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Film versus digital


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<p>It really doesn't matter any more. Great results are achievable with either system so long as you are prepared to learn how to do it properly. What does matter is how you personally feel about working. If (like me) you hate sitting at computers all the time then don't do it. If you like post processing with a computer then fine, do that.</p>

<p>As for resolution, both film and digital are subject to the laws of physics. From what I have seen, for the same format/sensor size, things are now more or less equal.<br>

i.e. a full frame sensor is about equal to a 35mm frame of good film, etc. It's all down to magnification and I think advances in sensor design have probably reached their physical limits so any future advance would have to be an actual increase in area rather than trying to pack more pixels into the same area.</p>

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<p>The argument distilled to this, and everyone has had it to the back teeth with arguments about it.<br>

If we grant that its a dead heat in the hands of the pros, this is my take on it after a lifetime with film:<br>

Film is gorgeous, messy, difficult to develop on your own and time consuming.<br>

Digital is immediate, technically very challenging and very expensive if you add in computers, software and if you want Velvia-challenging image resolution etc.</p>

<p>Theoretically I can get a better image of a landscape using Velvia in a $200, 30 year old camera. But its a pain. What bugs me is that we are being taken for a ride on price with digital cameras. And the depreciation and obsolescence is disturbing.</p>

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<p>I am more or less resigned to the ascendancy of digital, but it still bugs me to have to charge the battery rather than just pick up the camera and dart out the door. Digital forces one to plan ahead, and, with my job, I just shoot when I can squeeze it in. In August I found myself in the extreme northwestern corner of NC with two FF Canons, a 24-70 on one and a 70-200 on the other, batteries charged in both cams, trying to keep things simple with two zooms--and then discovered that I had brought one card now to be shared between the two, so I spent the remains of the day swapping cards rather than lenses. Managed to bring back a couple of keepers in spite of the madness, but I wonder how many I might have gotten with film. My old AE-1 could sit on the shelf for months and still be ready to go in an instant. What happened to simplicity? I have six cards full of something (going back over a year) to be downloaded here. Need to backup another external HD. Gets crazy sometimes. . . .</p>

<p>Guess you could say that I have not exactly learned to manage the digital workflow.</p>

<p>--Lannie</p>

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<blockquote>

<p>I wonder how many I might have gotten with film. My old AE-1 could sit on the shelf for months and still be ready to go in an instant. What happened to simplicity? I have six cards full of something (going back over a year) to be downloaded here. Need to backup another external HD. Gets crazy sometimes. . . .<br>

Guess you could say that I have not exactly learned to manage the digital workflow.</p>

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<p>Then why not pick up that AE-1 and try film again? No one is forcing you to go down the digital route.</p>

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<p>Going back to the motion blur.....I had a chance to play a bit with the tif image last night. There definitely is some motion blur. 1/125 simply isn't enough. The problem with this is tha where one would expect film to win is in the high frequency detail.....and that gets washed away with the slightest amount of motion. I've done comparisons showing that problem occurs even out to 1/1000 when handheld, when compared to tripod mounting.</p>

<p>In the end though, the D100 is identical to the old Canon 10D....which I still have. While the 200 neg film from Kodal is truly horrible, going to a normal film like Reala 100 would reduce grain to 1/4 of what is seen here. That said, if I was shooting for the ultimate quality, a good 24mp DSLR will provide for better output than even a scan of Velvia in 35mm. While the true rez may be the same, the DSLR does it with a lack of noise.</p>

<p>If I wanted to beat the DLSR, I'd be using medium format.....keeping in mind that at 16x20, you'll see little to no difference between a 24mp DSLR and scanned MF film....you'll need bigger prints to truly see the difference.</p>

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<p>In the discussion of digital vs film, don't forget that for those who loved slow slide film (Kodachrome 25 or Velvia 50) a roll a day cost almost $5,000 per year. I don't really want to argue whether those old film shots were better or not than my current work with a D90, I just can't afford film. Plus the convenience of digital further obviates things for me.</p>
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<p>Steve's point on parallels between film and digital for the same sensor and film size is probably the most long lasting. </p>

