Digital or film photos, which one is better?

I am not a purist, I shoot with both digital and film cameras.  But the question needs to be asked?

Are film cameras better than digital?

Can you tell the difference between 35mm film or digital photos?

You decide.  Choose your favorite picture.  Then research the camera I used for that photo.  Some photos were taken with 20-50 year old film cameras, one was taken with a five year old digital camera.  Can you tell the difference?

Pond 1

Pond 1

Pond 2

Pond 5

It’s not the Camera, it’s the Photographer

When we are a bit young and foolish we convince ourselves that a better camera will make us a better photographer.  And better cameras normally mean spending more money.  I experienced this camera envy in my early 20’s on a college school trip to Russia.

I remember my camera envy sitting with my tent partner Ron Janssen (where are you Ron?).  He owned a Praktica SLR and I owned a Kodak Instamatic camera.  Talk about camera envy.

I never saw Ron’s Praktica SLR photos.  The name Praktica stayed with me for decades until I purchased a few Prakticas of my own.  But I took some decent photos with my Kodak Instamatic, not great but decent.

Sometimes, it’s the Camera not the Photographer

I own over 75 cameras.  But some of these cameras ranging from a $5 Kodak Motormatic to a $30 Yashica T4 (worth $300) can be very special.  Sometimes, a camera with an amazing lens and light metering system can just knock you over with rendition of colors and textures.

So let’s take a look at a few of my shots of a pond in Mount Prospect, IL, USA, on different days.  These are some of my best landscape photos.

Kodak Motormatic, Five Dollars

This was purchased for five dollars on eBay with a few other cameras.  It took a while to learn how to use it.  It has a wind-up motor drive like some toy from the early 1960’s.  And I was unsure of the metering system.

But here’s my photo of my Mount Prospect pond.  I know it’s not a great photo but it’s a very good photo for a camera from the early 1960’s.  I was especially impressed with the blue texture of the pond.  I think this was of the very first times I realized an inexpensive camera could take a good photo.

Kodak Motormatic 35, Mount Prospect, IL Pond

Kodak Motormatic 35, Mount Prospect, IL Pond

Canon A35F, Five Dollars

I described this 5 dollar garage sale purchase and nicknamed it Son of Canonet.  Here’s my Canon A35F review for later reference.

Here’s another fine shot of the Mount Prospect, IL pond.  The bright sky tricked the light meter a bit but I can see the lateral lines of algae (?) running left to right near the right side of the frame.

Canon A35F, Beautiful Pond, Mount Prospect, IL

Canon A35F, Beautiful Pond, Mount Prospect, IL

Canon QL17, $120 Re-furbished

The Canon QL17 rangefinder can take some wonderful shots.  This photo may be my best ever of the Mount Prospect, IL, pond.

Canon QL17, Beautiful Pond, Mount Prospect, IL

Canon QL17, Beautiful Pond, Mount Prospect, IL

Visit my Canon QL17 review for more details on this camera.

Canon SD880 IS, $110 Camera

Even though I love shooting with film cameras I always keep my Canon SD880 IS as backup.  Ken Rockwell’s writeup on the Canon SD880 persuaded me to purchase it.  Absolutely a wonderful digital camera at an affordable price.  It has the equivalent of a 28mm lens that ranges to 4x zoom.  It’s always in my camera bag along with my film camera of the day.

This photo of the Mount Prospect pond was taken with the Canon SD880.

Canon SD880, Pond in Mount Prospect

Canon SD880, Pond in Mount Prospect

Yashica T4, $250 camera purchased for $30

This is the near legendary point and shoot camera with the Zeiss lens.  I found it on Craigslist one early morning for $30 and drove 10 miles to purchase it immediately.

It has a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens but what I like most about the photo below is the excellent light metering.  In many photos, a bright blue sky will trick the camera into metering badly.  But the Yashica T4 below performed wonderfully.

Yashica T4, Beautiful Pond, Mount Prospect, IL

Yashica T4, Beautiful Pond, Mount Prospect, IL

Digital or film photos?  Use what you enjoy.

Nothing magical here.  It was nice of you to play along and read my blog post today.

Are digital images better than film photos?  Are the old film cameras really better than digital?  Did the Canon SD880 digital photo seem that much better than film cameras ranging in price from $5 to $250 and ranging in age from 10 to 40 years in age?

You get to decide.  As for me, I’m glad I can always shoot with both digital cameras and film cameras in my camera bag.

Thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today.


Digital or film photos, which one is better? — 2 Comments

  1. Hi Richard,…I enjoyed reading this article and comparing the photos of the pond taken by you with different cameras. I love what the QL17 gave you as well as the T4. I’ve long wanted a QL17 (I have a Canonet 28, but the more modern and faster QL would be nice to have.) As to the T4, I’ll be keeping my eyes open for one of these also now.


    • Brian,
      I have been thinking of selling my champagne colored Yashica T4 (operational as of last year) on Amazon for $200. I also have a Canon QL17 I purchased for $10 at a garage sale at Mt. Pulaski, IL (mechanically it seems fine, meter does work, but you will need to do its camera seals).
      If you’re interested and will give them a good home, I’ll sell them both to you via PayPal for $200 plus reasonable shipping. That’s basically getting a tested/operational Yashica T4 for retail with a bonus Canon QL17 fixer-upper tossed in as a bonus.
      Just give me time to say good-bye to the Yashica T4 with a good-bye blog post.
      Interested? Thanks.

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