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Tom Abrahamsson of RapidWinder.com It is almost never that an inventor improves on a Leica product so that it is better than the original Leica product. Tom holds that distinction with his RapidWinder for Leica M rangefinders -- a bottom mounting baseplate trigger advance. In addition Tom manufacturers other Leica accessories such as his very popular Soft Release and MiniSoftRelease shutter releases. Tom is well known as one of the true Leica rangefinder experts, even by Leica. IMPORTANT READ THIS: CWE Forum hosts have moderation powers within their forum. Please observe copyright laws by not copying and posting their material elsewhere without permission.

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Advantages of Analog B&W 35mm Photography...
Old 01-23-2012   #1
LeicaVirgin1
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Advantages of Analog B&W 35mm Photography...

Dear Sir-

Mostly all my cameras are 35mm Leica M RF's, (yes, I own a M2 lever-rewind), and a few nikon reflexes, (original F, FM3a)... In the digital dept. I own a Canon 30D DSLR...

Is there an advantage to shooting traditional 35mm B&W as opposed to say FULL-FRAME digital... Like the M9? I know you are very experienced in both capture formats. Just wondering what your thoughts might be?

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Old 01-23-2012   #2
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It generally looks nicer. This probably means it's easier to get to somethign I like for mono starting from film than digital, or haven't practiced enough. However, I also want the process I use represented in the final print and adding grain to digital images feels alien to me.

You can process digital files to make very good black and white, and there are lots of plugins to help (silver efex pro seems liked), but the danger of the processing path is that it's easy to fall into the habit of making caricatures, imho.

I use film and digital. Not a rant.
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Old 01-23-2012   #3
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Another film/digital user. B+W can look good on screen -- but VERY SELDOM as good as a good silver halide print when you see it on the wall. Even when it is as good, it's usually different. As different from straight silver gelatine as bromoil, in many cases.

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Old 01-23-2012   #4
Tom A
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I have used the digital rangefinders, RD1 and M8 and I have "played" with the M9. Cant say that I am an expert on digital by any standards. Tuulikki is the Digital user in the family - Lumix G1 that she yields with ferocious energy!
There are some reasons why I have stayed away from the digitals - mainly the fact that I love film - the fact that I am limited to 36-37 exposures/roll and better be right on the button as to exposures (at least most of the time). the other thing is that I know my way around film/processing and filing.
For black/white i still think film has an advantage - film has a depth to it, be it only a couple of microns, but it gives a 3D look. A sensor is a single layer and it reproduces as a 2 dimensional image - no depth. In color you can use the effect of color to hide it - but in black/white there is no escape.
One other factor - and it is a major one in my book, is simply storage and retrieval of images. Digital is pixels on a drive/disc - and as such is at risk for crashes, out dated storage system that cant be "read" in the future and more. I have negative files going back to the 60's and I can usually retrieve a negative in minutes. We are at risk of loosing a lot of what today might be mundane and "boring" stuff - but in the future will be essential historic information (the future being 20-30 years from now - or even longer). Film, in particular bl/w properly processed and stored, has a life span of 100's of year - with basic technology for reproducing it most likely still being available in 2050 or 2060.
I know all about the reformatting and renewing digital storage every 5 years - but how many of us are really doing that. Probably the same amount of "shooters" who properly stored and filed the color negatives shot in the 70's of family outings and occasions (weddings/birthdays/graduations etc). We have probably already lost one or two generations of "anthroprological l" data to digital capture already. Future generations will have to base their information on our time on either massaged news (stored properly) or museums with facilities and staff working on it. The point of view of the "average Joe or Jane" will be gone!
This said. if I had to go back and make a living with a camera - I would be fully pixilated for the commercial end - but there would be a M2 and some TriX (or whatever film is available) not to far from my hands.
Another thing, with a M camera I have a couple of things to master, focus, shutter speed and framing. Most digitals I have used or "played" with comes with a bewildering array of buttons, screens and "options". Also manuals are bigger than the latest block buster paper back - and is written by computer techs with vague ideas on photography! I just dont have the time to spend trying to decode what they are talking about.
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Old 01-23-2012   #5
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Oh man, this should be good. If you are used to B&W wet darkroom prints, it is hard to get used to digital B&W. I just let my digital B&W be digital... I don't add grain or gimmick filters. It's different, but... like Roger said, it can look really good. Depends on what you are looking for and if you accept digital as a new, different medium.
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Old 01-23-2012   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
Oh man, this should be good. If you are used to B&W wet darkroom prints, it is hard to get used to digital B&W. I just let my digital B&W be digital... I don't add grain or gimmick filters. It's different, but... like Roger said, it can look really good. Depends on what you are looking for and if you accept digital as a new, different medium.

