Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Cameras, Lenses and Shooting gear => Topic started by: kirktuck on April 24, 2009, 10:32:12 am

Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: kirktuck on April 24, 2009, 10:32:12 am
I've tested three different MF systems over the last year.  I'm sticking with film.  In fact I just bought another Rollei body.

Here's why: http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2009/...t-shooting.html (http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2009/04/why-do-i-keep-talking-about-shooting.html)

[attachment=13219:michelle...to_print.jpg]
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: gss on April 24, 2009, 11:09:14 am
I think you make some very good points.  Shoot whatever makes you shoot best and whatever makes you happiest.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: ddk on April 24, 2009, 11:19:32 am
Quote from: kirktuck
I've tested three different MF systems over the last year.  I'm sticking with film.  In fact I just bought another Rollei body.

Here's why:  http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/ (http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/)

[attachment=13219:michelle...to_print.jpg]


Such a beautiful portrait, amazing either way!
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: usathyan on April 24, 2009, 12:55:08 pm
Beautiful image....Why 2 attachments of the same image? or are they from different cameras?
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: thierrylegros396 on April 24, 2009, 01:04:44 pm
Take a look at the News, please !

14 April, 2009 - So You Think Medium Format Digital is Easy?

Joseph Holmes is one of the pickiest photographers that I know of. He's a talented and widely published and collected landscape photographer, and is a highly respected inventor and patent holder in the field of digital imaging.

Joe is among a group of well known landscape photographers, including Bill Atkinson, Charlie Cramer, Mark Dubovoy, Tim Wolcott, and Michael Reichmann who previously worked with large format film and who now shoot with medium format digital Phase One backs in the 39MP – 60MP range on a mix of Hasselblad, Mamiya / Phase One, and technical camera bodies.

We are all driven by one compulsion – to achieve better than large format image quality – which we mostly do, but regretably not all of the time.

Being an absolute stickler for precision, and more importantly knowing how to achieve it, Joe has now written two articles on what's involved in achieving the absolute best from the latest generation of medium format digital systems.

These articles are currently available on Joe's site. The first is titled MEDIUM FORMAT DIGITAL CAMERA OPTICAL PRECISION while the second is GETTING TOP QUALITY FROM MEDIUM FORMAT.

Read 'em and weep!
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: PLLove on April 24, 2009, 01:14:13 pm
Quote from: kirktuck
I've tested three different MF systems over the last year.  I'm sticking with film.  In fact I just bought another Rollei body.

Here's why:  http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/ (http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/)

[attachment=13219:michelle...to_print.jpg]

Wow!  You make me wanna put a film back on my 645!  Very nice!
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Guillermo Luijk on April 24, 2009, 02:10:05 pm

Interesting what you say about the focus fall off. Anyway that is not a characteristic of digital vs film, but about format size.

Regards.

Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: pss on April 24, 2009, 02:58:39 pm
nothing beats  8x10...starting with the polaroid....but who wants to pay for it and deal with the hassle...

i really don't care either way, shoot with what you like and what gets you the results....

the only way to really compare would be a completely analog to completely digital workflow....film, darkroom, analog print compared to digital capture and inkjet (or comparable) output.....i have worked with both and everything in between and it is digital all the way....there is just no way to maintain a completely analog workflow these days unless you shoot fine art for galleries only....

we are in a time when the photos of the wedding appear online before the wedding is over....i am not saying that is good or that the photos are any good, that is just the way that is.....in terms of any commercial application.....

but i have always said that i hope there will always be a small niche market for people who simply prefer and will only shoot film....i just think it is funny when these people shoot for magazines....
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Plekto on April 24, 2009, 03:09:22 pm
I also have decided to stick with film, but only for black and white.  There's something about it that digital can't replicate yet for any sort of reasonable price(yes I know a couple of dedicated b/w DBs have been made - can't possibly afford one or find one FS though).  Color - well, color on film and digital has always been a giant set of tradeoffs and kludges.  

I also like my old Rollei.  It's dead simple and works. Note - it DOES take great color, but no better than a typical DSLR.  And, of course, tons tons TONS slower than digital.  But the results are amazing.

btw - what film are you using there?
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Quentin on April 24, 2009, 06:28:13 pm
Quote from: kirktuck
I've tested three different MF systems over the last year.  I'm sticking with film.  In fact I just bought another Rollei body.

Here's why:  http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/ (http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/)

[attachment=13219:michelle...to_print.jpg]

It would be very sad if film died out.  But it is perfectly possible to mimic any film effect you care to think of in a modern digital workflow.  And what is the point of medium format film if the end result requires it to be scanned and thus converted to a digital medium?  

We miss the look of film, but its mainly nostalgia.

Quentin
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: kirktuck on April 24, 2009, 06:57:11 pm
The reason is that film has many non linear attributes and some defects that make it less perfect and more appealing than digital.  The gist of the blog is a nod to the idea that bigger format equals nicer lens effects but the thing that researchers find consistently in studying social and anthropological assessments of beauty have to do with imperfections.  The lack of grain in digital is actually disturbing on a subconscious level.

And,  digital is not really easier.  Who will still want to shoot 8x10?  Artists who don't want to compromise.  Not everyone must have client approval for every workflow consideration.......







Quote from: Quentin
It would be very sad if film died out.  But it is perfectly possible to mimic any film effect you care to think of in a modern digital workflow.  And what is the point of medium format film if the end result requires it to be scanned and thus converted to a digital medium?  

We miss the look of film, but its mainly nostalgia.

Quentin
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: lensfactory on April 24, 2009, 11:31:15 pm
I think you could easily have just said "film still rules".
I also shoot digital (5d, L lenses etc.)but my old slide scans just pop off the screen/page in a way that I don't get from digital. For art...this informs the way I shoot...in that 'content' is very important to me now (sort of like how the 'script' is most important in a digital movie), rather than just the aesthetic/IQ of the tone and color.
I may actually be going backwards...lol...in that I plan to get a MF film camera to cart around with me (even when I just have my LX3 or E420 'beater' cameras) to capture the occasional shot I think worthwhile.
You mentioned Rollie..which one?
Can anyone suggest a good film MF that isnt TOO large. There's that rangefinder one with the mamiya lenses that looks nice (the name eludes me right now), but they are  a bit pricey.
Which ones have very nice lenses but are going cheap?
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Bobtrips on April 25, 2009, 12:13:42 am
Quote from: kirktuck
The reason is that film has many non linear attributes and some defects that make it less perfect and more appealing than digital.  The gist of the blog is a nod to the idea that bigger format equals nicer lens effects but the thing that researchers find consistently in studying social and anthropological assessments of beauty have to do with imperfections.  The lack of grain in digital is actually disturbing on a subconscious level.

And,  digital is not really easier.  Who will still want to shoot 8x10?  Artists who don't want to compromise.  Not everyone must have client approval for every workflow consideration.......

You left a lot of "to me"s out of that post.  For example "make it...more appealing to me" and "lack of grain ... is actually disturbing to me.

There's nothing absolute about beauty.  The standards of what is beautiful changes over time and are different from culture to culture.  Most likely you learned your personal requirements for attributing beauty from your interactions with those around you.  And, apparently, you learned to judge film-produced images as "beautiful".  Especially if they were grainy.  

Think for a moment about those who are now growing up in the digital age.  Most of them will see few film-produced images, or at least the ratio between digital and film images will be extremely one-sided.  Their "beauty" is going to be seen through the 'digital filter', not film.

The film images that they might see will likely be produced by "older" people who don't share their cultural experiences.  Grain is likely to be a cue that implies "old fashioned", just as we now find ourselves tricked by a sepia image without any obvious modern elements that place it in modern times.  What is beautiful to you might well be "quaint" to those who follow.  I expect grain will join sepia toning as a part of the past.  

While I shot film for 40 years or so, I've shot only digital for the last 10.  I had a couple of interesting experiences looking at other people's photographs recently.  In one, landscapes shot with film I was a bit taken back by the unnatural way things faded away as one approached white.  I've come to expect a more abrupt transition.  

The second experience was following the link from someone who was bragging about how superior his images were over digital. I looked, and I saw weird.  Kodachrome.  It just doesn't capture the world as I see it. It looked like someone had had 'unnatural relations' with the sliders.

Nothing wrong with the way film does it, but it no longer looks natural, the way things should look,  to my eyes.  I suspect my old eyes might be telling of what is to come in future judgments of  what is a beautiful image.

(BTW, symmetry seems to play a positive role in judging beauty.  It seems to relate to good health.  So in this case, it would seem that our culture has learned to use non-imperfection as an attraction.)


