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beginner's question on digital vs film SLRs

 
 
michael
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      04-24-2006
I'm planning to take some photography classes in the fall at my local
community college and i've been having trouble deciding whether to
start with a film or digital SLR camera. the only real appeal i see
with digital is that any mistakes i make while learning won't cost me
in film. a friend has offered to sell me his old film camera with all
the lenses for $200. it's in excellent condition (unfortunately i
forget the brand) and it sounds like a good deal judging by the lens
prices i've researched. however, it is an older camera (from the 80's).
i don't know how relevant dates are with film cameras, though i'm sure
there have been some advances in 20 years. i do want to learn film
photography, though mainly because the idea of developing my own photos
holds some personal appeal.

anyway - any suggestions?

thanks
michael

 
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Dennis Pogson
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      04-24-2006
michael wrote:
> I'm planning to take some photography classes in the fall at my local
> community college and i've been having trouble deciding whether to
> start with a film or digital SLR camera. the only real appeal i see
> with digital is that any mistakes i make while learning won't cost me
> in film. a friend has offered to sell me his old film camera with all
> the lenses for $200. it's in excellent condition (unfortunately i
> forget the brand) and it sounds like a good deal judging by the lens
> prices i've researched. however, it is an older camera (from the
> 80's). i don't know how relevant dates are with film cameras, though
> i'm sure there have been some advances in 20 years. i do want to
> learn film photography, though mainly because the idea of developing
> my own photos holds some personal appeal.
>
> anyway - any suggestions?
>
> thanks
> michael


You would be better asking that question of the people who teach the
syllabus at the community college.

You are going to look silly if the course is film-camera-based and you
arrive with your digital SLR and Photoshop software.

My grand-daughter is currently in the 3rd year of a 4-year degree course in
photography at a well-known British University. So far they have not even
mentioned digital photography.

Dennis.


 
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cjcampbell
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      04-24-2006

michael wrote:
> I'm planning to take some photography classes in the fall at my local
> community college and i've been having trouble deciding whether to
> start with a film or digital SLR camera. the only real appeal i see
> with digital is that any mistakes i make while learning won't cost me
> in film. a friend has offered to sell me his old film camera with all
> the lenses for $200. it's in excellent condition (unfortunately i
> forget the brand) and it sounds like a good deal judging by the lens
> prices i've researched. however, it is an older camera (from the 80's).
> i don't know how relevant dates are with film cameras, though i'm sure
> there have been some advances in 20 years. i do want to learn film
> photography, though mainly because the idea of developing my own photos
> holds some personal appeal.


Perhaps the lenses will fit on a DSLR, so buying it for the lenses
alone might be a good deal. Besides, the price difference between that
outfit and a new DSLR would probably buy a lot of film.

That said, it is much easier to learn photography with a digital
camera. You have instant feedback. You can take literally thousands of
pictures and experiment with all kinds of settings and see instantly
what the effects are. There is no doubt that the digital camera is
perhaps the greatest advance in teaching photography ever.

I can sympathize with your desire to develop your own photos. There is
something about it where even the process is an expression of art. It
is not only the picture, the final product, but the way it is done that
is part of the whole picture. Your feelings about a film picture that
you processed yourself will inevitably be much different than your
feelings about a digital photo.

But that does not mean that making a digital picture is less artistic.
It is only that the experience must necessarily be different, just as
the painter of oil experiences his art differently than the artist who
works with chalk. One chooses the paths which his art must follow and
we can only regret that life is too short to be able to experience all
of these paths.

The digital artist also derives great satisfaction from his work, from
choosing the original subject and arranging the lighting to editing the
picture and printing it. There are some, of course, who think that the
gear is more important than the message. For them, the brush is more
important than the painting, or the camera is more important than the
picture. Such people can barely be called artists. In photography, such
pseudo-artists invariably use Canon cameras. There are genuine artists
who use Canon cameras, of course, but they never talk about why they
think the Canon is superior to any other brand, or if they do, it is
only in the context of the needs of a particular picture. Many artists,
however, will not use Canon for the same reason that a cowboy will
refuse to wear cowboy boots. The cowboy does not want to be mistaken
for a truck driver and the artist does not want to be mistaken for a
gearhead.

But aside from that, one can in a very short time acquire with a
digital camera the experience that once required many years of hard
work. I suggest going with digital, then if you still want to use film
after you have learned to make a decent picture, get a film camera.

