the fact, but the truth is, it's not the same. You can't "capture a moment" in front of a computer, hours, days, or weeks after the fact.

You Belle & Sebastian fans out there should check out the liner notes to Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Part of the rambling talks about how digital is helping and killing art at the same time. I'm a total geek with zero artistic ability, and I have to agree. By making it more accessible, more people are getting involved, but because there's no longer a high barrier of entry to some things, the quality is suffering tremendously.

As much as I love my Mac, the iApps are a prime example of this. iMovie lets you take your boring home videos and make them boring home videos with titles and transitions. iDVD lets you put them on disc to torture as many people as possible. And now, the worst offender, GarageBand. Have any of you listened to the crap that's flooded the Mac blog scene ever since it came out. It's painful.

Having said that, I'm still glad they did it. I think it's just a matter of time before people realize just because they can doesnt' mean they should.

Sadly enough, as much as I want to abandon my digicam for an SLR and film scanner again, I can't. It's just too damn convenient.
posted by AaRdVarK at 2:11 PM on January 20, 2004


Oh boy, another film vs digital debate. Probably seen it hashed hashed dozens of times across various camera forums.

There's no doubt that digital is the way of the future (and for most needs, the present). However there are still some bugs to be ironed out with this whole "digital" thing: limited dynamic range in digital camera sensors (film negatives have very nice highlight trailoff, while digicams simply blow out the highlights completely like slide film does), sensor blooming (i.e. strong lights can cause fringing, often exacerbated by lens chromatic abberations), dust issues for digital SLR's, chroma noise in digital images can distort colors (whereas film grain is much more color-neutral), overaggressive built-in sharpening algorithms in most consumer cameras generate that distinct "digital" look, and so on. The advantages of digital photography mentioned in the article are very real, but the technology is still in its infancy. I've been shooting digital-only for years now and it's true that things have improved exponentially since the early days of the first megapixel camera, but there are still growing pains everywhere to this day.

And bad photographs happen, period. Built-in spell check and grammar check hasn't cured the world of its horrific writers. Digital photography is more of the same.
posted by DaShiv at 2:11 PM on January 20, 2004


I will say that my digital cameras have improved my photography, but not really for any of the listed reasons. Going to a digital gave me the chance to shoot as many photos as I wanted, as often as I wanted, and not have to worry about taking a bad shot and having paid to get it developed. It let me play with a camera without the overhead and figure out such things as good composition, focus, filters, etc. The first month with the digital camera, I must have shot thousands of images, something I had never been able to do before due to the cost of developing and making sure that I tried to get the best shot I could, because I only had 36 photos to a roll (as opposed to the several hundred per memory card).

I still prefer film cameras, and choose to use them most often, but I now have a better understanding of the concepts of photography thanks to being freed up from developing costs while I was learning. You can cram a lot of photography experience in a few short months at very low cost with digitals.

And no ... digital cameras are not the end of bad family photos, as evidenced by the photos my husband took with mine at Xmas. They look just as bad as they would have with a film camera. :D
posted by Orb at 2:12 PM on January 20, 2004


I went to a conference about digital projection recently where they were trying to convince movie theaters to use digital projectors instead of regular/film/analog ones and they were going through the same argument.

Even though digital is cheaper, easier, less time consuming, and offers more flexibility, most people are unwilling to use digital cameras and projectors because of the lack of color depth. I've heard there are filters and effects to compensate for this, but maybe not enough to change anybody's mind.
posted by destro at 2:13 PM on January 20, 2004


Scanning is great too. I need to get my circa-1985 35mm camera fixed, but I've seen great results by using cheap disposables and scanning old photos, then fooling around with the results.

I was first turned on to the possibilities of scanning when I took some old photos from a trip to St. Augustine, ones that appeared to be ruined by both camera problems and poor processing, and turned them into something enviable. The colors originally looked washed out, and I was getting these rings on every shot. It was extremely disappointing. After scanning the photos (not long after buying the scanner for career-related purposes) and a smidgen of editing, however, I was over that.

