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Film V Digital photography - would you Adam 'n' Eve it?

Discussion in 'Weekly Poll' started by Damien_Demolder, Apr 18, 2007.

  1. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I'm sitting here making MP3 disks according to the instructions kindly given to me by kind members of this forum. These puns are making my eyes
    over so I'm
    a protest before
    pun rage and
    you all to be crazy.

  2. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Well-Known Member

    Er, then what was all that line pairs per mm business and why did anyone use Kodak Tech-pan or larger format cameras? Some of us have always had to worry about resolution.
  3. Lounge Lizard

    Lounge Lizard Well-Known Member

    Even if only a New Year resolution. :D
  4. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    Please please don't start another punny chain or I'll be broken.

  5. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    I take your point, but as amateurs, we only had the choice of fast or slow, colour or black and white, transparency or negative films. Resolution didn't come into it, and I doubt that many amateurs would be able to tell you how many line pairs per millimetre they could achive.

    For those who required higher quality, there was the option of medium or large format, although until recently, MF was very much a professional tool and far too expensive for personal use.

    Lets put it another way; if I asked the question "what maximum resolution a given film could or should be scanned to?", I doubt that I would get too many definitive answers. :)

    Go on someone, suprise me, becasue I would really like to know :)
  6. AGW

    AGW Well-Known Member

    So if the final output is the printed image, then 37%+14%= 51% prefered the digital route- at least in part.

    This argument simply highlights that the questions were not clearly defined. Depending on the individuals style of photography the questions are open to a range of interpretations...

  7. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I'm lazy. I know that film is best, Ilford for monochrome, and Fuji for colour, and film plus my Nikon Super Colourscan 5000 gets the best of both worlds. But. But a D200 and 18-200VR, which is only occasionally exchanged for a 105 macro VR or Sigma 10-20 is very very convenient. I have used the 105 on my D100 with Velvia 100 and it is undoubtedly superb, but as I said I am lazy, so it has to be a special photographic occasion to bother. For pictures amongst friends or just to record other activities, good digital wins. I even use a Canon 710IS point and shoot sometimes.
  8. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    C'mon, don't be shy. Show us your metol. :D
  9. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    Anyone who knows what a poll is would understand that. Just because n number of people think something, doesn't make them right. That's the whole problem with 'democratic' things...
  10. AJUK

    AJUK Well-Known Member

    I have been told before that drum scanning film can give better quality than a direct print, I can't figure out how that could be possible.
  11. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    Drum scanners were always said to produce better results than normal scanners, especially on larger format films (and hence were widely used by publishers), but I don't know whether this still holds true.

    As for whether they can produce better results than an enlarger, I suppose it depends how good the software and printer is, but I would be sceptical myself.

    It is not widely known that Cibachrome (now Ilfochrome) can be printed electronically (using a laser printing system), and produces stunning results. There is also a competing system on the block, but I cannot remember what it is called for the moment.

    I saw some images at Joe Cornish's exhibition in Hartlepool recently which were produced by this technique, and the results were amazing.
  12. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Lambda prints? I've heard they are stunning too...from Tim IIRC.
  13. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    Hi Andrew,
    I don't think they were called Lambda prints (that sounds like an oxygen sensor from a car), but those at Joe's exhibition were huge, and had a gloss you could walk into.

    They were produced by a firm in Newcastle, but I daresay there are others.
  14. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I voted digital, but it's really not that simple....

    I reckon the lowest quality method is clearly film and scanning - assuming 35mm film, and assuming standard-ish digital SLRs. I used to shoot Velvia, and scan it with my MultiPro at 4800 samples per inch - now that gave decent results, but certainly not as good as a projected slide, nor as an Ilfochrome print. But just shooting on Velvia was always very limiting, so I used to shoot a fair bit on Provia 400F, and some uprated to EI 1600. Much the same went for B&W - I shot on Pan F, mostly on HP5, and also on Delta 3200. Now shooting on a 5D, I reckon that Velvia still wins, but by the time I get to ISO 400, digital wins out on quality. So overall, I reckon it's just about a win for digital. Just about. And at the other end of the scale, digital compacts typically produce better prints than cheap film compacts allied to cheap D&P.

