Three Reasons To Go Digital
Three reasons to switch
Making the switch to using Digital Photography can be a daunting task, but one that is very worthwhile in today’s photography world. One of the reasons I recommend making the switch is that digital photography is not much more expensive (and sometimes can be cheaper) to get started in than film, and will be cheaper in the long run. Also, using a digital camera gives you great freedom to view the pictures you have taken immediately so that corrections can be made to exposure, composition, and lighting. Finally, it provides a nice workable solution for storage of many pictures, as well as an easy way to produce fine prints made for little money, and all it takes is something most of us have anyway, a computer.
The price can be quite reasonable compared to film
Taking the plunge into digital photography can be daunting, especially for those who don’t have any photography experience at all. Jumping into digital instead of film for the new photography enthusiast makes sense. Film has its own share of hurdles to jump over when starting out and the trend of photography on the whole is progressing through the digital medium. You will find film quickly taking a back seat to digital with all but the most die hard of film enthusiasts.
Starting into digital photography can come with a hefty price tag, but if you consider the uses for the equipment you must purchase and decide exactly how you want to use it, the price tag can be slashed reasonably low. If you are a new photographer, you may want to start with a smaller (and cheaper) point-and-shoot camera, which will be all you need for taking everyday pictures such as documenting a family get together or your daughters high school graduation. These cameras can also be used for capturing artistic shots comparable to those of professional shutterbugs. Most pros would tell you that the quality of the shot has more to do with the shooter than the equipment used.
However, if you are familiar with photography and would like to experiment with the different effects and compositions you can capture with a SLR-like camera, there is no need to spend the money that a professional photographer would put down on a high-end pro DSLR. There are multiple different cheaper ways to get a camera set up just the way you like it, from interchangeable lens cameras (ILC) to a “pro-sumer” model. The “pro-sumer” is an entry level camera that has most of the bells and whistles of pro quality gear, without the hefty price tag. I came across a handy buying guide on CNet that can go into details about the different uses each camera type has as well as a common price range for them and some example models of each.
Storage media for digital cameras is also bought quite cheaply these days, so there is no need to worry that you will be forking over a lot of dough just so you can spend an entire day shooting without pausing to transfer pictures to a computer.
If you happen to be a SLR film fanatic, and are hesitant about making the switch into the digital field, have no fear. The cost effectiveness of digital is quite high. In order to switch to film you should only have to pay out the initial purchase price of a DSLR body compatible with most if not all of the lenses you already own, which cuts down on the cost of your crossover. You can also look forward to no more film buying, which can be pretty expensive now ($2-5 per roll), instead making a one time purchase for several gigabytes worth of storage on your camera. I won’t get into the intricacies of the differing costs of developing pictures via film vs digital, but suffice to say that there are a few options that are easier and cheaper if you go the digital route. If you have a little more money to spend on a good quality photo printer and paper, you can print digital pictures right at home. Or choose to spend a small amount of money each time you to upload pictures to any number of websites who can have the prints sent right to your home for pennies on the dollar. This is preferred over film, which can cost a little more to develop and print the pictures.
One thing to consider if making the switch from a film SLR to a Digital SLR is the sensor size of the camera. Depending on whether you end up spending the extra cash and purchasing a full frame DSLR, or a cheaper “pro-sumer” type of DSLR, the sensor size will have a bearing on how your current lenses work with your new DSLR body. If you bought a full frame camera the lenses you already own would be no different than on your film SLR, and you could get right back to shooting. However, if you decided to go the cheaper route and bought a DSLR that wasn’t full frame, it would come with a smaller cropped sensor. This means that the sensor inside the camera body, which captures the picture, is smaller than the circle of light that the lens lets in. This serves to in effect multiply the focal length of your lens by a factor depending on the size of the sensor. If you would like to learn more about how a cropped sensor can effect the focal length of a lens, there is a great article explaining it that I found on Of Zen and Computing.
Jumping into the digital realm as a new photographer or a seasoned veteran of the lens and shutter, going digital can, if you choose to make it so, be better for your pocket book than film, especially when you look at the long term.
