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Can digital still not match film?

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keith selmes
2 May 2013 - 2:44 PM


Quote: in the spirit of the original question, you may wonder if the daguerrotype couldn't be replicated digitally

So far as I know, the unique feature of a dag is in the mirror surface on which it's made. Other aspects should be feasible with ordinary digital photography, but I've no idea how you would digitise an image into a polished silver coated copper plate.

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Carabosse
Carabosse e2 Member 1139367 forum postsCarabosse vcard England269 Constructive Critique Points
2 May 2013 - 3:04 PM


Quote: how you would digitise an image into a polished silver coated copper plate

I don't think my Pixma could cope with that! Wink

samueldilworth

keithh:

Quote: In the beginning of digital everyone was trying to emulate their favourite film but it's now time to move on. Digital gives photographers the opportunity to develop their own 'look' from on an infinate number of possibilities. If you like the look of Velvia - use velvia.

I agree you should just use Velvia if you like that look. You’ll never emulate it precisely using digital, and even if you could, you’d still be faking it.

But if like me you like the look of Ektachrome E200, for example, you’re out of luck: Kodak stopped distributing E200 in March 2011 (and discontinued all colour reversal films last year).

Many or most great films are history, including stuff with a unique look like Kodachrome (any of them) or Konica Impressa 50.

Photographers today certainly can produce their own look from an infinite palette, but that has both good and bad sides. Sometimes more choice is inhibiting (Kander mentions this in the video I linked to on page 1). And the average photographer is not a colour expert, whereas the people who designed film emulsions were. Most photographers – ones who haven’t published books on food photography, for instance – aren’t even able to describe why they like a certain look, much less the steps to get there. Sometimes it’s better to just hand over colour to an expert.

When the desktop-publishing revolution hit the world the result was mayhem, not boundless creativity. People could do whatever they wanted, and unfortunately they did, with no respect for centuries of functional and aesthetic discipline in typesetting and graphic design. Something similar happened with digital photography (very good things happened too, of course).

Black and white is different because you’re given less rope with which to hang yourself. But it’s still hard to get beautiful results with digital black and white unless you spend a lot of effort figuring out the relationship between subject brightness range and the tonal range of a displayed photo – and why some relationships work much better than others.

I like digital technology a lot, but film was in some ways more satisfying – which is not the same thing as saying I’d want to go back to it. Going back to film now would be, overall, less satisfying. This contradiction is itself unsatisfying. So it goes.

MichaelMelb_AU


Quote: ....

I like digital technology a lot, but film was in some ways more satisfying – which is not the same thing as saying I’d want to go back to it......

Sure it was - digital brought into photography what I call image inflation. Silver halide based film had maximum 36 frames at photographer's disposal before the next one would need to be bought. This was giving value to every frame. Careful photographer actually thought about composition, exposure, etc, and did photograph only something that had some aesthetic or other value.
Digital memory card lasts almost eternity in terms of frame numbers, and modern digital camera shoots with the speed of early cinematography - so any average photographer has many thousands frames to choose from, and statistically one of them will be deemed to be somewhere in the range from good to amazing. All the rest - rubbish not worth a penny. This is different way to do the things. The best of us have die hard film habits, and still work over every frame. You definitely can tell when you see it. And these guys often see no contradiction in using the best of both worlds. Great example to follow, I think.

lawbert
lawbert  71641 forum posts England15 Constructive Critique Points
2 May 2013 - 4:07 PM


Quote: The best of us have die hard film habits, and still work over every frame.

As you display so eloquently in your PFTongueWinkTongueWink

pablophotographer

I visited an actual photographic shop and the smell of film punched my nostrils.

No memory card can do that Tongue

lemmy
lemmy  61676 forum posts United Kingdom
2 May 2013 - 6:16 PM

I think of it this way.

If photography had originally been digital and then someone invented film, would everyone have been rushing to ditch their digital cameras in favour of the new and exciting film?

It illustrates the way things change in people's minds when MichaelMelb_AU mentions that having 'only' 36 frames at your disposal meant that you had to think about each frame. I trained with plate cameras and when some guys started using 6x6 Rolleis, the old hands were horrified. Instead of going out with a 6 DD slides, 12 shots for sometimes 6 jobs on a Saturday afternoon, they could shoot a dozen on one job ...and then....the horror....a dozen on the next....just spraying film around.

And then came 35mm...even more horror....36 frames and then reload....and then came the Nikon F motor drive.....it just got worse until eventually digital took over and wedding photographers talk about taking 5000 shots at a wedding.

To me, that's akin to just shooting a movie and picking out the best frames. No thought, no time or consideration, just hose everything down and make the decisions later. That's the way I see it as an old timer.

Funnily enough, I much prefer the quality of digital. Professionally I used 35mm Kodachrome and Fujichrome because clients demanded the quality of transparency and publications wouldn't work with anything else. I loved viewing transparencies on a box through the loupe but it doesn't come near the pleasure of seeing the shining beauty of a well exposed and interesting digital image displayed on my iPad.

But still, I choose my moments. Trawling through thousands of exposures looking for the right one, your eyes and mind become tired. The moment when your picture suddenly sparkles in the viewfinder, when it suddenly takes on its own life, that's the time to press the shutter. It takes confidence and experience but it's immensely more satisfying than firing away and hoping for the best.

But, like I said, I've been in the game a long time and my views are superseded now. Times simply change.