 
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: micek on April 25, 2009, 07:05:39 am
Quote
Can anyone suggest a good film MF that isnt TOO large

Bronica RF645.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: elf on April 25, 2009, 12:55:18 pm
Quote from: kirktuck
I've tested three different MF systems over the last year.  I'm sticking with film.  In fact I just bought another Rollei body.

Here's why:  http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/ (http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/)

[attachment=13219:michelle...to_print.jpg]

If you follow your argument to its logical conclusion, you will find your ideal camera is an MF Holga
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: kirktuck on April 25, 2009, 01:23:56 pm
Film based photography is old fashioned and smooth clean color is all the matters?

No.  Not just to me.  But to a new generation of kids raised on digital who are now clamoring to use film.  Bob, you seem to have the need to make digital the end all and be all of imaging and you've dragged this over from your same kind of responses on DPreview.  People really do study concepts of beauty and people's responses to visual stimuli.  Not just old people who've been all over the world and seen real art.  Not just uninformed young people with no standard of reference.  But scientists who show images to real people and register biometric changes, etc.  And they make objective conclusions that are different than what you've come up with.

You are entitled to your opinion about what you think of as beauty but let's not make this a generational issue.  I'm not that old.  And, as I state in the blog, I've been an early digital adapter (1997)  and have played with Photoshop since the beginning.  That's pre-digital capture.

If we follow your argument to its logical conclusion then no art older than five minutes ago is relevant and everything is totally subjective. Given that kind of argument it is impossible to even debate.

Film is a wonderful medium.  Digital doesn't suck nearly as badly as it used to.  Get over it.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Quentin on April 25, 2009, 01:25:57 pm
Quote from: kirktuck
The lack of grain in digital is actually disturbing on a subconscious level.

And,  digital is not really easier.  Who will still want to shoot 8x10?

Adding "grain" is easy in post processing.  I sometimes add a touch.

As for 8x10, I have an 8x10 camera and very occasionaly I use it.

Quentin
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Bobtrips on April 25, 2009, 02:06:27 pm
Quote from: kirktuck
Film based photography is old fashioned and smooth clean color is all the matters?

No.  Not just to me.  But to a new generation of kids raised on digital who are now clamoring to use film.  Bob, you seem to have the need to make digital the end all and be all of imaging and you've dragged this over from your same kind of responses on DPreview.  People really do study concepts of beauty and people's responses to visual stimuli.  Not just old people who've been all over the world and seen real art.  Not just uninformed young people with no standard of reference.  But scientists who show images to real people and register biometric changes, etc.  And they make objective conclusions that are different than what you've come up with.

You are entitled to your opinion about what you think of as beauty but let's not make this a generational issue.  I'm not that old.  And, as I state in the blog, I've been an early digital adapter (1997)  and have played with Photoshop since the beginning.  That's pre-digital capture.

If we follow your argument to its logical conclusion then no art older than five minutes ago is relevant and everything is totally subjective. Given that kind of argument it is impossible to even debate.

Film is a wonderful medium.  Digital doesn't suck nearly as badly as it used to.  Get over it.

Kirk - please go back and read what I wrote while not wearing your "film rules!" goggles.  I have absolutely no need "to have the need to make digital the end all and be all of imaging" and I challenge you to produce anything, from any forum, to support your charge.

Then give this thread a read and watch for examples of how tastes change over time.  

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....showtopic=33995 (http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=33995)

Now it may be that there are a some "kids" who are experimenting with film.  But that's irrelevant to how film shots will be considered in the future by the greater viewing audience.  A couple hundred, even a few hundred new film shooters pales compared to the billions of people who are regularly seeing mainly digital photos.  Like it or not, there is a new standard for what an image looks like.  Images made by alternative methods, be that film or pencil, are just going to be rare and "not normal".

We use cues that are media-produced in addition to content to make judgments about the 'age' of things we see.  Manuscript ages are initially judged by splotches of ink dropped from quills, by mis-aligned or partial absent letters from typewriters, from "dotty" letters from inkjets, ....  Film's characteristic differences will no doubt cast a message of "yesteryear" over future film images for the vast majority of the audience.

 
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Rob C on April 25, 2009, 04:11:13 pm
Why is it that the moment somebody articulates a liking for something, the instant reaction from some quarters is to try and knock that personīs position into the sand?

I am perfectly happy that someone prefers film in roll to digital capture; I am equally pleased that another thinks digital is the only game in town. Why would I choose to argue with either since it makes not a jot of difference to my life?

Asked to join sides, I would have to put a hesitant toe into both camps without committing weight to either foot. As I see it, film has a history of development (npi) that has brought it to a plateau where it will probably remain until it is no longer produced (I speak in terms of b/w film). Digital, on the other side of things, is relatively new and constantly being changed, tweaked and re-configured; I believe it to be far from anywhere near its peak yet, and because of that belief, I have my doubts that the future lies with MF digital. Nobody in his right mind wants to carry more weight and inconvenience around with him than he needs, unless, of course, his photography is all about impressing his fellow snapper, in which case I wish him the sore back he will grow to regret.

In favour of film (120) I would cite the beauty of the stock I used to use every day: TXP120. Developed 1+1 in D76 and rated 320ASA it covered just about every situation you chose to throw at it. As I write, I think of a shot currently hanging in the bedroom of my two kids back in the 70s - it was a film-finisher run off at the end of a commercial shoot and was on a 500C or CM through a 150 Sonnar wide open. Just a grab, it still looks beautiful today and the Kodak WSG has not lost an iota of quality. I would like to dream that should I live that long again, I could feel as pleased with stuff I print on Hahnemuehle Rag today! So what about digital, then? Well, my black/white prints certainly look more dramatic in the sense that clouds etc. can be tweaked to resemble imaginary thunderstorms where non existed, but are they any the more beautiful? I donīt know the answer to that - they certainly do look different, but then, in those days, I was working to order and not to please a retired photographer with nothing much better to do anymore. Neither was I shooting clouds or landscapes - it was people.

Digital, in my case, allows a relatively cost-free route to images on paper. If you choose to consider the cost of film to be the only consumable component, of course! Factor in all the real costs of digital and it becomes clear that it is really just a version of the oldest confidence trick in the world: self-deception. On every other item except film, I believe I have spent more money to less effect that ever was the case with analogue photography.

Would I go back to the wet? Had I not broken down the various ingenious devices that I developed over my pre-digital years to create a quickly changing office-to-darkroom scenario, I would have liked to have gone back to MF film and cameras (B/W only), got myself a top-quality scanner but still gone digital in the printing side. However, that is hindsight and there is no way I would finance all that now in retirement - an abuse of my childrensī inheritance comes loudly to mind, as does the wish/need for a new set of wheels as soon as the wretched pound regains it pride against the bleeding €.

But does digital capture bring a smile to my face? Perhaps it does, but mainly as an adjunct to something else, the converting of paintings into photographic images. As for shooting people anymore, I doubt now that it will happen - models donīt do it for free if they are any good, and the continuing cycle that is that vicious circle demands a moneyed client etc. etc. And what else would I shoot with digital? What else interests me now? Not a lot, to tell the truth, and somehow, the idea of just shooting for no better reason than using the equipment seems sort of contrary to the love I have for the medium.

How sweet the lot of the amateur!

Rob C
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Rob C on April 25, 2009, 04:33:48 pm
How odd: I posted twice.

Rob C
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Bobtrips on April 25, 2009, 04:44:58 pm
Quote from: Rob C
Why is it that the moment somebody articulates a liking for something, the instant reaction from some quarters is to try and knock that personīs position into the sand?


Rob C

Rob,  please go back over this thread and show me where anyone tried to knock "that person's position into the sand" when it came to the issue of personal preference.






Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: MarkL on April 25, 2009, 06:56:49 pm
That is a great picture! Clearly MF film works very well for you  

I have shot portraits with MF film and 12 shots on a roll of 120 was killing me. I need a good af system and be able to shoot a good amount of frames - I just don't have the skill with portraits. The depth of field issue isn't a problem for me, f/1.4 with 35mm is more than narrow enough!

I do miss working with film though and still shoot it occasionally.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: barryfitzgerald on April 25, 2009, 09:04:50 pm
Very interesting thread.

I really really like the shot, it's spot on, and a fine one, great stuff. A few points that I will take up.
I have a load of respect for photographers such as Joseph Holmes, excellent photographer..and I enjoy looking at his work. If he feels digital MF is the way to go for his work, then I won't argue with that. We all make choices..it's personal taste.
Neither will I deny I am a bit of a film fan myself, I have started to move over to film for some types of work (landscape/people etc), still use digital for some tasks, in particular digital is a very good tool for low light high ISO work. I am looking into a MF film system, for now I am mostly 35mm based.