<p>This is not only because digital is reaching resolution levels comparable to film for the same format, but because of the dynamics of shooting a particular format is bound by the lens availability, perspective control, depth of field, diffraction, etc, that rule film and digitally simillarly.</p>

<p>Dynamic range, color interpolation, fringing etc will also be bettered on digital cameras to a point where ultimately the choice of format will be bounding.</p>

<p>Things that will remain are (in my opinion) are related to the structure (random-film vs square pixels-digital) and the personal choice of workflow and tonal characteristics. Film will provide a choice of structure and tonal capture. </p>

<p>As probably the majority of us do. When I shoot B&W I do it for the structure, tones and dynamic range and never think I am resolution limited. When I shoot Velvia I do it for the colors and never think I am resolution limited. </p>

<p>With film and digital I pick the composition and aperture that fits my vision. I more seldom shoot only at f4 - 5.6 just because I want to exploit more resolution.</p>

<p> </p>

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<p>As much as digital is actractive when mass production is needed, film seems to be attractive when people have the alternative to pace themselves.</p>

<p>How many in this forum use both digital and film, and when shooting landscapes decide to use their DSLR? It'd be interesting to know.</p>

<p>How many use more film today than a year ago?</p>

<p>Among the photographers that surround me who use both mediums, none of them shoots landscapes with their DSLRs (including me). Why? I don't know. That is for them to answer.</p>

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<p>

<p ><a href="http://www.photo.net/photodb/user?user_id=528518">Dave Luttmann</a> <a href="http://www.photo.net/member-status-icons"></a>, Oct 14, 2009; 08:36 a.m.</p>

 

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<p>Going back to the motion blur.....I had a chance to play a bit with the tif image last night. There definitely is some motion blur. 1/125 simply isn't enough.</p>

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<p>Dave, thanks for looking at that. This test was deliberately non-exotic; I was impressed that I could get sufficiently sharp prints at 8x12 from both film and digital. Yes, it's a good point that 125th is not enough to get to most out of film, even Fuji 200 consumer film.<br>

I'll try to do another with Ektar 100, a tripod, and I'll upgrade the digital to D200 (10MPx), and maybe throw in a MF capture as well. </p>

 

</p>

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<blockquote>

<p ><a href="../photodb/user?user_id=2071900">Dan South</a>, Oct 14, 2009; 01:01 a.m.</p>

 

<p>... Try testing a modern 12 MP sensor supported with the high-powered image-crunching chips that come in, say, a D300 or D700. Then try it with a 21 to 24 MP sensor. (Then, just for fun, try it with a 60 MP Phase One back.)<br>

... How about testing Velvia 100, Velvia 50, or Kodachrome 100VS?</p>

 

<p>Last, but not least, lenses. I'd like to see the same test shot with something ultra-sharp like Nikon's 200mm f/2 of the next generation 70-200mm VR II. Then we'd have a clearer idea of what's possible TODAY.</p>

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<p>I found it really instructive to do a serious side-by-side comparison, same time, same light, comparable equipment. I invite others to try it with their equipment. I'd like to see the side by side results. I don't have the lenses you mention, but better film is a easy re-do.</p>

<p>I'm personally interested in the alternatives actually available on my shelf, not in what's ultimately possible. So... I'm thinking about my next test... Does this sound like a test of comparables:</p>

<p> - Digital: Nikon D200, Nikkor 35mm f/2 prime, tripod, Adobe Camera Raw converter<br>

- Film: Nikon F2, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 prime, Ektar 100, tripod, Coolscan V at 4000 ppi, Noise Ninja</p>

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<blockquote>

<p>Dave Luttman:<br>

...going to a normal film like Reala 100 would reduce grain to 1/4 of what is seen here</p>

</blockquote>

<p>Thinking about this and Mauro's impressive noise reduction...</p>

<p>I think you may have a point here that would change my conclusions. The grain and noise limits the quality I got in the film shot. With smaller grain (1/4?) and noise reduction, then I can sharpen the film image for printing, which we know affects the perceived sharpness. If the change is significant, then perhaps I'll see a significant image quality advantage with film, something I did not see in my first test.</p>

