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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> A Question About Film
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01/04/2010 09:55:09 AM · #1
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01/04/2010 05:09:33 AM · #2
Hi, this is my first post here. I'm just getting into digital photography. Years ago I spent hours in a damp, darkroom with the smells of developing chemicals while I turned undeveloped film into negatives and then into prints, hanging the wet prints on a line to dry. So much more work than downloading and hitting a key stroke to have your printer put out a photo. I use to just love putting a blank white piece of photographic paper into a tray of chemicals and watch as an image magically appears. I use to love doing that more than actually taking the picture which I love doing too. Back then you'd have to play with dials and knobs on your camera, focus the image and compose it and then finally take the picture. How much more work that was than pointing an auto-focus DSLR and pressing the button to snap the shot.

Film would be a waste of time for your degree, but I'd bet you'd get just as much enjoyment out of it as I did. I guess film is to digital as typewriters are to word processors. I remember waay back when doing a report for class on a typewriter, no spell check or grammar check, if after you finished typing a whole page you went back to proof read it and there was a mistake, you typed the whole thing over again. Same with film, you mess up a great shot, that's it. Digital photography you can redo everything by using a good software program.

Digital is just too easy for me. Oh sure you have to know how to program your camera and know how to use your photo software, but it's just not the same.

Oh and yes the sound from my record collection kicks CD's butt with a good turntable.

I'm glad I found this forum, I think I'm going to like it!

Digital may be the new fab in photography, I suppose we'll see if it stand the test of time, Ansel Adams has been around for a heck of a long time.

kcoruol

Message edited by author 2010-01-04 05:19:33.
12/31/2009 04:27:48 PM · #3
drop me a line if you want the F1
12/31/2009 03:35:13 PM · #4
Wahoo! Good for you, Jojo! I think you will enjoy it and you WILL learn something! :)
(Now I wish I hadn't just purged all of my photo paper!! Had some GOOD stuff!)

I'll be excited to see your film work!
12/31/2009 03:30:51 PM · #5
Somehow, I never put my 2-cents worth into this thread, but of course I'm a darkroom guy from WAY back, and I would have said you'd never regret studying film while you had a chance. Just from a pure *knowledge* point of view if for no other reason, since it's a dying art. Enjoy!

R.
12/31/2009 03:26:36 PM · #6
Originally posted by TCGuru:

I will be spending a semester in the darkroom


Very cool... I really don't think you'll regret it. Well, if you wind up with fixer stains all over your nice clothes, you might regret it, but that's another issue :) Good luck with it -- I think you'll have a blast!
12/31/2009 02:37:19 PM · #7
He makes a lot of sense. What I'm scared of is I'm going to get a huge job from someone that wants me to shoot with a film camera and I'll have no idea what I'm doing or even how to talk shop with those folks because I am film ignorant. Or worse, I get the shot and let a lab reproduce the images and they buggar it up!!

Also, a lot of the tools in Photoshop make me squeamish because I don't know WHAT they are FOR. I know HOW to use them, but I don't understand WHY. Since Photoshop was made to mimic the darkroom, isn't the darkroom where you should start? That was another one of my hangups about learning about film and darkroom processing.

There is no extra expense for me to take the class. Once you go above 12 credits at my school, there is no extra fee to take more. This realization has prompted me to take as many credit hours as I can squeeze in each semester. I have been known to take 21 credits a semester because there was something I wanted to learn that fell outside of my major. My point here is, money is not a problem to take the class. It comes down to time. I graduate in 18 months and I worry that I won't be able to fit everything in. 5 kids and all that ;)

So because of the responses here on DPC and the obvious aforementioned issues I have decided that, come hell or high water, I will be spending a semester in the darkroom with a virtual master of film Mark Wood. It won't be until Fall 2010 but I am now looking forward to it! It sounds like I will learn a LOT. I may even take advanced Photoshop techniques alongside of the darkroom class as they may go hand in hand. I will have to speak to the professors and find out.