Lots of folks say you can photoshop the film look, add the grain (I agree no grain mono portraits don't look right to me). But the reality of using film and digital (and I won't deny I am not using top end bodies), is that I "prefer" the look of film, colour and b&w. The OP is right about highlights, neg film does a fantastic job in this area, it clings onto them very well, while your digital will blow out a lot sooner. I am more an Ilford shooter myself, and I did once try to get the HP5 look in pp, but it's simply easier to shoot the real stuff! You can add the grain..spend ages messing about in post processing..meantime you have it there and ready to go with film. I find my pp workload greatly reduced using film..once you get a grasp of the scanning side of things, it's much easier and faster to get results that are good.

Skintones, again..I have a hard time getting the results I like with digital, pick a decent film..and you have a job to not get them nice!
Exposure, as said the highlight range is excellent, if I want fire and forget tough conditions, I load a roll of FP4 and it's near bulletproof, over or underexposed. People band about these DxO DR numbers..but shoot some of that and discover how it almost renders spot metering ineffective, really..the latitude is that good on it. I'll believe the DR of digital is great when I don't blow highlights out very often..it's ok at times, not so good for difficult contrasty conditions
The look, is completely different with film to digital, colour and mono. Scanned film printed does not look like digital, not at all. That is why people scan film too, though few would disagree for b&w wet printing is the way to go. Film just looks nicer to my eyes, colour and mono.

In closing, to me..people should simply use what they like. But I greatly enjoy film, and I have now gone to a 70% film 30% digital ratio roughly..a year ago it was 95% digital. After only a few rolls of film, and some work on getting up to speed with scanning.and having the concern about non instant feedback, I have overcome that, and dare I say..even get a kick out of having to wait a bit, like xmas for every roll ;-)

Digital is the equivalent of an electric shave, handy..convenient..and decent enough in many cases. Film is a wet shave..ultimately more satisfying in the final result ;-)



Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: kirktuck on April 25, 2009, 09:22:59 pm
Thank you.  You perfectly put in to words what I was trying to say.  All but the most obdurate have started to come around and understand that most small format (35 and less) is like shooting "good enough" not for the look and feel you'd really want to have.




Quote from: barryfitzgerald
Very interesting thread.

I really really like the shot, it's spot on, and a fine one, great stuff. A few points that I will take up.
I have a load of respect for photographers such as Joseph Holmes, excellent photographer..and I enjoy looking at his work. If he feels digital MF is the way to go for his work, then I won't argue with that. We all make choices..it's personal taste.
Neither will I deny I am a bit of a film fan myself, I have started to move over to film for some types of work (landscape/people etc), still use digital for some tasks, in particular digital is a very good tool for low light high ISO work. I am looking into a MF film system, for now I am mostly 35mm based.

Lots of folks say you can photoshop the film look, add the grain (I agree no grain mono portraits don't look right to me). But the reality of using film and digital (and I won't deny I am not using top end bodies), is that I "prefer" the look of film, colour and b&w. The OP is right about highlights, neg film does a fantastic job in this area, it clings onto them very well, while your digital will blow out a lot sooner. I am more an Ilford shooter myself, and I did once try to get the HP5 look in pp, but it's simply easier to shoot the real stuff! You can add the grain..spend ages messing about in post processing..meantime you have it there and ready to go with film. I find my pp workload greatly reduced using film..once you get a grasp of the scanning side of things, it's much easier and faster to get results that are good.

Skintones, again..I have a hard time getting the results I like with digital, pick a decent film..and you have a job to not get them nice!
Exposure, as said the highlight range is excellent, if I want fire and forget tough conditions, I load a roll of FP4 and it's near bulletproof, over or underexposed. People band about these DxO DR numbers..but shoot some of that and discover how it almost renders spot metering ineffective, really..the latitude is that good on it. I'll believe the DR of digital is great when I don't blow highlights out very often..it's ok at times, not so good for difficult contrasty conditions
The look, is completely different with film to digital, colour and mono. Scanned film printed does not look like digital, not at all. That is why people scan film too, though few would disagree for b&w wet printing is the way to go. Film just looks nicer to my eyes, colour and mono.

In closing, to me..people should simply use what they like. But I greatly enjoy film, and I have now gone to a 70% film 30% digital ratio roughly..a year ago it was 95% digital. After only a few rolls of film, and some work on getting up to speed with scanning.and having the concern about non instant feedback, I have overcome that, and dare I say..even get a kick out of having to wait a bit, like xmas for every roll ;-)

Digital is the equivalent of an electric shave, handy..convenient..and decent enough in many cases. Film is a wet shave..ultimately more satisfying in the final result ;-)
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Plekto on April 26, 2009, 03:15:19 am
Quote from: barryfitzgerald
Exposure, as said the highlight range is excellent, if I want fire and forget tough conditions, I load a roll of FP4 and it's near bulletproof, over or underexposed.

I used to like the Kodak stuff back when they still made the slower speeds, but have moved to mostly Ilford as well, having discovered why slide film is so much better than print. It used to be a closer game, but slides are the way to go now with with the advent of DLabs and a move away from optical enlargement., no question about it.  And a 120 slide projector is a glorious thing - like hi-def vs TV.  Always stuns the crowd who's usually expecting some funky old slide show.(and you can use the same HDTV projection screen - bonus!)   Technically I still do like Kodak's look a bit more than Ilford, but slow speed Kodak b/w 120 slide film is unobtanium any more and I don't like shooting ancient stock if I can help it.

The Pan F Plus is superb.  I shoot mostly scenery and static shots, so ISO50 is a godsend to me.  It's basically like black and white Velvia - just stunning results every time.  Provided that you have the light, of course.  

Thankfully, though, black and white seems to be one niche area where they'll make film forever, if only because it's still required for so many other industries as well(x-rays, silkscreen/printing, microfilm, and so on)  Color film, well, if Fuji drops the ball, it's going to be a rough ride.

As for color digital vs color film, like I said, both are a mixed bag with many pros and cons.  But black and white is a clear win for film.  At least for now...

http://www.mega-vision.com/products/Mono/Mono.htm (http://www.mega-vision.com/products/Mono/Mono.htm)
This, though, is superior to black and white film.  Too bad getting one new or used is nearly impossible.(and the price is crushing, to be honest)   Maybe Sigma/Foveon will make a "X1" monochrome sensor some day?   Heh.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: TimG on April 26, 2009, 03:42:19 am
Kirk, I'm part of that younger generation you address in your article.  I started with digital.  I was amazed at all the things I could do in Photoshop.  I liked the idea of RAW and being able to develop my own color palettes.  But over time, digital lost its luster.  I think it started when one of the older generation (now my mentor) took me under his wing and showed me 6x7 transparencies shot with a Mamiya 7.  I think it took a week for the bruises, caused by my jaw dropping to the floor, to heal.

Needless to say, I've never been the same.  I shoot medium format film for all of my commercial and personal work, and couldn't be happier.

Thanks for posting your work.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: kirktuck on April 26, 2009, 10:47:50 am
Tim,

You made my argument and you made my day.  I'll shoot with my D700 and massage the files and have a print done.  Then I'll shoot a nice MF chrome, do a quick, straightforward scan and have a print done.  It almost makes me cry when I see how much better the film product looks and I remember just how much cash I've thrown down a rabbit hole with digital.   I could have paid for a life time of film and processing, and had a better look and nicer cameras....

Thanks, Kirk



Quote from: TimG
Kirk, I'm part of that younger generation you address in your article.  I started with digital.  I was amazed at all the things I could do in Photoshop.  I liked the idea of RAW and being able to develop my own color palettes.  But over time, digital lost its luster.  I think it started when one of the older generation (now my mentor) took me under his wing and showed me 6x7 transparencies shot with a Mamiya 7.  I think it took a week for the bruises, caused by my jaw dropping to the floor, to heal.

Needless to say, I've never been the same.  I shoot medium format film for all of my commercial and personal work, and couldn't be happier.

Thanks for posting your work.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: TimG on April 26, 2009, 11:37:53 am
What makes me want to cry is thinking back how I bought into all the marketing hype surrounding digital at the time, which was still in its infancy.

