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Thread: Another 'digital vs. film' thought

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 1999

    Another 'digital vs. film' thought

    I just visited photonet's gallery section, and it looks as if 99.99 percent of the images are digital, and I must say some of it looks damn good. It seems as if they're pointing, squinting through their little view finders, shooting and presto -- a masterpiece, courtesy of Photoshop or whatever. Am I an idiot for lugging a view camera around? The folks at my local camera store think I am. Pointing a digital camera at something just doesn't have the appeal for me as composing on a big ground glass and making the various adjustments with the swings and tilts. As soon as someone invents a self-contained, battery-powered digital back with the same viewing area as my ground glass and that doesn't have to be tethered to a computer in the field, then maybe I'll buy one. I'm not sure what the point of my post is, but I just feel as if I'm standing on a beach watching film-based photography slowly sail out of sight on the horizon. I feel like an old fogey, who is getting left behind. I guess I'd better buy a copy of "Digital Photography for Idiots" and get busy.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 2001

    Another 'digital vs. film' thought

    The day they come out with a digital camera that captures as much information as large format film, then yes, we will all be lunkheads to keep carrying around our LF cameras. But until then, for large, beautiful, impossibly detailed prints, there is still nothing like LF.

    My dream digital gadget is an 8x10 digital back that is the same shape and size as an 8x10 film holder. It's battery powered, no laptop needed to drive it, and has a few hundred gigabytes of memory inside it. It works just like a normal 8x10 film holder, but captures a 2GB digital file instead of recording the image on film. Oh, and it costs a hundred bucks. I think Fuji is planning on releasing one in the year 3099.


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Halifax, Nova Scotia

    Another 'digital vs. film' thought

    If you want to create the best possible image to view on a website then yes you are wasting your time with a LF film camera. If you wish to produce the best possible 16X20 (or larger) prints to hang on the wall then you are wasting your time with your digital camera.

  4. #4

    Another 'digital vs. film' thought

    Well sure, if all you want to do with your images is put them on the web, then (with all due respect, and you said it first) you are an idiot for lugging a view camera around. But if you want to make prints rather than jpegs, that's something else entirely.

    If you enjoy working with the view camera, who cares what other people are doing? But if it really makes you feel unhappy and like an "old fogey" to be left behind while the digital boat sails off without you, then you probably ought to get on the boat. Large format folks, in my experience, tend to be people who do what makes sense to them without worrying very much about which direction the crowd is going.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    St. Paul, MN

    Another 'digital vs. film' thought

    What Edward said.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2004

    Another 'digital vs. film' thought

    There are things about the large format experience that just do not equate to digital photography. Digital may someday duplicate or improve on the quality of the large format image, however the process (especially B&W) of making the image will always very different with traditional photography.

    The more I look at classic prints, and think of the history and skill that went into making those images, the less interested I am in the latest digital wizbang.

    Traditional photography has such a rich heritage, and as large format users we can probably relate to it better than other format users. I am enjoying doing something very different to digital crowd.

  7. #7

    Another 'digital vs. film' thought

    Well, there's no boubt about it - I AM on old fogey! I have been shooting and processing film since the 1960s.

    In the last 10 years, the majority of my "photography" has been documenting projects on The Web, so a simple digital camera was the way to go - nothing "artistic" or even photographically "good" - simply documenting the process.

    I will say one thing positive about the proliferation of digital photography - I believe MORE people are taking MORE pictures than ever before and that must (somehow?) be good for photography in general. Everybody has to start somewhere and with no lab fees and the ease of sharing digital images over long distances, digital is a logical starting place.

    One would assume that a FEW who cut their photographic teeth in digital will eventually wander into the film world.

    As has been the case since the Brownie, ANYBODY can snap a picture but only a few will invest the effort to become GOOD at it.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2004

    Another 'digital vs. film' thought

    Back in the days of the Conleys, and the Empire States, and the Senecas, where 8x10 and 5x7 was about the only way of capturing an image on sensitized material, a bright young man decided to produce a roll film camera with the slogan "you take the picture and we do the rest"! Millions were produced and sold, yet still some hung onto their LF cameras, who knows why, but they did! Well, the Leica was introduced some years later and with the 35mm revolution, copies of Leicas and what not were introduced and again millions were sold, and yet still some hung onto their clunky old LF cameras, and who knows why? Well, history once again repeats itself with the digital revolution, and there are those of us who insist on hanging onto our big, beautiful LF cameras and using them to create silver image prints that will stand the test of time. The only difference is, we know why!!!!

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Albuquerque, NM

    Another 'digital vs. film' thought

    I shot and developed my first 4x5 negative last week. HP5+ developed in Rodinal, shot with a 50 year old Busch Pressman with a 50 year old 135mm Steinheil press lens. Shot the concrete block and wood fence in my back yard just to check the camera and lens and to practice developing the negative. Looked at the negative under a 5.5x Pentax loupe. You can see splinters in the wood. Try and see that kind of detail with digital.

  10. #10
    not an junior member Janko Belaj's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Knezija, Zagreb, Croatia, Europe...

    Another 'digital vs. film' thought

    Good point Calamity. I'm in film processing fun for 24-25 years now, and have to say that I'm really happy that my hobby (love, life, whatever :-)) become my profession. I'm relatively fresh in LF, but where I would like to go can be described with my mistake calling 4x5" "medium format"...
    (O.K, I will build jumbo digital 12x20 when chip become cheap as box of efke film.)
    As Ben wrote, I'm not sure either what the point of my post is, maybe to accent that I like to be part of this nice large group. However I also have to admit that in my professional time I use LF under 5%. Film in total under 10%. Digital gives us (me, my firm, other photographers in same business) chances to go cheap with quantity to get quality. Right now I'm shooting dozens of exposures trying to get what designers want. After that I will switch to medium format and make same crop on slide...
    Well, Ben's post was about photonet's gallery and massive number of digital images, I wish they have a search function to find only LF pictures? (I did put few my images on that site, but had no comments at all... ( ) Or... maybe here can be sort of list or "subforum" where people will write: I have submitted my LF taken photo here or there or... whatever.
    I know that the best way of showing LF taken photos is in real life, but it would be just too costly for me to travel around the world with box of prints... would be nice, but expensive...


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