Do top Professional photographers use film still ?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by john_dowle|1, May 14, 2011.

  1. Are there still some of the worlds top photographers using medium format film for their work or have most moved over to digital ? I was wondering because with digital medium format they obviously have a choice that is equal or better quality, or is it better or equal to film MF ?
     
  2. Some do: http://blogs.photopreneur.com/photographers-who-still-use-film
     
  3. It's better to concentrate on subjects and ideas, and not on the type of the camera you use to take them.
     
  4. John:
    There must be a few. Pro shops in NYC still sell medium and large format film. And there are still a few pro labs left too.
    The thing you have to remember though is that there's no single thing called "quality" in professional photography. Different films and digital platforms have factors that make them...well...different. Unique combinations make up signature styles.
    Finally, if you're working with the sorts of high-end clients that New York commercial shooters are, it's unlikely you can indulge in the luxury of film vs digital debates. It's all about getting a unique look and feel. If a certain kind of images is called for; you do it.
     
  5. I was asking only out of interest, I shoot weddings with D3's & D700's but have just started with MF, I'm shooting film for my own pleasure, although I might start shooting some portraits etc with MF at some weddings this summer. I just wondered if any well known big shooters still preferred to use film MF/LF for their work, thanks for the feedback.
     
  6. At a certain level, photographers are hired to produce images that have the look and feel that "they" create. If you are shooting film for your look, then you will probably shoot film. But my sense is that there are probably very few photographers, probably much older and specialized, that would only use film these days. Some clients don't really care what is used while many look at you with a blank stare if you suggest shooting film.
    I will add that as recently as 5 years ago, I had clients who wanted their work shot with film and that was more than ok with me. I do think digital has gotten better in the last 5 years, but for certain work I would probably prefer shooting film--even though digital takes a lot of the guess work out of it all.
     
  7. The reasons for shooting medium and large format film are still there. The quality can't be beat unless you spend a lot of money on a digital camera. I know several wedding shooters that still prefer film. It's what they do. And the cost of film and processing is a lot cheaper than a pair of high end DSLRs.
    The fine art shooters are of course still shooting film. But the commercial world has gone almost exclusively digital over the last decade. For example in the photo district in Manhattan there were dozens of E6 processing labs. Now you are lucky to find one.
     
  8. Yes I do.
     
  9. Just kidding.
    But there are lots of well-known photographers working with film. One obvious one is Martin Schoeller (although he seems content to take the same photograph again and again). There are several whose work appears in the NY Times. I think Steve Pyke is one. Also some that shoot for the New Yorker.
     
  10. Loved this quote from David Bailey in the cited link -
    “Nah” he quipped in front of the Labour Party leader. “Digital’s like socialism – it flattens everything out and makes everything the same.”
     
  11. I am certainly one of the world's bottom photographers; however, I just bought an MF film camera because it will outresolve any digital THAT I CAN AFFORD.
     
  12. ... and probably many which you can't afford.
     
  13. From my experience I know many that still use film, but I don't know (personally) any that exclusively use it anymore. I'm sure there are some out there though... obviously still landscape folk, but it's a bit more difficult to find those with more time-dependant work using it exclusively.
     
  14. No doubt a few do. But they also have budgets from their clients that will support that. Depending on the medium foramt digital back and resolution yes, a MFDB can surpass the resolution ( which is notthe end all and be all of quality) of even the best medium format and some 4x5 films which also then have to be scanned.
    David Bailey says a lot of things . Some are acute observations of the world but some are salty rubbish that make good sound bites. Bailey also hasn't really changed his style of shooting in decades , which is fine because it works for him. If you try it you'll just be a second, third or fourth rate imitation of him..
     
  15. Are there still some of the worlds top photographers using medium format film​
    Yes, lots. Whether its 'most' or not is impossible to measure, and will depend a lot on who you think the world's top photographers are. But nearly everyone must also be using digital in one way or another, even if it's just for test shots or for their holiday snaps.
    I was wondering because with digital medium format they obviously have a choice that is equal or better quality, or is it better or equal to film MF ?​
    That seems to assume that their aim is to get the best quality, whatever 'quality' means. If they all were aiming for the best 'quality' meaning resolution, then they'd probably all be using 20" x 24" plate cameras with film. or suchlike. But many may be aiming instead to achieve a particular effect. Whether they can best achieve the effect they are looking for using film or digital will rather depend on the particular effect that they are trying to achieve.
    But yes, lots of the world's most famous photographers still use film. If you're looking at the art world for example, you'll probably find that's a majority. If you think of the world's top photographers as being travel photographers shooting for National Geographic, then you'll probably find that more shoot digital.
     
