film scanner vs digital slr?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by gayardon, Feb 5, 2004.

  1. i have been researching film scanner for the last few weeks however
    i am thinking that i should save the money and buy a digital slr...
    i like digital because it lets you manipulate the image easily
    however i do not think its worthed to stay scanning each film... to
    much hassle ... plus i think it would give more problems then a

    for now i scan the prints and manipulate those....

    i have scanned 6x4 and printed the manipulated images at quite good
    resolution to 8x10....

    why did u decided to buy a film scanner instead of saving for a good
    digital camera?

    i need more for present use then for archiving.... in a few years
    time when i would have soem money to spend without thinking i would
    buy a scanner to archive my negatives. by then the technology would
    be cheaper or better at the same price....

    any opinions?
  2. Any opinions you ask? Yes, thousands of them, stored in the archives here for a search, so take a look.

    That said, scanner prices don't seem to be dropping quite the same way that digital camera prices are, so that argument could go both ways. My personal thought is that you should shoot how you're comfortable and deal with it afterwards as required. No question that scanning can be a challenge, and time-consuming to boot, but that doesn't mean that shooting film can't still be very satisfying - and even still have some advantages...
  3. Simple enough reason for me: so that I could digitize 35mm negatives I have going back 15 years. Not all of them, thankfully, but enough keepers among them.
  4. And another reason: every film has its "personality" (i.e. response to light). Think on this few examples:<p>

    - Would you compare the saturation of a Velvia against any digital camera?<p>
    - Is the tonal range of Reala comparable to any digital camera file?<P>
    - Have you compare the latitude of a negative against the one of a digital camera sensor? If you already scanned negatives, you know how easy is to recover details from the most obscure areas...
  5. I have a Nikon LS30 (old Tech now) and have scanned many slides and negatives over the last few years. Recently I bought a 300D with the kit lens and also a 50mm 1.8 and the 70-200L zoom. I could not be happier than I am now with the digital Canon. The LS30 will only scan at 2700 but when you blow up to A4 the noise is obvious. I know we can put these images through software that will fix this, but after the time taken to scan, post process and then use noise reduction software on one image I could think of nothing worse than doing this for every image on film. I have no problems whatever with noise on the 300D and colours are good. I shoot in raw and you can batch process these while you are doing something else.
  6. And another reason: every film has its "personality"
    You mean, slide film distorts color for those who find reality too dull, and basically high color emulsions do the thinking for you. While I appreciate the artistic enhancement that enhanced saturation films produce, and the incredible dynamic range of print film, lets be honest in that a film scanner is nothing more than a digital camera that takes pictures of film. Photographic film cannot record a picture superior to the original scene much as film fanatics try to claim.
    With good scanning technique I can make arguement that slow speed slide and print films can surpass the *final* image quality of a small sensor digicam in the 3-4 megapixel range. That is, with perfect scanning technique. However, with cameras like the Rebel above, y'all can keep the film scanner and case of denial while the rest of us will snag the Rebel. Unless you have an archive of film you want scanned, I see no reason for a non-scanner savy individual shooting 35mm to even waste money any more on a film scanner unless they simply can't afford the entry price in a Rebel 300 equivelant or the up and coming Nikon D70.
    Yeah, you can get a less expensive film scanner, but then apply that difference to the lab/film costs, and it vanishes quickly. Previous digicams below $1000 were mostly toys with noisy CCDs, but the 6mp near full frame dSLRs that are hitting the market offer 8x10 image quality that will surpass 8x10s from virtually any 35mm film scan.
  7. Guys, let's not turn this into a film vs. digital debate. Plenty of that to find in the archives.

    Scott, as usual, has some well thought-out points. Nestor is a devotee of film, and has learned how to work with the film. Learning how to work with your images, whether digital or film, is a necessity for getting the best output if you're going to do it yourself. But some of those steps are the same for digital or film, and film does have the added step of learning to work with the scanner and return the film to the image you saw on the slide.

