Sunday, August 19. 2012
I'm noticing that the "slow" films such as 100 and 200 ASA are becoming harder to find, and I think I know why: the average consumer doesn't see any benefit in shooting slower films. So if there is no cost advantage (increasingly the case), why not "upgrade?" So consumers buy less slow film and it becomes less available.
But caveat emptor! As is often is the case there are tradeoffs! Compare a developed 100 or 200 ASA negative to a 400 or 800 ASA negative on a light box. You will notice the former has greater "density." I.e., the darkest parts of the negative are darker than the darkest parts of the latter. This make sense because faster emulsions are faster partly because they are thinner in order respond to less light.
Continue reading "Color Depth Advantage of Slow Film"
Nikon's F100 film camera is now going for under $200 used, excellent condition on EBay. I obtained one of these for a friend last year and it is a monster of a camera in terms of design, build quality, and responsiveness.
Combined with a new Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens for $125 (also a pretty amazing deal) this is a quick, sharp, accurate, and durable film camera that takes super sharp photos for a total of about $300!
There are now so many photographers either going back to film or choosing to avoid digital that I don't have time to create separate entries for every article I find. Therefore here are a few articles I discovered today from those who prefer Film to Digital:
FAQ: Why do you prefer film over digital?
Film has a depth Ė an artistic quality Ė that is hard to achieve in digital. It CAN be achieved in digital, but itís never quite the same Ė the grey tones in true black and white film are only found in true black and white film. Thereís no way around that.
The Medium Pt 2 Ė Why I prefer film
The only real difference I can see is financial, if you are a working professional and need your pictures ready within the hour.
One thing I enjoy about film is the sheer diversity of the analog world.
One thing I love about my Leica is its usability, in terms of product design. Itís such a simple tool, minimum functions, minimum buttons. It does one thing and one thing only, so well in fact, Leica didnít think it was necessary to alter the design in nearly a century....
Why We Love Film
You want dynamic range? I got your dynamic range right here in this little canister. It's called film; a write-once, read-many (WORM) medium.
A frame of 35mm film, scanned cheaply at a good photo lab to a CD, is about equal to the resolution of a 25MP DSLR.
Continue reading "They Choose Film"
Monday, December 5. 2011
Last August, professional photographer Kirk Tuck had an "epiphany" that led him to reinvest in Hasselblad medium format film equipment:
Kirk Tuck goes back to film with a Hasselblad!
Like a junky I embraced the change represented by digital....I'd make the images and process them but in the back of my mind I'd always wondered if they were even remotely as good as they could be if the clients had more time, more patience and more tolerance and respect for the process.
Continue reading "Kirk Tuck Goes Hasselblad!"
Saturday, September 25. 2010
The essential nature of the digital image is that it is easy to make, ephemeral and disposable. Rational people generally regard things that have these qualities as having no value. - Nathan Jones
At the beginning of 2009, having chided his father for sticking with film, Nathan Jones shelved his well-loved Nikon D80 and bought a used Nikon FM2n:
I gave up a killer 11-point autofocus, accurate aperture- and shutter-priority exposure, near-infallible matrix metering, through-the-lens flash, Nikonís famed creative lighting system, auto-ISO....in favour of a purely mechanical camera that merely opens and closes the shutter when I tell it to, nothing more....I withdrew from Flickr. I gave up the confidence I had built in the camera...and transferred the responsibility for technically competent shots from the near infallible machine to the very fallible me. Why did I do these things?
Continue reading "Why Film Matters"
Wednesday, October 14. 2009
Professional photographer Elizabeth Etienne weighs in on the difference between film and digital:
Here is my explanation plain and simple: Film looks like "film" and digital looks, well... "digital". There is a difference. I use film primarily for several reasons listed below. However, digital is also used in low light situations and as an additional back up during certain shooting situations. If you like the moody tones of the sepia tone black and whites on my website it's because that was shot on "FILM"!
Continue reading "Elizabeth Etienne on Film vs Digital"
The Brothers Wright wring out differences between film and digital on their Twin Lens Life blog, itself a small bibliography on the issue:
So many people have naive misconceptions about film and digital and what they have to offer to photography. Almost every comparison online shows unfair samples of digital captures with full control in RAW, against inferior scans or prints from inferior film stocks. And any editorial publication has a vested interest to sell the product that is lining the pockets of the manufacturers financing their distribution....So we felt obliged to balance the scales, to show a controlled study focusing on the suppressed advantages of analog capture.
