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Author Topic: Camera Recommendation - 35mm - not Digital  (Read 20289 times)
Plekto
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« on: March 27, 2008, 02:03:30 AM »
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I've decided to get back into cameras after a few years out of the whole scene and was amazed at how digital seems to have taken over, despite it having a lot of glaring faults that I can't really deal with.

90% of what I shoot is scenery and ambient light/cityscape/etc work as well as black and white, and digital still isn't good for that.  I also just like the way film looks, especially with bokeh and similar effects.

My last 35mm camera (I've had a few 6x6 and 5*6 cameras as well, but 30 seconds+ per shot isn't very fun or spontaneous) was a Minolta X-7a.  What I liked about it was the digital/electronic viewfinder that showed all of the information.  

Here is my ideal camera:
1: Manual or Autofocus.  If AF, it must have instant release/manual override when I touch the lens.  (not a fan of Minolta's slow and grinding/fighting me AF on earlier models)  It must have manual override as well for focusing - without having to go into pure manual mode.  I touch the lens and it assumes that I know what I'm doing.

2:Aperature and Shutter priority.(main gripe with the X-7a, Aperature only)  Aperature is non-negotiable, though.  If I have to chose, Apeature is 10x more desireable than shutter.

3:Digital or similar readouts in the viewfinder.(X-700 didn't have this, though it fit #2)

4:If there is a LCD screen on the camera, I don't want to *EVER* have to look at it to work the camera while shooting.  ie - at most I want it to tell me stuff that the viewfinder is already telling me.  Very basic and not some mini-computer with twelve cryptic menus and modes.  Otherwise I might as well be using my 6x6 where i have to look at the light meter and then the camera settings and then...  

5:No oddball capacitors that die in 3-4 years.  No oddball custom battery packs.  No unobtanium repair parts.

6: works off of modern batteries for the light meter and/or is accurate with modern batteries.

7:That said, it must work if the batteries and electronics die or have an emergency override mode.  Doubly so for getting the film out.  Oh, and not eat batteries every other week.  Off should be off.

8:It would be nice to have a depth-of-field preview.  Remote control flash, timer, all the other stuff... pretty much all optional.

9:Not weigh a ton, yet be decently reliable.  Something major brand as well, so I can get lenses and accessories.  I do favor classic and metal over plastic and funky jumbo grips as well.

10: This is supposed to be a camera that I can take with me on a vacation or trip and enjoy myself.  It must be reasonably affordable used.  (ie - Leica and the like aren't going to work)

I did some research on MF cameras and got a few in mind, but none were close to perfect.  But AF are a whole other area and I just have no idea.  Can I get some recommendations on AF models?  Thanks.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2008, 02:06:42 AM by Plekto » Logged
marcmccalmont
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2008, 08:34:33 AM »
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Canon EOS 3 or Nikon F100 used about $300 and then any of the lenses you invest in will retain their value when you buy a digital body. I would invest in a modern stabilized lens also. Fuji film these days is quite good.
Marc
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Marc McCalmont
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2008, 10:48:01 AM »
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You say no to Leica but I bought an M4-P with a 35mm for less than 500 recently.  Of course, it has no meter let alone a meter.

I used to use an EOS 1 which can now be picked up for next to nothing.  To this day, I've not used a camera that matches it for speed/accuracy of AF or meter accuracy.  I grant, this is probably because I've never had my hands on a pro DSLR.  The second time I used it, the strap released dumping the camera to the floor - in a mosh pit.  Someone jumped on it.  I expected the lens mount to be sheared off.  I picked it up, shook off the beer and carried on shooting.  Says everything really!

If I were buying a manual camera, I'd be looking at a Nikon F3 and FM2.
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bob mccarthy
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2008, 11:55:35 AM »
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You might consider that Nikon manual lenses work fine with the F100 or F5. I picked up a F5 in pristeen shape for $500. Not small but much smaller than the D2/1 series digital.

Way to save money, if that a goal. Maybe you can tell, I got caught in the FD/EOS debacle.

Bob
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Plekto
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2008, 03:05:13 PM »
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Way to save money, if that a goal. Maybe you can tell, I got caught in the FD/EOS debacle.

Bob
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Could you explain this?  Thanks.

Oh - the F5 looks lovely, but it's big, heavy, and seems overly complicated(8 batteries?).  This is the opposite of my ideal, actually.  The F6 is too expensive, naturally, and a camera really needs to be able to use older manual lenses in shutter priority mode(IMO).  Apparently, Nikon in their zeal for AF wanted to force people to buy AF lenses, so the partial ability to use manual lenses... I might as well just stay with manual cameras from Nikon, then, since AF is a bit of a gimmick to me/not something I'll use most of the time.
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jecxz
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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2008, 03:09:20 PM »
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Here, these don't take 8 batteries:

http://www.cosmonet.org/camera/index_e.html

Good luck!

