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Thread: Digital vs. regular SLRs

  1. #1
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    Question Digital vs. regular SLRs

    hi y'all,

    i'm currently using a Nikon F90X now with the MB-10 battery pack, and i'm seriously considering switching to the yet-to-be released Nikon D100. i'm very happy with the performance of my trusty 90X since i got it a coupla years ago but now with the amount of photos i snap these days, it's making more sense for me to switch to a digital SLR.

    my question is this - are there any significant differences between digital & regular (analogue?) SLRs? i've heard somewhere that focal length for lens are different on a digital SLR - e.g. a 20mm lens would be 30mm on a DSLR. is that true? anything else that i should know about?

    anyone who's made the jump to digital, care to share your experience here? any pitfalls or advantages? i think there's plenty more people here who would wanna hear your comments and input as well.

    thanks!!!

  2. #2

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    Following the advise of Master Yoda in your signature, just do it lah!

    Since you are seriously considering, you probably already have a list of reasons. What are they?

    The focal length multiplier part is true. 1.5x. The CCD / CMOS sensor covers a smaller part of the full 35mm frame, hence in effect you get "in-camera cropping" though WYSIWYG through the viewfinder.

    Besides the general advantages and disadvantages, you will want to consider whether there are various functions on each camera that are essential to your photographic needs eg if you need a bit more flash sync speed, frame-advance speed in the F90X (in which case you might consider a used D1h over a D100).

    Why I would go for digital:
    - No need to change film (though one can still run out of digital film).
    - Ability to change film speed at will.
    - Ability to change film type through white-balance functions.
    - Pictures already in digital format for editing, transmission, web and prepress. Save film and film canisters.
    - instant preview saves time and effort in certain situations eg studio shots, weird lighting situations. Just correct for any undesired effect on the spot. Conversely, looking at the LCD screen might cause you shots during situations where things and anything are happening.
    - and stuff I missed out

    Why I am still keeping a film camera:
    - Film still contains more pixels in a full frame vs a 6MP image. Actually I have not encountered a situation where I need to shoot film over digital because of resolution. But definitely still a consideration. At least National Geographic still insists on slides. Sports Illustrated has been using images from D1s, 1Ds and D60s.
    - Some film are nice and their effects still not quite replicable digitally. Arguably, this is a traditionalist / aesthetic reason at best, chow antique at worst, duh
    - Personal preference for taking light and cheap looking manual film SLR and lens for travel. That might change with 700g D100
    - Film or digital camera, they both are tools in their own right.
    - As a backup. Money no enough for multiple digital SLRs.
    - and stuff I missed out.

    If you are really into certain types of film look, then the D100 might not be able to replicate (to tastes) the effects of say TMax3200 pushed 2 stops, cross-processing (or does somebody has a photoshop filter?). Still, digital is an unstoppable trend.

    More comments?
    Last edited by igpenguin; 25th April 2002 at 08:38 AM.

  3. #3

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    I think the number one reason why I'm switching to digital is the cost involved.

    Note: Rough estimate on prices follow

    Using my F90X

    Bulk roll of Provia 100F (36 exposures) ~ $4.50
    Development charges ~ $4.00
    Assuming I enlarge on average 3 4Rs each roll = $12.00 (with cropping)

    Total = $20.50

    Using a D100

    Enlarge 3 4Rs each 36 exposures ~ $6.00 (including handling charges)

    Total = $6

    With a savings of $14.50 per roll, the cost of the D100 ($3800) can be recovered in 200+ rolls.

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    Originally posted by Lennier
    With a savings of $14.50 per roll, the cost of the D100 ($3800) can be recovered in 200+ rolls.

    This is one of the misconceptions and overused justification for switching to digital.

    Honestly speaking - do you shoot 200+ rolls in a year, or even 2-3 years?

    However, shooting digital does give you some advantages (as pointed out by igpenguin, with the ability to see your result instantly being the most beneficial.

    And, having moved to digital and cutting out the cost of film, typically digital users find themselves shooting more (common to shoot 100-200 pics in a day) which, IF they were using film, would not have been possible unless you are a PRO working on an assignment and not just shooting for fun.

    And in shooting more digitally, you would also tend to learn more about photography, and not be afraid to experiment (a key drawback for film users is that experimentation is EXPENSIVE).

  5. #5

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    Originally posted by Darren

    This is one of the misconceptions and overused justification for switching to digital.

    Honestly speaking - do you shoot 200+ rolls in a year, or even 2-3 years?

    Darren,

    200 in 3 years. Yes, very possible. In what way is it a misconception?

    In terms of what the future holds for digital, I'd expect film costs to go up as people switch to digital. It may not take place for the next 2-3 years, but a $3800 investment extends beyond this timeframe.

    I think one other important aspect to consider is also the archivability of digital pictures.
    Last edited by Lennier; 25th April 2002 at 10:57 AM.