Continue reading "Digital vs. Film (The Real Deal) - Nikon D300 vs. Fuji GS645s"
Professional photographer Michael Escalera recounts his journey from film to digital and back to film again in his recent article, The Coming Change:
I have been photographing weddings for 11 years and love what I do for a living. When I first began, I used film....In 2005 I transitioned to a digital workflow....In my experience, the digital images were not as rich as the film images. Sure, they were sharper and in some cases more vibrant, but they didn't fully match what I had hoped they would be.
Continue reading "Open Mike Night #28 - The Coming Change"
Wednesday, May 27. 2009
In a refreshing bit of candor, Calumet Photo's latest Calumet Focus gives professional safari leader Todd Gustafson's opinions about film versus digital:
The two main logistical advantages of shooting with digital media are carrying a few CF cards instead of 300 rolls of film and the cost of CF cards verses the cost of film and processing. From a photographic standpoint, there is a much faster learning curve with digital. There is no substitute for immediately seeing the photographic results when you are in the field. You can also tell when you have the shot and are able to move on to capture new subjects without taking—and paying for—all of those dreaded insurance shots.
Continue reading "Calumet Photo Spills Beans!"
Friday, April 10. 2009
Going digital implies saying goodbye to the 20th century art of photography and will imply the death of photography as we know it.
- Erwin Puts, Death of Photography
Published author Erwin Puts, probably the world's foremost Leica expert, is a philosopher of photography. His weblog pulls no punches and rambles at times, but is sure to provoke thought. Some of Erwin's views on digital vs film:
Current camera models are very complex tools with an overdose of technology and options. The modern consumer starts to rebel and wants a reduction of the high-tech phalanx. One approach by the industry is to add smarttech to the products: in fact this is a shielding technique where smart filters are used to guess the needs of the user and suppress all options that are not required.
Continue reading "Erwin Puts on Digital vs. Film"
Sunday, September 28. 2008
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
- George Santayana, Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1.
Remember when the music Compact Disc was the ultimate in audio?
Using digital technology to create sound far superior to that of traditional phonograph records, the compact disc, or CD, is rejuvenating the audio business and producing a generation of born-again music lovers.- Manuel Schiffres, Compact discs now the hottest sound in town, U.S. News & World Report, June 17, 1985,
The superiority of CD in sound reproduction...could not be denied....- Patrick Macdonald, Vinyl's Final Days, Seattle Times, January 21, 1990.
As more people discover that classical music sounds superior on CD, it will be easier to find recordings....- Howard Blumenthal, Classical recordings sound superior on Compact Disc, Chicago Sun-Times, December 27, 1987.
Continue reading "Digital Technology and the Consumer"
Saturday, September 13. 2008
[D]ynamic range is one of the most misunderstood concepts out there. It's not that people misunderstand what it is in the abstract; rather, it is the practical application to photography that seems to be the hangup.
- Dante Stella
Dynamic Range (DR) is itself a confusing issue and comparisons of DR between film and digital take this confusion to a whole new level. Some very credible references declare the digicam the winner in this regard; others just as firmly stand behind film. So, does film have more DR than digital or not?
This question turns out to be more complicated than it sounds. Any blanket claims that "digital has greater DR than film," or vice-versa, are not useful as they gloss over the many technical differences between film and digital photography. Any responsible comparison must consider:
Continue reading "Real World Test: Kodak Gold 200 vs Nikon D60 Dynamic Range"
Monday, September 8. 2008
Kirk Tuck achieved some small notoriety and elicited dozens of reader responses when he published his very compelling A Pro Photographer's review of the Leica M6 and lenses for it:
Everyone seems to have an opinion about the Leica M series rangefinder cameras, yet so few people have actually picked one up and used it for enough time to understand the unique features and benefits that make it one of the finest tools for certain kinds of photography.
