Digital surely has got to be best ? Discuss

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by max zappa, Oct 18, 2003.

  1. I am a traditionalist and for a long time have resisted the move to
    digital photography. I have some experience in the darkroom and love
    to use old equipment, considering some of my manual lenses superior
    to modern eqivalents ( thats a separate topic altogether ! ).

    However I am coming to the conclusion that digital SLRs and digital
    processing must be superior to the old silver halide photography for
    the following reasons. Assuming a film is perfectly exposed, lets
    now examine the processes involved to produce the final print, and
    their inherent potential problems.

    Any print made from a negative is reliant in my view upon too many
    variables, and those variables are .

    a. Correct developing of the film,which is itself affected
    by such things as, correct temperature, freshness of chemicals, the
    drying process, and storage.

    b. Correct exposure in the enlarger.

    c. Correct printing from the negative, which is reliant
    on such things as the quality of the enlarging lens, accurate
    focusing, temperature of chemicals, freshness of chemicals, flatness
    of the film, flatness of the paper etc, and particularly a dust free
    environment.

    In short in order to get a near perfect print from a correctly
    exposed film requires all of the above variables to be rigorously
    controlled.

    By comparison looking at the digital image captured by e.g. a 6
    MegaPixel SLR , lets look at same process and make some
    observations. Firstly the image captured by the digital camera onto
    digital media will never deteriorate, it will be as crisp and dust-
    free as the moment it was captured, it will never fade. It does not
    need re-focussing by an enlarger to produce the final image, and
    therefore the image is not distorted by another lens. The print will
    not need re-spotting or touching up , as dust and hairs will never
    appear on the digital image. The image is always perfectly flat and
    therefore does not suffer from the problems of curling as negatives
    in the carrier of an enlarger often do.

    These are my views, but it seems to me that it is only a matter of
    time before we see the death of silver halide photography. I would
    imagine that silver halide photography will still exist but will be
    considered an esoteric art and will only be practised by individuals
    who will become the equivalent of master craftsmen, much like e.g. a
    master carpenter.

    What do you think?

    Max Zappa
     
  2. Wow! This is the first time anybody has ever brought up these points....TODAY!
     
  3. Max Zappa doesn't know how to search the archives.

    Discuss.
     
  4. The problem with traditional photographic processing is not due to chemical freshness or focusing, it is however, if you neglect the above. I use 120 neg stock, dev and printed inhouse with a sharpness to die for. Digital has its place alongside the traditional. And if photographers were to think about there composure before releasing the shutter we would have less Adobe work.
     
  5. I use both film and digital. Digital has a different look that is neither better nor worse. It is definitely more convenient. By the way, what caught my attention is that you mentioned the following:

    >>Firstly the image captured by the digital camera onto digital media will never deteriorate,<<

    That I didn't know. How do you save your RAW TIFFS after shooting? Is it onto a CD or a hard drive?
     
  6. I apologise if this type of subject has been discussed before, and yes I havent serached the archives. I can see from some replies that perhaps I ought to have done so. Nevertheless since I havent searched the archives I thought my topic worthy of discussion. It certainly wont be the only topic to be have discussed more than once.

    Oh well lets discuss chromatic abberations.
     
  7. -Eventually CDs will deteriorate and hard drives are not invincible. Digitals ok for me for the occasional photograph, but nobody's going to pry me away from film and processing it in a darkroom.

    -Dominic
     
  8. Which affordable digicam will allow me to indulge my passion for nighttime photography, using exposure times up to several hours?

    Oh.

    That's what I thought.

    Sorry, gotta go...my cabal of silver halide alchemists is expecting me for a cup of esoteric tea.
     
  9. jt

    jt

    Well, I don't think the digital printing process is quite as simple as you make out.

    Any print made from a digital camera is reliant in my view on too many variables, and those variables are

    a. Correct colourspace conversions on importing the files from the camera into a working colourspace on the computer, and correct lighting of the screen to allow correct judgements and the necessary adjustments (white balance and other) to be made.

    b. Correct density and printer setup options and colourspace settings/conversion on sending the data to the printing device.

    c. Correct printing of the data, which is reliant on such things as the quality of the printer, correct head alignment, stability of the surface on which the printer is, freshness of ink, quality and flatness of the paper etc, and particularly a dust free environment.

    Okay, so I accept what you're trying to say, and I'm as happy as anyone to use digital media instead of film, but it does bring its own set of problems, and I don't think your arguments are particularly valid. A lot of what you mention in your (a)(b)(c) are just as easy to control as are the aspects of producing a print from a digital camera.
     
  10. Sure, maybe. But even though shooting 4x5" chromes is a bit expensive for an amateur, it's nearly free compared to what a Leaf Valeo 22 digital back and camera+accesories to go cost.

