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Thread: Are we there yet in digital photography (compred to films)?

  1. #1

    Default Are we there yet in digital photography (compred to films)?

    Ok... This may have been discussed long before but I'm bringing it up more as a serious discussion based on my observation that I've been doing lately. This is not intended to be a flaming session. :P Just pure objective reasoning please...

    I've been using a Canon D30 DSLR for some time and have also taken pictures on prosumer compact digital cameras. Before that, I'm a big film SLR user.

    From the prints that I did on my own and others I've seen, either from friends or showrooms, eg Canon, I noticed that by and large, I could tell without much difficulty if the print was from a digital camera. They all 'suffer' (for want of a better word) from the following characteristics:

    1. 'Smudged out' look. I don't really know how to describe this... But it's just that the final printout has fine details 'blurred' out.

    2. Tendency of chromatic aberration. This is probably the number one weakness in prosumer cams. No matter whether it's a $500 or $1500 digital cam, take a picture of a sharp outline against say a fairly bright overcast sky and chances are you get to see some colour cast at the edges, usually bluish or purple in colour.

    3. Blown out highlights. They don't hold details as well as print films. Limited exposure latitude.

    4. Colours sometimes appear less punchy. Some people say you have to use external softwares to bring out colours like those you see in films like Velvia or other pro ones. Even then, it's almost always necessary to use photoshop to improve the contrast and colour of images.

    I've shot both in RAW and jpg formats and the above are characteristics I observe in a prosumer cam and even on my D30. Some of them are even made on L lenses! But when I shoot on slide or film, the saturated punchy colours for one just say a lot about the films used. The sharpness and details cannot run when a high quality lens is used too. May not be so for a DSLR.

    The only exceptions I notice to the above are big digital photography events where they used big models like a Canon 1D/1DS or Nikon D1H and blow the prints to A3 or larger. Then it's almost impossible to tell if it's from film or digital.

    So is it due to post-editing, whether low or high end camera is used.... or just that we are not quite there yet in digital photography?

  2. #2
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    how did you do the prints? from photo lab or own printer?

  3. #3

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    I've tried both ways. I can usually tell when prints are made from digital. Not all the time but fairly frequently. On my ex-colleague's wedding, when I was shown the print, I could tell without any difficulty it's from digital even though I wasn't present there. The photographer was using a DSLR and got the images printed at a shop.

    You can go down to Canon's showroom in Funan and take a look at the laminated sample prints from cameras such as the A and G series. On close inspection, I could tell it's from digital. The biggest giveaway is the the 'smudgy' look on some parts of the prints as I mentioned earlier. The next giveaway is the purple fringing, especially if there are sharp edges against a bright white background.

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by David
    Ok... This may have been discussed long before but I'm bringing it up more as a serious discussion based on my observation that I've been doing lately. This is not intended to be a flaming session. :P Just pure objective reasoning please...

    I've been using a Canon D30 DSLR for some time and have also taken pictures on prosumer compact digital cameras. Before that, I'm a big film SLR user.

    From the prints that I did on my own and others I've seen, either from friends or showrooms, eg Canon, I noticed that by and large, I could tell without much difficulty if the print was from a digital camera. They all 'suffer' (for want of a better word) from the following characteristics:

    1. 'Smudged out' look. I don't really know how to describe this... But it's just that the final printout has fine details 'blurred' out.
    1) did you do "unsharp mask" proccessing in photoshop? there is a low pass filter in all DSLRs and you have to perform that post processing to obtain its natural sharpest.

    Quote Originally Posted by David
    2. Tendency of chromatic aberration. This is probably the number one weakness in prosumer cams. No matter whether it's a $500 or $1500 digital cam, take a picture of a sharp outline against say a fairly bright overcast sky and chances are you get to see some colour cast at the edges, usually bluish or purple in colour.
    2. Chromatic aberration is apparent to the lens, not the body.

    Quote Originally Posted by David
    3. Blown out highlights. They don't hold details as well as print films. Limited exposure latitude.
    true

    Quote Originally Posted by David
    4. Colours sometimes appear less punchy. Some people say you have to use external softwares to bring out colours like those you see in films like Velvia or other pro ones. Even then, it's almost always necessary to use photoshop to improve the contrast and colour of images.
    4) you use different films to get more puncher colours right? you can use photoshop to get different colours as well, fair




    Quote Originally Posted by David
    I've shot both in RAW and jpg formats and the above are characteristics I observe in a prosumer cam and even on my D30. Some of them are even made on L lenses! But when I shoot on slide or film, the saturated punchy colours for one just say a lot about the films used. The sharpness and details cannot run when a high quality lens is used too. May not be so for a DSLR.
    its a 3 megapixel second generation DSLR,for the current crop of the DSLRs you get better results in resolution, details but may not be better than film, have to sit on the fence for this one.



    Quote Originally Posted by David
    The only exceptions I notice to the above are big digital photography events where they used big models like a Canon 1D/1DS or Nikon D1H and blow the prints to A3 or larger. Then it's almost impossible to tell if it's from film or digital.