Then on September 01, 2002, Kirk abruptly "went digital:"
Continue reading "Kirk Tuck's Return to Film"
Saturday, July 12. 2008
An oft heard remark about digicams is they give us a "digital darkroom," freeing us from the "wet" darkroom and magnifying our editing capabilities manyfold. Wait - there's another option: film scanners offer the benefits of the digital darkroom, plus the virtues of film! Scanners and scanning software have recently evolved to the point where top quality images from film can be produced easily and economically. In his article, Best film scanner in its class: the Nikon Coolscan V ED, Epinions "Top Reviewer in Electronics" jvandegr writes,
I teach digital photography and I own a compact digital camera. I enjoy both of them thoroughly. The convenience of digital photography is unquestionable, but the image quality has been more than questionable for many years. As with most new technologies (and new media), it is constantly adjusting and updating, and recent years have seen significant improvements in digital image quality. Still, when it came time to invest in either a $3000 - $5000 digital SLR or an $800 film SLR, there was no contest, especially considering the focal length conversion problem of the majority of digital SLRs.
Continue reading "Film Scanners: Bridge to the Digital Darkroom"
Monday, January 8. 2007
People reading this 'blog might wonder how it came to be.
I'm a serious amateur photographer.*
By summer 2005, I had for some time been following the digital camera "revolution," wondering if (or when) I'd convert from 35mm to a digicam. The move seemed logical to me. Given the benefits I had experienced through the "digital darkroom" moving to a digital camera seemed to hold great promise.
Continue reading "Why This 'Blog?"
Sunday, January 7. 2007
Billions of pictures are made with the diabolically clever automatic cameras, pictures that satisfy the snap-shooter but do not often reveal evidence of imaginative visualization....
- Ansel Adams, Examples, p. 73.
Explaining his fondness for film over digital photography, Oleg Novikov says, the [photographic] result, of course, is important; however, I would not want it at the cost of missing the process of exploration. In other words the experience of photographic exploration may be as important as the images obtained. But several decades of rapid advances in photographic equipment (of which digital is only the most recent incarnation) have obscured for us this importance of practice (or experience) as opposed to product. As we turn increasingly to the equipment rather than our own talents to accomplish a photograph, we distance ourselves from photographic practice and diminish photography as a source of artistic inspiration.
Continue reading "Slow is Beautiful: Photography as if People Mattered"
Friday, January 5. 2007
Commercial photographer David Beckerman recounts the experiences that led him away from film and then finally back to it:
It began on July 4th, 2004. I was by the East River photographing fireworks with my Elan 3, and nearby was a fellow with a big Canon digital SLR that he had just bought for $4500. Sure it was a lot of money he said, but it paid for itself with a couple of photography assignment[s].
Continue reading "My Year With Digital Cameras"
Saturday, October 21. 2006
Photographer and essayist Oleg Novikov owns a DSLR but finds film offers a "fundamentally different driving experiences." Here he explains how the explorative experience of shooting leads him to use film for serious work:
What should matter to an artist or someone who at least has artistic aspirations is whether the overall workflow dictated by the medium, film or digital, as well as the character of the final outcome, stimulates his artistic intentions and creativity.
[T]o take full advantage [of digicam files] one has to be quite knowledgeable about colour science and very experienced with RAW converter software, as well as spend a lot of time in front of the computer monitor....With (colour slide) film, on the other hand, one gets perfect colours straight away [because] Fujifilm and Kodak spent decades improving and fine-tuning colour reproduction of their films.
There also are other technical aspects such as archivability and its reliability, dynamic range, capturing long exposures, viewfinder size of DSLRs with APS-sized censors, etc., where film is still very appealing.
Continue reading "Oleg Novikov on the film vs. digital issue"
When professional photographer Henry Butz says today's digital cameras "don't do black and white" he doesn't mean they can't produce b&w images, just that they don't offer the dynamic range of b&w film:
Digital cameras are really coming into their own. Although it would take 11 million pixels to approximate the film size of a 35mm negative, today's 5 and 6 megapixel cameras are very impressive. But, they don't do black and white.
It might surprise some people that B/W film is just as sensitive to color as color film, perhaps even more so. Not only does B/W film capture the visible light spectrum, but it can also capture infrared and ultraviolet light as well. Color digital cameras closely mimic color film technology. Color film has red, green, and blue sensitive layers. Digital cameras have red, green, and blue sensitive CCD's (or other similar device) which reports color with digital values.
