Do you miss anything about film?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Les Johnstone, Aug 4, 2003.

  1. Hi All,

    I've been reading through this group for a few weeks and picked up some
    great tips and information, so a big thank you to all who post.

    There are a couple of issues that I've never seen discussed in the list. It
    might be they are just stupid questions! But I'm going to ask anyway. I
    guess they might be opinions rather than questions.

    I've just ordered a Nikon D100; at present I have an F90x and a F90.

    A couple of things I can't quite get my head round.

    1. Does anyone miss being able to choose the film type to suit the look of
    the picture you want? I might choose Fuji Velvia for a landscape and Fuji
    Relea for a portrait, but with digital it seems you are stuck with the one
    look that the CCD has. Is it just a case of adjusting in Photoshop to get a
    "look" As I'm not a skilled Photoshop users it's not a great option for me.
    Do you guys miss being able to choose a film type?

    2. I love B + W. I hope to shoot B + W on the D100. However I know that
    enlarging a 35mm negative will eventually show the grain which I just accept
    as part of the look of B+W. I think because you can se harp grain it give a
    big print a certain quality. If I resample a D100 image in Photoshop so a
    bigger image is still printed at 300ppi I won't se "jaggies" but the print
    will just look slightly soft (say a 24 inch print). Do you guys think a 24
    inch digital print will look "worse" that a 24inch from a B+W negative, do
    you think the film grain is more aesthetically pleasing than the soft look
    of a big digital print.

    Many thanks for any advice

    Les Johnstone, Aug 4, 2003
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  2. Les Johnstone

    Paul Rubin Guest

    Sometimes. I also miss super speed films, think TMZ 3200 pushed to
    6400 or even higher, shot with that 35/1.4 MF Nikkor that I got on
    Ebay just before the price of MF stuff completely collapsed...
    It's not just a grain thing, you just can't get quite the same spectral
    response by converting color images into B&W as you can with panchromatic
    film, careful use of filters, and control over exposure and development.

    Generally speaking though, at least for a snapshooter like me, the
    main thing I've missed about film is you can get higher image quality
    from a small film camera (e.g. Ricoh GR1 or even Minox EC) than you
    can get from a digicam of comparable size.
    Paul Rubin, Aug 4, 2003
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  3. Les Johnstone

    Gavin Cato Guest

    A D100 is ready to go as soon as you turn it on, and a D1h will give you the
    sort of speed you'd expect from a F100.
    Gavin Cato, Aug 4, 2003
  4. Les Johnstone

    Gavin Cato Guest

    For the velvia question, you'll find it's actually far more flexible with
    digital once you get accustomed to post processing your shots in photoshop.

    If you aren't an expert on photoshop - there are a few fantastic actions at

    In particular I suspect you'll like the "digital velvia" action - it's
    fantastic. You can achieve the same results manually in photoshop if you
    know how, but the action is cheap and simplifies it greatly. I use it a fair
    bit to boost up the colours in an image when I need to, in the same way I'd
    load a roll of velvia into a film camera if I wanted the colour saturation
    of velvia.

    Also grab the intellisharpen action as well, you'll need to sharpen the
    files from the d100 a fair bit, they are intentionally soft for post

    Gavin Cato, Aug 4, 2003
  5. Miss anything? No. I still shoot film when I want the imaging qualities
    of film. That's very rare for 35mm and APS, a bit more common for Minox
    submini or 6x6, when compared with digital. I just waste a lot less
    time developing and scanning film, that's all.

    The answer for both questions is Photoshop or other image editing
    software. Any real photography with a digital camera requires the
    photographer become conversant and skilled with the use of image
    processing software because that's where all the options are. The
    camera is a capture device, image processing is where the magic
    happens. Just like the darkroom is where film images used to become

    Digital cameras have a different kind of versatility compared to film
    cameras. Use each for its strengths and work around its weaknesses,
    that's all. What's important are the photographs you produce.

    Godfrey DiGiorgi, Aug 4, 2003
  6. Les Johnstone

    Lisa Horton Guest

    In a way, I miss that sometimes. I have my favorite films and know how
    they will behave in various situations. But instead, Photoshop allows
    me to give my pictures a variety of different looks, fairly easily.
    It's not quite exactly the same as shooting different kinds of film,
    IMHO, but it's a very similar capability. And I DO like very much
    having all film speeds available at all times.

