One of the first things of any practical application I learned as a child was how to put film in a camera. This is hardly unusual for somebody of my generation (I’m 25 now) but it is highly unusual for anyone of the current crop of whipper-snappers about to come into their own.
The digital camera has replaced the film camera. No more needs to be said on that count. This does not mean, however, that film is dead. Far from it, it has its proponents, just like everything else. CD replaced vinyl in mainstream music consumption, yet music fans continue to listen to vinyl (Many people I know I have both) indeed, where would Hip Hop be without it? We have digital films, yet there are still artists that specialize in Super-8 and swear by it.
The thing is, until you can replicate exactly the tiniest specifics of an older technology, you can’t replace it. Not unless you can totally beat its predecessor, performance-wise. When you work with something long enough, you grow to utilize all elements of its performance, even the less desirable ones. Certain tech will become symbolic of a certain time, and periodic waves of nostalgia and trends in fashion will bring it back again. DVD’s are easier to manage/store and superior in quality to VHS, but the former only started to surpass the latter after it became affordable. For a while that was VHS’s biggest selling point over the emergent DVD format. Cassette tape never really did replace vinyl (despite being cheaper) because, though it was more convenient, the performance wasn’t as good. See?
So film cameras produce higher quality images, you can get better models for cheaper than you can their digital counterparts. This has facilitated not the predicted demise of film amongst photographers, but rather a renaissance and promotion of the format to a sort of ‘elder statesman’ status. The same plateau occupied by vinyl records, a format never to die, but one that’s appeal has certainly become more selective.
The new kids are, however, much more convenient. In the old days, you’d take a photo and then have to wait a couple weeks to get it back to find out it was blurry or overexposed. Most digital models allow you to see the image you’ve just taken immediately afterward. That is a lifesaver. A digital camera on your phone is a useful thing, allowing whippet-quick and snappable pictures that can be shared with the world immediately. In short, digital will serve the amateur better. The ability to alter the pictures with relative ease (I am myself fond of creating arty black and white shots) and the ease of use in general has won over the average Joe. Film, however, is far from a dead technology. It remains the domain of the professional and the gifted amateur and is far from lost. In many ways, quality-wise, it is still superior.