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Film vs Digital Discussions about the relative advantages and disadvantages of Film vs Digital are important as they can help us understand our choices as photographers. Each medium has strengths and weaknesses which can best be used in a given circumstance. While this makes for an interesting and useful discussion, DO NOT attack others who disagree with you. Forum rules are explained in the RFF FAQ linked at the top of each page.

View Poll Results: Do you shoot Film or Digital?
All Film 185 19.98%
Mostly Film, Some Digital 345 37.26%
All Digital 50 5.40%
Mostly Digital, Some Film 346 37.37%
Voters: 926. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-22-2010   #41
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Learning to soup my own negs has increased the percentage of film.

I'd shoot even more digital if there were a better-than-the-M8 digital platform available ($$$) to me for my M lenses.
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Old 09-22-2010   #42
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I would have answered 100% film six months ago, but now I find myself embroiled in a project that requires 100% (or so it seems at the moment) digital. Oh well, six months from now who knows, I might be painting.
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Old 09-23-2010   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toyotadesigner View Post
100% film. Because this is real photography.

I have a bunch of high quality and precise camera systems which are phenomenal performers (and outperform any digital system available today), so I don't see any reason to sell any of them just to invest a fortune into a crump of plastic which is obsolete after 6 or 12 months.

Simple as that.
toyota, Just curious... what "high quality and precise camera systems" are you using?
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Old 09-24-2010   #44
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Since about 2003-4 I've been shooting strictly digital. Then, a few weeks ago, I just had a notion to shoot b&w again. Digital conversions are good but not the same. Having a variety of film SLRs and a Kodak Retina IIIc and Minolta 7SII I decided to consider shooting some film again. It's been 30 years since I was in a darkroom but decided to sign up for a couple classes at the local community college where they have nice scanners and a good darkroom.

Haven't actually shot anything yet with the old stuff but I did get four rolls of 24 exp. Fuji 200 color film at Walmart for $6.50 and am thinking of getting some 400 too. It's dirt cheap compared to many of the online places and it's all fresh stock.

However, my real interest is shooting film b&w not color. While I think digital excels at color it doesn't excel at b&w. Still, shooting color film again might be kinda fun too.

All this is really an excuse for me to buy a Leica M3/2/4.
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Old 09-29-2010   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toyotadesigner View Post
Jan,

35mm: 2x Contax G2 systems with 16mm to 90mm, Nikon F4s 2x with 15mm to 600mm (only prime lenses), Fuji GW 690 III with 3.5/90mm and GSW 690 III with 5.6/65mm, Plaubel 69W ProShift Superwide with Schneider Super-Angulon 5.6/47mm, Arca Swiss F line monorail with Rodenstock lenses from 45mm to 240mm.

All lenses with either zero (Zeiss, Fuji, Schneider, Rodenstock) or only marginal distortion (Nikon), no or marginal (compared to digital) chromatic aberration.

And yes, I am prepared to deliver technical data for the resolution of film - even for 35mm - compared to digital
That's a pretty nice line up. We both have some overlap. I've a Contax but it's the G1 with the 28,35,45,90 ; Fuji BL G690 with 65, 100 180; LF Toyo A 65 - 210.

I'm purely amateur though I recall you shoot pro. Do you have any client issues shooting film and time taken for processing vs competition using digital workflows?
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Old 09-30-2010   #46
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I'm mostly digital for work, film for fun. I work for newspapers, and film is too slow for the job du jour unfortunately.
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Old 09-30-2010   #47
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I voted based on my personal work- more film than digital there. Work work is all digital.
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Old 09-30-2010   #48
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Hasn't film done well! I am quite surprised by the poll, but suspect lots of oppressed film users voted whereas all-digital-ninjas might have been less inclined to bother - you know, being full members of the new order.

Although I curse the darkroom when things dont go well, I still cannot get over the magic of hitting the lights and seeing a beautiful, gleaming print in the tray. Printing digital feels like waiting for passport booth photos to emerge

I use digital for happy snaps and to copy silver prints for the internet/digital usage.

I have been shooting a long-term project over several years on film and it has been seriously hard work, but I still get all tingly when I see the finished results. I will be thinking hard about digital cameras for serious use over th next few months tho.

Last edited by Turtle : 09-30-2010 at 12:50.
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Film...
Old 09-30-2010   #49
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Post Film...

Still old school. No real desire to change.
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Old 10-17-2010   #50
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90% film, 8% Iphone4, 2% other digital.
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Old 10-17-2010   #51
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Mostly digital rangefinders, then film cameras, then DSLRs, then digital p&s (~20 pictures a year), then cell phone cameras (~10 pictures a year).

