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Thread: Digital versus Film Cameras

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    Default Digital versus Film Cameras

    Everyone,

    First I'd like to say how much I appreciate the terrific photos that get posted here. Sitting in southern Georgia, they make me homesick, and I've never even been there.

    Got a question. With the quality of digital cameras improving daily, how do they compare to 35mm cameras? Is it getting to be a close race yet? The digital cameras are pretty convenient.

    This is also my first post, although I've been visiting for months. The allure of Alaska is a funny thing. Once intranced, you can't seem to let it go. I know I can't. I also work with two guys that were there - one in the coast guard and one in the air force. Each of them sort of go into a trance when they talk about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rickf View Post
    Got a question. With the quality of digital cameras improving daily, how do they compare to 35mm cameras? Is it getting to be a close race yet? The digital cameras are pretty convenient.
    DSLRs have surpassed 35mm film SLRs in virtually every way for quite some time now.

    If nothing else, think of the cost of operation differences. If you are fairly active with a camera it isn't hard to shoot 10,000 images a year. But lets take only 5,000 as an example. At about $5 per 36 exposure roll to buy and process film, that amounts to about 140 rolls of film per year, and the cost is almost $700.

    Adjust that for different numbers of pictures (and keep in mind that what you shoot with film doesn't count, because of the restraints do to cost) you would take and the cost of processing in your area.

    For me, the number of images is closer to 20,000 and the cost of film is higher. Basically I can afford to buy a top of the line digital camera every 2-3 years simply because I don't use film anymore.

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    There has been all kinds of speculation about how many pixels it would take to equal the details captured by film, and still not everyone's agreeing on the number. I've heard as much as 35 megapixels to equal 35mm film, but that's just a bunch of bunk. If one were shooting with the sharpest and highest resolution black & white film perhaps, but that stuff doesn't work for images of landscapes, people and anything else you want to look at.

    In the real world, 6-10 megapixels of useful information is all you're going to get out of film, depending on the ISO and type of the film used. In addition, good digital cameras have more accurate color capture, and far less noise (grain on film) at high ISO. For weddings and other indoor events, 400-800 had become the norm for most wedding photographers, but when DLSRs reached 6 MP, the fast film could no longer compete, and wedding photographers began switching over in mass. Now, with 10-20 MP common everywhere, there are few wedding photographers still using film. It took longer for many wildlife shooters, because they typically used 50-100 ISO slide film that held far more data than the fast stuff used indoors. But even so, professional wildlife and scenic shooters have almost universally changed to digital. And as Floyd noted, this has been as much about saving money as anything else, but if the quality wasn't there, these guys wouldn't have switched no matter how cheap they could have made it.

    I agree with Floyd, the contest is over. However, you won't find everyone agreeing with this opinion, and there are very legitimate reasons some people still prefer film over digital. And just because a point & shoot camera has 10-12 MP doesn't mean it's even close to being as good as film. There are far more important considerations than the difference between 8 & 12 megapixels.

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    Thanks all,

    I already have a 5 megapixel digital camera, but will be looking for a higher quality model. I appreciate the advice, and keep the photos coming!

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    Default This is true of 35mm...

    "I agree with Floyd, the contest is over" But I can guarantee you it isn't for Medium format or Large format cameras...

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    Quote Originally Posted by gogoalie View Post
    "I agree with Floyd, the contest is over" But I can guarantee you it isn't for Medium format or Large format cameras...
    However, in fact it is also a done deal for Medium Format too. Take a look at what Hasselblad has to offer.

    As for Large Format, that is actually open to debate because most photographers who have traditionally used 4x5 view cameras are now using DSLRs and stitching multiple images. Regardless of that, it is technically feasible to produce a 4x5 digital camera that would be a significant advance over 4x5 film; it would not be economical though. But it won't be long until the price is low enough.

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    Default I know that Hasselblad has a 22mp Digital...

    Camera, but do you reall think that thier initial foray into the digital world of Medium format will be able to touch the best Velvia 50 medium format film?

    Likewise, they've never developed a large format Digital camera yet, & when they do, I won't be betting the farm on it for quality compared to film...

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    Quote Originally Posted by gogoalie View Post
    Camera, but do you reall think that thier initial foray into the digital world of Medium format will be able to touch the best Velvia 50 medium format film?
    Hassleblad is on their 4th generation of MF digital camera. It produces 39MP images that are just barely short of what can be done with a 4x5 view camera.
    Quote Originally Posted by gogoalie View Post
    Likewise, they've never developed a large format Digital camera yet, & when they do, I won't be betting the farm on it for quality compared to film...
    There is no technical reason that a 4x5 or even 8x10 digital sensor could not be produced, and it clearly would beat film hands down going away. The problem is the cost, not the ability to manufacture it.

    Large Format film has been largely replaced by smaller format digital imaging, by using stitching to generate a LF image (200MP if you like) from many smaller images.

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    I have found images from my 8 meg camera are as good if not better than Velvia at sizes up to 20x30.

    How many megs are to many? Good question. The custom lab I use to print the images I sell (Fine Print) tells me in there opinion there seems to be deminishing returns as far as overall quality after about 13-15 megs (for 35 mm).

    However, do not lose sight of the fact that people do not purchase a photograph because of the techincal aspects of it.
    There are photos that sell great and there are great photos. But a great photo is not neccasry a great seller.
    Image quality and numbers of megapixels do not matter as much as you may think beyond a certain point. Once the photo is framed and hanging on a wall and viewed from a distance its a mute point.
    Tennessee

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    Randy, I would counter that a great photo is framed and hanging on the wall cannot be "mute" - all great photos tell a story, or they by definition wouldn't be great. Now they may be "moot" . . .

    Love your work, one of my friends has what looks like a 11x14 (maybe larger) print of your eagle head (bird_5 on your website). That shot has alway told me a story . . .

    Cheers,
    SH

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    Thanks
    The eagle is looking at you and saying "you owe me money"
    Tennessee

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    Default & Hence the Awesome SIMPLICITY of Film...

    "Large Format film has been largely replaced by smaller format digital imaging, by using stitching to generate a LF image (200MP if you like) from many smaller images." (emphasis mine)

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    Quote Originally Posted by gogoalie View Post
    "Large Format film has been largely replaced by smaller format digital imaging, by using stitching to generate a LF image (200MP if you like) from many smaller images." (emphasis mine)
    Putting your comments in the title is not productive.

    Your title said film was "Awesome SIMPLICITY"... but in fact using a DSLR to make the equivalent of large format images is far easier than using film. That's why photograpers who used 4x5 in the past have switched to digital. Better results, and an easier method.

    If you want to tell people that film is fun, that would be an accurate assessment. If you want to use film because you enjoy doing film, that makes a great deal of sense. But trying to convince anyone that film is in some significant way better than digital is a waste of everyone's time. It isn't.

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