Obviously, film and digital photography have the same purpose: to capture a great image.

But beyond that, how are these two technologies, which are vastly different in terms of their physicality, similar?

Lighting Counts

While both film camera bodies and digital camera bodies can take lenses that boast the ability to “shoot a black cat in a cave” no lens is going to fix the need to pay attention to the light. It’s mandatory to check your exposure reading (these days most photographers simply use the meter on their camera.)

Are you shooting outdoors in natural light or indoors?  What’s the angle of the light? Whether shooting digital or film, asking and answering these two basic questions will inform your ability to use the camera to capture the best possible image.

Print Quality Counts

It’s easy to dismiss the need to find a quality lab to print your digital images. After all, many consumer-grade printers will do the job.

But, with both film (as I’ve written about before LINK HERE) and digital, if you want a magazine or art gallery quality print it’s important to find a lab that specializes in fine art photography. If the lab doesn’t know how to work with and adjust for, brightness, tonality, and saturation the final print won’t be nearly as good as it could be.

It’s Really All About the Raw Material

The image that eventually appears depends first and foremost on the quality of the shot. Whatever was captured in the raw file, or on the negative, gives photographers the versatility they need to create the final photograph.

For instance, digital noise, often caused by heat or the sensor’s ability to deal with variations in signals, is less of a problem than it used to be. But, it’s still an issue in digital systems and can really affect the image. The same is (and always has been) true with film, which shows “film grain” when the chemical particles weren’t exposed to enough light.

The one place where digital and film are identical is literally in the hands of the photographer. Whether you choose to use the latest digital equipment or classic film cameras, it’s up to you to know your gear, the subject matter, the light and print processes if your photography is going to be the absolute best work you can do.