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    lennier,
    its a misconception in the sense that the cost of film (including processing + development) is used to justify the cost of the digital body where, in general, the person making the cost justification DOES NOT SHOOT that much film in the first place - I know since I sorta been there and done that.

    Its a more persuasive argument if you weigh the benefits of going digital rather than just use film cost as the main factor.

    And don't forget, most of the time, going digital also requires investment in other areas like CF card readers, FireWire cards, beefed up PCs with lots of storage, software..... the list of $$$ goes on

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    Take it from Darren, he's been there and done that!

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    Originally posted by Darren
    lennier,
    its a misconception in the sense that the cost of film (including processing + development) is used to justify the cost of the digital body where, in general, the person making the cost justification DOES NOT SHOOT that much film in the first place - I know since I sorta been there and done that.

    Its a more persuasive argument if you weigh the benefits of going digital rather than just use film cost as the main factor.

    And don't forget, most of the time, going digital also requires investment in other areas like CF card readers, FireWire cards, beefed up PCs with lots of storage, software..... the list of $$$ goes on
    I have to agree with you. Many people have the misconception that going digital equates to a huge cost savings in processing. But other than the additional equipment required, there's also something even more expensive : Time. And time is money.

    With digital, you probably need to spend a lot of time in processing the pictures on your PC to bring out the best in them. Things like contrast adjustment, USM, etc. And if you shoot in RAW, time is also needed to convert them to JPG, etc.

    At the end of the day, if you don't shoot a ridiculous amount of film, the initial outlay of going digital may not be worth it at all. If you shoot slides, use bulk film and don't get your slides into your PC, it's quite cheap.

    Regards
    CK

  9. #9

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    Originally posted by Darren
    lennier,
    Its a more persuasive argument if you weigh the benefits of going digital rather than just use film cost as the main factor.

    And don't forget, most of the time, going digital also requires investment in other areas like CF card readers, FireWire cards, beefed up PCs with lots of storage, software..... the list of $$$ goes on
    Well, yes, factoring in more benefits of digital will definitely make the argument more pursuasive. I did mention that price was merely the number one reason, and not the ONLY reason.

    IMO, both 35mm and digital photography requires a HUGE investment in terms of time. It is a hobby we've spent a greater part of our lives with. With slides, one has to crop, mount, project, etc etc. It's the same with digital I suppose.

    With a digital, your running costs are ultimately going to be lower than using today's 35mm camera.
    Last edited by Lennier; 25th April 2002 at 02:06 PM.

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    I'm held back by the tremendous rate of technical advancement in the Digital Cams. Having a hole burn in you pocket, a D SLR bought a year ago suddenly look more antique to the market than a film SLR bought 10 years ago. For example, Eos 50e performs relative similar to Eos 30 except maybe the new cmos sensor is better, but you can't tell.

    However, most of you can tell there is a huge difference between D30 and D60. The improvement in pixel count is almost double. And the foveon X3 technology will soon push them out of the way, if one of the big guys (C,M,P,N) uses it in their D Slr. The resale price of the old D SLR may not worth 60% for what you'd paid for. Given the instability in technology, You'll have to ask the same question over and over again. Can the D SLR holds its value in face of a new markup model?

    It is not too difficult to predict that all D cams will approach the concept of X3 if there are no better technology. So why spend a fortune getting into D SLR now? We are not reporters, we don't need to meet news agenda, we don't have a company budget for it. So no harm keeping to the film SLR until the market is stable.

    Pictures are still Pictures, unless you can squeeze $$$ from it :P


    http://www.foveon.net/X3_comparison.html

  11. #11

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    Originally posted by Lennier


    Well, yes, factoring in more benefits of digital will definitely make the argument more pursuasive. I did mention that price was merely the number one reason, and not the ONLY reason.

    IMO, both 35mm and digital photography requires a HUGE investment in terms of time. It is a hobby we've spend a greater part of our lives with. With slides, one has to crop, mount, project, etc etc. It's the same with digital I suppose.

    With a digital, your running costs are ultimately going to be lower than using today's 35mm camera.
    Uh, over how long a period? 5 years? 10 years?

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    Many ppl here own both. Why digital? With a DSLR, I can learn faster and am not afraid of wasting films. I will shoot more and enjoy more otherwise all my lenses stay longer at home. Why film? The quality of slides is unbeatable as per now. Sometimes I prefer printed photo album with cute stuff on it. If till one day I can print out photos/slides with the same (or even better) quality from DSLR at the same (or even lower) price, there will be no argue at all.

  13. #13

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    Originally posted by tomshen
    Many ppl here own both. Why digital? With a DSLR, I can learn faster and am not afraid of wasting films. I will shoot more and enjoy more otherwise all my lenses stay longer at home. Why film? The quality of slides is unbeatable as per now. Sometimes I prefer printed photo album with cute stuff on it. If till one day I can print out photos/slides with the same (or even better) quality from DSLR at the same (or even lower) price, there will be no argue at all.
    How big are you planning to blow up your pictures until? At 3R, 4R or 5R, most people would be hard pressed to see any difference between film or digital at all.

