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Author Topic: Film versus Digital: the current comparison  (Read 11284 times)
Fine_Art
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« Reply #40 on: January 15, 2013, 08:43:41 PM »
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It's a joke in reply to the prior joke about using glass plates.
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Alpenhause
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« Reply #41 on: January 19, 2013, 02:51:16 PM »
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It is interesting to note most film photography originates on film then once you go to the minilab or pro lab it becomes digital because they scan the negative or slide then it becomes a digital file.

The digital file is often printed on Kodak or Fuji chemically processed paper it could be looked at as film to digital back to analog.

Or....film to digital to digital inkjet print.

I have to say film use is a lot more digital these days than it used to be than when labs used optical enlarging equipment.

This digital printing is a massive improvement when you want prints from your slides, no more lousy results due to the use of the obsolete Kodak Ektachrome printing paper for prints from slides, the true beauty and color character of your Kodachrome, Agfachrome of Fujichrome slide is now available on Fuji Crystal Archive paper and Kodak's fine color paper.

Digital cameras are kind of toys, experimental, had an old digital camera converted to infrared, lots of fun!
I have a lot film cameras and a lot of film in my fridge to use up for now
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hitch22
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« Reply #42 on: May 31, 2014, 08:55:54 PM »
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In short, I warmly encourage your friend's switch from digital to film.  Although his assertion that great photographers only shoot film is obviously a ridiculous proposition: you can make truly great work with your cell phone, an antique 8x10" camera or absolutely anything analogue or digital that captures an image at any workable resolution.  Other than that, much of what he's getting at is very true.  Before you all throw a hissy fit, I'd like to preface by saying that I own and frequently shoot with a 60mp Phase One medium format digital system, as well as a 36mp Nikon D800.  I'm a professional photographer and my job demands that, but when shooting my own work I prefer film, which I sometimes shoot using a Leica M7, similar to your friend.  The pictures I take with my digital cameras are sharper and have much higher resolution than the ones I take with my film cameras, but the pictures from my film cameras are much more beautiful.

Film pictures usually are more beautiful than digital images of the same scene because they have a warmth to them that's not achievable with digital capture.  The obvious retort is that this is all subjective, but beauty isn't really in the eye of the beholder - if shown 20 faces and asked to rank them in order of beauty, people of wildly varying cultural backgrounds and ages will tend to rank them almost identically.  If you were to go outside and take a quick picture of somebody you know with the sun setting behind them with color negative film, then with color digital, I've no doubt that people will respond more positively to the film version.  In the great megapixel race, digital camera manufacturers are focusing on making cameras with ever higher resolving power, and resolution is probably the least important aspect of what makes up the quality of a photograph.

People seem to get confused about the issue of dynamic range or exposure latitude in the film vs digital debate.  True, the dynamic range of current digital cameras is better than slide film.  But slide film is for amateurs, films like Fuji Velvia are for enthusiast photographers who do workshops and make unbearably cheesy saturated photos of the American landscape.  The idea that slide film is for pros and amateurs use print film is probably the biggest misconception I've encountered in the photo industry over the past 20 years.  All the great photographers of the pre-digital era produced almost all of their work on print film.  Some, like Annie Leibovitz, used slide film in the 80s, but look at the results with a contemporary eye and it should be obvious how awful they look. The same goes for cinema.  Basically every great movie you have ever seen was filmed using B&W or color print (negative) film, not transparency - even though transparency stock is widely available.  Why?  Because negative film looks better and has a much wider latitude.

The dynamic range of high-end digital cameras that cost tens of thousands of dollars - like the one I use - is not even in the ball park of negative film.  If you think the dynamic range of digital is better, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, and probably used to shoot boring pictures with Fuji Velvia.  You can under or overexpose negatives by several stops and the results will be useable.  Even slightly overexpose digital, on the other hand, and it's useless.  This is digital's fatal flaw: it's a huge step backwards technically from the days when you could take a portrait backlit by the sun and get a beautiful result.  Digital behaves like slide film, which is NOT a good thing.
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #43 on: June 01, 2014, 01:30:25 PM »
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Hitch:  Welcome to LuLa.  You make some salient points but as they say there's no accounting for taste.  I prefer Velvia 50 because of its limited  range.  I bracket to cover my mistakes in calculating exposures.  Ektar 100 print film is pretty good too. But I find it's easier to scan Velvia.  I find high contrast and dark shadows appealing to my eyes, as well as the heightened colors.    I'd like to see your pro and personal pictures as I'm always looking to learn something that could improve my photography.  Can you post some links of your work or add them to your Profile?  Thanks and welcome aboard.  Alan.
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Telecaster
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« Reply #44 on: June 01, 2014, 02:38:56 PM »
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Well, this is a landscape-oriented hangout...and transparency film was by far the most popular pre-digital choice, in 135 format at least, for both amateur and pro landscapers. My favorites were Kodachrome & Provia rather than Velvia, but the latter saw lots of pro use. Back when you could make a living from stock sales.

