Re: Digital vs film

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Paul Ciszek, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. Paul Ciszek

    Paul Ciszek Guest

    In article <>,
    Alfred Molon <> wrote:
    >I had a chat today with a young lady who has studied photography. She
    >mentioned that nowadays there is a trend among, how to say, let's call
    >them "high end photographers" to use film instead of digital, because
    >supposedly with film you can do things you can't with digital.
    >
    >To me this sounds a bit like those purists who use vacuum tube
    >amplifiers instead of solid state ones, because as far as I know
    >anything which you can do with film can be done with digital. Supposedly
    >film is more tolerant for overexposures, but with digital you can for
    >instance use HDR to extend the dynamic range. And all other colour and
    >exposure effects should also be doable with digital, shoudln't they?


    One thing that apparently can be done with film but not affordably with
    digital, so far as I have been able to tell, is those hours-long exposures
    of the night sky that show the star trails tracing a significant arc.
    I naively wanted to take a two hour or so exposure of the Perseid meteor
    shower with my OM-D and was told that any exposure over two minutes is
    likely to be very bad quality. Nor could I "stack" multiple exposures
    to get the same result, as it is strongly recommended that long exposures
    be followed by "dark exposures" of the same length in order to subtract
    the noise. So, a film camera can take a multiple-hour exposure of the
    night sky, capturing many meteor trails and revealing why the the "radiant"
    is called that and showing the stars as continuous arcs, without "noise"
    problems. I believe that amateurs used to do this with film cameras all
    the time, so it is not just a matter of my OM-D being a "cheap amateur
    DSLR wannabe". (If anything, it is an expensive amateur DSLR wannabe.)

    When did digital surpass film in dynamic range? There are very few B&W
    digital cameras out there, and the one I saw advertised was extremely
    expensive, so I would not be surprised if there are still things you can
    do affordably with B&W film cameras that cannot be matched with anything
    but the most expensive digital cameras.

    Also, while special sensors can be had for scientific imaging needs,
    as I recall amateurs used to be able to buy weird films to put in their
    ordinary cameras to play around with UV and IR photography.

    --
    Please reply to: | "We establish no religion in this country, we
    pciszek at panix dot com | command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor
    Autoreply is disabled | will we ever. Church and state are, and must
    | remain, separate." --Ronald Reagan, 10/26/1984
    Paul Ciszek, Aug 23, 2012
    #1
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  2. Paul Ciszek <> wrote:

    > One thing that apparently can be done with film but not affordably with
    > digital, so far as I have been able to tell, is those hours-long exposures
    > of the night sky that show the star trails tracing a significant arc.


    Astronomers have been using digital for decades, because it's
    so much better than film. Reciprocity failure, for example
    .... (which can hide weaker stars completely in star trails and
    leads to colour shifts on long exposures)


    > I naively wanted to take a two hour or so exposure of the Perseid meteor
    > shower with my OM-D and was told that any exposure over two minutes is
    > likely to be very bad quality.


    Aha
    http://www.astropix.com/HTML/I_ASTROP/TRIPOD/TRIPOD2.HTM
    Must be your camera, then.

    > Nor could I "stack" multiple exposures
    > to get the same result, as it is strongly recommended that long exposures
    > be followed by "dark exposures" of the same length in order to subtract
    > the noise.


    Aha.
    http://www.startrails.de/html/software.html
    (Note, they are using a 10D (from 2003), which is vastly
    noisier than your OM-D)

    And he must be doing something very wrong:
    http://www.jamesvernacotola.com/Resources/How-To-Photograph-Star-Trails/12233655_V7cX4D

    > So, a film camera can take a multiple-hour exposure of the
    > night sky, capturing many meteor trails and revealing why the the "radiant"
    > is called that and showing the stars as continuous arcs, without "noise"
    > problems.


    Film never had grain ...

    > I believe that amateurs used to do this with film cameras all
    > the time, so it is not just a matter of my OM-D being a "cheap amateur
    > DSLR wannabe". (If anything, it is an expensive amateur DSLR wannabe.)


    Well, they *used* to do this before good digital cameras came
    along, because that was all the bugdet did offer.

    > When did digital surpass film in dynamic range?


    That very much depends on "which digital" and especially
    "which film".
    http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/dynamicrange2/

    > There are very few B&W
    > digital cameras out there,


    There are a large number of them --- outside the consumer camera
    segment. There are also a great number of cameras that only have
    a few rows of pixels.

    > and the one I saw advertised was extremely
    > expensive, so I would not be surprised if there are still things you can
    > do affordably with B&W film cameras that cannot be matched with anything
    > but the most expensive digital cameras.