  16. Thank you for all the replies fellas, I'm learning a lot from reading all the information I read here on photo.net.
    I have shot digital for 8 years now and I'm extremely happy with my current cameras the D3's & D700's that I use but when I visited Joe Cornishes gallery (he is a successful British landscape photographer) close the where I live I must admit that I am astounded by the quality of the large prints that are hung on the walls, incredible quality. He shoots with large format cameras and I think he also uses medium format sometimes, obviously the prints are done professionally and that must make a big difference I think.
     
  17. A lot of the best landscape photographers are shooting medium and large format film, with Fuji Velvia being a favorite.
    It's funny, but if you look at, say, Outdoor Photographer magazine, most of the magazine is trying to get you to buy
    digital stuff but most of the time the cover was shot on Velvia film. The trick is the huge frame size - if you make an
    enlargement from a 4"x5" frame size, that's a lot less enlarging than from a 1"x1.5" frame. But really, the important
    thing isn't how many people are shooting film or digital but what's goin to work for you.
     
  18. Even as analogue film users, you're are working more or less "digital hybrid" these days, if you don't process your films and prints yourself in your own photo lab.
     
  19. Look at various image users and producers! Some pro is doing "Tin-Types",others work with large format sheet film. A pro must produce. The manner is unimportant.The final result is the goal. It's not what seems better.
    Truth be told,all digital files could be useless in 20 years..If NASA can't read their old data, what chance have we? So maybe we all must make prints and maybe shoot film also.
     
  20. So maybe we all must make prints and maybe shoot film also.​
    Even if you are fully digital in your photography, I think it's very important to make prints as these will probably be around much longer than any files.
    Also I don't understand the people who are always upgrading their equipment to get ever increasing resolution then only view their images on a monitor or TV or digital photo frame or only upload to websites.
    To me, photography is about making and showing prints.
     
  21. "Truth be told,all digital files could be useless in 20 years.."

    Truth be told: if they are, it's because noone wants to use them anymore.
    It's extremely easy to keep digital files alive across as many format changes as you want to fear. You may not want to put in the effort for some (or many), because you don't need all those files (just as on film, there are 'keepers', and ones that do not need a name because they might as well not be at all). Not now, and not in 20 years. But there is absolutely no problem.

    (Declaration of interests: i like film more than digital, and consequently use film much, much more than digital.)
     
  22. Yes, but it's likely that their businesses are tuned to run on film.
    Keep in mind the bottom line. To screw up with film costs at least a dollar a frame. To do well with film, it'll cost $10 per frame, because of the follow-on printing. The digital equipment can cost more than a car, but have no cost per error beyond lost time and opportunity. Digital's main sustainment cost will lie with updating software and licensing computers, the payout of hush money to other businesses. Both media will require an outlay of thousands of dollars over a lifetime; but, the money will be spent in different ratios.
    The decay of both kinds of equipment will have different rates. The film camera will last for decades, but its recording media is consumed in an instant. The digital camera will have a lifespan of about five years or less, but can produce tens of thousands of images of consistent recording quality. The disposition of the property, where and how images are stored, also counts, economically.
    Understanding these commercial differences in the operation is an important part of evaluating the monetary aspects of operating the cameras. Notice also that bulk consumer demand will push and pull a market. This will affect equipment and supply availability, regardless of the object's merits. If the majority want a Trabi, and you want to keep your Ferrari running, most oil filters for sale will fit on the Trabant. If you are in the Ferrari operating business, it's a point to consider. That consideration includes charging your client accordingly, consuming your resources on the job accordingly, and making each item well.
     
  23. If, in the OP's case of doing some weddings in digital and some portraits in film: think of the outlay per job. If you want to do some portraits, you can spend a few rolls and keep your costs per job under $50 for the camera recordings. If you shoot the wedding in color transparency 120, a hundred frames will run you near $100. I don't do weddings, so I have no idea how much they shoot; but, I remember Josh Root posting one time about how his outlay for photographing a wedding in transparency exceeded $700. Meanwhile, the amount of money a client will want to pay will be based on average cost in the market; higher overhead for the photographer will not necessarily be embraced by every potential client. So, frame rate and method of working to get the image recorded will have a lot to do with disciplining your profit margin to stay within budget.
    My film photographs outsell my digital photos at a rate of 25:1. Sometimes even less for digital. [The digital photos do well if the end product is meant to be seen on a monitor, hands down.] Meanwhile, my main purchasers want decor photographs for home and office; they want to see the product framed and on a wall. I end up operating a razor, a saw and a drill as much as a camera, grad cylinder and darkroom. Also, I have no incentive or requirement to make a lot of recordings, fast. Truth is, working faster doesn't help me personally do better. When the difference means a supply bill base difference of $50 or $1000, per task, just to get the image recorded, then that's something to keep in mind.
    I have no quarrel with people who would work differently; but, I think no one would advise adopting a destructive amount of overhead for the task at hand. Either recording method, film or digital, applied incorrectly, could result in a destructive pattern of spending against the money coming in per job. My hypothetical advice to you would be to keep your slow work in film and your fast, one-time event recordings like weddings, in digital. Doing some crossover, like 10% or less of the day, could probably be absorbed by either process. Meanwhile, you have to pay your own bills as your client pays you.
     
