Pros and Cons of Digital Photography - dummies

Pros and Cons of Digital Photography

By Mark L. Chambers

There’s a lot more to like about the digital photo revolution than just cutting the expenses of film and processing. Here are some other advantages of going digital:

  • Digital photos and prints are versatile. The digital photographs that you take can be enclosed in e-mail messages, burned as CD or DVD slide shows, or displayed as your PC’s Windows Desktop and screen saver. Of course, you can also print them, and with today’s special inkjet papers, your images can end up on items like greeting cards and T-shirt transfers.

    If you’re interested in producing prints from your digital photographs in the shortest time possible, check out one of the latest inkjet printers that can directly accept memory cards from your digital camera. Heck, with one of these inkjet marvels, you don’t need a PC. Many of these printers can even rotate and resize images and perform simple editing on their own.

  • Look, Ma, no developing! With a digital camera, you have practically instant access to your photographs. Save yourself the trip to the photo store — even a one-hour photo lab can’t match the three minutes that it takes to connect your camera to your PC (with a Universal Serial Bus [USB] cable) and download your images to your hard drive.

  • Extra digital information is no charge. Today’s cameras save quite a bit of information with every shot you take. This information is called metadata, and along with the date and time the shot was taken, you’ll also likely find information about the make and model of the camera, as well as the settings that were used.

    Some cameras (especially those built into smartphones like Apple’s iPhone) can even include GPS data, so you’ll know where you were when you took the photo! Windows 8 File Explorer can display much of this data in the Preview pane when you click a photo thumbnail.

  • Editing is easy with your PC. Imagine everything that can go wrong with a picture: a bad exposure, a case of red eye, or perhaps a tree sprouting from someone’s head. With a digital photograph, you can reduce or eliminate these problems; with the proper editing, a bad picture becomes mediocre, and a good picture can become a work of art.

  • You can manage your photographs on location. Imagine being able to review a shot as soon as it’s taken. With a traditional film camera, you’re stuck with what you take, and you don’t see the results until that roll of film has been developed. A digital camera, however, gives you the freedom to manage your images.

    For example, you can view each image on a memory card and delete the ones you don’t need, to free up space. Using the camera’s liquid crystal diode (LCD) screen also allows you to review a photograph as soon as you take it.

Virtually all digital cameras on the market these days can also do double duty as simple video camcorders — at least for anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes — using the movie mode feature.

Virtually all cameras with movie mode can record audio along with the video; the length of time you can record depends on the amount of storage available, so a digital camera with a 4GB memory card can capture many more seconds of video than a camera with only a 2GB memory card.

However, all is not perfect in the digital world — not yet, at least. Film cameras aren’t doomed to share the fate of the dinosaurs because traditional film photography still has these advantages over digital photography:

  • Film cameras are still less expensive. Although digital cameras have dropped considerably in price over the past few years, film cameras still provide better resolution and image quality for a lower initial price. In fact, at the time of this writing, most film cameras less than $20 (U.S.) can still take a better-quality photograph than most digital cameras selling for less than $150.

    As a rule, a 6–8MP (megapixel) camera is suitable for most casual photography, but amateur photographers will prefer at least a 10MP camera.

  • Film cameras are better at capturing motion. Older consumer digital cameras in the 3–4MP range still have trouble taking shots of subjects in motion, such as at sporting events. (It’s because of the longer delay required for those photosensitive sensors to capture the image.)

    However, current higher-megapixel digital cameras are much better at motion (stop action) photography — most high-end digital cameras can shoot photos in burst mode, one exposure following another within less than a second.

  • Man, do those digital cameras use the juice! Unlike a film camera, a digital camera relies on battery power for everything, including that power-hungry LCD display. If you’re in the middle of shooting a wedding and you haven’t packed a spare set of batteries, you have my condolences. A film camera is far less demanding of its batteries.

As you might have already guessed, many photographers have chosen to carry both traditional film and digital cameras, which allows them to use whatever best fits the circumstances (depending on the subject and the level of control they need on location).

So what can you do with digital photographs? A heck of a lot more than a film print, that’s for sure (at least on your PC and in the online world)! Common fun that you can have with digital images includes

  • Printing ’em: Today’s inkjet printers can produce a hard copy on all sorts of media (everything from plain paper to blank business cards and CD/DVD labels), but naturally you get the best results on those expensive sheets of glossy photo paper.

  • Using them on your personal or business website: Jazz up your web pages with images from your camera.

  • Sending them as e-mail attachments: I get a big kick out of sending photos through e-mail! As long as you add a total of less than 5 to 10MB of images to an e-mail message, the recipient should receive them with no problem. (And then the attached files can be viewed, printed, or saved to the recipient’s hard drive.)

  • Creating slide shows: Check your camera’s software documentation to see whether you can create a slide show on your hard drive (or on a CD/DVD disc) to show off your digital photographs.

  • Using them in craft projects: Plaster your digital photographs on T-shirt transfers, buttons, greeting cards, and all sorts of crafts.