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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.

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Old 01-26-2014   #401
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... assuming they wish to persuade others to their own view.
This never happens.
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Old 01-26-2014   #402
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I said I didn't mean one media is superior.
Now if I say that I mean that-really!!

If you're saying I don't mean what I say I'll just re-iterate that S-L-O-W-L-Y.

In no way to I mean to suggest that one medium is superior to the other. If I have or you have misconstrued that then I retract wholly that assertion
I'm serious.

Is that so hard for you to see?

... yes, yes ... it's just more valuable, I get it
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Old 01-26-2014   #403
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... yes, yes ... it's just more valuable, I get it
OMG. You're not reading anything i write are you?
I'm out of here, no use arguing.
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Old 01-26-2014   #404
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... yes, yes ... it's just more valuable, I get it
Stewart, I know you're a smart man. What's being said is that the processes are different not that one is superior to the other. While that is the case, it is still possible that some people will have a preference and place a higher value on one or the other. Both conditions are simultaneously possible.
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Old 01-26-2014   #405
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OMG. You're not reading anything i write are you?
I'm out of here, no use arguing.
... you didn't say that?
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Old 01-26-2014   #406
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Stewart, I know you're a smart man. What's being said is that the processes are different not that one is superior to the other. While that is the case, it is still possible that some people will have a preference and place a higher value on one or the other. Both conditions are simultaneously possible.
I'm sure you know Frank I'm 99.9% film myself ... with hybrid printing for ten years now admittedly, and I don't mind 'some people' having whatever value system they like ... but I object when the go on to insist I subscribe to their dogma
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Old 01-26-2014   #407
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I'm sure you know Frank I'm 99.9% film myself ... with hybrid printing for ten years now admittedly, and I don't mind 'some people' having whatever value system they like ... but I object when the go on to insist I subscribe to their dogma
But, isn't their dogma that film and digital are equal but different? What's so distasteful about that?
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Old 01-26-2014   #408
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I agree and although I`m not entirely convinced by the artisan argument in this thread ,sitting through two hours worth of digital (there is no film anymore...not enough entries) composites is enough to get me back into the darkroom.
The judges only have seconds so the picture needs to have punch and this is part of what drives it all.
Other backgrounds and more dramatic eyes from other portraits are all deployed to this end.

So whilst I don`t buy the argument I have a good deal of sympathy with the proposition.
I am the sole member in my local camera club still using film, and I do my processing (such as it is) in my head before making the shot, e.g., deciding on perspective, the light, which area to meter and adjustments to the reading, and, when using B&W, filtration (if any.) When I would enter prints in the (member-judged) competition area, I noticed they were sort of orphans amidst the heavily post-processed digital images with their unheard of colors, smoothness, and what-have you. Technological Darwinism, perhaps, and that's OK with me as it's a hobby, I do it for love and I don't have to make a living at it.

Fortunately, my CC has a non-competition section at their meetings where you can simply show your stuff, and it's much more gratifying to use that option.

Interestingly, the member discussions of the images shown at the meetings seem to revolve mostly around what firmware was used; I've rarely if ever heard discussion about shutter speed, aperture, or metering technique; those factors are pre-decided by the programming in the camera.
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Old 01-26-2014   #409
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... you didn't say that?
No.

I said some people place a higher value on something handmade. Not that it has any more value or is any way superior.
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Old 01-26-2014   #410
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Interestingly, the member discussions of the images shown at the meetings seem to revolve mostly around what firmware was used; I've rarely if ever heard discussion about shutter speed, aperture, or metering technique; those factors are pre-decided by the programming in the camera.
I came from this forum into the world of camera clubs and boy was it a shock .
With camera clubs in the UK it is all about creating after the event.
As a speaker said last week ... I want to show what it felt like rather than what it actually looked like.
He was by far the most popular speaker they have had and his workshops was quickly over subscribed.
The "justification " for the approach was the darkroom instructions on the Dennis Stock print of James Dean in Times square.
Don`t know why you`d need to justify the approach but I only stayed for half the talk thus confirming my status as the club odd ball ...

This is the speakers web site ...usual disclaimers ect.

http://www.chromasia.com/
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Old 01-26-2014   #411
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Originally Posted by Sejanus.Aelianus View Post
It is your right to hold such views and it is also the right of others to hold differing or even contradictory views. As someone just mentioned on another thread: freedom is not predicated on each person's prejudices.
I think you might be missing my point....Ralph Gibson...do you think he cares what any of us think? Really?

