Film SLR vs. Digital SLR

Discussion in 'Art & Photography' started by SS69, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. SS69

    SS69

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    So other than the obvious, what's the difference between film and digital? I notice a lot if not most photographers use digital now. Is it just convenience? I feel that film actually produces a better quality, and I prefer to use it just because I think it makes you a better photographer in the end.

    With digital, you just shoot away, knowing you can easily take the pictures right into photoshop or some other program to touch up. With film you don't generally have that luxory. Also, you can now take your film to a developer and have the images transfered to CD.
     
  2. Perfect Balance

    Perfect Balance Premium

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    I think with the cameras around now, a digital can be just as good if not better than a film camera. And if you can have the same or better quality, the convenience and everything else is just a plus.
     
  3. tait

    tait Premium

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    It's hard to compare the two.

    With regards to quality, film's way passed the quality of a dslr (unless of course you've sold your soul for $40,000 to buy a digital Hasselblad). The thing is though, do you really need it? I would imagine it will be rare that you really take full advantage of the resolution film can provide. Taking film to a store and getting them developed to a cd will usually just throw any insane quality out the window; and you'll be stuck with shots that could easily be mirrored by a dslr in terms of quality.

    The ease of use for a dslr is a major advantage; if not the biggest. This really comes in handy when you're learning your camera. Sure, you'll spend a bit more initially buying a dslr but it will work itself in the long run. Learning/experimenting on film costs a lot, A LOT. Besides, you can learn everything on a dslr and more than you would learn on a film based slr.

    You do make a good point though. I find when I'm shooting film I really take my time and prepare myself for what I'm going to shoot and how. I feel there's a lot more thought process involved knowing that you have to make each shot count. But again, it's not like you can't take that school of thought into the dslr world.

    It may seem like most will paint a bad picture for the film world, but it's not necessarily true. I shoot film more so than my digital because sometimes film can provide you with something a dslr can't. You simply can't get that amazing grainy look at higher iso's from digital, yet a proper 400 b&w roll it will always look amazing. Plus, I feel digital cameras are almost narrow minded. If you look at the film world there are millions of cameras that apply a new aesthetic and experience to shooting. A Holga or Lomo changes everything, and medium format is another world. I feel happier shooting film because I feel film has a lot more authenticity to it, and I enjoy the overall experience a lot more (I might have started a great debate with that one). Who knows, it's all in what you're looking for.
     
  4. Flerbizky

    Flerbizky Premium

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    Word... And when you're experimenting, in the beginning, with your Film SLR, once you've been out shooting and your film has been developed, what are the chances of you remembering exactly what settings you used on the shots that came out excellent. Whereas on the DSLR, each and every setting you changed will be stored in the pictures EXIF data.
     
  5. F1GTR

    F1GTR Premium

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    There's also a larger margin of error in terms of exposure when shooting film, you can almost completely blow out a picture and there's still a fair chance you'll be able to pull it back when developing. But since you only have 36 shots a roll you wouldn't want to be f'ing up your exposure all the time.
     
  6. GilesGuthrie

    GilesGuthrie Staff Emeritus

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    I'm exclusively digital now. I like that the process doesn't end when you press the shutter button, and I've often got a series of PS adjustments in my head when I shoot. The other night, I took a shot of the garden covered in snow. There was a leg from my children's swing in the frame, but I shot it anyway, knowing I could clone it out. I didn't want a bunch of footsteps in the virgin snow. I also "corrected" the sodium light to white.

    The one thing I miss from film is the dynamic range. I find that I'm constantly blowing out areas of the frame in digital, although the 5d is massively better in this than the 350d I was using before. But, I think that I'm prepared to accept this in a trade for a dSLR's most useful feature: new film (ISO/white balance/colour/B&W) in each shot.

    I quite often take multiple shots of the same thing, but I'm usually bracketing around some parameter in my head, rather than "spray & pray". Once you've got more than 100 images from a single day, spray & pray ceases to be viable, because you're trying to select between a bunch of images that all look the same.

    I enjoy the free-ness of the media, but one thing you need to remember is that digital camera bodies are basically just computers, and depreciate as such.
     
  7. AMG.

    AMG. Staff Emeritus

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    I use analogue film (slide film exclusively) and digital too. I learned the art of correct exposure by using slidefilm *. My filing cabinet holds approx 16000 slides. I love using films such as Velvia ISO 50 and Provia for the correct circumstances. It also makes me think about how I want to take the picture instead of just shooting a gazillion pics** and hope for the best.
    I also like the fact that Ive actually got a slide in my hands. Digital is just a file.