So, let me say thank you to all of my DPC friends. You have given me the reasons to study both where I was wavering like an idiot.

THANKS!! :)
You guys are one of a kind!
12/31/2009 02:13:23 AM · #8
I'll throw my two cents in here. I think one point Jeb indicated was that by shooting whether it be digital, film, etch-a-sketch is that you are practicing photography.

I think one point that has been made ad nauseam and I am going to repeat anyways is that shooting film forces me to slow down and not shot gun images as much (me...not the fashion photographers). I took a roll of Ilford Delta 100 out in 20 below weather last year. I certainly wasn't going to shoot 24 shots and come back in with junk or worse, nothing. I took my time and got 24 good shots. All well exposed, composed nicely and sharp as a tack where it counted. I've tried taking just 24 shots with with DSLR and I end up cheating a bit however the lesson still holds true. That isn't to say that I've gone out with my film SLR and gotten perfect shots everytime. I actually had a roll where the complete opposite occurred. I shot a roll of Velvia slide film and basically wasted it. The lesson from the two sides of the coin is the same. I got good shots because I slowed down and made sure I had it right. I got bad shots because I forgot about the limitations of slide film (REALLY small dynamic range) and just plain goofed.

So going back to the original poster. Is learning film better than digital? Its not better or worse. As has been stated previously its a tool.
Is it essential to learn? No. But it doesn't hurt either. I mean, you don't need to know how to drive a manual transmission to drive a car. It doesn't hurt either.

I think the important thing to remember is film is not the same as digital (again, previously stated but I think it bears repeating). The results are not the same. Both give you an image. But if you were to shoot a film body from the same spot with the same settings, lens etc. as a digital SLR you would see very subtle differences. Film grain vs noise is one. (It a tough thing to describe especially at midnight). You'll see that film, particularly black and white film, has more dynamic range than digital. (About 11 stops for black and white film vs about 7-8 for digital). And its rare to see dust on a film image. (unless the negative gets dust on it in which case you're in the same boat as digital). There are other more subtle differences that are hard to describe.

Besides all that? The harsh truth is: film IS dying. It IS becoming more of a hobbyist trend and it is becoming harder and harder to find equipment and labs (My favorite camera store got rid of their film fridge last year and now only keep a few rolls on hand). And perhaps for that reason alone it would be worth trying out. Check out this link //www.richardnicholson.com/darkroom/

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eta: What the heck...lets throw a Ken Rockwell reference in for good measure. Not saying that he is always right but its another perspective and I agree with what he has to say here:
//www.kenrockwell.com/tech/filmdig.htm

Message edited by author 2009-12-31 10:53:49.
12/31/2009 12:01:14 AM · #9
I can't believe you're still whining...

You keep asking does film make you a 'better' photographer- with the term 'better' being entirely subjective, who can categorically say yes or no apart from when it comes to personal experience? I shoot film, I also shoot digital. I shoot 120 and 35mm depending on what mood I'm in and what I'm photographing.

In my personal experience I think a lot more about each shot and do not take a shot just to 'see what it looks like' since I'm paying for every shot. Again, does this make me better? No, it makes me more careful, and if I have a story to tell or something to portray then I am a lot more choosy about what I shoot with film than I am with digital- one aspect of this being that I have 12 shots of film, or 2000 on my CF card meaning I can take hundreds of shots on digital that may not be keepers but hey, you never know, whereas with film, I make sure they're all keepers (or what I think are keepers at the time).

I have gained a greater understanding of composition and exposure since I used film, mainly because my medium format camera has no light meter so I use the Sunny 16 rule and adapt it for whatever situation I'm in. Is this because I'm using film? Nope, it's because I have to pay attention to this more on my film camera than I do with digital where I can set the exposure at +/- whatever and let the camera figure out the shutter speed and occasionally ISO (in the studio this is redundant btw as I shoot fully manual). When it comes to composition, I have to be damned sure that it looks like I want it to before I push the shutter- I could scan, crop and mess about with the file in Photoshop to remedy any mistakes but this is such a time-consuming and expensive practice I can't really afford to do this regularly. Again, is it film that made me a better photographer? No, its the fact that I'm paying for every shot and don't have the ability to just erase a file and tray again, the trying again of film comes from the previsualization techniques that using film has taught me.

