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Digital or Film (the oldest, newest question in the book)

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by TMcG1959, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. TMcG1959

    TMcG1959 New Member

    My first post......

    As a vintage, amateur photographer, who knows all about the fun of chemicals, film, enlargers and groping around in the dark with film spools, I managed to start setting some money aside to buy a digital camera before I reach the ripe old age of 60yrs. I learned all the basic some 30years ago with Rolleiflex T and a Nikon FM2. The Nikon was sold to fund the purchase of a second TLR, a Rolleiflex 3,5f.

    These beautiful cameras are sitting on a shelf looking rather sad and as my savings start to increase I've started to doubt whether it not it makes sense to buy a digital camera or start taking film seriously again. Does it make sense nowadays to buy roll film and pay out costly processing when I can get instant results with no film at all on a Canon or Nikon DSLR.

    Who can convince me......
  2. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Given the value of nice Fs and Ts these days, you could get rather a nice DSLR for them...

    I personally consider the 3.5 F to be the finest camera ever made, but mine tend to sit on that shelf far too much these days.
    Andrew Flannigan likes this.
  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    It isn't quite instant results if you want prints at the end of the day. I keep putting off taking my 6x6 out of the bag where it has been since 2007 when I bought a Canon 5D (35 mm equivalent) but it hasn't happened. If you choose a camera that you like using then I think you will enjoy digital. Don't forget computer and monitor and software are obligatory "extras" but most people have 2/3 anyway.
  4. TMcG1959

    TMcG1959 New Member

    I have all the extras already, MacBook, LightRoom and Photoshop. The Rolleiflex cameras won't be sold but I guess will be passed on to sons or grandchildren eventually.
  5. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I wish I knew what happened to my grandfather's rolleiflex and his negative collection. After he was forced to retire on health grounds (he had a serious addiction to Senior-Service, which did for his ticker) he did quite a lot of documentary work of the welsh coast and industry in the early 60's and covered some things for the western mail working out of aberdovey. I'd love to see the pictures again of how it was before tourism really hit.
    Zou likes this.
  6. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    Nothing to prevent you using both at various times. I put the occasional roll through a Nikon film body and bought a Pentax 645 film camera last year.

    I also am finding quite a lot of enjoyment in scanning negatives and transparencies taken in the eighties and nineties, primarily with a Mamiya 645.
  7. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    You don't say if you have a darkroom now: if I did, I'd be tempted to try some monochrome development and printing.
    Otherwise, I'd go digital. I don't have a darkroom (but I did many years ago before, settling on Kodachrome 200 until I could no longer buy it 2007), and kept my 35 mm SLR and some lenses when I got a DSLR in 2007. Six years later I part-exchanged it because I'd not used it since getting the DSLR.

    If you plan to get decent large prints done from a digital camera (I now use CEWE and am happy with the results), you may find a long 'learning curve' as you find your own way to process RAW files to get the best JPG versions for printing.
    Unless you can get a perfect JPG file straight from the camera, working from the RAW file can often get better results for printing, particularly for larger sizes.

    If you do go digital, consider carefully the maximum size prints you will want to get done. For example, my 16 megapixel DSLR has produced files that print well to 40 x 60 cm, and acceptably well to 50 x 75 cm. So there's not much point in paying for 40+ megapixels if you only print to 20 x 30 cm, for example.
  8. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    I recall you mentioning this before, Pete, and I still say that you should be using that 6x6. ;) :D
  9. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    The thing about digital is that you have a higher initial cost but much reduced running costs. I take over 10,000 images a year, if I used slide film that would cost between £3,000 and £6,000. If I shot colour negatives it might be nearer £3,000. I can buy a digital camera and lens for, say, half that and then I still have money for printing etc. In practice I might buy a camera every four or five years and I have lenses, some dating back to 1990, so my costs are way below that of using film. My success rate on some subjects is way higher too.

    Film is a different experience and much of the enjoyment is in the darkroom however, darkroom work is solitary and somewhat anti-social. The question is, do you want to go out and take photographs or do you want to get tactile with film, chemicals, enlarger and paper. I doubt I could afford to run a film system and take 10,000 images a year.
    RogerMac likes this.
  10. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I know. I was pondering buying me a scanner, some chemicals and FP4 for christmas but bought my wife a 3 light rotalite kit for her table top stuff instead
    peterba likes this.
  11. neilt3

    neilt3 Well-Known Member

    Time to start dropping hints for your next birthday/Christmas maybe ?