    Progress is progress and it's supposed to bring something good with it as does digital photography. Note, however that your list of variables for "traditional" photography is a bit one-sided: there are several Achilles heels' with the digital process (like calibration, archiving, printing, software etc.) Not that they make digital unatractive, it's just good to note that there's no free lunch.
     
  11. Firstly the image captured by the digital camera onto digital media will never deteriorate, it will be as crisp and dust- free as the moment it was captured, it will never fade.
    The dust free bit will depend on how clean the sensor is. The longevity will depend on the life of the storage medium. You will also always needa computer and software to be able to view the image. The overall quality of the iamge itself will depend on several factors: Was it captured as a jpeg, a TIFF or as a RAW file ? The latter is better because the camera does no image processing. And then it is down tohow you process the raw data into a useful image. And of course that is both software dependent and also user dependent. As an example of user depence. In order to be able to judge an image properly and decide how it might need to be manipulated to get the result you desire you need an accurately calibrated and profiled monitor, and maybne also a printer as as well. when you start working digitally you become not only the photographer, but also the processing lab and to a large but hidden degree, the film manufacturer as well. Are you ready for that responsibility?
    It does not need re-focussing by an enlarger to produce the final image, and therefore the image is not distorted by another lens.
    But it will need some degree of sharpening. I use a three step sharpening routine: a capture sharpen, possibly a custom sharpen, and then an output sharpen. I no longer use the old paradigm of using a gross sharpening step just before output.
    The print will not need re-spotting or touching up , as dust and hairs will never appear on the digital image.
    That is true if your sensor is clean in the first place.
    The image is always perfectly flat and therefore does not suffer from the problems of curling as negatives in the carrier of an enlarger often do.
    That alone is completely valid.
    I would imagine that silver halide photography will still exist but will be considered an esoteric art and will only be practised by individuals who will become the equivalent of master craftsmen, much like e.g. a master carpenter.
    This true may be true but there are and will be in the future master craftsfolk of the digital image too. Craft is craft but the tools change from craft to craft.
    So that is what I think.
     
  12. I'm a huge proponent of digital photography, but my mom just had a scare with her hard drive - it looked like seven gigs of un-backed-up photos were lost forever. We lucked out; it was just the controller board on the drive itself, so a few drives and hours later, the photos are safe - but back up your stuff rigorously, ok?
     
  13. I do not have to wait to become a Master Craftsman at the art of printing. I am and have been one for many years. I recently completed a 5 year stint producing giant murals on a Dever 8 by 10 horizontal enlarger. I have also specialized in black and white and custom prints in colour of all sizes. I can rebuild auto processors and fine tune any enlargers ever made.

    Recently I purchased a Canon 10d and I will never look back. You're right about all the variables on making a print. I love having no grain, changable ISO with low noise at higher speeds, and coming home with a few shots on the camera and immediately printing them. My digital darkroom is Capture One LE and Photoshop and I can do things I only dreamed about in the real darkrooms of my past.
     
  14. some guy said: Sure, maybe. But even though shooting 4x5" chromes is a bit expensive for an amateur, it's nearly free compared to what a Leaf Valeo 22 digital back and camera+accesories to go cost.

    Ahem. You forgot to add in the price of a real drum scanner. Perhaps you think your 4 by 5 chromes could be reproduced in a traditional fashion? I don't think so. If you are lucky you could still get a traditional print made on a Cibachrome. But those days are numbered. The reality is if your image was to make it to a high quality book or magazine, it would have to be scanned and go through the entire digital process where in the end it would come out with the exact same quality, although with much more room for inaccuracies than a 6 megapizel digital camera image. Of course you can slap it on your light table and ooo and ahhh over it with your loupe any time you want. You should borrow a Canon 10d with a couple of nice zooms one day and shoot a bunch and then come back here and comment on the whole thing. BTW, I used to be a traditional purist too.
     
  15. Going to throw my $.02 into the fray as well on this topic.
    I would imagine that silver halide photography will still exist but will be considered an esoteric art
    *Snicker*, it is now. Just look at the number of dark room old timers who spend more time bragging about the fact they can mix dektol and work with a safe light vs actually showing us good pictures. Any time the process/medium takes over for the intent of the photographic art 'essoteric' becomes an under-statement. The ability to project a color slide with fake, dye induced colors of a fire hydrant or perform zone system on a boring, grainy, picture of a barn doesn't earn you a cookie in my book, or greater recognition. I also have no idea why so many photographers are fighting with conventional B/W processing and yet producing images *worse* than any digicam. That's one good thing about the digital revolution; photographers are now starting to evaluate images on the basis of their actual merits vs what film/lens they used. For others the result is a almost a drug induced withdrawl because those factors can no longer be used as a crutch.
    The continued availablity of silver halide materials in general is a much more controversial question because the current production of those materials can change with an announcement with the ring of the bell on WallStreet Monday morning.
    MF and LF film photography continue to be extremly powerfull artistic formats that don't have a lot of competition from digital at the present time. With bigger film the aethestic moves away from simple linear resolution comparisons and more into the actual density characteristics of film/paper and their unique characteristics that are tough to emulate with digital capture/printing. The problem though is that small format film sales couple into the production of larger format film sales, and the rate of decreasing small format film sales has been increasing producing an inevitable house of cards effect.
     