Hell, I went to an Apple Store event where one of the more active posters to this forum stated a Canon 10D surpassed film.  Like a dope, I believed him, as I'm sure many others who were in attendance at the event did, which is fine.  It's common knowledge he, for all practical purposes, "abandoned" photography for the consulting/speaking/writing circuit a long time ago.  Well, maybe a 10D beats crappy consumer grade film, but years later, I'm pretty sure a 6MP dSLR can't touch a Velvia 50 slide scanned at 4000dpi, and know without a doubt, any monochrome conversion from that camera sure as hell doesn't hold up against TMax or TriX scanned at 4000dpi.

I'd like to think today's crop of 35mm dSLRs can beat consumer grade 35mm film, and come close to, if not match (beat?) pro grade film, but every time my close friend and colleague brings me a roll of TMax she shot with her Leica M6, I continue to have my doubts. Your comment on comparing your D700 files to film confirms my suspicions.  That's part of the reason I haven't invested in a new digital body yet.

It's funny.  I was asked to speak at an event recently, and the first thing the sponsor told me was, "we had a hard time finding pro landscape photographers who were shooting 35mm digital; most were shooting medium format (didn't specify film or digital).  In my mind, I thought (sarcastically), "gee I wonder why?"

Ahh, I guess this just proves wisdom comes with age.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Plekto on April 27, 2009, 02:04:38 am
Quote from: TimG
I'm pretty sure a 6MP dSLR can't touch a Velvia 50 slide scanned at 4000dpi, and know without a doubt, any monochrome conversion from that camera sure as hell doesn't hold up against TMax or TriX scanned at 4000dpi.

120 (6x7)film scanned at even paltry 2000dpi, which is easily below the limit/where grain takes over for Pan X(or Velvia even) is a ~26MP result.  And no moires, either.  2400dpi nets 37MP.

2.362 X 2000DPI = ~4700
2.756 X 2000DPI = ~5500
26MP.  Budget scanner and a film back.

2.362 X 2400DPI = ~5600
2.756 X 2400DPI = ~6600
37MP. Better modern scanner.

Film is really really hard to beat when we're talking about large formats.  You mentioned 4000DPI and you don't need to even exceed 2400dpi to match even the better DBs.

4X5 at even 2000dpi , btw, is 80MP(8000*10000 physical dots).  Truly large formats and even a half-baked scanner setup easily can crush a DB.  For now, at least.  I think digital will surpass film in maybe 10-20 years.  But for now, film still has its place.  And, yes, as TimG mentioned, though they all profess to love tech and digital, a LOT of people still shoot film for scenery and weddings and the like.  My sister's wedding was digital for color but film for the b/w shots.  Guess which ones I requested copies of?  (I honestly love the timeless look of b/w for weddings, especially)
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on April 27, 2009, 03:45:26 am
Quote from: Plekto
120 (6x7)film scanned at even paltry 2000dpi, which is easily below the limit/where grain takes over for Pan X(or Velvia even) is a ~26MP result.  And no moires, either.  2400dpi nets 37MP.

2.362 X 2000DPI = ~4700
2.756 X 2000DPI = ~5500
26MP.  Budget scanner and a film back.

2.362 X 2400DPI = ~5600
2.756 X 2400DPI = ~6600
37MP. Better modern scanner.

Film is really really hard to beat when we're talking about large formats.  You mentioned 4000DPI and you don't need to even exceed 2400dpi to match even the better DBs.

4X5 at even 2000dpi , btw, is 80MP(8000*10000 physical dots).  Truly large formats and even a half-baked scanner setup easily can crush a DB.  For now, at least.  I think digital will surpass film in maybe 10-20 years.  But for now, film still has its place.  And, yes, as TimG mentioned, though they all profess to love tech and digital, a LOT of people still shoot film for scenery and weddings and the like.  My sister's wedding was digital for color but film for the b/w shots.  Guess which ones I requested copies of?  (I honestly love the timeless look of b/w for weddings, especially)

The numbers are fake. You can have a completely out of focus image and scan it at 8000DPI on a drum scanner for 100 megapixels. But it still won't beat a digital p&s for detail. Unless you are comparing resolved detail you cannot compare, especially using the extremely worn and false argument of 'I can scan to X megapixels'. There is no difference whatsoever between scanning at a resolution far above the actual detail present in the image - and uprezzing a digital image to match the amount of 'megapixels'.

I've been stitching for a certain project, getting 30+ megapixel files in the 6X12 format. Went out yesterday, did the shooting in less time that it took to set up and focus my old MPP 4X5 and 6X12 back, got home, while sitting at the computer spent a bit over an hour and had the final images and that's after running the stitching program, doing all the PS dodging and burning and applying the sharpening. Compare that to the faff of dealing with film developing and scanning, the spotting and dealing with the grain, the multiple passes, etc. Oh and I'm getting far better images because I'm not having to stop down to levels where the diffraction kills any resolution benefit of the larger format, I have zero grain even when using iso 800 and I'm not having to deal with the subject movement inherent with using slower film and very small apertures. My point is that I'm getting more detail and sharpness from 34 megapixel stitched files than 6X12 film stopped down to f64-128 (for sufficient DOF) with all the resulting diffraction, grain and subject movement eventhough the scan of the film is technically double or triple the megapixels!
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: TimG on April 27, 2009, 08:59:38 am
Quote from: pom
The numbers are fake. You can have a completely out of focus image and scan it at 8000DPI on a drum scanner for 100 megapixels. But it still won't beat a digital p&s for detail.

Glad to know we're comparing apples to oranges.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: barryfitzgerald on April 27, 2009, 09:45:06 am
I wonder why we end up boiling things down to resolution all the time? Seems kind of odd really, when so many photographers are going for "that look"
I suspect it's simply easier for testers to compare this, but there are so many variables, it's near impossible, different developers, optical v scanning, variations between emulsions are huge.

35mm satisfied most for enlargement quality (I am very satisfied with 18" x 12" and somewhat higher), it was a compromise format, but better than the ill fated disc and 110/APS film. Those who wanted to make "big" prints went MF and some to LF. But the look is there whatever you do. You pick what you want, to suit the work you wish to do.

Frankly I couldn't give a damn what resolution film v digital is, they look completely different. Which is exactly what I am after.
I have started to wonder if we are all running down a tedious road, looking and pixel peeping. Talking about "image quality" is fine, but making quality images is far more satisfying. Use whatever medium you want to..





Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Rob C on April 27, 2009, 09:47:22 am
Quote from: Bobtrips
Rob,  please go back over this thread and show me where anyone tried to knock "that person's position into the sand" when it came to the issue of personal preference.



I might answer this best in photographic terms: have another retrospective look yourself and then, this time, consider the tonality and not the acutance if you want to understand my feeling.

Rob C
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: usathyan on April 27, 2009, 11:07:23 am
This is turning out to be an yet another Record vs CD-ROM thingie...

The new kids on the block will not care much...and pretty soon Film will be forgotten. Left to the photophiles to worry/cherish about...

Remember the Laser Disk?
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: GiorgioNiro on April 27, 2009, 11:11:25 am
Kirk,

Thanks for posting.

Wonderful image, film and the knowledge base required to use it well are no longer perused by many photographers. I am very happy to still have and use my Fuji GX680, it is one camera that I love above all others. That of course is my choice, and I make it when I can, but the reality of working for a living as a photographer dictates otherwise.

Pretty brave of you to make this post here, kudos to you!

Ciao,
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Bobtrips on April 27, 2009, 11:42:42 am
Quote from: barryfitzgerald
I wonder why we end up boiling things down to resolution all the time? Seems kind of odd really, when so many photographers are going for "that look"
I suspect it's simply easier for testers to compare this, but there are so many variables, it's near impossible, different developers, optical v scanning, variations between emulsions are huge.

35mm satisfied most for enlargement quality (I am very satisfied with 18" x 12" and somewhat higher), it was a compromise format, but better than the ill fated disc and 110/APS film. Those who wanted to make "big" prints went MF and some to LF. But the look is there whatever you do. You pick what you want, to suit the work you wish to do.

Frankly I couldn't give a damn what resolution film v digital is, they look completely different. Which is exactly what I am after.
I have started to wonder if we are all running down a tedious road, looking and pixel peeping. Talking about "image quality" is fine, but making quality images is far more satisfying. Use whatever medium you want to..

I think Barry nicely sums things up here.  It's time to let the "resolution thing" go.  We can get as much resolution as we wish from either film or digital.  We've passed the point where film held an advantage.  How one obtains the ability to print fine detail at the desired size is now an issue of personal choice with some limitations presented by subject matter.  (Hard to stitch frames of moving subjects, for example.)  

