Digital Photography, Is It Right For You?
Lately, people have been asking me the same question over and over, "Should I buy a digital camera?" And for everyone that asks, I have the perfect answer, "Maybe."
There are many factors that go into the decision about going digital, not the least being whether you are a professional or amateur photographer. You need to ask yourself how you will use your photographs. Will they be for your website, magazine articles, stock agencies, advertising or something else? You then have to do some research and see what each of these markets asks for. Stock agencies love digital, as do many ad agencies, but some magazines still want slides.
Do you want to stay with film? Great. Film still gives better image quality than digital in the 35mm arena. However, in a few years digital will probably rival film. You also need to consider that film manufacturers are reducing the range of film they produce. Over the past few years, the major film manufacturers have been dropping some of the films they produce because of the surge in popularity of digital photography. Film manufacturers know that eventually digital will take over, and they don't want to be caught flatfooted. However, I still expect film to be around for many years.
You also need to consider the cost of going digital. A professional digital camera or digitalback will cost between $3,000 and $10,000. These prices are dropping quickly, but they are still high. The high-end amateur DSLR's with 12MP sells for about $700, as of 2008. This same camera was going for over $2,000 in 2006, so prices for these models drops quickly too.
There's also the need for:
- Computer (about $1,000)
- PhotoShop ($1,000)
- High end printer ($200 and up)
- External data storage devices ($100 and up)
- Maybe a scanner ($200 and up)
You will also need to learn how to use this hardware and software, spend time manipulating each image in Photoshop and archiving each image on DVD's or two external hard drives. You want a second set of DVD's or hard drive so you can store a copy of everything off-site. An off-site set protects your images from being lost due to flood, fire, theft or some other catastrophe. As you can see, digital will eat up lots of time and money.
One way to get into digital, but save some money, is to go the hybrid route. Shoot with film, make some great prints then scan them into a computer using a flatbed or drum scanner. You can also scan negatives and slides directly. Some photo labs can even do the scanning for you. Many professional photographers go this route to have the best of both worlds. They can use their existing film cameras, while having digital images.
Still not sure which way to go? You could buy a nice point-and-shoot digital camera, with at least 4 megapixels, for about a hundred dollars and give it a try. You can even buy a printer that connects directly to the camera, so you don't need a computer. You may not think you'd get good pictures with this kind of camera, but until mid 2008, 99% of the photographs I made were taken with a 4 megapixel Olympus FE-100 point and shoot camera.
If you do decide to buy a digital camera, ask the same questions you would for a film camera.
- What lenses, shutter speeds, ISO's and flash sync speed do you need?
- What subjects will you shoot, in what kind of lighting and how portable does the camera need to be?
- Do you need to end up with prints or digital images?
Then talk to photographers that you know, or that you can find on forums and blogs, and see if they use the camera you're looking at, and what they think of it. If you live in a large city, you can probably rent the camera you're thinking of buying. And if you decide to buy it, you may even be able to apply your rental fees toward the purchase price.
Don't jump on the digital bandwagon just because everyone else seems to be doing it. A camera is a tool, and you need to select the proper tool to meet your needs. This will make you happier and your pictures will look better.
Want to know what some of the pros are using for digital? Check this out.
Canon EOS-1D Mark II and III, 40D, 30D, 5D
Nikon D2X, D3, D200, D300, F6, F100
Hasselblad H2 with Phase One P30+ digitalback
Mac G3, G4, G5
Apple MacBook Pro
Dell Latitude D820, XPS DXP051
Sony Vaio VGN-FE590
Nikon Coolscan 9000, V ED
Epon Stylus Pro 2400
Adobe Photoshop 7, CS2, CS3; Lightroom
Phase One Capture One
If you're interested in photography, stock images of Arizona and Fine Art Prints of Arizona, visit www.TheCreativesCorner.com