Want to feel old? Then watch this video of kids’ reactions to a film camera. It’s a good reminder of just how much photography has changed over the past 15 years.
I used film cameras right up until around 2003 – so most of the photos from my first year at university were shot on 35mm film that I had developed at Jessops (the high street photography shop that went bankrupt and then came back from the dead). Whilst I have most of these photos on my computer now, that was only because I scanned the negatives. I’ve still got plenty of paper wallets with prints lying around at my parents’ house.
My first brush with digital photography was with a camera that belonged to a friend’s father, in around 1999. The images were 640×480 in size – 0.3 megapixels – and were in the proprietary FlashPix image format, rather than JPEG. And it cost around £300. Suffice to say the image quality wasn’t great – certainly far worse than what compact film cameras could do at the time.
The first digital camera I owned was a second-hand Fujifilm DX-10, which used SmartMedia cards – basically giant SIM Cards with an exposed chip and a maximum capacity of 128 MB. Maximum resolution was 1024×768 – 0.8 megapixels – but with a decent enough lens to take good pictures. It took 4 AA batteries so it was quite heavy.
Nowadays I shoot with my Canon EOS 450D, which has a 16 GB SD card and takes images at 12.2 megapixel resolution, or my iPhone 5, which has an 8 megapixel back camera and 64 GB on-board storage, plus effectively unlimited cloud storage.
If I still owned a film camera, then to share a photo I’d just taken, I’d need to finish the film, take it to a shop, wait at least an hour, then take the photos home and scan them in. Nowadays it’s a couple of taps on my phone’s screen.
Whilst it’s nice to reminisce about the analogue days, I would not consider going back to using a film camera. Digital photography offers so much convenience.