  24. As a wedding photographer, there are things that are more important to me than overheads. Overheads are of course important, but probably aren't going to drive the choice of format unless other factors are more or less equal.
    The two most important of these are: whether choosing one format or the other is going to create a greater buzz and demand for my services. If it does, then extra overheads can easily be obsorbed in increased income. The other is: time. If I can develop a workflow using one approach or the other that can save me a day or two post processing work, then that is worth quite a lot of overheads. I can always shoot the odd extra wedding or two if I want with the time saved.
    Using film, the overheads are probably going to be less than $700, simply because you're very unlikely to shoot 700 frames of medium format. You're also unlikely to be photographing with transparency. Most film wedding photographers will probably shoot a few rolls of medium format, and the rest on 35mm, and probably won't be using a digi-maching-gunning approach.
    About 8 rolls of MF and 15 rolls of 35mm is a pretty decent average allowance for a wedding. Including film purchase, development and scanning, that's about $450 total. Photographing one extra wedding might (depending on pricing of course) easily pay for the film overheads for around 7 or 8 weddings. So if using film involved less post processing (doing relative minor adjustment to scans rather than having to work on RAW files to achieve a 'look') and meant I could take on the odd extra wedding, then the extra film overheads would be relatively insignificant. If it cut my post processing in half, and saved me perhaps a couple of days per wedding, then the film overheads would be relatively insignificant compared to the revenue I'd get from taking on extra weddings.
    Not arguing in favour of using film, just saying that film cost is a relatively small part of the economics of it.
    The most important thing of all is whether using one medium or another creates greater demand, and whether it might save post processing time.
     
  25. So do you find that shooting weddings on film has an effect on demand, or does it really not matter to the clients? It sounds like if you can get in an extra job to make up the difference in cost, and you have enough demand that you can get the extra job, then you can just take your pick and work however you prefer to.
     
  26. He shoots with large format cameras and I think he also uses medium format sometimes
    I don't think digital will ever out-resolve large format, though it has already matched medium format with the top end high megapixel digital backs for medium format cameras.
    One day I visited the Seattle Art Museum in Volunteer Park and saw some incredible large prints made by a Korean-born photographer called Johsel Namkung. His work blew me away, and these were huge prints of images he took with large format cameras over the years. I don't think digital will ever match this kind of quality.
     
  27. I don't think digital will ever out-resolve large format​
    Never say never. Semiconductor manufacturing keeps getting better.
     
  28. I think the question might sound more like- "Is there any demand for film photography?"
    I am not a professional photographer though for me it seems that there are less and less people who appreciate high quality photography. So please hush me by telling that I'm biased by the place I live in. In Latvia there are some fine-art photographers who dabble in analog capture, but the market for their work is nearing nil. Other professionals (wedding, comercial and photojournalists) just say that the client does not give a flying crap about the method of capture- if only the product is acceptable. Film is expensive and using such a material significantly ups the expenditures so the math is dead simple. Even medium format as a species is quite rare and endangered and used only as a luxury method mostly for high profile comercial work. Large format is mostly left for amateurs to fool around.
     
  29. Rūdolfs Putniņš, >> So please hush me by telling that I'm biased by the place I live in.​
    You are biased by the place you live in. ;-)
     
  30. For those who doubt digital will ever out-resolve large format - I think it has already exceeded 4 by 5 inch.
    Last week I had the privilege - and pleasure - of using Phase One's new IQ180 MFDB. It clearly out-resolves my (admittedly quite old) 4 by 5 images. It also has a greater DR.
    Bill
     
  31. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I never realized that I need to photograph resolution charts. I start out and try to make great photographs, whether prints or for clients or for online, and go from there. I apparently haven't reached the nirvana of shooting resolution charts and thinking that way. Maybe I will have to reorient myself, I think too much about the light, communicating ideas, showing something.
     
