Film Versus Digital Photography: Consider Cost and LongevityClick on any site devoted to photography and you will find a question that will be answered, or attempted to be answered, by everyone. That question is, "Which is better: Film or digital photography?"
The debate over this almost always starts with cost and how digital is cheaper. Is this true though? Factor in the costs of a darkroom compared with the costs of a computer and the digital darkrooms, such as Photoshop, Corel Photo and the multitude of other programs, it most likely balances out.
Camera costs are next. Digital cameras are going down in price and becoming more widespread. The same is happening with film cameras but film has the additional cost of film but digital has the one time cost of memory so digital does win out. However durability and upgrading is an issue.
A film camera can last generations but digital cameras come and go with the newest model and technology. As said, there is the cost of film but it does balance out in time with camera replacements and upgrading.
The next question is quality. Digital photography is making advancements in the quality of prints but there is still the question of how long the prints will last. In a hundred years will there be a record of digital prints like there is still a record of the pioneers of photography today, we do not know for sure but there is speculation. There was the same speculation back when the medium of photography started but the negatives are still there, with changing technology we do not know if memory cards will be.
All of these points about "which is better" are mute. This is because of one factor that is overlooked in all debates about film and digital that is quality and beyond the quality of the print, camera, and so on.
Put a camera in the hands of a monkey on the streets of New York or France and they will get lucky every once in a while. It does not matter if the camera is film or digital, however a digital camera on full auto settings will help. Then again the same could be said for film.
Any art form, whether it is photography, painting, or whatever, is about emotion, skill, and one last aspect that is so simple it is infantile. For art to become art all that has to happen is for someone to come along and call it art.
Sitting in storage at the Tate in London are tin cans with crap in a can. The reason thousands of dollars was spent on crap in a can was that a critic or someone called it art. Whether or not it is art is debatable but at the end of the day it is still just crap in a can.
A painting professor I know once said, "Art is art and junk is junk. You can take junk and turn it into art but you cannot take art and turn it into junk. What art is is art and what junk is is junk. Art is art and junk is junk and that is all there is to it."
Photographers can debate about whether film or digital is better. It is the quality of their work that matters. What also matters is how people feel about the work or the emotion that the work brings.