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Author Topic: Film to Digital  (Read 4028 times)
trailhound
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« on: June 27, 2007, 11:23:50 AM »
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Hello all. I currently own a Mamiya 645AF  and am looking to switch to digital. Until I found this website I thought the ZD was not available, I.E. here in Portland Oregon ( USA ) but looks like up North in Canada it is. I mainly shoot outdoors Landscape / Travel. I spent a month in Tibet, the Mamiya turned out some fab photo's, the camera is rugged, in a word I love it. BUT I am starting to feel antiquated using film and keep hearing I will have to switch sooner or later, so now that the ZD looks like a viable option I am looking into it. For those of you who have used and or own a ZD how does it compare to say a Canon EOS 1D Mark two?. Do I need the 22 Mega Pixel to have the same resolution as medium format?. When a 645 chrome is put through a projector onto a wall there is NO substitute. I also recenty rented a Mamiya 7 and I loved it! but again as I start to sell more of my photo's I am concerned film be shunned in the near future?. any thoughts and feedback would be greatly appreciated.
I have to sya I really liked using the mamiya 7, I would have loved to have had that camera in Tibet with maybe three lenses. Anyone have some feedback on the 7 would be appreciated too.
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narikin
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2007, 11:53:55 AM »
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the 7 is a truly great camera and was my main work tool for years. awesome lenses, lightweight, quiet, reliable.  focus can be slightly iffy, but otherwise just great.

sadly however... there is no digital equivalent to it.
in fact in digital, we have few choices that we had in film.
its Canon style dslr, or Hasselblad style m/f dslr.

we are beginning to see some diversity in camera design, like the Leica M8 rf digital, for pros, but thats as far as it goes.

there's nothing to beat a 7 for film work of that kind (highest quality hand held location)
but lets be clear - film is dead, and you're throwing money away to buy into it now.

good luck either way
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mtomalty
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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2007, 12:50:01 PM »
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First off,film is not dead.

From a commercial/assignment perspective,where deadlines and time are a factor, it's pretty well run its course but for someone for whom deadlines are not a factor film is still a very viable
alternative for someone looking to build a print sale business or other such personally driven
venture.

I've been about 90% digital (1Ds then 1Ds Mkll) for about 4 years but still shoot 6x9,6x12,
and 4x5 quite regularly and scan on an Imacon 848 weekly.

The workflow of scanning and cleaning hi res files,in volume,is a killer but for modest volume
one is really not trading off quality,in my estimation,by sticking with the larger formats of film
in favor of a 1DsMkll,or even most digital backs,if your endgame is to produce and sell
large format fine art prints.

One advantage of a medium or large format film based workflow for a low volume business
is that your initial capital outlay is comparatively low when comparing to a new digital back
based workflow which will deliver stellar results,but at a price.(excluding the ZD which is
at a pricepoint unmatched by other brands)

I would say that a well processed 1DsMkll file 'looks' similar,in print,to approx. a fine grained
645 transparency with the edge in 'smoothness' going to the 1DsMkll and,agruably,a little more
fine detail at distance in a landscape image to a 645 scan.
Some would agrue that the 1DsMkll meets 6x7 film but i'm more inclined to err on the
conservative side especially as it applies to landscape work.

A 22 Mp back  (I've shot 1000's of frames with most major brands although I don't own) seems
to fall in between 6x9 and 4x5,in my view,with the DB winning out on smoothness and the
film formats having a slight edge on middle to far distance  fine detail in a landscape image.

My limited experience with 35 and 39Mp backs suggests that these files easily equal,or
surpass, well scanned 4x5 film.
The detail and smoothness they are capable of producing when viewing 30 x 40 prints  is
exceptional.

Since you haven't given us many details of what your interests (selling prints,marketting stock,etc) are I think you would be very well served by a 22 Mp back on your Mamiya.

Mark
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James Godman
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2007, 01:00:57 PM »
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Agreed, film is not dead.  I think a digital back would be a great addition to your equipment.  But you may find you still want to shoot film for some things.  Its all about using the right equipment to fulfill your vision.
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Don Libby
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2007, 01:17:09 PM »
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Trailhound, first off welcome to Luminous Landscape you've certainly come to the right place for good information.

I am in total agreement with what Mark has said.  Film in certain circumstances is not dead.  I shoot landscape and nature and up till very recently used a Canon 1Ds II as my sole camera of choice (my wide uses a Canon 5D).  I switch to MF just earlier this year for my landscape work and am using a Mamiya 645 AFD II along with a Phase One P30 (waiting for my P30+ back to arrive).  

