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Wow - read this re: Film versus Digital debate!


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...Phillip, I just re-read my post and I realized that I might have sounded a little rude towards you because of my tone, and I did not mean that at all. I hope you didn't misunderstand me. But my point still stands. It's rediculous to ask if anyone is "still using film" in a FILM forum. All I'm saying is that you do not need to justify or explain yourself to anyone. You are NOT a dinosaur, and I don't know why you feel that way. You don't need to.

 

I'm young, but I have no interest in digital cameras. None whatsoever. I have an 8 megapixel digital camera, but that's because my parents got it for me for Christmas last year. (I guess a lot of people get new cameras for Christmas). I like it, and it does take nice pictures. But guess what...it mostly just sits on a shelf. I take it along with me sometimes when I go out to take pictures, but ONLY when I run out of film. My film cameras just take better pictures. When I take pictures with the digital camera, I always wind up having to fix them somehow on my computer later on. Even at the highest resolution setting, they always end up looking pixelated, and the color balance gets jacked up no matter what white balance setting I use. And there is absolutely no comparison with the pictures I can get with my Yashica A. I'm always blown away with the amazing detail you can get with 120 film.

 

My birthday was in October, last month. Do you know what I wanted for my birthday? I went into the local camera shop here and got an Argus C3 matchmatic and a 16mm movie camera. Because that's what I wanted. (Well, I got an external hard drive too. So I am still firmly in the 21st century. I couldn't live without my computer.) But for photography, I absolutely prefer film. I guess that means I'm a "dinosaur" too?

 

I'll admit that I'm not a professional photographer. I just do this as a hobby and I'm still learning. But I have shown some of my pictures to people and I have had good reactions. Also, I will have some of my black and white pictures displayed in a Starbucks near where I live, and a few people have already said they were interested in prints. In fact, when I told them they were traditional silver prints from FILM, they were even more interested.

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To be sure, people should shoot what they want, but it helps those of us who are inexperienced when others report facts. That said, I think people should be careful about what they claim. Some of what is written above is inconsistent with my research. In deciding whether to buy a high-end DSLR for amateur landscape work, or a medium format film camera and scan, I did a lot of research and discovered the following: all tests that I saw (which is not to say that there aren't others) suggest that a high-end DSLR has superior resolution to any 35mm film camera and comparable resolution to any MF film camera, at least if the film is to be scanned, even on a drum scanner. Tone/color is a different story and I can imagine advantages to MF film in that regard based on what I've read (though not 35mm film, which suffers from its size in many respects), but others say that if one shoots RAW and processes carefully it's possible to get film colors from a good DSLR (particularly a Fuji S5, which, unfortunately, lacks resolution). Note that Ken Rockwell says that he never shoots RAW and prefers highly, highly saturated colors; so take anything he says about digital with a grain of salt.

 

All this said, from what I've read, the gold standard is MF digital. Look at comparisons on Luminous Landscape between even 4x5 film and a camera such as the Hasselblad H3D-39; the reports are universal that the color/tone matches that of the LF film, but with sharper images (ironically not because of more native resolution but because of autofocus); then there are the general advantages of autofocus, portability, an option for greater depth of field for objects that move (even including leaves in a breeze), and convenience. The problem, of course, is that camera cost $20,000 used with a single 80mm lens, probably twice that new.

 

So I just spent $525 on a used Sinar f2 for which I already have a $125 used Fujinon 135mm lens; the price difference will buy me an awful lot of processing and scanning while I hope to win the lottery. For snapshots of my kids and the like, I use a $275 Fuji s6000fd, which is a spectacularly good digital bridge camera, in part because at only 6mp the pixel pitch allows nice depth of field and little noise. For an amateur, as opposed to a professional journalist or sports photographer, what I can't see is spending $2,000+ on a DSLR, which will produce large prints that are about the same quality as MF film and inferior to LF film (and generally gives you full resolution only at the 3:2 aspect ratio, which I find limiting given a frequent desire to have depth in my images). Put differently, I doubt that the top Canon or NIkon DSLR will produce noticeably better web images or 4 x 6 prints than my Fuji digicam; either will certainly produce far superior large prints of landscapes, architecture, or portraits, but, again no better than MF film and not as good as LF film, and for landscapes, architecture, and portraits, there is time to set up a shot with film. So I'm at a loss to understand the broad market for high-end DSLRS, but to each his own.

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"I really enjoyed film and I was very wary of digital, but then I picked up a Nikon D200 and I haven't been able to put it down. 2 1/2 years later and my poor Hasselblad has not had a roll of film through it."

 

Really, your poor Hassey. I will gladly swap you my D200 for your Hassey. It seems such a waste.

