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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

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Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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The Devil's Work
Old 05-17-2011   #1
Bill Pierce
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The Devil's Work

Did a couple of searches on Digital vs. Film. There were a huge number of entries that said, basically, “Digital is the devil’s work.” or “Film is a relic of the past.” There weren’t too many balanced presentations, and those that were, often, were highly technical reports on image quality rather than picture quality.

I thought it would be interesting, since many folks here shoot both film and digital to try to come up with a list of advantages and disadvantages for both mediums without descending into the screaming, one-sided craziness I encountered on my web search. I’ll start.

DISADVANTAGES OF DIGITAL CAMERAS COMPARED TO FILM

1) A lot of digital cameras have less dynamic range than negative film. There are some newer CCD’s challenging this, but for now, the difference exists.

2) Total dependence on an electrical supply, usually rechargeable batteries.

3) The fact that a digitalimage can easily be altered has tested the ethical resolve of some of my fellow photojournalists.

ADVANTAGES OF DIGITAL CAMERAS COMPARED TO FILM

1) For a journalist, less lag between the news event and publication is wonderful. It used to be that you were out of the country and had to ship film rather than wire a few images, you shipped color film on Thursday if you wanted to see it in the magazine that hit the stands on Monday and reached many of its subscribers by mail even later in the week. Of course, now, after the event, you have to stay up to transmit your digital images rather than going to the hotel bar. I guess that’s a digital disadvantage.

2) You can email your friends jpegs much more quickly than mailing prints from the drugstore - sort of the non professional version of the journalists deadline advantage.

3) The ability to change ISO settings without changing film.

4) You can shoot a lot and erase the bad ones.

I would like to know what other folks think are the advantages and disadvantages - just no remarks about the devil’s work or living in the past.
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Old 05-17-2011   #2
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For me the two major advantages of digital are the simplicity and immediacy. Where I live film is getting more expensive and harder to process. Why on earth would I want to contend with the ongoing cost of film and developing and also have to wait for days to get film developed? Digital is just so much more convenient and honestly, I can't tell the difference between film and digital images when I see them.

I shot a lot of film in my younger years but I have no regrets about embracing digital as fully as I have. For me it's the right way to go. I do, however, have great respect for people who do shoot film on a regular basis because, to my mind at least, it's definitely doing things the hard way. Ultimately, it's a personal choice and I think it's great that many people still enjoy film as much as they do...
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Old 05-17-2011   #3
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For me the disadvantage of digital is that I would not be able to use my M3. The advantage of digital is like white sugar (or high fructose corn) it gives instant gratification.
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Old 05-17-2011   #4
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For me personally, it's not so much the medium - as both can obviously be used to produce great images - it's more about the cameras. I prefer simplicity when I shoot, and I like that many film cameras (modern SLRs excluded) have only four "dials" - shutter, aperture, ISO, focus. I realize it's not too difficult to use digi in much the same way, but sometimes there are just too many options for my taste. That being said, I still use a dSLR from time to time.

I also enjoy the process of film more so than digital. I prefer pouring chemicals to adjusting curves, but, hey, whatever floats your boat.

I also like that film is tactile. I guess it's maybe the same reason I prefer vinyl records over mp3s. Then again, a print is a print is a print... I seem to be talking myself in circles here, so I'd best end it!
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Old 05-17-2011   #5
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I agreee with the pros and cons listed by the OP for digital. I was a happy camper with my DSLRs and my M8 - until film came back into my life about 6 months ago. I will continue to use and enjoy digital imaging for all the reasons you stated; I would also like to add what film does for me:

Disadvantages of film:
1) It has a continued expense. There is a hassle to stay stocked with film and chemicals (assuming you soup your own stuff).
2) It's time consuming to develop. Scanning takes up valuable time - in addition to any other post processing.