If I didn't have the P30 I might seriously consider the ZD back only because of the price.  You might consider looking for a used reconditioned Phase One that is sure to be hitting the shelves as soon as Phase One begins to fulfill their orders of the new Plus backs.  

While film is still very good (at last count I have about 8 rolls of Provida 100F in the refrigerator) there's a lot to be said about the easy workflow of digital.  If you are like me in as much as I don't normally shot for clients the you can't factor the cost of film and developing into your workflow.  Shooting digital will in the long run be less expensive and with the aid of a laptop will allow you almost instant awareness while on site to ensure you have the shot you wanted.  I do a lot of panoramas and while you have most certainly do that with film it's just much easier in a digital workflow.

As Mark says, you need to give us a little more information as to what your interests as regarding selling prints, marketing etc.

Best of luck

don
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Dustbak
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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2007, 01:40:49 PM »
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It depends. When you do low volume and enjoy working the way you currently do, why would you want to change?

Is it really necessary for you?

Do you work completely analog now and how far do you go when generating your prints or other types of work? That is what you will be giving up.

I cannot judge for you since I do not know where you are coming from but from the few paragraphs I read I think you are enjoying the way you work now.

Feeling antiquated is IMO not a very good reason to switch. I also know people that have specifically chosen to work analog. Their work is stunning (even on a screen it just pops off).

Another option can be to buy a quality scanner? Can be done less expensive than a MFDB, provides great quality and is slightly more up to more volume (some people make others pay for their scanner by scanning for them).

How far do you want to go digitally. I have switched 100% digital since '98 and it has taken a very long time to get really proficient in working digitally even though I have a technical background. For me, I have decided digital was the way to go and I enjoy it very much. Still I don't no sh*t, which makes it still interesting
« Last Edit: June 27, 2007, 01:41:49 PM by Dustbak » Logged
KAP
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« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2007, 01:46:16 PM »
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I agree with most of the above, in fact I'm shooting more and more film. All my deadline commercial jobs are shot on a 1DsmkII, but I'm shooting stuff now for large prints and I'm using 6x7, 612 and soon back to 5x4. I'm puzzled where the notion on the net has come from that film grain kills detail and digital is so much smoother. I scan on either a Nikon 8000 or a Dainippon screen drum scanner, I can say I can scan at any dpi and Provia does not have any grain to bother about.
Switching from film to digital is not just about swapping cameras, digital brings along a lot of baggage and other headaches.
I've built a business on digital and it's speedy workflow and commercialy I can't do without it. For quality MF film beats a 1DsmkII at low iso's. I've not shot with the digi backs, but I'm thinking about it, maybe they have the colour and detail of film. I actualy prefer the colours of scanned negative to any other capture method and like it best even though you can see grain in print film.
By all means get a digital, but don't forget film is still beautiful.

Kevin.
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trailhound
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« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2007, 02:28:48 PM »
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Quote
First off,film is not dead.

From a commercial/assignment perspective,where deadlines and time are a factor, it's pretty well run its course but for someone for whom deadlines are not a factor film is still a very viable
alternative for someone looking to build a print sale business or other such personally driven
venture.

I've been about 90% digital (1Ds then 1Ds Mkll) for about 4 years but still shoot 6x9,6x12,
and 4x5 quite regularly and scan on an Imacon 848 weekly.

The workflow of scanning and cleaning hi res files,in volume,is a killer but for modest volume
one is really not trading off quality,in my estimation,by sticking with the larger formats of film
in favor of a 1DsMkll,or even most digital backs,if your endgame is to produce and sell
large format fine art prints.

One advantage of a medium or large format film based workflow for a low volume business
is that your initial capital outlay is comparatively low when comparing to a new digital back
based workflow which will deliver stellar results,but at a price.(excluding the ZD which is
at a pricepoint unmatched by other brands)

I would say that a well processed 1DsMkll file 'looks' similar,in print,to approx. a fine grained
645 transparency with the edge in 'smoothness' going to the 1DsMkll and,agruably,a little more
fine detail at distance in a landscape image to a 645 scan.
Some would agrue that the 1DsMkll meets 6x7 film but i'm more inclined to err on the
conservative side especially as it applies to landscape work.

A 22 Mp back  (I've shot 1000's of frames with most major brands although I don't own) seems
to fall in between 6x9 and 4x5,in my view,with the DB winning out on smoothness and the
film formats having a slight edge on middle to far distance  fine detail in a landscape image.

