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Advice on digital vs old type developing

 
 
Jake Forbes
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      09-17-2004
I want to get into hobby B&W photography (using large format cameras).
My subjects will be mostly my family.
Can't seem to decide if it's better to buy my own "old type" lab gear
or just spend the money on a good printer and high end digital camera.
I figure a (used)large format camera with some decent lenses and a
home lab setup may run $5-7K at least.
Alternative digital setup (Nikon D100 maybe) and a decent printer
along with a copy of Photoshop should cost less. I would have to
factor in ink costs and paper but it would be the same for old
"chemical" setup I guess. A friend of mine has a home lab where he
does his own negatives and prints, but winds up scanning in his pics
so he can Photoshop them and then print again on a laser printer.
Seems wasteful to me.

Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks
Jake F.
 
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Grim
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      09-17-2004
"Jake Forbes" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote
> I want to get into hobby B&W photography (using large format cameras).
> My subjects will be mostly my family.
> Can't seem to decide if it's better to buy my own "old type" lab gear
> or just spend the money on a good printer and high end digital camera.
> I figure a (used)large format camera with some decent lenses and a
> home lab setup may run $5-7K at least.
> Alternative digital setup (Nikon D100 maybe) and a decent printer
> along with a copy of Photoshop should cost less.


The resolution obtained using a large format film camera will be far
superior to any digital camera on the market today. Compare prices of 35mm
film vs. digital; it's a far more equal comparison.


 
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Joseph Meehan
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      09-17-2004
Jake Forbes wrote:
> I want to get into hobby B&W photography (using large format cameras).
> My subjects will be mostly my family.
> Can't seem to decide if it's better to buy my own "old type" lab gear
> or just spend the money on a good printer and high end digital camera.
> I figure a (used)large format camera with some decent lenses and a
> home lab setup may run $5-7K at least.
> Alternative digital setup (Nikon D100 maybe) and a decent printer
> along with a copy of Photoshop should cost less. I would have to
> factor in ink costs and paper but it would be the same for old
> "chemical" setup I guess. A friend of mine has a home lab where he
> does his own negatives and prints, but winds up scanning in his pics
> so he can Photoshop them and then print again on a laser printer.
> Seems wasteful to me.
>
> Any advice would be helpful.
>
> Thanks
> Jake F.


A good large format setup today may be far less than you think. Good
used camera and darkroom equipment is available at very good prices.

That said, I think your choice must be something personal. Only you can
really decide, but maybe a few things suggested might help your decisions.

You said "My subjects will be mostly my family." If that means the
usual assortment of family photos, including some sports, some holiday
photos, a few travel photos maybe some of the pets, etc. Then I suggest
digital. Large format was never really good for most of those uses.
However if you are planning on fine portrait art work. Then large format is
IMO the better tool. Harder to learn to use, but it will give you the fine
control and super quality results that smaller formats and consumer digital
equipment try to get to.

I first worked in larger format equipment in monochrome (B&W). I now
own large format, medium format, 35mm and digital. With my next digital
purchase I will likely be 95% digital with new work. Digital has come a
long way.

BTW. I do scan a fair amount of my film work, but for my more serious
printing, I stick with real silver prints.

--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math



 
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Hunt
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      09-17-2004
In article <(E-Mail Removed)> , xlate103@yahoo.
com says...
>
>I want to get into hobby B&W photography (using large format cameras).
>My subjects will be mostly my family.
>Can't seem to decide if it's better to buy my own "old type" lab gear
>or just spend the money on a good printer and high end digital camera.
>I figure a (used)large format camera with some decent lenses and a
>home lab setup may run $5-7K at least.
>Alternative digital setup (Nikon D100 maybe) and a decent printer
>along with a copy of Photoshop should cost less. I would have to
>factor in ink costs and paper but it would be the same for old
>"chemical" setup I guess. A friend of mine has a home lab where he
>does his own negatives and prints, but winds up scanning in his pics
>so he can Photoshop them and then print again on a laser printer.
>Seems wasteful to me.
>
>Any advice would be helpful.
>
>Thanks
>Jake F.


