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Analog vs. Digital Photography – the eternal debate

I fail to understand the entire hype of digital photography replacing analog photography. It is usually perceived as two completely different phenomena, when they are not. Just like most things in this world, photography has evolved into a digital form. Take for instance, music; the days where cassettes get stuck in music systems are long gone. There are different issues now, like cracks that develop CDs. Like different lenses have different uses, analog and digital photography have their respective places. Both have their pros and cons, right from various technical aspects, to the individual photographer.

Analog Photography:
The term analog refers to simple or SLR cameras, which uses film as the printing medium for photographs. They are then produced in analog, using a chemical process.

Film cameras have the advantage of being relatively inexpensive as compared digital cameras of the same quality, but on the other hand, buying film and developing rolls can get expensive. Analog cameras have 35 mm film; hence light covering a bigger area than in digital cameras.

The main disadvantage of an analog camera is for beginners; they would need to note down the camera settings, before actually taking pictures. Different effects on pictures, which result from developing, also need to be tracked.

The most important advantage of an analog camera, the reason why most photographers choose it, is the picture quality. The picture quality that can be achieved with a film camera is very high and the images turn out extremely sharp. The reason behind this is the chemical reaction which takes place when light from the shutter falls on the film, and as a result an exact, crisp and inverted i.e. negative representation of the object is obtained. This is not possible with a digital camera.

Digital Photography:
Digital photography is no different from film/analog photography, as matter of fact the technique and style used is the same, except for one aspect. The distinction between digital and analog photography is that traditional film is replaced by a charged coupled device (CCD), which contains tiny grids containing millions of photosensitive elements.

When a picture is clicked, a ray of light falls on the photosensitive elements, which then registers a specific intensity of light, as an electrical charge. The electrical charges are then passed onto an analog-to-digital converter that transforms them into digital data. To determine the actual color value of any one pixel, the camera’s software makes a calculated guess based on the values registered by three neighboring photosensitive elements. This is the reason which accounts for the reduction the image’s level of detail, and eventually translates into the quality of image.

Where digital cameras are concerned, there’s no clumsy installation process, no fear of film exposure and no worry about wasted frames. Digital cameras store the images they capture on rewritable storage cards. You can review your pictures immediately and at your convenience. You could keep an image if you liked it you or else just delete it. Digital cameras also help maintain the whole history of the picture, by which I mean the specifications of each and every picture taken are on the tips of your fingers.

Beginners would be well advised to start with the digital photography, and improve upon the mistakes in the shots. The continuous cycle of improvement is intrinsic to photography; an art which develops with practice and imagination. Additionally, analog is inconvenient if the knowledge is limited, also winds up being expensive.

There are additional functions in digital cameras, like anti-shake functionality which facilitates taking sharper imagers without a tripod. It is possible to change the ISO speed settings easily in the middle of shooting, and there is no need to worry about weather changes. On other hand, analog photography entails having new film where the desired ISO speed has to be loaded. It is possible cast a picture directly in different formats, like black and white, or sepia with photo editing software. High quality scanners are not required, it is possible to just plug in a camera.

Passing the torch:
The growth of digital photography has evolved significantly in the past few years and the enhancements in the resolution makes digital cameras competitors in quality as well as convenience. And as the prices continue to fall, it is inevitable that digital will supplant analog photography, both at home as well as work. Also, with the rise in Digital SLR and the high price of developing films, many people are shifting to digital cameras. An analog camera has a certain charm, and is a completely different experience altogether.

Which camera do you prefer an analog camera or a digital camera?