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Archive 2004 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo
  
 
nutek
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


I recently toyed with the idea of getting a film EOS body (say EOS 5) and a nice film scanner instead of upgrading to say either a 20D or 1D, from my D30.

I made some cost-benefit comparisons, assuming that I would shoot 1/2 the number of frames that I would shoot with digital. This brings up the "operating cost" nicely to $1000 per year, including film and developing costs.

So in 2 years, I would spend $2000, which incidentally would also be the cost of upgrading to the 1D or 20D (which would supposedly and hopefully last 2 years, before the next better model comes along again ;p). The unquantifiable benefits would then be 1) full-frame wide-angle, 2) film-look, 3) theoretical 10+MP output; while the downsides would be 1) no instant-review, 2) longer wait for pictures (have to send for developing), 3) no adjustable ISO (inconvenience of changing rolls).. All these 3+ and - points kinda balance each other out for me, so I'm quite at a loss if I should proceed with this idea.

I'm sure there are some of you who are using this film+scanner combination right now, and I would like your opinions on how well your solution is working, and suggestions too, thanks!

Wenyao




Oct 15, 2004 at 04:13 AM
jonwienke
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


35mm film can be matched in quality with the 4MP 1D in many cases quality-wise. 6MP on up will be a significant improvement over film in most cases, especially at higher ISO. The 10MP resolution of film is exactly that; theoretical, only achievable with high contrast test targets like resolution charts. The dithering effect intruduced by the film grain reduces detail captured by film in most real-world images to about 4MP equivalent in most cases. The 11MP 1Ds can match or beat 6x7 medium format when comparing prints head-to-head, and the difference between the 1Ds and 35mm film is comparable to the difference between a CD and a cassette tape. The only real advantage a film body has at this time is inexpensive wide angle, but at a significant quality cost.

"Film look" in one of many different options you have when post-processing DSLR images; it's the only option you have with film. I wouldn't call that an advantage of film, digital can do it too if you know how.

Beside the additional wait for developing, don't forget the hassle of scanning. Getting a good scan of a negative is not easy, especially if you don't want to scan dust bunnies. It's like having to do DSLR sensor cleaning on every single scanned frame, either on the film or in Photoshop after the scan with the clone tool, or both.

Given the above, and the other disadvantages you already mentioned, I would definitely not bother with film. If you'd spend $1000/yr just on film and processing, don't forget to factor in the several hundred dollars you'd need for a decent film scanner and lots of hours operating the scanner. Your time has value, figure that in to your cost analysis. You'd probably be better off getting a 20D and the EF-S 10-22mm for wide angle work and ditching the film concept, you'll spend way more time and get less results for it with film than with a good DSLR. Since you already have a D30, you're familiar with digital workflow; a 20D would be reasonably familar, but with bigger image files.



Oct 15, 2004 at 05:23 AM
sjms
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


you read a lot don't you?


Oct 15, 2004 at 05:30 AM
rico
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


nutek,

You have overlooked the biggest consideration: Time.

Depending on the model of scanner, resolution and number of passes, you will need 2-15 minutes per frame. That does not include the rituals of loading and cleaning the film beforehand. You will need to learn more about color balance, curves, and other workflow issues for the film domain. You will need to organize your tangibles (slides, film strips, contact sheets) so as to find them later.

I shoot film more than digital, in part because I enjoy the older equipment. However, I basically maintain separate worlds for digital and analog. My D30 is great for experiments and web work, while film is great for prints from 1-Hr Photo and slide shows.

Here's the result of prep (5 minutes), scanning (10 minutes), and post-production (2 hours):
http://patternassociates.com/rico/photo/misc/lakeside.jpg
Leica M, 35mm, Kodak Gold 100, 4000dpi, 1 pass



Oct 15, 2004 at 06:59 AM
JamesGreen
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


Wenyao, I find much the same reasoning true for me.

I mean no disrespect to Jonathan by this, but I think that there are too many variables involved in scanning film to make absolute comparisons between megapixels & film. I am still very impressed with the detail & colour that a can be got from a well exposed slow slide emulsion, and equally so disapointed with bad exposures or bad film.

Having said that, for me at least it is a lot slower process.

I got my scanner for a couple of projects (like digitising my Dad's box of slides from when he was a my age) but have found that it is now a part of my photography. I am still mostly digital, but am in love with B&W processing at home.

If I was shooting for a living, I'd go the DSLR route for the workflow benefits alone, but I have nice 20x30 inch enlargements from both scanned Velvia & from my D30 RAWs interpolated up.

