Old 03-27-2013, 11:05 PM   #1
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Default Film vs. Digital Commentary

Rather than go through a typical caption, I used this shot to make a comparison of film vs. digital (had it been available then---at least at a quality level of today's cameras).

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What do you folks think (not so much of the photo, but of my comments)? I'd love to read other perspectives, particularly from other ancient human beings like me.
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:46 PM   #2
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Since I've rarely used a film camera, I'm not sure what is considered "wide open" on pre-digital era 50mm lens. Was there a standard of say, f2 or f2.8?
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:03 AM   #3
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this isn't a criticism, Ron, but I see nothing in your narrative that is particularly debatable, or unclear, or counter to facts, or anything else that might give rise to an objection or even an opinion. I guess I am having trouble envisioning what another perspective would be on a "this is the way it was" sort of narrative that doesn't seem to get anything wrong. I guess my response is a resounding "yup."
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:28 AM   #4
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What do you folks think (not so much of the photo, but of my comments)? I'd love to read other perspectives, particularly from other ancient human beings like me.
I'm not ancient, but I did shoot film. Therein lies the issue. I guess it's because I wasn't then (nor am I now, I suppose) a "serious" photographer - I used that horrible product called color print film in my camera. Until Kodak came out with Royal Gold print film, I shot regular Kodak Gold film, or occasionally Fujifilm. Because I could load my camera with 200 or even 400 speed film, I wasn't subject to the same limitations that "serious photogrpahers" were with slow Kodachrome or Ektachrome or whatever, and I suspect a lot of amateur photographers in the last two decades before the digital revolution were probably in the same boat. That said, I read the caption with some interest, and appreciate the challenges involved.

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Old 03-28-2013, 12:34 AM   #5
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Since I've rarely used a film camera, I'm not sure what is considered "wide open" on pre-digital era 50mm lens. Was there a standard of say, f2 or f2.8?
Good question, Jim. I had to go downstairs to check when I realized the FE2 was on a shelf with several of my old cameras (the "museum")---including a Kodak Box Brownie, a Kodak Hawkeye, a Yashica Elextro-35, an Argus C3, a Nikon FG, and the FE2. You could rummage through Goggle for explanations of these ancient items!

That said---the 50mm lens was still on the camera, and it's an f1.8 model. There were no standards back then---although a "faster" lens (with a lower aperture number) was more expensive. I have an f4.5 200mm tele (not a zoom) from 1970 that was slow as molasses on a freezing winter's day.
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:43 AM   #6
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this isn't a criticism, Ron, but I see nothing in your narrative that is particularly debatable, or unclear, or counter to facts, or anything else that might give rise to an objection or even an opinion. I guess I am having trouble envisioning what another perspective would be on a "this is the way it was" sort of narrative that doesn't seem to get anything wrong. I guess my response is a resounding "yup."
I didn't frame the issue very well. Try this: is it appropriate, or fair to judge a film image against a "modern" digital image? Should the standards be flexible based on the superior optics and image capture device of a modern digital camera, and relaxed for film shots? Remember that old slides and negatives must be scanned (another generation), cleaned up, etc. A lot is lost in translation, considering the capabilities of the scanner, the software, and the skills of the person who does the post-scan manipulation and clean up.

Stated differently---I expect a current day digital shot to be nothing less than exceptional in quality. With the technology shooters hold in their hands these days, there's really no excuse for a bad shot (although I still manage to do it on a frequent basis!). I don't hold film shots to nearly that same standard (no matter who the photographer might have been--me, or anyone else). So.....should RP.net? (Some would say they already recognize the difference, and there's visual evidence to support that.)

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Old 03-28-2013, 12:46 AM   #7
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My thought is that you got a fine shot. Perfect actually.
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:52 AM   #8
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Stated differently---I expect a current day digital shot to be nothing less than exceptional in quality. With the technology shooters hold in their hands these days, there's really no excuse for a bad shot (although I still manage to do it on a frequent basis!).
What do you mean by a "bad shot"? Poor image quality? If so, yeah, digital shooters have little to no excuse.

I agree to some extent that film shots should have a little flexibility when it comes to image quality. There should be some standard though when it comes to scanning. Nothing worse than seeing spots and hairs and random debris on a film scan. It's pretty easy to clean that stuff up in photoshop. Yes, I know not everyone has access to photoshop, but most people know someone who does.

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Old 03-28-2013, 12:52 AM   #9
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I was never a pro---but I stopped using color print film in the '60s (besides, I shot b&w most of the time). All of the hard-core "serious" railfan photographers of my generation shot either 35mm slides, or medium format black and white negatives. Some shot 35mm black and white print film (such as Ilford XP-1, which was fairly tight grained)----but I knew very few who shot for color prints. If you were semi-serious about publication one day, color negatives weren't acceptable to the magazines or book publishers---only black and white prints or (later on) color slides.
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:55 AM   #10
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What do you mean by a "bad shot"? Poor image quality? If so, yeah, digital shooters have little to no excuse.