The decision to shoot film or digital is really about convenience, cost (remember, neither is the least expensive in all conditions), "love of gear", and finally subjective taste.  


Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Bobtrips on April 27, 2009, 11:48:33 am
Quote from: Rob C
Bob - "Rob, please go back over this thread and show me where anyone tried to knock "that person's position into the sand" when it came to the issue of personal preference."

I might answer this best in photographic terms: have another retrospective look yourself and then, this time, consider the tonality and not the acutance if you want to understand my feeling.

Rob C

Ah, you wish me to use my interpretative loupe and peek for your message.  I think I can do that.

Here's what you're saying, I believe -

"After reading Bob's request, I reread the thread's posts and found that I had gone off half-cocked.  But I can't bring myself to admit that, so I'll post some obtuse stuff and hope to weasel out...."

Did I get it right?


Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on April 27, 2009, 12:08:18 pm
If someone brings resolution into the argument then I think it's fair to show that they are wrong. I never suggested that resolution was the be all and end all of photography, but when someone argues the superiority of film based on the amount of megapixels then they are asking for it...
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: filmcapture on April 27, 2009, 01:10:42 pm
Quote from: kirktuck
Tim,

You made my argument and you made my day.  I'll shoot with my D700 and massage the files and have a print done.  Then I'll shoot a nice MF chrome, do a quick, straightforward scan and have a print done.  It almost makes me cry when I see how much better the film product looks and I remember just how much cash I've thrown down a rabbit hole with digital.   I could have paid for a life time of film and processing, and had a better look and nicer cameras....

Thanks, Kirk

While I am still a shooter committed to film, I also started to shoot MF digital. Your 35mm D700 is not MF digital, comparing its files with MF slides is unfair. Pick up a Phase One high-end MF digital back, you'll see big differences ...
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: barryfitzgerald on April 27, 2009, 02:44:55 pm
Another point worth bringing up again, from the blog is the highlight range on film

My biggest grumble digital wise is the limited ability to cope with difficult lighting situations, and blowing out (worse with channels blowing and hues going all over the place) Now it might have got a bit better over the years, a bit that is. Fuji have put some effort in here too. But we are a long way off of that expose for shadows, smooth roll off into the highlights we get on good colour and b&w neg film. The stuff is great for this type of work. Frankly I got sick to death of digital in this respect, don't even start me off on the compacts either..really poor most of them for DR.

This is a crucial element to film photography for some, and added with the very pleasing rendition for skin tones(again colour film and mono look very different to digital), this is one reason for me, I feel film is a superior medium for these types of shots. I would add, that tonal transitions are far more subtle on film too, this is the other factor.

Digital is great for low light high ISO work, and creeping around in dim conditions, no question about that. But I leave the DSLR's in the bag for people shots, and I like the look on landscape film too, very much more appealing to my eye.

There was an interesting article on the online photographer

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/t...pectations.html (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2009/02/great-expectations.html)

My comments on this are, I will believe the DxO numbers when I start seeing images that don't blow out! Hit google with "blown out highlights or overexposed" and you can see what I mean. People are asking for more DR, as the highlight range isn't really very good on digital. And don't tell me I need to spend thousands to get there either!

I would also say I think the tonal element is down to mostly bayer sensors, and interpolating data, multi layered film does not have this, I think when we get to 3 layer sensors and really good DR, I might (might that is) have less reason to run to film. We are not there yet..
But I suspect digital will always be different looking to film, and that is yet another point..using a different (less popular medium) is another way to leave your own mark ;-)


Last point, you can use both mediums and enjoy them..it's not always a question of one or the other.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Plekto on April 27, 2009, 03:04:41 pm
Quote from: pom
The numbers are fake. You can have a completely out of focus image and scan it at 8000DPI on a drum scanner for 100 megapixels. But it still won't beat a digital p&s for detail. Unless you are comparing resolved detail you cannot compare, especially using the extremely worn and false argument of 'I can scan to X megapixels'.

I was talking about black and white MF/LF film.  Color you can go on and on about - it's a completely different animal.

2000 dpi scanned for 4x5 nets 80MP.  Even Dlabs scan at 2400dpi for 35mm film, so don't tell me that a super conservative 2000DPI scan isn't relevant.  Also, if your image is out of focus, then the shooter is a rube since the image is right there in a 4x5 camera for you to physically see before you even expose anything.   Complaining about it being out of focus and not sharp is just a straw man.

If both are good clean pictures with good lenses, well, yes - larger formats do have a huge amount of data just because it's a huge piece of film.  Huge film beats a DSLR? Well, duh.

Note - when this is brought up, you invariably start spouting off insane figures (8000dpi?) when I'm purposely talking perfectly reasonable and industry standard scanning resolutions.  And yes, I admit that most everything you scan at over 2000DPI is noise on film, but good b/w film can easily scan to 2400DPI. So comparing numbers isn't completely wrong, either, as long as we stick to a reasonable ones.

But that aside... back to the original topic...

Now, as for the look and how the film handles light, well, there's also that.  The Ilford b/w slide film looks better than anything digital that I've seen.  No contest.  It looks more realistic and is very forgiving.  And black is black.  You can't do stuff like long nighttime shots with digital, for instance, that you can with film.  Because as you boost the ISO or raise the levels in processing, black isn't black.  The lack of digital noise is my #1 reason I like film.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Rob C on April 27, 2009, 04:26:54 pm
Quote from: Bobtrips
Ah, you wish me to use my interpretative loupe and peek for your message.  I think I can do that.

Did I get it right?



Nope: guess the loupeīs beyond you - try a pixel peep instead.

Rob C
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: feppe on April 27, 2009, 05:25:31 pm
Quote from: Plekto
Now, as for the look and how the film handles light, well, there's also that.  The Ilford b/w slide film looks better than anything digital that I've seen.  No contest.  It looks more realistic and is very forgiving.  And black is black.  You can't do stuff like long nighttime shots with digital, for instance, that you can with film.  Because as you boost the ISO or raise the levels in processing, black isn't black.  The lack of digital noise is my #1 reason I like film.

I don't know what your definition of "long" exposures is, but I've done quite a few nighttime cityscapes with 35mm and 6x6 film 10-240 second exposures, as well as DSLRs, and digital wins in every respect and is far superior.

I don't understand how black is not black in digital - 0 is black, period. If you do judicious bracketing and blending with digital, you can avoid noise altogether, even in deep shadows. And there's no reciprocity failure in digital.

With film you'll end up guessing a lot. No live histogram, no liveview to get focusing right in the dark, no preview to see your exposure is even in the right ballpark. So you bracket like crazy. Even then, nighttime cityscapes contain so much dynamic range that Velvia or Provia can't contain it in a single frame, so you end up blending the bracketed shots anyway.

As much as I miss shooting film, nighttime cityscapes is one area where I'd never go back to film.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Plekto on April 27, 2009, 11:28:15 pm
You should try shooting black and white film sometime.  It handles light differently and does just fine for nighttime shots.  Color film as I have often stated, has "issues" like digital color has, and it's a huge set to trade offs with one versus the other.  I like Velvia and a few other color films.  But most, like the higher speed Kodak films just look like rubbish compared to an A900.  

Yes, what you say is mostly true for color.  It's also why I specifically leave black and white to film.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jillgood/303674851/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jillgood/303674851/)
Click on "all sizes" for the full image.  I found this (fairly average, IMO) online but it shows what I mean - nighttime shot that does things with light that a DSLR just won't do quite the same.  Bridges and towers and so on also look amazing in black and white at night.   That person's site has a few other ones linked.  
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Anders_HK on April 28, 2009, 12:34:08 am
Quote from: feppe
With film you'll end up guessing a lot. No live histogram, no liveview to get focusing right in the dark, no preview to see your exposure is even in the right ballpark. So you bracket like crazy. Even then, nighttime cityscapes contain so much dynamic range that Velvia or Provia can't contain it in a single frame, so you end up blending the bracketed shots anyway.

Hi

Above is not true. By using a spot meter the exposure is right on before pressing the shutter, hence the zone system to exact control the tones/zones in a film image. Actually, I have also used spot meter also with my Aptus and I appreciate the control of the image it brings   .

Review of histogram and reshoot is more guessing because it does not lend you to control the individual tones or zones within an image, not even with live histogram and liveview...

I like my Aptus, but Fuji slides are still very beautiful to put even my Aptus to shame (I given up on DSLRs). I should say that digital and film are simply different, depends on subject and various conditions. Also of ones preference. Actually, personally my aim is to use more slides   . Simply the look of Fuji slides... Velvia 50, Provia 100/400...