Even so, digital photography is far cheaper and has absolutely led me experiment. It also led me to become familiar with the software needed to edit or prepare scanned photos.
posted by raysmj at 2:14 PM on January 20, 2004


I think that the expense factor is key. I can blow $50 in film and processing in an hour at the beach. With time, practice and a darkroom, I could get some great prints at around $10 a pop. Since most of my stuff ends up digital anyway, it is cheaper for me to dowload than to print and scan.

Knowing the basics will only get you so far, the rest comes with tons and tons of practice. Using film, practice gets expensive pretty darn quick.

Back when I used a film camera, I thought about each shot. I thought about positioning, framing, lighting, etc. These are things that can supposedly be fixed after the fact, but the truth is, it's not the same. You can't "capture a moment" in front of a computer, hours, days, or weeks after the fact.

Gee, I'm probably unusual in that I try to set up the shot with the camera. But then again, I've done semi-professional digital video work and know quite well that if you don't get the moment while you are there, it is gone forever.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:25 PM on January 20, 2004


Re: storage issues.

Actually digital has the advantage in storage, IMO. Digital data does not degrade at all over time (although a CD can, and some proprietary file formats may go obsolete). For those who do their research, there are desktop printers (such as the ones using Epson Ultrachrome inks) that can make prints lasting 70+ years depending on the paper used, and many commercial digital printers (such as the popular Fuji Frontiers) have similar longer-than-Ektachrome lightfastness. People are buying film scanners to convert their pictures into ones and zeros to stave off the physical degredation of chemicals in their pictures (and negatives). Digital camera pictures already start out with this digital fidelity. It's not foolproof--and comes with its own storage issues--but it is an improvement.

Re: digital projection.

Digital images don't project terribly well, yet. It's a source of much frustration for many people, and was mentioned in this article on a digital-only National Geographic assignment (previous linked on MeFi). Prints and printing have come a long way though.
posted by DaShiv at 2:31 PM on January 20, 2004


Having a virtually unlimited amount of film at my disposal, I just shoot and shoot and shoot with the mindset that I'll get a few good shots. - Ahhh, the spam approach to digital photography! (just kidding!)

When I was using my regular SLR, although I ended up taking some pretty good photos, there was always too much time between taking and developing so that I never really learned what to put all the settings on - f-stop and aperture, etc. It was always guesswork and luck. I even tried writing down the settings for each shot, but it never sunk in. Probably a short-coming on my part.

Since I've had limited hard drive space, I've been just as careful taking digital shots, although I've taken the 'delete as you go' approach and shoot until I'm happy with it. Digital photography opens things up just like weblogs did for publishing - there's no upfront barrier anymore to filter out the 'less than', but those who are truly interested will continue to hone their craft and get better. With this, it seems we now have the honor of deciding for ourselves what we like and don't, instead of allowing technical challenges or publishing companies to filter FOR us.
posted by thunder at 2:47 PM on January 20, 2004


Well put, Thunder!
posted by fenriq at 3:22 PM on January 20, 2004


Digital brings the sense of play back into color photography. All the really good photographers I've known in my life were either rich or had photographers in their family. Normal kids just couldn't get anyone to shell out for development costs and for quality equipment.

All I know is that I can print out 8x10s on my $99 HP 5550 printer (with the 3color+4color photo ink setup) that rival any color prints I've seen... you've got to buy the premium-plus paper, though. Quality that would have cost a nearly infinite amount of dough 20 years ago is within almost anyone's reach. I can shoot 200 pictures on my card, import them, throw out 80% of them and then print the good ones on 4x6 all for about $10. If I want something better, printwise, I can go into iPhoto and order prints up to 20x30" with a few clicks for very reasonable prices. Not having to develop bad shots saves a lot of money. Even though my camera cost about $600 more than its film-based equivalent I figure I'll save that much money over film shooting within a year.

I love my Digital Rebel (with the 50mm f1.4 lens) to death. I have taken photos of my baby that are in the moment and gorgeous AND I've been able to quickly share them over the web as well as print high quality prints at home. I hanker for the 28mm lens though. Lenses are pretty addictive.

If you have a camera that can shoot RAW format you can do virtually anything that you could do with a negative to improve the exposure of an image. I am in awe of the 'shadows' and 'saturation' sliders in Photoshop's RAW import window. Truly amazing stuff.

Digital is no different than analog in most respects. A good picture is not made with your equipment (but it can be unmade with bad equipment.)