But if you mean poor subject matter, poor lighting, poor composition, etc...then of course there is an excuse. Some people get it and some don't.
I meant image quality only. The other subjective aspects you mentioned should be givens for an accomplished photographer. You're right--some people get it, and some don't.
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:59 AM   #11
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I meant image quality only. The other subjective aspects you mentioned should be givens for an accomplished photographer. You're right--some people get it, and some don't.
Sorry, enjoying a beer and cooking dinner and I didn't read your entire post thoroughly enough. You'll see my edit above reflects that now.
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:21 AM   #12
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I'm someone that shot a lot of film. I wonder when was the last time some of you slide film guys fired up a slide projector. That's when you notice the considerable superior quality of film.

The problem comes when you try to digitize film. The scanners transform your film into pixels and that's where I see the weakness occur. I didn't realize till much later that it takes a considerable amount of skill to try and make that scan look like the image that is on that slide.

I've been going back and replacing a lot of my earlier scans on railpictures. Now I wonder how that stuff was accepted by the screeners in the first place.

Here are some examples of redos. Since I'm still learning, I'm sure there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Image © Chris Zygmunt
PhotoID: 264443
Photograph © Chris Zygmunt

Image © Chris Zygmunt
PhotoID: 253708
Photograph © Chris Zygmunt

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PhotoID: 256107
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:43 AM   #13
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I'm someone that shot a lot of film. I wonder when was the last time some of you slide film guys fired up a slide projector. That's when you notice the considerable superior quality of film.

The problem comes when you try to digitize film. The scanners transform your film into pixels and that's where I see the weakness occur. I didn't realize till much later that it takes a considerable amount of skill to try and make that scan look like the image that is on that slide.

I've been going back and replacing a lot of my earlier scans on railpictures. Now I wonder how that stuff was accepted by the screeners in the first place.
Chris Z
Right you are, Chris! If you crank up the old Ektagraphic slide projector (assuming the bulb still functions), the superior image quality of a good slide is indeed obvious. But, anyone who works from a slide is at an immediate disadvantage with respect to RP.net, because of the additional steps I mentioned---all of which degrade the final image on the computer screen (well, in some extreme cases digital enhancement can forgive some past sins).

Some of my earliest scans on RP.net are downright awful. I should do the same thing you did and redo some of them.

And to Jim: I assumed that dust specs, scratches, etc. should be fixed as a prerequisite for any scanned image.
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:52 AM   #14
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I shot a lot of film in my teens, twenties and thirties. Went through a lot of Tri-X and that Kodak Gold that Jon mentions. I even did my own B&W darkroom. The camera then was a Nikkormat FT2. I never got very good at it, and even gave up photography for a good long while, until digital came along. I could not do what I do without digital....period, dot.

I'd be curious about your thoughts on the D600. I very nearly bought one last December. When I actually got to try one out, I looked at the AF array and I just knew I couldn't deal with frame coverage that small. How is it working out for you??
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Old 03-28-2013, 03:17 AM   #15
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What's interesting of note also is the change of lifestyle between digital and film. During film days, we used to have slide shows as groups. We'd socialize, eat pizza, drink beer and enjoy the works of others along with the commentaries. Summer months were great for barbecues and slide shows out on the patio in the evening.

Today, we come home with the digital images, process them on the computer, and then post them on the internet. Socializing is done through posting on forums and reading feedback. Although, that seems to reach a larger audience.

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Old 03-28-2013, 03:22 AM   #16
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I'd be curious about your thoughts on the D600. I very nearly bought one last December. When I actually got to try one out, I looked at the AF array and I just knew I couldn't deal with frame coverage that small. How is it working out for you??
Any digital device is far more technology than I can master, but I do like the D600 quite a bit. I also purchased an FX lens (18-300), which gives me a full frame image to work with. I've noticed an improvement in image quality vs. my old D200--and the low light capabilities of the camera are amazing.
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Old 03-28-2013, 05:44 AM   #17
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There's no fair way to compare film v. digital. Digital photography far exceeds the technical limits of film, but what's important is the image that's being made.

I think there is an overemphasis on technical perfection. Film or digital, there is great photography in either medium, but it's only technology. What's important is the person behind the camera who brings mind, heart and soul to the process.
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Old 03-28-2013, 02:06 PM   #18
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...
I think there is an overemphasis on technical perfection. Film or digital, there is great photography in either medium, but it's only technology. What's important is the person behind the camera who brings mind, heart and soul to the process...
Bob---that's a point I've made many times here. One size does not fit all with regards to technical standards of images. Good photography has far more intangibles than one can judge with the screening criteria of RP.net, or any others for that matter.