  32. Last week I had the privilege - and pleasure - of using Phase One's new IQ180 MFDB. It clearly out-resolves my (admittedly quite old) 4 by 5 images.​
    The IQ180 back is 80 megapixels. If you are comparing it to 4x5 film of 20 square inches then that's 2 megapixels per square inch. If you translate that to the 1.33 square inches of a 35mm frame then that's 2.66 megapixels.
    I don't think anyone will try to claim that 2.66 megapixels of digital would equal or even exceed the resolution of a 35mm frame. Therefore, 80 megapixels will not out resolve 4x5 film.
     
  33. "For those who doubt digital will ever out-resolve large format - I think it has already exceeded 4 by 5 inch."

    It really is fascinating to follow this 'credo' through time. It has been said, as part of the grand paradigm shift, ever since "professional quality digital" meant 3 MP. And it will be repeated, over and over again. So much so that it will be hard to notice and mark the point at which it will actually become true (if it ever will).
    Notice how it just says "digital", and puts that against a particular format.

    Mind you: this is not an anti-digital rant, but relevant to the thread. It is, because large part of that paradigm shift involved a marked lowering of standards, not just in what consumers were willing to accept. People indeed did accept featureless 3 MP images for professional use. It was not even uncommon to see pixelated images in 'professional' magazines. It did not matter, because it was that undefined, general "digital", and that alone was 'good enough'.
    Will it ever matter whether "digital wil ever out-resolve large format"? I doubt it.
     
  34. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    People indeed did accept featureless 3 MP images for professional use. It was not even uncommon to see pixelated images in 'professional' magazines. It did not matter, because it was that undefined, general "digital", and that alone was 'good enough'.​
    What you have completely missed is that what mattered was what the photo did when people looked at it. It's only resolution freaks on photo forums that spend their time analyzing resolution chart photos to have this kind of discussion.
    I have a photo I took a number of years ago with a Canon 10D, a very primitive camera by today's standards. that still runs full page in a magazine. I don't think, as a photographer, it looks like something I would do today, but people still talk to me about the photo. It has impact. The technical stuff doesn't matter.

    That's why I don't shoot resolution charts. I'm not interested in producing photographs for other photographers, but for anyone who can appreciate a photograph. And that's why it doesn't matter if it's pixelated or noisy, either the photograph speaks or it doesn't, when one wants to do photography beyond resolution charts.
     
  35. Bill said:
    Last week I had the privilege - and pleasure - of using Phase One's new IQ180 MFDB. It clearly out-resolves my (admittedly quite old) 4 by 5 images.​
    Steve replied:
    The IQ180 back is 80 megapixels. If you are comparing it to 4x5 film of 20 square inches then that's 2 megapixels per square inch. If you translate that to the 1.33 square inches of a 35mm frame then that's 2.66 megapixels.
    I don't think anyone will try to claim that 2.66 megapixels of digital would equal or even exceed the resolution of a 35mm frame. Therefore, 80 megapixels will not out resolve 4x5 film.​
    What we're seeing here is the difference between potential and actual performance. Steve is right: potentially, 4x5 film is way better than 80 megapixels. Bill is also right: in actual use, most 4x5 shots probably won't exceed that. I can think of 4 reasons why this is so:
    1) Getting critical focus on the gg is hard enough, especially with wide-angles; but even if you succeed, the gg plane and film holder's plane are often subtly non-coplanar, and there's no way of knowing this without extensive and repeated testing on sheet film. The IQ180 has a form of live view which makes nailing focus guaranteed, whether on a MF SLR or a view camera, and this makes up for a lot of the real estate difference.
    2) On top of that, there are random variations in sheet film flatness vs. perfect digital sensor flatness.
    3) For "the same shot" (same angle of view and depth of field), the IQ180 can be shot 2 stops wider open, which means half the amount of diffraction; e.g. f/11 instead of f/22, a typical Large Format working stop. This dof-diffraction tradeoff is really important - it means that where substantial dof is required, unless tilts or focus stacking can be employed, there is in effect a ceiling to the attainable resolution of the scene. Bigger and bigger film/sensors are neutered by worse and worse diffraction. However, shooting scenes at infinity (e.g. astrophotography) is immune to this because the same f-stop can be maintained.
    4) Not all digital sensors are the same: MFDBs like the IQ180 have no anti-aliasing filter to reduce resolution.
    Having said all that: would you believe that the IQ180 cannot do exposures longer than 1 minute?!!! One area at least where $1/sheet film trumps the latest $44,000 PhaseOne backs!
     