Anyway this stuff is a matter of taste. There's no need for attempts at universal declarations of better or worse. I'd still use Kodachrome if it were available because I love the way it looks. (Or, rather, they way they look...25, 64 & 200 are all different to each other.) I love color neg films too...IMO the current Portras are lovely. I also agree with Alan that limitations, such as in dynamic range, can be a good thing. Only got five stops to work with? Fine, adjust your technique and choice of subject matter accordingly.

-Dave-
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Misirlou
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« Reply #45 on: June 03, 2014, 06:06:11 PM »
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Hmm. Truly great photographers. A lot of the popular icons were also truly great printers.

I shot a lot of transparencies, even 4X5, in the film days, precisely because I had no ability to print. I looked at them through a projector, or on a light table, and that was that. I could print black and white fairly well, but I don't know that I was ever satisfied with a single color print from any form of film I ever used. I have many thousands of pleasant transparencies though.

Maybe your friend meant to say that when most folks speak of well-known photo artists, they usually refer to people who became popular during the film era.
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« Reply #46 on: June 06, 2014, 06:46:18 PM »
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There was a debate here on LuLa a few years back where some folks eulogised about how film was better than digital. I added some images to thread and some of the pro-film posters said that they were good examples of why film was better than digital, because they had that certain something [or words to that effect]. The irony being that they were digital images and not from my FF DSLR either, but my small sensor pocket camera, a Ricoh GR200 IIRC.
 
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« Reply #47 on: June 06, 2014, 08:03:59 PM »
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There tends to be a fair amount of confirmation bias at work when it comes to what people think they prefer. Believing, for example, a particular photo was taken with film or sensor—or printed optically rather than mechanically—can improve or degrade the photo in the viewer's judgment regardless of the actual technology used. Same thing with music recording and reproduction tech. Better to just accept different technologies & processes as different. This way you can continue to have your preferences, with whatever degree of confirmation bias that may entail, but without as strong an impulse to proselytize them or treat other peoples' preferences as attacks on your character.

-Dave-
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louoates
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« Reply #48 on: June 06, 2014, 08:11:40 PM »
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There tends to be a fair amount of confirmation bias at work when it comes to what people think they prefer. Believing, for example, a particular photo was taken with film or sensor—or printed optically rather than mechanically—can improve or degrade the photo in the viewer's judgment regardless of the actual technology used. Same thing with music recording and reproduction tech. Better to just accept different technologies & processes as different. This way you can continue to have your preferences, with whatever degree of confirmation bias that may entail, but without as strong an impulse to proselytize them or treat other peoples' preferences as attacks on your character.

-Dave-
Well written. I love the acceptance of both as just different. Just as glass plates were different from film.
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melchiorpavone
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« Reply #49 on: August 14, 2014, 10:46:06 AM »
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This is a nubie question but I need to ask it to help resolve a discussion with a friend who has recently switched from digital - a Leica M9- to film - a Leica M6 I think.
He says that the "truly great photographers" only use film and I found this astonishing given the huge possibilities of digital technology.

His arguments for film are

- film has a more natural look
- film has greater dynamic range
- film images are more beautiful. They have a certain something that is difficult to pinpoint.

So I wonder what your opinion is. For instance is it really true that a Canon 5d Mark 2 has less dynamic range than a Leica M6?
Aren't there techniques - such as adding grain or noise - that make digital images look as natural as film images?
Why do so many people say that film has that certain something? Why isn't this purely a matter of taste?



"Dynamic range" is a misnomer. It refers to the range of loudness (such as a symphony orchestra) from the softest to the loudest. Classical music typically has a large dynamic range (extremely soft to extremely loud), whereas most pop music has a small dynamic range (everything is just loud). By extension, it has been applied to electronic recordings of music, and then later to electronic signals. It is usually expressed in dB.  

