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Archive 2010 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital

  
 
douglasf13
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p.4 #1 · p.4 #1 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


ulrikft2 wrote:
veroman: analogue film and digital sensors both do the same. They record what is seen trough the lens. The metaphysical (religious) thing you are going for just does not cut it. Seriously.


Agreed. With both audio recording and photography, many often want to mix a bit of voodoo in with analog methods. Don't get me wrong, I certainly prefer an all-analog tube guitar amp, or recording reel to reel, etc, but it's just a matter of preference. Things get especially muddy when one shoots film and then scans and prints with an inkjet.

Shoot with what you like. No biggie, IMO.



Dec 25, 2010 at 09:52 PM
edwardkaraa
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p.4 #2 · p.4 #2 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


I have shot film and scanned with a dedicated Nikon scanner until end of 2008. I would have been still doing the same thing if it wasn't for the labs expenses and screw ups. I would agree completely with the guys who prefer the look of film. I love it and consider as the real photography. But with digital, despite some obvious drawbacks, gives me full control over the entire process. No labs to blame or ruin my negatives.


Dec 27, 2010 at 04:58 AM
Spyro P.
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p.4 #3 · p.4 #3 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


well I have no lab to blame because I develop, scan and print everything myself. Not that I get fewer scratches than the lab tho :P

Still I'm surprised that nobody mentioned my reason for shooting film. No, its not "the look", I'm quite confident I can get what I need from digi with a little massage (although I hate doing it) and I am not terribly fussy about DR. But what about all these categories of cameras that digi hasnt given a viable equivalent? You guys are ok shooting autofocus SLRs all the time and maybe a crappy compact without a VF? Dont you ever crave some 6X6, panoramic, a full frame pocket camera with a real viewfinder, a folder, a true manual focus SLR without those half-silvered mirrors, large format, leaf shutters, cameras without batteries, a full frame rangefinder that doesnt cost the earth, dont you miss your Contax G, your Hassy or your Hexar?



Dec 27, 2010 at 05:26 AM
Makten
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p.4 #4 · p.4 #4 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


Spyro P. wrote:
But what about all these categories of cameras that digi hasnt given a viable equivalent?


Exactly! You can get a very, very nice film camera for nothing. It's funny, my Nikon FM2 that I got for free, has a viewfinder superior to the D700. In a much smaller package. And it looks better, feels better to handle, weighs nothing!

Everything nowadays seems to be about a zillion FPS, zoooooooms and AF that does everything for you.



Dec 27, 2010 at 06:12 AM
AhamB
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p.4 #5 · p.4 #5 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


Lotusm50 wrote:
Define "authentic" and "honest" in this context. Then tell me how film represents these definitions more than digital. IMHO, both mediums strive to represent reality to the best of their ability. What is dishonest about that? Both film and digital can be manipulated by the photographer/artist, but it is not the medium that is not being "honest". I would note that film never really came closer to the human perception of a scene, its just a different perception than digital.


Lotus, I was trying to point out that making a digital capture look more like film does not make it more or less honest/faithful than just leaving it the way it looks with the manufacturer's settings. I'm not claiming that film is more authentic than digital, but I was saying that digital doesn't have much of an inherent look, whereas things are a more fixed in a developed negative or slide.

I just didn't agree with Evan Baines that your work is necessarily a lie if you try to make your digital captures resemble film.



Dec 27, 2010 at 07:17 AM
ulrikft2
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p.4 #6 · p.4 #6 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


I would love to have to have a fm2-viewfinder/forcusing screen on my d700. The way things just _snap_ into focus? Or the minolta srt101.. things just POP into focus. Manual focus is such a breeze. I wonder if anyone tried that silvering of mirror-thing that was talked about in another thread.


Dec 27, 2010 at 08:52 AM
kidtexas
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p.4 #7 · p.4 #7 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


Well I do shoot film because I like it, I also like the film cameras I shoot with. Shooting manual focus lenses with a camera that was actually meant to be shot that way is nice. It also didn't cost $7000


Dec 27, 2010 at 09:11 AM
veroman
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p.4 #8 · p.4 #8 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


Spyro P. wrote:
well I have no lab to blame because I develop, scan and print everything myself. Not that I get fewer scratches than the lab tho :P Still I'm surprised that nobody mentioned my reason for shooting film. No, its not "the look", I'm quite confident I can get what I need from digi with a little massage (although I hate doing it) and I am not terribly fussy about DR. But what about all these categories of cameras that digi hasnt given a viable equivalent? You guys are ok shooting autofocus SLRs all the time and maybe a crappy
...Show more

I wonder how many digital shooters have ever seen a contact print made from 11" X 17" sheet film. There are only a handful of field cameras that shoot 11" X 17", but once you've seen one of those prints, you know for sure that digital has a long way to go. I've seen prints 5' wide by 8' high printed from 11" X 17" sheet film at 300dpi that are practically indistinguishable from what the naked eye sees.

