Okay... compact film vs compact digital ..

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Mike Henley, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. Mike Henley

    Mike Henley Guest

    Okay, I know some of you guys will say that a dSLR is great and
    wonderful, but put this out of the question, on account of its size
    and weight mainly; i haven't bought a film SLR lately, so i won't buy
    a dSLR either.

    I've recently had my liking of photography rekindled, and have gone
    the film route for image quality. My current favorite camera(s) is a
    Minox 35 GT-S/E (I have both, and I love them immensely). SLR image
    quality in a 200gm camera. I also have 2 other cameras that would be
    of interest from a compact photography as well as a collector's
    interest, one of them is a limited edition fujifilm sivli black f2.8,
    and the other, though far less significant, is an olympus xa working
    perfectly and in very good condition. I suspect i'll be selling the XA
    because i have not felt much affection for it. I also have two other
    P&S that interested me but I won't be keeping them much.

    Why so many P&S cameras? Well, the minoxes are out of production, and
    i found mine in mint or like new condition, so i have no regrets. The
    fujifilm silvi f2.8 black is a 24mm/f2.8 that zooms to 50 and it has
    exposure compensation in half steps up to 2 +/-, so it's very
    interesting, in addition to it being a limited edition of which only a
    few had been made. All these are less than 200gms with extraordinary
    image quality. The other P&S were acquired on the way, all from ebay
    at good prices, and will probably go back to it pretty soon. All in
    all, buying several compacts was not much different from buying an SLR
    and a few lenses, except that i prefer the smaller form factor of the
    compacts and can load different films in them.

    But I'm wondering if i should be considering a switch over to digital
    and forget all about film. So here are my questions...

    1. are there any compelling compact digital cameras? One that'd
    compete with the minox for image quality and enlargement possibility
    while retaining the small form factor? My current impression is that
    there is none, considering that most are 5 megapixels max, and the
    ones that are higher such as the 6 megapixels fuji finepix aren't true
    megapixels. (dSLRs and the 8 megapixels ones are too big and bulky).
    2. What's this thing about image interpolation? Does it mean that i
    can interpolate an image to a higher pixel count? how does that work
    in reality? is it really effective? I've seen that those fujifilm
    cameras can produce 12 megapixels in a consumer digital camera, which
    sounds phenomenal, how do these compare to film? how does an
    interpolated picture done on photoshop or the best available software
    compare? can i just go ahead and buy a 5 megapixel compact in the
    comfort that if i want to enlarge it i can easily do that with
    3. at what point should i get rid of my film equipment? I plan to put
    any of those i won't be using and that don't have collector value on
    ebay within the next week or two, but what about the collectibles? are
    they likely to increase or decrease in price? I would love to keep
    them for a while and use them, but do you see any digital technology
    happening very soon that may render them worthless, or would they
    remain valuable for some time to come regardless?
    Mike Henley, Jun 17, 2004
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  2. Mike Henley

    GLC1173 Guest

    You should have put your film gear on eBay a couple years ago - as value has
    plummeted since. As for "collectible" film cameras, very few on eBay are
    drawing even trivial bids now.
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  3. I'll let someone else field the specifics, but here's my input:

    If you won't print pictures larger than 8x10 and you examine them from
    normal viewing distance (I.e. you don't put a loupe on them), you
    probably won't be able to tell the difference between a compact 4
    megapixel digital and a compact film camera.

    Interpolation can increase the number of pixels in an image, but not the
    amount of information. If done cleverly, you can expand images larger
    than their native resolution and still retain the appearance of detail.
    It's not something you want to rely on to produce high-quality images.

    As for cute compact digitals with decent image quality - there's a
    bunch. Canon has a digital Elph that is fairly compact, and Pentax has
    the Optio S which is about the size of a Altoids tin. Sony has got a
    new 5 megapixel ultra-compact, but I haven't seen any reviews yet.

