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Have we all been duped?


mjferron
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<p>I shoot my fair share of digital and like developing my own B&W film. The other day though discovered a few rolls of Reala in the fridge and decided to try it out along with my Nikon N80 and a new Sigma 24mm 1.8 lens. I sent the film out to Kodak via Target and ordered 5x7 prints and a picture CD. Have to say I was blown away by the quality of the prints and the low rez scans on the CD. The colors are bold, clean and beautiful and everything is sharp as a tack. Sure it costs $15 but in the end I received 36 nice 5x7 prints that look at least as good as anything my pricey Epson 2400 has spit out (without all the fuss) and have the web sized images all set on a CD as well. What makes digital such an attractive option? Add up all the money many of us spend updating computers, digital cameras, printers etc. and for most digital will become more expensive option over time. Sure many pros need their digital workflow but for most of us I'll bet it's more of a free time drain then the convienience of film ever will be. And none of my digitals really ever gave my eyes the pleasing colors I got from the Reala including my D80 or my G9. Thoughts?<br>

(PS) I'm thrilled with the Sigma 24 1.8 so far. I'm not always impressed with Sigma products but this lens on a film camera is looking to be a gem.</p><div>00RovK-98269684.jpg.e435a91935dd2f4161f678e2e98f34ce.jpg</div>

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<p>Although I consider myself a 'Hybrid' photographer who combines film with digital, I have come to think that your thoughts about being duped have some truth. I have seen how many pro labs have gone by the way side due to many pros changing over to total digital. I have never in my career spent so much time in front of a PC as I do now. I have still managed to surprise clients when I have taken a 'proof' shot of the event or whatever the brief was and find them perplexed by the fact that the image quality is outstanding considering that I have used film...in my case 120 or 4x5....compared to a digital one that they have had supplied by a digital user.<br>

There are those that will maintain that digital far exceeds film in many ways, and they may be right. But for the moment I too am still blown away by the image quality when all things are considered equal that film still generates. I for one have not updated any of my equipement just to keep with the current model what ever the item may be as I feel that when using film and using a professional quality lab that maintains the high level of quality control that is expected, then, my workload is cut by half which in turns impacts on my profit in so much that I have more time on my hands to take on more clients instead of spending time with a digital workflow. There are times when I have the freedom to process my own slides and recently I had a few Graphic Design students over to show them the process as it is part of their current course requirments. Being born into a digital world they are amazed at the results and in some cases have gone out and invested in 2nd hand B&W equipement as they are hooked on seeing the image appear on a piece of blank paper when in the dark room. I pray that film stocks, although limited perhaps to the pros and dedicated followers, will out live me. Although your shot is now a digital one, I can only suspect that the print really stands out. I don't think the price you have paid for processing and the film is that elevated when one takes into account what one would have to charge an hourly rate if you were to go through the digital process. My 2 cents worth....</p>

<p>Artur</p>

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<p>Mike E. says "I don't know of anyone who claims that digital looks better than film"<br>

Mike I find on many sites folks think film is inferior and arcaic. I'm not saying film is better either. Guess my point is digital is not the convienience some folks think it is. For example as a favor I shot a backyard wedding this past summer for two co-workers with my D80. Shot about 175 frames and printed about 75 5x7 for the happy couple. Anyone have any idea how much time I spent editing 175 raw files and printing 75 more? Damn I could of just shot film and handed them the envelopes of prints.</p>

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<p>Reala has more detail in the highlights than is conveyed in your scan. </p>

<p>Self-scanned and processed film takes longer than RAW digital shots self-processed (as a general rule- at least for me), suffers from file size bloat (120MB standard for 35mm vs 10mb for a 8MP RAW file) and has other annoying issues like film flatness when scanning, dust/scratches, etc.</p>

<p>If I had more time I'd shoot more film as I like the look of color negative, but I don't.</p>

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<p>Film has a preset look designed by the chemists at Kodak and Fuji. They choose the color, contrast, and saturation for specific emulsions with the goal of producing pleasing images and prints straight from the film. It's assumed that most users will not have the equipment, skill, or interest for scanning the film and extensively post processing it to achieve a pleasing look, so the chemists do as much work as possible in the chemistry itself. That's why we have different films for different subjects, i.e. Portra vs. Velvia.</p>

<p>Digital is neutral, accurate, and boring straight off the sensor. It's also completely under your control. You have complete freedom to decide the look you want. But you also bear the responsibility of doing the work to achieve that look. (Cameras and RAW converters are increasingly shipping with more sophisticated presets for achieving specific looks, like choosing different films.)</p>