Anything is better than 80's era snapshots, though. Craptacular flashes and borderless, oversaturated prints just look so ugly to my eye. I LOVE my cache of family pics from the 50s-70s... the quality of paper and the look of the photos is just so wonderful. perhaps these are the things that cannot be captured digitally, but I think that they were lost the day that Kodak brought out the Disc camera anyway.

And the insulting comments about crappy pictures and crappy music coming from the people who wouldn't be shooting or playing otherwise -- that's that worst kind of elitist crap there is. I will gladly listen to and watch a 100 songs and pics shot by people who are still learning than to suffer someone insulting them.
posted by n9 at 3:42 PM on January 20, 2004


A quick review of my photo repository shows that in the last year and a half I've taken roughly 10,000 pictures adding up to about 6.5G of data. Are most of these pictures crap? Sure. Let's say 60% of the shots are bad, bad, bad, and maybe another 20% are borderline. I'd delete them but disk space is, for all intents and purposes, free. My repository has another 27G of available space before I have to start worrying about where to store stuff or what to get rid of.

If 80% of my shots are deleteworthy -- and I'd like to think I'm actually shooting a little bit better than that -- that's still 2,000 worthwhile pictures. Given that I'd have roughly the same success rate with film or digital, the same 2,000 pictures would have cost me thousands upon thousands of dollars in development costs. That's a lot of money to spend on camera shake.

Yet it's not a given that I would have the same success rate. I suspect I would have a lower success rate with film. Misloaded or misfed film? Whoops, there's another 36 down the crapper! Lens cap? Darn, missed 10 more!

Listen. You actual photographer types can sneer at the proles for "shooting at will," and "remembering media cards" being the new "remembering to bring film" (wtf, devbrain? Ever heard of a 256M CF card? I've never taken mine out of the camera, let alone forgotten it!) but at the end of the day, I've got shots that I would never, ever, in a million years have been able to get with film: I'd have held back for cost reasons, botched the technical arcana, have the wrong speed loaded, had the film eaten by the developer, or any of a rash of other things prevent the shot.

And frankly, bully for those of you who can afford tens of thousands of dollars on film while you're becoming a better photographer. Perhaps my rate of improvement is a fraction of yours because of my sloppy technique, spam approach to shooting, and the limitations of digital -- I don't think so, but let's take the worst case -- but 10,000 shots later I've spent nothing whatsoever on development. Nothing whatsoever. After another five years of slowly learning from bad cat nostril experiments, when I'm still not as skilled as you are, but better than I am today, I'll still have spent nothing. The power of this concept of taking pictures for free seems to elude film snobs, but it shouldn't be lost on the masses.

Having said all that and raged against the photographic elite, I'll be the first person to acknowledge that if you want to shoot B&W, digital is pretty close to worthless with the consumer-grade state of the art.
posted by majick at 4:05 PM on January 20, 2004


From the linked article: Exposure problems, poor focussing, bad composition, flash flare and "red eye" are the most common problems experienced by amateur snappers.

None of which are inherently solved by digital photography.
posted by normy at 4:30 PM on January 20, 2004


Inherently solved? No.

Well, yes, digital photography does solve some of these problems, though not in the way you seem to be implying it should. I know immediately, merely by spending a few moments with the LCD, if I've taken a bad shot with any of those problems -- without the time and expense of developing film -- and then in some situations I have a chance to recompose and retake the shot, and maybe next time I'll know what not to do. Try that with your film!
posted by majick at 4:39 PM on January 20, 2004


From the article: Digital cameras often give a more faithful reproduction and have a higher tolerance for poor lighting, so there is less need to resort to the harsh built-in flash on compact cameras.

Hmm. Not sure about that claim; I think you'd have to buy a pretty expensive digital camera to get good results at low light levels, compared to say a cheap 35mm SLR or a LOMO.

Digital gives a more faithful reproduction? I know this article is more about snapshot photography, but Mr Duffy needs to be reminded what a 5x4 or 120mm colour transparency looks like.
posted by crayfish at 4:52 PM on January 20, 2004


I'm not implying anything, majik. All of those problems have causes irrespective of the recording medium. If you can tell if you've avoided them just by looking at a crappy 4-6 inch-square (at best) LCD display, then you know something I don't. Personally, to tell if I've really nailed the exposure or focus I want, I need to get that file into a decent display and check out the levels in an editing tool (if it's digital) or get busy with a decent 8x lupe or a scanner, if film. The LCDs on the backs of digital cameras are worthless for any critical assessment of an picture's technical quality.