It will be good to stand back and watch from this point in, I think

I am completely in agreement with the bold bit - let it be what it is in each case. Then you will find the best of each.
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Old 01-23-2012   #7
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In small format, it comes down to whether you (or your lab) does satisfactory wet printing, doesn't it?
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Old 01-23-2012   #8
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I think that it depends on your process. If you're going to shoot black and white film and scan it you may just as well shoot digital and use Silver Efex Pro or similar to get the look you want before printing via an inkjet.

Starting analog and finishing analog with a wet print is obviously completely different ... and although I've never actually done it I aknowledge that it has it's own look that can't really be matched in any other way!
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Old 01-23-2012   #9
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What Tom said... lad
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Old 01-23-2012   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f6andBthere View Post
I think that it depends on your process. If you're going to shoot black and white film and scan it you may just as well shoot digital and use Silver Efex Pro or similar to get the look you want before printing via an inkjet.

Starting analog and finishing analog with a wet print is obviously completely different ... and although I've never actually done it I aknowledge that it has it's own look that can't really be matched in any other way!
If you shoot film and scan, you have the option of wet printing later. If you shoot digital, you don't have that option.
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Old 01-23-2012   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomad Z View Post
If you shoot film and scan, you have the option of wet printing later. If you shoot digital, you don't have that option.

There is the option to shoot digitally and create a digital negative then contact print ... that's something I've often considered.

Ron Reeder's website is quite interesting regarding this option.
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Old 01-23-2012   #12
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Work = digital. Leisure = black and white film. Market demands full colour digital. But am starting to use black and white for some jobs now, must say its really time consuming. Am in the process of trawling my archives going back over 25 years and scanning my favourites, thats whats inspired me to dust down my Leicas and Nikon F3's and start using them again. Unfortunately still not got the hang of scanning traditional black and white negs.
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Old 01-23-2012   #13
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I was/have never been satisfied with digital mono, have downloaded and tried trials of all the fancy plugins and they just don't have the feel of the wet print. Although it has to be said I like being in the darkroom and that is a great reason to carry on with traditional practice. I have no problem with digital colour though I do prefer Portra scanned in over my D90. A lot may be down to taste. there is another advantage of the darkroom, being a sufferer of chronic migraines a bit of time spent in the room helps relieve a lot of the pain.
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Old 01-23-2012   #14
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Am also migraine sufferer, working in the darkroom under a red light with all those chemicals used to really kick them off. But then so does working endless hours on the computer!
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Last edited by red snapper : 01-23-2012 at 17:22. Reason: typo error
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Old 01-23-2012   #15
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Very very very well said, Tom.

I use digital for my daily work and am grateful for it. But photography...REAL photography, well -- that's film.

For all the reasons you laid out so well.
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Old 01-23-2012   #16
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I have been having an ongoing discussion with Epson in regards to making an inkjet printer, dedicated to black/white. Five or six shades black/grey + a spot varnish etc. The problem is that most of the people working on the design and production of inkjet printers have little or no experience of seeing master prints done on fiber based paper by printers who know their craft.
They should have mandatory exposure (excuse the pun) to Ansel Adam, Wynn Bullock, Jean Loup Sieff etc - simply to establish what they should aim for! Just send them to Arizona and look at Eugene Smith's original prints from the Pittsburgh Story - difficult negatives and stunning prints.
The usual caveat from them is "Oh, but would anyone be interested in a monochrome printer?"
Trying to explain that for many of us - our files holds 100 000's negatives that we could print in the darkroom, but it would be nice to be able to get a high quality inkjet too - and the advantage of being able to mix a digital workflow with the advantage of spotting,contrast control etc prior to running it through the inkjet is certainly attractive.
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Old 01-23-2012   #17
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Good point, managed to print a B&W exhibition using my Epson SP2100 some years back, prints were done from scanned negs A3+ size. Worked ok but very thirsty on the ink. My main problem is not having Digital ICE for traditional B&W negs.
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Old 01-23-2012   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomad Z View Post
If you shoot film and scan, you have the option of wet printing later. If you shoot digital, you don't have that option.
actually, you do. I think this is Salgado's method, whether you like his work or not...
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Old 01-23-2012   #19
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actually, you do. I think this is Salgado's method, whether you like his work or not...
Even if you don't like his work aesthetically or conceptually, there is no doubt about its quality technically speaking. It's pretty much a standard setter.
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Old 01-23-2012   #20
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Just think about this! The discovery of the Vivian Maier collection of negatives or the unearthing of the Mexican Suitcase (stored since 1939 until 1995 in an attic in Mexico City). If either of these collections had been on hard drives, disc's whatever - how much would have survived today?
When I am talking about the "lost pictures" - these are the things to come to my mind.
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Old 01-23-2012   #21
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Coming from a hobbyist I just don't like the feel or controls of digital cameras. The Leica M9 has the appeal of a real shutter speed dial and aperture ring + precise manual focus but at a stratospheric price. So......I stick with the cameras I know and love, my OM-1 and Leica M4-2 plus assorted half frame and folders using 120 film.
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Old 01-23-2012   #22
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I share Tom's views. Also, the costs of archiving digital photographs over the long-term seems very prohibited to me.