  36. Probably <1%
     
  37. Or possibly >50%
     
  38. In fine art most photographers use film still.
    It's also very common to make large format c-prints.

    It's not just about resolution, the dynamic range of negative film is very different from digital.
     
  39. And I must say, I don't like to sit behind a screen to make/edit for printing, when I could be looking trough a lens
    instead. Making analogue prints is also a very nice process.
     
  40. There are some impressive 4x5 black-and-white images taken by Tomasz Gudzowaty using a Linhof Master Technika and Ilford HP5 that won him Second Prize in the Sports Category of the World Press Photo 2011. You can see them - with the technical details - on the new App for the iPad. Kenneth O'Halloran also won 3rd prize for portraits using a Linhof Technica and a Pentax 6x7.
     
  41. "What you have completely missed is that what mattered was what the photo did when people looked at it. It's only resolution freaks on photo forums that spend their time analyzing resolution chart photos to have this kind of discussion."

    No, no, Jeff.
    The results were absolutely awful. Portraits, for instance, looked like people's skin was made of plastic. The editor/photographer/printer (or all of them) tried to eek out too much out of the images, far more than they had to give, producing all sorts of artefacts. That nevertheless were allowed to 'grace' the pages of hitherto quality magazines.
    Nobody missed that.
    The advent of digital photography was accompanied with a quite considerable drop in standards. The frame of reference, standards, the set of accepted believes changed dramatically.
    What those awful, but fully accepted (because New Technology), images did was fill the viewer with 'disgust' (a bit of dramatic exaggeration, for effect ;-) But still, not untrue.) That same viewer however was told he should accept, and even like, the new professional way of creating images. If he did not, he would denounce himself as a bit of a retard. An Emperor's New Clothes type of thing.
    That's what made the advent of digital imaging so interesting. We are not often given the opportunity to witness how believes (whatever they are) shift so dramatically.

    Having said all that: is it possible to create memorable images using a 1.2 MP camera. Of course you can.
    But that too is not the begin all end all of what makes images good images. It's like colour: you can make great images without. So what? Doesn't mean that colour doesn't provide an extra way to create equally great images that would not have been possible without it (i.e. the same image without colour would be mediocre, at best).
    So you can create memorable images using a primitive device. Doesn't mean that non-primitive machines are for freaks.
     
  42. Many different photographers in many different fields still do. As a wedding photographer, I have no problems with film. I chuckle at the comments about cost, etc. First off, I can grab 2 Nikon F5 bodies for under $1000. Two D3s bodies will cost $10,000. So the $9000 in savings goes a long way. Then there's the saved time in front of a computer when using film. I spend 1-2 hours or so sorting and completing a wedding shot in film....and 15 to 20 in digital. I guess some people think those extra 15 or so hours come for free....and some people think those multi thousand dollar DSLRs that get replaced every few years are free as well.
    If your film and processing costs are $450 to $650....just up the price by $500. Problem solved. I'm saving a fortune shooting with film. And when you think about it, I can get 2-3 Nikon F5 bodies, 2 Mamiya 645 bodies and a 4x5 camera for less than I can get a D3s body.....and yet people worry about $450 for film costs that they don't even need to pay. Kinda missing the point in my opinion.
    Oh, and the clients have been loving the look of film.
     
  43. If you took a quality high res 35mm digital image.
    Printed it to a medium format negative.
    Then printed that negative to paper with an enlarger.

    Show of hands, who could tell that it was shot on 35, please.
     
  44. Ray, you make some good points about why MFDB might more often match 4 by 5. I agree.
    The trouble with mechanical theory is that in practice the lack of film flatness, GG focussing nearly always get in the way!
    I don't shoot resolution charts - in fact I never have, and don't own any - but I do shoot very highly detailed landscapes. There is absolutely no doubt that my present P65+ images equal 4X5 in 40 inch prints - and that the IQ180 will certainly exceed. Forget theory - I'm talking about viewing large prints from proper distances in real life.
    Incidentally, the IQ 180 will make 2 minute exposures.
    Bil
     
  45. I don't think anyone will try to claim that 2.66 megapixels of digital would equal or even exceed the resolution of a 35mm frame. Therefore, 80 megapixels will not out resolve 4x5 film.
    In my time I have shot quite a lot of 4x5 film, as well as a boxcar load of 35mm, medium format ( 6x4.5 to 6x17cm) film and even some 8x10. Not to forget several TB of digital images from 5.5 to 39mp. I've also recently shot with an IQ180 back as well. And yes the IQ180 does absolutely resolve , at a minimum, at least as much subject detail as even the best scanned 4x5 film or even 4x5 film looked at on a lightbox with the best loupe you can buy.
    You can do the numbers all you like Steve, but I've seen the results with my own eyes. It is also a far more flexible and faster system to work with than any 4x5 camera (Sinar P, P2, & C, Arca-Swiss F, Linhof, Canham, Calumet, Graflex) cameraI've ever worked with.
    Now does an IQ180 frame look like 4x5 film? No. But that is a different aesthetics based discussion.
     