I think I should add a film SLR and see if I will use it more than the DSLRs. Or perhaps LF and see if I think I can afford to use it more than the cell phones.
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Old 10-18-2010   #52
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As digital has-and is-improving in leaps and bounds, and film is in its 'death throws', it became an easy ( if in some ways regretable ) decision!
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Old 10-30-2010   #53
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100% film because I have so much cash tied up in film & cameras I can't afford to go digital!
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Old 10-31-2010   #54
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For me the war is over and digital won. The lower costs and greater convenience of digital blossomed just in time for my retirement.
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Old 10-31-2010   #55
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I don't get it...why is it always "one or the other"? Why not both?
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Old 11-08-2010   #56
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I voted mostly film, some digital. But even a few years ago it was the opposite.
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Old 11-12-2010   #57
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Gravitating back toward film again.. There's something about the pictures that I can't seem to get with a digital camera. It's not that film is superior, it's got its flaws, but I just like it better for people pictures. Maybe it's because it reminds me of shooting with a clunker SLR in the seventies..
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Old 11-30-2010   #58
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Lately, if I do a "photo walkabout", that is, for "art", I use film (Fuji 690 or M2). If I'm shooting around friends/family, it's generally digital (M8 / DLUX4 / etc).

But I have to admit over the last 10+ years, it's been mostly digital.
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Old 12-03-2010   #59
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The question may well have been:
Of those earning a living from photography, does anyone shoot film, and if so, what % and what is the subject matter. <2% at a guess

Most working photograhers have left film in the gutter. I don't know any who still have film cameras even (some landscape photographers not withstanding). This is a niche market, even more so RF film cameras.

Film is for personal projects only; clients aren't interested in waiting a week to see results!
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Old 12-03-2010   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ti29er View Post
The question may well have been:
Of those earning a living from photography, does anyone shoot film, and if so, what % and what is the subject matter. <2% at a guess

Most working photograhers have left film in the gutter. I don't know any who still have film cameras even (some landscape photographers not withstanding). This is a niche market, even more so RF film cameras.

Film is for personal projects only; clients aren't interested in waiting a week to see results!

A week? What kind of lab takes a week? My mom and pop shop only takes an hour! Takes me that long to batch process all the digital images I shoot and I hate computer work, I would much rather be making images.
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Old 12-03-2010   #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ti29er View Post
The question may well have been:
Of those earning a living from photography, does anyone shoot film, and if so, what % and what is the subject matter. <2% at a guess

Most working photograhers have left film in the gutter. I don't know any who still have film cameras even (some landscape photographers not withstanding). This is a niche market, even more so RF film cameras.

Film is for personal projects only; clients aren't interested in waiting a week to see results!
Yes, between 20-30% depending on the year, would still be film work and about half of that figure would be specific requests from the client for film. And almost all of the specific request clients would also go for wet prints also (Not by me).

But totally agree that its a niche market. But if your waiting a week for your film your with the wrong lab, even out in the back end of nowhere I can have prints back in 24 hours for the client to edit from.
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Old 12-03-2010   #62
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The point being that the client / art director wants to view the result, either tethered to the laptop or on the back of the camera.
Then they can then decide if it's a good image and so we can move on to the next shot.

Once the shoot is complete, back to the office, off load, PP and by 2am you have a gallery of images live and a DVD ready for the client. Job done. Next.

Ergo: film in this commercial context is dead and buried.
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Old 12-03-2010   #63
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Yes if you work in that commercial space its dead, but really that just shows your working either in product advertising (1 day shoot) or with junior/asshole Art Directors, your art director should trust you to deliver the image by whatever means you feel suits the shoot and in your own style. And even in this day and age there are very few commercial 24h deadlines, 7 days is far more common to allow the image to go to retouch etc.

This is obviously something that can only be achieved in certain areas and when your AD trusts you though.

My point is film is only dead and buried in certain contexts for certain photographers, I'm not going to go shoot Paris Fashion Week on 100% film because I wont make any money, but I'll certainly shoot a few rolls and I will sell at least 1/2 images that were film based to the monthly's and to mags on longer lead times.

Suit the tool to the job should be every photographers mantra, if you job suits digital shoot digital, if the job suits film shoot film.
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Old 12-03-2010   #64
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Recently the only time I shot digital was for 2 street photography workshops I attended, digital was required. The rest of the time I enjoy shooting mostly B&W film, 135 and 120 in various vintage cameras.
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Old 12-04-2010   #65
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Film for all the important stuff; love the camera feel and look of photos taken with Mamiya 6 and Olympus OM. Use digital P&S for snapshots to send to other folks, although starting to use film for this also.
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Old 12-06-2010   #66
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All clients, be they magazines or advertising want results, and digital gives them that; they can see instantly what they’re getting. Shoot. Move on to the next shot. Maximum £$£, minimum hassle in the time given.