Bad composition is bad composition, just as easy on an Eos 1ds as on a disposable. Yes, you can get some compositional feedback from the LCD, but, again, without a bigger view, tricky to know if you've really got the shot. And with so many good shots, they're good because there isn't a second chance.

Red-eye isn't solvable from shot to shot. It's an engineering problem. The only reliable way to cure it is to get the flash away from the lens (despite what all the twits marketing point-and-shoot cameras will tell you about 'red-eye-reduction') - it's a reflection - and the media has nothing to do with it.
posted by normy at 5:00 PM on January 20, 2004


I just received a Nikon Coolpix 3100 (the camera pictured in the article) as a gift-replacement for my old film camera, which finally gave out after two years of being held together with duct tape.

The immediate feedback does help with composing and experimentation, but I find I miss the surprise of finding forgotten pictures on old rolls. After college loans, my first luxury purchase for myself will be a good film camera--there's an aesthetic and physical of pleasure there. Digital cameras just don't have that romance.
posted by hippugeek at 5:36 PM on January 20, 2004


*sense of pleasure
posted by hippugeek at 5:37 PM on January 20, 2004


The only real way to improve photography skills is through practice, like most other things. Digital allows this.

I think there's a disconnect in saying that digital allows better pictures though. Digital simply allows you to forget about the bad shots much more easily and at a fraction of the cost.

Personally I'm a university student with a four year old dig camera. While the lack of resolution and manual features on my camera is a bit frustrating, it's still one of my favourite possessions. I've taken just under 3,000 pictures with it throughout school, something cost would have prohibited me from doing with a conventional camera.

One small note on the lcd screen... I don't understand how anyone can compose and take a picture using it. Through experience and necessity, I've been able to hand hold my camera fairly well for up to a 1/2 second exposure, but that's by bracing it against my face and hands. Maybe I'm just jittery but I can't get sharp focus at all even with a very fast shutter held out for the lcd.
posted by sinical at 5:54 PM on January 20, 2004


just by looking at a crappy 4-6 inch-square (at best) LCD display

My advice, normy: For one, get a camera with a better LCD. My Nikon has a quite servicable LCD that I've used to immediately identify thousands of bad pictures. For two, get a camera that allows zoom and pan with that LCD. For three, get a camera that has NTSC composite viewfinder out, so you can do a quick review of your work at the nearest TV -- it's not high quality by any means, but obvious composition, focus and exposure problems are very easily apparent days before that shot would come back from development.

Will any of that suffice for your Serious Mister Photographer work? No. But it'll easily sort potential wheat from chaff and provide "dude, you screwed up" feedback, and like you said up there, we're talking about amateur snappers who take bad pictures as a matter of course, not super bad-asses whose miniscule fuckups take a loupe to find, such as yourself.
posted by majick at 6:02 PM on January 20, 2004


This is an impossible topic to discuss without clarification on what type of photography. There is no single right answer.

In an ideal world I would own a number of cameras:

1. High-end digital SLR with lots of auto-features and access to high-end lenses, probably Nikon D100, although with the D2H out now, the D1H is coming on the used market for pretty cheap and it's better than the D100.

2. Point and Shoot digital travel camera. For street photography and travel, fits in a pocket. Many choices.

3. Film fully manual. This will be to learn with and also travel and P&S. Looking at the Rollie, Ricoh and Yashica T4. All have take outstanding pictures with outstanding lenses and are tough as nails.

This LEICA is an interesting mix of digital with pure manual control look and feel like a 1970s camera.
posted by stbalbach at 6:02 PM on January 20, 2004


n9: 28mm equivalent on a DRebel is tough due to the 1.6x crop factor. You can come close with a 20mm prime, or the "easy" solution is the kit lens that is optional with the DRebel. Beyond that you're looking at L lenses (ouch). The problem isn't the lens addiction, it's their concomitant exorbitant costs.

