I have never stopped shooting film but started with digital back in 1999 and continued to buy new cameras as they improved. This includes newer used film cameras that are more automatic. Digital still cameras and the results out of them have continued to improve and now easily surpass film 35mm cameras in most respects. And with excellent mirrorless cameras now available you can see what you are going to get before you shoot it and it becomes easy to get very reliable very good images almost every time. My most recent mirrorless cameras are a crop sensor and a full frame sensor from the end of last year and they both give excellent results almost 100% of the time. And their in camera electronics produce both raw and jpeg outputs that are for the most part better than anything out of my 35mm film cameras. And the digital cameras also do very good video.
Todays better phone cameras are vastly superior to any of the compact film cameras I have owned in the last 50 years. There is absolutely no comparison between my iPhone 11 Pro and my old Olympus Infinity Stylus. Except for nostalgia the iPhone beats it easily. And the iPhone does video, can edit the images and video, plus backs all up automatically.
As far as permanence, that depends on you the owner. If you back up still image files in raw and jpeg and in case of iPhones the newer Apple compression system plus jpeg. You can feel secure that these files are long lasting. I personally also keep on line storage plus local hard SSD or spinner hard drive back ups (plural).
I like using vintage cameras. I still love my old Voightlander Prominent that my dad bought new in 1953. It still takes excellent photos. The ancient GE light meter that goes with it still works fine and both it and the camera have no batteries. I just get great results from my now 40 year old Olympus OM2n that is to me the epitome of “everything you need and nothing you don’t” SLR. One of the best cameras ever made. And then there was the unexpected joy from my Dad’s last camera a Minolta 600si that he left me when he passed away in 2008. At that time I did not want to be bothered with it as I was using digital and then loaned it to one of my wife’s friends for 5 or 6 years. I got it back along with two rolls of Fuji 200 24 ex about 2015. The lens my Dad had for it is a Quantary (Sigma) 50mm 2.8 macro. The 600 si and Minolta are gems that I knew nothing about. That camera is so simple to use and can be auto everything including focus, film load, and so on. When I got the first two cheap-films back I was in love. The results were just beautiful. The lens was able to capture macro better than any other lens I have ever used. So as a person with this life story I use these old vintage tools and remember them over my long interest of taking pictures. But to someone without this history digital capture is far superior. Except, when you buy a box of chocolates or get a roll back from the developer, you just don’t know exactly what you are going to get. Could be a caramel, or a cream, or maybe a chocolate cream. But no matter what unless you hate chocolates there will be something in there you love.
All of these were shot with my old cameras mentioned in this post. All were processed by the brilliant photo lab North Coast Photography Services in Carlsbad CA who I found from the recommendation of the also brilliant Ken Rockwell the World’s best photography blogger.
When I leave on our long summer trip in a few days in our motorhome I will be taking the future and the past cameras with me.