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Could you explain this?  Thanks.

Oh - the F5 looks lovely, but it's big, heavy, and seems overly complicated(8 batteries?).  This is the opposite of my ideal, actually.  The F6 is too expensive, naturally, and a camera really needs to be able to use older manual lenses in shutter priority mode(IMO).  Apparently, Nikon in their zeal for AF wanted to force people to buy AF lenses, so the partial ability to use manual lenses... I might as well just stay with manual cameras from Nikon, then, since AF is a bit of a gimmick to me/not something I'll use most of the time.
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bob mccarthy
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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2008, 06:23:50 PM »
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Could you explain this? Thanks.

Oh - the F5 looks lovely, but it's big, heavy, and seems overly complicated(8 batteries?). This is the opposite of my ideal, actually. The F6 is too expensive, naturally, and a camera really needs to be able to use older manual lenses in shutter priority mode(IMO). Apparently, Nikon in their zeal for AF wanted to force people to buy AF lenses, so the partial ability to use manual lenses... I might as well just stay with manual cameras from Nikon, then, since AF is a bit of a gimmick to me/not something I'll use most of the time.
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In the switchover from manual focus lens to autofocus lenses, nikon retained its traditional mount. Canon did not and obsoleted all of the manual focus equipment.

Latest Digital Nikons work great with manual focus lenses from the past.

Don't know who told you manual lenses don't work with Nikon AF camera. 80% of the lenses I use on the F5 are manual focus. There is maybe 4 or 5 lenses from the entire collection of nikon lenses that don't work. Those are typically very rare and unusual that require a locked up mirror or something oddball. 99% do work fine.

Bob
« Last Edit: March 27, 2008, 06:27:28 PM by bob mccarthy » Logged
Diapositivo
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2008, 06:59:59 PM »
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A friend was telling me last year that some of the cheaper Nikon digital models are not compatible with all the normal Nikon AI lens.
I suppose this is due to nothing else than a marketing trick.

Higher-end Nikons do work with (almost) all Nikon lenses as they are expected to do.

I suppose any Nikon film model should work with any Nikon lens though.

Those are great times for film users, you can find any sort of gear on online auctions that you might not have afforded earlier. I bought things (a bellow, a bellow lens, a macro lens, a torch flash, a spare body) for my Minolta MD equipment, "just in case".

Oh, I also bought an invaluable Minolta Spotmeter F. Also a Gossen reflected / incident light meter, but I do prefer using the Spotmeter.

Cheers
Fabrizio
« Last Edit: March 27, 2008, 07:00:42 PM by Diapositivo » Logged
bob mccarthy
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2008, 09:19:34 PM »
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A friend was telling me last year that some of the cheaper Nikon digital models are not compatible with all the normal Nikon AI lens.
I suppose this is due to nothing else than a marketing trick.

r.

Cheers
Fabrizio
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Early AF nikon lenses used a mechanical connection to drive the focus. More recent lenses copied Canon's way of driving lens with internal motor. Only connection needed was electrical.

Cheapest DSLR's only support electrical method. Way to build a camera for less money.

D40/60 only support later method. Plenty of lenses to use.

D70/80 and above support all lenses, both those with the mechanical connection and the current electrical connection




Don't think thats a trick, just building to a price point.

Bob
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Plekto
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« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2008, 12:23:02 AM »
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The folding cameras aside - heh - I've pretty much taken Minolta out of the battle.  Their cameras are nice, but they didn't have a good camera like the Nikon F4(I heard somone call it the best manual focus camera Nikon ever made - heh) that bridged both worlds.   Not that the X-9 isn't a great camera, though.  

Olympus just... sad, really... 'nuff said...

Canon...  They DO still make an AF film camera new that's not so bad, really($300 is nice as well). Just seems plasticky and how does it work for manual overriding the AF?  Optimally I'd find a camera that would keep all of the AF and computerized/metering functions while using an old lens or at least in manual mode.  Just, so many models and they all seem so plasticky and like they were trying to make it complex.  Like a recent BMW.  Zillions of techno-toys for the sake of making it that way.

Still, Canon does have some excellent optics...

So among Nikon, I found several, but it does bum me out that the F4 won't activate VR on newer lenses.  IS there any way to make this work?  I'd love to have a viariable zoom with VR if at all possible, yet while having the older lens capability.  I do like the depth of field function on the earlier Nikons, and there are a lot of good and inexpensive lenses out there.  

