Digital or Film or Both

Fujifilm Finepix S Pro Collection
Fujifilm Finepix S Pro Collection

Above is a shot of my Fujifilm Finepix S* Pro camera collection. These are my go to cameras due to their ability to capture images very similar to me favorite films (Sensia II by Fuji and Velvia by Fuji). These films were also preferred (mostly Velvia) by magazines such as National Geographic due to their color pop and accuracy in reproduction. The S5 was the most used camera for Celebrity shoots due to it’s ability to shoot like an extremely high end professional portrait film (and was used up into 2017 for that purpose be many photogs even though it was a digital from 2006).

Why am I mentioning a film comparison as my reasoning for making a choice of what camera(s) I primarily choose to shoot with when I do own much more advanced cameras like a Nikon D610 or D800? (unlike many, I have the skills in electronics to fix used and non-working digital cameras which allows me a large selection of images to choose from).

Well, it entails a key difference between shooting with film (not it’s not dead …. and most film processors are backed up with work) as opposed to shooting with digital: Film gives you a choice, digital gives you simulations. There are many other differences, but we are going to key in on this one today. There are also many other opinions on this, so I do encourage comments and advice from both types of shooters.


When you shoot a film camera it is much easier to make a choice to invest more money in a body because you have the ability to choice the film you use to capture style, color, exposure, etc. Different films do different things. A portrait film like Portra is specifically formulated to concentrate on the accuracy of skin tones and softness of exposure for critical applications like wedding photography (and if you don’t think wedding photography is critical … say that to a to be bride, and then run). Films like Sensia II (no longer made as far as I know) or Velvia (the landscape and nature photographer’s go to) home in on aspects like color pop, accuracy, sharpness, etc. Experimental films like Psychedelic Blues 400, Cine Still 50D, or Revlog Kolor chemically mess with the film to capture images in a way that may make them think you transferred the image from your brain while on acid (no .. don’t actually try this – it doesn’t work and the X-Files ended years ago). What it comes down to is an expensive, well made body and a few investments in good lenses will give you a camera that lasts years if not decade, and film will give you endless choices.

Let’s looked at the digital side. Although much more convenient and cost effective (film on average will cost you on average $40 from film to print for a set of 24 shots). The unseen issue is that the imagers in digital cameras have many different traits or personalities depending on their designs or manufacturers. So when you choose a digital camera you choose on that captures image to closest to your professional or personal need. If you are a wedding photographer you are going to maybe choose a camera like the Canon EOS 90D as many photographers on that industry do. If you shoot with that camera outside of your “industry” you use RAW editing software or the RAW conversion software that comes with your camera to simulate shooting with a type of film. In other words, if your camera images raw files produce images similar to Kodak Portra Professional you use either used camera settings to simulate the other films types you like as you can’t physically change the imager design to produce different image personalities like changing film in a film camera.

Now is simulation an issue …. for most , absolutely not. Some shoot film because they like the physical interactions with the camera (keep you mind out of the gutter here … this isn’t a Netflix film) or like to shoot with digital because they main take family pics but occasionally do scenics on hikes, etc. Everyone has their reasons and none of them are wrong – it’s your personal choice. The best advice we can give is to take a few days are really think out what you are going to shoot and buy based on that for your initial investment. Like I mentioned early, many do not have the skills the author of this post has (computer and electronics repair skills) to enable them to cheaply buy a multitude of digital or film cameras to give them many choices of what to shoot for what project. If you don’t have skills like that it gets expensive QUICK. For example, I have eleven digital cameras in my collection (many at semi pro or pro level which I acquired broken and fixed with donor cameras). At the average cost of $2000 for a decent semi pro or pro digital camera that collection should have cost me $22,000. Trust me, I didn’t even come that close in cost.

Digital also has choices of DSLR or Mirrorless … each with their pos and cons (article later on this).

The point of the article is that photography today is an investment that should have a little bit of attention in planning. Investment in this hobby or professional can be substantial (even at a lower end) that sort of doing something like a mini five year plan is not a bad idea before running to your typical big box store and impulse buying. It’s sort of like a car …. once you leave the shop you lose 30% of your value before you take the plastic off of the box.

-Photo Guy

Links for experimental film examples: