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Digital V Film

Having been dragged into the 21st Century screaming, I have now been converted to Digital… however, I just can’t bear to let my Canon A1 and Nikon auto-focus go :(
Does anyone else feel the same, or are you all using digital now out in the field? Would anyone like to stick their neck out and say which is better: a 10Mp shot or a 35mm one?


by Tim Key at 2007-11-26 07:58:57 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Derby , United Kingdom | Bookmark | | Report spam→

my canon is better then your nikon…

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 08:11 | | Report spam→
I have to say, my Canon A1 is the best camera I have ever owned. It has been round the world with me and has never failed me yet. I love the crispness of the pictures and all the controls are just where I need them without having to take my eye off the viewfinder.

by Tim Key | 26 Nov 2007 08:11 | Derby, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
I’ll stick my neck out. (What is that old quote about angels and fools treading, etc? heh…) In terms of image quality I will say without hesitation that RAW digital capture has more dynamic range than film, and a “10mp” camera (although the quality of the pixels is more important than the pixel count, but that is another issue…) will give you an image that is comparable to medium format film or better. 6×7 actually.

I have shot film for 30 years and digital for 10, I’ve tested everything. (I worked for a couple of big dealers for a time…)

As far as the film/digital switch, I seriously know no one, not one single person who, after learning to shoot digital properly and shooting commercially for a period of time, still wishes they could go back to film. I’m talking some serious old veterans, too. That’s the trick though… don’t think you’re just going to move an old set of skills over to a new process. Give yourself some time to learn.

As far as cameras go, well, nothing feels as good in my hand as my Nikon F2AS… :)

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 10:11 | boston, ma, United States | | Report spam→
shoot me please

by Imants | 26 Nov 2007 11:11 | in the bad books, Australia | | Report spam→
me too, what imants requested….

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 11:11 | Toronto (for now), Canada | | Report spam→
When i start facing photography in a proffesional way, i went to digital.

Now, that i suppose i know what each medium offers, i prefer clearly the 35mm film.

This is a dead end when i consider to shoot black and white, the tonality as well as the transition from dark to light areas, are incomparable.

But the problem is that editors these days like to have your product immidiately after you produce it, in those cases i have to go digital.

So my answer to your question my friend Tim is that strictly proffesionaly, today, the digital medium is a one way road. So it is “better”..

But my favourite quality when shooting long term projects or just for my soul’s sake, is clearly the 35mm.Now that is “better”..

So as you can see there is not “better” or “worse” in the comparison of digital and 35mm.
Is just a matter of personal necessity.

by Jonnek Jonneksson | 26 Nov 2007 11:11 | Berlin, Germany | | Report spam→
Ted, you’re wrong. As anyone who has shot Tri-x in low light know, a digital sensor doesn’t have the same dynamic range and film. And of course your negative or chrome doesn’t disappear if your hard drive crashes. As someone who uses both, film and digital both have their strengths and weaknesses but something tells me that the images taken on 10mp sensors today won’t seem so incredible when 20mp is the norm, whereas old film looks classic…

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 11:11 | Stuttgart, Germany | | Report spam→
I would certainly agrre with you about tonality shooting in black and white with digital. I found that if I shoot in colour, and then convert it into greyscale in photoshop, the results aren’t too bad at all. The obvious advantage is that I then have my images in both colour and black and white..

by Tim Key | 26 Nov 2007 11:11 | Derby, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
,,,,,no need for bait with this thread

by Imants | 26 Nov 2007 11:11 | in the bad books, Australia | | Report spam→
awww shucks, and I bought an extra long fishing rod over the weekend too !

by Tim Key | 26 Nov 2007 11:11 | Derby, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Damaso, sorry… I have shot TriX all my life, and with modesty I’m a damn good B/W printer. I’ve done the tests, I’ve run the numbers.

With respect, and like film, the file has to be processed properly, and it certainly depends on the camera, but I’ve backed that statement up repeatedly over the last 10 years.

For the record, the satellite imaging guys claim they can get 21 stops from a cooled CCD.

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 14:11 | boston, ma, United States | | Report spam→
I just have to add…

I will totally agree with the idea that you use the right tool for the job, and that they are two different tools… and in no way do I think that film should be replaced by digital, for the record.

It’s just that I’ve seen students of mine shooting with cameras as humble as the Nikon D70, and, ok, well, processing with the methods I teach them, make 20 × 24 B/W prints that look for all the world like they were made in a darkroom with 4×5 cameras. Repeatedly. The notion that a 10MP file is not better “quality” than 35mm film is just a mistake.

BUT, again, you have to learn the tools… and I TRULY mean this as a respectful comment, not a contentious one.

