Should I fear the Digital Revolution?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by maurice_bryant, Oct 11, 1998.

  1. I have a Kowa Super 66 camera, and hope to receive two new lenses
    this week. I would like to develop my hobby to the point where I can
    at best sell a few pictures, and at worst win a minor contest or
    two. The advent of digital backs, and cameras concerns me a bit.
    Four or five years from now, will I be able to buy 120/220 film?
    Will potential clients say "Film is nice, kid, but I only deal with
    digital images". Concievably, I could transfer my compositional
    ability to digital cameras, but I dont forsee being able to afford a
    $5000 digital camera. Am I just being paranoid?
     
  2. I have some Mamiya TLR's and do just a little bit of portrait work on the side to pay for my hobby. I don't have more than $1500-$2000 invested in my equipment and it's paid for. I wouldn't worry about digital taking over. More and more medium format cameras are coming out all of the time. It would take a mighty good digital camera and computer to match the medium format in quality. You can get 2nd 8x10's made at a pro lab for $2-$3.00 and that's cheaper than the paper and ink in an ink-jet printer or quite a bit less expensive than a better Kodak printer. The more people get into digital the more impressed they will be with the enlargements made from medium format negs. Keep your equipment costs in line and if it does become obsolete you won't waist much money but I don't believe it will be anytime soon!
    Keith Wiebe
     
  3. Maurice, to paraphrase a clever saying, a roll of 120 film might say,
    "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

    <p>

    I suspect that film of most types will one day go the way of flash
    powder, but certainly not in the next 5 years. Some 25-30 years ago,
    electronic flash units relegated flashbulbs into retirement, but M25s
    are still available if you seek them out. I suspect Radio Shack can
    still come up with a 15-volt battery to power your fan-fold flash
    unit, if you still have one!

    <p>

    When digital does take over (and I feel sure it will), 35mm film will
    likely succumb first. It will take longer to get a digital MF system
    down into the $300 price range of a current, used MF film-burner.

    <p>

    Don't worry about the $5000 digital camera; when the time comes for
    you and me to buy one, it will cost only $400, and we can sell our MF
    antiques to collectors.

    <p>

    Mel Brown
     
  4. s_p

    s_p

    I have worked a bit as a\photographer and an assistant with some
    of the new, high end digital cameras in commercial studios. I
    think digital continues to become a more viable option every
    month --- but I think film is also here to stay for quite some
    time.<p>
    Those $5000.00 dollar digital cameras may be able to turn your
    image around faster than film but your Kowa 66 will produce more
    luscious color, more detail in the shadows and highlights and a
    more breathtaking print. A $200.00 35mm SLR will produce a
    better 11x14 than the new Kodak/Nikon or Canon/Kodak DSC or
    whatever they are calling it now.<p>
    To get to a place where your digital camera would rival the color
    depth and detail and resolution of film, you have to spend a lot
    of money. At the studio I contract my services to, I am informed
    that one of the digital backs for one of the camera systems costs
    $60,000.00. I double checked what I just typed and, if your
    wondering, I did not stick any extra zeros in there by mistake.
    That 60k buys you the back alone --- you still need a camera to
    stick it on, lights and a computer with about 500 mb ram before
    you can take your first picture. So were talking about cameras
    that are really expensive, not at all portable ... I would point
    out that the studio I contract to is known to be an all digital
    studio but they also shoot film.<p>
    My prediction is that digital photography will continue to take
    over in the commercial sector where clients are less worried
    about saving pennies on film and more worried about saving
    hundreds of dollars on time and retouching. I believe that film
    is still the perfect medium for a lot of applications and a lot
    of commecial studios will shoot film when it is more appropriate
    or convenient and scan. I believe that smaller studios will be
    able to continue to use film, as will wedding and portrait
    photographers and amateur photographers. I think for many years
    hence film will continue to deliver the best image quality at the
    most reasonable price. I think digital will also make itself
    known in the snapshot and family pictures realm; probably places
    like Olin Mills will go digital if they have not already. If
    they can get the image quality and reliability of low end digital
    cameras printers up and the price way down, then digital imaging
    may replace the point and shoot for family pictures but who knows
    -- stills from a digital video camera? The consumer market is
    pretty fickle but I think people like photographs cause they can
    stick them in their pocket to show people their photo of their
    new baby or stick them in an envelope and mail them. I don't
    think vacation snapshots on your computer monitor is ever going
    to seriously challenge the market share of 35mm and APS, at least
    not for most people.<p>
    Many of the digital camera backs integrate into existing camera
    systems. There are digital backs that fit Hasselblad, Mamiya,
    etc., or fit 4x5 cameras. There are Canon and Nikon and Minolta
    digital cameras that use the existing lenses and accessories.
    Probably wont make one for the Kowa, though.<p>
    Digital photography is certainly here to stay, and will take a
    bite out of film sales, but I think you will be able to get film
    for your 66 for a long time yet.<p>
    just my prediction<p>
    stefan
     
  5. The main problem with digital technology as Stefan mentioned is the high cost of CCD arrays that approach the resolution of MF cameras. Another problem is this frustrating attitude of the graphics art industry being stubborn and not getting rid of their MAC and Windows platforms in favor of a robust machine that works, like NT.

