Photographic War: Digital vs. Disposable
September 25, 2012
By: Maria Nichol
Ever since a man named Nicephore Niepce created the first photograph in 1826 by using a humble pewter plate and a dash of bitumen, people have been happily snapping away, recording their own personal legacy and capturing historic events. Today with the birth of the digital camera, there is no need to adjust any settings; with a click of a button the world of photography becomes accessible to all. Yet in such a technological world, many feel nostalgic to return to the simple and novel disposable camera, as they often produce the desirable vintage look many an Instagram user will edit their own photos to replicate. But in the brutal battle of digital versus disposable, who comes out on top?
Inside a disposable camera, a small roll of 35mm film sits snugly into the right hand side of the device. Unlike a normal film camera, when a picture is taken the film is spooled back into the camera eliminating the process of rewinding the film. Disposable cameras can usually only be opened up by screwdriver, and a plastic piece must be snapped off in order to get access to the film. In other words, if you want your pictures intact, leave it to the developers to remove the film. Once developed in a dark room, your novelty pictures wing their way back to you where you can admire your amateur photography in all its glory.
Disposable cameras have an abundance of advantages, the first of which being they are cheap and extremely easy to use. With film cameras you may be fiddling with settings indefinitely, yet with disposable, simply point, shoot, then wind on the film and start the fun all over again. These cameras are the definition of novelty and during summer, no festival goer is complete without their own disposable memories. Despite the fact that the cameras possess no ‘zoom in’ feature and the pictures can be unreliable at times, it is part of the charm. Great for experimentalists, an underwater camera is double the fun- capture your scuba diving adventures, or show off your amazing synchro skills at the local pool. Many also say there is an element of excitement to the wait for disposable images to be developed, where’s the fun in instant unless it’s a Polaroid? However for the impatient monster that lingers inside us all, frustration and disappointment can be the only outcome of a disposable experience. These cameras are guilt free gems- there is no worry of losing something expensive or precious, and when visiting a developing country you often draw less attention than the guy with the fancy Nikon.
With a digital camera, its built-in computer records the images you take electronically; there is no reliance on chemical or mechanical processes. Investing in a digital camera is a lot cheaper than a disposable in the long run, as you can delete unwanted or poor quality pictures by viewing an instant copy of the image on the screen at the back of your camera. You do not have to pay extortionate prices for development when you can simply view your shots as a slideshow on a PC or even print out on photo paper in the comfort of your own home (although disposable images do scan very well).
In general, digital cameras produce a sharper image and the flash features are a lot more reliable, but these devices do have their downsides. On purchasing your digital camera, a wad of instructions lay before you- reams and reams of paper that are in all honesty, a waste of trees. You thumb desperately through the pages attempting to understand the endless camera features before sitting back and realising that you are only an amateur anyway. These fancy electronic devices are surprisingly fragile and can be prone to getting stolen if it catches the eye of the local delinquent.
If you are looking for efficiency, regular usage and reliability then go digital. If you live life on the technological edge, opt for disposable. There is a place for everything, you’ve just got to choose what is right for you. After all photography is art and using something more unpredictable can open up a whole new world, but who wants disposable wedding photos??
By Maria Nichol
Images courtesy of Flickr.