    When I do have my slides printed it is at 30/45cm (12/18inch) or larger. Slidefilm covers that easily. Digital doesn't quite get me there yet at 8.3Mb/300ppi.

    **When shooting digitally I still try to compose the best pic before pressing the button though. I was recently in Kenya and shot a cheetah chase, see [post=2877403] this post[/post], using my dslr. I shot more than 20 pics as the cheetah chased after the tommy and lots more after it caught it. If I had used my slr I would have missed too many exiting pictures whilst changing film. I'm still undecided as to which one is the best. I think for now both have their uses and (dis)advantages. As long as I can buy slidefilm and have it developed (which is becoming more difficult if I push the film) I'll carry on using both.
    I use Adobe Lightroom to catalogue both my analogue and digital pictures and use a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000ED to scan my slides at 130Mb per slide for safe storing on HDD and DVD.

    * Printfilm doesn't tell you whether you have exposed correctly as the printing machine will correct exposure up to 2 stops either way. Slidefilm will show a noticeable difference at 1/3 stop.

    AMG.
     
  8. Pupik

    Pupik Staff Emeritus

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    I miss my old nearly-manual-everything AE-1 (manual focus, manual exposure, load/wind the film manually, light meter that rarely worked), since it had an amazing range of basic capabilities compared to my 300D. You did have to compose and figure out every shot, to the point that shooting live action could be a nightmare of turned backs and items that disappeared from the viewfinder by the time I was ready. But I miss my old 55mm f/1.8 FD lens and a camera that could support those wide apertures; near-macro photography (less than a foot), and depth-of-field rings that worked like a charm.

    But to be honest, I never was much more than an amateur at it: Film processing was expensive, and I really couldn't afford the hobby when I went back to school. I bought an EOS Rebel a little over 10 years ago, but I rarely used it for more than "the green box" (the un-creative zone) for flash photography and a lot of everything else. I went to digital point-and-shoots, and although much of the creativity is limited to composition, it was fun again to take photos again without worrying how it would come out. One thing I realized last week, while rummaging around the old EOS stuff was how light it was compared to my AE-1 and the 300D.

    Eventually, I picked up a Canon 300D and got the best of both worlds. It just seems less wasteful, and a much cheaper alternative. You can try 100 different things with each subject, and just toss out/delete the ones you don't like later. I no longer need to record changes on a notepad, it's saved in the file information. A lot less hassle, in my opinion. I'm learning it all over again...
     
  9. k3ttc4r

    k3ttc4r

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    ^^ says it all right there.. film gets damn expensive, so i don't take as many pictures, and think about what i'm going to shoot. if i get my camera out, i usually go through 2-3 rolls a day, with a dslr i'd probably shoot about 4x as much.
     
  10. Perfect Balance

    Perfect Balance Premium

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    I never said that......
     
  11. stumpydino

    stumpydino

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    film just looks better, i quite liked doing the whole developing process too :)
    digital well i guess it lets you take loads more and hide your mistakes on photoshop easier :p
     
  12. wfooshee

    wfooshee Premium

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    It may also depend on your intended use of the pictures. If you want relatively large prints for your wall, shoot film. If you want to post the pics on the web for all your pals, use digital. Scanning prints is a pain in the butt, with handling all those sheets, correcting the inevitable color issues, getting rid of dust specks and cat hair. Sure, the drug store can put your film onto a CD, but what do THEY know about it? Not much, in my experience. So for electronic delivery, you can't beat digital, but for electronic delivery to a computer screen, even 3 megapixels is overkill.

    For varied light, large prints, and darkroom tinkering, film is unbeatable. It also has a wider useful range. Digital gets noisy when it's dark, and washes out when it's bright, and when a picture has both, it can be hopeless.

    Also, "digital" doesn't mean good pictures automatically. I won an HP point-and-shoot camera as a door prize at work, and it was a piece of that-which-emerges-from-behind-horses. I took it back to the store they got it from and got a Sony point-and-shoot which I've loved ever since (except for those damned, expensive, proprietary memory sticks.)

    But a digital SLR, with larger sensor, higher pixel count, better choices of glass just blows away any point-and-shoot you can name.

    So, although I like the look of good film, my hand aches to hold a good digital SLR in place of my n8008 film camera. I've learned the convenience of digital feedback, with the image right there on the screen, deletable if it's junk. I just want better digital than the point-and-shoot.