<p>There are people who never really have the interest or time to make the most of their digital files. They shoot some film and are surprised at the easy results, and decide film is superior. There are other people who compare the preset lab results of film to the freedom they have with digital and decide it's no contest, digital is superior. I happen to be in the latter group. I love the freedom digital gives me and do not mind working on my images in front of a computer any more than I mind spending hours in a darkroom perfecting my prints. For me the post work is a very important part of the craft. (Note that I enjoy working with B&W film because with B&W I again have control. I take it in a darkroom and develop/print it myself. I do not leave it to a lab, and my decisions in developing and printing give me control over contrast and tonality beyond the decisions of the film chemists.)</p>

<p>Which is superior depends on your point of view and your goals.</p>

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<p>Very extensive studies of this issue have been made, largely for consumers in the world of commercial photography. And, after enormous comparison and scientific analysis as well, I think it is well accepted that digital photgraphy is well able to meet, and exceed, what the film world can offer.<br>

We all feel sympathy and nostalgia for what used to be. But the new science has superceded the old one. Regards, Bob</p>

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<p>I don't know about being duped or not. I do agree that digital cost more than the general public was told. A few yars ago, in a Photo mag, they said that since most people had film cameras.It was easier to sell the public a digital, than another film camera. Also, pros got rid of their Medium Formats, because, buying a digital back for a Hassey, would cost more than to buy a DSLR. Even though the quality was less. I saw one article in a mag, where they said, "The problem with Digital" Someone took a picture of a zoo animal. And, since then, there was a lag in when the camera would take the picture. He got a picture of the animal's back half, etc.<br>

Digital is fine. But, I can get equal, and I bet, better quality with my film cameras. Especially my 120 and 4x5s.</p>

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<p>Yes, you've been duped... into thinking that good photographs have to do with process, materials, and gear. If you get better results with film more power to you. To suggest that the rest of us are blindly following trends instead of doing our own testing and comparisons is naive. People should choose the tools and techniques that work well for them, and not worry so much about what works for the next guy. If there was an option that was clearly superior in all situations for all photographers we'd all be using it.</p>

<p> </p>

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<p>well here are my 2 cents...<br>

it depends on the needs of the user(s). The evolution of micro chips and digital camera etc... hurted the film camera and film a lot but it won't die completely. In short similar to not because photography was invented that people stop to paint on canvas and other medium..<br>

For my personnal taste and liking I use only film B&W and color (MF and LF). Sure it take more time, more $ but the rewards are appreciated only by myself and other who know so.<br>

For my work I have to use digital (DSLR)... Turn around time, re-shoot, add and subtract subject... change lighting.. and re-shoot again..this can't be done with films.<br>

In graphic business nothing can compete with speed of delivery... and yes there are still some high end graphic using films...<br>

so keep shooting with films and amaze yourself and you will amaze future generation too...</p>

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<p>"We all feel sympathy and nostalgia for what used to be. But the new science has superceded the old one."<br>

Gee,with all this wonderful technology available today how come they can't predict the weather any better than they did 40 years ago?How about NASA's recent struggle getting a man back on the moon,something done over fourty years ago with lots of sliderules and drafting pencils.Its not the tools but the brains behind the hands moving the tools.Probably why most products are so generic in their performance and looks these days.Remove the names and you can hardly tell the players apart anymore. </p>

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<p>Walk into a camera store and just say- "I want to buy a camera." See what you automatically get shown before any question is asked by the salesman. If we haven't been duped, we've at least been led around by the nose by marketing and forced to think "digital" when someone says "camera". Marketing told us what we really want and need is digital that film is dead. Where's the profit for all the camera companies if it could be shown what amazing results could be had with modern films in an Olympus OM-4Ti with its eight segment multi-spot meter circa 1987.<br>

I thank Michael for reminding us that it certainly is alive and will have a future IF THEY LET IT.</p>

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<p>The vast majority of threads like like this are in fact comments on how well a particular process has been followed , not reflective of the inherent qualities of that process itself. I've seen terrible proof prints from film and useless scans. I've seen people who can get much better small prints from their digital cameras by taking them to an unmanned machine at the chemist than they can get from their expensive inkjet at home. </p>

<p>No you haven't been duped. You've found a good supplier of prints from scanned film. Be happy. A lot of people - maybe most people - haven't been quite so lucky. Your digital system would give you proof-sized prints every bit as good if you post processed well and got the files to a quality printer. If I track the quality of my family's prints from film through scanned film to digital, I'd say that mostly the digital is discernably better. Thats mainly I'd suggest because digital photographs don't have to be passed though the often inadequate and poorly run scanners that sit at the front end of minilab/volume print machines. But my point is that both can and do make good or bad proof prints depending on who's made them and how good they were on the day.</p>