I added another must to the list:
10: The camera must have a manual speed/selection dial.  Basic functions should be doable by touch or very simple like a finger-pad to select metering area.  

I like the F4 a lot, so far.   I could also get a FA, which is a lot like the Minolta X700.  Does everything - just manual.  Lovely pictures, no doubt about it, but using AF lenses would be nice, too.(mostly because in manual mode, well, optics have gotten a bit better over time/more options)

Q: does the F6 activate the VR? Posibly some varaint made only in Japan or something?

Sorry for rambling, just Nikon is a lot of stuff to filter through.  I do like how some of the MF cameras work in manual mode with AF lenses, so maybe that's the way to go?  The FM3a looks interesting, since I can find one new, still.
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bob mccarthy
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« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2008, 07:24:22 AM »
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Seems like the F100 fits your need. A lightweight weight F5 for the most part. I'd prefer the F6 but in this day with digital ruling the kingdom, probably not the wisest use of funds.

The FM3 is a fabulous camera BTW, pure mechanical. No worry about batteries to run camera. Last, maybe the best, of the old school

F100 will work with about every lense out there (including those w/VR). The old manual focus AIS lenses contains some real gems at fire sale prices.

see  http://www.naturfotograf.com/index2.html  for more info.

Bob
« Last Edit: March 28, 2008, 08:49:29 AM by bob mccarthy » Logged
Plekto
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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2008, 03:01:21 PM »
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Seems like the F100 fits your need. A lightweight weight F5 for the most part. I'd prefer the F6 but in this day with digital ruling the kingdom, probably not the wisest use of funds.

The FM3 is a fabulous camera BTW, pure mechanical. No worry about batteries to run camera. Last, maybe the best, of the old school

F100 will work with about every lense out there (including those w/VR). The old manual focus AIS lenses contains some real gems at fire sale prices.

The FM3a looks interesting, to be sure.  I also like the FA as well, though finding one to actually try out is proving to be hard(few people seem to sell theirs - heh - wonder why?)  Honestly I don't use shutter priority hardly ever, and it seems like AF would almost be a requirement for fast action, but it might be nice to have.

The F100 has no mirror lock-up, and I hear it tends to meter poorly at night, which is fully half of what I shoot, so it's not really an option.

Q:(thanks for all the input so far)
What other cameras out there are like the Nikon F4/F6?(ie - good in manual mode as well - kind of a "super MF" camera)?

P.S. If money were no object, I'd just get a Pentax 645N II, but body, lenses... $1000-$1500 pretty easily.  And only slightly better quality than a top-notch 35mm.  I kind of wish someone made a 35mm type camera with just a bigger back for 120mm film and didn't charge $4000 for it just because they feel that they can.  Like a modified F5...(I can dream, no?   )

Truth to be told, if I could find a *decent* 120mmSLR for under $500(none exist, of course), I'd use that instead.  My old Roleicord with its non-Zeiss lenses that I had growing up took better pictures by far than anything I've shot to date.  Of course, being young at the time, I sold it for very little money.  

Now I've sort of come full circle.  I like the idea of a simple yet high quality camera.  I don't really have a need for digital, and likely never will, either, since I don't shoot professionally and approach it more like art.  20-30 seconds for a good shot is perfectly normal.  I don't fire off shots every two seconds like my sister does(and then delete 8 of the 10 - heh).
« Last Edit: March 28, 2008, 03:06:02 PM by Plekto » Logged
situgrrl
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« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2008, 12:04:54 PM »
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Bronica ETRSi, Mamiya 645 and Pentax 645 can call be had for a song.  I saw an RB67 going for 250 with lens and back.

If you want MF, you can find it for cheapness.
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Plekto
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« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2008, 05:28:47 PM »
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Bronica ETRSi, Mamiya 645 and Pentax 645 can call be had for a song.  I saw an RB67 going for 250 with lens and back.

If you want MF, you can find it for cheapness.
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The question, though, is 6*4.5 really that much better than a good 35mm?  

Q:Is there any system out there that allows for 35mm like loading of 120?  Either automatic drop-in loading(or close to it - thread and shut the door type like on most 35mms) or maybe some sort of insert/etc that I can pre-load and drop in like a film canister and close the door?(maybe carry 3-4 of the things with me on a trip, in a case)  Not really interested in swappable backs or digital, as digital backs are insanely expensive.  Rollei and the like are just notwhat I'm looking for.  Too many parts and so on.  I want a camera.  And a lens.  Open door, drop in film.  Fiddle a bit, close door.  30 second or less loading.


