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Film versus digital


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<p ><a href="http://www.photo.net/photodb/user?user_id=732976">mark kittleson</a> <a href="http://www.photo.net/member-status-icons"></a>, Oct 15, 2009; 02:10 p.m.<br>

I have a question in all of this...years ago when most of us "older" amatuers had only 35mm cameras, and could only dream of mf equipment, the most we would dare "blow-up" a neg to 8x10, let alone an 11x14...we were told that anymore than that would make a really poor photo...Yet now we keep hearing about all the pixels that 35mm are supposed to be equal to and that if the same digital count in mps I should be able to make wall size murals out of an "FX" sensor. If essentially a true 35mm frame is the same as an FX sensor......what am I missing here or am I simply confused?<br />Thanks for explaining this to me!<br />Mark</p>

 

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<p>Things have changed a great deal over the years. Film grain has been reduced a great deal. Negative and positive films today have 1/4 to 1/8 the grain they used. High resolution scanning and printing pulls details out and maintains acutance better than optical prints did years ago. </p>

<p>Thus, 35mm today is capable of producing results that only medium format achieved 20 years ago. the nice things, these film improvements have worked for MF and LF films as well. That is why many of used had a good laugh at articles claiming 3mp matched 35mm scans....and that 11mp matched medium format. Over the years, people comparing directly have proven these false. It hasn't stopped some from continuously quoting those web pages though.</p>

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<p>As Hal and others have mentioned, digital capture has hidden costs.</p>

<p>The first is storage. DVD-ROMs can't be trusted to last more than a few years, so you'll have to keep re-burning them. As technology changes, you'll need burners that can still read the old format.</p>

<p>You can save images on hard drives, too, but they don't last forever either, and their replacement cost is not trivial. For full future compatibility, RAW files are worthless. That means storing a 16-bit TIFF of every photo that you might want to reference in the future. Typically for my D700, those files are 65M in size. For a D3X, a 5DmkII, or a Sony A900, the files would be twice that size. For these high-res cameras, plan for 8 images to a Gigabyte of storage, and that's for the basic file only, not a Photoshoped files that contains layers.</p>

<p>The next cost is software. For my slides I have a tiny light box and a loupe. For digital files I have at least a half dozen programs, most of them not free. And every year or two I have to purchase an upgrade.</p>

<p>If you want to expand to higher-resolution medium format systems your wallet may have a stroke. In the film world, you can buy a medium or large-format system for a few grand. Even before the digital revolution, I bought my Pentax 67 II with a metering pentaprism and two lenses for less than five grand. A MF body and sensor, is TEN TIMES that much before you buy any lenses. My P67II still takes great photos that scan beautifully. They may not be as sharp as the latest Phase One system, but think about the folks who paid big bucks for a 22 or 30 or 39 MP system a few years ago and had to pay even more for the latest and greatest. And of course, that progression isn't going to stop soon. I can give my Pentax to my grandchildren someday, and it will still work wonderfully as long as there's someone around to still develop chromes.</p>

<p>Regarding why anyone would take 1000 photos a day, my typical count for a sporting event is between 500 and 1000. And here the tables turn; I woudn't shoot like that with film. Digital lets me capture a lot more of the action. I can throw away the shots that I don't want. My poor shutter takes a bit of wear and tear, but for the moment I haven't paid any price for all of those exposures.</p>

<p>On the other side of the spectrum, when touring with my 4x5 I might expose only a handful of sheets in a day. Sometimes, I don't expose a single image. Shoot a lot, or shoot a little: both approaches have their place. Digital capture helps keep down the initial cost of sampling and experimentation, even if the long-term storage costs are higher than with film. It's an interesting balance.</p>

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<p>You are all fooled by the industry. :-) They just rob you off your money and give you shit in exchange. Its the industry who give you this as they couldn't sell any cameras any longer as a 100 years old cameras still out there and work very well. Their choice were to die or find a new gadget for the amatours. And they find you!</p>

<p>Now the amatours will use digital as they don't know anything about photography and now they think they can kick the ball. Those who do pics in color have easy to give up film as they leaved the job to the lab to do that anyway.</p>

<p>We who work with photography in the different way like creating art specially who works with B&W are people who gonna be the last one to give up film. Like we are not clicking we are planning and carefully composing our images.</p>

<p>I wonder sometimes if you people never got tired of your shit talking and if your finger still feels after so much clicking. Anyway its not even photography as its just a kind of poster that you do as final it's not even a fine art print by the author its a mashine made crap. We others won't compete with the printing industry.</p>