There is no luxury of weeks of lead-in times and as for shooting some fashion show in film and some on digital at the same shoot (ergo different cameras and lenses required!?!) , that seems quite potty, why split your post production up like that and incur extra expense and extra effort and extra time when you are already committed to sitting in front of your PC anyhow; do it in one hit surely. Your approach to me makes absolutely no logical, commercial sense at all, do the shoot, PP, get the images to the client. Move onto the next job.


This is what digital offers the working photographer trying to shoot as many jobs as possible and satisfy the client; film never, ever, comes into the equation.
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Old 12-06-2010   #67
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The poll is defective as it does not distinguish between digital photography--- the complete cycle from capture to physical print--- and capture. It does not distinguish between use of a modern cellphone--- these include image capture functionality (the average smartphone these days includes 5 Mpixel and already 12 Mpixel and even larger sensors are becoming mainstream)--- and a dedicated digital camera. It does not distinguish between images captured for the moment and those intended to survive it.

Cellphone capture is useful (and commonly being used) for copying pin-board notices, blackboards, barcodes, book covers and for creating quick snapshots for use in the telephone's directory or social networking. Is this "shooting"? These applications have nothing to do with film and are relatively new--- albeit I do know several people who used Minox cameras as students to copy the blackboard.

The core of the issue: is digital capture being used as a substitution or replacement for film capture?

I don't own a dedicated "digital camera". My "digital camera" is my phone. I use the camera. But not as a replacement. I don't even believe in using digital for snapshots as I see them as artifacts intended to survive the moment. The value of snapshots, I feel, is derived through the passing of time and not solely in its own time. Do I shoot "all film"? What does "shoot" mean? Is pressing the camera button on my phone (it making a click and capturing an image) to be counted the same as pressing the shutter on one of my cameras and capturing an image to film?
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Old 12-07-2010   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ti29er View Post
All clients, be they magazines or advertising want results, and digital gives them that; they can see instantly what they’re getting. Shoot. Move on to the next shot. Maximum £$£, minimum hassle in the time given.


There is no luxury of weeks of lead-in times and as for shooting some fashion show in film and some on digital at the same shoot (ergo different cameras and lenses required!?!) , that seems quite potty, why split your post production up like that and incur extra expense and extra effort and extra time when you are already committed to sitting in front of your PC anyhow; do it in one hit surely. Your approach to me makes absolutely no logical, commercial sense at all, do the shoot, PP, get the images to the client. Move onto the next job.


This is what digital offers the working photographer trying to shoot as many jobs as possible and satisfy the client; film never, ever, comes into the equation.

Absolutely agree with your points on digital and $$$. But if you shoot film for one, you shouldn't need to ever sit in front of a computer screen. If you shoot film just to scan it then you're not getting enough out of the film itself.

But I think what you're saying is about the commercial side of photography. I think what you'll find with those who shoot film is that they are far more interested about doing photography itself because they see it as a lifestyle and love the very nature of it. And hey, if they get ever get paid to do what they love then it makes them a little more happy. But film shooters tend to always put the quality of their work over the amount of money they will make out of it.

I only shoot film UNLESS I am asked to provide the results immediately. Last night for example I shot a high profile event, however the people who were requesting the shots wanted them immediately after the event finished and didn't care about any sort of retouching or editing etc. So I borrowed a digital and did the job, simple. They're happy so I'm happy.

However, as a film photographer - I don't consider those photos I took last night to represent my photographic style. It was a job and I got very little pleasure from it. That is why I shoot film because unlike digital, using film I love everything about what I do, the process and the result.

Each to their own though, I honestly never started photography with the hope that I would make any money.
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Old 12-09-2010   #69
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Mostly digital, film is hard to find (your favourite type that is), hard to develop (i use labs and they screw your work mostly) and needs a budget, and then the effort to scan. Digital is easier and comes in handy now especially tha tI am living between 2 cities and a full time job. Although film and film cameras do make me feel alive.
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Film or digital
Old 12-09-2010   #70
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Cool Film or digital

I have shot film since WWII, so my comfort level is there. I do some scanning and digital printing, and I own digital equipment, but don't use it much. My work is almost all b/w, with an eye to exhibition print shows.
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Old 12-09-2010   #71
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If I answered last year, it would have been all digital...

