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Photography Question 
Nicholas J. Birchak
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/25/2006

Digital Cameras Is one brand better than another?

Ok. So I am a Student who is taking Black and White Photo. The first photo class I have ever taken. I absolutely love it. So much that I want to get a digital Camera where I can adjust Aperature and shutter speed. Right Now I have a Canon SLR Rebel T2. However buying paper and developing film is not going to be cost effective. So is there any camera brand(s) I should consider more than others. Thanks Guys

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10/29/2006 2:58:03 PM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  In my opinion, the reality of B&W suggests sticking to film. Of course, it's all in the paper. There have been a terrific number of B&W papers to choose from over the years - that's when one paper makes the difference over another.

Of course, a couple years ago, Kodak announced a "reduction" in its available choices. That's too bad. But, Ilford confirmed it was sticking with B&W. Check out its web site, there are tutorials ,etc., - a grand site.

As to digital, it's also a fact that digital is designed for color. If you don't believe that, go to the Adobe web site and open any of several articles, especially the ones that expain RAW. So, what does that really mean as far as B&W?

It means that B&W from digital files is a compromise, something akin to using the Unsharp Mask - that tool is needed for almost every digital image.

For B&W, some method of decolorizing tool must be used, whether it be a "desaturation," a "remove color," or clicking on Monochrome in Channel Master. In all cases, you're throwing away data. And, that's the rub!

Then, of course, there's the issue of paper. In my opinion, most of the papers available from printer manufacturers are that great for B&W. They lack the "feel" of the old resin coated papers. I love Ilford's Classic Pearl for B&W, however.

Now, I haven't used any of the special papers - from companies like Hannemuhle, for example. The one thing you can count on is that these will cost much, much more. And, you did suggest that "paper and developing film is not going to be cost effective."

But, why not!!!!!? Take your film to any one-hour processor that's BUSY. This will insure that it chemicals are turning over rapidly. Use chromogenic film or color film. Have them develop the film and provide you with the negatives [that you can use in the wet darkroom] and a Kodak CD, ONLY. There's no cost for 4X6 prints that you might not want/need anyway.

Load the files on your computer and edit them with your favorite software. The only rub, you need to try to find a developer who can give you the largest files he/she can, if possible in TIFF. And, you can always scan your negatives.

I just had 3 36-exposure rolls of Fuji Superia developed, with one Kodak CD holding all of the the three rolls' pictures. With index cards [photos] I paid $2.95. Pretty great price, huh!

Now, I can massage at will and print at choice, thereby enjoying cost effective film use.

As to which camera - you're budget will be the deciding factor. In the "under $1000" group [assuming you want to stay with a pseudo or real SLR,] the Canon Rebel XTi, Nikon D80 and the new Sony Alpha 100 would be good choices to consider. All have nominal 10 MP sensors.

If you can go for more cash, consider the Canon 30D [which I have] or the Nikon D200. The 30D has an 8.2 MP chip; I'm not sure about the D200. [Costs between $1200 and 1700 (BO.)] I confess the fact that I'm not that familiar with current Pentax, Samtax and Olympus models. Certainly, there are models in the prices listed above. Remember that Canon and Nikon have a lion's share of the marketplace - there must be a reason.

But, I personally can't see spending more, except for - maybe the Canon 5D - and, then only because the lens factor is eliminated. FOr 99 percent of photographers, amateur, advanced amateur or pro, more costly cameras aren't "needed" for anything more than bragging points.

Take a look at almost everyone's BP Gallery. Lots of great snapshots, some great photographs, some "winners." But, almost all could have been taken with a point and shoot or prosumer camera depending, of course, on whether a filter was used and/or whether a really fast shutter speed or long telephoto lens was needed.

Also, remember, for years and years and years - magazines, like American Photo, Pop Photo, Outdoor Photographer, the late-great Peterson's Photographic, spoke to the fact that almost 80-90 percent of the photos published were shot at apertures between f/5.6 and f/11. So much for the super-fast/super-costly lenses with speeds as, possibly as low as f/1.2.

Digital photography is here to stay. Just don't think it's a panacea and that, because you buy a digital SLR, you'll get better pictures. It's not the camera that makes the picture; the camera merely records an image.

I'm sure you'll get a lot of responses to your question that will contradict what I've written. But, that's what these Q&As are all about.

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10/30/2006 5:21:07 AM

"For B&W, some method of decolorizing tool must be used, whether it be a "desaturation," a "remove color," or clicking on Monochrome in Channel Master. In all cases, you're throwing away data."

Only if you trash the original, Andy. Keep it, and you can revert back to your full colour original whenever it pleases you.
Try THAT with B/W film....

Scanning physical photos to digitize them, however, inserts another downside: the scanning process stacks 'new' optical and color abberrations on top of the ones already present in the photo!

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10/30/2006 5:54:07 AM

Mike Rubin
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/15/2004
  Well said John, I have converted digital files to B&W, It is a lot of work to get it right. Yet if printed out I doubt it would compare to B&W film processed properly.

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10/30/2006 5:55:10 AM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  You all make some valid points, but have all ignored the question.

Nicholas - first off, don't get so excited about jumping into digital that you ignore your current B&W photo class. It's a great way to learn the basics of photography.

That said, I'm a big fan of "sticking with what you know". Canon does a good job of keeping the controls and shooting modes fairly consistent across most of their cameras. Since you're already shooting an SLR, if you drop down to a point & shoot or other compact digital camera, you're likely to be disappointed. You won't get the same feel that you get with the SLR.

If you're looking for an inexpensive entry into Digital, you could look for a Digital Rebel (300D) or Rebel XT (350D). You should be able to get a good deal on these now that the Rebel XTi (400D) is out. Try to find someone selling the body only, and you can use whatever lens you currently have on your Rebel T2.

Later, when you are ready to add other lenses, stick with EF mount lenses (not digital-only EF-S mounts) and you will be able to use the lenses on both camera bodies.

Good luck,
Chris A. Vedros

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10/30/2006 7:17:53 AM

Nicholas J. Birchak
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/25/2006
  How much do you really lose going digital? I like my Rebel T2 and am wondering if I were to upgrade to a better camera what should I consider. Oh by the way did I mention I was legally blind, makes printing photo's very gradifying once I have a final print.

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10/30/2006 7:23:28 PM

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