Is film or digital better for action photos?

Digital Action Photos

With digital photography, you could shoot several of these action shots to make sure you get the perfect one.
With digital photography, you could shoot several of these action shots to make sure you get the perfect one.
Dougal Waters/Getty Images

In the heyday of film photography, nothing was more frustrating than taking a bunch of shots, sending them off for developing, waiting days to get them back, only to receive blurred, overexposed and disappointing images. Digital cameras are perfect for action and adventure photography for the simple reason that you can see what you've shot immediately. If you didn't get what you wanted, just keep shooting. It's not like you're wasting film or anything.

Top-of-the-line DSLRs are well-suited to action photography. High-end models can crank out about 60 shots per second. With an output like that, you're certain to get a good shot. The camera's tiny memory cards can hold hundreds of images, so you can just keep going. With a film camera, you'd have to take a break to load new film. Get the largest memory card you can so you don't have to stop shooting after running out of memory.

The high speed films necessary to get good quality action photos make for some pretty grainy prints when blown up to more than a four by six print. But you can set your digital camera to record images at different compression settings. The larger the setting, the larger the print you can make. You bought that big memory card, so fill it up. Set your camera's resolution higher, and get some action shots that will make you proud.

You need to be somewhat computer savvy to shoot digital action photography. You'll need to get your photos off of the camera and onto your computer's hard drive or a CD. Some stores offer this service. To really get the most from your action photography, you'll need to edit your photos with photo-enhancing software.

Longevity is another advantage to digital photography. While digital photography has not been around long enough to be tested for its aging properties, it's probably safe to say that images taken digitally will last longer than the 100-year lifespan of images shot on film and printed on paper.

For lots more information on action photography, zoom over to the next page for camera-related links.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Digital SLR Guide. "What is a Digital SLR Camera?" (Jan. 14, 2010)
  • "Action Photography." (Jan. 14, 2010)
  • Marietta College. "Film." (Jan. 14, 2010)
  • Nikon Inc. USA. Cameras. (Jan. 14, 2010)
  • Story, Derrick. "Top Ten Digital Photography Tips." Sept. 6, 2005. (Jan. 14, 2010)