My limited experience with 35 and 39Mp backs suggests that these files easily equal,or
surpass, well scanned 4x5 film.
The detail and smoothness they are capable of producing when viewing 30 x 40 prints  is
exceptional.

Since you haven't given us many details of what your interests (selling prints,marketting stock,etc) are I think you would be very well served by a 22 Mp back on your Mamiya.

Mark
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=125200\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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trailhound
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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2007, 02:38:59 PM »
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Quote from: trailhound,Jun 27 2007, 12:28 PM

Wow Great feedback!!. Here are a few more details.

1. I shoot mainly landscape and People.

2. My Mamiya 645 lenses will obviously work on the ZD, so purchasing a Canon, then buying all of the lenses etc will put me back more than the ZD and I have read often that the Mamiya lenses are up to the task when used on the ZD.

3. I am an amtauer that has had some pics purchased by Patagonia and some Northwest Magazines, so I am LOW volume, so working with film @ this stage does not hinder my prcoess / timelines. BUT I also want to prepare when ( I hope ) my sales pic up, I sense that photo editors will start prefering digital images for ease of use on their end??.

4. How does one give a slide show in digital, and does it look as good a a chrome when projected large in front of a crowd?. I recently gave a slide show AFTER a digital photgrapher and the people in the crowd were blown away by how much BETTER the 645's looked projected.

5. I do enlarge to 30" X 40". So grain / tonal / sharpness etc are an issue.

Thoughts?Huh
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andrewparker
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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2007, 03:19:43 PM »
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I sense that photo editors will start prefering digital images for ease of use on their end??.

4. How does one give a slide show in digital, and does it look as good a a chrome when projected large in front of a crowd?. I recently gave a slide show AFTER a digital photgrapher and the people in the crowd were blown away by how much BETTER the 645's looked projected.

5. I do enlarge to 30" X 40". So grain / tonal / sharpness etc are an issue.


Yes film is definitely alive and has many advantages.

All the research that went into film stocks by Kodak and Fuji you are throwing away when you pick up a digi camera and process it yourself. What is that strange phenomenon which I call 'DSLR green' you see everyday whenever grass is seen in the newspapers (over here anyway?) With film when it looks wrong you know it is you who has made the mistake.

On the other hand a really good retoucher can work magic on files which will surpass fillm. But it would take you years to learn that stuff yourself. This is the mess we are all in. Digital is also more expensive; you have to strict about charging the real costs of being in business. Of course from a workflow delivery point of view film has become non-viable for most situations. There's one exception- weddings. I find film is faster in that application.

For someone selling prints and stock I think you could look to having your MF film stuff drum scanned in India for about 5.00 GBP each which is $10.00- I know a good service if you want to contact me. I would do that and stick to the Mamiya 7, or any other film equipment which keeps its value.  

The big issue for landscapers and architecturalists in uncontrolled lighting on exteriors is not so much the blown highlights- but the way the highlights blow out- the transition is too abrupt- I've always found this to be a problem with digicams except perhaps the Kodak 760. Maybe the top backs don't have this problem?

Andrew Parker

www.bluewindow.co.uk
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nicolaasdb
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2007, 03:40:35 PM »
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if you want to get the same feel in digital as do get from your film....I would put a leaf back in one of your tests.

I never really liked shooting digital, but when I opened a leaf file, I really thought I shot it with film!

I am using a Leaf Aptus 65.

One thing to consider when you start shooting digital is that you are the one dealing with all facets of photography (you are the photographer, the digital tech (even when you hire one), the lab an the pre-press) because the possibilities are endless (which can be a big problem).
With film you choose a certain kind of film/manufacturer/iso etc. to get the feel you want. with digital you will always be shooting with the same back...and you have to make the changes afterwards.

my 2 cents
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Leping
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« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2007, 04:17:57 PM »
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Film is not dead.  At least not for landscape photographers who print big.  Fuji just put back the Velvia RVP 50 back to the market, upon heavy demands from guys like me.

For portrait/commercial work, digital beats film with no arguments.  For landscape it is totally different.  Upon your eyes as well -- we saw some large prints from digital backs that are full of un-natural looking artifacts, over denoising/smoothing especially over the smooth surface, and over sharpening everywhere, but many other viewers say they are just fantastic.  If you're in the old school or a darkroom teacher you would say the new generation is lossing their tastes, or have never really witnessed master prints up close and personal.