Regards
Anders
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: BernardLanguillier on April 28, 2009, 12:57:17 am
Quote from: Anders_HK
I like my Aptus, but Fuji slides are still very beautiful to put even my Aptus to shame (I given up on DSLRs). I should say that digital and film are simply different, depends on subject and various conditions. Also of ones preference. Actually, personally my aim is to use more slides   . Simply the look of Fuji slides... Velvia 50, Provia 100/400...

Anders,

Sure, slides to many things very well... but I don't remember night cityscape being one of them. You end up having either fully black shadows or fully blown highlights and that is not aesthetically pleasing nor any close to what the scene really looked like.

If I were to shoot such a scene with film, I would use a negative film like Ektar every time.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Anders_HK on April 28, 2009, 03:17:16 am
Quote from: BernardLanguillier
Anders,

Sure, slides to many things very well... but I don't remember night cityscape being one of them. You end up having either fully black shadows or fully blown highlights and that is not aesthetically pleasing nor any close to what the scene really looked like.

If I were to shoot such a scene with film, I would use a negative film like Ektar every time.

Cheers,
Bernard

Bernard,

Of course, night cityscapes was not my meaning. Right tool for every job, thus when using film and one desire more than around 5 stops DR one should use negs - color or B&W. Yet even with 5 stops only it is amazing how much can be rendered well with slides, because the cut off at black and highlight is unlinear, unlike digital.

Regards
Anders
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on April 28, 2009, 04:15:21 am
Quote from: Plekto
I was talking about black and white MF/LF film.  Color you can go on and on about - it's a completely different animal.

2000 dpi scanned for 4x5 nets 80MP.  Even Dlabs scan at 2400dpi for 35mm film, so don't tell me that a super conservative 2000DPI scan isn't relevant.  Also, if your image is out of focus, then the shooter is a rube since the image is right there in a 4x5 camera for you to physically see before you even expose anything.   Complaining about it being out of focus and not sharp is just a straw man.

If both are good clean pictures with good lenses, well, yes - larger formats do have a huge amount of data just because it's a huge piece of film.  Huge film beats a DSLR? Well, duh.

Note - when this is brought up, you invariably start spouting off insane figures (8000dpi?) when I'm purposely talking perfectly reasonable and industry standard scanning resolutions.  And yes, I admit that most everything you scan at over 2000DPI is noise on film, but good b/w film can easily scan to 2400DPI. So comparing numbers isn't completely wrong, either, as long as we stick to a reasonable ones.

But that aside... back to the original topic...

Now, as for the look and how the film handles light, well, there's also that.  The Ilford b/w slide film looks better than anything digital that I've seen.  No contest.  It looks more realistic and is very forgiving.  And black is black.  You can't do stuff like long nighttime shots with digital, for instance, that you can with film.  Because as you boost the ISO or raise the levels in processing, black isn't black.  The lack of digital noise is my #1 reason I like film.

You avoided my entire point, on purpose. Either that or you don't begin to get it. The numbers mean NOTHING! If you can prove that a scan to 80 megapixels gives 80 megapixels worth of resolution then you have a point. It doesn't and you cannot. Therefore comparing scans to digital based on the amount of pixels produced alone is and always has been a rather pathetic approach to beating the chest over film superiority.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Plekto on April 29, 2009, 02:52:28 am
I don't know about you, but I sure see a big difference in detail between 4x5 and MF.  Some of it is the lens, some of it is the much bigger piece of film that you can get good details out of.  Even at 1200DPI, which is kind of a silly low resolution to scan something as large as 4x5, it nets about 25MP.  And I know for a fact that the optics aren't *that* poor.  Not by a long shot.  Because I can scan higher than 1200DPI on almost any film and pull in loads of information.

Your argument seems to be mostly that the lenses are the limiting factor, so why bother...  I guess it depends on the lens.  A lot of consumer stuff is pretty poor to be honest.  We used to notice this years ago with film as film got better and it seems everyone forgot with digital until we started to hit the limits again.  Some lenses are just not in the same league as others.

As for film, it has its place still.  Black and white slide film fills a specific place and need that digital currently can't touch.  As for color, there's a reason I have a DSLR.  When I'm shooting color, I'm shooting memories and life around me and not art.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Rob C on April 29, 2009, 01:33:18 pm
I have a gut feeling that one cannot really make any fundamental rulings in this film/digital comparison that has sprung into life here.

Take Velvia 35mm, for example: I have just spent time scanning on a CanoScan FS-4000US in order to try to turn a not particularly wonderful colour image of some old olive trees, shot through a piece of non-optical quality glass that was lightly smeared with vaseline, into a black and white version that seems to offer greater scope. The scanner claims 4000dpi resolution - why should it lie? - and the main surprise I have with the b/w version is that foliage has taken on what seems a bit like an infra-red look. Totally a surprise. Further, since the original was shot as it was to make it look fuzzy, I have not sharpened the b/w either, mainly because on looking at a test with the unsharp mask employed, it lost much of the streaky effect - pointless. Thatīs one kind of result with fine-grain colour transparency.

Using the same scanner on Kodachrome Pro 64, people/skin shots, the detail from the scans is just amazing, far better than I ever saw from the same series when printed four colour litho for the original calendars. Water droplets on the skin simply stand out as if they were real. I scan using none of the dust removal devices or anything at all that I fear could interfere with the basic detail thatīs there, and these shots too are now printed b/w.

So the point I might have made is that two different fine-grain films can look totally different when scanned, depending on many inputs other than just the scanning.

On the other hand, scanning fast 35mm b/w film can produce prints that look a little more crude, and slower ones can look pretty close to wet printing but with some micro control that would have been pd difficult to do in the wet! I have never scanned any 120, b/w nor colour, for the simple reason that I havenīt that size a scanner. Would have loved to have had the opportunity, though; Santa?

What about digital, then? I have only a modest D200, but the impression I get is that there is a gain in sharpness (using the same lenses) that could well have a lot to do with flatness of the sensor plane as compared with film. Trouble is, to come to any sure conclusion becomes difficult if only because of the unsharp mask step in the production of a print. With film you always had a loupe if you wanted to check edges against centre of a slide (and even with a loupe you could see the differences); with digital you donīt have that choice and looking at 100% doesnīt feel the same either. Such a subjective business.

Rob C
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: jtorral on April 30, 2009, 10:56:05 am
Quote from: Quentin
And what is the point of medium format film if the end result requires it to be scanned and thus converted to a digital medium?  Quentin

Quentin,

I would disagree with your comment to a certain degree. Many people who shoot B&W film still print in a dark room. Thus, scanning would be irrelevant at this point. The dynamic range of B&W film can only be reproduced on photographic paper in the traditional way. However, if you want to show you pictures on the web or have them published in a magazine, that is a different story.

JT
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: DonWeston on May 06, 2009, 10:15:00 am
Kirk - could you comment on the differences you find with your digital slr's, the D700 and D300. I own the same and find that the D300 in some instances comes closer to the film like quality [slightly grainier images] compared to the noiseless D700. I know this is not real "film" grain, but just wondering what your views were on this. I too shot film in a 500CM for decades and can not match that portraiture quality. I have a shot of my girls at about age 6, with a combo similar to what you mention, and have tried to reshoot the same images at different times over the yrs of my girls with a variety of dslrs, S2,3, 20D, 40D and D300. So far the D300 seems the closest but still not in any way would I confuse the image no matter how nice it is with the older 500CM shot...here is the D300 shot...
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Fritzer on May 07, 2009, 03:31:13 pm
To be frank, I don't get the analog 'hype' .

The portrait in the first posting, sure you can do that with a digital camera , and better (judging by the low-res image shown).
Looks to me like the film wasn't processed right, the tonal changes are a bit harsh, in particular in the highlights, and the grain too heavy.
Or maybe just a bad print/ scan .

And indeed I used to develop and print B/W film by myself, using my own recipes for the chemicals etc. ; TXP and PXP have been my favourites.
Only recently did I sell my darkroom equipment, I printed B/W and colour up to 4x5" .

Digital is providing so much more control and quality, at a fraction of cost and effort, it's mind-boggling.
Of course, one needs to develop the skills to handle it (I'm not quite there yet...), because easy it is not, as said before.

Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: kirktuck on May 07, 2009, 05:50:48 pm
Quote from: Fritzer
To be frank, I don't get the analog 'hype' .

The portrait in the first posting, sure you can do that with a digital camera , and better (judging by the low-res image shown).
Looks to me like the film wasn't processed right, the tonal changes are a bit harsh, in particular in the highlights, and the grain too heavy.
Or maybe just a bad print/ scan .