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<p>Dan, I never really thought about the future, or lack of, when considering RAW files, although it's an obvious concern now that you've mentioned it. All of the space used to create and store a file that may not be readable in a few short years...and of course that's my preferred format for shooting digital. That's really concerning.</p>
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<p>I don't mean to be a RAW spoilsport, but I have already resigned myself not to archive using RAW or TIFF. I know that government libraries and museams have already declared that uncompressed TIFF is to be the de facto standard of digital archiving, but I just don't see it as a commercially viable possibility. Plain and simple: I can't afford 1 GB of storage for every 8 photographs.</p>

<p>I have to consider that the only way I can keep up with my growing collection of photographs which must be preserved, and must continually be transferred from one medium to the next as technology progresses and my old hardware expires, is to use a compressed format. I use JPG "Best", or "10" or whatever you want to call it. I get that same file down to 4MB instead of 65MB. That gives me 16 times the storage on the same hard drives, or to look at it another way cuts my storage COSTS by 94%.</p>

<p>Uncompressed TIFFs are 16 times bigger, but are they 16 times better? No way. Maybe they are 2% better, and that is a subjective measurement. You will never see the decrease in print. That's not worth 16 times the cost for my archives, which are already out of control.</p>

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"The picture just went straight from film to paper."

 

Those of us who did our own darkroom work know this isn't true.

 

"Don't be stupid. You can't use a camera without a computer."

 

I shot some photos with a digital camera on my last vacation. I didn't look at them on any computer. I just dropped the media card off at the lab and the next day picked up my 4 x 6 inch prints. Same as I would do with film. One might as well say, "You can't use a camera without a wet darkroom."

James G. Dainis
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<p>To Hal</p>

<p>well, I'm gonna bother as I dont even understand what you talking about. "Here and here" ?????? If the heat gets too much from profesional photographers that consider photograpy as an art I think its time to step aside and let the real photograpers do the real thing for the real people...... real value for the society.</p>

<p>If its not the industry than digi must grow in the trees dont they?</p>

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<p>The sheer volume of mis/dis information in this thread is mind-boggling. Possibly the best and most accurate response has been from Dan South:</p>

<p><em>"When someone makes a broad statement about film versus digital capture, that statement is not going to be very accurate unless each of these details is considered carefully"</em></p>

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<p>Image quality has nothing to do with it for me. The process of shooting digital with instant feedback gives me an enhanced ability to make creative decisions fast in environments where a quick decision is critical. I've shot everything from 8X10 down in professional commercial studios, and the one thing i have learned is that there is a correct tool for the job. Its the job requirements that determine the tool. Sure high resolution is nice for good prints, but if you can't lug the camera around fast enough to get the shot, then you compromise. Shooting digital in commercial environments is so fast, that you can do things that you could never do before.</p>
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<p>

<p >As many have said, it depends upon your needs. Laugh and call me a luddite, but I’m wondering why nobody every mentions my reason for loving film. </p>

<p >First of all, my photography is centered on taking pictures of my family and the places we go. As we often do, last night my family gathered in the basement to look at the last few rolls of slides that were developed. </p>

<p ><strong>I hear oos, aahs, and wows that I never get when I show pictures on a computer screen</strong>. The family atmosphere, the movie theatre feel, the cher-chunk of the projector, seeing the detail of wall-sized pictures – this is what makes photography fun for me.</p>

<p >I don't spend time in front of a computer. I don't worry about storing and backing up data. I have slides that my parents took and still look great. I take good pictures. I drop the film in the mail. Slides come back in the mail and go into a little storage box. It's easy.</p>

<p >How does digital offer an advantage for how I want to view my pictures?</p>

</p>

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<p><em>"Is this an aberration or are there other such examples?"</em></p>

<p>YES -- you are the first ever to notice and post such a smart question. You schooled us all.</p>

<p><em>"The one thing i have learned is that there is a correct tool for the job. Its the job requirements that determine the tool..."</em></p>

<p>WELL SAID. Word. </p>

<p> </p>

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<p>Archiving is the looming elephant in the room, as are file formats. Negative will last forever...you don't need a computer.<br>

Look at whats happening to poor old GIF. I just tried to open a GIF file in an image processing program...not recognised. I'm not saying all don't, but its a trend. And what about BMP?<br>

Uncompressed TIFF has been chosen because it does not lose ANY artifacts. Its also the standard used by the commercial scanning companies who are archiving books, maps, pictures, plans, aerial photographs etc etc. The photographic industry is not the driver in this game.<br>

So long term....TIFF is the winner. Its read by everything. The argument that storage is too expensive is rot. My daughter just bought a 1Tb external drive for her Mac for $150! When I was selling mainframes in the 90s, and 1Tb array would have cost to $800,000.</p>

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<p>The argument that storage is too expensive is rot. My daughter just bought a 1Tb external drive for her Mac for $150! When I was selling mainframes in the 90s, and 1Tb array would have cost to $800,000.</p>

