I'm a digital virgin so be gentle: considering a 30D

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by lee_shively, May 5, 2007.

  1. This is probably going to be long so feel free to skip this post.

    When I bought my first computer, I also bought a film scanner. At first I was
    overjoyed to finally see some of my slides being made into color prints. But,
    in time, I began to dread--no, make that LOATHE--the prospect of sitting in
    front of the computer, tweaking the colors, cloning the dust and scratches,
    sharpening and generally trying to "improve" my photos. Eventually, I returned
    to black and white film, using a chemical darkroom and enjoying traditional and
    basic methods of making photographs. I haven't shot a color photo in about
    four years.

    Lately, however, I've been wanting to do some more color work. The prospect of
    scanning film and going through the whole manipulation process absolutely turns
    me off. Since I shoot Canon film cameras (as well as Leica rangefinders and
    Pentax medium format) I'm somewhat aware of the current EOS models. I've been
    reading reviews of the EOS 30D as well as the 5D and I'm intrigued by the
    ability to tweak the colors, sharpen the image and do many basic tasks in-
    camera instead of in-computer.

    That leads to my questions: (1) Is this really a feasible way of working with
    digital images from the 30D (or 5D, for that matter)? In other words, is
    Photoshop really necessary? (2) If my intentions are to make an occasional
    print up to 11x14 inches (otherwise making smaller prints or simply saving to
    discs to show around), can this be done with the RAW or JPEG image as it comes
    from the 30D? Again, is Photoshop really necessary to make a good final
    product? (3) Can anyone suggest some tutorials on digital photography,
    especially using Canon DSLRs, that doesn't try to teach general photography all
    over again?

    A bit of background. I've been a photographer for nearly 34 years. For almost
    half that time, I worked as a news photographer for a daily newspaper and did
    freelance work for local as well as a few national publications. I have not
    worked as a photographer in 15 years so I'm not at all up-to-date on the
    jargon, methods, etc., of digital photography. I have always preferred to use
    minimalist technical approaches. I cut my color photo teeth on Kodachrome II
    so I learned early on how to work effectively with the narrow latitude of slide
    films and zero post-exposure manipulations to achieve the final image. If this
    is still possible in the age of Photoshop, I will certainly be in the market
    for a Canon DSLR.
     
  2. Roger G

    Roger G Roger G

    Hi Lee, I fussed around for a while scanning slides, and didn't like it much. But buying a 10D [then a 20D and a 30D] opened a whole new exciting world for me. Hopefully it will for you too. To answer your specific questions, you'll have no trouble getting superb 11x14 prints from either of those cameras. But you will need to do a bit of simple computer work, Photoshop Elements is good enough to start with. You can't really do it in camera. But as an experienced photographer the amount of work you will need to do should be minimal. RAW conversion, cropping, adjust brightness and contrast, sharpening and resizing is all I usually do. I'd say lose that virginity asap.
     
  3. 11x14 is no problem at all with the 30D. You do need some photo editing software - Photoshop is the norm, but requires a steep learning curve and is not intuitive at all (but very powerful). You could start with Photoshop Elemts 5.0 which is availabe fom Amazon for $80 and will do most of the manipulations (color balance, contrast, sharpening, filters, etc. etc. and printing). You will have to buy some calibration tool for your monitor, otherwise the output from your printer will not match what you see you your screen.

    If you can afford it, go for the 5D - I did and couldn't be happier. The quality of the pics I get from that camera rival medium format film results. The other nice thing is the viewfinder - if you have ever looked through the VF of a crop sensor camera you will notice that you get a much smaller view than what you are used to. Another huge advantage of the 5D is the absence of noise in High ISO situations.

    Good Luck and welcome to the digital age - you will love it once you get over the first stumbling blocks.
     