Continue reading "Two-dollar roll of film better than $3,000 digital camera"
Thursday, October 5. 2006
The attitude of the scientists, at any rate, is clear. Technique exists because it is technique. The golden age will be because it will be. Any other answer is superfluous.
- Jacques Ellul, closing words, The Technological Society.
Film cameras are a mature, incrementally advancing technology. However, our market-driven media follow the action and their current darling the ever-changing digital camera gleans much press, overshadowing its stable parent. Combined with an industry which relentlessly touts its latest camera gear as having obsoleted all predecessors, this media bias intimates that digital photography has now replaced film.
There's some truth here: digicams are now put to purposes for which we once relied on film. But while a professional's choice to "go digital" usually stems from financial concerns the photography enthusiast's motivation is mainly aesthetic. Digital photography has its advantages, but if you think it's replaced film there are some things you should know. I've assembled articles here exposing various shortcomings of digital photography in hopes of balancing the current media bias and providing perspective to anyone weighing their options.
Continue reading "Oranges & Apples (Introduction)"
Film and digital each has its merits and one or the other is generally better for a given purpose. However, some advocate film OR digital absolutely. Don't trust them! Ken Rockwell helps you navigate the tradeoffs between film and digital imaging at his Film vs. Digital page:
Convenience has always won out over ultimate quality throughout the history of photography....As the years roll on the ultimate quality obtained in each smaller medium drops, while the average results obtained by everyone climbs....In 1940 normal people got fuzzy snaps from their Brownies and flashbulbs while artists got incredible results on 8 x 10" film. Today artists still mess with 4 x 5" cameras and normal people are getting the best photos they ever have on 3 MP digital cameras printed at the local photo lab.
Here is the biggest difference between film and digital. Just as one film looks different from another, digital looks very different from any film. Either you like it or you don't. Film is the result of over 100 years of refinement. Digital is just starting out. Pixel count is just a secondary issue.
Continue reading "Neither film nor digital is better on an absolute basis"
Wednesday, May 17. 2006
Last August, Bob Atkins published an article entitled The Writing on the Wall on photo.net. The article was rather inflammatory and generated numerous Reader's Comments, many of which were informative, insightful, and even humorous.
Unfortunately, when an article goes off photo.net's front page all reader comments are currently being dropped (see the current copy of Bob's article).
Fortunately, the wonders of html caching have preserved the entire article intact with reader comments. I've republished it below, unchanged except for minor formatting corrections. Read on for more..
Continue reading "The Writing on the Wall, Part One"
Tuesday, January 17. 2006
Dean M. Chriss put it aptly:
Many would have you believe digital image capture will solve every photographic problem you have ever had, seen, or imagined. There is a fairly good reason for this, and it's called money.
Continue reading "What Drives the "Digital Revolution?""
Wednesday, December 28. 2005
In Digital Myths and Realities, professional photographer Darwin Wigget, editor-in-chief of Photo Life magazine, writes:
Read any print or online photography magazine and you’d think that digital photo capture is the ‘second coming’ – that photographic history will now be divided into BD (before digital) and AD (after digital). And that AD is the era of creative enlightenment....Recently, I read this quote from a digital photo guru, “Photographers who continue to shoot with film are committing professional suicide”.
Continue reading "Digital Myths and Realities"
Tuesday, December 20. 2005
In Diggin' in on Digicams: the Printer Problem, David Tenenbaum writes,
Like millions of Americans, you've plunked down the cash for a digital camera and even read a page or two of the manual. You've snapped yourself silly and learned to display your images on the computer screen. And now comes the hard part: making prints.
Continue reading "The Printing Problem"
Tuesday, December 6. 2005
Many commentators claim digicams replace film. However, this implies that the two are interchangeable which I argue elsewhere is an oversimplification. Some examples:
RLROUSE Directory & Essential Information Resources states:
Do you still buy film, take it to the developer, and wait for the photos to be printed? If so, you're wasting valuable time and money....Considering the great advances in digital camera technology coupled with the convenience and relatively low costs of owning and using one, there is really no reason to ever buy another film camera.