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 14:11 | boston, ma, United States | | Report spam→
I like the throw away point and shoots, I get a new camera every day and get so excited…….:}

by Pete Woronowski | 26 Nov 2007 14:11 | Saskatchewan, Canada | | Report spam→
I shoot with a 5D for work and I love what it allows me to do, but I choose to shoot all my personal work on black and white film. Digital just feels too “clean” for me. It can take almost a plasticy feel. Especially when converted to black and white. I guess I’m kind of shooting myself in the foot, because after I take all that care and time to process my film, it’s scanned in on what’s probably one of the crappiest scanners I’ve ever seen that has no type of dynamic range to it. I guess I’m still hoping I’ll be able to get back in the darkroom at some point.

I’m sure Ted has some great methods he’s teaching and using to get such great results and good for you guys. But for me, it doesn’t matter how good the files look, I’ll always prefer the look and feel of film. But while I’m at it, Ted, do you have some trick to make a digital file have more of a film grain feel? Do you get what I’m saying about how clean some of the digital files are? Does that bother anybody else?

by Edward Linsmier | 26 Nov 2007 14:11 | Coconut Creek, Fla., United States | | Report spam→
The 5D is a truly remarkable file… we did a few tests comparing that to the Leaf Aptus16, and it kicked butt.

I just add noise, or film grain, and there are now some “filters” that actually replicate film grain pretty accurately in the RAW processor. DxO I believe has them, although I don’t think much of the other features of that software. But, if you like grain, then shoot grain, right?

I totally understand what you’re saying, though. My son, who started shooting digital at 4, has globbed onto my F2AS ’cause he hates how “predictable” digital is. heh.

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 15:11 | boston, ma, United States | | Report spam→
I have a question for you journalist guys, though… A buddy of mine was telling stories about going through checkpoints in Bosnia (before he finally retired) and having to hand over his film to a testosterone-loaded teen with an AK-47 or some such trinket. We were wondering what the response is if you tell them there’s no film. Do you hand over CF cards instead?

I’m thinking they don’t have much patience for the finer points of this discussion… especially since this particular guy inspired my friend to not even try palming the film.

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 15:11 | boston, ma, United States | | Report spam→
That’s the one thing that scares me is losing my film. That’s where digital has a leg up because you can make multiple back up copies quickly so it doesn’t really matter if you hand over a CF card as long as you’ve made copies… I would think almost everybody knows that digital exists now and you could prove that there is no film in the camera pretty easily if you had to.

by Edward Linsmier | 26 Nov 2007 15:11 | Coconut Creek, Fla., United States | | Report spam→
seems the guys in bosnia went soft… in my time they would take your camera (whether film or digital, poor souls wouldn’t know the difference) and maybe your boots too… sometimes they just eat you alive… today though they ask you if you prefer digital or film (yes, even bosnians know that digital exist nowadays)… than they take a picture of you with your preferred method and post it online… bad day.

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 15:11 | Montreal, Canada | | Report spam→
Digital is certainly the medium of convenience and with software like Photoshop, the image can be manipulated so quickly and be sent via email within a couple of minutes. Where time is of the essence it must be a godsend.

by Tim Key | 26 Nov 2007 15:11 | Derby, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Well Ted proof as they say is in the pudding, why don’t you show us some of these examples? Maybe some side by sides? Another point to think about is that you can always make a better scan, or for that matter print in the darkroom as technology improves (how much data can you pull out of a 4×5 or 35mm for that matter chrome compared to the output size of a RAW file processed into a TIFF?) With digital you are stuck with whatever you shot be it Jpeg, which many news shooters swore by and some still use, or a raw file. There is no version of a better scan with digital, you have whatever sensor you can afford.

I happen to use both but when I look at how fast the technology is changing and with it the digital fingerprint of whatever you shoot, I choose to use film when I want something to last. How many people here have lost images due to corrupted data? Crashed hard drive? Failed CF card? Of course there are issues with film as well but I still reject that digital is as good in most ways as film. Call it personal preference but I know plenty of 5D shooters who still feel that their M6 loaded with chrome does a better job…

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 16:11 | Stuttgart, Germany | | Report spam→
Why does any of this matter?

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 16:11 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
I’d be happy to… it may take a few days tho. :)

The problem is that, no matter how good a scan you get, you’re still scanning grain… and there’s only so much information in the grain. A drum scanner doesn’t magically give you better information, any more than a better enlarger can make a 35mm look like medium format, right?

…anyone who has lost images due to corrupted data, crashed hard drives, and the like haven’t been working with good “digital hygiene” (not formatting cards correctly, not wiping cards, switching cards between cameras, mishandling cards, not running systematic backups or storage protocols, etc…) Or, as a student of mine says, “back yoo ass up, biaaatch!” (I still am pissed at how the lab, back in the day, destroyed a chrome of mine that was irreplaceable… I’m sure we all have those stories. I don’t think you really can argue that point, can you?)