I love my 50/1.4 to death as well. :)
posted by DaShiv at 6:17 PM on January 20, 2004


My digital camera made me a better analog photographer.
posted by angry modem at 6:40 PM on January 20, 2004


i was going to moan about how no digi camera yet has suited me, but instead, I asssssked Mefi! Come see.
posted by bonaldi at 7:08 PM on January 20, 2004


The live histogram on some of the newer digital cameras is genuinely useful when setting exposure. It isn't impossible to add it to a film camera, but the resulting camera would have to be half digital anyway, with a decent image sensor and microprocessor in addition to the film.
posted by kindall at 8:34 PM on January 20, 2004


Digital cameras "improve" photography skills like a Gatling gun "improves" your aim. You're not a better photographer or marksman, you just have a greater chance of hitting your target.
posted by Poagao at 10:13 PM on January 20, 2004


MP3 sound of a Nikon DH2 firing off 40 shots in 5 seconds. Followed by a Canon EOS-1D doing 21 frames in ~3 seconds.
posted by stbalbach at 10:24 PM on January 20, 2004


Gee, was this written by an amateur or what? I just can't find anything to agree with.

I'm sorry, but "Exposure problems, poor focussing, bad composition, flash flare and "red eye" are the most common problems experienced by amateur snappers"

*Are* there any other photographic problems? Excepting things like one's tit hanging out of one's shirt at the moment of the picture being taken, what else *can* go wrong? "Exposure problems" in particular covers *quite* a range on its own. Bad writing more than anything else, I guess.

Film can react in odd ways, particularly in low light, making it hard to know how pictures will eventually turn out. Digital cameras often give a more faithful reproduction

Odd ways, huh? Didn't we just cover the basic software interpolation that underlies all digital photography with the Mars picture color adjustments thingie? I think it's more than widely held that whether or not digital snaps deliver more net bang for the family snapshot buck, they hardly offer a "faithful reproduction" of anything you see with the naked eye, be it color or contrast.

Also, on #4: People do *not* have an easier time composing shots on the rear LCD of a digital camera. If you don't believe me, just go to any local tourist attraction and stand around looking at people strain with their digital cameras at eye's length. For one thing, having to look at your subject (usually some distance off) and your camera (very close in your hands) at the same time challenges anyone's eyes to focus near/far/near/far while making the initial composition. This is taxing, especially to anyone with even a mild vision problem, and slows down picture taking.

#5: The power of software? HAH! I'm afraid that this article was written for us, folks, not the unwashed masses. My parents aren't better photographers since they got their digital, nor am I, actually, since I was already a good one.

This is not to mention all the button pushing that needs to be done on a digital. Most cheapshit point-and-shoot film cameras don't even need to be turned on. Hand a digital to a stranger and ask them to please take a picture of you next to the Golden Gate Bridge and they're likely to respond, "which button do I push?" because there are so many.

A good read and a fine link, but... mmmmno.
posted by scarabic at 10:27 PM on January 20, 2004


Please correct the error in the headline. Should be:
digital cameras = think they're better photographers.

Thanks, the world will appreciate it.
posted by HTuttle at 11:19 PM on January 20, 2004


:::throws his meagre beginner-status weight with the pro-digital crowd:::
posted by rushmc at 11:28 PM on January 20, 2004


You're not a better photographer or marksman, you just have a greater chance of hitting your target.

If you are able to get the photo you want more frequently using a digital camera, this is objectively the same thing as being a better photographer. That is, if an impartial observer saw only the photos before and after you changed cameras, they would not be able to tell whether your skills had improved or whether you had switched to a camera more suited to your style.

I think it's more than widely held that whether or not digital snaps deliver more net bang for the family snapshot buck, they hardly offer a "faithful reproduction" of anything you see with the naked eye, be it color or contrast.

Nor does film, of course. The author's point is that digital is more faithful than film, but I agree that this is a dubious proposition currently. Eventually it will be, I think, but the vocabulary of photography relies pretty heavily on the characteristic limitations of film. It'll be hard to do away with all the limitations, I think. Today's high-end digital cameras are considered successful only to the extent that they emulate film.

People do *not* have an easier time composing shots on the rear LCD of a digital camera.

