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

  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by jesser
    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.......

    this is a common shift of preference for almost all types of commercial photograpahy. If your client understands the value of film as much, then that will be a different story.

    film is somewhat limited to personal usage for me.

  2. #22

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    Digital and film are 2 different things. Obviously you get 2 sets of characteristics like someone else mentioned. I will say film is not there yet too, depends on how you look at it.

  3. #23
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    I think the day when affordable full-frame dSLR with 14Mp sensor becomes affordable, and when most of us owns one, then, digital could approach that of film. I have seen a 12x18 print from the new Kodak DCS 14/n. That is fabulous and hardly distinguishable from film. For the pro, I think digital has arrived. For amateur using dSLR like the D70, there is still quite a gap.

    At the rate technology is advancing, that camera is not that far off from the horizon. Remember how fast the price of DVD players drop to the current level? Probably in a year or two. Just see how much dSLR has advanced over 2 years from the D100 to the D70. Tech advancement cum price drop!

  4. #24

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    on the subject of wedding photography and other photography requiring good skin tones (with minimal post-processing work), those that complain about their dslr output not being as good as film are probably not S2 Pro users

    D30/D60/D100 'out of the camera' skin tones are clearly inferior to S2 Pro. S2 Pro is equal to my old favourite print film GPX160 for skin tones plus can print to A4 without noise/grain. 1D Mk II also good but a bit more 'neutral' in tone than S2 Pro.

    just my 0.02 cents.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by jesser
    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.......
    That's sad to hear that couples make those kind of remarks. I think its still top quality to shoot film.

  6. #26

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    Only reason I can think of for professional work to use digital over film is better and faster management of your workflow. Plus its easier and cheaper to burn images to CD and to copy the CD and pass to clients for review, instead of spending on contact prints etc

  7. #27
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    Default From S2 Pro to S3

    D30/D60/D100 'out of the camera' skin tones are clearly inferior to S2 Pro. S2 Pro is equal to my old favourite print film GPX160 for skin tones plus can print to A4 without noise/grain. 1D Mk II also good but a bit more 'neutral' in tone than S2 Pro.

    just my 0.02 cents.[/QUOTE]

    Any idea when the S2 Pro successor the S3 is arriving? It shouldn't be too far off as the S2 Pro is more than 2 years already..

  8. #28
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    Go on then, I'll bite

    Been reviewing the thread for a while and it's been bubbling along nicely.

    My own input. As background, I have been shooting semi-serious (DSLR) digital since mid 2000. And in all the following comments, I am comparing well shot digital SLR to well shot film SLR:

    [1] I would agree definitely that digital is distinguishable from film. Not necessarily in the bad sense. But it has a certain feel to it. Compared with scanned film, digital is sharper, cleaner, and seems to hold more detail. Compared with prints from film, digital prints are, well, sharper, cleaner, and seem to hold as much detail. Digital does tend to have a bit of a sterile look to it if you're not careful, but a lot of this is eliminated with greater resolving power. By the time you hit double digits in terms of megapixels, you start to tilt the unnatural feel because you get more pure detail. It's hard to explain but basically a lot of the "funny" feel to digital comes from reasonable detail levels, coupled with unnaturally sharp edges, leading to perception and expectation of higher quality, but ultimately a digital image only has X pixels. Put another way, a digital image with X million pixels appears to have the sharpness of an image with X+Y million pixels, which leads to a perception of disappointment in non-edge areas.

    [2] Smudged out look... see point 1.

    [3] Chromatic aberration. Actually digital cameras can induce some of their own CA because of the way pixel sites collect light. Some cameras suffer more from this than others. The Kodak 14 series for instance lacks microlenses and suffers more from CA, especially around areas of high contrast around the edges.

