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Photography Question 

BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003

Film vs digital

The saga continues.

I am very, very, very, very, very, very gald that I did my homework.

I am considering beginning to charge for my photographic knowledge and services. I am also upgrading all of my equipment to do this because currently, I only have great consumer level equipment. To go pro, I need pro equipment.

Anyway, in my quest to resolve the film vs digital question, I had to do a lot of research. I did a lot. And, boy am I glad.

I almost made the decision to go all digital. I was dead set that this is the wave of the future.

However, a funny thing happened. I kept hearing some folks saying that digital is the future. That may be. But, I have not yet heard a professional going 100% digital (there are some, but not many). There are a great many reasons for this. But, although there are many amatures, semi-pro, consumers and others who compare film to a cart and buggy and digital as an automobile, they are forgetting that the two mediums are different.

Also, digital is just not up to par with film. It just isn't. If you take a digital image made with the best digital camera on the market, and blow it up 600 times, then take the same pic and do the same thing with film, the film will be much more clear, and you can see what you are looking at. The digital image will look like a blob. You may not be able to discern the image at all.

This is the primary factor that swayed me that film is superior.

Addiitonally, I want to shoot medium format, which for digital, is not very easy. And, no, you do not get the same results blowing up a digital SLR.

Thanks for listening,

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11/12/2003 1:05:21 PM

Tim Devick   I recently bought an Olympus E-20 digital camera (5mp SLR), after having shot 35mm slide film (Velvia) for a long time, so have had some time to make some conclusions of my own in this area, and I agree with Jerry right now. My 5mp SLR is great - I really love it; it's very convenient, I like being able to see the shots in I took in the camera's monitor, I like the histogram feature, I like not carrying a box full of film when I'm on vacation. The images from this camera are very good - but - I don't think it's as good as fine-grained 35mm film yet. I don't think the resolution is as good as 35mm in a head-to-head basis. I think 35mm Velvia is still better than 5mp digital.

I especially like to use Velvia when I'm shooting fall colors - it really helps bring out the colors of the leaves on the trees. So far, even if I manipulate the colors in my images in Photoshop, I just don't seem to get the same vibrant color of Velvia. Maybe I'm just inexperienced in Photoshop still, but it seems to be hard to match Velvia's colors with digital.

I've read that, with digital, twice the resolution requires 4x the number of pixels and my current thinking is that a 20mp digital SLR would give 35mm film a real run for the money.

Of course, medium-format vs. the current crop of digital SLRs is, I think, no competition at all - medium-format would wins hands down, IMHO. I have not played with digital backs for medium format; the ones I've seen are so formidably expensive that I can't even consider them!

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11/12/2003 3:13:26 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  I too, am stuck on film as the better medium at this time in photographic history. I shoot Fuji 100 Provia, and 50 Velvia most of the time, and I am happy with the results.
I believe that the tide IS changing toward all digital, and I will probably have to change over some day to survive in this business. History has proven that technological advancements are controlled by the market and by the needs of the consumer. Will will see digital cameras capable of rivaling the image quality of fine-grain chromes before long, and the cameras we are paying thousands of dollars for now...will cost much less.

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11/13/2003 4:35:09 AM


BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003
  Thanks for your responses.

It is an interesting topic for me. One thing that I can't quite get a grip on is, people say that using digital is a great way to learn. I can partially understand this, but not entirely. For instance, the difference between digital and film is significant enough where everything is different. An image shot with a 35mm film camera at 1/60 with an 85mm lens at f/2.0, will be a different setting on a digital. You have to compensate for the lens.

So, your settings are different. So, from the perspective of learning, the logic doesn't follow. Unless by learning, people are talking about composition of the subject itself. Yes, for that, I agree. But, to learn how to use your camera (should you use f8 or f11, 1/500 or 1/250), I don't think will work for you because the two mediums capture the images differently.

However, digital is a cheap way to learn, portrait shooting, for instance. I can play with lighting and poses, and take pictures into oblivion and it doesn't cost me a dime (discounting all the money I've already spent for the camera, lenses, computer, software, etc.). So, for this purpose, its great.

But, still, if you are using flash, the settings will be different between film and digital. If the subject is wearing white, like a wedding gown, the white will not look nice in digital, as it would on film.

All in all, film is the winner. I have heard, and the science supports it, that digital will have to get up to something like 200 megapixels to match the quality of film. And there is a long way to go until we get to that point.


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11/13/2003 12:15:52 PM

Wayne Attridge   I had an interesting discussion with a geezer camera guy at our local camera shop. They sell new and used equipment, but the used film camera market is beginning to dry up. He and I agree that film is still superior to digital photography. I mentioned that I ran into a wedding photographer who shoots 100% digital. My friend remarked that the marketplace and not necessarily the absolute quality is what is driving this revolution. He offered that most people who have only owned a $25 point and shoot camera would love the quality presented by the digital cameras. At worst it is far better than anything they have ever shot. He has a good point. Not everyone is as fussy as we are.

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11/13/2003 6:29:04 PM

Tony Sweet
Tony's Photo Courses:
2-Week Short Course: A Quick Start to Adding More 'Pop' to Your Images
  Everything goes around.

In about 100 years, they'll be this genius who'll be using the new thing called film.

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11/15/2003 6:39:41 AM

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