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I'm really glad to see so much positive commentary on using film. I am primarily a film user, but also shoot some

digital.

 

Phil, two things will impact you in going digital: cost of new gear/software/batteries/memory, etc. and the other

is the learning curve. Open any magazine now and you will be inundated by the plethora of choices available for

software and hardware. We can also open another can of worms with the Mac -vs- PC debate!!! Oh, and forget

digital printing being faster than darkroom - you can still spend hours working on one image onscreen! The BIG

plus is that once you have a file saved to print from, it can be reloaded and printed immediately.

 

As was mentioned by others, you may wish to try scanning film. I shoot infrared and get much more latitude from

my negatives via scanning. The best of both worlds! Again, many options.

 

New films are available. European manufacturers such as Efke, Rollei, Maco (all kind of related); Fuji has new

films and as others have mentioned, there are some very good new films from Kodak (not just reformulations of

motion picture film - new film! REALLY!!!). Try the new Porta NC and VC films for color; TMY-400 Pro is the new

TMAX black and white - fabulous!

 

For future readers of this thread, the most important reason to use film may not be so obvious. Use film now,

because it might not be around forever. My favorite IR film, Kodak's HIE-135, was discontinued this past year.

Others are history too. The key to keeping film available is sales. On the future downside, film may go the way

of the 8-Track tape -- or upside, it could be like AM radio - still around, even though maybe not so popular.

 

One final note -- you came to the right place. Photo.net is a fabulous resource. Many good people with many good

words of advice. Like all forums you may encounter the occasional smart ass, but overall, the forums are very

good. Another good source for film/digital info and advice is Shutterbug's forums. APUG also excellent for new

film info.

 

 

I hope this is helpful! Good luck!

 

James C. Williams

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Many of the world's top photographers are customers in my large format camera store. Most of them have digital cameras and/or backs as well, but many use large format film whenever possible. This even includes some photojournalists. Film may not be better, but a lot of these guys think that it is.
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I am enjoying film again after a three year hiatus. If I have to shoot for a client, or some disposable event then digital is cost-effective and lends itself to quick delivery. But for personal projects I am quite enjoying the new generation of color negative films, their clearly superior latitude as compared to DSLRs, and the way prints look. The key is good scanning. I am lucky to have a very good dedicated film scanner, because Ken Rockwell's lab would be cost prohibitive for much of what I do. You are lucky to be getting back into photography right now, with prices for very capable DSLR's having fallen dramatically and used film equipment going dirt cheap on eBay. There is no reason you cannot have a digital camera for some uses and film for others.
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if you go to the following website-

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/

and in search on the left side put in "film vs digital" without the quotes you get a list of articles with supporting pics of the great debate. note that this are not opinions the images are right there for you to see.

 

a few years back i read an article from the website written by m reichman in which he was comparing the canon 1ds and later the 1dsmkII to 35mm film, also there is the same comparisons made though with MF. the first comparison was that the digital had passed the 35mm in terms of IQ. against MF it was equal or better in all but resolution and that difference could only be seen under lab conditions. suggest you read the articles yourselves.

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I agree with Chris about there is alot of people that prefer film. I got back into photography after a 20 year hiatus.

From what I've seen on the internet, if they ever do get rid of film, there will still be a huge interest in the oldest

processes. The wet collodions, etc. No one has to explain why they use film, (or, digital). But, it seems that there

are alot of digital users who seem to snicker whenever a lab closes or a film manufacturer stops providing a film type.

When a person on Pnet mentions how he is on his 3rd or 5th digital DSLR, you won't see me snicker. Today, I got

my B&H catalog. Inside, they mention a Hasselblad that delivers 50 megs. The cost? $39,000! Maybe that camera

would equal 4x5 or even 8x10. But, the only ones who could afford that would be a top end pro who can justify the

expense. (or, someone like Warren Buffet) But, a film user can buy a LF camera. As Chris bought for himself an old

Argus camera for his birthday. For my birthday last month, I bought a Cambo SCII. Which cost far less than that

Haasy!

 

The high end DSLRs cost several thousand to basically get a little better than 35, and not 6x7. But, I saw in a

photolab where they had an 8x10 monorail that was black and looked new, for $2,000. I'm not sure if it had a lens or

not. But, that is a better deal than a DSLR that cost more.

 

So, one reason why I don't shoot digital is that it's too expensive. No matter what the ads said when digital came out

about the lower cost, The only saving that digital has is what applies to film. But, digital has it's own costs, too.