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This is why, in my opinion, people should be careful of how they discuss the holders of different opinions, assuming they wish to persuade others to their own view.
I Don't.
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Old 01-26-2014   #412
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I think I'm advocating for a distinction between digital and silver based photography for the sake of fairness.

Digital is faster, more convenient, easier, and with the software available, there is practically no limit to what can be created, and may bear little resemblance to what was photographed.

I know the argument will be that digital is not easier. But it is. Sure, one can spend hours tweaking an image and there is the learning required to control the software. But I can make a digital print that I'm happy with from a technical standpoint in 15 minutes from pressing the shutter button. To make a silver based print, I have to process the film, mixing and measuring chemicals for the film and to process the print, timing steps along the way, then make test prints, before contemplating the making of a final print. (This process is obviously completely different from pressing buttons and moving sliders.) It would take me several hours to make a silver based print that I am happy with from a technical standpoint.

For digital photography to pretend that it is just like/the same as silver based photography, is to diminish the effort ,commitment, and skill set that silver based photography requires, IMO.

Now, as a hobby, I choose to spend that time and effort freely. No one is forcing me to do what I do. I do it because I love it. If I wanted faster/easier/more convenient, I could go digital (and when I get older and less able to tolerate the physicality of chemical processing and wet printing, I probably will).

What irks me is that I make a silver based print, within the constraints of that process that has taken me hours, and someone else makes a digital based print, with the huge potential for control and creativity that the digital process allows, in mere minutes in some cases, and they are both judged as "it's all photography"; that just doesn't seem right to me.

The processes are completely different, and digital and silver based photography are different media. I'm NOT saying that the extra time and effort of silver based photography makes it superior to digital. Just that they are different, and for my own enjoyment, I choose the silver based process.

Notice that I have made no mention whatsoever about the quality of the image, other than the expanded potential that the digital process allows. It is still up to the photographer using either medium to skillfully/artfully capture a interesting/pleasing image. The digital photographer has greater options of how to manipulate and change that image, and can do so with the use of computer hardware and software, in little time and effort.

It's just not fair to judge results from these different processes without making a distinction, IMO.

Dast!
It's all about the end result. That's not to say that different processes don't have different looks, but at the end of the day it doesn't really matter how much blood, sweat and tears the creator of the work put in. It doesn't seem fair, but it's the way it is. A lucky snap shot can have more impact than a laborious staged photograph. A good portrait taken digitally and printed with an inkjet can garner more praise than a laboriously created daguerrotype.
A grainy black and white photograph can tell more about the horrors of war than an elaborate painting that the took the artist months of graft.

These arguments have been around since the dawn of photography.
I can understand the romance of wet based photography, but I cannot understand why it should diminish the value of a good digital photograph.
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Old 01-26-2014   #413
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Stewart, to paraphrase a certain psychoanalyst, there are opinions people know they keep, opinions people know they don't keep, and then there are people whose opinions they themselves don't know they keep. You can't argue with an opinion someone refutes having, regardless of how self evident it might be that they do - it will only degenerate into a semantic snow shovelling contest.

I think to have a genuinely worthwhile conversation about film and digital, we should really be talking about the technical and possibilities of each. Hybrid printing, digital C types, alternative printing machinery, digital enlargers, alternative chemistry, the good stuff. I think that is far more interesting than murky essentialist rhetoric.
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Old 01-26-2014   #414
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photo_Smith View Post
No.

I said some people place a higher value on something handmade. Not that it has any more value or is any way superior.
Ah ... right, got it now ... some people may or may not hold a view that you could agree with (or not) dependant on whether the aforesaid view fitted a position you held ... or, in fact didn't hold

... and greater value in no way implies superiority (except for some people who think it does) ... but you personally reserve the right to keep your position to yourself as it would be impossible to sustain your argument if you agreed with ... em, some people

... glad I got that sorted out ...
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Old 01-26-2014   #415
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Originally Posted by nongfuspring View Post
Stewart, to paraphrase a certain psychoanalyst, there are opinions people know they keep, opinions people know they don't keep, and then there are people whose opinions they themselves don't know they keep. You can't argue with an opinion someone refutes having, regardless of how self evident it might be that they do - it will only degenerate into a semantic snow shovelling contest.