Speak for yourself. Viewfinders suck. The only time I use the one on my camera is when it's too bright out to see the LCD, which is fairly rare, actually. It's a lot easier to move a camera around to frame a shot when you don't have to keep it plastered to the front of your face like an alien parasite. I have rarely found it awkward or a "strain" to compose a shot using an LCD. And why would switching back and forth between looking at a subject and looking at the LCD be slower than putting the camera up to your face and taking it away for each shot?

Please correct the error in the headline. Should be: digital cameras = think they're better photographers.

There's no doubt in my mind, or in the mind of anyone else who's seen my 35mm photographs, that I didn't start taking good pictures until I went digital. The implication of the headline is not that digital photographers are better than film photographers -- it's that digital photographers improve quickly.
posted by kindall at 12:16 AM on January 21, 2004


Digital cameras often give a more faithful reproduction and have a higher tolerance for poor lighting, so there is less need to resort to the harsh built-in flash on compact cameras.

This is just false. Negatives will give you the widest exposure latitude, followed by slides, then digital. If you've ever shot something metallic in the afternoon sun, you know all about the terrible dynamic dropoff at the high end (overexposed shots) that leaves you no data to extrapolate in Photoshop. It's damned easy to saturate the CCD's in consumer cameras, so you have to think about your exposure even more than with slides.

If 80% of my shots are deleteworthy -- and I'd like to think I'm actually shooting a little bit better than that -- that's still 2,000 worthwhile pictures.

This really depends on what you're using your photos for. If by "worthwhile" you mean "can show to mom", then your percentages may be fine. But most photogs I know that use film are only keeping 1/50 of their shots; with digital you can increase this an order of magnitude, primarily because it's just too damned easy to shoot "machine gun-style" at 8 fps. and not worry about how much it's costing you.

The instant feedback of digital (even near-instant if you wait to import it to your computer) has the obvious advantage of increasing your learning curve. But it goes both ways. You could just as easily decide, "to hell with learning, I'll just snap a few gigs of photos and odds are I'll have a few good shots in the mix."

Even cost goes both ways. You certainly save money on film processing with digital, but a film camera doesn't get improved resolution models coming out every 18 months. With digital there's still room for noticeable improvement, primarily in the realm of dynamic range, which means that every time there's a major advancement in technology, my camera's value drops another couple hundred dollars, and I have another $2000 investment to make just to stay ahead of the rabble.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:20 AM on January 21, 2004


Proof that digital can lead to better photography:

Destin 2001 Swimsuit Photoshoot
Puerto Rico 2002 Swimsuit Photoshoot
California 2003 Swimsuit Photoshoot
Hawaii 2004 Swimsuit Photoshoot

Each year I got better. Without digital I never would have had the patience or the money to do this kind of work with traditional film. It is so frustrating when you first begin photography that the first inclination is to just give up, but with no additional costs I could just keep shooting and shooting until I finally got some decent results.

This is my favorite swimsuit photo ever and I know it never would have happened if I didn't shoot digitally.

P.S. It is so much fun to not worry about film costs, I can get an action shot like this to come out like this without paying mucho $$$
P.S.S. If you're looking for a good book on swimsuit photography,
Successful Glamour Photography is the best one I've found (disclaimer: I am an Amazon affiliate.) It's not totally about swimsuit, but it does have great tips for all types of glamour and even with its limtied swimsuit coverage it still beats the other books I've read.

posted by jdhodges at 12:32 AM on January 21, 2004


jhodges, you have a rough job...allow me to offer my sympathy.
posted by rushmc at 8:42 AM on January 21, 2004


every time there's a major advancement in technology, my camera's value drops another couple hundred dollars, and I have another $2000 investment to make just to stay ahead of the rabble.

This is true to an extent but since most of the money is spent on the lenses and since they are all compatible the body should not be the major cost factor and you can always resell it on the used market at %50 or better when the new models come out. It just is not that big a factor IMO percentage wise of total costs.
posted by stbalbach at 10:11 AM on January 21, 2004


Digital cameras "improve" photography skills like a Gatling gun "improves" your aim.

That's brilliant. Although a machine gun vs a rifle might be a better comparison.

Progress is generally resisted by those with an investment in the past.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:13 PM on January 21, 2004


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