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Author Topic: I've tried MF digital and MF film still rules.  (Read 12793 times)
Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #60 on: May 09, 2009, 04:08:58 PM »
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Quote from: Plekto
Isn't digital just as limiting in many ways?

One of the things that I can gain, for instance, with black and white film, is printing on paper with an enlarger.  It has advantages over most consumer grade printers, mostly because the weak link in digital currently is the printing.  As long as I'm not enlarging to bigger than a couple of feet, paper and film wins for absolute quality.

Not really. The key to your argument is "consumer grade printers". Consumer-grade digital may not compare well to professional-grade optical prints, but that's an apples-to-oranges strawman. A properly profiled pro-grade inkjet printer can hold its own with any optical print in any comparison you care to make: print longevity/colorfastness, DMax, resolution, color gamut, etc. Notice that Michael and many other top-level photographers switched from optical darkroom prints to digital years ago, for reasons that had nothing to do with convenience--the digital prints were simply better. As technology advances, the quality gap between digital and optical prints continues to widen.

Your digital/film cost comparison is similarly skewed, since you failed to factor in the value of your time and the cost of the chemicals needed. Once properly profiled, you can batch-print 250 8x10s with a digital printer and go take a nap or do something else while the print job runs. You can't do that in the darkroom unless you are running a minilab, in which case you are talking about a hardware investment far greater than most pro-level digital printers, with results generally inferior to consumer-grade digital printers. The same is true of your complaint about the learning curve and cost of Photoshop. It's no worse than the jiggery-pokery one must learn to master developing film and printing in the darkroom, just different.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2009, 04:09:46 PM by Jonathan Wienke » Logged

Plekto
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« Reply #61 on: May 09, 2009, 11:58:28 PM »
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By consumer grade printers I mean well, anything under $10K.  The ink is also very expensive on a lot of models.  A couple of printers "eat" almost half of their ink just installing and "cleaning" them.  That's just silly.

Since I print and develop only black and white for film, color gamut and so on is meaningless.  I've just not seen good inkjet black and white output compared to doing it manually.  And I did say if you had the time.  Manually making prints from film is really inexpensive but time consuming.  But the cost of a box of photopaper is almost a non-issue.  And for 30X40, $9 a print is more than tempting...  I know what a 30x40 print costs at a photo lab and how expensive a printer you need to go that large.

Color - whole other ball of ugly and compromises.  I tried color a couple of times and quickly gave up.  If I was doing color, yes, digital for color is a complete no-brainer.  But for black and white, I can print out from film/slides for less than the cost of the inkjet paper almost.  Used black and white enlargers are almost being given away, too.

My final analysis:
It appears as if black and white "art" photography is a niche where film is still viable and probably always will be since digital never seems to really be optimized for anything other than color and probably never will be anything else.
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Dave Millier
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« Reply #62 on: May 10, 2009, 05:16:34 AM »
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Beautiful image.

I have no opinion as to whether this result could or could not be achievable on digital but it is depressing reading the squabbling. It's like a politer and better written version of DPReview. I guess the answer to the debate isn't more words but for someone to post a digital equivalent.

I have one criticism of your image: It appears that the "whitened eyes" trick has been applied and it looks a few per cent overdone to me.

Cheers

Dave
« Last Edit: May 10, 2009, 05:18:24 AM by Dave Millier » Logged

My website and photo galleries: http://www.whisperingcat.co.uk/
kirktuck
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« Reply #63 on: May 10, 2009, 09:58:34 AM »
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Quote from: Dave Millier
Beautiful image.

I have no opinion as to whether this result could or could not be achievable on digital but it is depressing reading the squabbling. It's like a politer and better written version of DPReview. I guess the answer to the debate isn't more words but for someone to post a digital equivalent.

I have one criticism of your image: It appears that the "whitened eyes" trick has been applied and it looks a few per cent overdone to me.

Cheers

Dave


Dave,  Thank you for the compliment on the image.  No "whitening" was done to the eyes. The image is not retouched in photoshop.  

Best, Kirk
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galton
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« Reply #64 on: May 10, 2009, 11:15:28 AM »
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While I don't want to wade into the film / digital debate in general, I do want to comment on someone's point earlier that "we shouldn't compare apples/oranges" (in this case, MF film to 35 mm digital). For some, this discussion is a question of what "pure" maximum quality (however defined, subjectivity issues included) can be achieved with no regard for cost/size/time/ease of use. For almost everyone else in real life, it's an optimisation problem, with different weights and constraints.

I actually think comparing MF film to 35 mm digital may be valid, depending on the constraints imposed, and especially cost. Specifically, if you throw cost into the equation, most non-commercial photographers cannot realistically consider MF digital. MF film, however, can have a very much lower cost/barrier to entry - lower even than serious gear for FX/DX digital - while still providing a significantly different (possibly much higher) feel of quality.

On top of that, the depreciation curve for digital equipment is still so steep, that any "investment" in equipment is usually a serious loss when (if) resold. For used film gear, that depreciation has already occurred and (arguably) not that much additional depreciation is likely. So anyone buying MF film kit at this point has a pretty good chance of recouping a significant chunk of what they pay for it. MF digital might make sense for those generating serious cash with that kit, but not for many (most) others.

For those considering cost and who do not absolutely need MF digital (likely because clients demand), it may be entirely reasonable to compare smaller format digital and conclude that picking up some MF film gear in order to obtain higher "quality" makes sense. Compared to, for example, spending a grand or two on another incremental improvement in digital technology that will itself be leapfrogged or outdated in short order. Or compared to jumping up from DX to FX size sensors at this stage at possibly considerable expense. Or compared to dropping $10-$30k on MF digital gear. Or simply compared to seeing that more digital gear won't change the "feel" and the photographer needs a change. Or compared to spending more time as a photoshop jockey, and less time shooting with equipment that (for whatever reason) gives a burst of creativity 'cause it's new or quirky or whatever.
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