Dolby noise reduction was invented to increase dynamic range by suppressing tape hiss (noise) by emphasizing the high frequencies during recording and then de-emphasizing them during playback. If done carefully, there are no audible artifacts, and dynamic range is increased because the quietest part is now quieter than it would have been without the Dolby noise reduction. It does not, however, do anything to the loudest signals: the "increase" in dynamic range is entirely at the soft end of the recording. Digital recording generally has even greater dynamic range than Dolby-equipped analogue recording equipment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolby_noise-reduction_system

In any event, film records differently than digital. With film, there is some tonal compression at both the brightest and darkest parts of the image. This compression occurs both in the negative and positive stages.  The effect is generally more pleasing than a perfectly linear tonal presentation.

The range of densities on the negative should be called "negative density range", and the range of densities on the print should be called "print density range" or informally "tonal range". The range of brightness in the subject should be called "subject brightness range".

Film cameras are limited by the film with which they are loaded. Different lenses have different optical properties with regard to flare or lack thereof. Leica rangefinder lenses are generally among the best in "brilliance" due to the fact that rangefinder lenses are almost always simpler than reflex lenses, with fewer and thinner elements.

Also, Leica has for many years used glass types with a very high index of refraction, which enables the lenses to have fewer elements and the lens elements to have softer curves. This also results in superior image brilliance.

Using fewer, thinner elements makes the lenses better and lighter.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 11:33:12 AM by melchiorpavone » Logged
melchiorpavone
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« Reply #50 on: August 15, 2014, 09:30:50 AM »
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In short, I warmly encourage your friend's switch from digital to film.  Although his assertion that great photographers only shoot film is obviously a ridiculous proposition: you can make truly great work with your cell phone, an antique 8x10" camera or absolutely anything analogue or digital that captures an image at any workable resolution.  Other than that, much of what he's getting at is very true.  Before you all throw a hissy fit, I'd like to preface by saying that I own and frequently shoot with a 60mp Phase One medium format digital system, as well as a 36mp Nikon D800.  I'm a professional photographer and my job demands that, but when shooting my own work I prefer film, which I sometimes shoot using a Leica M7, similar to your friend.  The pictures I take with my digital cameras are sharper and have much higher resolution than the ones I take with my film cameras, but the pictures from my film cameras are much more beautiful.

Film pictures usually are more beautiful than digital images of the same scene because they have a warmth to them that's not achievable with digital capture.  The obvious retort is that this is all subjective, but beauty isn't really in the eye of the beholder - if shown 20 faces and asked to rank them in order of beauty, people of wildly varying cultural backgrounds and ages will tend to rank them almost identically.  If you were to go outside and take a quick picture of somebody you know with the sun setting behind them with color negative film, then with color digital, I've no doubt that people will respond more positively to the film version.  In the great megapixel race, digital camera manufacturers are focusing on making cameras with ever higher resolving power, and resolution is probably the least important aspect of what makes up the quality of a photograph.

People seem to get confused about the issue of dynamic range or exposure latitude in the film vs digital debate.  True, the dynamic range of current digital cameras is better than slide film.  But slide film is for amateurs, films like Fuji Velvia are for enthusiast photographers who do workshops and make unbearably cheesy saturated photos of the American landscape.  The idea that slide film is for pros and amateurs use print film is probably the biggest misconception I've encountered in the photo industry over the past 20 years.  All the great photographers of the pre-digital era produced almost all of their work on print film.  Some, like Annie Leibovitz, used slide film in the 80s, but look at the results with a contemporary eye and it should be obvious how awful they look. The same goes for cinema.  Basically every great movie you have ever seen was filmed using B&W or color print (negative) film, not transparency - even though transparency stock is widely available.  Why?  Because negative film looks better and has a much wider latitude.


This is incorrect. Due to optical losses and color distortions, the negative-positive process produces results that are inferior to reversal stock, but reversal stock does not duplicate well because contrast tends to become excessive. Motion pictures that are distributed as multiple prints (which are copies) have always used the negative-positive process, which produces far better results than duplicates of reversal stock, which becomes too contrasty in duplication (though special products were available for producing and duplicating reversal stock). In the late 1930s, Kodak did supply a low-contrast version of Kodachrome for the motion-picture industry for remote location work where Technicolor cameras could not be used (Technicolor was a negative-positive process that used three B&W separation negatives, each exposed through a blue, green, or red color filter; the Technicolor cameras were very delicate and expensive, and there were only a few of them).

http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/oldcolor/technicolor4.htm

Some scenes in the Wizard of Oz and other color motion pictures were shot on this Kodachrome stock, from which separations were made. No color negative stock has ever approached Kodachrome for color quality, sharpness, or stability, and most "serious" photographers used Kodachrome almost exclusively until Velvia came out. Kodachrome was vastly superior to the other films available. I did use some Ektachrome, Agfachrome and Anscochrome in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but these films were inferior in many respects to Kodachrome. Agfachrome had a very interesting color palate, but was quite grainy. Most of the old slides made on these films have faded badly, but my Kodachromes from that era look like they were made yesterday.