    Yep: price, higher sensitivity, higher resolution at the same
    pixel count.

    You can even do colour --- just photograph through various
    filters. With the right filters you can see much more than
    normal 3-stimulus-broadband cameras, IR and UV are possible
    (if your lenses can handle that).

    > Also, while special sensors can be had for scientific imaging needs,
    > as I recall amateurs used to be able to buy weird films to put in their
    > ordinary cameras to play around with UV and IR photography.


    You don't need special sensors for IR or UV. You need
    lenses that can handle that and IR-pass or UV-pass filters,
    and maybe remove the hot filter in front of the sensor.

    You may be interested in the 20Da or 60Da ...

    -Wolfgang
    Wolfgang Weisselberg, Aug 27, 2012
    #2
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  3. Paul Ciszek

    Martin Brown Guest

    On 23/08/2012 00:10, Paul Ciszek wrote:
    >
    > In article <>,
    > Alfred Molon <> wrote:
    >> I had a chat today with a young lady who has studied photography. She
    >> mentioned that nowadays there is a trend among, how to say, let's call
    >> them "high end photographers" to use film instead of digital, because
    >> supposedly with film you can do things you can't with digital.
    >>
    >> To me this sounds a bit like those purists who use vacuum tube
    >> amplifiers instead of solid state ones, because as far as I know
    >> anything which you can do with film can be done with digital. Supposedly
    >> film is more tolerant for overexposures, but with digital you can for
    >> instance use HDR to extend the dynamic range. And all other colour and
    >> exposure effects should also be doable with digital, shoudln't they?

    >
    > One thing that apparently can be done with film but not affordably with
    > digital, so far as I have been able to tell, is those hours-long exposures
    > of the night sky that show the star trails tracing a significant arc.


    Only in the sense that you have to take a series of exposures to do it.
    Thermal noise otherwise builds up on an uncooled consumer CCD camera.
    (some even have a warm corner of the sensor where the readout amplifier
    is where the noise builds up faster)

    Digital just requires you to tether the camera to provide enough power
    to keep the shutter open for the required amount of time and a script to
    take a long series of exposures that you later combine in software. A
    purely mechanical *camera* has an edge here in that the B setting
    consumes no power.

    > I naively wanted to take a two hour or so exposure of the Perseid meteor
    > shower with my OM-D and was told that any exposure over two minutes is
    > likely to be very bad quality. Nor could I "stack" multiple exposures
    > to get the same result, as it is strongly recommended that long exposures
    > be followed by "dark exposures" of the same length in order to subtract
    > the noise. So, a film camera can take a multiple-hour exposure of the


    You are obsessing about details that wouldn't have mattered if you had
    tried it. Yes a dark frame subtraction is best but one under those
    conditions would probably be good enough unless you were trying to do
    accurate photometry (unlikely from star trails). One *big* advantage of
    digital over film for the amateur is that no film is wasted in trying
    things out. You don't have to process and print to see your results.

    > night sky, capturing many meteor trails and revealing why the the "radiant"
    > is called that and showing the stars as continuous arcs, without "noise"
    > problems. I believe that amateurs used to do this with film cameras all
    > the time, so it is not just a matter of my OM-D being a "cheap amateur
    > DSLR wannabe". (If anything, it is an expensive amateur DSLR wannabe.)


    It is easier with film although on very long exposures you still have a
    compromise between capturing star trails and not suffering sky fog. It
    has to be incredibly dark to take multiple hour star trail exposures.
    >
    > When did digital surpass film in dynamic range?


    Almost immediately the first research grade sensors became available.

    > There are very few B&W
    > digital cameras out there, and the one I saw advertised was extremely
    > expensive, so I would not be surprised if there are still things you can
    > do affordably with B&W film cameras that cannot be matched with anything
    > but the most expensive digital cameras.


    Not true. You can easily convert a colour image to monochrome. What
    requires a lot of work and a subject that stays the same is doing
    tricolour imaging with filters (or often it is RGBY).
    >
    > Also, while special sensors can be had for scientific imaging needs,
    > as I recall amateurs used to be able to buy weird films to put in their
    > ordinary cameras to play around with UV and IR photography.


    Those weird films were not all that exciting and you can do the same
    with CCDs for infrared by taking the hot mirror filter off. They are in
    fact much better at seeing IR than "IR film" ever was. And you don't
    have to load your camera with it in the dark.

    The only thing film has going for it is that you can get film in huge
    sizes and bend it to fit into specialised Schmidt cameras and other
    esoteric devices with a diffraction limited but curved focal plane. eg

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schmidt_camera


    --
    Regards,
    Martin Brown
    Martin Brown, Aug 29, 2012
    #3
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