I think to have a genuinely worthwhile conversation about film and digital, we should really be talking about the technical and possibilities of each. Hybrid printing, digital C types, alternative printing machinery, digital enlargers, alternative chemistry, the good stuff. I think that is far more interesting than murky essentialist rhetoric.
I fear so.

As an aside digital C types are a blast to make ...
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Old 01-26-2014   #416
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But, isn't their dogma that film and digital are equal but different? What's so distasteful about that?
True, but the phrase 'fair of word but foul of deed' springs to mind although I can't attribute it to anyone
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Old 01-26-2014   #417
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Let me get this straight...so some online wanna-be blogger gets his panties in a wad because Ralph Gibson is shooting digital now?? I'll repeat ...Ralph Gibson.

Mr. Gibson can shoot photographs with a shoe for all I care. He will remain legendary in my mind no matter what.

The same goes for Elliott Erwitt - two of my all time favorite contemporary photographers.
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It is your right to hold such views and it is also the right of others to hold differing or even contradictory views. As someone just mentioned on another thread: freedom is not predicated on each person's prejudices.

This is why, in my opinion, people should be careful of how they discuss the holders of different opinions, assuming they wish to persuade others to their own view.
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Originally Posted by gnuyork View Post
I think you might be missing my point....Ralph Gibson...do you think he cares what any of us think? Really?



I Don't.
ROFL .
This thread would have died an early death if people thought Mr. Gibson cared more than an empty film canister about a blogger's opinion about his personal choice of tools .
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Old 01-26-2014   #418
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This brings me to a question that has always intrigued me. The iconic photographers of the last fifty years or so who are no longer with us ... HCB, Winogrand etc. Would they have progressed to digital eventually or would the 'process' of analog remained their mainstay.

I'm surprised Moriyama's recent switch to digital hasn't entered this discussion!
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Old 01-26-2014   #419
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It's all about the end result. That's not to say that different processes don't have different looks, but at the end of the day it doesn't really matter how much blood, sweat and tears the creator of the work put in. It doesn't seem fair, but it's the way it is. A lucky snap shot can have more impact than a laborious staged photograph. A good portrait taken digitally and printed with an inkjet can garner more praise than a laboriously created daguerrotype.
A grainy black and white photograph can tell more about the horrors of war than an elaborate painting that the took the artist months of graft.

These arguments have been around since the dawn of photography.
I can understand the romance of wet based photography, but I cannot understand why it should diminish the value of a good digital photograph.
Well, I got as far as the end of your first sentence and have to disagree already. For a pro, yes. For a hobbyist, its all about whether or not the time spent is satisfying.

Reading further, I have already stated that whether an image is successful or not does not depend on the medium.
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Old 01-26-2014   #420
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This brings me to a question that has always intrigued me. The iconic photographers of the last fifty years or so who are no longer with us ... HCB, Winogrand etc. Would they have progressed to digital eventually or would the 'process' of analog remained their mainstay.

I'm surprised Moriyama's recent switch to digital hasn't entered this discussion!
Probably both.

I'm friendly with several respected photographers such as Simon Roberts and Mark Power (of Magnum) who started with film but now use digital as well. I think most passionate photographers aren't that fussed about process unless it's central to their work, though they of course have preferences (Mark likes film better, but digital is more convenient). Most just pick the right tool for the right job...

I can't recall any photographers I've spoken to being so bothered by the "artisan" nature (or not) of photography as people in this thread seem to be. Personally, I don't care either way - it's all photography...
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Old 01-26-2014   #421
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So it is the appearance of the print that matters? And personal preference?
The technical abilities of the medium, the muscularity of it's capability if you will, which directly determines how it looks. Would a sculptor choose a chisel she had to baby? I want to be able to take pictures in difficult light, because I think it's more interesting than flat light. Digital is like being in a straitjacket comparatively, hell with that. Plus digital color is all ****ed up, I lack the information and probably the abstract thinking skills to explain it, but I can see it's ****ed up.
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Old 01-26-2014   #422
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there was not this great stink made when i went digital...
sigh.
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Old 01-26-2014   #423
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there was not this great stink made when i went digital...
sigh.

I remember that day Joe ... but we adjusted!
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Old 01-26-2014   #424
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Some of us never did.