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As I film shooter I have a big bias. I don't think it is a question of what is better - it is a question of what you prefer. I find that I prefer the quality of traditional film based prints. I don't think they are better - I just like them. I have never really had great experiences of hybrid results - shot on film and digitized. While with slide (e.g. velvia 50 or MF velvia 100) you can get very good results from a Nikon scanner digital appears to be cleaner - while film has better colours. While I am sure you can achieve Velvia results with Photoshop I cannot be bothered. For print I have never been really happy with scanning and digital printing - I like to do it the old way at home. I am waiting for a 5D Mark II which I am buying for high ISO performance. this is because one of the arenas my son plays hockey in is almost impossible to shoot in at ISO 400 and F2.8 lenses (ice Hockey is fast and you often need 1/250 speeds). With digital and Photoshop you do have more ability to "fix" poor photos - which is important to someone who must deliver good shots. I find that MF black and white printed at home is difficult to match digitally. Unfortunately film is a dying art - I live near Banff Canada and have to do almost all the film work at home. I can get services from pro labs in Calgary (e.g. Vistek) but it is clear they really don't want to do it. I have had issues with bad scans, films with minute surface scaratches that show up in my Nikon scanner and lost films. I suspect that they may still provide good services to regular professional (i.e. high spend) customers but they really do not want to know the amateur. The staff at the desk sneer at you when you talk to them and struggle to apologise when they lose a film! There are some benefits to film - my wife now has two used Contax G2 rangefinders which are remarkably cheap these days. The quality of the Contax lenses (especially the contrast and colours) is spectacular - an almost new Contax G series 90mm lens is about $150 these days. You cannot get a lens of this quality for a digital body (Leica M8 users will object but I have heard of so many problems with this camera - not the lenses- that I discount it).
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I use film cause my images are already backed up cause I have the negative. With digital, you have the risk of system crashing and constantly having to back up your hard drive/s. When computers move beyond CD/DVDS, you would have to transfer. With film, you don't have to worry about any of that.
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Some like film some like digital, some like ladies with trowsers, but I prefer them with skirts. Ladies do not use nylons with skirts anymore, but I prefer both skirts and nylons.

 

Maybe I'm living in the wrong century...!

 

Sorry for my stupid contribution, but I just had to get it pout of my system...!

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Some like film some like digital, some like ladies with trowsers, but I prefer them with skirts. Ladies do not use

nylons with skirts anymore, but I prefer both skirts and nylons.

 

Maybe I'm living in the wrong century...!

 

Sorry for my stupid contribution, but I just had to get it out of my system...!

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"Is this guy credible. Is it true what he asserts."

 

Sure, but only to the extent that it's good entertainment.

 

Practically, how do you plan to compete against the much higher productivity and throughput of other stock

photographers originating images with digital equipment? I guess it doesn't matter if this is a hobby, but I'd

think doubly hard if this venture is meant to be a livelihood.

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I like photographing with film too.

 

Thing is though that one of the larger stock agencies I work with won't even look at a submission on film, and the other will shortly be spending a day going through my archives of MF transparencies before they go the same way at the end of the year. So if I want to shoot film on material I hope to put their way I have to be prepared to scan every image I want them to see ( a decent flatbed will do for this) and then pay for a drum or at least Imacon scan for every image they accept from my submission. These guys want 50/60MB Tiffs . 18MB will be fine for on screen use or a stock agency submission. It will not make a good enough file for those images selected by a mainstream agency- even though everyone is aware that the vast majority of their customers' applications will use less than this.

 

When added to the cost of film and processing the 5D and three L lenses I bought in March have paid for themselves already from the saving I've made on scanning.

 

There is no point in debating with these stock agencies which is best or which I like using best. If I want to work with them economically I have to use a digital camera. If I'm out with a film camera then I'm a hobbyist.

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Philip,

I won't go into the whole Ken Rockwell thing. You either like him or you don't. Most of his stuff you can take w/ a grain of salt, but I admire his courage to tell things as he sees them and to hell w/ everyone else. He obviously shills for some of the companies, but he is so transparent about it (and in his denials) that it doesn't matter. He is a lot of fun to read.

 

I read most of that article you posted the link to, and he's right on the money this time. Absolutely, film looks better than digital, and the bigger the format the better it looks. But it is a lot of trouble and expense. If I were shooting commercially I would almost have to shoot digitally, and you couldn't pay me enough to do that. I like the way film looks.

 

Another thing is that 99% of the people out there can't see the superiority of film, and this probably includes art directors. Quality ain't what it used to be, at least awareness wise. So unless you are planning on shooting for galleries, or in B&W, you might want to rethink whether you want to go w/ a film camera.