  4. I don't have much advice for you but I converted from film doing newspaper work and weddings in film in 2002. I stopped my business activities at the same time and converted back into a hobbyist. I thought th3e use of DSLR was great in saving dark room time. However, digital seems to become more and more complex as time goes by. You can get away without photoshop if you have someone else do your processing and printing. I find that most of the satisfaction I get out of my work is processing and printing my own color pictures up to 13x19. The quality of my pictures is surprisingly good. I was looking at some my 11x14 wedding display pictures done in medium format and my current pictures are more eye catching but the dark room prints are probably a little closer to reality in that they are lower contrast and have a more pastel like effect. Maybe that was my dark room style. It's a brave new world. I think you need photoshop or something like it. Just my opinion.
     
  5. What happened to the Lee Shively who wrote, "The more I got into it, the more I realized I simply don't like much of the digital process and I blew off the whole idea. I reworked my black and white darkroom and have returned to chemicals.... I've tried digital. I don't like doing it....My bottom line on all the technological advances in digital photography is: I JUST DON'T CARE."

    Welcome to the 21st century, Lee!
     
  6. Hi Lee, do what most vigins do-- pop that %&&^ ;)


    Seriously now, that "issue" crops up a lot for new comers to DSLRs. I shot b&w film (tri-x) and color slides (kodachrome 25 and velvia) for around 15 years and did most of my own developing prior to using digital so, I understand your apprehension.


    comments in-line:

    "Eventually, I returned to black and white film, using a chemical darkroom and enjoying traditional and basic methods of making photographs. I haven't shot a color photo in about four years."




    So do you find yourself enjoying and "improving" your images by altering processing times, cropping, printing on various papers (vs sticking with #2), and burn and dodging?


    Personally, I don't find myself working any more on digital images than i did with film (in fact much less time).




    "That leads to my questions: (1) Is this really a feasible way of working with digital images from the 30D (or 5D, for that matter)? In other words, is Photoshop really necessary? (2)"



    You could shoot images in raw to start and fiddle with customizing the picture style in-camera settings (via DPP -- the canon software) to come up with an approximation of what your looking for. However, it is a matter of your expectations and in terms of your "eye." I, for one, find minimal effort in touching up images during PP. In camera settings have no clue what YOU, as an artist want, just apply the same algorythm every time. If you are happy with that, great. I suspect what you need to do is become comfortable with the digital darkroom basics and then process images just as you would in you chemical darkroom.



    "If my intentions are to make an occasional print up to 11x14 inches (otherwise making smaller prints or simply saving to discs to show around), can this be done with the RAW or JPEG image as it comes from the 30D?"



    Well if your primarily looking at images on a computer screen and at fairly low resolution, there's no need to to go wild spending several thousand on a body and lenses-- again its a matter of your expectations. Kinda like shooting kodachrome slides in the old days when you just wanted to make 4*6 prints occasionally....




    "Again, is Photoshop really necessary to make a good final product?"



    If "final" means save to disk and show friends and family-- of course not.



    Now back to what I was saying. Your thinking of plopping down 1k+ for a 30d body, some coin on lenses, etc so, imho it would behoove you to be in control of your image processing, rather than fly blind. TRUST me the learning curse is not that steep. In a weekend, you can easily learn how to check/adjust color (AWB works well except challenging situations), apply a simple sharpening routine, adjust contrast if needed, and resize the image for potential prints assuming you have basic computer knowledge.

    I shoot all raw with absolutely no in-camera color, sharpening, etc settings applied and spend less than 3 minutes on each one unless I feel like playing. You can also create an action to batch process all your keepers and don't have to actually do anything except provide a sanity check.

    Again, it's all a matter your expectation, needs, and desire. You can do as much or as little as you want.


    Regardless of what anyone tells you tho, there is no replacing the magic of working with film in the darkroom. There is a place for both.

    As for tutorials, shoot em an email with some info on your current skills and background (i.e what level of computer skills and what software you plan to use) and I'll help you out with that.