Jake, unless you plan on doing very formal shots of patient family members,
about the only large format cameras that would work would be in the "Crown, or
Speed" Graphic family, i.e. press cameras. With good optics, they are nice,
albeit quaint cameras, and have over the decades created some great images.
I'm not sure about Linhof now, but I believe that their Techknica line was
about the last of the large format press-type cameras made. Unless you are
very proficient, a large format camera takes a fair amount of time to set up
and use. Even a press camera isn't all that quick, in un-skilled hands. If you
want anything that is highly protable and at all quick, a used Speed or Crown
Graphic and a few lenses should only run about $US 300. A handful of holders,
will set you back about $US50. Not bad for a 4x5 (or similar format camera).
The lab setup is open to debate, as to pricing, but a good enlarging system,
lens, and necessary trays and tanks should be available for under $US2000.

Now, if you want candids, or the ability to move quickly around for better
angles, etc. you ARE looking at 35mm film v digital.

Hunt

 
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Tony
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      09-18-2004
Why don't you start easy with a 35mm film camera or a decent digital and see
if you are interested enough to get into large format film and developing.
If you think the camera and lenses are expensive wait until you see what
film and chemicals are going to run - hint there is about the same amount of
surface in a roll of 35mm film as there is in one 8x10 sheet of film - and
they cost about the same too.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html

"Jake Forbes" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed) m...
> I want to get into hobby B&W photography (using large format cameras).
> My subjects will be mostly my family.
> Can't seem to decide if it's better to buy my own "old type" lab gear
> or just spend the money on a good printer and high end digital camera.
> I figure a (used)large format camera with some decent lenses and a
> home lab setup may run $5-7K at least.
> Alternative digital setup (Nikon D100 maybe) and a decent printer
> along with a copy of Photoshop should cost less. I would have to
> factor in ink costs and paper but it would be the same for old
> "chemical" setup I guess. A friend of mine has a home lab where he
> does his own negatives and prints, but winds up scanning in his pics
> so he can Photoshop them and then print again on a laser printer.
> Seems wasteful to me.
>
> Any advice would be helpful.
>
> Thanks
> Jake F.



 
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Alan Meyer
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      09-18-2004
"Jake Forbes" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed) m...
> I want to get into hobby B&W photography (using large format cameras).
> My subjects will be mostly my family.
> Can't seem to decide if it's better to buy my own "old type" lab gear
> or just spend the money on a good printer and high end digital camera.
> I figure a (used)large format camera with some decent lenses and a
> home lab setup may run $5-7K at least.
> Alternative digital setup (Nikon D100 maybe) and a decent printer
> along with a copy of Photoshop should cost less. I would have to
> factor in ink costs and paper but it would be the same for old
> "chemical" setup I guess. A friend of mine has a home lab where he
> does his own negatives and prints, but winds up scanning in his pics
> so he can Photoshop them and then print again on a laser printer.
> Seems wasteful to me.
>
> Any advice would be helpful.


I think the other posters have said some helpful
things. I'll add some more comments in the same
vein.

If you haven't done photography before, using a large
format camera will force you to do a lot of wrestling
with the camera and darkroom when maybe you'd
rather be spending time thinking about the subject.

The biggest camera I've used is 4x5, but it gave me a taste
of how much more work large format is compared to
smaller cameras. They are heavy, expensive, very
slow to operate, and virtually require that you do your
own darkroom work.

Your darkroom setup will be expensive and slow. You'll
need special film tanks for developing large film, or you'll
need to do it by hand in pitch black. You won't find an
enlarger, or you'll pay an arm and a leg for one, to
fit these films. You'll have to custom order the film and
everything else.

And what will be the benefit? Unless your portraiture
is focused on capturing every hair and pore in the skin,
the large format just won't be necessary. You'll be able
to take great portraits with smaller negatives or digital.