  16. I cannot believe that someone actually thinks that a 6 megapixel camera can record what 4x5 film can! Only at 14 mp does digital even begin to match 35mm film!
     
  17. Digital has it's own set of problems for sure. The sensors themselves are not
    as perfect as we imagine and they will change over time. A $2000 camera's
    sensor will become almost useless after a while. But they will be obsolete
    long before then, so who cares, right?
     
  18. By the way i am a digital advocate, it is sort of painful to shoot film smaller than 4x5 now. My digital darkroom is Adobe Photoshop 7.0, CaptureOne DSLR (the full version), and a couple of Photoshop plug-in toolsets from PixelGenius and , if I need it, the SI 2.0 plug-in from fredmiranda.com. Like Scott and Jim I also work on an accurately calibrated & profiled monitor. At this point in time I don't make my own prints but have a lab or service bureau make them for me --they provide me with profile of their set up an I use it to soft proof the image file before I send it to them and I compare it to the monitor image afterwards. esssentilly this results in exactly the print I want without a lab tech interpreting what I wrote on the order jacket or what I told the lab manager.
     
  19. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    I'm just not looking forward too the day when all images may look the same. Homogenized. Or thrown through quick predictable Photoshop filters
     
  20. I cannot believe that someone actually thinks that a 6 megapixel camera can record what 4x5 film can!
    If a photographer spends their entire life shooting nothing bigger than 35mm film (a category that includes the vast majority of film based photographers) then it is irrelevant how much resolution 4x5 film has. I also challenge any 4x5 or MF film camera to match the versatility of a modern digicam.
    Only at 14 mp does digital even begin to match 35mm film!
    A 6mp digicam will produce better and more consistent 8x10 prints with conventional printing than the vast majority of 35 film based systems because of the reasons Max brought up, so we don't have to even bother with 14 mp. While fine grained slow speed 35mm films technically have more resolution than that 6 mp digicams, that additional film resolution is far more difficult if not often impossible to extract unde many circumstances, and commercial printing sure qualifies under the later. This is why much lower rez digicam images are often superior when printed on Fuji Frontiers next to medium speed 35mm films; aka, the pragmatics of photography will always win over 'theoretical capabilities'. The only drawbacks I see to digital capture right now are a lack of diversity in the sensor market and barely incremental increases in image quality.
     
  21. Ahem. You forgot to add in the price of a real drum scanner.
    My Epson 3200 didn't cost too much and is perfectly adequate for my needs. I'm not interested in large murals. If I want a drum scan, which, given my amateur status, wouldn't be too often, I can still get quite many scans for the price of the digital back accesories alone. I could make Ilfochromes myself, but I'm not interested as I can print digitally. Why set artificial limits on one's work?
    4x5" view cameras are very nice for their given envelope. Likewise, a Nikon D2H would be a darn good tool for action and street photography. Many people tend to place too much emphasis on technology and too little on the result.
     
  22. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    I have the 3200 as well. And is perfect for 35meg files from a small slide, more than i need. e
     
  23. Of course this post has precipitated a torrent of response.

    My .02:

    This is just an extension of the endless discussion in photographic circles about
    technique and equipment. Very few seem to be preoccupied with the content of their
    photos but rather that it was taken with a Leica or their Hasselblad "nothing beats
    Zeiss glass".

    Fact is that digital is a new tool that allows more people to produce good pictures
    with greater freedom to manipulate them. The issue of ultimate quality/sharpness/
    lack of grain/etc. is irrelevant if the content is uninteresting.

    If we get more interesting pictures from digital it is good. If we don't , it is bad.
     
  24. The Major problem with Digital is this, You are severely limited in the amount of pictures you can take, I mean On my 2 Megapixel I bought a couple years ago I have a 128mb card and can only get 125 pictures on the best quality, And these cards cost 60 bucks a piece. Then you only have them on disk or HD then you can either print them out yourself on a home PC which between photo paper and ink will cost a fortune or bring them to a photo shop and have them printed which costs any where from a quarter to 90 cents depending on where you go and if its on sale. But the problem with film on vacation is getting it back unscathed as talked about in numerous posts
     

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