    A good place to start searching is at:


    They have in-depth reviews and sample images you can view. Since a lot
    of quality is subjective, you can choose the camera that produces the
    best results to your eye.

    As for the film cameras - that's your call. I wouldn't toss them unless
    digital wows you over and makes you swear at developing fees like I did.
    Brian C. Baird, Jun 17, 2004
  4. Speaking as someone who only uses one camera at a time, I am rather glad I
    never got rid of my old SLR as my digital turned up it's toes a couple of
    weeks back.

    It is now in the (hopefully safe) hands of the Olympus repair centre.
    Meanwhile, I dusted off my old SLR and, one new battery later, started
    taking traditional photos again.

    I found I had forgotten a lot, like:

    1. The cost of traditional camera batteries.

    2. Just how heavy my old SLR was.

    3. Having exchangable lenses means you never have the right one on the
    camera when you need it.

    4. You're never quite sure whether the photo will turn out the way you
    intended, you just have to hope.

    5. How expensive it is to get film processed.

    6. The frustration of having to wait for your prints.

    The photos turned out looking good in the end, but I can't wait to get my
    "proper" camera back.

    Keith Sheppard, Jun 17, 2004
  5. Mike Henley

    Bowzre Guest

    DSLRs are lighter? Not. The compacts are are nice and light, but they suffer
    from slow focusing and handling. Not a fair comparison to film SLRs.
    Not having interchangeable lenses means you pretty much are always shooting
    with a compromise, but this isn't unique to film or digital.
    Please. Unless you're a total rookie, your shots will come out just as you
    had envisioned. Film is wonderfully reliable. Digital does not gaurantee
    As opposed to the totally free process associated with digital for
    downloading, storing, archiving, and then later updating those archives to
    newer media every few years. Jury's out on this one.
    Unless you're shooting with a Polaroid, you're going to wait to get prints.
    They don't appear by magic.
    Bowzre, Jun 17, 2004
  6. Mike Henley

    gsum Guest

    Except for the Fuji 690, prices of which are becomming astronomical.

    gsum, Jun 17, 2004
  7. Mike Henley

    JD Guest

    Is this why pro's bracket their exposures? Every one makes mistakes. With a
    digital you see it immediately and can take another shot.
    Actually I can shoot and have a print within a minute or so.
    Just depends how close I am to my printer.
    In any case you can see the shot you just took immediately.

    I had the same experience. A small and light digital is simply much better
    for most pictures I take.

    JD, Jun 17, 2004
  8. Have you ever seen this camera? It sounded great, but it's been announced
    for a year, and I've never seen it for sale anywhere.
    Steven M. Scharf, Jun 17, 2004
  9. Mike Henley

    Bowzre Guest

    Pros bracket to overcome the limitations of film, for the same reason
    digital pros do the same thing. And, to overcome the limitations of the
    technology, we do quite a bit of tweaking in PS, don't we? But to claim that
    you won't know how your photos will look if you shoot with film is, well,
    Right. So if you're willing to carry a printer with you, that's great. What
    type do you lug along?
    And that's what it's all about. Personal choices. Digital, for me, isn't a
    film replacement, just another tool. Use what works.
    Bowzre, Jun 17, 2004
  10. Mike Henley

    Anoni Moose Guest

    Are DSLR's (with the same lens mounted) weight much less? There's
    something for compact cameras of all sorts!
    If you apply some epoxy to your lens mount for your favorite lens
    that'll fix the problem and make it the same as a non-removeable
    digital camera. :)
    Such confidence! Do only a few of yours come out okay? Surely
    you do better than that! Have confidence!! Any missed surely
    couldn't have been all that important of a shot (mumble).... :).

    Try Costco if you have one there. Use the overnight bins,
    not the instore 1-hour service. VERY VERY cheap! Prints
    are something like 6 cents with processing free.
    How long did it take you to make "all" 36 prints when using your
    digital camera?