The following article may be of interest. It concerns the costs of digital vs film over a lifetime of a movie but also applicable to photographs.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/bu...pagewanted=all
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Old 01-23-2012   #23
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Quote:
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Just think about this! The discovery of the Vivian Maier collection of negatives or the unearthing of the Mexican Suitcase (stored since 1939 until 1995 in an attic in Mexico City). If either of these collections had been on hard drives, disc's whatever - how much would have survived today?
When I am talking about the "lost pictures" - these are the things to come to my mind.

Conversely Tom the DSLR camera they recovered from the rubble of 911 had images on it's SD card that recorded the disaster right up the unfortunate photographer's death ... would film have survived that?
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Old 01-23-2012   #24
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I keep asking myself the same question since the X-Pro1 was announced .....

The thing I love most about film is waiting for and then seeing the results when I hang my negatives up to dry.

As simple as that.
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Old 01-23-2012   #25
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Quote:
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I have been having an ongoing discussion with Epson in regards to making an inkjet printer, dedicated to black/white. Five or six shades black/grey + a spot varnish etc. The problem is that most of the people working on the design and production of inkjet printers have little or no experience of seeing master prints done on fiber based paper by printers who know their craft.
They should have mandatory exposure (excuse the pun) to Ansel Adam, Wynn Bullock, Jean Loup Sieff etc - simply to establish what they should aim for! Just send them to Arizona and look at Eugene Smith's original prints from the Pittsburgh Story - difficult negatives and stunning prints.
The usual caveat from them is "Oh, but would anyone be interested in a monochrome printer?"
Trying to explain that for many of us - our files holds 100 000's negatives that we could print in the darkroom, but it would be nice to be able to get a high quality inkjet too - and the advantage of being able to mix a digital workflow with the advantage of spotting,contrast control etc prior to running it through the inkjet is certainly attractive.
Tom, If you are interested in true monochrome inkjet printing please take a look at the Piezography Website. The K7 system uses up to 7 shades of black and the results are truly impressive. As of now I believe their monochrome inks are only available for Epson printers.
http://www.piezography.com/PiezoPres...iezography-k7/
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Old 01-23-2012   #26
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Interesting article. Thanks for link. At the moment as a sole trader who has to cover most expenses digital, for now anyway seems to be cheaper. That includes the cost of cameras, imac, lenses, hard drives, etc. The problem is obsolescence. I converted to digital for most of my work in 2003. Started of with D100's which really wern't up to the job, the D200 not much better. Been using D700's since 2009 and they have served me will since. But for how long? having to constantly upgrade has been an expensive nightmare, but still cheaper than using film, processing costs, time it takes to scan which is what I was doing prior to going digital and still do from time to time. I really wish that the main camera manufacturers would make the sensors in their cameras upgradable so photographers wouldn't have to fork out for new bodies every few years. But the (il)logic of capitalism dictates otherwise. Look at the M9, I wouldn't buy one even if I could afford it, compared to the D700, low light performance is abysmal, for example if you click on my flickr link you will see some photos I took of the riots last year, they were at night, flash was not an option as we would have been targets for rioters and cops alike. Had to use ISO 6400, wide open with low shutter speeds on my 1986 vintage 1st generation 70-210mm f4 AF zoom (my chronic work related back and neck problems does not allow me to carry around the heavy 2.8 zooms) for the wide shots I used used manual AI lenses, they actually work really well on the dig, also pretty much wide open. Using an M8 or M9 would have been very difficult indeed. May just have managed using film bodies and fast lenses (ideal for the Noctilux, only wish I could afford one).
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Old 01-23-2012   #27
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Sebastiao Salgado and DxO FilmPack:

“Thanks to DxO FilmPack, I have been able to make a smooth transition to digital.”
http://www.dxo.com/us/photo/filmpack...astiao_salgado
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Old 01-23-2012   #28
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This should be interesting
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Old 01-23-2012   #29
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Nick, thanks for the link, i found this a bit puzzling from the page:

"Today, all of Sebastiao Salgado’s digital images are processed using DxO FilmPack before being transferred to film using a Kodak imager and baryta paper."