MichaelMelb_AU
2 May 2013 - 11:38 PM


Quote:
...As you display so eloquently in your PFTongueWinkTongueWink

That's for amusement, do not get confused between magazine and encyclopaedia SmileTongue

P.S Another observation - pro-digital squad is quite aggressive in standing their grounds. It is almost like they try to convince themselves... Shifting quality with popularity, personal references instead of talking business - communication habits of digital age?

Last Modified By MichaelMelb_AU at 2 May 2013 - 11:46 PM
monstersnowman
3 May 2013 - 12:52 AM

No it's just that they know they are right. Grin

pablophotographer

Folks

we don't shoot for others, unless we are pros, we shoot for our fun.

Each of us can have a favourite means to get a picture taken.

The matter of time (as in times change) may be relevant but

if we see the matter of representation of reality or fantasy on a surface

it becomes less relevant,

painting didn't die when photography came out.

Just as painters continue to do,
and as film is being produced we can still be "shooting" around as
snippers or machinegunners.

If we lack basic understanding of light direction, and don't have good taste

our pictures won't be good either on film or digital.

I have heard people saying that going to digital improved their pictures.
I think they mean it made handy for them to improve the final image.
I have not been sold the idea it made their photography better.

So B it.

When you are thirsty you can have a drink, what drink it's your choice.
It's your thirst you treat no-one else's

joolsb
joolsb e2 Member 927107 forum postsjoolsb vcard Switzerland38 Constructive Critique Points
3 May 2013 - 7:24 AM


Quote: If photography had originally been digital and then someone invented film, would everyone have been rushing to ditch their digital cameras in favour of the new and exciting film?

That's as sensible as saying 'if the internal combustion engine had been invented before the domestication of animals, would people ever have ridden horses?'

An empirical observation was required to get the ball rolling: seeing how certain chemicals react to light and how to apply these chemicals to a surface in order to make an image. This couldn't possibly have happened with a silicon chip as it takes more than a simple leap of imagination to see that silicon can also be made to function this way. Besides, you can't even make chips without photochemical processes. Without chemical photography much of today's digital world would simply never have happened.

Just a thought.

mikehit
mikehit e2 Member 45766 forum postsmikehit vcard United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
3 May 2013 - 8:20 AM


Quote: That's as sensible as saying 'if the internal combustion engine had been invented before the domestication of animals, would people ever have ridden horses?'

The difference being no-one asks 'can driving a car match the experience of riding a horse'. People accept that they are two different forms of transport, yet film users still insist on this question about digital 'approaching the quality' of film with the unspoken inference that as a medium of record digital is inferior.



Quote: I have heard people saying that going to digital improved their pictures.
I think they mean it made handy for them to improve the final image.

Do you mean by post processing? If so then I can only say that was not the case for me - my improvements with digital came about because I could go out with my camera, fire away with different settings, load them up that evening, review the EXIF data and assess the differences, play around with exposure buttons to see if under/over exposure would have improved it, play around with crops to see what faming would have improved the images etc etc etc. Then the next day I could go out the next day and either use that knowledge or build on it. With film I took 36 frames (all I could afford), write down what the settings were, wait 4 days for the pictures to come back and then look at them. In that respect digital has a far superior learning curve and I get huge pride in getting it right in camera.

MichaelMelb_AU
3 May 2013 - 10:19 AM


Quote: .... Without chemical photography much of today's digital world would simply never have happened.


That is very true. Modern digital cameras owe their shape, optics, autofocus, exposure metering, etc. to film cameras of yesteryears. They improved on it, sure, but did not create anything new in principle - just replaced photo chemical sensor (film) with photoelectric one (CCD or CMOS matrix). As much as it might be annoying to digital purists - digital photography is just a product of film photography evolution. Therefore asking "if anyone would know about a roast chicken while enjoying an omelette?" is not very logical.

Quote: .... film users still insist on this question about digital 'approaching the quality' of film with the unspoken inference that as a medium of record digital is inferior.


I agree that 'approaching the quality' formula is quite provocative . Digital has proven superiority in many parameters that film makers were struggling with - for example reliability of colour rendering, ISO range and resolution. Modern 1/2" digital sensor may produce a very decent image at ISO 800 - which would be an absolute nonsense with 6.4X4.8mm film frame.
Writing an eulogy to film would be a bit premature though. This could possibly happen if full frame 35mm sensors were within reach of an average amateur (alas, it is mostly professional domain for now), were not suffering from overheating in bulb mode, could work reliably from +40C to -40C ( only very few professional cameras can stand it), and were able to shrug the dust off it's surface reliably ( modern implementation in many cameras is for the lack of better word...pathetic). Even with that, there will be people who may prefer simplicity of B&W film imaging to Photoshop wodoo of flattening the color gamma into aesthetically acceptable light gradations.
And I do not see any drama or "vs" factor here.

Last Modified By MichaelMelb_AU at 3 May 2013 - 10:29 AM
keith selmes
3 May 2013 - 10:27 AM


Quote: no-one asks 'can driving a car match the experience of riding a horse'. People accept that they are two different forms of transport,

It's quite possible to accept that horses and cars are different forms of transport, whilst asserting that the horse is far superior, and the car is purely for practical purposes. If I were younger and fitter I would still be one of those people Then I've met people who enthuse over the car so much, they see no point at all in horse riding, and can be quite antagonistic and emotional about it.

In between I expect most people view the two things quite equably as having a different place in life, but there are enthusiasts on both sides, just as there are with different forms of photography.

keith selmes
3 May 2013 - 10:31 AM


Quote: able to shrug the dust off it's surface reliably

I'd like to get some film that could do that. I find dust a bigger problem with film, and looking at historical records, 'twas ever thus.

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