    [4] Blown out highlights. This was a problem is early digital cameras. Even in the latest digital somewhat of a hinderance, but what people need to realise is that digital cameras are akin to transparency film rather than negative film. The problem these days is not so much blown out highlights (yes they still happen but not much more often than would with a roll of Velvia for instance), but the way blown out highlights register on digital. And the answer to that is, not very well. New developments like the Fuji S3 offer hope for better highlight control, and cameras like the Kodak series that support Extended Range Imaging (ERI) actually capture a very good range of detail... I would liken it to neg film, but the same problem results, you might capture 7 stops but can only print about 3... Fact is negatives capture a great range of detail but only print 3+ due to the limits of reflected light media, and that's why 5 stop transparencies look great on a light table. No one seems to complain about the limited dynamic range of prints from negs. And I wouldn't compare point and shoot digitals... doesn't even come close.

    [5] Colours being flat and not punchy. What you have to come to realise with digital is that you are looking at the "negative" straight out of the camera. If you look at a real negative, you'll find that it's really flat and unpunchy too. The problem is that in an effort to try to capture as much dynamic range as possible, image curves need to be flattened rather than exaggerated. If you have an exaggerated curve and you've lost a bit of highlight/shadow detail, you'll never get it back. All you have to do to punch up the colours is to go back and adjust the curves appropriately. You can choose to do this in camera, but most people, myself included, prefer to capture a flatter curve that ensures all captured detail is within range, and then to flesh it out later.

    [6] Unsharp mask. Not enough people understand usm or how to best use it. Taking some time to understanding it will help most digital photographers who don't currently understand it.

    [7] Readiness. Comparing a digital SLR to a film SLR, should be no difference.

    [8] Skin tones. I think this is a largely exaggerated problem with digital. You have to understand white balance and get that right. And *not try to enlarge too big*. The problem is when you start with a small head (say, head from a full length portrait), and try to enlarge that to daft sizes (say, 20x30" at screen resolution, which is what you'd be doing when you look at it in full size), what you're trying to do is to take about 120000 pixels (not a lot in a scheme of things) and trying to make that look good at a large size. Many people forget that pixels are needed to reproduce colours as well as detail. Put another way, I've yet to see a properly shot head and shoulder DSLR portrait that doesn't have nice skin tones.

    [9] Intense light sources. Agree, see above on handling highlights. Different sensors have got different ways of behaving. Banding happens at / around light sources.

    [10] Profiles are just curve corrections. You can do it with the 1Ds, you can do it with the Kodak cameras, you can do it with any image file in PS.

    [11] Custom curves can be applied in camera or in PS. I'd certainly prefer to do it in PS because you can then undo it as well...

    [12] 14mp equalling film. I've said this several times and each time I get lots of criticism for saying so. In fact last time around someone in this thread essentially called me a liar. But I'll say it again and it's up to you to disregard it if you wish. 6mp is the crossover threshold. 6mp gives me close to what 35mm gives me. Better in some regards, poorer in others. I've done comparison enlargements and members of my camera club picked out the digital prints as being better. 14mp blows away anything I have ever been able to shoot with 35mm film. So far I haven't done a big print from 14mp yet, but my 13x19" from that looks every bit as good as APX25 on 645 done to 12x18".

    [13] Disagree completely with Gymrat. There are certainly still reasons to shoot film, but I don't agree with the specifics. The digital workflow can be very time consuming. Digital archiving is a heck of a lot better than a tray full of slides. Quality is better (arguable, see 12). Client considerations. Etc.

    Hope that helps.

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed
    Go on then, I'll bite

    Been reviewing the thread for a while and it's been bubbling along nicely.

    My own input. As background, I have been shooting semi-serious (DSLR) digital since mid 2000. And in all the following comments, I am comparing well shot digital SLR to well shot film SLR:

    [1] I would agree definitely that digital is distinguishable from film. Not necessarily in the bad sense. But it has a certain feel to it. Compared with scanned film, digital is sharper, cleaner, and seems to hold more detail. Compared with prints from film, digital prints are, well, sharper, cleaner, and seem to hold as much detail. Digital does tend to have a bit of a sterile look to it if you're not careful, but a lot of this is eliminated with greater resolving power. By the time you hit double digits in terms of megapixels, you start to tilt the unnatural feel because you get more pure detail. It's hard to explain but basically a lot of the "funny" feel to digital comes from reasonable detail levels, coupled with unnaturally sharp edges, leading to perception and expectation of higher quality, but ultimately a digital image only has X pixels. Put another way, a digital image with X million pixels appears to have the sharpness of an image with X+Y million pixels, which leads to a perception of disappointment in non-edge areas.

