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Film vs. Digital Photography

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In this essay I am going to explore how film and digital photography differ from each other and whether or not if one of them is better than the other.

History of Photography
Modern photography was invented by two Frenchman, Joseph Niepce and Louis Daguerre. It was in 1827 that Niepce took, what we know of, the first photography. (The film had to be exposed to the scene for seven hours, whereas today we can do the same as the click of a button.) Niepce’s partner, Louis Daguerre made further improvements to the technology of taking photographs and since 1839 photography became available to everyone who wanted to try it. Photography literally means ‘drawing with light’. ‘Photo’ means ‘light’. ‘graphy’ stands for ‘graphic’ which means drawing. The word was first used by the scientist, Sir John Herschel in 1839.

Film Photography
Film photography has two important components; one is the camera and the other is the film. In 1889, George Eastman invented film with a base that was flexible, unbreakable and could be rolled. In the early 1940s, commercially viable colour films were brought to the market. These films used the modern technology of dye-coupled colours in which a chemical process connects the three dye layers together to create an apparent colour image.

Film Process
The film is taken out of its container on complete darkness. As the film has a layer of light sensitive chemical on it, the chemical is given a wash with certain other chemicals. This helps in bringing out the picture on the film because the effects of all the chemicals are washed away and the image on the film is fixed and made visible to the eye. Now the image on the film is in the form of a negative, meaning the dark areas appear light and the light areas appear dark. Light is then shown through the negative film on to a photographic paper that is sensitive to light. This paper is also given a chemical wash, creating the final picture.

Nowadays a new technology has arrived in photography and it’s called digital photography. In the 1980s and 1990s, numerous manufactures worked on cameras that stored images electronically. The first of these were point and shoot cameras that used digital media instead of film. By 1991, Kodak had produced the first digital camera advanced enough to be used successfully by professionals. There are two important factors that make digital photography very useful. One is that the picture taken can be seen on a screen behind the camera immediately and the second reason is that digital photography does not require any film. Therefore there is no need to go to the lab and wait to get the film processed. A digital camera records the image taken on a memory chip or card that is inside it. Once the chip or card is full with photographs they can be copied onto a computer to reuse they camera. The ability of the camera to link itself to a computer makes it easy to print the images and to send them to any part of the world through the Internet. Not only this, the computer allows the photographs that have been taken to be improved and cleaned with the help of a number of software programmes.

The main difference between digital and film cameras is the storage option. In film cameras, captured photographs are stored on the film itself whereas photos are stored on a memory card in digital cameras. Digital cameras have an image sensor, this sensor helps take and store photographs. This sensor is absent in film cameras, if the film is exposed once it cannot be used again. Film has to be developed using different kinds of chemicals, while we can see images instantly on a digital camera. A darkroom is required to develop images captured with film cameras and the process is complicated. With digital we can easily print images from a computer. Digital cameras require more power than film cameras, but generally rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries are used in both types of cameras. Film cameras have a quicker response time when getting the image into focus compared to digital cameras.

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