And chromes? Now there’s a limited dynamic range if I’ve ever shot one… although I’m right there with you on shooting with the M6, jeesh what a sweet camera.

It is personal preference, and you’re totally entitled to your preference, and I have nothing but respect for that.

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 16:11 | boston, ma, United States | | Report spam→
ok copping out. Let the slings and arrows fly.

First I realized that what you were really asking for meant I’d have to shoot film and get it scanned, to do a nice side-by-side with a current camera. Not gonna happen.

Then I googled “film vs digital dynamic range” (what can I say, I’m bored today) and revisited all the blather that goes into this comparison… after all that therapy, I started twitching all over again. You can’t even get anyone to agree to what TriX dynamic range is, and I decided that, after a few hours (unpaid) hard work I’d probably still not have you convinced.

So, I leave it to you… at least google that and read away (hopefully with an open bottle of bourbon…), but I’d invite anyone with an open mind to shoot a side-by-side with a D70 and an M6 and tell me what you think after processing it with Adobe Camera RAW, doing the B/W conversion in Camera RAW with the Grayscale controls, and printing it using an Epson Ultrachrome printer on Advanced B/W on Premium Luster paper… and make a darkroom print to compare them, unless you want to drum scan the thing. And for fun, print it on a nice RAG paper, too. Can’t do THAT in the darkroom.

..and you’re right, Preston, none of it does really matter. A boring image is a boring image, no matter how it was shot, and the reverse. lol!

ok, gonna try to actually get some work done today.

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 17:11 | boston, ma, United States | | Report spam→
digital b/w on paper looks flat, clean like white tiles at a hospital, and most of the time boring.

there is nothing that reaches the quality of a trix printed by hand on fiber paper. still no machine is able to print the same quality. depth, grain, dark blacks, melt, ect ect..

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 17:11 | | Report spam→
you haven’t seen one of my prints! ha!

i’d compare them any day to my old selenium toned gallery prints. in fact i have.

nothing beats ink on paper, man.

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 19:11 (ed. Nov 26 2007) | boston, ma, United States | | Report spam→
You guys have fun hashing this one out again; Bill Murray, me, and the rodent are all going to get a drink.

by Akaky | 26 Nov 2007 20:11 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
Domaso, Is there really a difference between a hard drive crashing and film getting destroyed in any number of ways? With digital, you can at least have a backup, where as for film, how many people have two copies of that for safe keeping?

On a side note, I am just throwing this out, and not necessarily subscribing to this belief, but does the different look of digital mean worse? Is it possible, just possible, that the look digital gives is viewed as inferior simply because people are used to seeing the way film looks? This argument is strikingly similar to those who say that CD’s can never match the warmth and tone of records, despite the scratches, skips and hisses. Any thoughts, or did I just stir up something else?

by Brian C Frank | 26 Nov 2007 21:11 | Des Moines, ia, United States | | Report spam→
In the future, when film is no more, we will look back and wonder why we spent so many hours in a dark room playing with a photo, when the same could be done on a pc. The quality of the sensors and the number of megapixels will expand exponentially and some add-in will create more of a 3D effect for images to replicate present prints. Camras will have built-in GPRS cards to transmit the photos sraight to a computer or agency in the world somewhere….
Maybe we should be looking forward, instead of backwards in this industry and embrace technology as it is, and use it to its full potential.

by Tim Key | 26 Nov 2007 21:11 | Derby, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
which is better, film or digi:

conversation overheard at Lascaux, November 24, 12,384 BC:

“yo, Jeromianaianisus, which fruit stain u reckon is better, the boysenberryd-36 or the redlip currant 24?”

“got me Taridiodaniauma,all i know is that this fucking pigment stain is a bitch to get out of my loincloth and the Mrs. aint diggin’ the underthenail sniff of that damn elderberrychrome i used for those antlers…”

by [former member] | 26 Nov 2007 23:11 (ed. Nov 26 2007) | Toronto (for now), Canada | | Report spam→
Bob I know you like things to be organic ,But….

by Glenn Campbell | 27 Nov 2007 00:11 | Darwin , , Australia | | Report spam→
Can you imagine how difficult it was for those cavemen to match the Pantone swatch books by fire light?

by Brian C Frank | 27 Nov 2007 00:11 | Des Moines, ia, United States | | Report spam→
Hmmm…I wonder what was happening in Brooklyn in 12,384 B.C.. I heard that archaeologists have found petrified Knishes somewhere off Ocean Parkway but I could be wrong. :)

by Gregory Sharko | 27 Nov 2007 00:11 | Brooklyn, New York, United States | | Report spam→
brother glenn ;))))))))))….but, indeed ;)))))

brian: :)))))…major bitch to decipher ;)))…imagine when the damn kindling was damp to boot ;))))

greg: i’d take one, even if it came from a prehistoric deli near OP, depending on the hood along the Parkway: Bed-Stuy, B Heights or Bushwick? ….;)))))))))


by [former member] | 27 Nov 2007 00:11 (ed. Nov 27 2007) | Toronto (for now), Canada | | Report spam→
I don’t think they were speaking Latin back then Brother Black!