    But the original question was what is best for Patrick to invest in. Unfortunately, we cannot answer that for you fully, Patrick. All we can do is provide arguments that may or may not help, and also comment on the arguments that you put forward.

    You say digital lets you manipulate the images easily. You can manipulate images that are scanned the same way; it just requires making the scan. Working with film scans would be a huge improvement over working with scans of the 4x6 prints as you've done.

    That doesn't mean you shouldn't get a digital camera. In fact, if you think you'd learn faster, do more, enjoy it more, etc., then by all means you should get it. If you don't need to work with different films for any reason (and there may be no compelling reason to do so), go digital. Remember that there are more startup costs than just the body, but if you can swing it, go for it. If you're going to have to get a scanner anyway, then you could do that now and go on to get a dSLR later, too, but only you can answer that.

    But if you just want a comparison, do a lot of research on information that's already out there. You can find direct comparisons of details and all that goes with it. If you just need a cost comparison, add up the startup costs for digital vs. the ongoing costs for film - don't forget that you'll want a new body at some point - add in a factor for your time, and go from there. If there's anything else specific that we can answer and you can't find it searching the forums, ask and we'll try to help.
  8. I use slide film, and I DO project slides.<br>
    OK, it's a bit of a hassle to get out your slide projector and screen, but nothing beats the sensation of a projected 1x1.5m image.<br>
    A digital camera may be nice for viewing your images on PC or TV screen and for making prints, and thus be a good replacement for negative film. But for the time being there is no good-enough and/or affordable digital beamer that beats the 'old' analog slide-film plus slide projector combination.
  9. And to complete the reasoning of my previous post:<br>
    slide projection is my main reason for not going to a digital SLR yet. And without a digital camera, a film scanner is a good means of getting images from your own films on the PC screen or printer.
  10. Reasons to choose film:

    * Cost. You can get a top of the range camera for the same price that you'd pay for a cheap-average DSLR.

    * Familiarity.

    * Ability to travel far away from all power sources for a much longer time.

    * You can take shots that require no digital editing at all.

    Reasons to choose digital:

    * Versatility. You can reset the ISO easily, adjust everything and check the results right away.

    * Cost. You don't have to develop every image.

    * Time. You may spend more time on the computer (except in comparison to scanning), but you don't have to drive to a lab and then return to see your pics.
  11. I bought a film scanner because I have a lot of slides which I want to make prints of. I didn't buy a digital camera because it wouldn't solve the problem of my existing images.

    The question of film vs. digital is a matter of time and aesthetics. You can do some things with either of them which you can't with the other. The images look different. Your choice. Many people use both.
  12. If you already have a lot of film images that you would like to manipulate and print, then a film scanner makes sense.

    But, as good as some of the low priced scanners are, believe me, they are not in the same league with a drum scanner or an Imacon scanner. The inexpensive scanners just don't have the DMax range to translate all of the information contained on film. If you can find either a drum or Imacon scanner as a used item, they will cost you as much as a top-of-the-line digital SLR. Unless you are willing to sink serious money into a film scanner, then a digital SLR will make better photos.

    If you don't have many years of images on film, then I'd suggest buying a digital SLR is a better way to spend your money. The work flow is much faster and a bit easier.

    If you continue making photographs, at some point you WILL end up with a digital camera.

    I still use film because I rarely shoot 35mm, have nearly 40 years worth of film images, and have a large investment in a variety of film cameras. Also, I rarely make photos smaller than 16x20 and if you compare medium and large format film to a digital camera with large prints sizes, at this point in time, film still wins the image contest.

    However, I do own a small digital camera (Canon S45) and have even used it to shoot a portrait session because the final images were going to be used only in an electronic format.

    Finally, I also know that at some point, I will be adding a digital SLR to my camera inventory. You may want to make this your FIRST investment in camera equipment.
  13. Going digital is a lot more than just getting a camera.

