The virtues of digital photography


in Geek stuff, Internet matters, Photography

While there are certainly benefits to film, there are also many excellent reasons for which people are switching to digital. The sensors in even the low-end digital SLRs have rather good low-light performance. They are less grainy at 1600 ISO than the sensors in point and shoot cameras are at 400 or even 200 ISO. The dSLR systems also include features like depth of field preview, mirror lock-up, and bracketing for both exposure and white balance. Also very useful are dedicated controls for things like white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation. Sure, you can set all those things through menus in most good point and shoot cameras. It is a lot more pleasant to be able to do so on the fly, while still looking through the viewfinder.

As a fan of wide angle lenses, I do find the 1.6X multiplication from small sensors annoying. That being said, dSLRs these days do come with decent kit lenses that include an appropriately altered range. And, of course, there is always the enormous value of being able to take unlimited photos without marginal cost and get immediate feedback on the results of what you are doing. Being able to consult luminosity and RGB histograms half a second after taking the photo certainly beats having to wait for processing and printing.

In short, there are many virtues to digital photography: especially to those of us who are uncertain about there we will be living in the next few years. Just like one’s personal library, shipping around binders of archive-quality negatives is an expense and a pain. Ones and zeros can be zipped around the world at a much lower price, and with less risk to the originals.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom November 17, 2008 at 10:21 am

One advantage of digital that I am surprised you didn’t mention is easy integration with websites, email, etc.

Being able to send vacation photos to friends by email or blog, while still actually away on vacation, is a nice aspect of digital cameras.

Litty November 17, 2008 at 10:54 am

Another benefit of digital cameras is that you can do all your photography without any strangers seeing it, unless you want them to.

It beats having sensitive photos snickered over by teenagers working in the Wall-Mart photo lab.

. November 17, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Film versus Digital debate!
Nov 05, 2008; 03:20 a.m.

Anonymous November 17, 2008 at 6:32 pm

Three sets of virtues are muddled together here: the benefits of using an SLR body (digital or film), the benefits of using a digital sensor, and the added benefits of using both a digital sensor and an SLR body together.

Type I: Easy access to controls

Type II: Easy storage and transmission of ‘negatives.’

Type III: White balance bracketing

Milan January 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm

You know what’s a sign of how excellent digital cameras are getting? It is possible to read text of extremely small sizes in the photos that come from current digital cameras. Take a photo on a subway car and there is a good chance a person’s newspaper will be fully legible in the image file. I don’t think film was that good – at least not any film I used.

Milan January 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm

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