    So is it due to post-editing, whether low or high end camera is used.... or just that we are not quite there yet in digital photography?
    Last edited by Belle&Sebastain; 29th June 2004 at 10:07 PM.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by David
    I've tried both ways. I can usually tell when prints are made from digital. Not all the time but fairly frequently. On my ex-colleague's wedding, when I was shown the print, I could tell without any difficulty it's from digital even though I wasn't present there. The photographer was using a DSLR and got the images printed at a shop.

    You can go down to Canon's showroom in Funan and take a look at the laminated sample prints from cameras such as the A and G series. On close inspection, I could tell it's from digital. The biggest giveaway is the the 'smudgy' look on some parts of the prints as I mentioned earlier. The next giveaway is the purple fringing, especially if there are sharp edges against a bright white background.

    are you comparing digicams to film SLRs? or DSLR to SLR, i'm confused here.

    for digicams, i also can safely say that the resolution and details are not on par to films qualitly.
    Last edited by Belle&Sebastain; 29th June 2004 at 10:11 PM.

  6. #6

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    1) did you do "unsharp mask" proccessing in photoshop? there is a low pass filter in all DSLRs and you have to perform that post processing to obtain its natural sharpest.

    Of cos, of cos... It's not just my pictures. It's by and large the observation I've made from numerous prints done by others too. Anyway, the 'smudge' I was referriing to is not the same as 'not sharp'. I can't find a good way to describe it here. If you give me sample prints, I can point it out to you. If you're a beginner, it may not be apparent. But once you've seen most digital prints with that pattern, it's quite easy to tell. You can't improve it with USM.

    2) Chromatic aberration is apparent to the lens, not the body.

    Most certainly. For prosumer digital cams, the tendency to have CA is higher. Compared to even film compact cams. My observation again.

    4) you use different films to get more puncher colours right? you can use photoshop to get different colours as well, fair

    Ermmm.. I think there's some truth in this... but can you reproduce it like that of films? I'm not sure about that. Maybe someone could fill me in on this. Something to do with a more limited colour gamut in digital than films?

    I don't know... Much as I like digital now compared to films, there' re things about films which digital cannot give in prints. Maybe I'm just using a 3-4 MP cam. Not too sure about the 6MP and above ones with large CCD sensors.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Belle&Sebastain
    are you comparing digicams to film SLRs? or DSLR to SLR, i'm confused here.

    for digicams, i also can safely say that the resolution and details are not on par to films qualitly.
    DSLR to SLR??? No. I'm comparing digital to films.

  8. #8

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    Eventually people will "get used" to digicam prints as they become the industry standard for photography.

    It's really moot trying to make digital to emulate the look of film. It simply has different characteristics.

    Digital or film, they are simply different tools/medium for appropriate application.

  9. #9

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    I was impress looking at a friend's wedding album that are taken by professional using dslr sometime ago. Then she show me another set and told me that this other set was taken by film and immediately I realise it was so much better taken by film even though I was impress by the 1st one taken by dslr. Somewhat David has discript is the different I saw comparing the 2 seeing from the albums. But then it's good enuf whether digital or film. But since I'm a lousy digital processor and hated image editing and no time for that also making picture on film and the quality I get from film is what I prefer, I have no second thoughts on digital image or interest for it. So, make your own call. You are the boss

  10. #10

    Lightbulb

    can print can already

  11. #11

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    The only problem I have with digital is readiness.
    I can whip my N65 up and snap a picture in no time flat. My digital takes time to boot/zoom, etc. I'm using a consumer digital, maybe that's the problem

  12. #12
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    There is a difference between Consumer Pro digital and a DSLR.
    It is not just digital to film. You have to consider the medium and the equipment as well. You could also easily tell photos from a SLR and a compact film camera right.


    Quote Originally Posted by David
    DSLR to SLR??? No. I'm comparing digital to films.

  13. #13

    Default

    Chromatic aberration is apparent to the lens, not the body.

    Most certainly. For prosumer digital cams, the tendency to have CA is higher. Compared to even film compact cams. My observation again.


    Sorry to OT a bit. I watched Apollo 13 on Imax last night and the CA on certain scenes was really bad. I guessed the film was blown up several times larger than the original film format and camera lens quality to control CA was shown gloriously on the IMAX screen. For digital photos, we tend to view 100% of the frame on the PC compares to film.

  14. #14

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    of course i know you David! you are very experience and guide me on looking for 18% grey before, i sold you my FM2.

    i'm back using films as well, generally i know what you are trying to say but its not fair comparing general comsumer digicams to DSLRs against film, we need to compare SLRs to DSLRs, compact cameras to small digicams, that's my point.

    there is a difference, esp when you look at skin tones. On film the colour is more natural, on DSLRs you need to know what to tweeked it to get what you want, but its possible.

    my motto for digital is: the MRT/cab/plane is my darkroom/ how can you beat that for film?

    my main reason going back to film is that none of the compact digicam is capable of giving me acceptable qualilty of landscapes and high ISO. the details are often lost (as you mention 'smudge').
    But smudge prints on DSLR, not very likely, unless the lens is not goodenough.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by likefunyouare
    Sorry to OT a bit. I watched Apollo 13 on Imax last night and the CA on certain scenes was really bad. I guessed the film was blown up several times larger than the original film format and camera lens quality to control CA was shown gloriously on the IMAX screen. For digital photos, we tend to view 100% of the frame on the PC compares to film.
    That is not necessarily chromatic abberation although it is a similar effect. Might be simply due to improperly tuned convergence controls on the projector.