On another note- I use a canon EOS 300 (and a Minolta XG7, and a Yashica D) that takes all my EOS lenses. I got mine for 12 GBP from ebay.
12/30/2009 06:40:44 PM · #10
Paolo Marchesi: I like the “organic” feel of film and the process. When I shoot film is mostly large format and shooting large format makes you think about the shot more. It makes you a better photographer.

If you think that taking the time to learn film will make you a better photographer, and you take the time and effort to do it, and learn it properly, of course you will become a better photographer. You're practising your craft, and you're searching for knowledge.

If you buy a digital camera, and PhotoShop, and take classes, buy Scott Kelby's, or whomever's books, and read and practise, if you view your images on the spot, and take full advantage of the myriad of features, and get to know how to utilize them, you will become a better photographer. You're practising your craft, and you're searching for knowledge.

Paolo Marchesi: With digital is easy to just fire away without really taking the time to take “the shot”. [/quote]

With film, it is easy to just fire off ten rolls without really taking the time to take "the shot".

José Mandojana: Remember, these are just tools. Whether film or digital, use the tool that best allows you to create your images. [/quote]

If you take the time to take the shot; if you pay attention to the lighting, the exposure, how the angle and perspective works from different points, experiment with different apertures and shutter speeds, then you will learn to be a better photographer.

There is no downside to furthering your education, practice, and accumulating knowledge as long as it is for the purpose of making YOU a better photographer in a manner conducive to, and in keeping with, your skills, budget, desire, and time.

NEVER pursue any aspect of photography because someone says so unless it will directly, and effectively, assist you in getting more from it in your quest for your photography.

And for God's sake, don't forget to have fun along the way!


12/30/2009 01:55:31 PM · #11
Originally posted by smardaz:

LMAO!!!!!

I hope Jeb did not read that interview:

Paolo Marchesi: I like the “organic” feel of film and the process. When I shoot film is mostly large format and shooting large format makes you think about the shot more. It makes you a better photographer. With digital is easy to just fire away without really taking the time to take “the shot”.


I chuckled too! But there is also this...

José Mandojana: Remember, these are just tools. Whether film or digital, use the tool that best allows you to create your images.

Message edited by author 2009-12-30 13:55:58.
12/30/2009 01:32:44 PM · #12
LMAO!!!!!

I hope Jeb did not read that interview:

Paolo Marchesi: I like the “organic” feel of film and the process. When I shoot film is mostly large format and shooting large format makes you think about the shot more. It makes you a better photographer. With digital is easy to just fire away without really taking the time to take “the shot”.
12/30/2009 12:58:07 PM · #13
There are so many replies, I really didn't go through them all, admittedly, so I'll just put my notes in for what it is worth.

I think it is worthwhile to learn a little about film processing and some basic darkroom techniques.

The reason I state that is you will no doubt gain a better appreciation for what is done digitally. What is simply done with a few clicks for curves adjustments or masking will take a long time in the darkroom. Perhaps it is not practical to spend the time, but it is minimally important to read and study the "old" techniques.

Here is another way of putting it. If a student learned how to calculate a square root by only using a calculator, they would lose a key skill of estimation which is needed to accomplish it by hand. (A side note, no student should be able to use a calculator for these types of functions unless they first demonstrate it by hand).

When I learned B&W photo processing, I learned the basics and by accident, I learned a little about masking when I was experimenting. Now, that was years ago when I had time. Since then, and pretty recently, I picked up a book on darkroom techniques and learn about how processing was done. It really made me understand what the similarities are in photoshop.
12/30/2009 11:13:53 AM · #14
Stumbled across this interview with pros (guys doing it for a living) still shooting film and their reasons and comments....
film shooters


12/30/2009 02:50:50 AM · #15
Originally posted by JulietNN:

I have a 1970 Canon F1, with every lens and bit that goes with it. You could borrow it if you would like.


