With digital cameras taking over in the last decade, analogue cameras have more or less become a thing of the past.

A Kodak Junior Six-16 Series II folding camera, made between 1937-40. Ramesh Pathania/Mint.

At the most, diehard amateurs still fascinated with the idea of film spend time loading cameras and even longer getting the film rolls processed to see the results—a cumbersome and expensive process.

Well-known photographer Ashok Dilwali, who has been capturing the beauty of the Himalayas for some decades, moved completely to the digital format five years back, and is happy with the possibilities it offers in correcting, enhancing and editing images. “Photoshop is photography and photography is Photoshop," he says with a laugh. “Your creativity is the only limit."

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Some shops in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, have displayed the old cameras in shop windows. There were Click III, Isoly II, Agfa, the Rolleiflex Twin-lens Reflex camera, Kodak cameras and even some from the Nikon series, such as FM, FM-2, FE—and some of these can be bought now for as little as 3,000.

The Mahatta & Co. shop in Connaught Place, New Delhi, has over 100 analogue cameras of various makes kept in a well-maintained shop window. “They are not for sale," says Pavan Mahatta, a well-known photographer and the elder son of the owner, Madan Mahatta.

Madan, an 80-year-old portrait and architecture photographer, was happy to talk about the Linhof Technika camera he once used. “The conventional method of photography was good, but now with digital images, so much can be done on the computer; lots of manipulation can be done. The entire process is simpler and cost-effective," he says.

Digital cameras are easier to work with and save time on post-production. But along with this convenience there is also a hard truth: There is “no chemistry" involved in the entire process of photography now.

Night photography, for one, suffers owing to the unavailability of film and the chemicals required to develop it. “The digital chip fails in the dark or in extremely bright light. The shadow and highlight details can’t match the quality offered by film," says veteran photographer Pablo Bartholomew.

This may explain why Bartholomew continues to use both digital technology—calling digital cameras idiot boxes in jest—and film. “Digital is about convenience," he concludes wryly. “It has spawned a whole generation of photographers who think they know everything."

ramesh.p@livemint.com

Anupam Kant Verma contributed to this story.

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