Advantages of film:
1) It is making me a MUCH more thoughtful photographer. I am far more intentional about what I do with film and that is helping my digital work.
2) It is time consuming. I know I listed that as a disadvantage, but to me it is an advantage as well. Sometimes I need to slow down and enjoy photography more - after all, I'm not a pro.
3) Film is still FUN. I like the process. I like the smells. I like seeing the wet negatives hanging in the shower. Somehow I feel like I have created something when I develop my negatives. For me the difficulty in choosing the proper exposure/ develolping time/ devoper is part of the appeal.
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Old 05-17-2011   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adeir View Post
For me personally, it's not so much the medium - as both can obviously be used to produce great images - it's more about the cameras. I prefer simplicity when I shoot, and I like that many film cameras (modern SLRs excluded) have only four "dials" - shutter, aperture, ISO, focus. I realize it's not too difficult to use digi in much the same way, but sometimes there are just too many options for my taste. That being said, I still use a dSLR from time to time.
I'm with you on this. While I love the convenience of digital I really appreciate the feel and handling--and viewfinders--of some of my older film cameras--probably why I've hung on to some even though I don't use them at all. Digital is more complicated, at least in the sense that it gives one many more options when shooting. This is probably one reason why the digital Ms are as popular as they are; they're relatively simple and do a very nice job of replicating the handling of older film cameras. It's likely this very thing that makes my Digilux 2 my favourite camera...
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Old 05-17-2011   #7
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The specific advantage offered by my Lumix G1, digital m-4/3 camera is the capability to previsualize live the image through the lens at the taking aperture with the full effects of depth of field, focus and shutter speed in evidence, prior to releasing the shutter, in virtually any kind of light, using a full-color electronic viewfinder.

There is a secondary advantage to the G1 that I often make use of, which is to invoke the Dynamic B/W JPEG mode (while still capturing in RAW), enabling me to previsualize the live view scene in black and white, which helps me tremendously with composition and shot selection.

My Minolta MD lenses and X-370 film body I absolutely love for their mechanical feel and solidity. I love manually focusing these lenses (which I also adapt to the G1, albeit with a more restricted angle of view), but the tradeoff is the time and effort required to process film and create high-quality prints.

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Old 05-17-2011   #8
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Im a serious amateur and deeply committed to film - 10 bodies across 4~5 systems, plus a freezer with 400+ rolls. However, I do sometimes think that digital would really simplify the process - developing and scanning is definately a sink hole for time and effort.

Out of all the systems I have, the bulk of my investment is in Leica M mount glass - both in Leica and Voigtlander - so for me, the M9 is currently the only option I would really consider. However, contrary to the often stated fact that "digital is cheaper" in my case I have to disagree. I never machine gun shoot and given the cost of the M9 it would take me a decade to offset that against film. Not the strongest business case.

The other issue that creeps up on you is the equipment post capture. Im still running a 2004 Apple G5 PowerMac that does everything today just as well as it did 7 years ago - but that wouldnt necessarily be the case if I had gone digital. The number of applications that are no longer supported on the non-Intel Apple platforms is staggering. I use LR 2.6 and PS CS 3, both run fine but PS CS 5 would be nice to get access to more RAM; and for the more recent digicams, RAW converters are just simply not supported on a non-Intel Mac. As an example, I could not process RAW from the Fujifilm X100 on my machine.

I also appreciate that others will chime in and suggest that I should have upgraded my system years ago, but the point being that with shooting film and scanning, I havent needed to.