EDIT:
Oh - most peolpe here might know this - a few might not...  a 5*7 print, which is 2000*2800 printed resolution(400DPI linear, dye-sub), is 5.6MP.  Beyond that, digital won't do a thing.  It just won't print more resolution unless you go really big.

But since a CCD array is actually only about .6 of a true pixel in each dimmension(like your CRT - a pixel is a full spectrum point of light and NOT what they manufacturers say is one), you suffer huge losses and can't actually print better than ~1200*1700 comparable to film, unless you're looking at something like the Sigma sensor.  But they aren't anywhere near 2000*2800 resolution.(1760*2600 for the DP1 so far).  This is why prints on a digital lab machine don't look a bit better past 6MP or so.  It hit a limit and the only thing more MP gets you is

So film wins, for now, since the machines do a 2000*3000 optical scan of the film.  The thing is... according to this, other than me having slides or negatives to send out to a special lab or show, there appears to be no difference between 35mm film and MF film when printed, because the labs have all gone digital, which limits me to 2000*3000 maximum resolution for film.  And any 35mm film will easily do better than this.

So are there any labs that actually have better machines - something that will show a difference compared to 35mm/ or maybe isn't digital in the Los Angeles area?  Of course, not silly expensive or takes 3 weeks to get prints back.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2008, 08:56:41 AM »
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Your comparison between digital and film and digital is deeply flawed, and obviously NOT based on any actual comparisons. Digital capture, even from a camera with a Bayer sensor, is much better pixel-for-pixel than a film scan due to film grain. A 6MP Canon 10D will beat a 3000x2000 scan of 35mm film at the same ISO, and that's with a sensor several generations old.

And shooting in ambient darkness is where digital is particularly advantageous compared to film. With a digital SLR, you can shoot at ISO 800 or higher, and have less noise/grain than the same format ISO 100 film. I spent a few years shooting concerts for a promoter where flash was not allowed and ISO 800 was as low as I could go and avoid excessive motion blur, and digital will capture far more image detail than film, especially at higher ISO.

Your criticisms of digital prints are largely unfounded as well. The reason inkjet and other digital print technologies have largely replaced optical printing is because they offer better resolution, greater fade resistance, higher DMax, and greater gamut. The resolution advantage becomes greater as print size increases; unlike optical printing, digital prints' maximum resolution per inch is constant regardless of print size. You can make a 4x6 foot inkjet print with a resolution >300 pixels per inch; this is simply not possible optically, even with the best enlarging lenses. Most fine art photographers print digitally now for these reasons, even if they still shoot film.
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Plekto
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« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2008, 02:56:56 PM »
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Your comparison between digital and film and digital is deeply flawed, and obviously NOT based on any actual comparisons. Digital capture, even from a camera with a Bayer sensor, is much better pixel-for-pixel than a film scan due to film grain. A 6MP Canon 10D will beat a 3000x2000 scan of 35mm film at the same ISO, and that's with a sensor several generations old.

I've used digital before and I can't stand the way it handles falloff, fringing, bokeh,  pixellation, moires, and most of all, the noise if you shoot at faster speeds.  Oh, and it stinks for black and white compared to good film.   Though Digital IS loads easier, I'll admit.  And you can tweak with it afterwards.*

For 35mm, Digital is getting closer to replacing it in terms of resolution and quality(maybe another 8-10 years, which isn't much at all, considering), but for medium format, it's nowhere close.  Well, there is an option or two for decent digital backs(40MP Leaf), but I'm not paying 20k+ for one.

Concerning the printers, you missed my point.  If all you get is 2000*3000 for 35mm or 3000*3000 for 6x6, then it's of course going to be vastly worse than even a basic home scanning setup, where 4800DPI  is now common.(10K DPI+ in each dimmension for 6x6).  That's why digital printing tends to stink - at least at the labs.  Because the film gets scanned at a horrendously low resolution and then messed with by the internal software.

A good digital camera will of course blow this away, because it bypasses the cheap internal scanner.    Apparently if you print at home, you can do much better than the labs.  This was one of my questions elsewhere.  I found out that need to do it at home since the labs are using inferior technology aimed at speed versus quality.

Yes, digital printers have better resolution, but that means an immense amount of data as well.  And, the software you are using had better be perfect.  If your digital camera only has 8MP, well, you're going to quickly run out of real estate before the software has to make some pretty drastic adjustments and filling in as it gets larger.

