Does Shooting More Images Increase Their Quality?

One of the most interesting (empirical?) aspects of digital image capture is that we seem to shoot more images during a typical session than we did when shooting film for a similar project.

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For a typical model test shoot, I used to expose two to three rolls of film through my 35mm gear. Sometimes these were 24 exposure rolls, so a model test shoot might normally consist of 72 to 108 photographs, some of which would be scanned and 8×10 portfolio prints made. Now I’m shooting these digitally I’m making a more shots than normal. How many? A typical shoot now consists of 200-300 photographs, quadruple my normal film-based sessions. Are they better? My guess is that not having to worry about film or processing costs lets me produce more images faster. At least that’s my theory so I asked a few friends.

One of Shutterbug’s former editors told me that it “could be true. I did a shoot with a model last week. I shot three rolls of 120 film, two rolls of 35mm but 600 digital shots with my digital SLR! I tend to shoot a lot faster when working with digital and go ahead and take shots I would have passed on with film.”

A wedding photographer told me, “Just thinking about the film and processing cost savings eases the resistance to pressing the shutter.” But it’s here where that the law of unintended consequences begins to peek its head out of the water. He then told me “at a wedding I did Sunday I found myself holding back toward the end—I was about out of storage cards! I went back through images, deleting a few that wouldn’t make the first edit.”

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It’s not just on assignments that we shoot more digital frames than we would have film exposures in the past. Another part of shooting more is through making tests to check exposure, much as we would use Polaroid film in the past. During that same wedding my friend told me that “I took lots of exposures adjusting white balance, checking fill flash at both the outdoor ceremony location and inside at the reception hall, before each event started.”

So maybe a better question might be: Is making all these additional exposures adding premature wear and tear on digital cameras, especially their shutters, than their film counterparts might have experienced? But to answer the question, I do think my images are better because it allows me the freedom to explore other —such as shooting variations with the Skink Pinhole lens—without thinking about processing costs. (More on this topic later this week…)

Author: Joe Farace

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