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I still get asked if I’ve “switched to digital”. I made that switch over 20 years ago. In 2024 the digital camera is even more ubiquitous than the film camera was in the 20th century. I don’t say that just because everybody has a camera built into a phone.

The ease of shooting with a light digital camera, loading those images into your computer and developing and/or distributing them has made the big difference.

It’s easy to specify the improvements in the photographic experience:

1. You see your photos immediately.

2. You can show them to other people immediately.

3. If so inclined, you can develop them yourself at your desk with no need for chemicals or a separate room. This is why Adobe named its developing software Lightroom. Get it?

4. You can do way more with an image to change its appearance and you can easily go back and start over.

5. You shoot a roll of film once. If you save the negatives you need storage space for them. You can use a digital card pretty much indefinitely and the storage space is on a hard drive. So, over time, digital is cheaper.

Today’s technology means I can shoot an event for a client and send some pictures to my client in 10-15 minutes, depending on the number of shots and extent of developing.

If you follow events on the internet, you'll see the same turnaround time for images from around the world.

I understand that some people are still shooting film or returning to film for the fun of working with it. For the average person more interested in documenting a moment, or those, like me, who want to quickly provide the best images to a client, there’s no contest.

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Updated: Oct 24, 2022

If you want to shoot scenes and people that are constantly moving and changing, it’s helpful to focus and capture your shots using separate buttons on your camera. The common way of doing this is called “back button focusing”.

Your camera is probably delivered with the focusing and metering done as you “half press’ the shutter button.

Search your camera’s menus for the “custom controls” selection or something similar.

On my Canon cameras the “AF ON” button on the back initiates the auto focus function. The customizing I did was to change the function of the shutter button from both metering and focusing to just metering. If your camera won’t let you do that, get a different camera.

When I shoot, I initiate focusing on a point in the scene that should give me good focus on the subjects I’m shooting. I keep that focusing indicator in the middle of my viewfinder screen because using the AF ON button means I can point the camera at the focal point I want, focus, and then frame the shot and shoot using the shutter button. If your shutter button is doing both functions, you’ll refocus the shot as you press the shutter button and you may find the focal point has shifted to something beyond your subject or in front of it. I find that using the back button technique is easier than maintaining that half-press on the shutter button while framing the shot.

If you’re new to back button focusing it will take some practice but, once you do it by habit, it will make your results much more satisfactory.

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