Now it's more film, less digital
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Old 12-09-2010   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ti29er View Post


This is what digital offers the working photographer trying to shoot as many jobs as possible and satisfy the client; film never, ever, comes into the equation.
Tell that to the people who shoot Vanity Fair, GQ, Rolling Stone and many other magazines on film.
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Old 12-09-2010   #73
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Just sold my last digital camera, good riddance. I feel better already!
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Old 12-31-2010   #74
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99% digital, 1% film, maybe i will increase that to about 10% film but not sure yet.
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Old 01-03-2011   #75
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Sold my Leica M8 two weeks ago, and now shoot mostly film.

Last year I intended to just make a little experiment back to film (never shot "seriously" film, only analog vacation snaps in the 80s), and I was stunned that a $25 analog camera can capture such beautiful pictures.

Got a bit of GAS and eventually discovered medium format, and projecting medium format slides. Now there is no turning back for me anymore. I use digital for those moments when I need an image right away, but for my mostly historical, landscape, and cityscape photography I turn to analog.

When I recently browsed my M8 photos, I also realized that my photography really improved since I moved to film. With digital it's much too tempting for me to just shoot and shoot... with film photography I care much more about each shot, composition, lighting etc.

I don't doubt that by now there are some great digital cameras out there, and many talented photographers that get the best out of these. But for myself, having an old and cool looking "metal brick" in my hand with no menus to configure or batteries to worry about, I feel much more comfortable.

Last but not least, I do not print photographs often, and find that it makes much more sense to shoot slides and project them. The "HD" barrier of 2 megapixels resolution on my screen makes me wonder why I would want a 14 megapixel camera... sure, I have to go through a lot more trouble until I get my medium format slides projected at 8x8 feet, but the outcome is fascinating and to me that whole process is part of the "art" in photography.

Just my two cents.
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Old 01-03-2011   #76
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I really like the idea of playing with all the old film cameras. It is just awesome what you can pick up for a few bucks. I see how much fun KR is having shooting different film cameras. Unfortunately I have lost my film workflow to the instant gratification of digital. My work schedule does not help either as I do not have the time to spend sorting and scanning negatives. I still have film cameras and hope to someday get back into film but now I am strictly digital...
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Old 01-03-2011   #77
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I really like the idea of playing with all the old film cameras. It is just awesome what you can pick up for a few bucks. I see how much fun KR is having shooting different film cameras. Unfortunately I have lost my film workflow to the instant gratification of digital. My work schedule does not help either as I do not have the time to spend sorting and scanning negatives. I still have film cameras and hope to someday get back into film but now I am strictly digital...
Pete
You know, digital is not instant when you have to sort and Photoshop, etc., so I don't understand why folks don't just drop off their film like the good old days for developing, ask for a CD and pick it up an hour later. Besides that, what's up with NOT printing? Photos not good enough? Only like spending yet MORE time on the computer?

I spend way too much time on forums these days so screw PS. I used to spend 12 hours a day in computer design work but that was solved when I was involuntarily retired two years ago. So, how do I shoot film and spend less time? Get the shot right the first time. Let my buddy develop and scan at his lab. I would rather be a photographer.
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Old 01-03-2011   #78
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Besides that, what's up with NOT printing? Photos not good enough? Only like spending yet MORE time on the computer?
Well, the reason that I don't print much is because I am still remodelling my house and thus cannot hang any pictures yet

I also got tired of inkjet printers, and my laser printer is great for anything but printing photos. So this means it would be a bit of extra effort for me to get good prints. I tried my local lab, they do nice developing, but I was not crazy about their prints.

I will just wait until my walls are done and then put some effort and time into great prints from another local lab. Nothing against prints... just my personal thing that currently projecting slides is much easier for me, and they come out 8x8 feet... which I would probably not print very often!
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Old 01-04-2011   #79
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Quote:
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You know, digital is not instant when you have to sort and Photoshop, etc., so I don't understand why folks don't just drop off their film like the good old days for developing, ask for a CD and pick it up an hour later. Besides that, what's up with NOT printing? Photos not good enough? Only like spending yet MORE time on the computer?
While I do enjoy shooting film(just started this past summer) to get anything other than C41 done means an hour drive each way. I really wish it wasn't so as I'd like to try out other films, city life just isn't for me. I did the mailer thing once but it took almost a month to get my prints back and no CD.
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Old 01-05-2011   #80
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Dave,
I have tried a few labs locally but none give a good Hi Res scan. I could send it out but I do not want to wait. I usually have my laptop with me and my digital processing is often done while I am waiting for my GF shopping in the mall... Lightroom has really spoiled me and I use PS only for special photos. When I retire (the years go by quickly), I just may go back to film like you but now digital fits my lifestyle.
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