    To get the most out of the $1000 and more that you would spend on a DSLR you would need to have the ability to work with 16-bit files so you can convert the DSLR's 12-bit RAW files to 16-bit TIF's (Adobe Photoshop CS, $600). If you want to make good prints yourself, as opposed to sending them to a lab, then you need a quality inkjet (Epson 2200 ($700), or R800 ($400), or maybe even a HP 7960 ($300)). Then you need a way to properly archive your picture files (external 200GB hard drive or two ($300/ea) and maybe some MAM-A gold CD-R's for backup at $100/100 disks).

    Now, if you're going to continue shooting film with existing cameras and scan it you can get by with a little less. Like maybe a Minolta Scan Dual III ($250) and Photoshop Elements ($80 or less if it didn't come with the scanner) for putting your photos on the web, and use your local lab for prints. Or maybe an inexpensive inkjet. You don't need extra hard drive space to archive your pictures, but you might want some cheap CD-R's around to store your scans.

    Yes, you could use Photoshop Elements and a cheap printer with a DSLR too, but that would be kind of silly.
  14. I response to Conrad, I can't see spending that much less on scanning negs. Personally I do save the files of negs that I scan, which takes up more space on my hard drive/cd's/dvd's than the RAW files from my DSLR. Secondly, I wouldn't think that anyone would use PS CS for digi cam pics, but not for scanned images. Most scanners are capable of more bit depth ~16bits than DSLRs ~12bits. As far as printers go, I suggest getting as good as you can afford, regardless of what the source(Film/Sensor) is, after all, the output is why you take pictures.
    Digital imaging is not cheap, but then niether is analog. But I got my film scanner long before my DSLR, I wanted to get all those pictures from waaaayy back digitized first, then i saved up for a DSLR.
  15. jbs


    If you are Going to be in both mediums i.e. celluloid & Digital you need both....if you stay in celluloid I would recommend the virtual Darkroom anyway because of what you can do there...My goodness does anyone remember spending an entire night in a darkroom manipulating and cropping and sniffing fixer....sorry...but now you can do the same things in half the time in your office or at home...hmmm I would say that unless you're shooting pro with a good 4x6 or larger and love that locked door and red light alot ... GO DIGITAL... Its the wave...anything 5megpix and above is giving you a great shot at 8x10 ....besides I can't keep my Glass clean on this big-o-scanner...;)...J
  16. did u mention compactflash cards? lol. wel. its not that expensive. you don't have to get the newest photoshop. Photoshop 7 is just as good, and photshop elements has the majority of features the average user will need. for cd-r's, you can't get 7 bucks for 50 CDs. After about 5 years, just reburn them and throw away the old ones :D I personally think, if the end result you want is digital, good quality is "easier" to obtain if you start with a DSLR.
  17. Jos Roost: "nothing beats the sensation of a projected 1x1.5m image".

    I experiense even better "sensation": 2.1-meter-wide 35mm image projected from Leica P600, or 645 image from chip MF Kindermann! :^)

    And it is not only about color slides, but about B&W Agfa SCALA or dr5-processed trannies! Digital is not yet there!
  18. I naturally meant "cheap" Kindermann, not "chip" :^)
  19. 1. You don't need to work in 16 bit tiffs to get good digital images from RAW. I hardly do
    any work in 16 bit, and my stuff is pretty good.

    2. You don't need a $600 printer to get good prints at home. If you can live with 8x10,
    even cheap printers like the Canon i960 make fabulous prints (from 8 bit files).

    3. Don't underestimate the digital minilab. I got some 18x12 prints (from 8 bit files) from
    my 6 megapixel camera that are astoundingly good. Where did I get them? From Costco
    for $4 each.

    The one thing you do need is a decent computer with a lot of memory. But you needed
    that to scan film too.
  20. Scanner technology is more mature than DSLR (note the minimal gains from the Nikon Coolscan 4000 to the just released 5000). So if you invest in a DSLR you should plan to re-invest in newer technology much quicker than if you invest in a scanner. In 2 years you 4 or 5 megapixel camera will feel woefully obsolete (and not just in terms of megapixels but also in ton of other features likely to be added).

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