Film vs Digital for devolping skill

Started Jul 18, 2014 | Discussions thread
PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 13,861
Film SLRs are the best learning tools IMO

A 70s style SLR, manual exposure (or operated in manual mode), manual focusing with the typical 50 mm is the best learning tool IMO.

The FE had great manual match needle metering besides AE-mode

Why? With a big OVF and the 50 mm you really experienced DOF as you slide through it with the manual focusing. You immediately understood the pro and cons, Why it was good to have it short sometimes and deep sometimes. There was a point to the aperture settings besides light control.

With a prime lens you learned the focal length, what is was good for and not. When you bought another prime you really explored the new focal length and what it could do.

The one stop click stops of the shutter speeds and aperture ring was pedagogical, it was easy to grasp how they correlated.

With the fixed ISO of film, and less sensitivity in general compared to digital, you learned to carefully consider how to balance shutter speed and aperture, the trade offs, which was most important in which situation.

Since every frame was a cost of money you made every setting carefully and made a judgement if the photo was worth taking, could the composition be improved before you pressed the shutter? You were aware of what you were doing and involved mentally in every setting.

With slide film or high speed B&W with thin margins of exposure you learned to meter the light and how to read the meter. It wasn't hard. You were rewarded by the most beautiful slides, and the hit rate was usually quite high, unbelievable as it may seem today, in the days of instant feedback, chimping, EVFs and other belts and suspenders. Don't get me wrong, many of those things are good to have, but the dependency on these are overblown.

Today, when I read that a "lack of live view in the viewfinder is a deal killer" I wonder how good learning tools digital cameras really are.

To say that film wouldn't be the correct learning tool for ANYONE would I spose be wrong but I don't think its unreasonable to say that digitals instant feedback and ability to shoot often without extra cost will be better suited to helping the vast majority of people develop their skills.

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