    I read in a book once the suggestion that the student of photography
    should select one film that they like, and learn intimately how that
    film will render the types of subjects one shoots. I took this to heart
    and found it very helpful in becoming able to know, as I shot, what a
    photo would look like in the end. Up to the last films that I shot, I
    would use a very small selection of films that I knew very well. I'm
    just taking a break from film shooting, just for a short while I'm sure

    I am not fond of B&W, having been allowed to shoot only B&W for the
    first few years of learning photography :) Even so, my impression is
    that digital B&W is farther from matching 35mm than digital color is to
    matching color 35mm film.

    Lisa Horton, Aug 4, 2003
  7. Les Johnstone

    Mxsmanic Guest

    It's far more flexible, but within narrow limits. The CCD is indeed the
    limiting factor. A given CCD will produce images with certain
    characteristics. There are significant constraints on what you can do
    with those images, no matter how much you fiddle with them in Photoshop.
    To go outside those constraints, you need to replace the CCD.

    In the case of film, you simply changed film, which had the same effect.
    Current digicams don't have interchangeable image sensors, so this is a
    drawback to digital for now.
    It's nothing compared to real Velvia.
    Mxsmanic, Aug 4, 2003
  8. Les Johnstone

    Gavin Cato Guest

    I've used both a fair bit - you'd be surprised! Takes more fiddling than
    loading a roll of velvia though obviously.
    Gavin Cato, Aug 4, 2003
  9. Gav,

    I also just purchased a D100 and am wondering why it's default
    sharpness level is so relatively low. Could you explain what you mean
    by saying the D100 is "intentionally soft for post processing?"

    Thank you.
    Woodward Price, Aug 4, 2003
  10. I miss being able to use cheap 3rd-party all-in-one 10x zooms, 400 speed
    film, and a flimsy Velbon tripod, and liking the results because I was
    only printing 4x6's. Nowadays my DSLR shows up all the defects in my
    equipment and technique.
    David Eppstein, Aug 4, 2003
  11. It sounds like you're in total agreement with the portion of my post
    that you elided:
    Godfrey DiGiorgi, Aug 4, 2003
  12. Les Johnstone

    gsum Guest

    Yes - I was lugging a bag of primes round the Lake
    District yesterday thinking exactly that myself.

    gsum, Aug 4, 2003
  13. ....

    It would be very hard to find a consumer grade digital camera today that
    could compare to the abilities of a good 35 mm with TechPan let alone a
    large format camera. However, as time goes on, that may change.

    What will not change (IMO) is some of the fine points of traditional
    photography and digital. Keep in mind however that these are differences,
    not differences in quality. Just as apples are different from oranges.
    Joseph Meehan, Aug 4, 2003
  14. Les Johnstone

    Patrick L. Guest

    Who has to miss anything? I'm not throwing away my film cameras just
    because I own a digital, as well.

    Patrick L., Aug 4, 2003
  15. Les Johnstone

    Mxsmanic Guest

    No, I wouldn't. I've done that, too. You don't get Velvia with any
    amount of fiddling with a normal image.
    Mxsmanic, Aug 4, 2003
  16. Les Johnstone

    Gavin Cato Guest

    Gavin Cato, Aug 4, 2003
  17. Les Johnstone

    Mxsmanic Guest

    Mxsmanic, Aug 4, 2003
  18. Yep, I'm not planning on giving up my Yashicamat or OM-4 any time soon.
    Digital is another capability, not a way of life. It makes no sense to
    throw out a perfectly good film camera just because you don't use it as
    much any more.

    I don't miss the developing expense at all.
    Larry Caldwell, Aug 4, 2003
  19. Les Johnstone

    zuuum Guest

    I still use film, along with digicam.. but when shooting digi I miss.....

    Shadow detail in low-light situations
    instant shutter release in action shots
    ability to use my existing decent flash equipt
    resolution and detail for enlarged crops
    and, lastly, even when the digi shot is as fine an exposure, sometimes I
    the "analog look" - I often scan film and print the digi file just for the
    zuuum, Aug 4, 2003
  20. Les Johnstone

    Mxsmanic Guest

    For 8-bit data, this is true (although keep in mind that film scans are
    limited in the same way).
    Agreed. In fact, a pure B&W CCD would do a superb job of capturing very
    clean, pure black and white images. However, it would have to be
    dedicated to that purpose--no matrix filter or dichroic prisms or
    anything. You cannot get good B&W from an RGB image; it has to be black
    and white right from the capture forward. This is true for both film
    and electronic imaging.
    Mxsmanic, Aug 4, 2003
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