    Don't blame you. My wife got her *red* Sony DSC-P100 yesterday (straight
    from Sony to get it quick as possible). 5.1 Megapixel and very tiny
    (relatively speaking) and light (6.5 oz w/battery and memory card).
    Made a print last night (on a Canon i9900) and it looked great. I
    can't say it's economic, but it's fun and the camera's small/light/etc.

    Anoni Moose, Jun 17, 2004
  11. Mike Henley

    Jack Guest

    Unless you're shooting with a Polaroid, you're going to wait to get
    Depends where and what you are shooting. In a studio I'd imagine that the
    printer can be right there along with a large display to check the image

    Please don't forget that the image shows up immediately on the back of the
    camera and you can typically zoom in to see the details.
    Now, I expect you will say "So if you're willing to carry a camera with you,
    that's great. What type do you lug along?" but hopefully you will just
    realize that you are splitting hairs and building a strawman before you
    start typing.
    Ah, but it is replacing film in those situations. So it is at least a
    partial replacement.

    Jack, Jun 17, 2004
  12. Mike Henley

    Tumbleweed Guest

    Who blinked in that group portrait you just took? No use finding out a week
    later with film.
    Tumbleweed, Jun 17, 2004
  13. Mike Henley

    MarkH Guest

    (Anoni Moose) wrote in
    I am pretty sure that Keith was simply commenting that after using a
    compact digital, he found an SLR a lot heavier. The same I found when I
    sold my Nikon CP950 and bought my Canon 10D.
    I have to agree with this, I have never found it a disadvantage to be
    able to change lenses. I changed to a D-SLR because I regularly found my
    compacts didn’t have enough zoom.
    Keith never said that he didn’t get what he expected 9 times out of 10,
    he said that he was never quite sure that he would. This is an obvious
    difference between film and digital. With digital you can check your
    shot, with film you assume you got it and hope you’re right.
    WOW! A roll of 36 film developed and printed for $2.16! It’s hard to
    see how they could make anything out of that service. You certainly can
    not find any service in this country close to as cheap as twice that
    I think that this is another of those obvious differences between film
    and digital that Keith is highlighting. With digital you can take 36
    shots, walk back into the house and copy to the PC then view the pics
    straight away.
    So after picking apart the post you are in complete agreement?

    After reading Keith’s post I thought that it was a very true comment on
    how you get used to some new tech and then when you go back to the
    previous tech you are surprised at how different it now seems.

    The only thing I disagreed with was his comment on the nuisance of being
    able to change lenses. Obviously someone with an SLR has the simple
    option of buying a 28-300 zoom lens and never buy another lens, therefore
    with no lenses to change to you always have the right (and only) lens on
    the camera.
    MarkH, Jun 17, 2004
  14. Mike Henley

    Dave Haynie Guest

    Not everyone's an SLR person, naturally. And SLRs vary; my Olympus
    OM-1 and OM-4 are smaller and nearly as quiet as the Canon Vt, P, and
    7 (rangefinders) that I used to own. And I have a Canon Pro90IS
    digicam that, while not a total film replacement, is certainly smaller
    and more capable than any SLR and just one lens.
    Any 35mm compact with a good, fixed focal length, can argue 35mm
    quality. I still have a number of compact 35mm rangefinders, popular
    in the 70s and early 80s, which were small, accurate, sharp, good in
    low light (typically an f1.8 lens), etc: Konicas, Canons, Yashicas,
    Minoltas. They got caught in the squeeze beteen "prosumer" SLRs and
    more consumer friendly 35mm P&S, but it kind of the model for what
    you're after, I think.
    I loved the XA; my wife still has an XA2, but pretty much uses my old
    digital Canon ProShot 350, even with that model's weak resolution.
    Kodak sold zillions of really bad cameras to people who just didn't
    care... it happens.
    Because you're missing the truth of photography. Most people out there
    really just want a point and shoot. The folks who bought Instamatics
    in the '60s, 110s in the 70s, Disc cameras (argh!) in the 80s, 35mm
    P&S in the 90s, now buy digital P&S. That's a market 100x larger than
    the SLR market, I'll bet.

