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Can digital still not match film?

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conrad
conrad  1010877 forum posts116 Constructive Critique Points
3 May 2013 - 10:33 AM

I find it interesting how my original question about digital being or not being able to match film (or, in other words: Can you do everything with digital photography that you can do with film photography?) turned so quickly into a two sides debate about which is better, or which would not have existed without the other, or which use there is for which, etc. Funny how a practical question can lead to this.

But maybe it's my own fault, maybe to be completely clear about what I wanted to know I should have asked "Is there anything that film offers that absolutely cannot be replicated with digital photography?"

Last Modified By conrad at 3 May 2013 - 10:35 AM
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3 May 2013 - 10:33 AM

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keith selmes
3 May 2013 - 10:36 AM


Quote: if full frame 35mm sensors were within reach of an average amateur (alas, it is mostly professional domain for now)

I'm surprised by that. It may be correct for all I know, but not what I would expect. Perhaps my casual impressions are off beam.

mikehit
mikehit  56682 forum posts United Kingdom11 Constructive Critique Points
3 May 2013 - 10:50 AM


Quote: "Is there anything that film offers that absolutely cannot be replicated with digital photography?"

Grain.



[dons tin hat]

MichaelMelb_AU
3 May 2013 - 11:03 AM


Quote: if full frame 35mm sensors were within reach of an average amateur (alas, it is mostly professional domain for now)I'm surprised by that. It may be correct for all I know, but not what I would expect. Perhaps my casual impressions are off beam.

Have a look at Canon classification. Not that an amateur is prohibited from having a full format camera body - but that reflects on pricing policy. Wink

Last Modified By MichaelMelb_AU at 3 May 2013 - 11:04 AM
conrad
conrad  1010877 forum posts116 Constructive Critique Points
3 May 2013 - 11:17 AM


Quote: "Is there anything that film offers that absolutely cannot be replicated with digital photography?"

Grain.


[dons tin hat]

So how about FGO (Film Grain Overlay - "a process in which film emulsion characteristics are overlaid using different levels of opacity onto a digital file. This process adds film noise characteristics..."), or something like TrueGrain?

Last Modified By conrad at 3 May 2013 - 11:17 AM
MichaelMelb_AU
3 May 2013 - 11:26 AM


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

This is incorrect. Dust with film is a bit of a problem after the negative had actually developed - thus may be removed with no effect on the image whatsoever. Every new frame comes on exposure table of the camera pristine and dust free ( a good cassette seal takes care of it). In digital however the dust accumulates on the sensor every lens change, and removing it is a tedious and risky process. No camera manufacturer recommends physical contact with camera sensor at home. Old camera manuals never even mentioned dust as a problem.

Last Modified By MichaelMelb_AU at 3 May 2013 - 11:26 AM
mikehit
mikehit  56682 forum posts United Kingdom11 Constructive Critique Points
3 May 2013 - 11:31 AM

In that case .....Nothing. Grin

joolsb
joolsb  927115 forum posts Switzerland38 Constructive Critique Points
3 May 2013 - 11:34 AM


Quote: "Is there anything that film offers that absolutely cannot be replicated with digital photography?"

Colour resolution for fine detail. Because colour on Bayer-pattern sensors is just an approximation (a good one, mind, backed by very clever maths), any colour details that are smaller than a cluster of RGBG sensels simply get averaged out.

(OK, Foveon sensors work more like film and don't have this problem but how many people use them compared to Bayer-pattern? Wink )

samueldilworth
3 May 2013 - 11:40 AM

joolsb:

Quote: 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.

A further thought is that digital cameras are still largely analogue, by necessity. The people who design their CCD or CMOS sensors are called ‘analogue chip designers’. The output of these sensors, which in many cases is analogue (all Canon SLRs, for example), is fed through analogue-to-digital converters like the Analog Devices AD9974, of which there are six in a Nikon D700, for example. (That’s about $200 of ADC chips alone: one reason the D700 was expensive.)

conrad:

Quote: But maybe it's my own fault, maybe to be completely clear about what I wanted to know I should have asked "Is there anything that film offers that absolutely cannot be replicated with digital photography?"