    <p>

    However, I strongly disagree with his assumptions about" color depth, detail and resolution of CCD's vs film". CCDs have a greater dynamic capability than film and present an image that is cleaner to work with than scanned film. "Resolution" is only inherent in the film itself, but what about the rest of the reproduction process?

    <p>

    The reason for the high-priced $60,000 digital backs is for studios and specialized pre-press housed to eliminate the need for intermediate scanning - not replace an entire analog to analog process. The idea being that if your going digital anyways then why bother with an additional analog step? Are we to assume that film somehow enhances reality better than the original image? Also, $60,000 is only the fraction the cost of setting up and maintaining an E-6 production line - not to mention the salary of the guy running it. We also have to factor in the cost of a good drum scanner - $40,000 to $120,000 - that the camera will replace.

    <p>

    The premise that scanning film is superior to using a high-end capture back is, well stupid and lacks technical credibility. Both processes are the same and use similiar technology. I challenge anybody in this forum to tell the difference between a high quality MF slide or neg, and a neg or chrome produced off a high-end closed loop system like Kodak's premiere (providing it's running a fire-1000).

    <p>

    The main advantage I see in the consumer market place for digital is in the out-put technology end. Consumer level ink-jet printers are getting extremely good, and if you couple this with photo-shop light and a 1000x1000 CCD camera you have the capability to produce images better than what you'd get from APS film, 4x6 prints, and your average minilab run by teenagers.

    <p>

    Rather than worry about being "fearfull" or being "paranoid" there should be an attempt to understand the technology. This will help all of us to keep manufacturers at bay from pushing inferior forms of technology down our throats.

    <p>

    //scott
     
  6. I have watched with considerable attention all the hoohaa about
    digital imaging. I think the technology is a wonderful tool for those
    who need to use it like publications, advertising, etc. I am studying
    photography in the fine art sense. I do not think that the "ease" at
    which you can manipulate the digital image will be of use to me in art
    photography. I have yet to see a digital reproduction that can match a
    fine platinum print. The craft involved in my HANDMADE, HANDCRAFTED,
    photographs are the catch that I use to sell my images. I market my
    art to folks who appresiate the fact that each photograph I print is
    NOT exactly the same as the one before or after, it may be close but
    that is the point. Anyone who can learn to use photoshop can give
    someone the EXACT same print as the last, but where is the human
    touch(you touched the keys but have no hypo-clear on your fingers, or
    platinum salts on your clothes). I believe that for those that want
    quick and identical do it, I for one don't fear the technology and
    don't want to use it. My tu pesos wurth.
     
  7. >>I have yet to see a digital reproduction that can match a fine
    platinum print. <<

    <p>

    You see, this is where all the confusion starts. What specific form
    of "digital reproduction" are you refering to?

    <p>

    If I were to take your B/W negative (I'm assuming that's what your
    printing from) scan it, manipulate it, and out-put it back out to a
    negative with good, high end equipment I'd challenge you to tell the
    difference from your original neg.

    <p>

    Any non-developer incorporated fiber print or platinum prints have a
    unique "look" that is unmatched by conventional ink printing
    technology. But what concerns me is you are reproducing and selling
    your images on the "novelty" or your reproduction process, not the
    image itself since A fine example of this are those annoying
    polaroid transfer prints that look like somebody took a paint dryer
    to a cibachrome. Good platinum prints should stand out on their own
    without having to say "Hey, this is a platinum print".

    <p>

    You might be shocked to see images out-put from a Fuji Pictrography,
    or even better yet, an IRIS printer running the right ink and paper.