THANKS!!! I'll PM you!! :)
12/30/2009 02:10:40 AM · #16
Woo hoo! Thanks very much. There is a camera store here in town that sells a lot of used cameras - probably not at a good price, but they do have a lot of used cameras. I shall have to take a look there. I've never bought anything on eBay but I guess there's always a first time.
12/29/2009 06:55:25 PM · #17
Originally posted by Melethia:

So... if I want to use my Canon lenses, I need a Canon F1? Is that what I'm hearing? I have a lovely old Minolta in storage in Texas somewhere, with two lenses (I think). But I think I want a film body I can use my Canon lenses on....


No, the F1 has an FD mount, so without getting some kind of adapter you couldn't use your EF mount lenses on that camera body. And you'd lose autofocus, which maybe isn't critical to some but it would be a drag for me.

If you want to be able to use your own lenses and not jump through any hoops, you'll need to stick with a Canon EOS body. Wikipedia has a good listing of the EOS camera bodies as well as the dates they came out so you can make a better decision on what you might want on the used market:

//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_EOS

My previous suggestion of an Elan series like the Elan 7 was based on previous experience with that camera as well as what you and I are shooting now. The Elan SLRs were essentially the film version of the 40D - a little better than rebels, but not as good as their professional counterparts. Great for enthusiasts, in other words, but affordable. And today you should be able to get one at a very reasonable price on Ebay or the like.
12/29/2009 06:23:08 PM · #18
Originally posted by Melethia:

So... if I want to use my Canon lenses, I need a Canon F1? Is that what I'm hearing? I have a lovely old Minolta in storage in Texas somewhere, with two lenses (I think). But I think I want a film body I can use my Canon lenses on....

You'll have to check with a Canon geek......there's some issues on the mounts IIRC as to how the lenses will work with the body.

One thing I like about my Nikon is that I can use lenses that go back like fifty years......they have to be used in full manual mode, but they work.
12/29/2009 06:11:09 PM · #19
Originally posted by Melethia:

So... if I want to use my Canon lenses, I need a Canon F1? Is that what I'm hearing? I have a lovely old Minolta in storage in Texas somewhere, with two lenses (I think). But I think I want a film body I can use my Canon lenses on....


Ditto :D
12/29/2009 06:08:56 PM · #20
So... if I want to use my Canon lenses, I need a Canon F1? Is that what I'm hearing? I have a lovely old Minolta in storage in Texas somewhere, with two lenses (I think). But I think I want a film body I can use my Canon lenses on....
12/29/2009 05:49:47 PM · #21
I'd be interested in buying an Canon F1 ;p
12/29/2009 05:45:51 PM · #22
Originally posted by JulietNN:

I have a 1970 Canon F1, with every lens and bit that goes with it. You could borrow it if you would like.

Take her up on this......it was THE Canon of its day.
12/29/2009 02:07:46 PM · #23
Jojo...I've two old Pentax Spotmatic cameras with telephoto, macro, wide angle lenses and a 135 portrait lens and flash if you would like to borrow.
12/29/2009 12:46:52 PM · #24
Yep, if you are serious about taking the darkroom course, I would get something like a used Elan series Canon so you can use your existing EF lenses. In particular that 50mm F/1.4 on your profile, which is excellent on any Canon, but on a full frame SLR is a thing of beauty.

Ebay has a lot of used Canon EF compatible camera bodies at very reasonable prices (around 40 bucks from a quick glance).
12/29/2009 12:37:18 PM · #25
Originally posted by TCGuru:

Well then! LOL!!

I guess I'll be spending a semester in the darkroom. HAHA!

Now, where can I get a good film camera for not a buttload of money? :)


or Craigslist. There are always people selling them for $30-100 on there.
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