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Film vs. Digital (and some -ve's of digit) A different take and potential challenge

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by LovinTheEP2, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    After reading the My Full Frame is Film thread, it got me thinking a bit about the experience of shooting film on a digital system.

    You can't stop advancements and digital is better in soooo many ways then film but I think true enthusiats should challenge themselves at times to use digitial like a film experience.

    a. Limit yourself to 1 iso setting per 24 photos to mimick a film roll.
    b. Limit yourself to 24 photos or 48 or 72 to mimick film rolls.
    c. Limit yourself to 1 film mode using a filter set for 24 photos to mimick film.
    c. Turn off the review screen for an entire outing.
    d. Download and then print with NO Post Processing and print all of them!

    Now that would be an experience that soooo many digital people would find odd and fustrating! :smile:

    I think this weekend I may challenge myself to the above and see how it goes.

    As for me; there is a place for both formats but I still like Vinyl records and wear a fully automatic chorograph watch :eek: 

    1. Film. Top quality film on a nice body does have a character that is very different than digital and in some ways nicer depending on the subject being photographed. I often find digital a bit to "resolving" and punchy. Almost.. to in your face clear. I find good quality film very smooth in transitions and a natural appeal to it. Very hard to qualify. Then again, I think Vinyl music on a proper system sounds way more natural then CDs etc - even flac and a lot easier to listen too. Way more engaging.

    2. Film. Also, something appealing about testing your skills and waiting to see what you did after developing vs. immediate on the spot results. Shoot 1000 pics and pic your 10 best vs. shoot 24. Think about composition, catching the right moment vs. hold the shutter burst out 100 shots and pic the best one. Yes, you might have missed a key shot.. Yes you may only get a couple of good photos but the experience can be soooo much rewarding when not constantly looking at the screen for the outcome.

    3. Digitial. Allows you to take a great many photos, allows you to experiment much more freely. Find sometimes more fustrating as it most digital people are constantly tinkering with settings, filters and pixel peeping. With film, it was a more natural experience.

    4. Digital. Lack of developing photos. Finding now in the digital realm that people don't have photo albums etc due to digital file sharing. Miss the experience of sitting down at a friends house looking at their pics and talking about them vs. looking at facebook and just looking at hundreds of pics of the same thing.

    5. Digital. People need to learn how to cut down the number of pics people share due to the shear volume of photos pics people now take. Seeing 10 different pictures of the same vacation pic taken 10x is too much.

    6. Digital. Composition, find people don't think too much about what their taking but just snap snap snap snap away due to the ease of digital photography.

    7. Noise/Grain: Find film grain much nicer then digital noise to view.

    Curious to what some think using a digital setup and shooting like it's a film camera :2thumbs:
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  2. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    I think that would be a fun challenge!
  3. duke

    duke Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 4, 2010
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Sounds really fun, let's do it and everyone post your photos when you're done!
  4. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    Some thoughts interspersed below. I realize some of your comments are tongue-in-cheek, but still:

    a: I frequently pulled film before a roll was complete in order to change ISO, and then reinserted the unfinished roll later. Why would I go backwards?
    b: Don't get this either. I never went shooting without extra rolls of film. I wasn't limited, in any practical way, by the number of frames on a roll, so why would I artificially limit myself today. Unless you're saying to not shoot bursts of more than 24 or 36 shots.
    c. I don't chimp after every shot, but I'd hate to walk away from a subject I'll probably never see again and find out later I inadvertently just took a bunch of shots in bright daylight at ISO3200.

    See my comment on 'c', above. But I do agree that we'd all (or at least most) be better off thinking about the composition before pushing the button. But that's not unique to digital. Back in the days of film, I described the typical snapshooter approach to photography as "push the button and look." Until the prints came back, the shooter didn't really know what his picture would contain. Digital doesn't preclude good composition, it just makes it easier to try to overwhelm a poor eye with volume.

    Most digital people? I don't think so. I think "most" people put the camera on P and push the button. Don't base your opinion on what you read in online forums. We tend to be gear freaks, and talk about gear more than pictures, but that doesn't really mean we spend 5 minutes playing with the camera before we spend 1/60th taking the picture. (My father did that, with a completely manual 35mm Zeiss Contaflex). And I often used filters on my film cameras, and I'd look at slides with a loupe to decide which ones to keep and / or print. Call in "grain gazing" instead of pixel peeping.

