It has been over forty years since the invention of the first digital camera back in 1975. Despite it being only 0.01 megapixels, it started a revolution; it began the age of digital photography. Gone were the days of having to develop the film in a darkroom – instead, images were immediately stored to the memory of the camera, and photography became electronic, not chemical.
For my generation, many of our childhood memories will have been shot on film. I still remember running around aged seven with my disposable camera, taking blurry photographs of ducks with my finger over the lens in more shots than not, and waiting eagerly for my dad to get home with my newly developed photos for me to cram into the family photo albums.
Nowadays, memories can be created as simply as pressing a button on our phones. In the last decade, phone camera technology has made enormous strides in terms of quality, with better lenses and image stabilisation, and whilst your phone might never be able to rival a DSLR camera, the fact that photographs on your phone can be shared in a matter of seconds means that photography has become more accessible than ever before.
The advances in modern technology make photography considerably faster and easier, and yet this generates a new argument. A typical roll of film only has about twenty-four exposures compared to the ten-thousand plus JPEGs you can store on a 32GB memory card, meaning that the work that goes in to getting a shot perfect on a film camera is not needed – on a digital camera, you can simply take a dozen shots and pick the best one later. This eliminates the need to spend ages setting everything up, but some argue that this takes away the art and love that goes in to traditional photography.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean film is outdated or that it has been abandoned. It’s still widely used by professional and amateur photographers, as the aesthetic it produces is unmistakable, causing it to now be considered something of an art form. In recent years, cameras or apps boasting ‘vintage’ features have appeared on the market; the Fujifilm Instax camera, which produces small polaroid photographs, is a favourite among the younger generation for whom film is a novelty. Also, I’ve recently downloaded the RAD VHS app for my phone that allows me to play around with settings, making videos appear as if they were filmed on an old VHS camera, and there are new lenses that allow your digital camera to achieve the effects of film, such as the Emil Bush Glaukar lens set to be released next year.
I’m sure that there are many people out there that would love to talk about the superiority of film over digital, or vice versa, but that fact is that, like oils or acrylics or watercolours for painters, film and digital photography are simply different mediums – both unique, both beautiful, and both sticking around for a very long time.