Continue reading "Claims that Digicams Replace Film"
Monday, December 5. 2005
In The Dark Side of Digital Today, professional photographer and writer Dean M. Chriss offers some perspective on the "digital revolution:"
Many would have you believe digital image capture will solve every photographic problem you have ever had, seen, or imagined. There is a fairly good reason for this, and it's called money....Photography magazines certainly won't tell you the shortcomings of the technology being pushed by their advertisers. All of this feeds those who make a bundle offering "digital" classes and workshops. Who could blame them for not publicizing the shortfalls of going digital?
Continue reading "The Dark Side of Digital Today"
Currently there is no universal standard for "raw" digicam data. So if you use raw files to preserve maximum image data, the file will probably become obsolete. In RAW Facts: The short life of today's RAW files, Dean M. Chriss describes the dilemma:
[T]he ability to use RAW files is perhaps the greatest asset of digital photography....Under some circumstances the JPEG files produced by cameras can be almost as good, but only if the exposure and white balance are set perfectly at the moment the photograph is taken. When making prints, especially large ones, it is always possible to exceed the quality of the equivalent JPEG file when working with RAW files.
Continue reading "RAW Facts: The short life of today's RAW files"
Wednesday, November 23. 2005
The C-60 Zoom, Olympus' first 6 megapixel camera, is a case study in digicam obsolescence. The C-60 Zoom or C-60Z (known as the X-3 in Japan) was introduced March 18, 2004. Though it contains 6 megapixels, one reviewer characterized the images it produces as "noisy:"
Continue reading "Case Study in DigiCam Obsolescence: Olympus C-60 Zoom"
Thursday, November 17. 2005
If you read just one article on my blog, let it be this one. In Size Matters, Robert Atkins explains what happens when you shrink the imaging surface to a fingernail-sized sensor, as most digicams do. If you read between the lines this speaks volumes about the design, purpose, and limitations of these cameras. There is a physical limit to how much resolution you can achieve on a small scale, no matter how many megapixels you pack into it and how good a lens you have. The limit is caused by diffraction, the tendency of light to spread out when forced through an aperture. It turns out that beyond a certain limit it makes no sense to increase the resolution of tiny sensors, because no lens can ever deliver this resolution. And in fact, more sensors per millimeter can actually degrade performance:
Continue reading "Effects of physical sensor size on digicam performance"
Wednesday, November 9. 2005
Brief observation by author Fazal Majid :
Once you have used a digital SLR (DSLR) with a nice, clean, large, low-noise sensor, the poor image quality of most compact digicams becomes hard to tolerate. This is in contrast with film, where a $70 Olympus Stylus Epic can compete in image quality with thousand-dollar cameras.
Then it hit me: don't consider a pocket digicam as a camera, think of it as a pocket photocopier/scanner instead, like HP's ill-fated CapShare. I use my pocket digicam mostly to record specials in stores, flyers, magazine articles, diagrams on a whiteboard and the like. Japanese otaku teenagers are way ahead of me, as many bookstores in Tokyo now ban cameraphones because the kids would just snap photos of manga comic books and not pay.
In this concise buyer's guide, Fazal Majid examines the impact of increasing megapixel capacities on consumer digital cameras. He concludes that more megapixels actually degrade image quality in all but ideal lighting conditions:
The problem is, as most consumers are fixated on megapixels, many camera manufacturers are deliberately cramming too many pixels in too little silicon real estate just to have megapixel ratings that look good on paper.
Continue reading "The megapixel myth - a pixel too far?"
Thursday, October 20. 2005
How long will your inkjet prints last? Surprisingly, there are no clear answers. "Consequently, experts say, people may find that some photos expected to last for decades will start to fade in just a few years," writes Tom Spring of PC World.
How long can you expect your inkjet-printed photos to last? More and more photo inkjet papers are being touted as "fade resistant" and "archival safe," but experts say these marketing pitches don't always provide good information on how long it will take for skin tones to turn green and paper to yellow on precious family photos.
WIR has also tested Kodak and Staples papers, and Wilhelm's print longevity projections for those products fall far short of those achieved by HP and Epson papers. For example, WIR projects that images printed with Kodak photo paper using HP Photosmart 145 and 245 printers will last only 11 years--or 109 fewer years than Kodak is claiming.Read the rest of Lack of Standards Sparks Inkjet Photo Fade Debate
Tuesday, October 18. 2005
Ian Kennedy jumped in to the digital revolution with both feet, one of the first to purchase an expensive Nikon D100 digital SLR. Now he has traded it for "an all-manual 35mm rangefinder with a 50mm prime lens." In this web page he explains why:
After a year and thousands of pictures, I decided that a DSLR, with all of its wonders, had an insidiously negative impact on the way I take photos. Because I was no longer worried about the amount of film that I was using, I frequently took three or more shots of the same subject and, to my shame, occasionally "chimped" those images as I took them.
