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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.
However, the more I studied available digital cameras the more aware I became of some annoying, repeating patterns, such as:
Then I read Bob Atkins' article Size Matters and it finally dawned on me that some of the various "problems" reported with digicams had been around since the beginning, and weren't likely to be solved with the next generation of digicams, if ever. The problems were outgrowths of the technology itself combined with the motivations of the digicam industry. Technical solutions to things like sensor noise were available, but market forces meant these solutions might never be produced.
In my evolution from snapshot shooter to digital darkroomer I had parted company with the vast majority of camera consumers and was now part of a relatively small number of amateur photographers who approach photography as art form. I am neither a professional trying to meet quantitative deadlines nor a consumer trying to get images with as little effort as possible. I thus occupy a niche overlooked by the digicam industry and am better served by continuing to use film instead.
Having discovered this, I think I must not be alone. I'm making what I've learned available publically in hopes of sharing it with others of similar experience. Hence this 'blog. Have you spent weeks researching the "best" digital camera only to find the hunt endlessly elusive? If so I hope you'll find some answers to your quandary in the information I'm gathering here. If you do, please let me know. Your input will help me make this a better resource for all of us.
Carson Wilson (editor)
*I have yet to sell any of my work, but have devoted large amounts of time, money, and effort into making my work as good as possible. In 1995 I discovered I could scan my 35mm negatives and have had an active "digital darkroom" since. I currently own and use a Leica CL to capture to 35mm film, then transfer to digital with a Nikon Coolscan V and VueScan, then edit with Picture Window Pro and print to a Canon ip8500.
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Hi Carson, I have been a digital user for about five years as well as roll film. However,99% of my photography is now roll film.Firstly sensor noise i have found to be a big problem & moire pattern.Secondly digital cameras are not as user friendly ,regarding control ,changing settings ,aperture& or shutterspeed,far to fiddly. I never have been one for program modes or aperture/ shutter priority anyway and have always set camera manually ,so as to control my exposures & depth of field etc . I tend to use a hand held exposure meter for better control of my readings whether spot readings,incident or reflected,and i use a mamiya RZ 67 medium format as this gives me even better resolution because of frame size. I have heard the arguments in favour of digital photography but i am unconvinced and have only seen a handfull of photographs that even come close to roll film and they were taken on cameras that start at £4000 plus and the top end was £17,000 just for the digital back! The cameras & sensors have a short lifespan and also become out of date within weeks/months ,thus enticing you to spend more money, a bit like the modern motor car.Yes it is nice to be able to see your photos as you take them but it also can make non thinking lazy photographers as it costs nothing to roll off 200 odd photos in the hope of one or two good ones.Anyway sorry to go on but i will be sticking to roll film in all its glory and leave the "I want it now" brigade to digital unless it vastly improves and gets cheaper.
Thanks for the article, has inspired me to go back to the silver.
Photograph to me is/was an art form. Digital came to the party and ruined all my fun.
Back to film....
I stumbled upon your blog today and I like what I've read.
I've been shooting for just about 25 years; 22 of which with film. In 2000 I started to scan my negatives but still shot with a 35mm Canon SLR & Holga 120. In 2004 I went totally digital, shooting with a Digital Rebel & Kodak Easyshare.
However I'm starting to find that digital may be more of a curse than a blessing. My biggest gripe is that we're losing that creative God-given edge with digital. We now depend more on the camera and the computer than with our creative ability. Once we shot and were thoughtful with our shooting. Today we can shoot over and over/delete and "Photoshop" it if it's salvagable.
However all's not lost. I'm starting to shoot with my late father-in-law's 35mm rangefinders from the 1950s! Talk about getting your butt kicked! With light meter in hand, I have to think before I shoot.
I plan to use digital only for "quickie" shots or client work that's time sensitive. Anything else is on film.
Thanks for this blog and its 'opening statement', especially your suspicion that 'sample images from even the latest digicams had an unnatural smoothness in areas where film showed texture'.
I like texture a lot. It is essential for photography, as it gives realism, credibility, 'life' and interest to pictures. I shoot 35mm Fuji Velvia or Astia. I have a digicam too (a really nice one: Sony R1), not just for practical purposes but also as a reference for comparisons.
Somehow my film results generally make me happier. My digital images often show, besides much technical 'correctness', some sterility or 'deadness'.
Keep up the good work!
Hi Carson! Thanks for creating this blog. It makes me feel less like an oddball to know there are others out there with my same sentiments.
I like film, too. However, my preference has nothing to do with sharpness, resolution or megapixels. If digital hasn't already surpassed film for pure sharpness and detail, then it eventually will, I'm sure. To my eyes, an image captured on film simply looks different than an image captured on a digital sensor. It has, as others here have said, a texture that digital lacks. It has character. My scanned 35mm images just seem to jump out at me in a way that my digital photos don't. Looking through the hundreds of digital and scanned 35mm photos currently stored on my laptop, I find that the film images just speak to me more. It's hard to describe. There is a timeless quality to them.
This doesn't mean I don't like digital. It has many practical advantages over film, and when I am in need of those conveniences I reach for a digital camera. I can absolutely understand why a professional newspaper, sports, or wedding photographer might ditch his or her film equipment and convert over to 100% digital capture without looking back. It cuts two or three rather time-consuming steps out of the process and makes good business sense.
I'm not a pro. I make photographs because I enjoy it. I'm a "serious amerture." I am going to do what I like to do, and I like shooting film. I will always own a digital camera of some sort. They are great for snapshots that I will be e-mailing to family members, photographs going straight to the 'net and other times when I am not as concerned about the look of the image as much as I am the functionality or practicality of the purpose it serves. But when I am shooting pictures that matter and that I want to be viewed and appreciated years or even decades from now, I will always reach for my 35mm rangefinder.
The masses will convert to digital and forget about film, but serious hobbyists and artists will continue to prefer film for its look, feel and character which digital will never completely replicate.