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Old 01-26-2014   #425
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Gibson, Moriyama, Nachtwey, David Alan Harvey...who else? —Mitch/Chiang Mai Tristes Tropiques [Direct download link for PDF file of book project
Don't forget Salgado and his digital/analogue process.
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Old 01-26-2014   #426
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The thing with established iconic photographers is that they have made their name, and art buyers/investors will buy anything they produce because there is money to be made regardless of which medium they use, so they may as well use something easy, unless they are truly committed to a process instead of being committed to convenience and easy money.
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Old 01-26-2014   #427
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The technical abilities of the medium, the muscularity of it's capability if you will, which directly determines how it looks. Would a sculptor choose a chisel she had to baby? I want to be able to take pictures in difficult light, because I think it's more interesting than flat light. Digital is like being in a straitjacket comparatively, hell with that. Plus digital color is all ****ed up, I lack the information and probably the abstract thinking skills to explain it, but I can see it's ****ed up.
Interesting that you bring this argument to the table. I know that with best-practice technique I can record probably 12 stops of dynamic range on a 4x5 B&W negative. With 35mm it's probably closer to eight stops in most conditions (less-than-perfect exposure, and development that is an average for the whole roll). If I really want to record the maximum range of luminance values I reach for my Pentax K5 dSLR, which is capable of recording 14.1 stops. In fact the K5 records so much information that raw images look flat, and usually need to have the contrast increased to give a pleasing look. I find a well-exposed digital RAW capture to be no straitjacket - in fact it gives me far more flexibility to achieve the final image than a film negative.

My colour vision is not particularly good, and what constitutes "good colour" is very subjective, so I'll leave that aspect alone.
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Old 01-26-2014   #428
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I'm with ChrisN.

I shoot both Portra 400 film in a Mamiya 645 and a 36 MP Nikon D800E digital SLR, and print both as C-type traditional silver prints, usually up to 30-40 inches across. Don't do B&W, only colour, and although the colour from each is different, it's fantistically subtle for each - the days of bilious digital acid green lawns are long gone. Practically, I'd say both my cameras create images about equal in dynamic range.

Honestly, the argument that film is better than digital or vice versa is over. At least for the smaller medium-format film sizes.

Argue about which you prefer for aesthetic, craft or other reasons, but the old technical saw that digital is inferior is over. Different, yes - just like film types vary.

As I've said, I have no preference for film over digital or vice versa - I just shoot with what suits the situation best. Or with what simply takes my fancy.

I'm rolling my eyes at the the entrenched positions in this thread. It's all photography!
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Old 01-26-2014   #429
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The thing with established iconic photographers is that they have made their name, and art buyers/investors will buy anything they produce because there is money to be made regardless of which medium they use, so they may as well use something easy, unless they are truly committed to a process instead of being committed to convenience and easy money.
I think this is the tone that people are reacting too... It's one thing to claim you're not judging a style and considering them "equal but different", but then statements like this ooze judgment (they could only be doing that for commercial reasons, not personal or artistic!)

I mostly wanted to point out Ming Thein's last 2 posts have been about his experience film vis-a-vis digital, worth a read. It's his usual thoughtful, measured, but self-reflective style.
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Old 01-26-2014   #430
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Yes, you may have 14 stops flat, but as you say to must apply a curve to make it look right. That increases contrast in the mid tones and decreases it in the shadows and highlights. C-41 film records .7 stop of density for every stop of light in the midtones, and then less for shadows and highlights. Digital records 1 stop for 1 stop flat, then you have to add contrast.

So at the end you always have more contrast with digital. IE it is not as good at eating light.
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Old 01-26-2014   #431
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Yes, you may have 14 stops flat, but as you say to must apply a curve to make it look right. That increases contrast in the mid tones and decreases it in the shadows and highlights. C-41 film records .7 stop of density for every stop of light in the midtones, and then less for shadows and highlights. Digital records 1 stop for 1 stop flat, then you have to add contrast.

