Advice on digital vs old type developing

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Jake Forbes, Sep 17, 2004.

  1. Jake Forbes

    Jake Forbes Guest

    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 Forbes, Sep 17, 2004
    #1
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  2. Jake Forbes

    Grim Guest

    "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.


    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.
     
    Grim, Sep 17, 2004
    #2
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  3. 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
     
    Joseph Meehan, Sep 17, 2004
    #3
  4. Jake Forbes

    Hunt Guest

    In article <>, 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
     
    Hunt, Sep 17, 2004
    #4
  5. Jake Forbes

    Tony Guest

    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" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > 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.
     
    Tony, Sep 18, 2004
    #5
  6. Jake Forbes

    Alan Meyer Guest

    "Jake Forbes" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > 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
     
    Alan Meyer, Sep 18, 2004
    #6
  7. Jake Forbes

    Jake Forbes Guest

    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
     
    Jake Forbes, Sep 18, 2004
    #7
  8. Jake Forbes

    bob Guest

    (Jake Forbes) wrote in
    news::

    > 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

    --
    Delete the inverse SPAM to reply
     
    bob, Sep 18, 2004
    #8
  9. 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
     
    Joseph Meehan, Sep 18, 2004
    #9
  10. (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)
     
    Gisle Hannemyr, Sep 18, 2004
    #10
  11. Jake Forbes

    Alan Meyer Guest

    "Jake Forbes" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > 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


    There aren't many companies left making medium
    format cameras. I assume by medium, you mean
    60 mm, i.e. 120 roll film (or 220 if you can still get
    cameras that support it and still find the film.)

    I have an old Mamiya C3 with 80 mm lens that
    took many great photos for me. You can still
    occasionally find these used.

    For a new camera at a reasonably low price, the only
    one left that I'm aware of is the Chinese Seagull.
    Originally I think it was a knockoff of the Yashicamat,
    which in turn was a knockoff of the Rolleiflex twin lens
    reflex. [I just checked Ebay and saw a nice looking
    Yashicamat 124G for sale. The older cameras do
    come up from time to time.]

    You might be hesitant to buy a Chinese camera, but
    my understanding is that they've sold millions of these
    over the years and made steady refinements so that
    the quality is pretty good.

    On the other hand, you might want spend thousands
    on a new Mamiya or Hasselblad. But unless you are
    very wealthy, it makes little sense to me to spend so
    much on a pro level camera that will provide only a
    small margin of improvement over a consumer model.

    Alan
     
    Alan Meyer, Sep 26, 2004
    #11
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