    <p>

    //scott
     
  8. I don't think y'all get it. The first item: a photographer with an
    idea, second; the scene, Third, camera, lens, film, fourth; exposure,
    fifth; development, sixth, print, seventh; something is not right-how
    to fix it? Ahah! too long in development, did I learn something? Yes
    can I fix it? maybe not. but the point is that I did it myself, not
    with the aid of my MacIntosh. I will learn composition, exposure,
    development, printing, etc by HAND. The craftsmanship that can only
    be done by HUMAN touch, its the whole pie is what sells, the image,
    subject, print and that those who buy know the time I took to learn
    the craft. That is why I will NOT put my images on the web or on the
    computer, one must see, and holkd the image. I WILL use this machine
    to gather information or discuss issues. But not to use it as a
    substitute for craftsmanship. WOuld you by a peice of Amish style
    furniture built with CAD/CAM, if you would then digital imaging is for
    you. If you like the made by an Amish fellers furniture, then you can
    pull up another HANDCRAFTED chair and discuss Photography!. B Alan
    Smith
     
  9. As previously noted, high end digital camera prices are astronomical
    as yet, but for $25-35 you can take your 120 transparency to a service
    bureau (or offset printer or photo lab)and have a relatively high
    resolution scan made. You can either deliver the straight digital
    file to your prospective client, or even retouch or minipulate the
    image and deliver a more unique product. Digital photography is one
    alternative for producing a digital file, but not the only one.
     
  10. >>The craftsmanship that can only be done by HUMAN touch<<

    <p>

    The last time I checked, software was written by human beings,
    computers were built by human human beings, color conversion
    algorithms were written by human beings, etc.

    <p>

    I heard similiar arguements when Auto-Focus cameras came on the scene
    by hardened photo-journalists. Now every freelance photographer I
    know of complains that they don't have a Nikon F-5. Same with digital
    hand-held light-meters. Now every pro wants one.

    <p>

    Cameras don't take pictures, people do. Computers don't manipulate
    images, people do. At some point the image has to be observed by the
    human eye and intrepreted by the brain. There is no high tech
    solution for that. I'm not sure what advantage it is to have a
    retouch-artist crouched over a light table straining her back with an
    air-brush when you can correct the image digitally and do it cleaner.

    <p>

    Having run E-6 and C-41 lines and processed B/W film by hand and
    produced fine art prints for the better part of my life I'm getting
    sick of breathing the fumes and living in contact with poisonous
    photo-chemicals. You should see how much toxic waste goes down the
    drain by your average photo-lab. Amish folk don't have to deal with
    that. Digital technology can seriously make a dent in photo-chemical
    production. Just ask Kodak's stock-holders.

    <p>

    We have a saying around here; "Graphics artists and Fine art
    photographers never die of heart attacks, just starvation."

    <p>

    B. Alan, I understand the heart of what your getting at, and I feel
    your passion, but learning to use new tools will only broaden your
    respect for the medium and increase your desire to give yourself new
    challenges.

    <p>

    //scott
     
  11. armed camps!!! them's fightin' words!!! hold yer fire boys!
    you can make unique digital prints! you just have to WANT to!
    don' get so deep into the handmade thing that you have to refine your
    own platinum ore! and output device love affairs have you scanning
    fotos you made when you were 18 just so you don't have to get off your
    but to make pictures for some new material!...

    <p>

    fundamentalism is dangerous in any forum

    <p>

    how about checking out a web site called "zonezero.com". organized by
    a deep thinker named pedro meyer. it's all about the
    transition,digital and traditional... yankees AND confederates
    are welcome!

    <p>

    tom

    <p>

    how about making platinum prints from digital negs?....ok....bye
     
  12. specifically go to " zonezero.com/ ", select editorials then
    previous editorials and then read #11, "is she now mine?"

    <p>

    then look around, it's a wonderful world
     
  13. >>how about making platinum prints from digital negs?<<

    <p>

    Uh, I actually did that for some clients. They wanted some Damaged
    Kodachrome transparencies scanned / restored and converted to medium
    format B/W negs so they could print them in their platinum soup. It
    worked pretty good.

    <p>

    Negs or chromes made of a high-end film recorder that's properly
    calibrated can't be discerned from the original. If you don't believe
    me order a set of Kodak Q-set "Shirley" 120 negatives and print them
    to 30x40 your-self.