With film, a 100MP scan gives a *tad* more information, which is why I'll probably end up doing it this way.  Film, a scanner, and a printer.  It looks like I'll have to probably bypass dye-sub for now, though, and start looking at inkjets.  

In any case, this forum has been very helpful.  I've pretty much decided on one of three 6*4.5 cameras, I have the scanner down to 2-3 choices, and that leaves the printer, which looks like a large inkjet.   I like dye-sub, but the technology has issues and it's not fully mature, while inkjet seems to have evolved more quickly.

*technically, once you scan film, you can alter it as well like digital - just with 200-500MB of data per print, there's a lot more room for error
« Last Edit: April 01, 2008, 02:58:58 PM by Plekto » Logged
Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2008, 03:53:32 PM »
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I've used digital before and I can't stand the way it handles falloff, fringing, bokeh,  pixellation, moires, and most of all, the noise if you shoot at faster speeds.  Oh, and it stinks for black and white compared to good film.   Though Digital IS loads easier, I'll admit.  And you can tweak with it afterwards.*

For 35mm, Digital is getting closer to replacing it in terms of resolution and quality(maybe another 8-10 years, which isn't much at all, considering), but for medium format, it's nowhere close.  Well, there is an option or two for decent digital backs(40MP Leaf), but I'm not paying 20k+ for one.

You obviously haven't used a 1Ds or any of the newer generation DSLRs from Canon or Nikon. A Canon 1Ds totally blows 35mm away in terms of resolution, even the original 11MP version; the Mark II and III models go even further. Michael did a side-by-side comparison between the original 1Ds and drum-scanned 6x7 here; the 1Ds stands up to drum-scanned 6x7 very well.

Falloff, fringing, and bokeh are properties of the lens, not the recording medium. Moire is pretty much a non-issue unless you're shooting a medium format back without an anti-aliasing filter. And digital is capable of excellent B&W if you bother to learn some of the B&W conversion tools out there and don't limit yourself to Mode-Grayscale in Photoshop...



BTW, this was shot at ISO 1600.
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bob mccarthy
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« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2008, 04:47:34 PM »
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Pletko,

I'm glad you're getting back into photography. Good on you as the guys who live upside down say.

But, you ask a question and are given information, but then proceed to become the expert.

You read too much. These guys live with cameras day after day. You sound like your quoting Roger Clark ( ClarkVision.com ) and even he has changed his tune in the past year or two.

I have not entirely abandoned film for digital, but my remaining holdover is 4x5 where quality rules. Even then I recognize medium format digital has caught up(well nearly <G>). I'm in 4x5 for camera movements and cost reasons. I have kept a few 35's for fun (M2 and F5) but they rarely get packed in the camera bag.

35mm based digital kills medium format film. Its just a fact.

bob
« Last Edit: April 02, 2008, 06:04:48 PM by bob mccarthy » Logged
NikoJorj
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« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2008, 05:38:51 AM »
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I've used digital before and I can't stand the way it handles falloff, fringing, bokeh,  pixellation, moires, and most of all, the noise if you shoot at faster speeds. 
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Mmmmm... Sorry to ask a dumb question, but... Where were you living in the past 5 years?  

More seriously, the flaws you're talking about may be real when one consider the ouput of a 2001' Canon D30 (and not 30D).
Today, a decently-processed DSLR capture at 1600ISO has a comparable amount of grain/noise as a scanned 35mm 100ISO slide, with dynamic range comparable to the corresponding negative.
And now, we can process all that (including defringing and a very nice falloff handling) with reversible selective adjustments in LR2beta...    It's a good time to be a photographer.

Quote
With film, a 100MP scan gives a *tad* more information, which is why I'll probably end up doing it this way. Film, a scanner, and a printer.
For me, the main problem with scanning film is the emphasize (almost a parody, without exaggerating that much) on the grain, probably because the square & uniform "pixel structure" is added to it.
Noise reduction can be applied, but it will be hard not to smear that "tad more information" (especially in textures) with it.
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2008, 05:38:43 PM »
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These guys are all right - the only reason I shoot film is due to the disparity between an M8 and my bank balance.  I used to shoot with a 5 mp Olympus E1.  High ISO sucked but even at that rez, it was better than 35mm.  When it was stolen I bought an EOS 30D.  I hated the camera but the quality at 3200 was like Fuji Press 800 - but better.

Black and white on digital works very well.  For me, it doesn't supplant Tri-X but for many with better post processing skills, it does.

Rent something for a weekend and see what you think.

As for 645 being only a marginal improvement on 35mm - the neg is over twice the size - ergo, it's over twice the resolution.
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