  46. If you took a quality high res 35mm digital image. Printed it to a medium format negative. Then printed that negative to paper with an enlarger.
    Show of hands, who could tell that it was shot on 35, please.​
    Well that's not a very intelligent thing to do, is it? When you dupe a negative on to another piece of film, you're losing a generation of quality. So you lose fine detail and gain grain. If you already have the 35mm film, there is no point to dupe it on to medium format film. If you're going to dupe it for some reason, it's going to be 4x5 film anyway. But why dupe film? Dumb if you ask me. A native medium format shot will always look better than a 35mm piece of film duped to medium format or large format. Believe me, we used to burn film from digital scans (because the photographer can't find the original film to rescan) and it always looked like crap. Because you're losing a generation every time you do it.
    A print made from the original 35mm film will always look better than a dupe, period.
     
  47. The comparison was between an optically printed, tiny sensor digital image and a medium format film image printed the same way.<br><br>I have my hand up in the air, Richard.
     
  48. What is film ?? just kidding !
     
  49. Q.G.,

    Let's do an experiment.
    PM me your mailing address.
    I'll send you few black and white enlarged prints.
    At least one is from a digital file converted to medium format negative. The others from medium format film shot with a
    film camera.
    If you can tell the difference, and explain why, I will pay postage both ways.
    If you can't, you pay postage both ways.
     
  50. hi.
    i agree with Q.G. DeBakker.
    i remember a salesman at a local camera store telling a customer that the new, sub-$1000 digital rebel was likely the camera that would finally kill film.
    before that, it was the d100 that was supposed to kill film. then they were saying the d1x was really gonna kill it. then the d2x was supposed to be on par with medium format film.
    i was a commercial art major in high school. we had to actually draw letters by hand with "primitive" instruments like the compass and ruler. we learned to use quill pens and ink, designer's guache, watercolor, and many other ancient tools, media and methods.
    then, along came photoshop and illustrator (and a little program called freehand). suddenly, much of the non-photographic art work on the covers of magazines looked like they were all done by the same artist. and most (not all) of it was not very good.
    the advent of illustrator and its successors opened a field in which talent, skill and patience were absolutely indispensable for one to obtain success, let alone notoriety, to the slobbering masses, if you will (no offense to the masses intended).
    suddenly the bar was made much, much lower than it used to be.
    now... to the point of the original post...
    i was hoping (against hope... audacity is not always enough) that this thread would not morph into the perpetually self-resurrecting digital vs. film post, but it has.
    i would like to know if there are any well known, sought after, still living photographers making their livings shooting film. why?
    because..
    i like film. despite all the b.s. repeated on forums such as this, despite what the marketing people say, despite what the salespersons at camera stores insist,
    i am convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that digital technology has opened the field of professional photography to those with significantly lesser talents than were
    required in the days when film dominated. and it shows.
    even some of the "top" photographers are producing work that just does not seem to be inspired, to my eye. Annie L. has always been a favorite of mine; she may be one of few exceptions.
    although i much prefer the work she did with the 6x7 format, i always felt her claim to fame was an uncanny ability to orchestrate a scene. proof positive (pun intended), in my mind,
    that a great photographer can make compelling photographs with inferior equipment.
    i, too, have grimaced at the sight of "jaggies" on magazine covers. i, too, have wondered why so many people would spend so much money on a medium format digital back, when the
    results still look digital (and to my eye, inferior... one could argue the "look" is different, and i agree. i also think that, in this case, different does denote inferiority, especially when talking about black and white).
    finally, i have to agree with what i think is the spirit of Jeff's position. a photograph is compelling... or it is not.
    so... which famous photographers still use film exclusively... or at least the majority of the time?
     
  51. My area is wedding and portraiture, so I follow a lot of film users in that arena. Check out the work of:
    Jonathan Canlas
    Leo Patrone
    Leah Mccormick
    Jose Villa
    Riccis Valladeres
    James Whitlow Delano
    The Brothers Wright
    Polly Chandler
    That should get the ball rolling at least. They're all film. Why? Easier work flow. Shoot it, have the lab process and scan, download and release the event. That's why I am currently around 75% to 80% film for my work. I prefer the look, the workflow, and the niche market it places me in. And I like using the older gear....Mamiya RB67 Pro S, Nikon F5, Minolta X700, Konica T3n Autoreflex, Voigtlander Bessa R2a, Shen Hao 4x5, Linhof 4x5, and my Holgas.
     
