What is a Non-Digital Camera?

Christen da Costa Profile image

Written by:

Updated July 26, 2022

As a beginner photographer, you might be wondering about the different types of cameras. For instance, what is a non-digital camera? This article will get you acquainted with non-digital cameras, which may help you decide if you want to look deeper into film photography or opt for the best digital camera.


  • Non-digital cameras are also known as film cameras or analog cameras.
  • These cameras use film which needs to be developed in an actual darkroom.
  • You need to be intentional when taking photos with a non-digital camera because a roll of film only has so many possible shots, requiring diagnostic accuracy.

What is a Non-Digital Camera?

Non-digital cameras are also known as film cameras or even analog cameras. With film photography, the image is captured on thin, transparent strips of film. One side of the film is coated with a gelatin emulsion containing tiny silver halide crystals that determine the contrast and resolution of an image. Non-digital cameras use a mirror system that allows light to pass through to a sensor to capture an image. Digital cameras use a different method of operation if you are wondering what a mirrorless digital camera is. You can learn more about digital camera features by reading this comparison of the Blackmagic URSA V1 vs V2.

How is Film Developed?

So, when the film strip is exposed to light, it darkens, capturing the image as a negative. Once the entire roll of photographic film is used up, it is taken to a dark room for film processing using liquid chemicals.

Major Differences Between Film and Digital Cameras

Is there an advantage to using traditional film as opposed to digital cameras? Film cameras use rolls of film, such as sheet film or instant film, to create images, while digital cameras record digital images on storage cards. Moreover, non-digital cameras use chemicals in film processing, while digital photos produce instant photos. Digital cameras can also use various types of mirrors, which can be useful to know if you are wondering about digital cameras with a translucent mirror. Can these mirrors coupled with other factors affect digital camera photo quality? Probably not, but then, digital cameras do have their downsides.

Advantages of Film Cameras

  • If you want to learn more about the principles of photography, film cameras can be a great starting point. You can pick from a wide array of cameras on the market, each using different film types.
  • Analog cameras keep you rooted in the art of photography, forcing you to take precise, calculated, and perfect shots. However, analog cameras do not have an auto mode or grid lines.
  • Non-digital cameras encourage the photographer to be thoughtful when taking shots. 35mm film offers limited shots (usually 36 images to a roll), and each shot counts.
  • Non-digital photography allows a professional photographer to create artistic effects like vignettes, overexposures, and light leaks, as well as additional effects when processing the film in a dark room. Although you can achieve the same with photo processing software, the deliberate nature of analog cameras offers an authentic effect.

Disadvantages of Non-Digital Cameras

  • You must develop a film before viewing the images. So, in the end, you can develop poor photos and only notice the mistakes after film processing.
  • A camera using analog technology is more complex than other camera designs. They will not feature automatic exposure, allow for a modular design, or boast automatic accuracy of detection. In other words, these are not cameras for beginners.
  • The speed settings for using flash are limited unless you use a flashgun that offers a long peak.

Insider Tip

Manually record all your settings when taking photos with a film camera, so that when you end up with underexposed shots, you can adjust the settings later for better results.


Will old film SLR lenses work on new digital SLR cameras?

It depends on the brand of the camera and the type of adapter you choose. Many companies have altered the way their cameras and lenses fit together. You should be able to make it work with some experimentation.

Do non-digital cameras have interchangeable lenses?

Most analog cameras can swap out lenses for creative effect. A few exceptions include the ZX and MZ series of Pentax film cameras.

Is non-digital photography cheaper than digital photography?

Film cameras may be cheaper to purchase up front, but you have to consider film and developing costs. With a digital camera, you will only have to worry about storage cards.

STAT: The global revenue of the Eastman Kodak Company amounted to around 1.24 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. After witnessing income loss in 2018, in 2019 Kodak again experienced profit. (source)

Christen da Costa Profile image