Improve your shots on the fly
One of the great benefits of digital photography is the ability to know how your shots look before the development stage. Digital cameras allow for on the fly adjustments to things like exposure, white balance, depth of field, and composition. They can also do neat things like auto exposure bracketing (AEB) if you are interested in delving into high dynamic range (HDR) photography.
Being able to adjust these things while you’re out in the field shooting is beneficial in that it can help improve your overall technique, as well as help you to not miss the opportunity to capture once in a lifetime shots. A few quick corrections after seeing your last shot in the viewscreen can mean the difference between a whale mid jump hanging on your wall or a watery mosaic reminiscent of a bad impressionist painting that you would most likely chuck in the trash.
I have read many guides over the years for helping improve your digital technique, as well as ones for improving your photography in general, but the one thing I’ve found is that nothing beats practice. Get outside and shoot with your camera. Get to know it. If you have a DSLR, then learn your lenses and their many uses as well. Along with the fact that practice helps you improve leaps and bounds comes the digital medium. Being able to change those settings on your camera in order to change your shot in the moment has proven invaluable to me as a hobbyist shutterbug.
The problem with practice is if you are doing so without all of the tools at your disposal. There are many settings on modern digital cameras, and knowing what they do and how they affect your shot are crucial in becoming a better photographer. Here is a good quick guide to some common settings and general knowledge about capturing images with your digital camera from the folks over at Digital Photography School. A lot of it is very basic but essential information for a budding photographer, and some things that even experienced shooters may not know.
An easier solution for keeping your memories
In an out of the way corner of my dining room I have a sizable box filled with envelopes of developed pictures of my childhood and family functions throughout the years. My bookcases are likewise inundated with albums containing similar photos perching on their shelves. Don’t get me wrong, I like having all of those memories and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
My point is that film has the added headache of finding a place to put all the developed film. This is no longer needed with digital media, since you are able to store and save photos with or without printing them as long as you have the storage space on your computer or external hard drive. There are also several online backup solutions for photos and other media, though I personally wouldn’t use these, being that I like to be the only one with access to my cherished moments.
It helps too when you have some good cataloging software too so that you can keep your pictures organized and firmly in hand how you would like them. When you end up with eleven or twenty thousand pictures, a good bit of organization can be very welcome indeed.
Another thing that comes in handy is a good digital darkroom suite. Some software that allows for the editing and post-processing of your digital images into the works of art or the archivable moments captured that you envision.
If you take some time, you might be able to find a combination program that will both organize and catalog your portfolio, as well as be able to edit the pictures you need to. Here is a fairly basic list for some digital darkroom software that also links to reviews of that software. My favorite, Adobe Lightroom, is at the top of the list, but if you are looking for some free simple photo editing software, another simple guide with reviews can be found here.
I already mentioned that digital prints are easy to accomplish by simply uploading some of your photos to an online photo printer (even stores such as Target and Wal-Mart do it cheaply), but having a digital darkroom makes it far easier to accomplish this by keeping all of your photos easily uploadable.
If you are thinking about getting into photography, or deciding whether digital is the way to go, remember to consider three things when coming to your decision. The cost, which is very reasonable if handled correctly. Then there are the benefits, which have a chance to improve your photography without wasting shooting time. And also consider the ease with which digital allows for cataloging and organizing your captured works of art and precious moments.
Make the Switch
Have you gone digital?
More Tips and Tricks
- The right way to set up your camera | Digital Camera World
Before you even think about shooting your first image, read our guide to the best camera settings to use for the different types of pictures you plan to take.
- 44 essential digital camera tips and tricks | Digital Camera World
A collection of top digital camera tips and photography help. Learn the secrets to setting up your digital camera for high-quality pictures every time.
- Top Digital Photo Software for Family Photos
Digital photo software is designed for people who want to organize and share personal and family photos, but don't want to spend a lot of time editing them. Here is a roundup of the best digital photo software for viewing, browsing, organizing, catal