- Steve



Dec 27, 2010 at 11:11 AM
mawz
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p.4 #9 · p.4 #9 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


Note: Referring to film as Analog is not in fact correct. Film is a digital medium (individual grains are either exposed or not exposed), it's the pseudo random location and size of the grains which gives the impression of an analog media.

'Digital' sensors are in fact analog sensors with their output digitized by ADC's. There's nothing digital about CCD and CMOS sensors, only about the storage format.

The primary differences between the two come down to the linear response of digital vs the non-linear response of film and the regular matrix layout of digital sensors vs the pseudo-random grain distribution. They are simply two different media, no different than the move from wet-plate to film.

All that said, I still shoot film mostly because I like the process better and gear is cheaper for a given level of camera.



Dec 27, 2010 at 12:38 PM
kosmoskatten
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p.4 #10 · p.4 #10 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


Veroman: I have scanned old large format negatives on a large Imacon scanner and I agree; the amount of detail you can extract from a HUGE negative from back in the early 1900's is awesome. And when you have seen what can be done with it, those full frame 12MP cameras don't seem so exciting after all.

But, horses for courses and though I would like to be able to take the time, patience and cost to keep shooting medium format film (have not ventured into large format) and print myself I am lost to the convenience of digital and find that it works well, and sometimes well, works.

Mawz: film may very well be "digital" the way you say, I haven't really though of it like that.
Still, the way film handles exposure is more pleasing than with digital and it does not clip highlights as ugly or abruptly as digital. Also, with proper scanning technique you can work wonders with negatives that are quite overexposed. Same does not hold true with digital.

I am not advocating analog over digital, just stating I am not too impressed with it so far. Impressed, yes, but not over the moon in love with it.



Dec 27, 2010 at 12:46 PM
douglasf13
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p.4 #11 · p.4 #11 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


Compared to film, one can also retrieve more detail when underexposing digital and bringing shadows up in post, so there really isn't an advantage for film or digital in this regard. You just have to apply the proper technique for each format.


Dec 27, 2010 at 01:53 PM
joe88
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p.4 #12 · p.4 #12 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


Sharing this link in response to the op's original question.

http://shutterbug.com/techniques/digital_darkroom/0206traditional/index.html



Dec 27, 2010 at 10:03 PM
pawlowski6132
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p.4 #13 · p.4 #13 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


mawz wrote:
Note: Referring to film as Analog is not in fact correct. Film is a digital medium (individual grains are either exposed or not exposed), it's the pseudo random location and size of the grains which gives the impression of an analog media.

'Digital' sensors are in fact analog sensors with their output digitized by ADC's. There's nothing digital about CCD and CMOS sensors, only about the storage format.

The primary differences between the two come down to the linear response of digital vs the non-linear response of film and the regular matrix layout of digital sensors vs the pseudo-random grain distribution. They
...Show more


Huh. Interesting. I'm not sure film is not analog though. I understand what you're saying about the Silver Halide crystals but, they are not just exposed or not exposed to light. Or, maybe it is on the molecular level, when you're talking about individual photons of light but, isn't more practical to talk about the amount of light striking a part of the film? Doesn't that continuous aspect of light lend itself more to an analog medium



Dec 27, 2010 at 11:51 PM
Lovesong
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p.4 #14 · p.4 #14 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


douglasf13 wrote:
Compared to film, one can also retrieve more detail when underexposing digital and bringing shadows up in post


Sorry- I'm going to assume that you've never seen a velvia slide under a light table or projected. That kind of shadow detail cannot be captured by anything short of a PMT (drum) scanner, and then maybe.



Dec 28, 2010 at 12:07 AM
kwalsh
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p.4 #15 · p.4 #15 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


pawlowski6132 wrote:
Huh. Interesting. I'm not sure film is not analog though. I understand what you're saying about the Silver Halide crystals but, they are not just exposed or not exposed to light. Or, maybe it is on the molecular level, when you're talking about individual photons of light but, isn't more practical to talk about the amount of light striking a part of the film? Doesn't that continuous aspect of light lend itself more to an analog medium


No, actually there isn't such a thing as a "partially exposed" grain. The developer chemistry is such that any grain that has any free silver in it, no matter how small, will actually convert the entire grain into silver. The grains are in fact very much binary - either exposed or not. The film really does count photons. There is nothing analog about the chemistry at all.

Of course, how these counts are stored is completely different. The photodiode and well in a digital sensor counts up the photons that strike a given area and that count is represented uniformly over that area. In film the photon count is represented by the number of exposed grains within an area and they are essentially randomly distributed.

But yes, in the end, both technologies produced binary decisions - neither medium is "analog". And this really shouldn't be surprising, light isn't analog to begin with anyway. Even at the lowest ISOs photon statistics come into play in both digital and film media - it is unavoidable.