    Plus, it's easier. It's been a long road, making a digital camera
    deliver the quality of a 35mm SLR. We're close enough for more needs
    every year, but not quite there yet. P&S cameras, especially the small
    35mm pocket with zoom and auto-everything types, are orders of
    magnitude better than instamatics or 110s, but no great shakes for the
    most part. So replacing those with digital, it's a lower bar, and
    those people never shoot beyond 4x6 or so prints. So if they get
    2-3Mpixel, they're happy as they were with 35mm.

    I understand the kind of camera you want. It's not on the list at most
    companies. And those who still do a good job of it, in the purest
    form, they charge too much, because of the fact that Leitx has served
    that market. So a 6Mpixel rangefinder-like camera has to be, for some
    reason, a $1500-$2500 camera, even if frickin' Epson and Cosina (or
    Leitz and Panasonic) make it. Go figure.
    Have you considered a used Pentax Auto 110. Ok, just kidding, but I
    did sell mine recently.
    No. You will not find anything that's exactly as good as a compact
    35mm with a very good, fixed focal length lens. At least if you always
    shoot on something like Velvia. Now, "almost as good", yeah, that can
    For size, have you looked at the Canon "Digital Elphs"; Canon has had
    very good sensor color and good lenses on their smaller digitals.
    Personally, I wouldn't go quite so small, and I'd consider the Canon
    G5. That's the closest you get to a rangefinder-like form and
    function, without getting into the Leitz-inspired nut-zone. It's not
    as small as a Minox, but what is.
    On the Fujifilms? Ok, they play a trick. Most digicams have a sensor
    that's an array of pixels, in a rectangular form. Like you eye, this
    is actually an array of blue, green, and red sensors. What Fujifilm
    does is tilt this sensor by 45-degress, basically. This has the effect
    of making the horizontal and vertical lines based on interstitial
    sensors, rather than a clean matrix. So they interpolate this back to
    a normal X,Y grid. That interpolation is kind of fake, but necessary
    to fit it all in the standard image bitmap. They're basically adding
    performance in the X,Y direction, and subtracting performance from the
    diagonals. Bottom line: a 5Mpixel sensor turned 45 degress is still a
    5Mpixel sensor. Maybe it's better, maybe worse, in the result; that
    would depend entirely on your subject matter. I think most of the time
    it doesn't matter.
    Based on a calculation I did on my own, then saw replicated pretty
    much elsewhere, the practical limit in "pixel equivalent resolution"
    (eg, what kind of digital camera could reproduce this result) for 35mm
    is about 30Mpixel. That would assume some super sharp film such as
    Velvia 40, one of the best lenses Leitz has ever made, etc. But in
    reality, if you actually took that captured image and scanned it into
    the PC, by then you're more like 20-25Mpixels worth of possible data.
    And using lesser film, it continues to fall.

    I think the general consensus is that 16-20Mpixel cameras are pretty
    damn close. 6-8Mpixel is about the point at which serious hobbiests
    will consider hanging up that film camera for good. Maybe some pros,
    too, but I think it's more like "building you toolbox" with a pro.
    Different stuff. The Fujifilm thing is taking advantage of specific
    knowledge of their tilted CCD, and attempting to presetve the
    information in that snapshot that would be lost if they made it a
    plain old 6Mpixel image. So in some cases, the Fujifilm image is a
    little bit better than a 6Mpixel conventional shot scaled to 12Mpixel;
    in some cases, a little bit worse. A real 12Mpixel shot will be much
    There's enlarging and there's enlarging. When you're printing a photo,
    you probably print it at somewhere between 300dpi and 150dpi,
    independent of the printer resolution. 6Mpixel is just dandy for most
    enlargements. If you're doing 8x10s, a 3Mpixel camera is about
    minimum, 4Mpixel is what you pretty much want. You wouldn't do any
    enlargement in Photoshop, you'd simply print it.

