Film vs. Digital Photography

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In this section, we'll summarize the basic aspects of photography and how they are accomplished in the film world as well as the digital world, highlighting where they are the same and where they are similar. Each of the aspects will be discussed in greater detail in future features.

Aspect: Subject
The approach to the photographic subject is essentially the same for both digital and film photography. The photographer will approach the subject the same, will compose the subject the same and the lighting is essentially the same.

Aspect: Input
The input is essentially the same for both, although the image is captured with a different piece of hardware -- a film based camera vs. a digitial camera. Either way, the photographer makes decisions based on the lens and the exposure of the image as well as the focus of the image.

Aspect: Latent Image

Here is where digital and film photography begin to diverge. In film photography, the latent image is exposed onto film and in digital photography the image is captured by a sensor and is captured onto some form of digital storage.

Aspect: Process

In film-based photography the negative is processed in various liquid chemicals. Whether you are using a home darkroom or if you are using a machine in your local drug store, the negatives are processed in similar ways. In digital photography, the images are transfered onto a computer for further processing.

Aspect: Preliminary Output
The preliminary image is available [in film photography] on the exposed and processed negative. In digital photography, the image is available to you [after transfer] on your computers monitor.

Aspect: Pre-Print
The process here is essentially the same but the techniques have to be different based on the materials that are being used. In both film and digital processing, this phase is where you do color and image correction as well as image manipulation.

Aspect: Final Processing

Very different processes here. In film processing, another liquid chemical process is needed to take the image and put it onto exposed paper. With a digital image, you use ink or die printing to transfer the image to paper, but you also have the ability to upload to a web server or burn onto a CD/DVD.

Aspect: Final Output
Again, very different outcomes, in film-based photography, you have a final printed image [that can also be used as a source for digital imaging]. In digital photography, you can have the final printed image, you can have an edited and resized image file ready to be emailed or a viewed on a web page.

In the next few months, every one of these aspects will be looked at in greater detail.

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