Digital would certainly be nice but when I stand back and consider the TCO (total cost of ownership) of moving to digital, as a serious amateur it just doesnt make sense
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Old 05-17-2011   #9
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My biggest concern with any kind of digital imaging is the lack of proven long-term storage ability. Either the storage media get corrupted, the file format obsolete or data mistankenly deleted. The big advantage of digital images is that storage of 1:1 copies can be hold at various locations simultaneously but still access to the file format is necessary.
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Old 05-17-2011   #10
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Digital Vs Film
I could write a book on the subject. but I will stick to bullet points
For starters I use both Digital and film for my landscape and nature photography work, which I sell as fine art prints on my website,www.michaelmaltese.com and at galleries and art fairs. I see many advantages and disadvantages in both mediums. overall I prefer film. but digital has it's uses . Bill has cover just about all the advantages digital has over film and I will add my own version of one point and a few others- Digital gives one immediate confirmation that you have got the shot or not - and that very important if you just spent days or hours travel or hiking back in to some remote area, etc a canyon etc to photograph a specific landscape or animal etc.... At least you know you got some kind of usable image. Polaroids used to do it, but they don't work so well with 35mm-
And that one of the big reasons I use digital the other two reasons are
The APS sized chip DSLRs with their smaller chip and higher magnification are great for shooting wildlife and sports The higher magnification turns a 400mm lens into a 600mm lens, which is great for getting closer to animals etc.
The even higher magnification of the micro 3/4s format is great for doing close ups of flowers or small subjects where the extra depth of field you get from the smaller format is important. and hard to duplicate with film.

Now Digital's Big disadvantages-

First the big one- Digital is NOT ARCHIVAL AND NEVER WILL BE-
In other words- there is no way to store a digital file of a image- as on a hard drive or disk or flash drive etc for a extended length of time- say 25 years
The image has to be constantly re-saved to a new medium and file format as the old hard drive, CD, DVD, flash drive etc. becomes wore out, or becomes obsolete. This is one of digitals big failings and it has always been a problem since insurance companies started storing customer's data on big mainframe computers back in the 60's. They still have not found a solution to this problem. So those digital baby pics you took of your kids? Chances are their kids will never see those images. and I could go on about how many images I have lost to crashed hard drives and CD's that went bad, but I won't. I have never lost a image on film that was proper processed and stored and I know that my film will be good for 25 or even 40 years from now. but digital- forget it.!...............
One of Films other big advantages over digital besides a wider dynamic range is that film captures a wider color spectrum, or films ability to capture more colors.(A fact I learned from a Fuji film Rep) This was very evident on a image I took of a moonrise over Lake Superior recently. The film shot captured many more colors than the digital. plus there was much more detail on the moon. In the digital image the moon just washed out but the film image got everything. Plus film is much more fun to shoot!!!!!!!! Love those old rangefinders!!!!!!!!!!!!!-Kievman PS I use a Nikon 300s and G1s for digital and 35mm and Med Format for Film-

Last edited by kievman : 05-17-2011 at 23:15.
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Old 05-17-2011   #11
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Staying on topic...

Digital has the following going for it. Some of this may be re iteration..

• it is immediate. A photograph can be taken and sent anywhere in the world in minutes. If the photographer is a pro the image quality can be as good as film when shown on computer screens or in printed media
• the elimination of the 'processing' step for film reduces chemical waste going into municipal drains either amateur or pro
• the image quality is more than adequate for the modern electronic media based world of screen viewing
• adjustments can be made in the actual camera on the fly
• digital images can be reviewed and if the shot is not acceptable another can be taken immediately before leaving the site. Film only lets you know of mistakes after the fact and leaves no opportunity for a review until after the fact.

Film has the following going for it

• Large format film and medium format film can still render more in a print than a digital camera is capable of delivering. The technology for digital backs on MF and LF is there but the entry cost is tens of thousands of dollars.
• film based photography is possible without an immediate power source like batteries or battery rechargers.
• film photography does not rely on electronic metering for successful exposure nor electronic focusing
• film photography is not as susceptible to below zero temperature issues affecting the ability to shoot. Most digital cameras have issues with power loss during use in sub freezing temperatures.
• film photography is analog. I like analog and think that way.
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Old 05-17-2011   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kievman View Post
Now Digital's Big disadvantages-

First the big one- Digital is NOT ARCHIVAL AND NEVER WILL BE-
In other words- there is no way to store a digital file of a image- as on a hard drive or disk or flash drive etc for a extended length of time- say 25 years
Have to politely disagree. With 1TB or larger hard drives becoming quite cheap I don't see long term storage as a big issue. Flash memory is getting faster and larger and will someday surpass hard drives as a storage medium. It's funny how technology always seems to be able to keep up with the problems it faces...