We did a very careful test between Mamiya and Contax 645 RVP 50 film and the top Canon/Nikon DSLRs.  DSLRs produced much better dynamic rang (recoverable details in the shadows when the highlight is under control) and better SNRs, but only attains around 70% of the 645 film resolution.  The difference in our tests we judged everything upsampling the DSLR RAW files to ~200% to compare to the drum scanned film at 4000dpi, not at just 100% with the film scans downsampled, with converters such as ACR (not good with landscapes), Raw Deverloper, DxO, and Raw Magick.  This is only to people who love grain and actually add film grain to the printing files (with DxO Film Pack Photoshop plug-in), who don't care much about noise, and stick with static subjects using always the lowest ISO available.

Also, for landscape, the Nikon D2x produces much better per pixel resolution than the Canons off the RAW file.  The Canons use stronger anti-aliasing filters and heavier on-chip denoising.  This makes the 16.7 vs 12.4 MP difference irrelavent and D2x a much better tool at least to me, even I also shoot Canons and having spent more on Canon glass.  In Japan and China there is a special word for the "Canon looking" -- "Rou", roughly translatted as "timid", "soft", and "meaty".  Exactly a wedding photographer would prefer, maybe.

4x5 offers around 170% linear resolution than 6x7, or 220% than 645.  A 39MP back only offers 133% than a 22MP.  So personally I would not expect the P45 back surpass the 4x5 film for lanscape work, and to me it is shown in the prints from masters who shoot the both.  Remember, almost everyone can shoot a P45 with AF lens "right" while there a millions of ways to shoot a 4x5 wrong, including careful film holder flatness/shiming adjustments and skillful focusing.  People can easily get crappy 4x5 chromes/negatives and scans and to claim it is inferrier to a 5D shot.  However, I am seriously thinking about the ZD back and expect it to equal the 645 film resolution.

And this is only from the technical point of view (resolution), not things such as the "film looking", etc. to which Nikon is also ahead of Canon.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2007, 04:23:41 PM by LEPING » Logged

nik
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« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2007, 04:21:36 PM »
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You're in a good position, your film stuff is selling and you have the benefit of time on your hands to field test the various MFDB's out there. I suggest renting sinar, leaf, phase or ZD back (when it's available) and test them, there is a learning curve though, don't just expect to pick up a MF back and get great color like your chromes, it takes time to find software you like and it takes longer to learn how to USE that software to best suit your needs. If I were you I'd stick to your platform, the mamiya 645, you know the camera, you know the lenses (it's a great system) and add a digital back to it when you're ready or rent when the client is paying for it. No rush in your case. Don't bother with canon for your purposes, MF just gives a different look and feel, something I'm sure you're aware of.

You can get great color out of a MFDB and create a stunning slideshow sync'd to music (if you like) on your mac or pc that will still blow the crowds away.

-nik
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Conner999
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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2007, 07:07:54 AM »
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Re: doing sldie show with digital. If you don't have already, a laptop hooked up to a digital-in projector (available everywhere) and your're good to go. One added benefit is that you can edit the show at the last second, add music, narrative, etc, etc.

One thing to consider when moving to digital is computing requirements - get the most powerful machine you can afford and, far, far more importantly, as much memory as you can afford. Apple offers some decent deals on refurb gear via their web site.

One approach folks use (which may work for you given your obvious travel schedule) is a high-end 17" laptop, backup drives and a separate monitor.  The laptop is packable and more easily sold via eBay at upgrade time (ever try and ship a normal PC?) and you're not tied to any one make/size of screen.

If you can afford it, a modest-speed up-memoried laptop as a mobile unit (and backup drive) and a home-based G5 stacked full of 16-odd GB of RAM would be ideal, but that's some VERY serious coin. That being said, memory prices drop every year - as long as you have slots to put it in.

I must say, that ZD back pricing has many folks doing some serious pondering...
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AndrewDyer
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« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2007, 08:25:51 AM »
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Hello Trailhound.
You will not get the same quality from a digital projection as from light being shone through a lovely transparency. The digital projectors have no where near the same resolution as MF Film. Even a True HD projector does not come close. The difference in quality is not so much in the digital file you may get from a ZD Back but in the projector resolution.
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MichaelEzra
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« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2007, 08:38:27 AM »
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I found that multiple image stitching of ZD's shots provides absolutely stunning results for landscape photography. Extremely high resolution (1Gigapixels, etc) is easily achievable and at the fraction of the cost of 39Mp backs. the same procedure with film would either require very parge film surface with some fantasticly sharp lens or annoying scanning of multiple negatives and later taking them through the same digital workflow.

-My 2c.
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