View Full Version : Some thoughts on film and digital approach
First disclaimer: this isn't classic film vs digital rampage, let's not even start this if any is ready.
Before this I tried DSLR at party, shot some candids - my first DSLR experience. While shooting, concluded that I have to force myself NOT looking at LCD after shot. I realize this is common to do so (http://www.shutter.lv/index.php?name=coppermine&file=displayimage&album=54&pid=15996). I think those LCD shades also used as protective shields for DSLR LCDs are good to hard-close LCD while taking pics. Again, I realize that in some controlled environments like studio or tests (snapping brick walls or newspapers) it's OK to check previous shot and make some adjustments for ongoing shots.
Some other day I chatted with colleague who bought DSLR for his wife and sometimes happily snaps pictures, too. His statement is "I like instant feedback and ability of next shot if one has failed". Again, he doesn't shoots rapidly changing scenes, at least he says so. Recently taking pics on street, I realized missing great captures in a fraction of second while mind follows some thought or passing people/cars, I'm not talking about checking LCD. So awareness of "right now" turns to be first tool on street. For me it seems that hard-core street photographers just enjoy meditation with camera in hands, and it's true reason they go streets. But let's back to issue.
I realize that I can not make any generalizations from few distinct cases, though I have a feeling that digital people mostly like to see on shot what they expect to see. That's fine, good film photographer knowing his gear and having experience also visualizes results.
I'm now switching to amateur film users who don't depend on "timely delivery of professional shots" and sometimes enjoy factor X, unexpected results and aren't crazy about sharpness, exposure and what else can turn on. Do they who use/have switched digital recently miss moment of waiting to see if this or that capture turned out as expected or what it will be looking like ? It is interesting if shooting habits of pure-digital and converts/dual-shooters are generally same or they tend to differ?
Film - to me - is like abstinence from the instant satisfaction of digital. Because I don't have this instant feedback, I have to use my photographic imagination (= pictureing the image in my mind) more and then have to wait for the results later. The instant digital feedback mokes for a more lazy attitude if I don;t take care. For me film means more involvement in the proces, like enjoying your photography twice: the act of taking photo's and the delayed pleasure of seeing the results later.
The situation with digital isn't all that different from the film days.. You had the same distinction: shooting in a controlled environment where you're tuning exposure, and documentary style where the timing is key.
Like digital, film also provided means for feedback in controlled settings; I used to use a pola back on the MF SLR. Not really split second feedback, but a minute turnaround time was pretty instant I guess. Although at a dollar a pop, it turns out mighty expensive for trying to get the lighting just right for every real shot..
In dynamic situations under changing light, you had the same options with film to muck up exposure, and you'd never know until the film was developed.. Even a quick glance at an LCD provides a ballpark confirmation whether the settings you have are anywhere near OK.
In the end, the only thing that's changed, is that digital has made feedback faster, and more affordable..
I've seen too much good work done both, on digital and film to be able to discuss the aesthetics of either. As for the "instant gratification" or lack of, for whatever system has been discussed. I'll withhold my comments as well.
It must be known however, that I prefer film, exclusively.
For myself, the big difference is in the tools. I feel that the earlier, pro, film cameras, ultimately, have much more endurance and simplicity than their digital counterparts. (assuming we still get film for them)
Then, with film, we have the advantage of the archival image. Not necessarily so with digital. Family history is best shot with film in my opinion.
The cost of superb, used, film equipment is now is far less than than I could have ever imagined. As well, it seems that as digital stuff "improves" older digital equipment seems to become redundant and relatively valueless.
As an exercise I used my M8 in reasonably difficult light conditions metering manually and took 36 shots with the LCD turned off so I couldn't review the results.
When I got home and downloaded the DNG's I was surprised to find out that I'd actually missed more correct exposures than I generally would have with film. Metering manually with a digital I didn't take as much care as I normally would with film which I found odd!
One of the biggest afflictions that befalls amateur photographers is the obsession with the method and the means rather than the end... There is no wonder most of the stuff on flicker is pure crap because the people who took those photos were too busy thinking about how they're taking the picture rather than what they're photographing.
This whole digital vs. film, SLR vs Rf, b&w vs. color endless discussions are nonsensical, you're either a good photographer or not - that's it... that's what I think.
Sorry for the rant.
i always thought it was funny that ppl went for RFs and killer prime lenses to get unsharp, grainy shots with questionable exposure. but lately i have been loving it myself!
let's face it...us film users are a bunch of romantics. for the believers, film is a source of excitement and even mystery. digital while useful, doesn't have that charm. to each their own.
i am just an analog guy in a digital world. heck i still use fountain pens. ; )
After decades of experience with film, I generally know if a shot is or is not okay. I use my digital SLR mostly for close-ups of flowers and almost never look at the LCD. However, when covering dance performances or musical recitals, or when taking portraits, the LCD comes in handy for deleting -- for example -- pictures of people with their eyes closed.
I never look at the LCD, it's useless in bright light anyway.
The only differrence between shooting film and digital is in the processing. With digital there are WAY more worthless shots to edit.
it is often useful to disambiguate between product and proces; there is no difference in the end product (image), just the proces .... like many above have said directly or indirectly
I think, though, that process is thing itself. If we look at result only, well, at the end we all be dead (bodies at least); or one can drink tap water or cup of fresh tea/coffee - organisms gets some water, that's all. One can sleep well in soft bed, others sleep on almost plain deck to feel well in morning - they are just sleeping, right ?
So far it's quite interesting to read different approaches and observations on how previous experience impacts or not current habits. My experience shows that tools make impact - when using only AF Epic, I acted different way than with hyperfocused RF. And when tools get more different, they have to make difference.
And yes, I heartfully agree that with any camera one can miss hundreds of shots. No tool is guarantee of intended results.
Yesterday I was shooting product shots -- digitally, of course -- and it was very much like the old days with Polaroids, except for the following:
1 'Free' 'Polaroids' with digi
2 Extra information in the form of light distribution graphics
1 Much inferior quality to the 4x5 inch and roll-film I used to use -- both tonally and in sharpness.
2 With digi I'm sloppy and lazy because I can fix it in Photoshop
A couple of days before that I was doing candid reportage with the M8 and find it exactly like using a 'real' Leica except that I quite often rely on auto + AE lock -- which you can't do with a 'real' Leica. Sorry M7 owners, it's not a real Leica (dons Nomex suit, checks fire extinguishers). I have trained myself not to 'chimp', but to review my pics later and delete the unusable stuff.
Nowadays I shoot comparatively little colour film, but in mono, there's no contest. Digi conversions, etc., may not look too bad on a screen but nothing compares with a silver halide print from real film except perhaps some obsolescent processes (Bromoil, iron-base prints such as Platinum/Palladium/Argyrotype, one or two others).
I have trained myself not to 'chimp', but to review my pics later and delete the unusable stuff.
Oh <insert favourite deity here>, you should count the times I've kicked myself because I've got the habit to chimp and immediately delete.. I've nuked so many shots that I couldn't redo because the action was gone elsewhere again...
You've spoken wise words here, Roger..
Roger, I appreciate your thoughts on film-vs-digi (it just gives more weight to the rest cause explains how much experience you have), though have to admit - your confession "have trained myself not to 'chimp'" is the best.
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