    Lack of developing? First, few people developed their own film and made their own prints in the days of film. Almost no one did their own processing of color film. Ever hear of Lightroom, or Photoshop? I think doing your own "developing" is far more accessible to far more people today than it ever was with film. Finding a space to turn into a darkroom, messing with chemicals, dust, etc. was a royal pain in the a$$. You can make your own high quality color prints with a $200 printer. An enlarger with a color head cost more than that, to say nothing of the cost of chemicals and of making half a dozen prints before you got one right.

    Albums? Yeah. But again, I'm not sure how many people ever really made photo albums. I think there are hundreds of millions of prints sitting in shoe boxes in closets, attics and basements in this country. I think sites like FB, Flicker, Picasa and others actually mean more photos get shared and viewed by friends and family, albeit without narration and discussion. And digital doesn't preclude making albums or showing and talking about your pictures. I recently had friends over for a small party, and set up a Lightroom slide show on a monitor. Several people spent quite a bit of time looking at the photos, and we did have some discussion about the pictures, photography and cameras.

    Technology doesn't prevent you from creating albums, either in print or electronically. In fact, it increases the possibilities. I gave my wife a photo book of our vacation pictures at Christmas. Any idea how difficult and expensive that would have been 20 years ago?

    Yeah, can't really disagree there. But at least if you're looking at them on Facebook, you can stop. If you're sitting in someone's living room being forced to looked through their album of out-of-focus baby pictures, you're kind of forced to be polite.

    Yeah, but like I already said, most people never paid much attention to composition. The internet just means you're exposed to it more frequently.

    Well, maybe. OTOH, noise at ISO3200 is far less noticeable than grain was on ISO3200 color film, and the colors on that high speed film were just ghastly. I remember pushing Tri-X to ISO 1600 and getting grain the size of golf balls. In B&W. Today's cameras do far better at that speed in color. And, if you really like grain, it's easy to add it in "developing."

    I think you have a romanticized view of what film is / was like. I don't see the point in limiting myself to less than the technology provides. I suppose I could only use the first 4 gears in my car's transmission, to make me feel nostalgic for the good old days, but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

    The one thing I definitely agree with is taking time to compose before shooting. Maybe that's why people don't want to go on vacation with me. :smile:

    Then again, there are people who shoot Holga's because they're nostalgic for the blurry, out-of-focus, distorted images they got from their first cheap box camera. I'm not one of them, though.
  5. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    a. Few people I know would swap out film ISOs as non of were pro's or that avid an enthusist.

    b. I don't recall anyone carrying more then 3 film cannister and usually had just 1 or 2 on vacation or events etc. We'd pickup another on the go if we ran of film. Have a feeling, that was the case for most novice - amateur photographers.

    c. When you're limited by the amount of frames, it makes you think .. what else do I want to capture.. if you're out and about for 12 hours and you've burned through 1/2 your frames and it's only been an hour. It causes you to be much more selective on what you shoot. I found that was often the case back in film days whereas now... it's just shot shot shot.

    As for filters, I should have been more clear. Mean digital jpg filters replicating film like Fuji Provia etc. So you get OOC jpegs reflecting a certain film characteristic so you don't need to Post Process it... trying to get as close to the film experience as possible.

    LOL :rofl: facebook vs. being respectful looking at an album.

    As for high iso film grain etc. I often see B&W images of the 60-70-80's at concerts in low light and something nice about the noise generated vs. today high iso clean images - I perfer to old images way more often. Even in color, depending on the context the film grain added an emotion factor to the image that you lose in high resolution digital cameras.
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  6. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    Well, if you or others headed out on a 12 hour day with only 1 or 2 rolls of film, I don't know what to say. Except, I guess, that I planned better than that. And, as you yourself say, you could buy more almost anywhere. Being limited by the number of rolls of film you carried was an artificial limitation not a real one.

    I knew what you meant by filters, but I think my point stands. Being in the field, deciding what glass filter you might want to use isn't much different than deciding what digital filters you want to use. Throw Cokin filters into the mix, and you could easily spend more time that it takes to choose some options in the menu of a digital camera.

