Film Photography vs. Digital Photography: Everything you need to know

What are the differences between film photography and digital photography?

The long-standing debate of film photography vs. digital photography often ends in a stalemate, as photographers, filmmakers, and fans have valid points for using each medium. While the film has been around for over 100 years, digital photographs only emerged within the last few decades - but it continues to improve as technology advances. By learning about these methods and investigating their critical differences, you can decide which medium will work best for your next photography project.

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What is film photography?

The film is a flexible material that darkens when exposed to light. When light is introduced to the film, microscopic silver halide crystals form in layers. These dark images are known as negatives of photographs and must be developed by photographers to create the final image. The camera takes various photos depending on the length of the film roll in the camera, and the photographer frequently carries several rolls of film for further shots.

What is digital photography?

Digital photography is the process of capturing photos using an electronic sensor. It follows the film photography process, with light hitting the sensor in the camera to create an image. Digital cameras save photographs to a memory card. The resolution of images on a memory card is measured in megapixels, with higher resolutions requiring more megapixels. Memory cards often have much greater storage capacity than a roll of film, depending on their size. Instead of creating a negative copy of the picture, digital photography uses an electronic sensor to capture images as they appear rather than making a negative copy.

Film vs. digital photography

Here is a list of key differences between film and digital photography:

Development Developing pictures from film negatives necessitate using a darkroom, chemicals, and time. A film darkroom is often a room dedicated to film development with little light and employs red lighting that does not impact negative images. To set the negative images in the film during film development, strips go through a sequence of chemical baths using a developer, fixer and stop bath. From setting up the darkroom to preparing the chemicals and waiting for the developed pictures to dry

Developing digital images is typically as easy as uploading the desired files to a computer and printing them out on special photo paper. Many digital cameras let users review their pictures immediately after taking them, which helps the photographer understand what shots came out well and informs them about areas that need improvement for future reference. On the other hand, film photographers often have to wait days between shoots before they can see how their photos turned out.


Because silver halides in a film strip are light-sensitive, the film must be stored in a dark, light-free area. This is frequently done with tiny dark plastic jars about two and a half inches tall and an inch and a half wide. When storing large amounts of film, such as when filming a movie, photographers store their negatives in flat metal cans that are approximately two and a half inches tall and eight to 12 inches wide. The film is kept inside the canisters to avoid further exposure to light and any potential damage due to crushing.

With digital photography, the camera stores images on a memory card instead of using film. Memory cards can store hundreds of pictures while taking up very little space, making them easy to transport and space efficient. Memory cards also enable photographers to transfer images onto a computer or an editing software effortlessly and rapidly, whereas digitizing film requires a scanner designated for that sole purpose.


Although people often think that digital photography is cheaper than film, entry-level film cameras are typically less expensive than digital cameras. This can benefit those who want to make a career or hobby out of photography. Although, over time, the extra costs of buying more rolls of film and image development may outweigh the initial cost savings.

If you're starting in photography, digital usually has higher upfront costs--especially when buying cameras for high-quality shots. Although, over time, digital becomes cheaper than film photography. Recently, the price of memory cards for saving digitally has dropped a lot too. Nowadays, digital photographers can get more storage space than film users can with the same amount of money. Some people begin their journey into photography by using film and then switch to digital later.


When you listen to a vinyl record and hear the warmth generated by the analog recording, moving images produced with film frequently have the same warmth. The slight imperfections or mild gritty texture created by exposing silver halide crystals to light is analog warmth. Digital photography can produce self-explanatory, detailed photos, but they result in a smoother, more polished picture that lacks some of the film's heat. Filters available in digital editing software can sometimes accurately replicate the analog film's effects.

Dynamic range

The film has a high dynamic range, meaning it effectively captures the tones and distinctions among an image's highlights and shadows. This aids the photographer when shooting in low light and those who want to capture subtle color changes. Many black-and-white photographers use film since it creates a strong contrast between the white and black areas of an image and precise detail in the different greyscale zones.

Digital cameras have a lesser dynamic range, implying the distinctions between shadows and highlights are often less apparent. This might indicate duller colors or fewer hues in a color gradient. Digital cameras generally compensate for this deficit by allowing users to modify brightness, shadow, highlight, or vibrancy settings throughout the shooting process and during editing.


Film editing is a time-consuming procedure that requires editors to modify the film to alter the image manually. Editors cut the unneeded film from the roll of film and match pieces together to produce distinct sequences for the movie's ultimate version. The phrase "final cut" of a motion picture refers to this method. Users may use an editing program to filter, adjust levels, remove flaws, and blend images after uploading digital photos to cloud storage or a computer.

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