And indeed I used to develop and print B/W film by myself, using my own recipes for the chemicals etc. ; TXP and PXP have been my favourites.
Only recently did I sell my darkroom equipment, I printed B/W and colour up to 4x5" .

Digital is providing so much more control and quality, at a fraction of cost and effort, it's mind-boggling.
Of course, one needs to develop the skills to handle it (I'm not quite there yet...), because easy it is not, as said before.


Fritzer,  There's no right way or wrong way to develop film.  Problem with photography is that too many left brained people got into it around the ascendency of digital  and they think they can devolve any parameter based on numbers and quantification.  If I hear another person say they can duplicate anything in photoshop I think I'll throw up.  The grain in the photo is wonderful and delicious.  The scan is crappy and inviting.  The tonal changes make some other photographers who've written about the image (the one's with souls instead of calculators) envious.  Control is the enemy.  Unthinking pursuit of "quality" leaves one aesthetically hamstrung.  Do you ever "feel" art instead of "evaluating" it with a check list?  Do you ever have an emotional reaction to art instead of measuring grain with a micrometer and judging its relative merits.  Is jug wine the same as good wine.  After all, it is just as red, much more consistent and the flavor is equally bland.

If you don't get it you won't get it but it seems like lots of other people understand that not everything in art is measurable nor is there one standard check list for good.  I wish the grain were bigger and the transitions were more loopy.  It doesn't take skills to handle digital, just an autopilot response to by the numbers decision making.  In another art form we used to call that "painting by numbers."

Do you ever get the feeling that on some subconscious level your tools are driving your aesthetic decisions?  In the case of the D3x my friends who own them now only do images which somehow show off how sharp the files are or how much they resolve.  Their work has suffered in their subjugation to the camera.  The same thing happened when the D3 came out.  The photos were no longer subject oriented as much as they were, "look how high I can set the ISO" oriented.  And when I shoot with a MF digital camera (I reviewed three for magazines last year) the subliminal push is to show how things look blown up large.  No matter that the artist usually printed 11x14 or so.  Now all the prints have to be 20 by 30 or more to show off the capability of the camera.  The truth is that the subject matter is then secondary.    Very unintended.  

There is no hype.  You might not be a candidate for that kind of seeing.  But remember that the savored part of advertising, art and even existence is diversification.  And even if you could do things easier and better in digital does that make it right?  Shouldn't we consider the effect of the tools on the art.  You can get better colors in photoshop than you could in an actual painting but isn't the process of painting with physical brushes part of the creative process?  When you cut that out do you affect the art?  Of course.  Just my random thoughts.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Peter McConvill on May 08, 2009, 06:40:33 am
Quote from: Rob C
Why is it that the moment somebody articulates a liking for something, the instant reaction from some quarters is to try and knock that personīs position into the sand?

Rob C

Rob, in answer to your question, my guess is because the people usually expressing the opinion in the first place are looking for the fight.  They do this by stating their preferences in such a way that   expressly or surreptitiously it denigrates the work and preferences of others.  I think this is what Bobtrips was hinting at in his reply that stressed that nothing that kirktuck wrote was wrong FOR HIM but that expressing that preference as a universal rule of truth (along with a clear implication that those using digital were settling for “good enough”)   was incorrect.

In fact in his reply to Bobtrips, kirktuck switches into full attack mode and comes out with the bald faced assertion that digital sucks and the real purpose of the original post is revealed.
So simply put – if you are really stating a personnel preference, fine, recognize it as such and be prepared for the post to sink like a stone without being recognised.  If on the other hand you want to make a universal statement of fact be prepared to have to argue that one – but the good news is your thread will get a lot of coverage and your blog will get a lot of traffic.

On the topic - I'm a digital guy.  In the pre-digi days the hassle of using film was such that I didnt take photos, the medium separated me from the artform completely.  Digital photography brought me back by doing the one thing a great camera should do - it got out of the way.  But I will also admit that now, with the knowledge I've got a DSLR to capture my important shots and all the pressure off film I enjoy using it as a complement to my digital rig, as a fun way to experiment and play.  As for IQ - basically except for a few specific issues I reckon its virtually identical if we allow each medium the same flexibility and learning curve.  I must admit I find it amusing that apparently having to spend some time and money working with software to get your processing down pat is held up by some as a sign of the problems of digital while the months and/or years of toiling with film to gain the knowledge required to extract the best from it are held up as a sign of its superiority.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Peter McConvill on May 08, 2009, 06:53:43 am
Quote from: kirktuck
It doesn't take skills to handle digital, just an autopilot response to by the numbers decision making.  In another art form we used to call that "painting by numbers."

kirktuck - if thats how you look at digital then its no surprise you find it unsatisfying.   I would too.  Reading your blog and your posts on this thread I'm reminded of many many many similar thoughts from old film guys that all revolve around the same question - when will digital give me exactly what I have with film?  You know what, it wont, ever.  Worse, in desperately trying to get digital to merely recreate what you are already doing precisely what you accuse others of - turning the art of photography into a tedious craft.

If you are happy with producing the art that you do with film, great, keep doing it.

If you want to challenge yourself and find a new artistic direction, try doing things in digital you would or could never do with film.  



Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: kirktuck on May 08, 2009, 03:02:18 pm
Quote from: Peter McConvill
kirktuck - if thats how you look at digital then its no surprise you find it unsatisfying.   I would too.  Reading your blog and your posts on this thread I'm reminded of many many many similar thoughts from old film guys that all revolve around the same question - when will digital give me exactly what I have with film?  You know what, it wont, ever.  Worse, in desperately trying to get digital to merely recreate what you are already doing precisely what you accuse others of - turning the art of photography into a tedious craft.

If you are happy with producing the art that you do with film, great, keep doing it.

If you want to challenge yourself and find a new artistic direction, try doing things in digital you would or could never do with film.


Fair enough. Kirk
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on May 08, 2009, 03:57:16 pm
Quote from: Peter McConvill
If you are happy with producing the art that you do with film, great, keep doing it.

If you want to challenge yourself and find a new artistic direction, try doing things in digital you would or could never do with film.

Bravo! Digital is not film. It can closely emulate all of the characteristics of film (idiosyncratic color palettes, grain, etc), and and is able to do so with increasing accuracy (with "film look" profiles, scanned grain textures, etc.). But aping a given film's characteristics isn't the point. Contrary to what some film die-hards seem to believe, the flaws and idiosyncracies of film do NOT define photographic nirvana. There's nothing "wrong" with the "look" of film; it's simply a small subset of what is possible with photography. Why limit yourself to one small niche in the great ocean of possibilities out there?

If you are unable to achieve satisfactory results using digital capture, look in the mirror to see the main cause. Digital is not the same as film, and the paradigms for setting optimal exposure for digital are different than those for film. Best workflow practices for processing a captured image all the way to the final print are different also. If you insist upon using a film-based paradigm to dictate the way you expose digital captures, you are going to get inferior results every time. But that does not mean digital capture is inferior or has inherently less DR, it simply means you haven't yet grasped how to use it to best advantage.

The same principle is true of workflow. With film, the film manufacturer is responsible for creating the color palette--the way the film interprets the colors of the subject. You have two choices: like it or not. Your only real choices are which film stock, developer, and print paper to use. With digital, you have complete control over how the colors of the subject are interpreted via profiles and RAW conversion settings, but with that also comes the responsibility of learning the rudiments of color management--monitor calibration, printer profiling, rendering intents, white balancing, and all of the other arcana associated thereto. If you handle this task poorly and are unsatisfied with the results, it is not an inherent inferiority of digital capture, it is your failure to master the skills necessary to create a satisfactory print using digital workflow.

Film has been used to capture many great photographs, but so has digital. Using film as the capture medium does not guarantee that the resulting image will be great; nor does the use of a digital sensor. If you prefer to use film for your work, that's wonderful. But that does not mean that the photographer who uses digital capture is inferior for doing so. Both film and digital capture are sufficiently mature technologies that the creativity and skill of the photographer has a much greater impact on the final image than the choice of capture medium.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Rob C on May 08, 2009, 04:06:07 pm
That film on 120 would still need to be scanned, should one wish to work with it in a non-wet manner, is hardly a probem if you can afford the quality scanner.

Frankly, I would love to have both files and transparencies/negatives; what a wonderful sense of relief about the future!

That control in either wet or digital print-making depends on skill is obviously the common denominator in making any such discussion valid. Unless one has the experience in both, there is only position-taking and not discussion. Thereīs probably enough of that already...