by Glenn Campbell | 27 Nov 2007 00:11 | Darwin , , Australia | | Report spam→
Brother Glenn: u sure Alexander didn’t time warp??…or Ovid do a Butterfly Effect thingy ;)))…but, u’re right: galic preceded ;))))))))

go labour party! :))))))


by [former member] | 27 Nov 2007 01:11 | Toronto (for now), Canada | | Report spam→
I thought the Mrs was tired of you wasting your time painting pitches of horses in a post Neolithic style

by Imants | 27 Nov 2007 10:11 | in the bad books, Australia | | Report spam→
Imants ;))))))))))))…that too, for sure!…cant seem to shake the damn nostalgia and those time when we hunted for the newest cave or find a buck whose hair was so taught that any painting became magic and those damn newbies, u know, the frickin’ Italians, and all their new fresco technique: i mean, anyone can paint on a smooth surface, right, and with all that light? let’s see them tackle these damn caves…;)))))))))

by [former member] | 27 Nov 2007 11:11 | Toronto (for now), Canada | | Report spam→
.and using a couple of blunt sticks to boot.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, poked his eye out with one I hear

by Imants | 27 Nov 2007 11:11 | in the bad books, Australia | | Report spam→
ahhhhhh, yea, to suffer for our art ;)))

by [former member] | 27 Nov 2007 13:11 | Toronto (for now), Canada | | Report spam→
fruit stain? ochre? pigment? FEH! Fads, all of that stuff, nothing but a passing fad. Everyone knows real art is made with mud and mammoth crap. Mammoth, mind you, not mastodon. Mastodon dung does not reveal all the tonalites of the image; it especially loses the shadow detail; and let’s face it, archivally it’s a pain in the caboose. The colors fade after only two millenia. Who needs something as shortlived as that around? Mammoth crap is the way to go and dont let anyone tell you any different.

by Akaky | 27 Nov 2007 14:11 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
I think this film vs digi debate in nonsense. I shoot on DLSR, 35mm, 6×6 and 5×4 (I know you americans call it 4×5). Its the right tools for the job and you should either become flexible enough to use all of them or if you can only use one, then stop complaining about the others.

Virtually every picture I see has been digitalised at some point, if its in a book, a website, on TV, in a magazine it has all been converted into a digital format, even gallery prints are increasingly coming from digital files either shot on digi or scanned negs. So I think the debate is over, digital won

by [former member] | 27 Nov 2007 15:11 | Wales, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
.some are still taking all this seriously…………..the shame of it all……….sigh

by Imants | 27 Nov 2007 20:11 | in the bad books, Australia | | Report spam→

by [former member] | 27 Nov 2007 20:11 | | Report spam→
for my work I shoot only digital (I shoot for daily news). But for personal stuff I shoot a rolleiflex a speedgraphic and a M3. The thought that goes into using these cameras helps me take better images. But everyone is different.

by Richard Lui | 27 Nov 2007 20:11 | Los Angeles, United States | | Report spam→
Akaky: that’s soooooooooo old school ;)))))…but sooooooo right on! :))))))

by [former member] | 27 Nov 2007 20:11 | Toronto (for now), Canada | | Report spam→
Bob, there’s a lot of good things to be said about old schools, especially years after you graduate and the nuns can’t hit you anymore

by Akaky | 27 Nov 2007 22:11 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
akaky ;))…and usually, the lighting is better (those creeky windows) :))…b

by [former member] | 28 Nov 2007 13:11 | Toronto (for now), Canada | | Report spam→

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Tim Key, Tim Key
Derby , United Kingdom
Imants, gecko hunter Imants
gecko hunter
" The Boneyard" , Australia
Jonnek Jonneksson, photographer Jonnek Jonneksson
Athens , Greece
Pete Woronowski, Photographer Pete Woronowski
Saskatchewan , Canada
Edward Linsmier, Photojournalist Edward Linsmier
Saint Petersburg, Fl , United States ( TPA )
Akaky, Contemptible lout Akaky
Contemptible lout
New York , United States ( AAA )
Brian C Frank, Photographer Brian C Frank
Des Moines, Iowa , United States
Glenn Campbell, Photographer Glenn Campbell
Darwin , Australia
Gregory Sharko, photographer Gregory Sharko
Brooklyn, New York , United States ( JFK )
Richard Lui, Richard Lui
Chaiyi , Taiwan


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