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Magazine pix - what's preferred?


david_killick9
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I haven't asked a question for a while, so here are several for the

price of one, (sort of related):

 

In what format do magazines prefer pictures these days? Does

this vary in the US and elsewhere?

 

I am based in New Zealand and enjoy using Agfa slide film -

partly because it is good value, partly because it has a very

neutral colour palette. I was pleased when a US magazine liked

my pictures shot on Agfa, taken with my M3 and 50 Summicron.

They specified slides, but do many magazines still require

slides; if so why?

 

Is there really any advantage with slides over prints? Or would

scanning pictures onto CD and either sending that or emailing

them be a better choice?

 

Is there still a widespread preference for highly saturated

pictures?

 

Is everyone going completely digital? Why stick to film? (bearing

in mind I am talking about feature material, not hard news where

time is of the essence). Finally, who still uses an old camera/film

set up professionally, and why?

 

Thanks in advance.

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David: I'm sure the answer(s) will depend on the publications. I can tell you that at the company that I run -- a regional publisher that produces four monthly consumer magazines, a bimonthly fashion/shopping magazine, and seven speciality magazine-format speciality publications -- we work with both digital and film photographers. Digital makes the workflow quicker -- we don't have to factor in time to send transparency or negative film out for scanning (usually on an Imacon, occasionally on a true drum scanner). Over time, I suspect, we will favor digital more and more (for time and cost reasons). A photographer's ability to use artificial lighting well is more important than film type or how saturated an image is. Photoshop is the reason, of course.

 

The film/digital question becomes more critical in cover shoots. Given the choice, we'd usually favor a medium-format film image over most digital images for a cover, save an image shot with a medium-format digital back. In fact, that's the best of all worlds for us: a cover shoot done by a photographer with a medium-format system with a digital back. The publication's art director, who usually directs the cover shoot, can check images on the computer tethered to the camera, and will know when we get the image we want.

 

Still, if we have a photographer who is particularly good and uses film, we will work with him or her. One of our magazines -- a home and garden monthly -- uses a photographer who shoots 4x5 transparencies. The quality is gorgeous, and he has full control over perspective, etc. We're in no rush to urge him to make the transition to digital.

 

Hope that helps a bit.

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The ad agency I am Creative Director at hasn't used film for any printed advertising in

years... including all magazine ads. Everything is digital from start to finish.

 

As stated above, the work destined to be in a full page ad or for an outdoor board or

in-store poster is shot on a Medium Format cameras with a high meg. digital back.

 

People work is done with a single shot backs like the Kodak ProBack. Still work is

often done with a multi-pass scanning back which produces a huge file for exacting

product detail. On occasion, a 4X5 camera is used for still work with a "tiling adapter"

which allows each quadrant of the 4X5 area to be captured separately by a digital

back, ( some car catalog work is now done this way).

 

Art Directors and clients now attend shoots where the image is captured directly to

the computer and reviewed in real time. With model fees, stylists fees, assistant fees,

travel expenses, gear rental, verses tight client budgets these days, re-shoots are not

an option. Digital has the art director leaving the shoot with a 40 meg portable hard

drive full of "approved keepers".

 

However, should a specific photographer be desired for their unique approach, and

they prefer shooting film, then we go with it and drum scan the selects.

 

Here is an example of a MF digital shot used in a 6 foot tall Credit Union poster,

newspaper ad and magazine ad touting Home Equity loans to build "Mother-in-law

suites (home improvement). The color may be a bit off because all printed work is

done in CMYK color space rather than the RGB we use for photos.<div>006kF2-15641084.jpg.c5c040a5f1e6c887d785cef46797a5aa.jpg</div>

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Frank's right, any source will do.

 

However, I wouldn't call a client being cheap for being reluctant to pay for scans these

days. In the job I mentioned above, we created a library of images which totaled

almost 100. The scans had to accommodate all sizes from huge Duratrans to

magazine ads. At $70 per drum scan plus film, processing and gang proofing, the tab

for using film was an extra $8,000+. $8000 is a BIG difference to any client these

days... especially when it all ends up as digital reproduction anyway.

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The answer to this is that it depends on the art director.

 

My experience (in Canada) has been that some magazines actually prefer film, because then at least they know what they're getting. That attitude is the result of files they can't open, CDs they can't read, etc. If you send film the AD knows he has complete control over the process. Of course they're just as happy to get digital files as long as you know what you're doing.

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I do some car photography for enthusiast magazines. The one I work for most often wants 40 megabyte files. I scan them from 6x7 transparencies. I shoot transparency film so that I'll have a good reference for accurate color. Because some of the cars are restorations, I sometimes send the transparencies along so the art directors will have color reference. They would be happy with digital images if I could produce that large a file. When I can achieve that with a camera that costs less than $1000, I'll probably switch to digital. I figure a couple of years at most. However, I'm very pleased with the film acanning process. Like I said, transparency film provides an excellent color reference, and there may be some control advantages in the intermediate step of going from film to a digital scan.
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I use film quite a bit. For stuff that wants to be double page spreads, (I work for the

Independent weekend magazines in London) 35mm slow slide film is good, medium

format even better. They scan that themselves at stupid resolutions. Agencies like at

least a 50mb 8 bit RGB scan on file for cases when they need to do double pages. For

slides, negs are fine, but for b&w prints are preferred. For viewing, emailing small

jpegs is acceptable practice. I'll probably ditch my EOS kit and slide film for digital

next year (use Nikon D1 for some work, but it's not mine), keeping a rangefinder for

b&w or difficult stories - closed military areas, places with bad electricity, places

where you don't want to look like a professional.

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Aha, it is as I thought: the bottom line is still how good a picture

is it - but digital is making big inroads. I think 50MB sounds a bit

like overkill. The newspaper where I work would do a full page

pic at about that, but of course newsprint does not show fine

detail clearly - though it can be surprisingly good these days.

One photog said: sure, digital does a whole lot more and has

made life easier for some, but he reckons the over-all quality of

some published pictures has declined. I think, generally, the

quality of US magazine photos is extremely high. When people

submit images to us, we used to have a lot of problems with file

sizes being far too small; that has changed. But few people said

if they use Leica rangefinders very much! Any further comments

welcome.

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