How about this. When you take a photo with film the light causes a photochemical reaction in the emulsion on a piece of polyester film (Ralph Gibson, among others, is very besotted with this, describing it romantically as ‘alchemy’). For an instant, the emulsion sees light for the first time in its life (imagine its surprise!). And that piece of plastic, a slide perhaps, is forever more a physical artefact that bore witness to the scene photographed. Is there something special about holding in your hands the actual piece of film that was exposed at the top of Mount Everest, for example?

If there is, then that special something can’t be replicated by any amount of manipulation on digital data, since some of the interest lies not in the information but in the medium itself.

mikehit
mikehit  56682 forum posts United Kingdom11 Constructive Critique Points
3 May 2013 - 11:51 AM


Quote: since some of the interest lies not in the information but in the medium itself

Yep - just like vinyl vs CD (no, I don't want to open that one up again) there is a ritual with film that some people are hooked on.

conrad
conrad  1010877 forum posts116 Constructive Critique Points
3 May 2013 - 11:54 AM


Quote: How about this. When you take a photo with film the light causes a photochemical reaction in the emulsion on a piece of polyester film (Ralph Gibson, among others, is very besotted with this, describing it romantically as ‘alchemy’). For an instant, the emulsion sees light for the first time in its life (imagine its surprise!). And that piece of plastic, a slide perhaps, is forever more a physical artefact that bore witness to the scene photographed. Is there something special about holding in your hands the actual piece of film that was exposed at the top of Mount Everest, for example?

If there is, then that special something can’t be replicated by any amount of manipulation on digital data, since some of the interest lies not in the information but in the medium itself.

Ah, interesting approach to the question. Not exactly what I had in mind, I have to admit, I was thinking more of how the photos looked. But this is an interesting thought.

MichaelMelb_AU
3 May 2013 - 12:06 PM


Quote: "Is there anything that film offers that absolutely cannot be replicated with digital photography?"

This is individual. As for me that would be:
- accessibility of the best in technology at any level of expertise. One does not need to have a top camera to have a professional grade light sensor(film);
- simpler ways to achieve the best results (B&W mostly);
- Chance to exercise my "photographic seeing" and working out confidence without developing compulsive obsession of checking every image after the shutter had fired;
- Freedom of having a single original image without making a double backup in case of HDD failure;
- Less trash in my photo archive that is sure to last till the next century;
- Last but not least - excitement and anticipation when the final result comes after development.

mikehit
mikehit  56682 forum posts United Kingdom11 Constructive Critique Points
3 May 2013 - 12:24 PM


Quote: "Is there anything that film offers that absolutely cannot be replicated with digital photography?"

MichaelMelb_Au

Quote: This is individual. As for me that would be:
- accessibility of the best in technology at any level of expertise. One does not need to have a top camera to have a professional grade light sensor(film); The consumer level Canon 600D has a 'professional grade' sensor. I am sure a pro could take saleable images with it
- simpler ways to achieve the best results (B&W mostly); import with a B&W preset
- Chance to exercise my "photographic seeing" and working out confidence without developing compulsive obsession of checking every image after the shutter had fired; discipline - don't chimp
- Freedom of having a single original image without making a double backup in case of HDD failure; Agreed. But if you house burns down where is your backup because the film will go up with it?
- Less trash in my photo archive that is sure to last till the next century; discipline - don't photograph trash
- Last but not least - excitement and anticipation when the final result comes after development. take your pictures and put the CF card in a drawer for three days. Or only download when it is full

I think that is a fairly comprehensive list of replication Grin

On the other hand:
- I really wanted to take a picture of the cat giving a piggy back to a mongoose but I had run out of film
- I was gong to take a really good picture of the sun bursting through the cloud but gambled that a better moment might come along so I waited instead. But it never happened.

Last Modified By mikehit at 3 May 2013 - 12:25 PM
thewilliam
3 May 2013 - 12:28 PM

One advantage of film is the longevity and accessibility of the images. The old RPS archive contained some of the first photographs ever made. New prints could be made from the negatives and many original prints are in excellent condition.

Who can still read from a floppy disk, of any size? Will CD drives be commonly available 10 years from now?

conrad
conrad  1010877 forum posts116 Constructive Critique Points
3 May 2013 - 12:37 PM

That´s a good point, actually, longevity. Although in the case of digital files it can be solved by periodically copying the files to a new storage medium.

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