Sounds like you are going into this with your eyes open, and allready know the pros and cons. You probabbly wouldn't be disapointed with the result.

(I can send you some full size images from B&W or slide scans if it would help. Sorry, I don't shoot colour print film so I don't have any of those to share...)



Oct 15, 2004 at 07:30 AM
bogatyr
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


Nutek wrote:

"So in 2 years, I would spend $2000, which incidentally would also be the cost of upgrading to the 1D or 20D (which would supposedly and hopefully last 2 years, before the next better model comes along again ;p)."

I simply do not understand what is meant by this. Why would my present model not last longer than the time it takes before "the next better model comes along"? Does our present model suddenly start to take bad pictures when new models are introduced?



Oct 15, 2004 at 07:33 AM
bogatyr
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


I find that the time consumed by film scanning is far from excessive. If I use digital ICE for infrared removal of dust and scratches, my scans take less than two minutes, and if I do not use ICE scanning times are less than one minute. By the way, I use the Nikon LS-50 scanner.

Also, the post processing of scanned images are no more difficult, nor do they take longer time than if one uses a digital camera.




Oct 15, 2004 at 07:58 AM
firestick
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


With the $2000 spent on the film some of your money would be going towards real print outs. And I think wal-mart will make a digital CD of film for a price.

With the film one you will have to use filters. This is a bother and takes away 2-4 f-stops depending upon which filter you use. But it also keeps you from the dreaded purple fringe that comes more easily by changing the cameras white balance to compensate for non white lighting.

And after 2 years and $2000 gone. I'll be willing to give you $750 for your 20D. So the digital way wouldn't end up costing you $2000 for two years, but then you wouldn't have hard copies of your photos.

Have you considered getting a medium format camera?

Benjamin



Oct 15, 2004 at 08:42 AM
Gochugogi
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


I shoot both film (EOS & Nikon) and digital (10D) about equally, finding many things I like about both. One of the best things about film, especially chromes, is it is complete in itself. That is, I don't need to scan or use a computer to enjoy images. I just spread the chromes on a light table and enjoy the eyecandy with a good loupe. If one image strikes me, I'll go ahead and scan it on my Canon FA4000US.

If your main goal is to get images into the computer, save yourself time and get a 20D. If you're happy with film in analog form and only need a scan here and there, go for an EOS film body and scanner.



Oct 15, 2004 at 09:47 AM
Richard Smith
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


Wenyao,

I have read this thread with some interest. I have until recently been mixing film and digital.

But I have just sold all my film cameras (EOS 1V, Contax G2 + Lenses, Various Filters and my Stock of Film). Raised £3000.00 on Ebay, purchased a 1D mark II for £3059.00.

I havenít yet sold my Nikon Supercoolscan 5000 as I still have a backlog of film to catch up on but it will go.

My reasons are as follows:

1. Ilford have gone in receivership. My favourite black and white films were Ilford. There seems to be little hope of the company being re-started.

2. Kodak have shed 700 jobs from their Film Producing business in the UK.

3. Life is not long enough to scan film. Taken that I was using one of the fastest reasonably priced scanners, the time it took was immense. It is not just the actual scanning time but the learning curve for each film to get the most from it can be very large. Velvia is a very difficult film to scan. B&W films have their own peculiarities. You will find yourself going back over the same scans until you get it right, hours just disappear and you still havenít got anything usable into photoshop.

4. Mixing the two technologies, I was becoming a Jack of All Trades and a master of none. I fully intend to spend the time I used to be scanning, concentrating on getting the results I want from digital captures. I should get more time to develop my photoshop skills and possibly more time down the pub.


The writing may not yet be on the wall for film on a global basis but I think the top is off the pen and it is only a matter of time. So I bailed out while I could still sell my film gear for a good price. Perhaps I was a bit previous ?
Only time will tell.
But I will not miss all the hours I used to spend scanning.

Cheers,

Terry.



Oct 15, 2004 at 10:44 AM
 

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dhphoto
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


Totally agree Terry, I sold all my 35mm, 6x6,6x7 & 5x4 gear a year ago and made enough on ebay to completely redo my gear with digital.

Apart from the obvious changes in contrast asscociated with scanning, the dust, scratches grain and colour shifts, IMHO I just cant see the point of introducing an entirely unnecessary 'process' into the photographic workflow - that is - film!

That of course is in addition to RAW for retrospective colour balance and immediate confirmation of shot and exposure....but then that has been stated soooo many times before

David




Oct 15, 2004 at 11:26 AM
DavidP
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


Don't even consider it.

Takes way too much tijme, and digital gives better results.