    Bit of lens cleaning and rubbing a bit of neatsfoot oil on the leather , muttering things like "I'd love to use this more , if only i had a decent scanner...." ;)
    peterba likes this.
  12. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    I use film for monochrome.......bulk loaded, home processed 35mm is very economical. I scan the negatives. Since digital came along, I have been able to acquire desirable film cameras at very reasonable prices.
    peterba likes this.
  13. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    NOW you're talking! :D
  14. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I've not exposed any film for more than 2 years. I keep thinking I ought to part with my film gear (2 Hasselblad bodies and 2 Canon FD bodies) but then I think I don't need the loot and I might go out with them one day... :(
    peterba likes this.
  15. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Well-Known Member

    I currently only shoot digital, but I do intend to go back to film. My 5x4 camera is certainly hoping to get some use & there's no way I can afford a digital back for it!

    Film can be rather expensive, £10 a shot is apparently not untypical with 5x4 using the better quality films. As a chemist I'm inclined to try out some of the historical processes first - but probably not daguerreotypes.
    peterba likes this.
  16. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    You could try medium format, instead. The best price I've found for Kodak Portra works out at a purchase price of about £0.45 per frame (plus developing, of course).

    From what Andrew said in post #14, you might even be able to buy one of his Hasselblads! ;) :)
  17. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Not yet. Someone might sell me a CV39 cheaply... :confused:
    peterba likes this.
  18. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    Hmmmmmmmm........ yes, someone might.

    It probably depends on your definition of "cheaply"... :eek:
  19. neilt3

    neilt3 Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure which film your referring to at £10 per shot , unless you include your petrol cost's to get to where your going to get the shots !

    I shoot quite a bit of film , 35mm , 120 and 5x4 , and I am just starting with 7x5 .

    In 5x4 the main film I use is Fomapan 200 exposed at ISO 125 ; https://shop.silverprint.co.uk/Fomapan-200-5x4-Inch-50-Sheets/product/55993/V11374/ , at around £33 for a box of 50 , that's about 66p per shot plus chemicals .
    I always have a liter of stop and a liter of fixer mixed up ready , both of these chemicals are fairly cheap . for developer , I usually use Rodinal .
    I buy it in a 500mm softpack from Firstcall Photographic ; https://www.firstcall-photographic....eveloper-rodinal-formula-500ml-softpack/p3770 . You can get it cheaper in a bottle , and there are many developers to chose from , but I like it , and the softpack allows you to squeeze out all the air before replacing the lid . Rodinal doesn't seem to go off either .

    However you want to look at it , I still only pay about £1 per 5x4 shot .

    If you prefer Ilford films , one such as FP4 plus ; https://www.firstcall-photographic.co.uk/ilford-fp4-plus-4-x-5in-iso-125-pack-of-25/p973 would cost you £48 for 25 sheets . So £1.92 per shot plus chems . Total , maybe £2.30 per shot ?

    A film a really like to shoot is Rollei Infrared 400s . https://www.firstcall-photographic.co.uk/rollei-infrared-400s-4-x-5-in-iso-400-25-sheets/p6689
    Not a film for everyone , I use this in all formats . With the Infrared filter fitted to block out visible light , you take a meter reading of ISO 6 .
    At £32 for 25 sheets , that's £1.28 per shot , or around £1.60 with chemicals .

    ***EDIT; just to add , with film I tend to just shoot B&W , I do have some Kodak Portra in 5x4 , and have used quite a bit in 120 . Shooting with Sony a900 full frame camera , 35mm colour doesn't really give me anything extra . The only time i tend to have 35mm in colour loaded is when I've only taken out a manual focus camera such as a Minolta X500 and a couple of prime lenses , i will have a second body loaded ( so 1 B&W , 1 colour ) so I don't need to take a mirror-less camera or DSLR out with me , with extra lenses and weight for colour work .
    Colour 5x4 is much more expensive ; https://www.firstcall-photographic.co.uk/kodak-ektar-100-4-x-5-iso-100-pack-of-10-sheets/p3927 at around £65 for 10 sheets , and if your paying someone to develop it for you , that's what jumps the price up .
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  20. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Well-Known Member

    I do have a few medium format cameras too, but nothing as expensive as a blad. So far they've only been used for through the viewfinder shots. To me they don't have the extra level of control that makes LF apealling to play with.
    peterba likes this.

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