Poor Dante Stella. A serious traditional film and darkroom photographer, he keeps going out to buy a digital camera, and keeps coming home empty handed. In this article he tells why:
[I]n many contexts, digital seems to have shifted the burden of post-processing to the photographer. With analog materials, this burden (getting to the proof stage) rested on laboratories, which were expected to be good at outputting. Lab services could be expensed by the media or passed through to the customer with portrait shooting....Digital has pushed this "workflow" back into the lap of the photographer.
I find it a little troubling that current digital file formats...make it difficult or impossible to control dissemination of copyrighted material. This means money out of the pocket for professionals and some loss of control over the finished product for hobbyists.
[W]hen you sit down and break down costs, digital doesn't really make photography cost any less; it mainly redistributes the capital cost of equipment.
[D]igital...has much more limited dynamic range and far less exposure tolerance at the ends than film does. This makes shooting digital as demanding as shooting slide film....The difference with film is that everything gets recorded; what you lose is your choice. With digital, that choice is made at the time of exposure - and sometimes in situations where you are not best positioned to make the call. You can't look at a histogram every time you are shooting scenes with white objects.
One aspect of the digital versus film battle you never see discussed is the issue of storage - both at acquisition and in ultimate storate. Film is its own storage medium, at least film negs are. Digital requires a different type of storage and several things about digital are just... different.
When you tally the comments made by professionals who prefer digital, it always seems to be for reasons related to efficiency (e.g., no processing, retakes, instant checking of results) - not for the reason that digital makes their photographs better in an aesthetic sense....
So why do manufacturers put all the money in digital?...Because with film there were no worlds left to conquer. Digital opens up a new world of planned obsolescence that could not be stoked in the film word. Consider that SLR technology progressed for about 50 years after World War II. Manufacturers added TTL metering, autowinding, multicoating, DX coding, multipattern metering, auto-winding, and ultimately, auto-focus....Autofocus, the last innovation, as Canon and Minolta made clear, allowed a huge break and allowed manufacturers to build and sell whole new systems from the ground up. This began a new feature race....When the Nikon F5 came out (as well as its Canon counterpart), there were simply no technological worlds left to conquer for film....