  52. i would like to know if there are any well known, sought after, still living photographers making their livings shooting film.​
    A few big names in the fine art world I think are still using film (eg. they've said in recent interviews that they do): Alec Soth, Simon Norfolk, Simon Roberts, Ryan McGinley, Gregory Crewdson, Michael Ackerman, Philip Lorca di Corcia, Eduard Burtynsky, Bruce Gilden. I would assume that Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, Rineke Dijkstra etc. are too, though it's hard to be sure!
    Joel Meyerowitz seems to use both film and digi. So apparently does Martin Parr.
    Film is still pretty much a standard in that world, though digi is increasingly gaining acceptance.
     
  53. I have the benefit of visiting a lot of high-profile studio shoots from my day job (shooting behind-the-scenes for television). For national magazine covers, editorial, and large promo shoots I've been on, it seems about 98% of it is shot on full-frame DSLRs. The other 2% is shot on medium-format with digital backs. Each photographer shoots tethered to an iMac, mounted on a Magliner. I haven't seen anyone shooting film for years.
    In the art scene, however, the majority of photographers exhibiting in Los Angeles-area galleries that I've visited have been shooting medium-format film and 4 x 5 film.
     
  54. Bill said:
    Last week I had the privilege - and pleasure - of using Phase One's new IQ180 MFDB. It clearly out-resolves my (admittedly quite old) 4 by 5 images.
    Steve replied:
    The IQ180 back is 80 megapixels. If you are comparing it to 4x5 film of 20 square inches then that's 2 megapixels per square inch. If you translate that to the 1.33 square inches of a 35mm frame then that's 2.66 megapixels.
    I don't think anyone will try to claim that 2.66 megapixels of digital would equal or even exceed the resolution of a 35mm frame. Therefore, 80 megapixels will not out resolve 4x5 film.
    Ray replied:
    What we're seeing here is the difference between potential and actual performance. Steve is right: potentially, 4x5 film is way better than 80 megapixels. Bill is also right: in actual use, most 4x5 shots probably won't exceed that. I can think of 4 reasons why this is so:....

    Surprising to me are the vastly different conclusions in the continuing film/digital comparisons. I realize that photographic “quality” is somewhat subjective, but the disparity in conclusions is remarkable. I did a number of comparisons of Pentax 645D files to those from 6X7 and 645 scans (using the same lenses for both cameras). I concluded that the 40 MP file of the 645D was roughly equivalent to a good 67 scan. I later read a review of the 645D on the Luminous Landscape in which the author compared the 645D quality to that of 4x5. Anyone have a theory as to how conclusions can be so varied?
     
  55. "Anyone have a theory as to how conclusions can be so varied? "

    Yes. People want it to be so, so they do everything to make it appear so.
    Ever since digital capture first arrived, we have been told it was better. At first, it very obviously was not. As digital capture improved, it became harder to point out that the claims that were made on its behalf were (still) false. (For instance: we did see, and still see, a lot of tests that pulled every bit out of digital it had to offer, compared that to film, showing that digital could well keep up. What these tests fail to show is how much more film still had to give from that point onwards.)
    It's part of a wider phenomenon: the consumerist culture, in which things like convenience, perceived 'moderness', cheapness, being instantaneous, are valued much more than things like quality. People no longer want to spend the effort and time needed to do things the way that ensures the best result. Instead, the best result is redefined in terms of those things mentioned.
    We have well and truly made the transition into that consumerist culture. Nowadays, all people do is shrug their shoulders and go on to ignore things like the above, simpel calculation, that shows that high end digital capture still delivers, per inch (for what that is worth), no more than the first digital machines did.
    It was quite interesting though to see how along the way towards where we are now, the old values and beliefs were challenged by the apostles of the new way.
     
  56. To name just a few:

    Hans Christian Schink
    Carl Wooley
    Edward Burtynsky
    Peter Bialobrzeski
    Matthieu Gafsou
    Sally Mann (or qctually she uses mirror plates)
    Michael Kenna
    Ken Kitano

    Especially Hans Christian Schink and Ken Kitano make very interesting work with extremely long exposures). Their
    work would be impossible with digital camera's.
     