    <p>

    //scott
     
  14. s_p

    s_p

    I think we are getting away from the original question; I don't think it matters.
    Just after making my previous posting on this topic, I saw the new Lightphase back from Phase One. It has to be the most impressive digital camera I have seen yet. They have a web page at www.phaseone.com. The new Lightphase capture back is an instant capture system that fits on a Hasselblad (but only a Hasselblad or a Sinar) and was shown at Photokina (not that I went). A lot of the problems I had been complaining about in regard to the Dicomed Instant capture system have been eliminated. At an estimated price of $20,000 for the back and camera (Phase One is in a limited partnership of some kind with Hasselblad), it is less than about 1/3rd the price of the Dicomed but this price does not include the computer you will need as well.
    Shortly after it's release, Lightphase will also be availible with an adapter to make it a portable unit.
    At $20,000 though, I still think the Kowa 66 is a bargain.
    stefan
     
  15. I may have missed the cut off point of this debate but.....here goes.
    The digital revolution is a direct result of the printing industry
    embracing the new digital technology... here in the UK a large number
    of printing companies have disappeared due to their inability to
    accept the computer and digital revololution. The larger Photographic
    agencies have already swung over to digital both for the reproduction
    of slides and prints,national newspapers have closed their
    photographic depts, releasing darkroom staff and photographers, the
    work of these guys has been taken over by the 'picture' editor with
    massive saving in overheads,staff photgraphers were scanning and
    transmitting news stories ( both picture and text) from hotel
    bathrooms, transparencies giving way to C41 processed film for speed
    and ease of transmission. the majority of this work has been taken
    over by freelance photographers. Wedding photographer are now
    recording their collection of shots on CD roms to present to the
    prospective bride and groom, portfolio are being sent on Zip disks for
    ease of viewing by agencies....
    The digital revolution is upon us all and should be treated as an
    additional tool to compliment our darkroom skills but not as a direct
    replacement.The quality of top end equipment can be seen in the
    production of calenders, advertising stills,magazines virtually
    everywhere where an image is required....
    The advent of cost effective medium format digital backs will see the
    further errosion of the wet darkroom and the expanding transistion to
    digital studios.
    Should you fear the digital revolution..........it's here, embrace it.

    <p>

    Jack McVicker
     
  16. All right, stand back and listen. Listen to the engineer.

    First, I've been shooting medium format for thirty years. I was complete photographic support for a 3000 man Army post. I every kind of photography.

    Next, I built the front end of the Dicomed CCD back that mounts on Hasselblads. That CCD array is 4100 x 4100 pixels and 2.25 x 2.25 inches square, digigitized to 36 bits with a 1 bit noise floor. A color shot is about 96 megabytes. That is our SMALL CCD Array. The BIG one is 9000 x 9000 pixels and about 6 x 6 INCHES! We make giant Electro-Optical aerial cameras with linear arrays 14,000 pixels wide and lenses ground to a 20th of a wavelength. We've tested Hasselblad lenses and found that they end up where ours start from. We can look out 40 miles and see a man while the we dynamically move the camera tiny distances to cancel the plane's shudders, jinks and vibrations as they happen at 600 miles per hour.

    So all that says is that I know electronic cameras.

    Hear this cleary: D O N O T T H R O W A W A Y Y O U R F I L M ! !
    People have taken our old film aerial cameras from WWII, put 70mm film in them, laid them on their side and presently take enormously crisp, stunning, super-panoramic photos with them. 50 year old cameras! The message is simple, film will ALWAYS be of higher quality than Digital for the same film/sensor size.

    Electronic arrays are used simply because they provide more rapid access, NOT because they produce better pictures. You will NEVER get a chromium print out of a digital camera.

    As a final note, digital is fine for snapshots and other applications where ultimate quality is not the goal. Every serious commercial application, with the possible exception of catalogs and super market flyers, will be done with film, and film is STILL the best archival storage medium, without exception.
     
  17. The answer to the question is, I think no. Do not throw away your film! You can get images from a few hundred dollar film camera that are better than a $60,000 digital camera. You can, should you want to go trekking in wildernesses with some film, your camera and a light meter and not have to worry about how long the batteries are going to last. There is not risk that your negatives, provided that they are well washed, ect will "go wrong" like a computer can. Ok, you might scratch or loose them, but the risk of you having to reformat your computer hard drive is, if you are careful, much greater. Film will be around for a loooong time. Real purists will, if film is made obsolete be able to coat and develop their own plates and produce stunning platinum prints using fairly easy to get chemicals. Whatever you do, dont throw away your camera. If for some reason you do go digital, i will gladly have it!
     
  18. A lot has changed since '98. Hasn't it?
     
  19. Yeah, a lot has changed; My wallet however, has not kept up with these changes (although the gulf is shrinking).
     
  20. And a lot more has changed in the last 3 years as well. Its funny to read back through this thread now.

    Wonder what the next 5 years will bring.
     
  21. "Wonder what the next 5 years will bring"

    Digital will get better and cheaper. Film will still be around for an ever smaller number of "luddites" (chuckle) and continue to provoke discussion amongst us (smile). Regards.
     

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