Professionals (commercial photographers) and serious amateurs used reversal products, except for professional portrait & wedding photographers. Among amateurs, color negative film was used primarily by moms using Instamatics, for photos of family events. Kodak sold millions of rolls of Kodacolor film in size 126.

See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodachrome

"Contrast
Kodachrome is generally used for direct projection using white light. As such, it possesses a relatively high contrast.

For professional uses, where duplication is expected and required, a special version, Kodachrome Commercial (KCO), was available in a 35 mm BH-perforated base (exclusively through Technicolor) and in a 16 mm base (exclusively through Eastman Kodak's professional products division). In both cases, Eastman Kodak performed the processing.

Kodachrome Commercial has a low-contrast characteristic which complements the various duplication films with which it is intended to be used: silver separation negatives for 35 mm (controlled exclusively by Technicolor) and reversal duplicating and printing stocks for 16 mm (controlled exclusively by Eastman Kodak).

Kodachrome Commercial was available until the mid-1950s, after which Ektachrome Commercial (ECO) replaced it for these specific applications.

After the late 1950s, 16 mm Kodachrome Commercial-originated films (and Ektachrome Commercial-originated films as well) were quite often duplicated onto Eastmancolor internegative film, after which these films were printed on Eastmancolor positive print film, as a cost-reduction measure, thereby yielding relatively low-cost prints for direct projection."


http://motion.kodak.com/motion/About/Chronology_Of_Film/index.htm

and:
http://motion.kodak.com/motion/About/Chronology_Of_Film/1940-1959/index.htm

I have no idea what is meant by "warmth", and such terms are neither scientific nor accurate. Film images are composed of randomly distributed particles, which create a specific kind of image quality. Also, because the silver crystals in an emulsion are sensitive to light hitting them from any angle, and because the photons striking the film tend to scatter within the film emulsion, neighboring crystals are exposed to photons striking them from the side as well as from the front. This process, called "irradiation", tends to "smear" the image a little. It tends to "smooth out" edges and create a somewhat more pleasing image. Sensor cells (which are not randomly arranged) are sensitive only to light coming right into them, and so light striking adjacent cells does not affect them. But the cell arrays themselves are much larger than film crystals, so the finest details are not captured as well as with film. The result is that digital images tend to look "sharper" but have less actual detail.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2014, 12:02:47 PM by melchiorpavone » Logged
joneil
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« Reply #51 on: August 15, 2014, 09:49:34 AM »
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For me, the whole debate of film vs digital is foolish and should of had a stake driven through it's heart many moons ago.   However, the whole debate, at least for me, has taken a turn for the strange.

  Somes examples, but not all:

- new plugins for Photoshop like Nik sotware, Topaz labs, etc, all now have settings or sections where you can "make your picutre look like film."    You can add noise, grain, make the image "shaky", yellowed with age even.  Seriously.  The pre-set setting in Nik is called "Granny's Attic."
   So I don't get all these debates about film vs digital when all these new software programs are now replicating the look of film. 

- Lomography seems to be selling more and more.  One of the biggest camera stores here in town opened a new location at the local university, and it is stocked floor to celing with Lomo products.  Film, Diana cameras, and more.  Fuzzy Lomo cameras and lenses are growing ever in sales, at least from what I can see, so why any debate over which si better?

- lastly, a local photography studio opened up - two years ago now - and thier specialty is tin-types.    Seriously.  Honest to goodness tin-types, like something out of the Civil War era.  I was readind the earlier jokes/messages in this thread about glass plates, but hey, what about tin-types?   Smiley

   So those are just a few examples.  I guess my point is, digital is becomming more and more "perfect" all the time, maybe there is a backlash of some kind going on.  Who knows?
 


