Film vs. Digital, Not Anymore!
©Darrell Young  

The debate is over. Who won? We did!

In the late 60's my dear mother gave me a plastic Diana-F camera, and got me started on a lifetime of photography. I carried it with me on childhood hikes in the mountains of Rockwood, Tennessee. The image to the right is from one of those hikes. My brother Steven is on the left, and my old school friend Scott Haley is on the right. It's been maybe 28 years since I've seen Scott, and I know very little about his current life. But, I still have these images to remember those good times. At 45 years of age, I'm thinking more about the "good old days." They were indeed good, and much simpler than life today.

I bet you could go to your closet and dig out some old pictures of you and your friends from years ago. How do they make you feel? What are they worth to you?


What has this to do with Digital vs. Film? A lot actually! About a year ago, I bought my first digital SLR camera, a Nikon® D100 six-megapixel wonder. Since then, I've been shooting a higher quantity of images, and have even improved on my technique, due to the instant image review that a digital provides. For about twelve months I've simply reveled in digital imaging, using my film cameras very little. I think I became a bit of a fanatic, writing several articles proclaiming the imminent death of film and that digital would now take over the world. I'd been writing articles for digital users only, and so, was able to take liberties with my words, generally denegrating film usage. Not many digital users complained, since I was reaffirming their decision to use digital in the first place. Then, with great boldness, I decided I would post some articles where they would be read by many non-digital users. I felt that I just had to get the message across to the ones who clearly didn't understand. One article in particular was posted in a general forum of a large camera users group. I expected that my feelings would be appreciated there also, since most people are at least considering digital photography. Whew, was I wrong!

The outcry from that article reflected a lot of strong feelings on the debate. Film is indeed NOT dead, as I was proclaiming in my articles. I read those replies, and thought about them. Then, I had an epiphany. I realized that photography is NOT about digital, or film. It is about making images. Duh!

I went to the kitchen table with my camera bags, and put the cameras in front of me. My D100 was there, my Nikon® N80 (non-USA F80) and F5, my Agfa Isolette III 120 folder. I handled each camera, looked through the viewfinder, opened the backs, fired off the shutters, and generally just absorbed the personality of each of my friendly cameras. My heart changed! My digital D100 was still an exciting newcomer, but my film cameras were comforting old friends. I had been carrying a small camera bag almost everywhere, with only my D100 and a couple of lenses. My bag had room for one more body, so I selected the N80. I went to the freezer and took out a couple of rolls of Provia. Even the film felt comfortable to me. So many hundreds of rolls over the years. So many good memories frozen in the little two inch squares of my slides. I went to my cabinets and took out old slides, wiped the dust from my light table, and spent an hour just looking. Memories flooded in, and with it my digital enthusiasm lessened somewhat. Balance returned!

For several days afterward, I carried both of the cameras. I would take several digital images, then one or two on film. It felt good! I was using the best of both worlds. I was making digital images for immediate use, and film images for maximum quality, and safe long-term storage. I realized that, with film, I didn't have to worry about my hard drive crashing and taking out several thousand images. If all the electricity went off, I could still view my slides by candlelight. I had another epiphany. To my amazement, I realized that I wouldn't have to worry about constantly backing up the digital images I was storing, if I had the same images on film. Today, I am a changed man!


No longer am I a digital photographer. Nor, am I just a film photographer. I am...a photographer. I take pictures! I'm a winner in this debate. I want film and digital. I want my images to last forever. I'll put them on film and digital for the rest of my life.

To me, this debate is over. No longer will I put my standard saying at the bottom of my articles. "Keep on taking digital pictures" has been replaced with "Keep on capturing time!" That's what this is all about. We're capturing history. The history of ourselves, our families, and even the world.



When we are long gone, our images will remain. They'll tell the story that we want them to tell. Each of us is leaving a little of himself or herself for posterity. Whether it is done on film, or digitally doesn't matter. That we DO IT is what is important. Don't be swayed by these debates. Don't weigh in with a flaming argument in photography forums. Have confidence in your own style and methods.

You are a photographer; one of the chosen few. You are the one appointed to tell your story, and the story of your family. Your eyes see a part of history that should be remembered. Digital vs. Film is an anachronism already. We all won the debate!

Keep on capturing time...

Copyright ©MMIII by Darrell Young, All Rights Reserved
The World of Nikonians - www.nikonians.org