STOP THE PRESSES!!!
-if you're not interested in my long-winded explanation, I understand-scroll down to the bottom of my post-
This post had me in a bit of a panic, only because I don't believe that digital is the be all and end all of quality photography. I used to (and by used to I mean that's the job I left before I went to Europe and i haven't worked anywhere else since) work in a photo lab, where one of my responsibilities was printing digital photos using a Noritsu 2901- which uses the same chemistry for printing film onto photographic paper. There are definite pros and cons to either system. At work we had daily meetings about this stuff.
IT ALL DEPENDS on what you want to do with the final picture! If you forsee taking a great shot to enlarge to 16X20 then DO NOT use digital. A lot of the digital prints I made had to undergo a whole lot of adjusting just to make an 8X10 that didn't look like absolute
I take hundreds of pictures when I travel, and I usually process rolls as I go or bring some home with me. However, you have to remember that if you wait too long to get the film processed your rolls can get heat/age fogged. Yes, this can be costly but if your bottom line is high quality, then this is the way to go. Sending rolls home
can be a problem in that you can never be sure what kind of conditions your package will be subjected to along the way. For a while, at my photo lab, we saw a lot of rolls come in through our mail-in service that were damaged by irradiation. Heat in general can be an issue ( i wouldn't worry so much about squashing). Some people do this with no problem, but all it takes is that one fluke to ruin your day. My recommendation would be to get the prints and send those home.
cameras may be small but the system is obsolescent (and actually quite inconvenient if you want reprints and don't have the index print anymore-you can't look at the film), at least in the US. Some labs won't even process the stuff anymore, and others will soon follow suit.
Take care of your negatives!
By the way, digital is not taking over film and the quality for the same price is not automatically better.
Digital is great if you are just taking party pictures and random snapshots.If you are absolutely sure you only want to use the pics for e-mail or the web then digital would be best. It is very easy to completely destroy your digital images
. The memory card may mysteriously corrupt, and you can lose all of your images. Some people mess around with their photos on their computer so much that they end up making irreversible errors on them. If you take all of your huge image files and decided to compress them into one convenient little zip file, or adjust the sizes so you can fit them onto one disk, then you are not going to like the prints you get from them if you take them to a photo lab. Pixelation, poor cropping etc. etc. blah blah blah. You better have the original files, without any adjustments whatsoever, saved somewhere. I could go on for a while. Digital still has a lot of bugs to work out, I mean come on, it is a relatively new technology in the big scheme of photography. it's nice to be able to see the shot immediately but the trade-off, depending on your priority, may or may not be worth it.
and if you do decide to take your memory card to a photo lab, don't go to one-hour places. They do first-run (as do many labs) and will not adjust for density and color. It may be cheap, but it isn't worth it. Seek out a quality lab. Same for film! And you can always just put the images you want printed onto a CD and have the lab print them.
this is the bottom part
That being said, on my last trip I took a 35mm SLR and a 3megapixel digital camera. By far the best shots I have are on film. I was able to find net cafes here and there that allowed me to upload photos to the web, and some places also let me scan prints.
If you're not a photographer, but you want to be able to make enlargements, I'd say go out and get a good quality 35mm point-and-shoot camera with a zoom. To get close to that quality in digital could cost over a thousand dollars.
If you do decide to buy a digital camera don't settle for the best-buy/wal-mart stuff. Go somewhere that concentrates strictly on photography. If I may plug my almamater, try Dan's Camera City
for info and purchasing.
It's all a personal decision, and again, it all depends on what you want to do with the final image.