 
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nowater
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      04-24-2006
"Dennis Pogson" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote...
> michael wrote:
> > I'm planning to take some photography classes in the fall at my

local
> > community college and i've been having trouble deciding whether to
> > start with a film or digital SLR camera. the only real appeal i

see
> > with digital is that any mistakes i make while learning won't cost

me
> > in film. a friend has offered to sell me his old film camera with

all
> > the lenses for $200. it's in excellent condition (unfortunately i
> > forget the brand) and it sounds like a good deal judging by the

lens
> > prices i've researched. however, it is an older camera (from the
> > 80's). i don't know how relevant dates are with film cameras,

though
> > i'm sure there have been some advances in 20 years. i do want to
> > learn film photography, though mainly because the idea of

developing
> > my own photos holds some personal appeal.
> >
> > anyway - any suggestions?
> >
> > thanks
> > michael

>
> You would be better asking that question of the people who teach the
> syllabus at the community college.
> You are going to look silly if the course is film-camera-based and

you
> arrive with your digital SLR and Photoshop software.


Excellent suggestion. I cannot speak for the present day, but not long
ago it was not unusual for the teaching staff to recommend a fully
manual SLR film camera. The Pentax K1000 was a favourite. They don't
want to spend half their time teaching you how to use your complex
digital camera, or figuring out what you did wrong with its dials and
menus that ruined all your photos. Also, with a full manual camera
they know your exposure is the result of your knowledge, not the
camera's, and the use of focus and depth of field is deliberate, not
automated.

> My grand-daughter is currently in the 3rd year of a 4-year degree

course in
> photography at a well-known British University. So far they have not

even
> mentioned digital photography.


Is this course run by photography historians, or by practitioners??


 
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Joseph Meehan
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      04-24-2006
michael wrote:
> I'm planning to take some photography classes in the fall at my local
> community college and i've been having trouble deciding whether to
> start with a film or digital SLR camera. the only real appeal i see
> with digital is that any mistakes i make while learning won't cost me
> in film. a friend has offered to sell me his old film camera with all
> the lenses for $200. it's in excellent condition (unfortunately i
> forget the brand) and it sounds like a good deal judging by the lens
> prices i've researched. however, it is an older camera (from the
> 80's). i don't know how relevant dates are with film cameras, though
> i'm sure there have been some advances in 20 years. i do want to
> learn film photography, though mainly because the idea of developing
> my own photos holds some personal appeal.
>
> anyway - any suggestions?
>
> thanks
> michael


Dennis had some very good advice. You need to start by asking what
equipment the course will require. More and more the answer is going to be
digital, but I have little doubt that there are still many courses that will
require film. They may also have requirements about what cameras and lens
are required.

Given a choice, today I would recommend a current model digital SLR.
(there is a good chance the lens that were offered as part of the deal for
the film camera might be useful). The reason I suggest digital is because
they will likely be the tool of the future and more important they will
encourage you to try different approaches so you can learn by trying
different things and get quick cheap feedback. With film cameras there is a
greater delay in seeing results and there is an added cost that would limit
the experience for most of us.

--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit


 
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Xiaoding
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      04-24-2006
"Is this course run by photography historians, or by practitioners?? "

Ha! Good one.

Britain is decades, if not centuries, behind the curve when it comes to
anything computerized. Have they started using those fancy new "roll
film" cameras yet?

 
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J. Clarke
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      04-24-2006
Xiaoding wrote:

> "Is this course run by photography historians, or by practitioners?? "
>
> Ha! Good one.
>
> Britain is decades, if not centuries, behind the curve when it comes to
> anything computerized.


This is due to the difficulty involved in making inexpensive small fast
computers that drip oil.

> Have they started using those fancy new "roll
> film" cameras yet?


--
--John
to email, dial "usenet" and validate
(was jclarke at eye bee em dot net)
 
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Bolshoy Huy
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      04-24-2006
reminds me of colleges that teach Cobol, UNIX, AS/400, SQL; while
others teach VB.net, C#, Java, etc.
which ones would you go for?
do you want to support legacy systems or move into the future?
face it, film is dead. move on.

 
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Andrew Koenig
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      04-24-2006
"michael" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed) oups.com...

> I'm planning to take some photography classes in the fall at my local
> community college and i've been having trouble deciding whether to
> start with a film or digital SLR camera. the only real appeal i see
> with digital is that any mistakes i make while learning won't cost me
> in film.


The real advantage of digital is that you get to see the results
immediately, with almost no effort. If your goal is to learn how to take
pictures, I think that advantage is overwhelming.


 
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John Fryatt
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      04-24-2006
Xiaoding wrote:
> "Is this course run by photography historians, or by practitioners?? "
>
> Ha! Good one.
>
> Britain is decades, if not centuries, behind the curve when it comes to
> anything computerized. Have they started using those fancy new "roll
> film" cameras yet?


Film? Baaaahh!! Glass plates are far better than that new-fangled
stuff.

Oh yes - can we lose the generalisation about people just because of
one Uni course?

John

 
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