    So I still shoot a little 35mm, and a fair bit of 120.
  15. pilliwinks

    pilliwinks Well-Known Member

    I'm one of the 14%.

    I admit I have limited experience to enable me to make an informed decision based on all the variables. I've been a film user for just over 50 years (I started young, aged about 6), and don't own a digital camera, although I have examined the results from my wife's DSLR. I have no experience of the quality possible from a full frame SLR, although magazine illustrations across two pages from a Canon left me thinking the resolution wasn't something that I would be satisifed with. I have absolutely no hope of ever owning a large format digital back, as I have no rich relatives about to leave me a fortune, and I don't do the pools or the lottery, so any first hand experience is out.

    My experience is in black and white film, more or less exclusively. I last used colour (negative) film three years ago. I usually use 5x4, but sometimes use 6x7.

    My answer was based on what I personally can achieve. I bought my first enlarger in 1961, and still have a permanent darkroom. But the ease of contrast adjustment and precision dodging and burning possible with a digital file beats anything I can manage conventionally. More skilled printers may have a different view.

    Scanning from 6x7 and 5x4 makes it easier to achieve good quality than 35mm, and I believe from my own experience that the detail and resolution possible even from a 50 year old lens on 5x4 far exceeds that which a modern DSLR (with half frame sensor) gives.

    And I do know the manufacturer's quoted resolution figures for the films I use (PanF, FP4, Acros). I assumed everyone who was serious about their photography read the manufacturer's data sheets...
  16. Damien_Demolder

    Damien_Demolder Well-Known Member

    I'm one of the 14 too. Perhaps we should start our own club. We could call it 14%

  17. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately I missed the poll (doh!), but am also a 14 percenter. I did a small test last month of images of a plant growing up a stone wall out of a pithari (greek earternware pot). I used a 35mm loaded with Fuji Reala, 50mm/1.4 Zeiss Planar and scanned at 5400 dpi, and my mate used his Nikon D2Xs with Sigma 30mm/1.4. The images were then given a 10% crop and printed at A3+ borderless on the same printer (Epson R1800). Superficially, the Nikon shot looked sharper, but on closer examination the very fine hairs on the stem of the plant were not present. They were visible on the 35mm scan.

    Not a very scientific test, as the lenses used were not the same, but it did get me a couple of beers ( :D ) and some minor bragging rights! :eek: :D
  18. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Well-Known Member

    But why else did people use slower films, and scrimp and save for better lenses if not to get better resolution?

    I still couldn't give you an accurate resolution figure for my film work, but then I couldn't for my digital work either. In the latter case I could tell you how many megapixels the cameras have, but we are all starting to learn that this can be a pretty meaningless figure. Not all pixels are equal and a picture taken with a below par lens onto an overpopulated noisy sensor can end up being much lower resolution than images taken with a good lens onto a lower megapixel, but better, sensor. I could, though, give you relative values. In other words what kit and technique will get the highest resolution results in a given set of circumstances.

    In fairness to your general point, though, resolution is probably fairly irrelevant (within limits) to the general photographer, who will be more interested in the overall look of the image. Indeed there are circumstances, such as portrait work, where photographers have long tended to deliberately sabotage the resolution of their images, for atmosphere or to flatter a sitter, by using soft focus and/or unnecessarily high film speed/digital ISO settings, to increase grain/noise.
  19. TerryS