    Digital cameras do have a higher propensity to demonstrate CA like artifacts either to incident angle of rays striking the CCD or due to birefringence of the CCD itself.

  16. #16

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    another thing i heard about DSLR or digital photography in general is that if u shoot something that has intense light, u get strange fringing or waxy tones. eg, a landscape shot with a sun in it.

    i also heard u can get film kind of simulated colours too, but its from 1Ds. the software allows u to process the RAW file in 'fuji velvia' profile. so u get an image similar to velvia film.

    even tho i know the limitations about digital, i m begining to sway to be digitised. the convenience of digital is just hard to beat. any other problems can almost always have workarounds.

    happy shooting.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by nightpiper
    another thing i heard about DSLR or digital photography in general is that if u shoot something that has intense light, u get strange fringing or waxy tones. eg, a landscape shot with a sun in it.

    i also heard u can get film kind of simulated colours too, but its from 1Ds. the software allows u to process the RAW file in 'fuji velvia' profile. so u get an image similar to velvia film.

    even tho i know the limitations about digital, i m begining to sway to be digitised. the convenience of digital is just hard to beat. any other problems can almost always have workarounds.

    happy shooting.
    You can have different film effects using Nikon DSLRs just by using different custom curves. There's a few already out, including a Fuji Provia one that I've seen

  18. #18

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    wow!! thx for sharing this pc of news. i didn't know such profiles existed in the lower end system. any library of collection for such curves on the net?

    say, can this custom curve thing be done in post processing of RAW files? or it can only be done in the cam? i hope the day when u can load a no. of curves into the cam & select whichever 'type of film', comes quickly, just like selecting white balance. maybe 'D200'?

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by nightpiper
    wow!! thx for sharing this pc of news. i didn't know such profiles existed in the lower end system. any library of collection for such curves on the net?

    say, can this custom curve thing be done in post processing of RAW files? or it can only be done in the cam? i hope the day when u can load a no. of curves into the cam & select whichever 'type of film', comes quickly, just like selecting white balance. maybe 'D200'?
    More information can be found here:

    Curves can be loaded up for RAW files when using apps like Photoshop or Nikon Capture etc. Unfortunately, at present, only custom curve can be stored in my D70 at any one time.

    Cheers
    GYR

  20. #20

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by David
    Ok... This may have been discussed long before but I'm bringing it up more as a serious discussion based on my observation that I've been doing lately. This is not intended to be a flaming session. :P Just pure objective reasoning please...

    I've been using a Canon D30 DSLR for some time and have also taken pictures on prosumer compact digital cameras. Before that, I'm a big film SLR user.

    From the prints that I did on my own and others I've seen, either from friends or showrooms, eg Canon, I noticed that by and large, I could tell without much difficulty if the print was from a digital camera. They all 'suffer' (for want of a better word) from the following characteristics:

    1. 'Smudged out' look. I don't really know how to describe this... But it's just that the final printout has fine details 'blurred' out.

    2. Tendency of chromatic aberration. This is probably the number one weakness in prosumer cams. No matter whether it's a $500 or $1500 digital cam, take a picture of a sharp outline against say a fairly bright overcast sky and chances are you get to see some colour cast at the edges, usually bluish or purple in colour.

    3. Blown out highlights. They don't hold details as well as print films. Limited exposure latitude.

    4. Colours sometimes appear less punchy. Some people say you have to use external softwares to bring out colours like those you see in films like Velvia or other pro ones. Even then, it's almost always necessary to use photoshop to improve the contrast and colour of images.

    I've shot both in RAW and jpg formats and the above are characteristics I observe in a prosumer cam and even on my D30. Some of them are even made on L lenses! But when I shoot on slide or film, the saturated punchy colours for one just say a lot about the films used. The sharpness and details cannot run when a high quality lens is used too. May not be so for a DSLR.

    The only exceptions I notice to the above are big digital photography events where they used big models like a Canon 1D/1DS or Nikon D1H and blow the prints to A3 or larger. Then it's almost impossible to tell if it's from film or digital.

    So is it due to post-editing, whether low or high end camera is used.... or just that we are not quite there yet in digital photography?
    i totally agree with you......i'm a serious films user......and had love the print-out from different kinds of films/neg.. i still shoot films on my wedding jobs. the problem now i face from some couples giving remarks as ......"huh??!!...you're not using digital camera???!!!....."....kind of low standard......guess i need to switch to digital as more couples prefer it to be.......

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