Should I get on digital or analog photography?

This hot-button question puts tradition against innovation, professionals against amateurs, and art against technology. In the battle of digital versus analog photography, who should win?
Flip through old family albums, and you will probably be looking at film or analog photography. It is essentially a chemical process that starts with images captured on light-sensitive film that has been treated with a silver halide emulsion. Prints are made by projecting images through the film onto light-sensitive paper, then processing the paper in a series of chemical baths that “develop” the image and prevent it from absorbing any more light. 

The process is obviously manual, requiring many different steps (composing and taking a photo, developing film, making prints) and special equipment (camera, light-sensitive film and paper, a darkroom, chemicals). There is also the ongoing cost of purchasing film and development to consider, plus the unreliable nature of many different kinds of analog film.

But all that said, photographers still herald film for its superior dynamic range, or its ability to render details in both highlights and shadows. It is much more forgiving and better adapted to working with natural light than digital cameras - old-fashioned film blends light and color very adeptly because images are not composed of millions of tiny pixels. There is also an irreplaceable (and visually pleasing) grain in film photos that just can’t be recreated with digital images.

To avoid the confusion of analog and digital, the French use the word 'argentic' to describe non-digital photography. Argentic means silver and is used because of the silver halide crystals that make up the film emulsion.
The bottom line: There are many scenarios where digital is better, but film has some advantages that keep it relevant as a modern technique. It is artistic and nuanced with distinct qualities that make it an art form worth getting on.

Although there are still photographers using film, most professionals have switched to digital. There are good reasons for this. Within a second or less of the exposure, you can see the captured image on the built-in LCD screen (or even before the exposure with the Live View mode of cameras). You can decide there and then whether you want to keep or erase the image. You can also use histogram to determine if the exposure is correct. If not, it may be possible to re-shoot the subject. If you have ever snapped a photo on your iPhone or done some online shopping, you have taken advantage of the benefits of digital photography. It is convenient for the way we live in the present: there is no film, no chemicals, no light-sensitive materials, and no darkrooms involved. Photos are captured on digital cameras, stored on easily reloadable and replaceable memory cards, and printed using fully automated printers.

The big surprise: sensors in digital cameras are still analog. Sensors are made up of light-sensitive photocells that actually capture the image. The “digital” aspect of digital photography comes into play when brightness levels are coded into binary, and a resulting image is generated.

Though sensors in digital cameras are analog, they still will not handle light as well as film does—and they are missing that genuinely pleasing grain that old-school photography supports.

The bottom line: If you are aiming to be a professional, you will probably want to pick up digital photography (and learn some post-processing photo editing skills to boot). Editing and sharing digital photos is infinitely easier, and digital cameras have an advantage when it comes to capturing essential-yet-fleeting moments.

I would argue that they are both important art forms with a place in the world today, and that what you choose to get on is highly dependent on your goals. Will you be doing this professionally? As a hobby? What kinds of equipment do you own or are you willing to buy? 

If you still are feeling conflicted, the good news is, my blog will go on.

See you soon.
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