Professional Digital Photography: How Techniques Differ from Film

As technology and innovation advances, professional digital photography has largely replaced film photography. Until recently, one might argue that film was better than digital in terms of quality. However, digital cameras now have image sensors that can capture very high resolution images that rival the sharpness of film. Although the two mediums have very similar techniques because digital evolved from film, there are some key differences.


Probably the biggest difference between digital and film are the costs. Every time you shoot on film, you need to purchase it. Film can only be used once, and the more you shoot, the more you need to buy. But that's not the end of it. You also need to pay for darkroom materials or the development costs that go from turn your exposed film into hard photographs.

Digital photography is much different. All you need to do is buy or rent memory cards and have a hard drive to store the files on. While film can only hold a few dozen photos on a roll, a memory card can hold hundreds of photos. Once the memory card is full, you simply transfer the photos onto a computer hard drive that can hold hundreds of thousands of photos. After that, you just format the memory card and use it again. Lower costs has made photography more accessible. And this also allows you to shoot more than you would with film. 


For the most part, digital photography does not require as much light for proper exposure as film does. This allows photographers to do more with less which, in addition to saving time and money, allows them to focus more attention on other creative elements in their work.

ISO vs. Film Speed

When you shoot on a roll of film, you are restricted to that film's speed. Film speed refers to the amount of light required to expose an image on it. In digital cameras, the photographic medium is an image sensor, and you can instantly change its sensitivity to light on the camera via the ISO setting. This allows you to quickly adapt to changing light conditions. If you were shooting on film and found yourself in a dark situation, you were out of luck. In the digital age, however, all you have to do is raise the ISO.


When you shoot on film, you have no chance to review your work until after you developed the film. This could take a lot of time. But when you shoot on digital, you can instantly view your shot on the viewfinder. And if that's too small, then it just takes a couple of minutes to transfer the file onto a computer.