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Phillip when you say you're ready to get things cranked up again I assume that you want to get back into making an income from your photography? If that's the case then it's kind of irrelevant what you prefer to shoot. Your clients will make that decision for you. If you want to shoot film but no stock agencies will accept film any more (I know that one of mine is about to stop and another says it does but I find it very hard to get any accepted but they take all my digital stuff) then you would be better off getting into the digital habit. If you plan to pursue assignment work then you need to find out whether the clients you hope to work for will still accept (and more importantly pay for) the expense of scanning and digitising film. If they intend to take that out of your creative fee and expect you to pay for it then economically it just won't be viable.

On the other hand if you just want to do it as a hobby then shoot whatever you feel like. Likewise if you plan to sell fine art prints or produce your own products, after establishing which is more economical, choose whichever suits your business plan. Just be aware that in the professional game the world really has moved on and film is very hard to sell these days.

 

Paul Dymond

http://pauldymond.blogspot.com

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Wow so much of this is over my head as an amateur but here is my half cent comment. For years I wanted to shoot more but could not afford the cost of constantly pushing the shutter button. The cost of digital may be more up front but the real cost of actually getting the shots is so much less it is really no contest. For the first time with the start of my D70, then D80 now D300 I am able to experiment, have fun and not fear the cost of each shot. For those of you with deep pockets or pros this may not be an issue but for the rest of us Digital is the best thing since sliced bread! Learning the computer and how to store and manipulate images should not intimidate anyone. I could barley turn my computer on several years ago and as an old Irishman even I could figure it out. Good luck and thanks to all on this site as it is always a help to us little folk.
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I don't understand when people say that they'd rather shoot film because they don't want to deal with post

processing. Just expose your digital images the way you expose your film. If you get them right there's no need to

post process. Digital shooters tend to be sloppy because they always think that they can fix it in post processing. If

you're an ex film shooter and moving onto the digital world, just keep the good habit in shooting film and carefully

expose/compose your images. I love digital because I can shoot 300 images using my $18 4gb CF card over and

over, I can switch from ISO 100 to 1600 instantly, I can see what I just shot,..just to name a few. Ok, even film is

better (which I don't think it is, but just for the sake of this arguement) I don't think that it is a day-night better. For

me all the conveniences of digital easily offset any advantages of film.

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Ken Rickwell was born in the same year (1962) I bought a used Nikon F with prism and 5.8cm F1.4. Thus he is going to have a different opinion than me about Nikons; the recession of 1958; the 1960 election.:) Film versus digital debates are ancient; if YOU think they are new; you are just a new to digital; its really decades old. If you seek an exact answer wether film or digital is better by reading anothers writing; you might as well get their advice on coffee; amount of ketchup on a burger; dog versus cats. If you think digital is new to commerical work then maybe you time time traveler from 1980's; or have nver heard of Britney; X-files; Bill Clinton; or a 486 computer; or a cell phone.
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"The new Ektar is a movie film without the "remjet" (removable jet black) anti-halation layer. If anything, it is proof that Kodak is getting out of film. No new still films, just the systematic replacement of the old still line with adapter movie films to lower Kodak's production costs and R&D budget. "

 

Please don't start this rumour. Ektar 100 has its "technology" borrowed from the latest Vision 2 motion picture films, but Ektar 100 is NOT movie film or the same emulsion as 50D without the remjet coating. It has been said motion picture films have a lower contrast ration and they are processed in ECN2 chemicals which is not C-41. Even the temperatures used in ECN2 are higher then C41.

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Thanks, Jack. Actually, I got the Argus C3 matchmatic the day before my birthday and my dad got it for me. I was out having lunch with my dad and I decided to go to the camera shop here, where I sometimes get film. It was on our way back home. They have a ton of antique cameras on display, and they sell them too. I've looked at it before, but the weird shutter speed and f-stop settings on it kind of threw me off. But my dad saw me looking at it, and asked if I wanted it...and of course I wasn't going to pass up another Argus camera. So there you go.

 

My brother got me an external hard drive. One of my friends got me a 5-pack of Kodak Gold 200 film and a gift certificate to Best Buy. I guess everbody knows me well :)

 

It made up for what happened earlier, when I messed up my Argus C-44. That's a long story involving a spilled Pepsi. But anyway...

 

I'll never understand the wisecracks or why people feel like they have to justify why they like film. I prefer shooting film, and frankly I don't care at all what people think. Digital is BORING to me. I prefer the snap of a real shutter instead of the wimpy beep of a digital camera. And I have just gotten much better pictures with my film cameras then digital. But that's just my opinion. There has been a lot of interest in the new Kodak Ektar 100 film here the past few days, and I would hate for someone to try to ruin that with cynicism. I know I can't wait to finally get my order.

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