    Good luck.

    mark
     
  7. SCL

    SCL

    IMHO any DSLR or digital rangefinder requires post processing in the software of one's choice to achieve quality results...just like darkroom manipulation. I too was initially excited to learn a new skill and later disenchanted by the work involved. Finally I came to terms with the fact that in the "olden days" I often relied on a well trained technician to make the critical adjustments to my film output based on my instructions from a marked up proof sheet; now I'm the technician. The world changes and we have to incorporate changes in our workflow techniques. Hopefully you'll come to grips with these issues sooner rather than later...the tools really have gotten better and easier to use in recent years.
     
  8. "What happened to the Lee Shively who wrote..."

    Jacob--it's still the same me. As I said, I loathe the computer work involved in digital image making. That's why I'm asking if it's really possible these days to make photographs without being technology overloaded.

    Mark and Stephen--I actually do very little darkroom manipulation of my black and white photos. About all I do is dodge and burn--minimal manipulations.

    And Mark--as far the equipment, I have a mess of EF lenses already so the main investment would be the camera body and better printer. I considered a digital P&S or an XTi but I prefer the familiarity of the higher level EOS bodies, especially if I'm going to learn a new process. Thanks for the offer of the tutorial.
     
  9. Lee,

    An entertaining (and vocal) writer/photographer out there is a big advocate of jpg/minimal fuss. Given your background, you will probably find his musings informative and in some respects comforting.

    kenrockwell.com

    shooting in camera jpg vs. raw:
    http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/raw.htm


    30d walk thru, user guide, and settings
    http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/30d/users-guide.htm


    Like I said, I'm a fan of raw and basic PP, but if your not-- you'll find his guide useful.
     
  10. Lee,

    Since you are used to narrow exposure latitude, dealing with a digital body won't be a problem in getting the exposures you want. When you get a good exposure, then the amount of time it takes to produce a good final image from either a RAW file or JPG is quite small compared to shooting film, waiting for it to be developed (or doing it yourself), then scanning and editing. I used to do B&W studio and darkroom work for a publication and I can say digital is much faster.

    I have a 20d and I admit I haven't tweaked the JPG settings in the camera but I get a much nicer final image by editing the RAW file in photoshop. I believe good photo editing software is necessary. At the time I bought my 20d, photoshop was the best option for me. PS Elements couldn't do everything I needed then, but I think the latest version can now. Also look at Picture Window Pro and Lightroom, or Aperture if you use a Mac; you will save a bit compared to buying the full version of photoshop, or maybe you will prefer their work flow.

    For the occasional print, I take the files (on CD) to my local shop. I've had great luck with them.
     
  11. "hat leads to my questions: (1) Is this really a feasible way of working with digital images
    from the 30D (or 5D, for that matter)? In other words, is Photoshop really necessary? (2) If
    my intentions are to make an occasional print up to 11x14 inches (otherwise making
    smaller prints or simply saving to discs to show around), can this be done with the RAW or
    JPEG image as it comes from the 30D? Again, is Photoshop really necessary to make a
    good final product? (3) Can anyone suggest some tutorials on digital photography,
    especially using Canon DSLRs, that doesn't try to teach general photography all over
    again?"

    Taking advantage of RAW (the best quality captures) essentially requires you to do some
    post processing. You can use photoshop if you want the maximum flexibility and control,
    although some of the newer applications (like Apple's Aperture) are very effective with a
    more basic workflow that may be sufficient for you.

    Photoshop is probably not totally necessary if your needs are met by something else.
    However, with Photoshop you can produce much better images in the end.

    Dan
     
  12. "I loathe the computer work involved in digital image making ... possible these days to make photographs without being technology overloaded."

    Photoshop and its ilk are just tools for the digital darkroom. None of it is necessary to get decent prints. Just walk up to the photo kiosk at the local Walmart/Costco/whatever with the flash card, and get the prints back in an hour. Some consumer level photo inkjets lets you do essentially the same at home.

    So, that's fine for the snapshooter. Except for the generally better looking and cheaper 4x6, it's no different from what most casual photographer have been doing for decades.

