Comparing Analogue and Digital Photography for Amateurs Like Me


(An advantage of using both is this concept. Not my own, maybe one day I’ll give it a go..)

Investing in a Polaroid camera and a DSLR are quite possibly two of the best investments I have ever done. I never thought I’d ever be one to be interested in photography, but I always fancied the idea of an instant camera to capture random memories with friends and family. And since starting this blog, I realised how awful it is to capture travels and fantastic sights on a very crappy iPhone 4. So my little family started to grow…

Experimenting with both digital and analogue photography extends your knowledge and creativity, which I prefer to choosing one side over the other. The downside is both cameras are heavy to carry around; and you can look cool, perhaps even look like a professional, with one camera around your neck, but I’ve never attempted both…

(I’m writing about the pros and cons of analogue and digital, but it’s focused on my own experiences with instant film and a beginner’s DSLR. Analogue and digital photography go beyond these areas of course, so if you’re interested in buying a camera for either I would recommend researching different articles and reviews to cover all your curiosities.)

Analogue Pros

  • The camera is cheaper: I bought mine for £30 off eBay, which was a nice bargain. Of course some better models (the SX-70 for instance) cost more, but for a starter and for something to be not afraid of getting a few knocks, it’s very easy and guilt-free to purchase.
  • It’s simple, honest fun: All hobbies should ‘nurture’ you’re interests, not drain the joy from them. Taking photos with friends to capture memories in this way has caused a few drunken, sentimental tears; and I love flicking through my expanding collection.
  • Priceless quality: Because it cannot be duplicated, and because it develops in front of your eyes (although to be on the safe side keep them developing in the dark), once it’s there you hold something unique in your hand, and it’s a fantastic feeling.

Analogue Cons

  • The film is expensive: Each photograph costs between £2-£3, which often gets a gasp when I tell people. Fuijifilm have their own range of instant cameras which work out a little cheaper, but if you want to go for the original and classic with analogue film you have to fork out a fair bit.
  • One shot equals one chance: More often than not, if the photograph doesn’t turn out how you want it cannot be repeated. And when the film is pricey, it can hurt a little.
  • Care is needed: I’ve damaged film by using the camera in the sun, or left it for too long in my camera, or peeked at a photograph developing. And as the photograph ages it can go a funny colour (I have a few black and white shots turning sepia) if you don’t use aftercare. It’s a very demanding hobby…

Digital Pros

  • Unlimited photos: Or at least until you run out of memory. After carefully using analogue film packs of 8, it felt liberating to snap away without a care in the world. And when you’re not very skilled at taking photos like me, it’s very handy to be able to retake again and again.
  • Easier to share: Once you upload to your computer, the internet’s your oyster. With analogue you have to scan, and I use an app on my phone which isn’t very good, so the quality fades. Plus, if you use a film, you also have people wondering why buy an analogue camera, only to upload your photos to the internet anyway.
  • Captures every detail: Safe (and obvious) to say the lenses on DSLRs are pretty good. The quality can be quite mesmerising, and having control over the focus ensures you’re in better luck to have the photograph to turn out how you want it. It’s a very different experience than when I use my Polaroid, as I take one shot and pray for the best. Also personally, in the modern world of filters to hide our imperfections (and analogue film seems to provide an automatic vintage style ‘filter’), it’s quite beautiful to see detailed, human beauty.

Digital Cons

  • The expense: You don’t have to cough up for film all the time, but the camera itself, and any lenses you want, can be very expensive. If you’re an amateur like me; I wouldn’t advise splurging on a professional DSLR, but it’s still an investment to think over carefully. And if like me you’re very clumsy, there’s the fear of breakage… (Also once, when instagramming a photo of my Labrador with my camera, for no necessary reason other than boredom, he tried to bite the lens. Not worth the risk.)
  • Models can fall out of date: Companies are constantly throwing out new models, with new features, which means the camera you bought a year ago could be half the price you paid, and not meeting our increasing standards. At least with instant film, it is already out of date, so you can think of it as aged like a fine wine or whiskey.
  • Too many to choose from: Is it worth investing in a DSLR? Or would a simpler, cheaper digital camera do your bidding? All the different kinds have overlapping features these days, and some features are advertised heavily to entice you but that doesn’t mean it’ll be suited for your demands. And it’s a lot of money to only gather dust on the shelf…

So to conclude: both are awesome, despite their complications/hurting my back when I carry both in a backpack. Sometimes I wish I had my Polaroid with me, other times my DSLR. Usually I wish I had both. It’s all about finding what suits your own style.

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