Multimedia Workshop 



Oct 26, 2000

Ask The Guru


Time to toss your film camera?

Q: Why should someone toss out their regular camera in favor of digital?


A: Well, I wouldn't toss out your film camera just yet; particularly if it's a good one. But if you have a Nikon F100 you don't want I'd be happy to takeit off your hands...

There are lots of reasons for getting a digital camera. Obviously, if you need stuff to use on the computer (for newsletters, multimedia or web use) then a digital camera is a lot faster and more convenient than using a film camera and then a scanner of some kind to get the images onto the computer.

But there are other less tangible advantages too. One of the biggest things that surprised me about actually using a digital camera regularly is that with those cameras with an LCD screen to review the image you immediately know whether you got a good picture. So if you didn't, you can take it again, and again. Until you get something that's useable. Also, since pictures don't cost anything (except disc space) you can take a lot more pictures without worrying about the cost.

And if you have a color printer, you only print out the pictures you want, rather than getting the whole roll developed and printed.

I find that I email a lot of pictures to family and friends; much more than I used to do with prints, which I always had to get two of or get reprints made so that I could keep one and send it to someone else.

Finally, I also like having the pictures on the computer. It's a lot easier to find a picture when I file them by date (which is all I ever do) than going through the shoe boxes full of pictures and negatives.

That said, a film camera still may make sense in some circumstances. A good SLR will produce excellent digital images if you get the negatives scanned using Kodak's PhotoCD format. You'd need to spend several thousand dollars to get as high a resolution picture from a digital camera. Kodaks lower cost Picture CD also does a nice job. The disadvantage is that these systems cost from about 50 cents to up to $3 per picture.

Another big advantage is that you can get faster film (digital cameras at the moment are really only effective up to about 400 ASA) and film cameras have very little recycle time (time between shots.) And you can get a much wider range of lenses for film cameras (though several of the high priced digital camera ($4,000+) do accept regular lenses.)

Since I bought the Nikon 950 I have found that I have practically stopped using my film cameras (SLR and small 35mm snapshot camera.)

The 950 was an important step forward however. Prior to that, I had used other digital cameras with lower resolutions and less features and always found them wanting. But I think digital cameras now pose a very real threat to the film camera.


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