    For poster-sized prints, there are any number of fractal-based scaling
    plug-ins or programs that do the scaling very cleverly, avoiding the
    pixel pop-out that you'd expect. That doesn't really add resolution
    (you can't), but it helps presever the relative viewing distance
    Only when you can wipe a layer of dust from it. No one can teach you
    this, grasshopper, you must find your own path.
    What's the rush? If this isn't funding the digicam purchase, why not
    wait, rather than reget it. Particularly before you have even proven
    to yourself that your digicam purchase makes you happy.

    Dave Haynie | Chief Toady, Frog Pond Media Consulting
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    Dave Haynie, Jun 17, 2004
  15. Mike Henley

    Mike Henley Guest

    This says nothing negative about film. The battery in my minox is
    something i don't need to worry about for months and months and months
    if not for years. Unlike a digital. I just pick up the Minox and i'm
    ready to shoot anytime without worrying about recharing

    Also, eventhough it's a mere 200gms I feel comfortable that its image
    quality challenges a 6mp dSLR that weighs a lot more.
    while i thank you for replying to my post i must say this is a bizarre
    rationale, just what stops you from having the "right one" on the
    camera when you need it?

    If the right one means some generous zoom of sort that's on all-in-one
    digital cameras then just get a zoom if that's what you like.
    No more expensive than digital. Actually even less expensive
    considering what you get.
    Okay film is not for you. If you want instant gratification regardless
    of anything then stick to digital.

    Personally i really really do enjoy the fact that it could take me a
    few days to finish an odd roll of film, and that it could take me a
    few more days to get round to sending the film to be processedm, and
    that then it takes yet a few more days for it to come back. And then,
    one morning, i get a packet of prints and negatives in my mail, the
    majority of its shots i had forgotten about, and i am so pleasantly
    surprised and amused when i go through them.

    At times i went to the 1-hour lab, and it really did feel like
    premature ejaculation. You know that dreadful feeling? you know how
    the joy of delayed gratification is immensely more rewarding than
    instant gratification? it just feels like that.
    Mike Henley, Jun 18, 2004
  16. Mike Henley

    Anoni Moose Guest

    No, I'm not in complete agreement, I disagree with him on a few
    points. I like digital cameras but it's not like being a sports fan
    where everything your team does is great no matter what.

    If the purpose of the camera is to make digital images to be looked at
    on a PC, then digital cameras are great and film cameras are a pain.

    If the purpose of the camera is to make prints without effort
    or any significant cost, then film cameras are much better, at least
    if one has a Costco nearby (although I don't know if all costcos have
    the incredible cheap prices they have here where I get double-prints
    not because I want two copies, but they're SO cheap when gotten with
    the processing -- onsies later on cost much more).

    If one's in a hurry, then digital wins too (although in a hurry for
    a print may not be too fast, depends on the person, who does the
    family's printing, etc).

    As to knowing how they turned out immediately, the digital camera helps
    some, but the ~1.8" LCD display doesn't provide really critical evaluations
    of the results -- but yes it is beneficial. But with film in an SLR,
    I pretty well know what I'll get most of the time. Yes it's a benefit,
    but not a strong one for snapshooting (normally what's done using P&S
    cameras, be they digital or film).

    Some aspects of weight and such were presented as attributes of the
    camera being a digital one. They weren't. They were aspects of it
    being a P&S camera, equally valid if the new camera were a film P&S
    instead. Someone using a P&S film camera going back to a SLR would
    have the same comments of weight and interchangeable lenses. In
    fact if that old SLR were a digital one, the comments would still

    I like all cameras, and use all kinds (although MF is the largest I've
    used so far, large format is still in the future, if at all). However,
    I don't think hype is overly useful either -- sports fan style. It
    can confuse the bystander who may not understand what's being said.

    Of course, not hard to get me confused either, but there's no lack
    of folk to fix that situation. :)

    Anoni Moose, Jun 22, 2004
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