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    Richard,

    Yes, except the price of the body :P

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    Originally posted by Richard


    How big are you planning to blow up your pictures until? At 3R, 4R or 5R, most people would be hard pressed to see any difference between film or digital at all.
    To me now film body = slide film body No negative...

  16. #16

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    Originally posted by tomshen
    The quality of slides is unbeatable as per now. Sometimes I prefer printed photo album with cute stuff on it. If till one day I can print out photos/slides with the same (or even better) quality from DSLR at the same (or even lower) price, there will be no argue at all.
    Actually, I believe the crossover point is close.

    Slides, when viewed with a good loupe, or projected will produce unbeatable images, nuff said.

    But once you do a slide to print, damn.

    With a DSLR, you've got your image in pixels already. No need to invest in costly slide scanners or have them scanned by someone else for a fee. The printed 8R from a D30 is indistinguishable from a STP 8R. Beyond 12R, the limitations of digital may become more readily apparent.

    The other day, dunno how many of you guys were at the Digital Seminar. When the presenter demoed the picture of the local actress, it was taken on an Olympus E10. Amazing detail on the printed picture.
    Last edited by Lennier; 25th April 2002 at 02:07 PM.

  17. #17

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    Originally posted by Richard


    Uh, over how long a period? 5 years? 10 years?
    With the present technology in the D60 or D100, I'd say you could keep the camera for at least 5 years (dunno how long CMOS/CCD chips last compared to your film shutter).

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    Originally posted by Lennier


    Actually, I believe the crossover point is close.

    Slides, when viewed with a good loupe, or projected will produce unbeatable images, nuff said.

    But once you do a slide to print, damn.

    With a DSLR, you've got your image in pixels already. No need to invest in costly slide scanners or have them scanned by someone else for a fee. The printed 8R from a D30 is indistinguishable from a STP 8R. Beyond 12R, the limitations of digital may become more readily apparent.

    The other day, dunno how many of you guys were at the Digital Seminar. When the presenter demoed the picture of the local actress, it was taken on an Olympus E10. Amazing detail on the printed picture.
    Heh. I blew up that pic to 100% on that Mac. There are signs of oversharpening.

    Regards
    CK

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    wow thanks for the advice and comments!

    since i started this thread, i guess i should add my 2 cents worth why i'm considering a DSLR, particularly a D100.

    1 - i've gotten my grubby hands on both a D1X and EOS1D before to play with for a few days (review units for the media) and my gawd, the experience was liberating. no fear of badly taken shots (i just delete them), no dollar signs going off in the back of my head when i snap film or negs, i could switch ISO halfway... the list goes on.

    2 - i do probably shoot 200+ rolls a year, but i think that if i go digital, i'll end up shooting a absurd number of images, given that there's no processing costs. i think the added freedom and creativity given is one Major factor. i've seen photogs with DSLRs just snap away without a care while "old-timers" like me where holding back from unnecessary shots.

    3 - the coming of the D100 was quite a big factor as well. I've been waiting for a decent nikon DSLR to be launched that wouldn't cost upwards of S$8000 (like the D1 series), and since i'm reluctant to switch platforms to Canon (for the D30) with all my nikon barang-barang and accessories, the D100 is quite ideal for my purposes.

    4 - i'm still considering keeping my trusty F90X. a bit too heart-pain to let go, like a old friend. and someone made a comment that's quite true - you can't really digitally replicate some of the effects that films can give. although with the rate of technology advances, i don't think that'll be far away. the F90X will also serve as a backup, or for freelance jobs where the client only accepts slides or negs.

    so that's it in a nutshell... why i wanna get a digital body. but i'm just wary of difference in the 2 "platforms", like the difference in lens focal length and white balancing and so on.

    anyone have any comments on the stuff to watch out for when using a DLSR instead of a traditional one?

  20. #20
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    Actually, after much research and perosnal experience, I'd say there's no right or wrong or BIG difference in $$$ spent between digital and film. At the end, it's your style, photography interest and how you manage your $$$.

    Digital is good for me cos I get to see the results immediately and I learn. The big downside is the battery consumption and lack of storage capacity.

    Much as I've tried to justify why I own a digital, or why film camera is still better, I still find it hard to say one is better than the other. It's in the application of your work.

    When traveling as an amateur photograher, there's no way I can solely depend on digital alone.

    I shoot slides but I don't wish to just appreciate my work through the loupe. And I don't own a projector.

    But I like to share with friends on the Net and archive images. That's where digital plays a big part. I save clutter from tons of albums in the cupboard and headache from storing slides.

    Colour and sharpness in consideration, to me, digital can't beat films. But when you tweak in photoediting softwares like PS, of cos miracles happen. But that's a totally different story altogether.

    I may be biased here, but having used films much more than digital, I still feel REAL photography comes from using a film SLR. I still like the feel and control. It feels more real when images come from films than mere pixels. And I think more wisely b4 I shoot.

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