Secrets of Digital Photography



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Every once in a while, I come across what I characterize in my mental filing system as "The 'Tude." It's that die-hard attitude that this whole digital photography thing is some step child of Real Photography.

And while you're at it, we folks over here who know what Real Photography is all about will be doing the Real Thing while you digital people continue to mess about with that junk medium you are playing with.

Corrolaries to the 'Tude include, "If it isn't the size and shape of a 35mm SLR, it can't possibly be a real camera," and the patronizingly dismissive, "...%$#@! toy..."

Various degrees of this notion are offered by long-time professional photographers, art directors, folks with closets full of Hasselblad gear, view camera shooters, studio photographers and even some camera salesmen.

(BTW: Camera saleswomen are generally more in tune with the practical realities [outlined below] so they don't seem to carry the 'Tude the way certain guys do...)


There are some drawbacks to digital photography, but there are drawbacks to film photography as well. Instead of listing drawbacks, one might do well to making a comparison of positive aspects of each medium just to set the table with a clean slate: (mixed petite-metaphors are for desert)

The ten best things about Film / Digital

Made out of real Atoms, a physical record of the action of light from the real world.

Made out of Data, a direct data scan of the real world.
Cannot be altered without leaving forensic evidence of physical manipulation.

Instantaneous gathering of images that can be reviewed / understood at the point of being taken.
Long scale dynamic response into highlight and shadow areas.

Exists inside computers where editing can achieve custom image quality.
Original can be enlarged c. 10x with good detail.

Original can be enlarged c.40x with good detail.
Processing available in large number of places.

Post-exposure processing done inside the camera before storage.
Media needs no special mechanism for review of negatives, transparencies.

Data weighs nothing, can be transmitted directly.
Can be converted to data for manipulation.

Can be converted to hard copy.
Physical size causes lens / f-stop combinations to isolate depth of field well.

Scale of lenses / f-stops creates deeper depth of field in most formats.
Inexpensive media available in nearly all parts of the world.

Medium is recycled. Price of media goes down with every shot.
c. 170 years of evolution.

c. 170 years of evolution, some of it during previous life as "film".

These are the sorts of things that people buy. Capabilities.

When the results of each process (prints, published images, Internet images, etc.) are presented to people's eyes, the technology that preceeded each is invisible.

Many film photographers are shooting with that chemical medium, digitizing the images, then printing out the results on high-quality digital printers.

The line between digital and film is becoming blurred. If you shoot a color negative that is subsequently scanned, does it become "negital?" (Pronounced Nedge-it-al.)

One of the greatest features of digital imaging concerns cost.

Let's go on vacation...

Shoot two thousand images (a nice two-week vacation's worth, say, at 150 per day, or about one every four minutes during the day).

35mm film will cost you somewhere in the range of $800 to purchase, develop and print. The 55 rolls of film will take up a heck of a lot of luggage space and customs officials will look at you like you are in the import business.

In truth, nobody shoots that many images in a typical two-weeks. Ten rolls is looked at as being fairly extravagant. Many folks lug a 35mm SLR all over the Mediterranean and consider the six rolls of film they shot to be fine, thanks.

A digital photographer might well shoot that two thousand shots, because the space the images would take would be small, the cost would be nil and the camera would be just as handy as it was for the film photographer.

With film, you don't get to review the day on the hotel TV with nudges and winks as the act of endless walking catches up with you.

So what's it going to be?

Direct scans of the real world by direct metric interpretation of the colors and intensities at hand?

Or high-tech chemical interpretations of light and shadow?

Processing after you get home, or mistake intercepting image review before you leave the Coloseum?

I mean, maybe there's a chance for a new 'Tude to arise.

Get the eBooks.

We have a secure order page that will allow previous eBook owners to upgrade for low cost, too. Click on the eBook that represents your camera for the appropriate order & info page.

Or you can call direct and order from the publisher by phone or FAX.
Phone:(310) 475 2988 (M-F 9-5 Pacific Time)  
FAX (310) 475 9486 (24hrs).

© 2002 Peter iNova. All rights reserved. Do not reprint. Simply add a link to this page.
Reprinting except for newsworthy mention and brief quotes are by permission only.