    [2] Smudged out look... see point 1.

    [3] Chromatic aberration. Actually digital cameras can induce some of their own CA because of the way pixel sites collect light. Some cameras suffer more from this than others. The Kodak 14 series for instance lacks microlenses and suffers more from CA, especially around areas of high contrast around the edges.

    [4] Blown out highlights. This was a problem is early digital cameras. Even in the latest digital somewhat of a hinderance, but what people need to realise is that digital cameras are akin to transparency film rather than negative film. The problem these days is not so much blown out highlights (yes they still happen but not much more often than would with a roll of Velvia for instance), but the way blown out highlights register on digital. And the answer to that is, not very well. New developments like the Fuji S3 offer hope for better highlight control, and cameras like the Kodak series that support Extended Range Imaging (ERI) actually capture a very good range of detail... I would liken it to neg film, but the same problem results, you might capture 7 stops but can only print about 3... Fact is negatives capture a great range of detail but only print 3+ due to the limits of reflected light media, and that's why 5 stop transparencies look great on a light table. No one seems to complain about the limited dynamic range of prints from negs. And I wouldn't compare point and shoot digitals... doesn't even come close.

    [5] Colours being flat and not punchy. What you have to come to realise with digital is that you are looking at the "negative" straight out of the camera. If you look at a real negative, you'll find that it's really flat and unpunchy too. The problem is that in an effort to try to capture as much dynamic range as possible, image curves need to be flattened rather than exaggerated. If you have an exaggerated curve and you've lost a bit of highlight/shadow detail, you'll never get it back. All you have to do to punch up the colours is to go back and adjust the curves appropriately. You can choose to do this in camera, but most people, myself included, prefer to capture a flatter curve that ensures all captured detail is within range, and then to flesh it out later.

    [6] Unsharp mask. Not enough people understand usm or how to best use it. Taking some time to understanding it will help most digital photographers who don't currently understand it.

    [7] Readiness. Comparing a digital SLR to a film SLR, should be no difference.

    [8] Skin tones. I think this is a largely exaggerated problem with digital. You have to understand white balance and get that right. And *not try to enlarge too big*. The problem is when you start with a small head (say, head from a full length portrait), and try to enlarge that to daft sizes (say, 20x30" at screen resolution, which is what you'd be doing when you look at it in full size), what you're trying to do is to take about 120000 pixels (not a lot in a scheme of things) and trying to make that look good at a large size. Many people forget that pixels are needed to reproduce colours as well as detail. Put another way, I've yet to see a properly shot head and shoulder DSLR portrait that doesn't have nice skin tones.

    [9] Intense light sources. Agree, see above on handling highlights. Different sensors have got different ways of behaving. Banding happens at / around light sources.

    [10] Profiles are just curve corrections. You can do it with the 1Ds, you can do it with the Kodak cameras, you can do it with any image file in PS.

    [11] Custom curves can be applied in camera or in PS. I'd certainly prefer to do it in PS because you can then undo it as well...

    [12] 14mp equalling film. I've said this several times and each time I get lots of criticism for saying so. In fact last time around someone in this thread essentially called me a liar. But I'll say it again and it's up to you to disregard it if you wish. 6mp is the crossover threshold. 6mp gives me close to what 35mm gives me. Better in some regards, poorer in others. I've done comparison enlargements and members of my camera club picked out the digital prints as being better. 14mp blows away anything I have ever been able to shoot with 35mm film. So far I haven't done a big print from 14mp yet, but my 13x19" from that looks every bit as good as APX25 on 645 done to 12x18".

    [13] Disagree completely with Gymrat. There are certainly still reasons to shoot film, but I don't agree with the specifics. The digital workflow can be very time consuming. Digital archiving is a heck of a lot better than a tray full of slides. Quality is better (arguable, see 12). Client considerations. Etc.

