photography and photographs understood

It’s All About the Sensor

writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: Jan 2013; revised: Oct 2017; readers past month: 530

People will ask me sometimes why I use a film camera instead of a digital camera. Each camera has a sensor for recording an image. A digital camera uses an electronic image sensor, which is reusable. A film camera uses generally a rectangular piece of a strip of film, which may be used only once. There are some advantages and disadvantages to each. However, at the basic level, different types of cameras have different types of sensors—electronic or film. The type of sensor it uses will effect the results of the initial image.

The Essence of a Camera

Although you can manipulate an image by various methods, especially with a computer program—I point out that film negatives can be converted to digital image files—the quality and condition of the initial image before it’s manipulated on a computer can be different depending on the image sensor. There are other factors that can effect the initial image (e.g., lighting, lenses, exposure settings, positioning of the camera, etc.), but all other conditions being equal except for the image sensor, the initial image created will be generally different. Even if you intend to manipulate the image with a computer program, having a good starting point for an image, or at least a starting point that you prefer and one which is near the end result you prefer, is better. The more the image is the way you want it to start, the easier it will be to achieve the results you want in post-production. Given these factors, I prefer generally the initial images created from film over electronic sensors.