Quote:
The image has to be constantly re-saved to a new medium and file format as the old hard drive, CD, DVD, flash drive etc. becomes wore out, or becomes obsolete.
Copying a file from one hard drive to another does not change it in any way. It's only when you tinker with a file that it begins to break down.

Quote:
I have never lost a image on film that was proper processed and stored and I know that my film will be good for 25 or even 40 years from now. but digital- forget it.!...............
Digital archiving has the great advantage of allowing one to properly catalogue images for retrieval purposes. Some people do manage to properly organize slides, prints and negatives but I'd be willing to bet that a majority of photo collections will be found in disarray in boxes in a closet...
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Old 05-18-2011   #13
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One of digital's advantage is convenience. I've never heard of convenience ruining a shot.

For disadvantage, it's quite personal for me but I don't like the look of digital. You have spend considerable time to work in front of a computer to get a look you want... and for me who works with computers all day... thanks but I'll pass
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Old 05-18-2011   #14
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Film advantages:

dynamic range
real grain
no need for electrickery to produce an image (though my scanner does and I guess an enlarger would too)
smells nice

Disadvantages:

none that I can actually think of

Digital advantages:

immediacy
limitlesss creative opportunities
cheap (in terms of actual usage)
incredible detail compared to small format film

Disadvantages:


hard to keep up with advancements
initial purchase price fairly high if you want something decent
you need a computer with plenty of processing oomph
can make you wasteful and careless
creates friction occasionally at RFF
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Old 05-18-2011   #15
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I keep on beating on the Daguerreotype Drum: there is no way you can alter that, has better dynamic range than either "film" or "digital".

Convenient? No. But as far as pros and cons, you win some, you lose some.



But seriously, why must most people stake their flag or pledge allegiance to only one "camp"? It's not a Classroom President competition. Really. I think it's as silly as a "pencil vs. pen" debate (or graphite vs. pastel, or henna vs. erasable ink, etc etc etc).

Why on Earth not use either, as the need arises? Do the same "film vs. digital" radio talkshow personalities only have only one pair of shoes? Only one shirt color? Use cold vs. hot water for a shower (if they shower)?

True, Balanced is not the name of the game.
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Old 05-18-2011   #16
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Disadvantage of digital is solely between my ears.

Trouble is this:

Since a shot is taken really easily, instantly reviewable and can be deleted on the spot if below standards, I keep just snapping away.

Although fully aware that this is what I do, time after time I try to slow myself down, take the time etc. but time after time 'pick up the digital pace' when not consciencely reminding myself not to do that.

When coming home after a session with a digital camera, I found I could have gotten more out of some shots, had I taken the time.

This is a highly unsatisfying feeling. In fact I found it so unsatisfying that I gladly accepted a decline in sharpness, tonal range, ease of use to just be able to say to myself I got everything out of a shot that was in there.

This is a little-heard opinion on the disadvantages of digital, but I'm sure I'm not alone in this.
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Old 05-18-2011   #17
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Digital: Better for Infrared.

My first Digital cameras were for Infrared work. Silicon Detectors, those commonly used in Digital cameras, are sensitive out to 11,000Ansgtoms. That goes deeper into the Infrared than available films.

As for archiving: Digital images are just data files. They are preserved for as long as you transfer them to the newer systems, and make back-ups. With film, how many people make copy negatives?

Advantage of film: You can easily get a roll of film developed and printed and pass the prints around for family and friends to enjoy. People tend not to print a lot of their digital shots.
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Old 05-18-2011   #18
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I am a amateur, I shoot only for pleasure. If my living were dependent on photography I may have a different point of view.

Digital photography is almost the perfect medium. The immediacy and quality of the image it renders is hard to beat. As time goes by the technology could improve to the point we just might expect 4x5 quality from a point and shoot.