    If, however, you want real control over the final print, you need a darkroom. This too, hasn't changed from the old days. The difference is that the digital version gives the photographer significantly faster workflow and far better conistency. The tools have changed, and for the much better. It is unfortunate, however, in that there is a bunch of new techniques to learn; some techniques and concepts carry over, lots don't.
     
  13. Lee, I had an epiphany... if you really do despise the notion of a digital darkroom, learning processing, etc BUT want to retain your prior quality/control, why not just buy/use your FILM body? Get a cheap p&s digicam for playing around when you want to toy around.

    If you don't have your ole film body still, you can find the lemmings on ebay hawking mint pro film bodies for crazy low prices. There is no mandate that we all need to go digital, learn photoshop, and forsake film. In fact, I'm loading film for tomorrow ;)
     
  14. I bought Adobe Lightroom shortly after it was released and have found it dramatically better for photography work than PS. There are some things that you need to back to PS for, but most of the time I live in LR now. Makes all the difference in post-processing: too often, I found PS challenging and frustrating to use for basic things like exposure, color temperture correction, and tonality control. If there is a trial download, I recommend you give that a shot. Combined with RAW from the 30D, I get amazing results and actually enjoy the sessions at the computer.
     
  15. Thanks to all. And, Mark, thanks for the Ken Rockwell site referral. I need to do a lot of research before making a decision on this. In the meantime, I'm about a year behind on printing and need to get into the darkroom.
     
  16. There's a big difference between editing film scans and doing the same with DSLR files.

    Scans are second order reproductions. They offer less detail per pixel, inferior color, more grain, and very little ability to bring up the shadows. Underexposed slides are particularly awful.

    Digital files are a lot more fun to edit because there's so much more you can do with them. So I think, anyway.

    DI
     
  17. "Scans are second order reproductions. They offer less detail per pixel, inferior color, more grain, and very little ability to bring up the shadows. Underexposed slides are particularly awful."

    You need a really good scanner to get the most from film. And not everyone shoots 35mm film . . .On the original question:

    I shoot both film and digital. I do process RAW files, but, to me, it isn't nearly as fun as working in a darkroom. So I mostly just make color corrections and sharpen digital files. You don't need too much more if you've made a good exposure.
     
  18. Hello, Lee --
    I'm about a week late, so I hope you're still monitoring the thread.
    As an experienced amateur, I was also interested in "DWP" (Digital Without Photoshop) with my Canon 30D. So far the results have been excellent when shooting "Large/Fine JPEG" and getting them printed by either a local chemist (drugstore in USA) or pro lab, both of which are aligned with Fuji. This holds for sizes up to 8 x 10. I've had many batches of mixed 6x4 and 6x9 prints of friends' kids, which have been better than I used to get with my 35mm.

    My standard camera setting for colour is "Neutral" with sharpness at "4" and contrast at "2"; saturation and tone at "0". For B&W I set sharpness at "4", contrast at "2" and use "Red filter" for daytime scenics and "green filter" for people.

    Shooting JPEG you don't even need a computer. Just pull the card out of the camera, plug it into the DIY computer at your local print place, and rock and roll.

    As a backup, the software supplied with the camera can be used to adjust cropping, brightness and contrast of JPEG files. It usually takes less than a minute per image.

    Having said all that, I now shoot only in RAW. But I still process with the bundled Canon software, and only rarely do I adjust anything other than cropping. I then convert to "TIF" -- 8-bit for the chemist or 16-bit for the pro lab, and download to one of those little memory sticks for transport to the printing outlet. (This because I don't have a CD burner.)

    In summary, YES! you can enjoy your digital photography without Photoshop. BTW I'm in LOVE with my 30D and 17-55 IS/USM. The old Canon F1, the 'Blad 500C/M, and the Mamiya Press are carefully stored away for my grandchildren to enjoy as historical objets d'art.

    John Hancock, Sydney Australia
     

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