I suppose that one of the reasons that digital is going to win in the end - if it has not already - is that people want instant gratification. If you donīt believe me, then ask yourself why, prior to digital, there was always enough time between commission, shooting and delivering transparencies or prints for life to move sweetly ahead at an acceptable pace. Now, the only reason that there has been an acceleration in production times is because it is possible. That is NOT to say that it is essential. I wonder how many photographers work themselves to death to get out finished files only to find that they lie about in an office for days after the delivery? It just seems to me that as with the payment of invoices, photographers are ever the bottom of the average food chain. You can push them? So why not drive the mothers mad, makes you look powerful.

Rob C
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Plekto on May 09, 2009, 02:30:57 pm
Quote from: Jonathan Wienke
Bravo! Digital is not film. It can closely emulate all of the characteristics of film (idiosyncratic color palettes, grain, etc), and and is able to do so with increasing accuracy (with "film look" profiles, scanned grain textures, etc.). But aping a given film's characteristics isn't the point. Contrary to what some film die-hards seem to believe, the flaws and idiosyncrasies of film do NOT define photographic nirvana. There's nothing "wrong" with the "look" of film; it's simply a small subset of what is possible with photography. Why limit yourself to one small niche in the great ocean of possibilities out there?
Isn't digital just as limiting in many ways?

One of the things that I can gain, for instance, with black and white film, is printing on paper with an enlarger.  It has advantages over most consumer grade printers, mostly because the weak link in digital currently is the printing.  As long as I'm not enlarging to bigger than a couple of feet, paper and film wins for absolute quality.  Larger than that and digital wins, mostly because large format photo enlarging requires tools and a setup that are essentially identical in cost to large format digital printers.(usually have to dedicate an entire room in your home to fit the enlarger for instance, as well)

http://www.adorama.com/ILMG4810250P.html (http://www.adorama.com/ILMG4810250P.html)
I usually stick to something like this, though.  250 sheets of 8x10 for $130?  That's quite reasonable if you have the time to do it(about 50 cents a print   )  20x24 is about $4 a sheet.

Film gives me a different set of options.  Not more or less... just different ones.  I personally love slide film, for instance, because it also projects very well.  That's something that is impossible to do with digital, really.  1080p is barely 2MP, so digital projectors fail completely here.  I don't know of any non-commercial digital projectors, for instance, that are close to even 35mm slides in resolution yet.   People seem to forget that 120 slide film well, also works as a slide.  heh.  Nobody seems to complain about slide shows, any more.

Then there's the software.  Adobe's programs are cumbersome to learn and expensive, to be honest.  The amount of information that you need to learn to do digital post-processing and printing is quite a lot.  It's not really "better" - just different.  

Quote
If you are unable to achieve satisfactory results using digital capture, look in the mirror to see the main cause. Digital is not the same as film, and the paradigms for setting optimal exposure for digital are different than those for film.
And film is not the same as digital.  Don't forget that digital also is a massive series of compromises and kludges.  I know a lot of people assume that new is better, but honestly, it's not always so.  Witness the advent of digital watches versus analog ones.  For a while it was all digital, now it's a solidly mixed market as each has better uses than the other for certain things.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on May 09, 2009, 05:08:58 pm
Quote from: Plekto
Isn't digital just as limiting in many ways?

One of the things that I can gain, for instance, with black and white film, is printing on paper with an enlarger.  It has advantages over most consumer grade printers, mostly because the weak link in digital currently is the printing.  As long as I'm not enlarging to bigger than a couple of feet, paper and film wins for absolute quality.

Not really. The key to your argument is "consumer grade printers". Consumer-grade digital may not compare well to professional-grade optical prints, but that's an apples-to-oranges strawman. A properly profiled pro-grade inkjet printer can hold its own with any optical print in any comparison you care to make: print longevity/colorfastness, DMax, resolution, color gamut, etc. Notice that Michael and many other top-level photographers switched from optical darkroom prints to digital years ago, for reasons that had nothing to do with convenience--the digital prints were simply better. As technology advances, the quality gap between digital and optical prints continues to widen.

Your digital/film cost comparison is similarly skewed, since you failed to factor in the value of your time and the cost of the chemicals needed. Once properly profiled, you can batch-print 250 8x10s with a digital printer and go take a nap or do something else while the print job runs. You can't do that in the darkroom unless you are running a minilab, in which case you are talking about a hardware investment far greater than most pro-level digital printers, with results generally inferior to consumer-grade digital printers. The same is true of your complaint about the learning curve and cost of Photoshop. It's no worse than the jiggery-pokery one must learn to master developing film and printing in the darkroom, just different.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Plekto on May 10, 2009, 12:58:28 am
By consumer grade printers I mean well, anything under $10K.  The ink is also very expensive on a lot of models.  A couple of printers "eat" almost half of their ink just installing and "cleaning" them.  That's just silly.

Since I print and develop only black and white for film, color gamut and so on is meaningless.  I've just not seen good inkjet black and white output compared to doing it manually.  And I did say if you had the time.  Manually making prints from film is really inexpensive but time consuming.  But the cost of a box of photopaper is almost a non-issue.  And for 30X40, $9 a print is more than tempting...  I know what a 30x40 print costs at a photo lab and how expensive a printer you need to go that large.

Color - whole other ball of ugly and compromises.  I tried color a couple of times and quickly gave up.  If I was doing color, yes, digital for color is a complete no-brainer.  But for black and white, I can print out from film/slides for less than the cost of the inkjet paper almost.  Used black and white enlargers are almost being given away, too.

My final analysis:
It appears as if black and white "art" photography is a niche where film is still viable and probably always will be since digital never seems to really be optimized for anything other than color and probably never will be anything else.
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: Dave Millier on May 10, 2009, 06:16:34 am
Beautiful image.

I have no opinion as to whether this result could or could not be achievable on digital but it is depressing reading the squabbling. It's like a politer and better written version of DPReview. I guess the answer to the debate isn't more words but for someone to post a digital equivalent.

I have one criticism of your image: It appears that the "whitened eyes" trick has been applied and it looks a few per cent overdone to me.

Cheers

Dave
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: kirktuck on May 10, 2009, 10:58:34 am
Quote from: Dave Millier
Beautiful image.

I have no opinion as to whether this result could or could not be achievable on digital but it is depressing reading the squabbling. It's like a politer and better written version of DPReview. I guess the answer to the debate isn't more words but for someone to post a digital equivalent.

I have one criticism of your image: It appears that the "whitened eyes" trick has been applied and it looks a few per cent overdone to me.

Cheers

Dave


Dave,  Thank you for the compliment on the image.  No "whitening" was done to the eyes. The image is not retouched in photoshop.  

Best, Kirk
Title: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.
Post by: galton on May 10, 2009, 12:15:28 pm
While I don't want to wade into the film / digital debate in general, I do want to comment on someone's point earlier that "we shouldn't compare apples/oranges" (in this case, MF film to 35 mm digital). For some, this discussion is a question of what "pure" maximum quality (however defined, subjectivity issues included) can be achieved with no regard for cost/size/time/ease of use. For almost everyone else in real life, it's an optimisation problem, with different weights and constraints.

I actually think comparing MF film to 35 mm digital may be valid, depending on the constraints imposed, and especially cost. Specifically, if you throw cost into the equation, most non-commercial photographers cannot realistically consider MF digital. MF film, however, can have a very much lower cost/barrier to entry - lower even than serious gear for FX/DX digital - while still providing a significantly different (possibly much higher) feel of quality.

On top of that, the depreciation curve for digital equipment is still so steep, that any "investment" in equipment is usually a serious loss when (if) resold. For used film gear, that depreciation has already occurred and (arguably) not that much additional depreciation is likely. So anyone buying MF film kit at this point has a pretty good chance of recouping a significant chunk of what they pay for it. MF digital might make sense for those generating serious cash with that kit, but not for many (most) others.

For those considering cost and who do not absolutely need MF digital (likely because clients demand), it may be entirely reasonable to compare smaller format digital and conclude that picking up some MF film gear in order to obtain higher "quality" makes sense. Compared to, for example, spending a grand or two on another incremental improvement in digital technology that will itself be leapfrogged or outdated in short order. Or compared to jumping up from DX to FX size sensors at this stage at possibly considerable expense. Or compared to dropping $10-$30k on MF digital gear. Or simply compared to seeing that more digital gear won't change the "feel" and the photographer needs a change. Or compared to spending more time as a photoshop jockey, and less time shooting with equipment that (for whatever reason) gives a burst of creativity 'cause it's new or quirky or whatever.