Convenience and printing costs are the main reasons for the switch to digital cameras, or digital SLR cameras. Convenience comes from the display that allows a photograph to be viewed immediately after it has been taken, and therefore deleted if it is faulty. Likewise, when the user requires prints, only the desired prints need be printed – unlike film, where you receive all the images you have taken, good and bad.
The other convenience factor that allows digital to trump print is storage. All digital images, indeed thousands, can be stored on a personal computer or memory stick, thus saving the time of sticking into an album and space storing those albums. This has also has greater benefits in terms of usage, e.g. the image can be loaded straight to web without having to be scanned in.
Digital images can also be manipulated after the event in Photoshop, in order to alter contrast, colour balance, sharpness, to remove background clutter, red eye, or indeed to add things that weren't in the original shot.
Digital photography allows the collection of a large quantity of archival documents in a short period of time, which has benefits for researchers such as convenience, lower cost and increased flexibility in using the documents.
In the realm of large format photography, film has, however, some advantages over digital SLR cameras. These are primarily price and flexibility. Large digital rotating line cameras provide similarly high performance, but scan mechanically rather than use a single sensor, making them expensive and not very portable.
Good, professional standard digital cameras are still more expensive than film cameras, but taking photographs with them is essentially free – all you need is enough memory cards. The only other costs you will incur with digital are batteries, paper, ink cartridges and storage.
One perennial issue for photographers is dust on the image plane. Digital SLR cameras can suffer from dust issues because the sensor stays in place. Conversely with a film camera, the film moves through the camera with each exposure. However just one grain of sand can scratch and ruin an entire roll of film. Similarly, as film cameras age, burs can occur in their rollers. With DSLRs, it is nigh on impossible to avoid dust but image-editing software can deal with the issue after the event. Some DSLRs have a device where a vibration or knock is created to remove the dust; sometimes this is used in conjunction with software that remembers where dust is located and the affected pixels from images.
The good news for film camera aficionados is that with everybody switching to digital, film cameras and lenses are now flooding the market at reduced prices which allows hobbyists or semi-professionals to own high quality film SLR cameras at a fraction of their original cost.
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