What I'm having a hard time understanding is why color is so terrible with DSLR's and MFDB's. And why manufacturers don't offer more options when it comes to color reproductions (styles or color profiles). I find myself doing selective color manipulations, paint with light, painting in shadowskin-tones, etc that I rarely ever do with film.
With film my stuff looks rather natural. With DSLR's and MFDB's my work suddenly looks all digital flat or freaks out. I have a hard time to find a balance in the colors that is pleasing to me while still looking natural. So I tend to go to far. Sure some customers like that and even book me for that look. But I prefer the rich skintones film provides.
I guess it's hard to talk about colors and feels so some examples if you care:
Unretouched film pic (I like the skintones on this one)
Isn't that kinda amazing? I didn't even need to tune the skintones.
Another film shot. Paint with light and some liquify but no colorchanges
And now the unretouched digital file
And the finished file:
It's painful to see movies with great colors and skintones and then you shoot with a 50k$ MFDB/camera combo or Canon 1Ds level cam and you first need to tweak the RAW settings, then continue to massage the file in photoshop to make it look like my wifes Fuji P&S delivers from the start.
How can it be that the RED One digital video camera outputs a file with pleasing skintones like this and the MFDB needs lots of work to get there?
And the crazy thing is that the base RED ONE costs only 17k$ for the base camera which is quite a bit cheaper than the stil picture MFDB's à la PhaseOne P45+ (which is just a back without the camera). And it shoots 30 frames per second at 12 Megapixels not just 1 shot about every 2 seconds like the p45.
Anyway... back to still photography: Have you ever compared the current covers of fashion mags to the covers a couple years ago? Virtually all look more or less the same today. Very flat and unnatural. Pale skin looks particularly terrible. The same pale person shot on Astia, Provia or whatever film you like looks much richer and healthier. I guess aside from the brightness level of the skin it has a big deal to do with a pleasing color shift in the different tonalities of the skin that is present in film images.
It should be easy for PhaseOne/Leaf/Sinar/Hassy to get some engineers/developers/color dudes to work on PLEASING straight out of camera color profiles, right?
You raise a lot of points and some are valid, some are just the changing of the times.
In regards to magazines and all print, advertising inlcuded, in general there is more post work done and more done outside of the photographer's direction, which means even if you tweaked your raw file to look like nc100, usually the retoucher is taking direction from "their" client hence they are working to the clients color pallete and retouching has become a repeition of what was done before, or done by a competitor that had results.
Now as far as the Red, it seems to shoot a great detailed file, but I doubt seriously if that Peter Jackson image doesn't have some post work done, (if it didn't it honestly needs some).
Just working in non linear editors, regardless of retouching changes the look, from avid to FCP depending on colorspace and preset gammas.
Now the final topic, movies. The movie industry seems to have more standards for effects and color and seems to share more readily. You can walk into technicolor and say, "i want the look of the movie 7 and they'll tell you, shoot _______film, underexpose 1/2 stop and we will process with skip bleach and during the telecine, tweak the reds by -20. (I'm not exact on this, but that is essentially the sceanrio).
Also movies, even B grade movies have a lot of money put into the budget for finish out.
Personally I don't think most digital looks any more or less film like than film, other than we all have the ability to work it harder in post and it's very fast and easy to overwork an image.
Also since we are starting from essentially a clean sheet, we don't have the transpaency or contact sheet to lay next to the computer to try and match how the look nthat was originally generated.
Also most of us work in a closed loop and rarely share beyond our own walls, unlike the cinema industry.
What I do know is digital has put more workload on many photographers where now we are the photographer, film processor, scanner operator and retoucher, or we just hand the raws over to the clients and let them do as they wish which usually produces a more generalistic look.
Still, I find most of the newer processor, lightroom, V4 do a much better job out of the can than the previous conversions from the original cs1, c1, etc.
What I find more difficult with digital than film is I'm working a lot of setups, especially on locaiton it's harder to match the films from the different ambience light and color from each setup.
One thing I've learned to like about V4 is if you select your final images they can all be brought up into a window side by side and you can tweak each one individully to match the previous and subsequent image. (Maybe lightroom does this also).
To me a lot of films seemed a little dumber (which is good) than digital and picked up less ambient bounce.
I think the hardest thing for the manufacturer's is to get a common read from thier users.
On one hand some want a linear file with nothing added, just a flat image they can work deep, while others want a certain "film look" right out of the camera or straight into the converter.
What I don't understand is why there are not generic films that are trully embbed as "looks".
I know some converters have these but few seem as consistent and as close of a match as the name might suggest.