    TerryS Well-Known Member

    Damien_Demolder wrote:
    I voted for digital because, quite simply, I get better end results (prints) using digital than I used to get using film. Certainly I consider that a like-for-like (in terms of 'sensor' size) comparison of digital and film shows the former to be much better. For example, the Olympus E-1 DSLR has a 4/3rd sensor that is (within a mm or two) the same size and aspect ratio as 110 film. My prints from the E-1 are far better than the prints from my old Pentax 110 film SLR (which was a lovely little camera). Similarly, my prints from DSLRs with APS-C sensors (Nikon D100, Canon 10D/20D/30D) are far better than the prints from my old Canon EOS IX7 APS film SLR. Likewise, on those occasions when I have had the opportunity to use DSLRs with full-frame 35mm sensors (Canon 5D/1Ds) then I have found the results to be better than those from my old 35mm film SLRs - and this has been backed up (to my satisfaction) by just about all the tests and comparisons that I have seen in magazines.

    What particularly amazes me with digital is the high quality of images from digital compacts (and some camera-phones) with tiny sensors that have diagonal dimensions of just a few mm - they far surpass the quality that could be achieved using film of such diminutive size. Indeed, many years ago I had a tiny Minox film camera; although its negatives were very small they were still larger (if I recall correctly) than the sensors in most modern digicams yet prints from the latter are vastly better than those from my old Minox.

    In just about every respect I prefer the prints from my Canon 30D DSLR (with its APS-C sensor) compared to those produced by my 35mm film cameras. In my opinion the 30D yields cleaner and more detailed prints, particularly at high ISO. This is especially true when the film prints come from large-scale high street or postal film processors (as used by most people) - film prints will almost certainly be improved by using specialised commercial processors or by careful home-processing. Possibly the one measure of image quality where (negative) film still wins over digital is dynamic range (the ubiquitous digital blown highlights), but even this can be largely remedied in digital by capturing images in raw format and using appropriate (raw) conversion software to retrieve highlight and shadow detail.

    Damien_Demolder wrote:
    That is certainly not how I perceive shooting on film and scanning - on the contrary, I view it as a very bad compromise that yields the worst of both worlds! I guess that it all depends on your style of photography and subject matter. I shot film (mostly 35mm) for about 30 years, but (for me) the principal advantages of digital are: 1) the freedom to experiment and shoot large numbers of frames without worrying about the cost each time the shutter is released; 2) the immediacy of viewing the results and being able to check the captured photograph, and 3) the ability to vary ISO from shot-to-shot, thus allowing ISO to become a third degree of freedom (alongside shutter speed and aperture) when calculating exposure.

    Shooting on film and scanning offers none of these advantages, however it does require spending time on a computer and the (inevitable) loss of image quality introduced during the scanning (digitisation/quantization) process, which (for me) are the principal disadvantages of digital. Thus I view shooting on film and scanning as combining all the disadvantages of film with all the disadvantages of digital! And without introducing any new benefits! Moreover, all the tests that I have seen suggest that direct digital capture yields better image quality than does film scanning (one of the first such tests of which I am aware appeared in the UK magazine 'Professional Photographer' three or so years ago which produced unequivocal results in favour of digital).

  20. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    Mmmm; I would say better overall 'quality', rather than better 'resolution' per se. :)

    Whilst some of us used Kodachrome 25 and 64 some of the time, we also used 100 and even 400 ASA films if we were not too woried about grain, but did not loose out too noticably on 'resolution'. Indeed, some of the slower films were so contrasty that they were of limited use; especially with OM prime lenses.

    I think the difference [between digi and film] is that the lack of quality/resolution/shadow detail in an over-enlarged digital image tends to be far more visible than it is from film.

    I suspect the problem is that digital images tend to be so razor sharp, especially when sharpened in software, that any shortcoming becomes very obvious as the image is enlarged.

    So, for example, if one prints a low resolution digital file to a large size (say A3 or bigger), the individual pixels start to become visibe, whereas film just gets gradually softer and grainier.

    Also, on the point of scanning film, I find that modern scanners, with their high resolution, actually tend to excasserbate film grain, which would probaly not be visible if the same image was printed onto photographic paper with an enlarger. This is overcome to some extent by grain reducing software, but this tends to soften images if used too keenly.

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