The issue of permanent storage and retrieval, however does concern me. 20 years from now can I be assured image data can be retrieved? If the data can actually be stored for perpetuity will I be able to retrieve it?

Then there are the cameras. The utter simplicity and reliability of the Leica M2 or the Hasselblad 500CM coaxes me to concentrate on the scene rather than menus and I don't have to worry about the battery going dead....ever!

Keeping to one kind of camera (old) allows me the advantage of not having to learn the automation of a new one. I don't want to concern myself with redundant advancements, like autofocus, (Imagine! Some gadget telling me where to focus!) like facial recognition, etc....

For me, the handling of my Leica M2 is second nature, since I've had it for 30 years, as is my relatively new Nikon F2.
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Old 05-18-2011   #19
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Hasselblad reliable? Hmmm.

As for the archival nature of either digital or film, I think it's a purely esoteric discussion. Billions of photos were taken during the "film age." Of those billions, at best millions survived. And most of those are of people family members can no longer identify, photos and negatives sitting in attics, or basements or garages stored in shoeboxes waiting to be thrown out by the next generation.

Will digital fare any better? Likely not. In my experience most folks today shoot photos to share immediate experiences online, not to preserve family history.

Modern times.
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Old 05-18-2011   #20
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Heard a quote the other day that I am going to paraphrase as a photography quote.

"Digital photography is like sex. Both have a practical outcome.....but thats not why we do it."

Ok now I have gotten that off my chest.............................................

There is one advantage of digital that really has impacted on me. For years I called myself a photographer but in reality I did not learn all that much as shooting film meant I often did not get the immediate feedback one needs to learn. Moreover shooting film is comparatively expensive (O.K. absent the capital cost of the equipment which is a disadvantage for digital if you getting tempted to buy the next great thing on the shelves.)

Butthe point is that often I would shoot a few shots and the film might be in the camera for weeks before I shot the rest and could get it developed. When I started shooting digital I really started learning and this inspired me to shoot more. As there is no marginal cost for the next shot - or the one after that - or the one after that , there was no impediment to shooting more.

So whether I am a good photographer or not I can say I am a bloody side better one than I was - thanks to digital!

Finally it allowed me to post process (or inspired me or whatever) I found that this is not only an essential part of the work flow its a creative and fun part - which I enjoy almost as much as getting the shot in the first place.

PS the quote was actually Richard Feynman my favourite genius and Nobel Prize laureate talking about science.

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Old 05-18-2011   #21
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The advantages of digital for me is that I can do the whole process in my apartment without having to allocate a space for trays, chemicals, enlarger, etc. Also, less set-up and preparation to edit, print, manipulate, etc. The computer is a multi-purpose device and it saves space in a small apartment. Additionally, I can print while watching TV. I actually like chimping too.

The only disadvantage for me is that I really love certain film cameras. Also, the digital cameras I like are way more expensive than the film cameras I like... (my M6 was $1300 used in the early 90s and was current). M9 is crazy compared to that. However, you save on film.

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Old 05-18-2011   #22
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I use digital and film. I cannot afford a Nikon D3 or a Leica M9. My film cameras provide full frame at no cost. My 16mm is 16mm. No need to spend a fortune for new slow zoom lenses and a full frame body.
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Old 05-18-2011   #23
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Film has three huge advantages.

1/ The aesthetics of an analog B&W print.

2/ Many of the cameras we enjoy operating use film. Many of the cameras we don't enjoy operating are digital. Digital cameras we enjoy operating are beyond the budget or insult the fiscal responsibility of many photographers. The remaining alternate uses digital technology from 2001 and is not well supported outside of Japan. (I do not mean to start an RD-1 controversy because I know there are numerous happy RD-1 users, but these facts are important to me).