<p>I do have more sympathy with the "I spend so much time in front of a computer" debate. Interestingly I hear the reverse too from some serious quality and volume photographers, to the point that I'm giving myself some time off this winter to learn about post processing, software and workflow design. I'd like to get to the point that when i get back from a major trip with a couple of thousand raw files, I'm looking forward to seeing them and can get quality images into my stock agencies and some prints made faster and with less grief. You see whilst I've spent countless hours in front of a computer this year, I don't necessarily blame digital for that, I mostly blame me. Just like I don't credit film for your good prints- I credit the people that made them.</p>

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<p>I think the reason why consumers have embraced digital is what my brother-in-law once said...."with digital, I don't waste film on bad pictures"....or something to that effect. Most of the time, people have their thumb over the pop-up flash, or the camera is tilted, or a knuckle is in front of the lens. But what I see from the average Joe and his digital camera is junk. At least when people used film cameras, there were some occasionally good shots, which speaks well of film's exposure latitude and resolution.<br>

Apparently, with higher-end digital, at least higher than what my brother-in-law has, there is greater color accuracy than with film. But I still use film because of its tremendous dynamic range, and, well....because I already have great film cameras and don't need to upgrade at this time to a digital camera. But with 120 and larger formats, there is a real wow factor that is hard to beat with digital, unless perhaps it is a high-end digital back.</p>

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<p>Mauro said: "There are people out there who believe and argue DSLR can compare in detail and tonality to 6x7 film! As crazy as it sounds, marketing has done a great job making people believe fairy tales about DSLRs."</p>

<p>99% of what I shoot is film, both 35mm and 6x7. I simply like film, a personal choice.</p>

<p>But I did see an exhibit of 80 16x20 prints last year where I find out that about half were shot on 6x7 chrome and half digital. I looked long and hard and could not decipher which was which. I know the difference between very good prints and the best that can be made. These were in that "best that can be made" category so nothing was dumbed down to match. And there was no question about the technical skills of the two photographers.<br>

But I have had to admit that, for color, the new DSLR's can match 6x7 chrome. Not exceed it, but match it. B&W still remains the realm of real film to my eye though.</p>

<p> </p>

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<p>I think that sometimes people confuse time with timeliness. This all depends on why you're shooting (and who your audience/customer is), but let's face it: turn-around time can make a difference. In my tiny little world of subject matter and customers, the market for some of the material I shoot decreases by the <em>hour</em> that passes after the shoot. <br /><br />My ability to put images online and fulfill orders in very, very short order - it's important. And my ability to shoot hundreds of images (it's action stuff - there are always plenty of non-keepers) and not sweat the costs of processing the obvious losers... that right there fundamentally changes the math (making film comparatively far more expensive). I also shoot some film, when I'm feeling a little more deliberative, or just looking for a change of pace. But bread-and-butter-wise? Well-exposed, well-shot images simply don't need a whole lot of individual fussing that can't be handled through quick batch processing - at least in terms of getting proofs up. And unlike batched film proofs, I can at least do some preliminary cropping, and push the white balance around if needed.<br /><br />So why have consumers embraced digital? Because people use photographs to communicate. It's difficult to convince a young person today - who has never known a world without blogging from their mobile phone or having images from the party they've just been to showing up on their Facebook page before they've even arrived at their <em>next</em> party of the night - that they will enjoy their photographs more if they have to drive their 24 exposures to a place where they will pay someone to process them and produce either paper prints (which may be totally useless to them) or a CD (which will end up in the trash once they've lifted the snapshots off of them for their short life on MySpace).<br /><br />It's hard for people in, say, their 40's, to see the purchase of a camera in the same way that a young person does - but I guarantee that most people who use cameras (and the members of Photo.net are <em>not</em> representative of most people who take pictures) don't feel "duped" for being able to do exactly what they want: take a picture, and immediately - at no additional cost or inconvenience - do what they want with it. That's reality, and that's what manufacturers have to face - and that's the market they have to keep in mind. Passionate amateurs and pros are a miniscule, nearly insignificant group of people in that context.</p>
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<p>My D200 was about equal to pro color neg film when I ran side by side tests, high rez KM 5400 scans.</p>

<p>My D700 is now a month old. I will not bother to to run a test because it is like saying a corvette is faster than a guy on a skateboard.</p>

<p>You absolutely can not beat the conveniece of dropping off a roll or two if you are fortunate enough to have a decent processor near. Few do. But you can accomplish the same thing by shooting JPEG and taking the card to the kiosek.</p>

<p>The weak link remains a decent processor like it always has been. Digi vs film in a 5x7 is about the same. Try making a larger print. </p>

<p> </p>

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