<p>I'll do the above test, and post results in a week or so.</p>

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<p>I'll look forward to that as well. Reala and Ektar have grain RMS figures of 3....compared to 5 or 6 from Kodak 200. To be honest though, at print sizes of 16x24 and larger, I don't consider 35mm to be up to the task....not just in resolution, but in tonality and grain as well. Those sizes are more for MF and above. While I've done scans at 6300ppi from Fuji Astia, and made prints at 16x24 and 20x30 that look quite good, you're btter off using MF and 4x5 for those sizes for image quality</p>
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<p>Digital is for: Anything using a flash, sports, snapshots, autofocus(yesI know some film cameras have autofocus, but they are nowhere near as fast as the comparative digital models. And yes, I know it's not the film's fault, but that doesn't change the fact that autofocus on digital models is faster).<br>

Film is for: Everything else</p>

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<blockquote>

<p>The grain and noise limits the quality I got in the film shot. With smaller grain (1/4?) and noise reduction, then I can sharpen the film image for printing, which we know affects the perceived sharpness.</p>

</blockquote>

<p>Scroll down to the <a href="00HEsT">beach scene in this link</a> . This was a casual weekend snap done on the previous generation Kodak Gold 100. It was a very grainy emulsion (that I loved for other reasons.) In any case, it is obvious that scanned film images are quite amenable to the digital post techniques that are now prevalent.</p>

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<p>> The Olympus Epic is the finest snapshooter</p>

<hr />

<p>don't forget to always set to +1 (or what the correct correction?) if using velvia 50 (the old one) because this film effectively has only 40 ASA.</p>

<p>additionally from the tests I made I found that the 35/2.8 lens of the Mju-II (as the Epic is called in Europe) can't match a quality lens like leica summicron 35/2 asph. I know, a few years ago ken rockwell recommended the Epic as the cheapest 10Mpix camera (film&scan).<br>

So I bought a new Mju-ii to check it out. Shortly after I sold it. Maybe it works better with negative film but I use velvia 50 only. (one note: the lens in the old Mju-i is probably better. I later also tried a Konica big-mini as p&s. I liked it more than Mju-II, but also abandoned it as second camera. For 35mm film I use M6 only. before and after the p&s adventure.)</p>

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<p>I like to shoot film whenever possible because I'm getting old. After I'm toes up, it's at least conceivable that some future someone might look at my transparencies. But I'm pretty sure that my elaborately backed-up digital files will pass on with me. (Digital can live on forever in theory, but it requires nurturing. My wife wouldn't know how. My son would, but he will probably have better things to do.)</p>

<p>Guess I'd better make some prints. Ah, vanity!</p>

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<blockquote>

<p>It is a relative measure as shown by my res test above - Fuji Velvia (RVP50), scans are higher resolving then the finest color negatives. Finer b&w of course scan even higher res.</p>

</blockquote>

<p>And to my eyes, Velvia 100 is a tad sharper than RVP50, albeit less saturated. Velvia is MUCH sharper than Astia.</p>

<p>I shoot slide film because (1) I like the look, (2) I like the contrast, and (3) I hate dealing with negatives.</p>

<p>Also, to Mauro: I have plenty of film to examine, but thanks for the offer.</p>

 

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<p><em>"...some film cameras have autofocus, but they are nowhere near as fast as the comparative digital models."</em><br>

The autofocus on my 1vHS is frighteningly fast, perhaps not <em>quite</em> as fast as the 1dmkIII (the 1dmkIII has much newer processors) but still definitely in the same ballpark and still most impressive. At the very least, it's too fast for me to notice a difference (I don't own a 1dIII but I have used one). In response to Mauro's question about the number of us who use more film today than a year ago, I'm definitely in that category as I use far more film than digital. We'll see how that holds up in the upcoming weeks as my 7D is due to arrive next week. In all likelihood though, I'll still be shooting more film as I simply enjoy using film and my film cameras, particularly my 1vHS (a phenomenal camera!) and my old manual Minoltas and Nikons.<br>

As an aside, I've enjoyed this particular thread about this subject far more than any other as I feel that most everyone has been open to the true merits of both media and not taking such defensive stances as is typically the case with this topic. It's also nice to see some digital users freely discuss their 'return' to film and how they incorporate both film and digital into their workflow or 'hobbyflow'. </p>

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