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« Reply #52 on: August 15, 2014, 12:03:22 PM »
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But slide film is for amateurs, films like Fuji Velvia are for enthusiast photographers who do workshops and make unbearably cheesy saturated photos of the American landscape. 
That's really absurd! When I was shooting professionally, with film (1980's and 1990's), we had to shot transparency (what you incorrectly call slide film) so it could be scanned for reproduction. Shoot a commercial job with color neg film, the art director and their prepress people would laugh you out of the office.
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melchiorpavone
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« Reply #53 on: August 15, 2014, 12:05:40 PM »
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That's really absurd! When I was shooting professionally, with film (1980's and 1990's), we had to shot transparency (what you incorrectly call slide film) so it could be scanned for reproduction. Shoot a commercial job with color neg film, the art director and their prepress people would laugh you out of the office.

Correct, except in the wedding & portrait market, where prints were the item being sold.
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elliot_n
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« Reply #54 on: August 15, 2014, 12:36:14 PM »
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That's really absurd! When I was shooting professionally, with film (1980's and 1990's), we had to shot transparency (what you incorrectly call slide film) so it could be scanned for reproduction. Shoot a commercial job with color neg film, the art director and their prepress people would laugh you out of the office.

In the editorial world (fashion/portraiture) there was a significant shift from transparency to negative in the mid 90s.
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« Reply #55 on: August 15, 2014, 12:38:48 PM »
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In the editorial world (fashion/portraiture) there was a significant shift from transparency to negative in the mid 90s.
Color neg? And what, prints were scanned for repro?
Still the statement, but slide film is for amateurs is absurd.
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melchiorpavone
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« Reply #56 on: August 15, 2014, 12:40:31 PM »
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Color neg? And what, prints were scanned for repro?
Still the statement, but slide film is for amateurs is absurd.

Yes, 99.99% of color negative film was consumed by amateurs (overwhelmingly female). Slide films were used primarily by advanced amateurs (overwhelmingly male) and pros (other than those who did portrait & wedding work).

Part of the reason for this was that negative-positive process was simply not as good as slide films. Only when Kodak introduced T-grain films in the 1980s (marketed as "Ektar") did things start to even out. The C-22 process color negative films were discontinued in about 1972, and replaced by C41 films, which were sharper, and had more accurate color and better keeping properties. The C41 process was introduced along with the new 110 format, and the first C41 films were available only in 110. C22 films were not sharp enough or fine-grained enough to allow such a small negative to produce satisfactory images. Even so, Kodachrome was still far superior to any negative film, and to the E6 films and process (introduced in 1977) which were an outgrowth of the research for the C41 process. They were sharper, more stable, and had better color than their E4 predecessors, but were still inferior to Kodachrome. Fujichrome Velvia gave more saturated colors than Kodak's E6 films, but was not as sharp as Kodachrome, which had been improved in 1974. The 64 speed material in particular (Kodachrome 64) was far superior to Kodachrome-X, which had been introduced in 1963.  

So, even though color negative materials had improved, they were still far inferior to the improved Kodachrome films. Ektachrome films were used only where greater emulsion speed and quick turn-around were needed.

Kodak might have been well-served to try to come up with a nature-oriented Kodachrome, perhaps about ISO 50. The Kodachrome films were intended as general-purpose materials. Velvia was not.
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elliot_n
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« Reply #57 on: August 15, 2014, 01:30:48 PM »
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Color neg? And what, prints were scanned for repro?
Still the statement, but slide film is for amateurs is absurd.

Yes, colour neg. The photographer delivers contact-sheets to magazine. The magazine make their selects and order c-types from the photographer. (That's how I worked from the mid 90s until switching to digital in 2008.)
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melchiorpavone
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« Reply #58 on: August 15, 2014, 02:58:13 PM »
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Yes, colour neg. The photographer delivers contact-sheets to magazine. The magazine make their selects and order c-types from the photographer. (That's how I worked from the mid 90s until switching to digital in 2008.)

I believe this would be the exception rather than the rule, and perhaps this was the practice among some editors with a lack of technical knowledge.
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elliot_n
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« Reply #59 on: August 16, 2014, 09:21:20 AM »
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I believe this would be the exception rather than the rule, and perhaps this was the practice among some editors with a lack of technical knowledge.

Believe what you like. The adoption of 'wedding' films (Kodak Portra, Fuji NPS/NPC) by high end editorial photographers in the 1990s is an important part of the history of the film medium. When allied with a good printer, the photographer could do things with colour negative film that were impossible with transparency.
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