3/ If one can not afford $8,000 to $30,000 + for a medium format digital camera, a large format film camera is the only means to exceed the IQ of a high-quality digital camera.
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Old 05-18-2011   #24
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For the ProAm cost is the major contributing factor, at least for me. If funds wer unlimited an M9 would be ideal, of course, I would need and entirely new storage system and the learning curve on working with digital images would be extemely long. If you are using an M system does the number of photos that you take justify $7000 for an upgrade to and M9 plus a storage system dedicated to digital images?
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Old 05-18-2011   #25
Roger Hicks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Bellayr View Post
For the ProAm cost is the major contributing factor, at least for me. If funds wer unlimited an M9 would be ideal, of course, I would need and entirely new storage system and the learning curve on working with digital images would be extemely long. If you are using an M system does the number of photos that you take justify $7000 for an upgrade to and M9 plus a storage system dedicated to digital images?
Dear Steve,

Easily.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 05-18-2011   #26
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Digital means constant change, being on a constant learning curve, always having to get used to something new. Some new interface, some new computer, some new software, some new file format. To not embrace change every three years or so means those around you will upgrade to something better, and you won't have it.

Film means being able to stick with something that you can do for life. Use the same camera, use the same film, use the same process. Those around you can buy the latest F6 and you can still use a Nikon SP and get results that look just as good on a print.

I suspect that's why some people don't like it digital, and others love it.

Me- I think I'll write a custom noise reduction algorithm for my M9 files using Microway FORTRAN-77 running on Phar Lap extended DOS. I want to try noise-removal running on the DNG files, separating the image into 4 sub-images based on which quadrant of the Bayer site that it is in. I hate Windows. Although I did download the FTN-95 compiler.
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Old 05-18-2011   #27
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I have shot both at some point or another, but this is an easy choice for me. I love being in a darkroom
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Old 05-18-2011   #28
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Hard to stick to bullet points. But I will offer these qualitative observations: wet photography is like cooking. Times. Temperatures. Ingredients. Other than the camera, the tech in your home is repairable with ordinary tools. The process, at least as I engaged in it, was solitary, meditative and favored the introvert. Like cooking, interrupting the process was difficult because of environmental constraints. You loved the darkroom or you hated it, but you needed to be there to produce the product.

Digital is inherently flexible, plastic (in the sense of mold-able), technological, and connected. It allows for instant feedback, sharing, and socializing. Mastery of all the details from "capture" (?hate that word!?) to output is actually impossible for me to imagine. Just the thought of understanding color space and willing my camera, monitor and printer into synch makes my head hurt and so I settle for "good enough". Much more of the magic happens in little microchips and because we are in the early days of this revolution, the pace of change is exponentially faster than on the film side of things, where the technology has been mature for almost 60 years. Although the gamuts are narrower, the possibilities are endless.

Photographically, I do have the sense that we are accelerating pell-mell down a technological cul-de-sac. Archeologists 5,000 years from now will think that Western civilization stopped developing at some point in the last 10 years, because all of our brightest thoughts and creative impulses are going to be stored on computer-as-fashion-item devices with usable lives measured in months that are dependent on specialized and buggy code, inadequately documented and poorly maintained.

Now where did I put my M9?

Ben

\\Rant off

[Edit: I do realize that my characterizations above are merely a description of how I do/did wet photography and I do e-photography][You could work for a paper, just be the guy who presses the shutter button and be a perfect extrovert. I was simply trying to characterize the act of making a unique original (a negative) and ultimately a photograph which was one performance of a printing recipe (expose film, develop negative, do a dodge-burn dance and cook for a predetermined time) vs. an image encoded as a binary file.]
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Old 05-18-2011   #29
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Another avantage of digital :
because a lot of people is converting to digital, its has enable me to purchase a jobo cpa2 with lift and a focomat v35 for really cheap.
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Old 05-18-2011   #30
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film - because it's the only thing i can afford to run through the hasselblad.

saving pennies for a digital back and the glass to match it.
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Old 05-18-2011   #31
emraphoto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Sweeney View Post
Digital means constant change, being on a constant learning curve, always having to get used to something new. Some new interface, some new computer, some new software, some new file format. To not embrace change every three years or so means those around you will upgrade to something better, and you won't have it.