Oct 15, 2004 at 11:26 AM
Brian304
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


I scan my chrome or negs with a nikon 9000, takes about 10 minutes to scan 5 chromes with ICE. Then I open in PSCS and print right out on my Canon i9900. I use film mostly because I like the look of print film or a good chrome. I also use Leica m cameras which are very quiet and have great optics, so I get shots I wouldn't normally take. I just took a kid portrait with a Leica 75 mm f1.4 using a BW 3 stop ND and Astia 100. I have not yet been able to duplicate the look and feel of that combination with digital. Even though it was scanned the smoothness of tones and the OOF background make the print work. The subjects jump off the paper.
Of course in any low light situations the digital is great. ISO 1600 is like 400 print film AFA noise is concerned.
I bought the Nikon 9000 and a Mamiya 7 with 2 lenses to shoot landscapes with instead of the 1Ds. I get files that are 10,000ish by 8800 pixels. The detail is incredible. At 13x19 they blow away 10D prints, again also having that smoothness of tones. BUT having said that I think today I would buy the 1Ds because it would cut down on my systemitis and still use my Leica but just have my lab make a cd for me.
HTH,
Brian



Oct 15, 2004 at 11:53 AM
akclimber
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


While I think it's possible to get a slightly better quality final print/image from a properly scanned, properly exposed 35mm neg or slide than from my 10D, it's a very, very close call. I haven't had the good fortune to try out a 20D yet tho - perhaps it's 8+ mega pixels now match or exceed a scanned 35mm neg or slide - I wouldn't be surprised. But as others have pointed out, scanning can be a tedious, time consuming affair. It certainly was one reason I chose to buy a 10D. I just couldn't take spending hours and hours scanning stuff with my Canon FS4000 anymore - time I could have used to be out shooting or sleeping, etc.

Also, the benefits of having near instant access to histograms, image playback, etc. with digital make it for me a much friendlier medium than film.

Good luck in your decision - perhaps you can borrow a decent scanner, make some film negs/slides and try your hand at the film to digital workflow to see if you'd care for it.

Cheers!



Oct 15, 2004 at 12:32 PM
DavidP
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


Last year I bought a used Leica MP and 50/1.0 Noctilux.

Took less than a week for me to realize (again) just how much film sucks! So, I sent it back.

It was a really nice body and lens, though.



Oct 15, 2004 at 01:37 PM
Pondria
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


But for anything other than 35mm SLR, there is no practical digital alternatives ? Things like range finders, MF, LF etc are still on Film.


Oct 15, 2004 at 01:42 PM
DavidP
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


You haven't seen the new 8" x 10" CMOS sensor that Canon's put out for large format cameras?

Imagine what that sucker would cost.



Oct 15, 2004 at 01:53 PM
Richard Smith
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


Pondria wrote:
But for anything other than 35mm SLR, there is no practical digital alternatives ? Things like range finders, MF, LF etc are still on Film.


That's if you chose to ignore all the Digital Backs available for MF cameras.

Most working photogs I know haven't touched film in ages.

Terry.



Oct 15, 2004 at 02:35 PM
Brian304
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


The llink below is the kind of subject isolation I have been talking about. I did shoot my MKII at the same time but I didn't shoot the 85mm 1.8. I used my 35mm f2 but the kids were getting restless so I never got around to trying it at f2 to see how the BG would blur. At f4 it has the digi PS look.
http://sledz.smugmug.com/gallery/153622/1/9880709/Large
AFA histograms and exposure I find very few shots are bad with the big Leica spot meter. The raw shooting can be a lifesaver.
Brian



Oct 15, 2004 at 02:55 PM
nutek
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · DSLR vs Film+Scanner combo


Hi, thanks for all the responses!

Well, I agree that time is an important factor when dealing with scanning and it's associated post-processing. My original idea was that since I would be dealing with a camera that has no instant review, I would go easy on the trigger and not have so many redundant shots that I would have otherwise shot with a DSLR. With lesser number of frames shot, I would (hopefully) have a higher keeper-ratio (because of more thought and preparation given before clicking the shutter), and thus reduce the actual number of slides/negatives that I would actually have to scan.

I have spent uncountable hours in Photosho trying to perfect curves on my digital images to make them look more "film-like", but I have not come up with a satisfactory "one-curve fits-all" solution. So why try imitating the "film-look" when I can have the real thing instead?

All that aside, I agree with many of you that digital is the way to go. Perhaps I'll just get a Yashica T3 or T4 for now to satisfy my "film-cravings" for a while..



Oct 15, 2004 at 03:54 PM
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