Camera Kit: Digital 35mm, Canon 6Dii

I'm using digital less and less since I discovered mechanical film cameras. Developing the negatives is worth the effort. But digital still has a place, especially when it comes to capturing images of fast-moving sports, children and one-time events where the risks of shooting film outweigh the benefits.

What follows is not a review of this camera, but of using a digital camera alongside film cameras.

Canon 6Dii kit

What is it good for?

  • Unlimited shots. It is handy to not be picture-limited to take images of kids around the house, or on some trips where images might number in the hundreds.
  • Instant gratification. You know what your shot looks like before you leave a scene. You can also spend time experimenting with your lighting set-up. You can get your pictures processed and published online almost instantly.
  • Colour. I keep my film development costs down by only shooting black and white. That means that if I really want a colour image, digital is the easiest way to do it.
  • ISO as a variable for each image. With film you are often stuck at one ISO until you finish a roll. It is nice to use ISO as a variable in the exposure triangle for each image (like large format, actually). 
  • Autofocus. No mechanical film cameras have autofocus and I miss this feature sometimes. Especially when using wide apertures or of fast moving subjects like kids. 
  • Scanning film negatives. I use a DSLR in combination with a lightbox to scan my film negatives. The only reason I don't use a regular scanner is because I already have the camera and don't want another large piece of equipment on the desk.

What's the compromise?

  • Up-front cost. A 35mm ('full-frame') digital camera will cost at least three figures. A film 35mm camera costs barely two figures. And you can shoot a LOT of film for $1000. By the time you've spent that much, a digital shooter will be upgrading their camera to a new model for another $1000 or $2000. A film camera, ironically, will never be obsolete.
  • Size. Compared to film cameras, digital comes with a lot of bulk. This is especially true of the lenses which need to accommodate auto-focus and, often,  stabilization motors.
  • One system (usually). Related to the cost, it is generally the case you need to commit to one system. People are on the hunt for the perfect all-round camera for this reason. This is why the forums are filled with apologists for a given manufacturer (Canon vs Sony, for example). Unfortunately the perfect camera doesn't exist, and a compromise needs to be made, or money thrown at the situation to buy into more than one system. With film, the cameras and lenses are so affordable, you can get 3 systems (street, portrait and landscape, for example) for the price of one digital camera body alone. 

What's in my camera bag?