    As for film grain, if you really like it you can add it easily in post processing. No way to remove it from those high ISO B&W film shots, though.
  7. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    The last vacation we shot on film, we came back with 20 rolls and I brought at least 4 bodies. It's typically something like a couple of bodies with low ISO color (sometimes negative, sometimes slide) and BW (Ilford FP4 or APX100), one with 400 or 800 ISO color, and one with Tri-X rated at 1250 to be souped in Diafine, or Neopan 1600 rated at 2000 or 3200. Usually one of those bodies is a medium format folder, TLR or SLR. I have occasionally dragged the 4x5 Speed Graphics out too... Got some interesting looks with the SG on a tripod on one shoulder with a DSLR on the other :)  So I guess I've never done the one body one roll thing very well.

    BTW, even tho my wife and I are 99% digital shooters, we do print many of our shots, and we do a personal coffee table book a few times a year. Check out Blurb, it's surprising affordable.
  8. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Setting limits as an exercise can be a wonderful way to learn things you wouldn't otherwise see. When the limits are lifted you still have the knowledge.

    If I go out with only a 50/2 legacy lens I have to figure out how to capture what I see with a 50mm lens. If I decide to shoot only 36 frames on a particular outing it changes my approach. If on that outing the first alien space ship happens to land, I can cancel my plans and fill my half dozen memory cards with a once in a lifetime opportunity.

    Sometimes I go out and only shoot triangles or red. Any kind of limitation can change the way I see and teach me something I didn't know was there to be learned.

  9. pjohngren

    pjohngren Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 15, 2010
    This is what I am doing with my G3. I imagine that I am shooting slide film, specifically a warm version of Ektachrome 100, although I have the G3 set at 200. I use a slightly shifted to warm WB, Photostyle 'Vivid' to get the saturation and snap I liked in that film, and have the sharpenning set to +2 and the noise reduction set to -2 to get all the clarity I want. I also have both Intelegent Resolution and Intelegent Dynamic set to high. I am then free to photograph, letting the camera produce the 'slide.'

    My goal is to download as jpegs a set of great looking 'slides' with all the color, saturation, contrast, sharpness that I like and requireing only a little bit of further tweaking if I want to make a print. All these jpgs are saved unaltered as my original 'slides' - anything that I print is first changed to a Tiff, tweaked, and saved as a Tiff.

    This is a fun way to work and takes full advantage of all the technological wizardry that is already in the G3, leaving me free to photograph just as I did in the age of film. No extensive time spent in front of the computer - every original processed the instant I press the shutter, and the originals all saved in a format that will be able to be read for all time.
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  10. MexicoMik

    MexicoMik Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 19, 2012
    We went to Panama in '10. I took my Nikon D90/lenses and, for the heck of it, my Leica M6/lenses and 10 rolls of Velvia 100.

    Frankly I loved using the M6 again but I didn't love the processing/waiting for the slides. I did love the images; everything about the slides was superior to my digital images (raw) and it was apparent to anyone who viewed them. But, again, I didn't love all the hassle that used to be normal - loading into the carosel trays, setting up the projector, etc. I would not go back to film.

    I do two things with digital that is similar to film. First is to not go crazy on number of images. I read a blog the other day where somebody with an EP3 was complaining that they need 3 batteries to do one day of travel shooting because he typically takes 1000 shots each day. I can't imagine reviewing 1000 images every time you go out. So I try hard to shoot as I would with film - considering the shot and "cropping' it in the camera by using an appropriate lens/settings, not cropping/"fixing" it in the software later. If you have to "fix" it, you took a bad shot.

    Second, I use the camera's base ISO - I don't want the camera deciding what ISO to select. The high iso capability is a non-issue to me. I shot iso 50 Velvia for years with no particular difficulty in all sorts of environments with no flash and no tripod. I did have a table-top tripod that I used occasionally.

    One thing I have found with digital...people talk about having boxes of film pics and therefore dig is better because you can "organize" the pics. I find that it's the same - instead of boxes of pics where you can't find the one you are looking for, you have a TB hard drive full of pics where you can't find what you are looking for. Some people are organized (film OR digital) and some are not! I'm not :) 
  11. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    another pro of digitals. 99.9% of the images created have zero chance of archival for the grandkids down the road.

