Digital or Film? Dominic Lee, AMPA, Priory Studios

I attended a photographers’ conference in America some years ago and I learnt that when digital chips reached 8 million pixels (8 mega pixel) that it would be impossible to tell the difference between a photo from digital and a photo from film. At that time 1.3 mega pixels cameras had just been launched. The manufacturers had created chips up to 20 mega pixels but anything over 3 million pixels was just too expensive to produce commercially.

Now the average professional digital photographer is shooting on cameras with up to 18 mega pixels, way over the quality required to distinguish the difference from film.

The professional digital cameras have some distinct differences from amateur cameras so don’t make the mistake of comparing them.

(1) A good professional zoom lens will set you back between â‚ ¬1500 and â‚ ¬3000.

(2) Professional cameras allow the photographer to shoot “Raw” files.

Amateur cameras shoot “JPEG” files which actually dumps huge quantities of information that it considers is not required. But there is no compression of the image in raw file mode.

To clarify this, here is an example from my own 12 mega pixel camera. If I insert a 1 giga bite memory card and set the camera to “Raw capture” I get 40 photos. However, if I set the camera to “JPEG capture” then I get over 400 photos on the same card. That should give you some indication of the quality difference.

The first 35mm style digital cameras which came on stream were dreadful, when you pressed the shutter there was a delay before it took the photo and the in-camera image processing was also inferior. Today’s models are as fast as film cameras, they allow you to shoot with any light source without having to change film type or film speed which is perfect for weddings. The image processing now has little or no noise so even with a new 6 mega pixel camera it would be impossible to tell the difference once the end result has been printed professionally.

I think digital cameras were invented for weddings and my clients love to get their proofs on DVD. But negatives can be scanned for this purpose or to allow for retouching if required.

So the bottom line is, it makes no odds whatsoever if your photographer uses film or digital. If he or she is skilled at wedding photography you should not have to ask if it’s film or digital!

Dominic Lee, AMPA.
Priory Studios
Old Dublin Road Shopping Mall,
Co. Dublin
Tel: +353 1 2880755
Email: [email protected]