I think it was meant to read "...transferred to PRINT using ...." ?

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Old 01-23-2012   #30
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Quote:
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...
One other factor - and it is a major one in my book, is simply storage and retrieval of images. Digital is pixels on a drive/disc - and as such is at risk for crashes, out dated storage system that cant be "read" in the future and more. I have negative files going back to the 60's and I can usually retrieve a negative in minutes....
I shoot both digital and film. This statement is very true. I recently had my notebook stolen from my car and lost most of the images the I took with my M8 over the past couple of years. I had a backup of the machine but I trashed the disk a couple of days before in an experiment. Naturally, I didn't think I'd lose the files immediately. Luckily because I shoot film I still have many many images from the same time period. If not for that, all would be lost.
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Old 01-23-2012   #31
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Digital is pixels on a drive/disc - and as such ...
Sorry Tom, there are no pixels on the drive/disk, only strings of zeros ond ones. Only software can make from it virtual image or might make something else. Depend on the software.
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Old 01-23-2012   #32
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If you're going to shoot black and white film and scan it you may just as well shoot digital and use Silver Efex Pro or similar to get the look you want before printing via an inkjet.
This is certainly not my experience!!
Scanned B&W looks much better, even printed with an inkjet.
Above that i prefer the analog workflow.
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Old 01-23-2012   #33
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This is certainly not my experience!!
Scanned B&W looks much better, even printed with an inkjet.
Above that i prefer the analog workflow.
+1, those tools don't help one bit with producing B&W tonality!
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Old 01-24-2012   #34
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We have probably already lost one or two generations of "anthroprological l" data to digital capture already. Future generations will have to base their information on our time on either massaged news (stored properly) or museums with facilities and staff working on it. The point of view of the "average Joe or Jane" will be gone!
Tom
This is a real problem.
An other problem is, that most people take ten thousands of digital images nobody ever wants to view. So maybe it is good, that they will be lost.....

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Old 01-24-2012   #35
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I used both and can create results that are difficult to tell apart at first sight. But after all what really suits me is analog as the whole process is already hardwired in my brain. Developing and enlarging I feel in complete control of what is happening and I can easily relax and concentrate on the aesthetics of the photograph.

I think that is the first question to answer: What suits you best and helps you to be creative. Rationalizing will only help up to a certain point.
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Old 01-24-2012   #36
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I scan my b/w negs and print them out with an Epson R2400 on fiber paper. I am generally happy with the prints until I compare them with my old wet darkroom prints made on Ilford Multigrade fiber and especially Portriga Rapid. It is like Godzilla vs Mega Godzilla to us geeks! I don't blame digital but rather my novice skills in front of the computer but what is immediately apparent when comparing the prints is the obvious level of tonality of the darkroom prints. When my LS5000ED dies I am going to get me an enlarger!
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Old 01-24-2012   #37
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The advantages of film for me, other than the aesthetic of the photos themselves are:

1) No chimping, with digital every photo that is taken seems to get looked at by everyone around the dinner table, every unflattering shot must be deleted, and tried again. I find it tiresome and repetitive.

2) No batteries (often), charging batteries is no big deal, but I've got enough things to charge, like laptop/tablet, phone, it's one less thing to worry about.

3) There are hundreds of great, inexpensive, beautiful film cameras, there are maybe a few digital cameras which could be considered "beautiful" in my eyes.

It's all personal decisions though, a digital shooter I'm quite sure could come up with very valid points on why digital is better.
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Old 01-24-2012   #38
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A bit off topic, but it seems to me that the point of view of the person in the street is far more viewable since the advent of digital than it ever was in the film age.

Advantages of film B&W for me are to use cameras that I could not afford to buy before the great film camera giveaway, I enjoy the look of highlight tones on film and because I get pleasure from swimming against the tide.

I like digital B&W, too, but for different reasons.
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Old 01-24-2012   #39
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For me, the long term storage issue, as articulated by Tom, is the most important reason my personal work stays on film.

Film photography also seems more of a craft to me. No spray and pray shooting, which in itself has changed the modern photo aesthetic, but rather more deliberation and consideration of the subject. And I like the process itself, which has an emotional appeal absent from digital workflow. i like waiting on the results, developing the film, viewing the contact sheets. It allows a slower pace
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Old 01-24-2012   #40
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This should be interesting

I take it you're under 28 y/o. Better to leave this discussion to the adults.
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