What is digital photography?

According to Wikipedia, digital photography is a form of photography that uses cameras containing arrays of electronic photodetectors to capture images focused by a lens, as opposed to an exposure on photographic film.  The captured images are digitized and stored as a computer fil read for further digital processing, viewing digital publishing or printing.”

So digital photography is merely the digital process by which an image is captured.  But the elements of photography and achieving an exposure are the same.  A digital camera still relies on shutter speed, aperture, and ISO to create an exposure, the same as in film photography.

The advantages of digital photography

Wander through the camera aisle of any big box store and the shelves will be loaded digital cameras and memory cards.  If you’re looking for a film camera or film, you’ll probably have to scour many a thrift stores or attics or go online.  Digital photography is simply the norm today, and for a good reason…

  • The images can be viewed immediately. You can see the image on the back of the camera or download it immediately to view on a screen.
  • Digital cameras offer you more control over your exposure. Not only can you change shutter speed and aperture, now a digital camera lets you instantly control ISO, white balance and more.
  • A memory card, depending on size, can hold thousands of images and is reusable. There’s no need to purchase film.
  • Images can be processed on a computer instead of developing your film or sending it off for outside processing and waiting weeks to see the results of your session.
  • Because you can view your images before printing, you’re only printing and saving the images you love.
  • It’s fun

Digital photography is all about instant gratification.  See the scene, click the shutter, see your image.  We can argue about the dangers of this mentality in another post.  But the reality is, digital photography has made it easier than ever to learn photography and improve your skills.

Disadvantages of Digital Photography

  • The overall costs can be higher. High-end digital cameras can be incredibly expensive.  If you want to edit your images, you’ll also need a computer.  Then add in the cost of memory cards, batteries and printing images.  Your initial investment can be spendy!
  • Digital photo editing can be time-consuming and a difficult skill to master.
  • Technology changes rapidly and the best digital technology today may become obsolete next year.
  • Digital images often go unprinted. They stay on a memory card or computer and are never printed.  If your computer crashes or the technology becomes outdated, your images may be lost.
  • The joy of developing your film is a lost art.

That last bullet point is for anyone who ever took a film photography class and fell in love with the process of developing negatives and making prints.  I spent hours in the darkroom in college.  I worked with fixer and stopper so much that my hands would dry out and itch for days.  But that dark hole in the basement of Knight Hall was my sanctuary.  I went to the darkroom not just to develop film but to get perspective on love and life and everything in between.  Many old-school film photographers feel the same way – digital photography just can’t compare.

Author: jaanny

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