    Hope that helps.
    Ya sure did. Particularly para 12.

  10. #30

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    Thanks Jed for the long and useful discussion.

    I understand what whoelse and jesser are saying.

    For me, if films are cheap and convenient, then I'd definitely go for films. No matter how one argues, I still prefer films. About the only 2 things I'm attracted to digital is that the feedback is instant and there's no wastage of prints/negatives. Not much worries of storage problems too. Other than that, I feel digital is not quite there yet in terms of pushing the image quality to the highest of standards and camera handling. The 1.6x focal length multiplier for my D30 is a pain too. But I have to admit much progress has been made in digital technology. I just can't imagine the digital camera in the year 2014. Must be packed with more good stuffs. Ok, this is really my personal opinion and no flames pls! Some people may think otherwise.

    If I use slide films for eg, Velvia and Provia being my favs, the colours blow me away. I don't have to do any post-processing. What I see is dependent on the high quality nature of the film, my lens quality (if it's a Canon L lens that I use then I expect nothing less than L quality) and a good exposure of the film on my part.

    Digital can look good on screen. But when it comes off as prints, sometimes I feel disappointed. Like some say here, digital has its own 'look' and film too. But somehow, when the 2 are placed side by side, I can't help but feel film has that overall punch or 'umph'! Ok another of my personal view. No flames!

  11. #31

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    I couldn't agree with Jesser more. For the modern couples, most if not all, prefer their wedding shots done in digital. But I still insisted on shooting with film with reason that I'm the camera man and not them! I will then convert the images to digital later.

  12. #32

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    Nothing against, each has it's usefulness.
    I like the "truth" produce on film. What does that mean?
    It's the same reason why National Geographic uses film.
    So, what is the reason for NG to choose film? Same reason as my. If you don't know, it's time to find out from NG site

    I have friends who use digital the same reason why most journalist uses. What is the reason? IF you know, you will have no doubt why they use digital. Don't know? then it's time to find out too.

    It's nothing about which is better or wat this can do and that one cannot etc.
    Don't be lost my friend.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by David
    Thanks Jed for the long and useful discussion.


    If I use slide films for eg, Velvia and Provia being my favs, the colours blow me away. I don't have to do any post-processing. What I see is dependent on the high quality nature of the film, my lens quality (if it's a Canon L lens that I use then I expect nothing less than L quality) and a good exposure of the film on my part.

    Digital can look good on screen. But when it comes off as prints, sometimes I feel disappointed. Like some say here, digital has its own 'look' and film too. But somehow, when the 2 are placed side by side, I can't help but feel film has that overall punch or 'umph'! Ok another of my personal view. No flames!
    Yeah, digital has come a long, long way. However, when you compare properly shots side by side, somehow, digital loose out by a big margin, no matter what many say, even after post-processing. The thing called "umph". However, I have seen the result of the Kodak DCS 14/n at 14Mp and FF. That is another story - full frame resolution and enormous file size. But that is beyond the pocket of most amateurs. But FF sensor arriving at an affordable price like 3k might not be that far off.

    A basic dSLR is 3 to 4 times the price of the film counterpart. Paying so much and yet, get less in terms of pic quality. Swayed by lots of media hype? Herd instinct, peer pressure?

  14. #34

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    Woot... another Digital vs Film thread... Anyways, I would just like to say, being a film only shooter, that shooting in film has a much more different feel to it than digital, it gives me more satisfaction in a way... In terms of print quality...well, let's say the ordinary person would not try to differenciate whether it was shot on digital or film...if the shot is great...it's great...

    Umm...somemore on film...when shooting in film, i don't know about you guys, but i feel a sense of achievement when i print out a shot directly from the film...it was like directly through your own effort that a great shot materalized (especially when using my RF). Well, umm...for those hobbyists out there...i would highly suggest you to shoot in film, not that i don't like digital, but the process of creating a great shot on film is very satisfying...
    if my camera is there at the right moment, click, all I have to do is accept it.
    -edouard boubat

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