Ken



Dec 28, 2010 at 12:15 AM
pawlowski6132
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p.4 #16 · p.4 #16 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


kwalsh wrote:
No, actually there isn't such a thing as a "partially exposed" grain. The developer chemistry is such that any grain that has any free silver in it, no matter how small, will actually convert the entire grain into silver. The grains are in fact very much binary - either exposed or not. The film really does count photons. There is nothing analog about the chemistry at all.

Of course, how these counts are stored is completely different. The photodiode and well in a digital sensor counts up the photons that strike a given area and that count is represented uniformly over
...Show more


You're right. And, I understand that. But, what I was saying that, at such a microscopic level, EVERYHING is digital right? You're talking about the INDIVIDUAL PHOTONS OF LIGHT STRIKING A SILVER HALIDE MOLECULE?



Dec 28, 2010 at 12:19 AM
douglasf13
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p.4 #17 · p.4 #17 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


Lovesong wrote:
Sorry- I'm going to assume that you've never seen a velvia slide under a light table or projected. That kind of shadow detail cannot be captured by anything short of a PMT (drum) scanner, and then maybe.


I'm not sure what you mean. Velvia has about the lowest dynamic range and most contrast of any slide film, and detail drops off a cliff in Zone 1.



Dec 28, 2010 at 03:23 AM
Daniel Heineck
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p.4 #18 · p.4 #18 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


pawlowski6132 wrote:
You're right. And, I understand that. But, what I was saying that, at such a microscopic level, EVERYHING is digital right? You're talking about the INDIVIDUAL PHOTONS OF LIGHT STRIKING A SILVER HALIDE MOLECULE?


Yes: At a fundamental (quantum) level, everything is digitized.

IIRC what I remember discussing about film chemistry was that there's a certain threshold of excitation required to get a grain to form--and given the nonuniformity of silver halide in the film (natural variation) you get a bit of a dithering.

To the OP--there's a time and place for digital, and a time and place for film. I've grown up on digital, but appreciate a certain je ne sais quoi about large(r) format b/w that I wish to investigate. Digital otherwise serves me well.




Dec 28, 2010 at 04:56 AM
Tariq Gibran
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p.4 #19 · p.4 #19 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


Wow, I come back after a few days and you guys have convinced yourselves that film is not an analog medium. By definition, of course it is. It meets these requirements:

1) Film uses a physical property of the medium itself to record. Digital does not. Thus, we have a photochemical reaction that creates a latent image with traditional photography. With digital, even though the ccd itself may be an analog device, this is recorded as a mathematical representation which leads to the discrete nature of digital.

2) Film, as the recording medium, does record in a non-discrete or continuous nature no matter what logic you attempt to employ to convince yourself otherwise!



Dec 28, 2010 at 07:47 AM
kwalsh
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p.4 #20 · p.4 #20 · Film vs Digital or Film = Digital


pawlowski6132 wrote:
You're right. And, I understand that. But, what I was saying that, at such a microscopic level, EVERYHING is digital right? You're talking about the INDIVIDUAL PHOTONS OF LIGHT STRIKING A SILVER HALIDE MOLECULE?


No, more than that - a single (or very small group) of photon(s) striking a silver halide GRAIN (which is composed of thousands of molecules).

My point was, you can't "partially expose" a grain. The developer chemistry either dissolves an entire grain or converts an entire grain to silver. The grains do not become smaller or larger based on the level of exposure. An individual grain (consisting of many, many molecules) is either exposed or not exposed. This seemed to be the question you were asking earlier in the thread - was this binary exposure at the molecular level or the grain level. It is at the grain level, entire grains are either fully exposed and entirely converted to silver upon development or they are completely unexposed and completely washed away in development.

The issue is rather important, and it is the reason that for a given format size a digital sensor vastly out performs film with regards to resolving power and noise/grain at a given ISO. Even at low ISOs, but especially at higher ISOs, the silver halide grains are actually "more digital" and "less analog" than the very efficient photon counting of a photodiode.

But the larger point, not to be lost in the details, is that none of this has anything to do with digital or analog, or bits or grains, or anything else of such nature. All recording media count photons in some way and even at low ISOs these discrete counting statistics are measurable in the image regardless of whether it was film or digital. The larger difference has to do with how these counts are performed, film and digital doing it very different. But when people say film is more "continuous" or "analog" it just isn't true or even remotely accurate. And anyone who has looked at a film image under a loupe compared to a digital image magnified on the screen can see for themselves that neither medium is remotely continuous and that in fact the film image (for identical magnifications) has a far more visible discrete nature to it than digital.

So both mediums record the image discretely but they do it in very different ways and each has its pluses and minuses in what comes out of the process in the end. But terms like "real", "analog", "continuous", or "smooth" to film media aren't really appropriate or accurate.

Ken



Dec 28, 2010 at 07:55 AM
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