  57. I'm still using film. Film is my medium. Period.
    I don't have a digital cam, not even a tiny point and shoot.
    Just today I tried to recover a file from a client's HD. He saved it, copied it, updated it several times over the past 6 years. Bit error. Image gone.
    This will never happen with my slides.
    What else? I don't even have Photoshop because I prefer to clean a scene before I touch the shutter. OK, I don't do sports, events, weddings, just architecture, pr, documentation. No need for the speed of digital.
    Any drawbacks? Sure. Life is getting harder without using hype tech on the fast lane. But I'd rather be a truck driver or handy man before I invest into a camera that'll turn obsolete after 4 or 6 months.
     
  58. "He saved it, copied it, updated it several times over the past 6 years. Bit error. Image gone. "

    A bit error in all the copies? What luck!
    Slides (i know from experience) aren't indestructable either. Nor are negatives.
    On the balance of things, i'm sure that digital storage is the more robust form.

    (Disclaimer: i use film. Digital only if i can't help it. I do scan (and keep the negatives so i can scan them again, and again) and digital post processing plus the then inevitable digital storage thing.)
     
  59. "But I'd rather be a truck driver or a handyman..."
    Jens, I am a truck driver and I do enjoy film. After shooting film for about 8 yrs and getting some nice landscape and wildlife shots without really understanding what I was doing to get the shots, I finally gave in and went digital with a 10 meg. That's when I hit a wall. Digital seemed to take the challenge out things with the aspect of "you can just fix it in photoshop". I recently acquired MF with an RB 67 Pro S and I love it. MF has restored my interest because of the necessity of having to think about what you're doing to get the image you want. LONG LIVE FILM!
     
  60. On the balance of things, i'm sure that digital storage is the more robust form.​
    I'm sure it's the other way round.
     
  61. The thing that wins it for digital storage is the ease with which copies proliferate. If one goes wrong, there are numerous others to fall back on.<br>If, that is, you do keep to a simple regime of making back-ups (not on the same disk, not on the same computer, not even on a RAID array - if lightning strikes, a super redundant RAID thingy can and will go bad beyond hope for recovery. The best, and simplest way, is to copy to portable disks.)<br>Yes, people cry out, warning for format changes of either carrier or file. But that really is a non-issue. Things do not change over night into something that renders everything that came before completely unusable.<br><br>Film on the other hand is an everything or nothing thing, with no such easy way to make back ups. Damage your one and only copy, and you can spend hours in retouching. At best. At worst, it will be a complete loss.<br>You can make copies of film, true. But it's impossible to make those identical to the original. So not really an option.<br><br>Having said all that, i think that archivability is far too overrated. Very, very few images really need, or even deserve, to be kept after they served the purpose they are brought into being for. Make them, use them, and forget about them.
     
  62. If digital camera files are sufficiently archivable, then so are film scans. Make a good scan of a film shot and you have
    both physical and electronic records. (Or make an archival quality print from a digital file and you have the same thing.)
    It's a wash. You can use either film or digital for most purposes, even if some specialized areas are best done with
    one or the other, so just use whatever you prefer and don't over think it.
     
  63. "If digital camera files are sufficiently archivable, then so are film scans. Make a good scan of a film shot and you have both physical and electronic records."

    I do just that (scan and save both scan and film).
    The 'argument' in the few last posts was purely about the method of storage, film vs file, abot which one is more robust.
     
  64. Having said all that, i think that archivability is far too overrated. Very, very few images really need, or even deserve, to be kept after they served the purpose they are brought into being for.​
    A good point. I'm sure my negatives will be disposed of once I am gone.
     
  65. There are definitely still a few. There is actually a web series put out by a group called "Framed" with host and guest photographers that only shoot film professionally. Ryan muirhead, Tanja lippert, jan scholz, and name a few others that either exclusively shoot film or mostly shoot film, ron contarsy, jonathan canlas, jonas peterson, the guys at indie film lab, the brothers wright, ect just to name some of the ones i remember. Good series. A lot of those guys are wedding photogs by the way, the indie film lab guys, canlas, jonas peterson. Lippert does both fashion and weddings, Contarsy does fashion and has his work in various vogue magazines, and harpers bazaar. Speaking of fashion, i also know Norman jean Roy shoots mostly film on mamiya Rz67's and mamiya 7 II's. His work has been on the cover of vanity fair, vogue, harpers ect. Going back to weddings i also know of kirk mastin, jose villa, alea lovely, jen huang, karen wise, ect. In the fine art world theres still alot of guys who shoot film, especially large format and even some wet plate colloidion users like sally mann.

    So yes, even in those very tough professional environments there are still people who shoot film.
     

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