Film Versus Digital

Film

Resolution

Have you wondered why the digi sequences are always run small? It all comes down to those megapixels. At eight frames per second, most digi cams capture at a max resolution of three to four megs, and that means the photos get all fuzzy when they're blown up. Some new cameras like Canon's MARK II can shoot at eight megapixels, but even that isn't big enough for fullpage stills. If you want to shoot a digital cover, you're going to need something that shoots at least eleven to thirteen megapixels. Unfortunately, those high-resolution cameras are currently really expensive (over 10,000 dollars), don't do sequences, and are kind of clunky. That's why film is still holding it down for full-page spreads and cover photos–it's got the resolution.

The Lenses

Ideally all your old 35mm lenses would work with your new digital equipment, and most of them do. There's just one catch–the aspect ratio for some digital cameras is a bit smaller than the normal 35mm. This means the beloved fisheye isn't as wide–in fact, it's actually cropped. Not a big deal for most photographers, but in the world of skateboarding where the death lens is king, a Canon 15mm fisheye that's mashed to 18mm is a real pain in the ass. So the fisheye fanatics are going to stick to film for now, but word on the streets is that non-cropping cameras are on the way. *Note to Canon–hurry the f–k up!

Secret Techniques

You've probably noticed those photographers who have that special style that separates their images from the rest. Whether it's their lenses, lighting techniques, or some secret film-processing skills, film will always have a visually unique look. In fact, with digital imagery quickly becoming the standard, film may become the lost art that separates the photographers from the lurkographers. It's likely that in the future there'll be filters trying to duplicate these techniques. You'll probably be able to push a Photoshop button and get a cross-processed image with a sloppy edge border, but some techniques just can't be matched.

Digital

Convenience

No more hauling hundreds of sensitive rolls around airport X-ray machines, then waiting days for the lab to process your film. You shoot it, you got it. Plus you can transmit photos over the Internet from anywhere in the world instead of FedExing slides across the globe. The simple fact is that the digital format is easier and saves a tremendous amount of time.

Cash Money Sequences

A digital camera can literally save someone thousands and thousands of dollars. Just ask photographer Seu Trinh, one of the first people to rock a digital camera. Over a period of a year Seu has used his Canon 1D for sequences, clocking his exposure counter at 150,000. Now let's do the math on that–150,000 exposures divided by 36 shots per roll equals about 4,200 rolls of film. Multiply 4,200 rolls times six dollars a pop, and that's over 25,000 dollars! So you want to buy a shitload of film or a new car? Tough choice.

Instant Gratification

With the LCD screen there's no stress waiting for the photos to be developed, you know on the spot if the photo came out. So if that kickflip looked kind of mob, it's no longer a problem, just shoot another one. This can put an end to those surprise photo-lab nightmares. Now you can get the shot you're happy with before you leave the spot.

Learning Curve

Instant gratification also means that the next generation of photographers are going to develop their skills a lot faster. Instead of getting the photos back from the lab and changing lighting techniques or angles up for the next shoot, photographers can adjust on the spot.

Productivity

With no more worries about film costs, even the most tech trick sequences are now being shot. It's finally time to get those flip-in flip-out manual shots or hyper-tech ledge tricks without feeling bad about wasting two bricks of film. Flip to the Nine Frames Per Second section to see exactly what we're talking about.