If you decide to go the film route, I suggest investigating
a 60x60 mm roll film camera (also called 2-1/4 square).
The negatives are more than 4 times larger than 35 mm,
giving very, very sharp images with very tight grain, but
the cameras, film handling, darkroom equipment, and
costs, while higher than for 35mm, are not outrageously
so. You can also use commercial film developing and
printing when you don't feel like using the darkroom.

Personally, although I shot lots of film for 40 years,
I've given it up for the great convenience of digital.

Paradoxically, the one good thing about large
format is that it's so hard to use that you really, really
think about things before you press the shutter release.
When shooting is cheap and easy, you may click off
30 shots without thinking enough. When taking one
shot commits you to $5-10 in materials and an hour's
worth of film handling and darkroom processing, you
think 10 times before pressing that button.

Alan


 
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Jake Forbes
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      09-18-2004
Sorry gents. I really meant to talk about medium format cameras.
Are there any good online galleries that show B&W prints taken with
digital cams (and actually identify the model of the camera used).
This would be extremely helpful.
Thanks to all.
Jake
 
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bob
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      09-18-2004
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) (Jake Forbes) wrote in
news:(E-Mail Removed) om:

> Sorry gents. I really meant to talk about medium format cameras.
> Are there any good online galleries that show B&W prints taken with
> digital cams (and actually identify the model of the camera used).
> This would be extremely helpful.
> Thanks to all.
> Jake
>


Oh.

I like the other question better, because I have a 4x5 camera and I'm
getting ready to build a darkroom for it.

In the case of MF, I don't think I see a reason to go there (for
portraits), unless you want to shoot slides. MF slides are really nice,
but there's not much you can do with them after you have them.

B&W prints from film have a different quality than B&W prints from
digital cameras. Film responds to light differently (as our recent "sunny
f/16" thread hashed over). But for studio work you can control the light,
so that shouldn't be much of an issue.

How large do you want to print? If 8x10 is your biggest, then you can
print from your digital camera at local shops really cheaply. If you want
to make 16x20 prints, then DIY starts to make more sense, and so does the
4x5 camera

Bob

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Joseph Meehan
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      09-18-2004
Jake Forbes wrote:
> Sorry gents. I really meant to talk about medium format cameras.
> Are there any good online galleries that show B&W prints taken with
> digital cams (and actually identify the model of the camera used).
> This would be extremely helpful.
> Thanks to all.
> Jake


That is a different question and for that I would suggest medium format,
at least based on what I have seen so far. 35 mm is not totally out as far
as I am concerned since TechPan will no longer be made. Medium is as small
as I would go now for quality in a portrait.

I have not yet seen a really good portrait made with a consumer digital
camera that I really liked. I suspect the time will come, but for now I
just don't think it is there yet.

--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math



 
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Gisle Hannemyr
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      09-18-2004
(E-Mail Removed) (Jake Forbes) writes:
> I want to get into hobby B&W photography (using large format cameras).
> My subjects will be mostly my family.
> Can't seem to decide if it's better to buy my own "old type" lab gear
> or just spend the money on a good printer and high end digital camera.
> I figure a (used)large format camera with some decent lenses and a
> home lab setup may run $5-7K at least.
> Alternative digital setup (Nikon D100 maybe) and a decent printer
> along with a copy of Photoshop should cost less. I would have to
> factor in ink costs and paper but it would be the same for old
> "chemical" setup I guess.


Digital all the way, I'd say. For rationale, see this entry in my
blog: http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~gisle/blog/index.php?p=12

> A friend of mine has a home lab where he does his own negatives and
> prints, but winds up scanning in his pics so he can Photoshop them
> and then print again on a laser printer. Seems wasteful to me.


He should buy a decent film scanner instead of scanning his prints.
Higher quality and less waste.
--
- gisle hannemyr [ gisle{at}hannemyr.no - http://folk.uio.no/gisle/ ]
================================================== ======================
«To live outside the law, you must be honest.» (Bob Dylan)
 
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