Now, don't misunderstand me, digital photography is great for commercial work. I shot four weddings and a couple of piecemeal freelance gigs with the D100, and, honestly, if I was to shoot another wedding, especially one for just any client, I would want to do it digitally. Shooting digitally frees the photographer from the concern that the shot has been missed. But, with that said, it also discounts the thought and craft, even the happy accidents of photography. I realized I had been relying on digital for what it too easily becomes: a crutch.Read the rest of Regressing: Why I Went Back to Film.
Friday, September 30. 2005
In his article, Why Is Sharpening Necessary?, writer and photographer Thom Hogan states,
The nasty truth underlying all digital recording techniques is that they turn analog signals into discrete samples of the original....The real world sports an infinite number of shades of blue in the sky and an endless amount of detail, but your digital camera only captures between 1000 and 4500 pixels of horizontal detail in perhaps thousands of shades of possible blues. While that’s pretty darn good, it does cause two resolution-oriented problems:
Continue reading "Why Digital Images must be Sharpened"
Tuesday, September 13. 2005
Poor Dante Stella. A serious traditional film and darkroom photographer, he keeps going out to buy a digital camera, and keeps coming home empty handed. In this article he tells why:
[I]n many contexts, digital seems to have shifted the burden of post-processing to the photographer. With analog materials, this burden (getting to the proof stage) rested on laboratories, which were expected to be good at outputting. Lab services could be expensed by the media or passed through to the customer with portrait shooting....Digital has pushed this "workflow" back into the lap of the photographer.
Continue reading "Digital? Maybe later."
You might wonder why anyone would doubt the longevity of digital images. After all, being digital they are not subject to heat, moisture, or chemical breakdown. So they are bound to live far longer than conventional film images, which suffer from all of these problems. Right?
Well, there's another aspect to this, now known as "digital death." The problem is not due to the breakdown of the media on which images are stored (although these media do degrade), but to the short lifetimes of the devices used to store and read them.
To quote Stewart Brand in Escaping the Digital Dark Age,
Due to the relentless obsolescence of digital formats and platforms, along with the ten-year life spans of digital storage media such as magnetic tape and CD-ROMs, there has never been a time of such drastic and irretrievable information loss as right now.
Continue reading "Longevity of Film versus Digital Images"
Monday, August 22. 2005
With a reasonable scanner, you can make 16mega pixel digital photo from high quality (or any quality) film camera.
In his review of the Leica CM at PhotographyReview.com, syuji writes,
Just when I thought about going totally digital, I realized that with a reasonable scanner, you can make 16mega pixel digital photo from high quality (or any quality) film camera.
K B Camera has published Film -vs- Digital: Which is right for me?:
Low Light & Latitude
Continue reading "Film -vs- Digital: Which is right for me?"
At PhotographyReview.com, jpg writes in his review of the Leica CM dated June 13, 2005,
I came upon the CM in a round about way. Previously I owned a Contax T2, which, unfortunately I traded for the new rage, a digital camera. After returning from a vacation trip, my wife and I compared photographs. We both noticed that that her little Leica Mini pics were much sharper and detailed then my digital camera shots. So I began wishing I hadn't sold my Contax T2 and Contax is out of production so the T2 was no longer available and the last T3 at the dealers was sold.
(Page 1 of 1, totaling 41 entries)
From the Editor
Considering "upgrading" to a digital camera? Think twice! Digital has many advantages over film, as you will read almost everywhere else.
However, "going digital" currently (summer 2012) involves significant hidden costs, causing many to hold back and some to even return to film!
Much has been written about these costs, but it is buried in a barrage of digicam promotion and hard to find. Despite the propaganda, film may not yet be "dead." Browse this site and see if you don't agree.
(NOTE: emphasis in the quotations contained herein is mainly my own) - Carson Wilson