Film means being able to stick with something that you can do for life. Use the same camera, use the same film, use the same process. Those around you can buy the latest F6 and you can still use a Nikon SP and get results that look just as good on a print.

I suspect that's why some people don't like it digital, and others love it.

Me- I think I'll write a custom noise reduction algorithm for my M9 files using Microway FORTRAN-77 running on Phar Lap extended DOS. I want to try noise-removal running on the DNG files, separating the image into 4 sub-images based on which quadrant of the Bayer site that it is in. I hate Windows. Although I did download the FTN-95 compiler.
i like option a/ and b/
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Old 05-18-2011   #32
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Photographically, I do have the sense that we are accelerating pell-mell down a technological cul-de-sac. Archeologists 5,000 years from now will think that Western civilization stopped developing at some point in the last 10 years, because all of our brightest thoughts and creative impulses are going to be stored on computer-as-fashion-item devices with usable lives measured in months that are dependent on specialized and buggy code, inadequately documented and poorly maintained.


I hear this a lot but with respect, I do not think I agree.

Only last night someone on TV was commenting on the fact that the Library of Congress in USA is recording all sorts of ephemera - even tweets from the internet for future generations. As storage costs fall I would not be in the least bit surprised to find whole sites like Flickr recorded somewhere for posterity in the future.

Yesterday I was doing some family genealogical research. I went online, googled the name and in minutes had dozens of downloadable photos of my forebears online from our State Library which had digitized and posted them for reference purposes. I doubt I ever would have had the time or ability to find them otherwise. Digital media makes things more available not less. And it makes them more secure not less. The cost of storing those original hardcopy images in archival condition and restoring them when they inevitably crumble is so high that all except the most important would inevitably be lost over time.

I have worked in the IT industry enough to know about how the industry often has to transfer data from so called "legacy (ie outdated) systems to new "platforms" and to new formats. The data is intact - just in a new format and stored on new technology. This happens all the time. And I am sure it will happen in the future. Not only that the data is always (for which read ALWAYS) with major institutions like public libraries, backed up and restorable in the event the unthinkable happens.

Digital media makes me more certain of this info being around in hundreds or even in some cases thousands (if its valued enough) of years.

Even at a personal level changing formats as technology changes is not a big deal. Think of digital videos... There are literally dozens of formats for videos now in use. But there are also dozens of transcoders available for purchase (or free) online. It's a trivial matter to recode a video - even more so a digital image. Sure many photos stored at home on PCs will be lost as people will not bother to archive or back them up them properly. But the same can be said for hard copies. I cannot tell you how many photos I have "binned" just because I no longer have the space to store them properly. Most are trivial to me but could be of great interest to future historians just because of the information they contain about how we live now.

Last edited by peterm1 : 05-18-2011 at 17:08.
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Old 05-18-2011   #33
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On reflection I think that the major advantage with digital is being able to change ISO frame to frame ... in lighting environments with extremes this is very liberating and really makes up for the 'pork' of a DSLR.
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Old 05-18-2011   #34
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A good friend of mine is a wedding photographer. He uses a DSLR for the bulk of his work but often supplements his work with film cameras, like a 6x17 panorama, Ebony 4x5, and a Hasselblad. He encourages is clients to use film for weddings because he explains, it is relatively archival.

Most of his clients like the idea.
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Old 05-18-2011   #35
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Film:
PRO: good equipment at reasonable price
CON: (inconvenece of) dust and scratchs on the negative

Digital:
PRO: sometimes I get better results in color
CON: storage requirements including image size

Both:
PRO: (w/ inconvience of a computer) I can share the results across distance
CON: (for me) I end up in front of a computer

note: my requirements are personal rather than professional

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Old 05-23-2011   #36
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Here's the digital deal breaker: as yet there is no digital M2, with M2 results and film quality.
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