So at the end you always have more contrast with digital. IE it is not as good at eating light.
er.... it's digital-- you can make the curve any shape you want, preserving contrast as you please in the zones you please

that said, the non-linear BW film response does make it easier to manage at the bright end-- but then digital sensor usually makes it easier to manage at the dark end
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Old 01-26-2014   #432
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And about the color, hue twists by saturation in digital, so hue may be correct for a low saturation red, but will be rendered quite rotated at higher saturations, and vice versa. Also, when you increase saturation, it's increased it by differing amounts for low saturation objects than high saturation ones. It's ****ed up on the most basic levels.
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Old 01-26-2014   #433
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er.... it's digital-- you can make the curve any shape you want, preserving contrast as you please in the zones you please

That's incorrect, you can't lower contrast in one area without increasing it in another, and vice versa.
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Old 01-26-2014   #434
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Originally Posted by Ranchu View Post
That's incorrect, you can't lower contrast in one area without increasing it in another, and vice versa.
I'm not sure what you are talking about. You make a steeper slope at the top and bottom and flatter in the middle. You can certainly have different contrast profiles in different zones.

edit-- actually, I do understand what you mean, but what's happening in film is the darkest or brightest edge being pushed to the asymptotic vertical as you push the curves to edges. You can do the same thing in digital, but it's harder to get the highlights, and easier to get the shadows. --end edit

As to color. Sure, digital has side effects going on, that sensor interpreters must deal with. Color emulsion also has all sorts of whacky side effects-- that's why there so many choices. Why is that less f***** up?
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Old 01-26-2014   #435
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Originally Posted by wogg View Post
I'm not sure what you are talking about. You make a steeper slope at the top and bottom and flatter in the middle. You can certainly have different contrast profiles in different zones.
Please review the discussion.

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Originally Posted by wogg View Post
As to color. Sure, digital has side effects going on, that sensor interpreters must deal with. Color emulsion also has all sorts of whacky side effects-- that's why there so many choices. Why is that less f***** up?
Because it looks better.
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Old 01-26-2014   #436
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Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
... you didn't say that?
I refer you to the three previous posts answers, i put those in a language that was very simple straight forward and concise.

If you can't bother to read my posts, respond to things I never said.

There can be no further discourse.
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Old 01-26-2014   #437
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Ralph Gibson must surely know of this thread by now. Anyone follow him on twitter? Any clues, like "RFF, please. Loving the Monchrom."??
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Old 01-26-2014   #438
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Originally Posted by wogg View Post
that said, the non-linear BW film response does make it easier to manage at the bright end-- but then digital sensor usually makes it easier to manage at the dark end
Expose for the highlight. I usually dial in a scene, time permitted, at about .5 stops over the 100% exposure of the brightest point in the photo. Half a stop is easily recovered in post, and most digital cameras today can do wonders to any level of shadow....

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Ralph Gibson must surely know of this thread by now. Anyone follow him on twitter? Any clues, like "RFF, please. Loving the Monchrom."??
I'd imagine him being amused. Leica went all out and made him this beautiful digital camera, and people wonder why he's shooting digital. If Leica did that for me I'd sleep with the camera under my pillow for the next quarter-century.
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Old 01-26-2014   #439
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Originally Posted by Ranchu View Post
Please review the discussion.



Because it looks better.
Curious. I can perfectly imitate the response of any film via a digital file. Printing techniques aside, if we are talking about scanning/printing vs. printing from raw, I challenge you to identify the film scan print in a group of digital prints. There won't be any difference. I can even perfectly simulate imperfections caused by chemical processing.

Digital is approaching infinitely versatile with the latest sensors. With a camera such as the A7r or M type 240, I can make a single shot, aim for maximum dynamic range and make something entirely different out of it. My understanding of film processing may be limited, but the very best low iso 645 film only offers ~10 stops of DR, and color adjustment is much, much more difficult.
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Old 01-26-2014   #440
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Originally Posted by YYV_146 View Post
My understanding of film processing may be limited, but the very best low iso 645 film only offers ~10 stops of DR, and color adjustment is much, much more difficult.
Low ISO film generally has less DR than faster, I don't think that DR is related to film format size. Most colour neg will have at lest 10 possibly 13. kodak tell me Portra 400 can give around 14.
Here is some information:
http://www.motion.kodak.com/motion/A...1099/index.htm

B&W will typically have more and a fair bit of process latitude as well as film range.
Kodak tell me that TMax 400 has 18 stops of range.
From this link I think that might be true:
http://figitalrevolution.com/2009/12...k-kodak-leica/

That said, DR has become a film vs digital battleground , one that can be partly ameliorated by HDR of PP combination of lots of images at different exposures.
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