    Couple of examples. I posted this picture somewhere else here recently, but it's one of my best (if I say so myself) and it came from my FIRST roll of 35mm film, in a totally manual rangefinder camera. Not even a built-in light meter. The original is a slide, and the scan here is missing a huge amount of detail, with highlights washed, and dark areas too dark. In the slide, you can see needles in the dark reflected pine trees in the water, and you can see lily pad details that werehighlighted to oblivion in the scan. It's probably still better than what I'd have shot given a good digital SLR at that moment.


    [​IMG]

    Here's one from a ride I took my wife on last fall, shot with my Sony point-and-shoot. Nice pic, but take a close look at the dark area of the sky. Not uniform in color. Looks grainy, almost, but that's not grain, it's noise. Just like static on a TV set, due to the digital processor in the camera cranking up the gain to get a usable light level. Compare it to the complete lack of noise or grain in the photo above, how uniform the blues and blacks are in that picture.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Robin

    Robin Premium

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    As has already being said its what you intend to do with the pictures that will decide whats best...

    Film is better for large prints, photoshoots, artistic work, basically anything that will go strait from roll to print without a computer.

    Film also have the benefit of not being limited to pixels... you just get the raw image through a lens.. any number of pixels will not meet the clarity and detail of the raw image.

    Disadvantage is obviously film which can get damaged and your going to need lots of rolls and lots of cash!

    Digital is easy to use, great for digital art, manipulation, publishing and also general hobby photography although many professionals use digital. Anything thats going to be put on a computer or the web will be much better if a digital camera is used.

    Robin
     
  14. Azuremen

    Azuremen Premium

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    The only time I find film to be the better option is with medium and large format film, which almost no one uses any how because its awkward as hell to pack around 4x6 inch sheets of film and shoot with them. The resolution is mind boggling though.

    Digital is over all better at this point I feel. Amateur level films and paper are disappearing slowly as more people move to point and shoot and dSLR cameras, which means only more cost to using film. Plus you have to shoot several shots with film and you aren't certain if exposure is right unless you are experienced, and even then its good to do a few at different exposures. While you should do two or three with digital, you'll certainly know what the exposure looks like before hand.

    Any pro that insists on 35mm film being better is just being stubborn, thats all. Or cheap and doesn't want to buy new lenses and such.
     
  15. tait

    tait Premium

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    :tup:
    [​IMG]
     
  16. Azuremen

    Azuremen Premium

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    I really don't think you can post a good comparison. Scanning in properly requires a huge points to square inch ratio, and a decent scanner. Of course, I believe there are now 120mm and 4x6 (or was it 5... guh, brain is falling out) CCDs, the cost is just as mind boggling as the performance.

    It is my opinion, and I've gotten into a lot of discussion over this, that a nice point and shoot style (dImage or Cybershot) will do everything most people think they need a dSLR for.

    90% of picture quality is from the photography knowing what he is doing. I've taken amazing pictures with cheap point and shoots and horrible pictures with spendy dSLRs... A nice camera won't make a nice picture, basically.
     
  17. tait

    tait Premium

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    It was for both instances. School here provides a lot of great and expensive resources. Even if some quality is lost, you can definitely see the lack of any sort of jaggedness which I commonly see in dslr images, and the smooth transition in the bokeh.

    I hear that statement way too many times (no offense) and I'm kind of tired of it. Most people will sit there and say, it's not the equipment, it's the photographer; but what's a photographer without the camera? I know your statement is often said because it's a retaliation to the insane consumerism towards DSLR and the often shallow minded that do think a nice camera yields nice images but enter into it with little knowledge. But to me, it's true. A nice camera allows for control, freedom, and sometimes adds it's own personalities to the pictures (Holga, Diana, etc.). Besides, how much is there to know? It's basically light, aperture, and shutter. I know a lot of this is mainly relevant to a select few that venture outside of the digital world; but it should be for all photographers. A photographer is there for conception and the manipulation of the camera to achieve what he or she wants. The camera allows the photographer to turn those conceptions into something real, and that's dependent on how much the camera lets the user input and the camera itself. A point and shoot leaves little room for input; leaving a lot of ideas or concepts feeling limited and sometimes pointless to try and capture. Some cameras will go even further by adding their own personalities into the images, often times complimenting the photographers intentions or concepts. So yeah, it's easy to say equipment isn't a big deal but to me it is and more often than not it's half the image. I wouldn't be able to do half the shots I do if it weren't for the equipment. That's my take on the whole equipment discussion.