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<p>Really? Convert your D3X or 5DmkII images to 16-bit TIFF files, and that probably translates to about 125 M to 150 M per image. Optimistically, that's 7 or 8 images per gigabyte, or 7,000 to 8,000 images per terrabyte.</p>

<p>A busy wedding or sports shooter might create that many images in a couple of weeks, so multiply that by 25 for their annual output. That's 25 TB of TIFF files for one year's work.</p>

<p>You can't keep just one copy. What if the drive fails? Now you need 50 TB. And how about offsite, disaster recovery storage in case your home or business burns to the ground? Another 25 TB. (Maybe Aunt Millie in Iowa has some extra space in her garage.)</p>

<p>So that's 75 TB for one year's images. Most of us won't shoot nearly that many images, but for a pro sports shooter, that's actually a conservative number. You don't want to throw anything out. That obscure shot of a AA left-fielder might be worth a lot if he ends up pitching a no-hitter in the ALCS.</p>

<p>75 1-TB drives times 150 bucks = $11,250 in hard drives per year</p>

<p>How many years can you afford to archive at that rate? Storage isn't cheap.</p>

<p>P.S. to Douglas: Thank you for the kind words.</p>

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<p>Isn't the workflow with film just a bit different? Translating what you can do with digital directly to film is non-sense. So by the same thought you bring around twenty five 1TB (or 150 15gig cards) drives with you for your couple weeks of shooting trip. I'd rather have a suitcase filled with film.</p>
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<p>well, I'm gonna bother as I dont even understand what you talking about. "Here and here" ?</p>

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<p>Frank, you've got some cool photos, and I really don't want to disrespect you as a photographer. I was just trying to be funny. Click the links and you will see what I meant by "here" and "here". If the links aren't registering on your computer, here are the URL's for your benefit:</p>

<p>http://www.independent-magazine.org/node/208<br>

http://dontsayindustry.tumblr.com/</p>

<p>Also, I don't know how familiar you are with English, but $hit is usually considered rude language, regardless of what you are trying to say.</p>

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<p><em>(Of course, I am completely excluding those who really don't care, are comfortable with it either way, use both, or are smart enough to not enter the discussion).</em></p>

<p>Hal (not "No"!), my point is that the people you're excluding make up the vast majority of photographers. "Film vs. digital" is the hot topic among relatively very few photographers.</p>

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<p>To Hal</p>

<p>Yes I know its rude and I ment to be just that. Seeing friends going back to film as they had been loosing a lots of money spending high figures to uppdate their equipment and still dissapointed of the results. Thats money to the dump, and no way you can defend anything about that. With a little more raff definition it could be called stealing too.</p>

<p>Reading statements in this thread like the digital is good because than you can directly see if you got your pick is just revilling your lock of knowledge about photography. I dont had to see it! I have seen my image when I took it, sure about that I have it and I just got to develope the film and thats it. Statement like this only used by amatours and show that they are very unsecure of themselfs. Learn about exposing than you don't need a digi and you have your negs for a couple of years. Could say it may outlive you well over. (Of course it would cost you to develope but dont had to spend your life on the front of the PC and makes you think before you expose a frame) The images you got you can scan and show on your PC if that what you want. The screen of the PC wouldn't show high quality anyway.</p>

<p>Further there is an ethical side of this and also a mashine made manipulation of the reality. I thought photography is to show the reality and not anything else. I personally don't see any reason to manipulate any images at all. But there is wannabies who not even just want to be a photographer but even manipulating images to a close look of the oil painting too.</p>

<p>I use digi too when selling my car get me some pics fast for the advertising and stuff like it but wouldn't use it for serious work or art and on many other accasions either for that matter. Further in the commercial world its got its place as its fast and the 300 dpi requires for the printing on paper even the cell phone works well. :-)</p>

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<p>@ Frank<br>

Before I purchased my digital camera I would get friends telling me the problem with film is that you only get one or two good shots per roll. I would say YOU may only get that many good shots but I am happy with my success rate thanks.<br>

I consider myself a beginner at best as my weakness is in composition I find it difficult at times go get the image I see in front of me captured in my camera, I am sure that is half the enjoyment for me knowing my next walkabout will be better than the previous. </p>

<p> </p>

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<p>Hello Eric</p>

<p>It deepens what you are thinking of the "good shuts" got two meanings. One Is the right exposed film the other one is what the image wants to transmit to the viewer.</p>

<p>Well, anyway we all been there, meaning at the beginners status. Dont you think for a second that I was born with the camera in my hand. But, learning how a filmcamera works how to expose and why this and that it's never wrong! You will see that the end of the day your succefull shuts will encrease dramaticaly.</p>

<p>By the way I do a lots of walk thinking before I shut, I'm selctive too, expose right and not many of my images made it to my exhibitions. :-) I'm gonna be a happy photographer if the end of my life I'm gonna have altogether some 50 photographs which I really like. :-)</p>

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