    Joking aside. kind of.

    Low ISO performance, which is more important anyway, is better on film... Where is iso 50, and 25? Got to have that MP race I suppose. My G2 rarely goes past 400, mostly it sits at 100.

    I will agree that digital has ushered in more casual home development, because it just not as cancerous as keeping all those chemicals around. But to what effect? Printing isn't what it used to be, it's mostly bland and generic. Web albums are mostly dull and uninteresting to the point where I don't even look at whoever's birthday party they shot with their Nikon whatever the latest model is, but still haven't figured out how to use a flash correctly. Oh and I don't need to see your cat either. Well maybe sometimes... the cat that is. Digital has lead to an insane oversaturation of what someone in an earlier post called, "blurry baby photo's"

    Personally, I delete most of my digitals to the point it makes me have a love/hate relationship with it...
  12. snkenai

    snkenai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 5, 2010
    For my every day "out and about", not "events":

    I rarely change ISO on my digital. Shoot at camera's best, and make myself accommodate. Only chimp, is a glance, to check for ballpark exposure. I go out with one lens mounted on camera and maybe a close up adapter Try for "best shot" of each subject, without "spray'n-pray.
    Basically, I try to use the disciplines learned in 40 years of film, with one body and one lens. I wasn't very successful then and not a lot better now. But what fun!
  13. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    What I miss most about shooting film is not the film itself, it's the shooting experience of using a high quality precision-crafted instrument rather than a mass produced piece of consumer-electronics. A good all-manual film camera like the OM-1 or FM2 had a big bright viewfinder, a solid construction, a crisp shutter release, and notable lack of excess bits and bobs. Even the sound of the shutter said quality.

    The quality of the images one can get from a CSC or DSLR today is drastically better than anything I got from 135-format film (and probably even better than 645), so I'm happy to use digital. But I do miss having something that acts and feels like a real camera. And I say that as somebody who shoots a D700 as well as m4/3.

  14. ryansinibaldi

    ryansinibaldi Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 9, 2012
    I'm fairly new to shooting film but if I wanted to live with the shortcoming's associated with it, I'd just shoot film on that day. Digital gives me the flexibility I need on some occasions.
  15. Kingsfan

    Kingsfan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 22, 2010
    highland park, CA
    i'm totally gonna try this
  16. Kingsfan

    Kingsfan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 22, 2010
    highland park, CA
    i set up my camera for this after work

    320 ISO, b+w jpeg, high contrast, review off

    i only took 3 shots but i didnt' review them until just now. maybe this weekend i'll do a whole "rolls" worth.

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  17. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    Instead of limiting one's digital shooting experience, why not just get a film camera? A lot of good ones can be got cheaply on ebay these days, or even in thrift stores.

    For me it's not a film VS digital question. I shoot mostly digital now, but I still love putting black and white film in a camera, shooting it, and locking myself in the bathroom to develop it. It's all so familiar, and I will be rebuilding my darkroom to continue a craft I spent years practicing. In the meantime I have a nice, Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED to scan the frames I want to do something with right away. Here's shot of a tugboat in the Charles River basin that I shot in 1983. The Museum of Science is in the background. Shot on an E-6 slide film (don't remember which, but i was shooting a lot of Fujichrome 100 at the time), and developed on the E-6 line I was operating nights and shutting down at the time at Color Services in Needham Massachusetts. Fond memories all around, especially as I live in the southwest now. The Rio Grande and the Charles are very different beasts.

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  18. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    From a 1938 camera and a 1932 lens. Scanned on a Coolscan 9000: old meets new. No, it is not as sharp a a digital image would be (though the scan has been sharpened) nor a film image taken with a newer lens. But it pleases me, and the process of producing it pleased me. While some of photography is about the "product", the finished print or online image, some of it, too, is about seeing the world around me. And I see a bit differently, and understand different potential in a thing when I shoot different formats or technologies. I see the world in a slightly different way shooting an old rangefinder than I do shooting with a new (and wonderful!) EVF. And for me it's about seeing and connecting, not just about producing a final image, though producing a good one is always satisfying. So continuing with film suits my purpose, though others may have another story to tell.
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