I've always maintained that RP.net's criteria should not be goals themselves, but merely guidance minimums to be reached and/or exceeded. Too many younger photographers seek to appease RP.net's screeners than create great photography. I realize that's difficult to articulate, but those have always been my feelings. RP.net should be about weeding out the "worst" rather than attempting to be the "best."
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Old 03-28-2013, 02:08 PM   #19
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I'm not ancient, but I did shoot film. Therein lies the issue. I guess it's because I wasn't then (nor am I now, I suppose) a "serious" photographer - I used that horrible product called color print film in my camera. Until Kodak came out with Royal Gold print film, I shot regular Kodak Gold film, or occasionally Fujifilm. Because I could load my camera with 200 or even 400 speed film, I wasn't subject to the same limitations that "serious photogrpahers" were with slow Kodachrome or Ektachrome or whatever, and I suspect a lot of amateur photographers in the last two decades before the digital revolution were probably in the same boat. That said, I read the caption with some interest, and appreciate the challenges involved.

Jon
Don't put yourself down for using colour print film.

I had periods of using print film before finally settling on slides for good in the mid 80s. I'm now scanning them in slowly - they don't look too bad.

All of these shot on Kodak 100 and 200asa colour negative film - whatever was the Kodak standard film at the time

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Old 03-28-2013, 03:02 PM   #20
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Don't put yourself down for using colour print film.

I had periods of using print film before finally settling on slides for good in the mid 80s. I'm now scanning them in slowly - they don't look too bad.
Nice shots, too!

Whenever I had a little extra money as a teenager (not often), I bought color print film in the '60s (Kodacolor-X--with an ISO rating of 64). When exposed properly, it rendered really nice prints. However, the grain became more noticeable as the size increased--much more than, say, a Kodachrome-II slide (of that era). Slide projectors were still pretty clumsy (and expensive) affairs then, so--along with most folks--I preferred prints, which I could look at easily, put in an album, or whatever. I rarely shot slides until about 1969, but didn't really switch to slide film most of the time until 1973.

Digital technology has allowed me to go back to some of those old negatives and salvage some decent shots. These images were all scanned from old Kodacolor-X images, all in the span of 1965 to 1968:

Image © Ron Flanary
PhotoID: 195189
Photograph © Ron Flanary

Image © Ron Flanary
PhotoID: 182306
Photograph © Ron Flanary

Image © Ron Flanary
PhotoID: 222208
Photograph © Ron Flanary

Image © Ron Flanary
PhotoID: 395940
Photograph © Ron Flanary


This one was shot in very low light, so the depth of field and sharpness suffer:
Image © Ron Flanary
PhotoID: 392438
Photograph © Ron Flanary


As others have noted, color print film wasn't all that bad (Plus, it got much better as the years went on.)
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Old 03-28-2013, 03:34 PM   #21
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Whenever I had a little extra money as a teenager (not often), I bought color print film in the '60s (Kodacolor-X--with an ISO rating of 64). When exposed properly, it rendered really nice prints. However, the grain became more noticeable as the size increased--much more than, say, a Kodachrome-II slide (of that era). Slide projectors were still pretty clumsy (and expensive) affairs then, so--along with most folks--I preferred prints, which I could look at easily, put in an album, or whatever. I rarely shot slides until about 1969, but didn't really switch to slide film most of the time until 1973.
I envy you guys who took pictures of from my "growing up" era. I was raised less than a hundred yards form Pennsy's Conemaugh Line. Since they were part of my everyday life I never really thought about documenting the rail action. I took it for granted and now I only have memories in my head instead of in my hands. I really appreciate seeing all the 60's diesel action. Thanks so much for keeping my memories alive!

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Old 03-28-2013, 04:19 PM   #22
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Too many younger photographers seek to appease RP.net's screeners than create great photography. I realize that's difficult to articulate, but those have always been my feelings. RP.net should be about weeding out the "worst" rather than attempting to be the "best."
Amen, Ron. There seems to be a real hunger by younger photographers to get recognized by having photos accepted by RP. Unfortunately the system is self-perpetuating - shooters shoot for screeners, screeners end up choosing the same pictures over and over, which sets the benchmark for the next round of photos.

Maybe there should be more feedback from the screeners, but that's probably not feasible since they're continually deluged with new photos to look at. The only other feedback/critique a photographer has is when his reject shows up in this forum.

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Old 03-29-2013, 02:55 PM   #23
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Amen, Ron. There seems to be a real hunger by younger photographers to get recognized by having photos accepted by RP. Unfortunately the system is self-perpetuating - shooters shoot for screeners, screeners end up choosing the same pictures over and over, which sets the benchmark for the next round of photos.

Maybe there should be more feedback from the screeners, but that's probably not feasible since they're continually deluged with new photos to look at. The only other feedback/critique a photographer has is when his reject shows up in this forum.
Agree with you on this - RP is not the be all and end all of railway photography sites. It tends to be at the more conservative end of the spectrum as a result of what you have said above. There is plenty of fine photography to be found elsewhere.
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Old 03-29-2013, 11:00 PM   #24
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Amen, Ron....Unfortunately the system is self-perpetuating - shooters shoot for screeners, screeners end up choosing the same pictures over and over, which sets the benchmark for the next round of photos...
Unintentional, I'm sure, but it's a variation of inbreeding.
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:18 AM   #25
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Unintentional, I'm sure, but it's a variation of inbreeding.
Inbreeding and Meth?
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