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Thread: Will the world ever have the Digital Equivalent of the Analog LF Camera??

  1. #21

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    Re: Will the world ever have the Digital Equivalent of the Analog LF Camera??

    Quote Originally Posted by jetcode View Post
    Chemistry belongs to the organic processes here on earth and by it's very nature is analog. See the description of analog in my last post. Even though molecules can be subdivided into quarks and such the original identity never changes.
    If you dig a little deeper, you'll quickly find out that chemical processes are actually anything but analog deep down at their core. It's quantum in nature and therefore discrete. Or digital, if you will, since discrete steps can be described by discrete numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by jetcode View Post
    Analog cameras do not exist but film emulsion is analog because it composed chemically. Even the polyester film base is analog. The analog camera is does not make images it allows light to strike film emulsion in a controlled manner.
    Digital camera does not "make images" any more than the film camera does. In fact, it is essentially the very same device in both cases. A dark chamber with the lens on one end and light-sensitive medium on the other. The aperture is contained in the lenses while the shutter can reside either in the lens or in the camera itself in front of the light-sensitive medium.

    It is just a matter of simple physics - a calibrated opening and a mechanical shutter let through a controlled amount of light to hit the light sensitive medium, which in turn "remembers" the light in miniscule increments. How it does it is the only major difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by jetcode View Post
    Light and film are both analog entities.
    No, they are not. They are actually quite the opposite - the light consists of discrete wave-particles and the film emulsion consists of miniscule but finite granules of light sensitive material. The dimension of these particles called grain varies from film to film.

    Isn't it the time to put an end to this entire "analog" vs. digital nonsense?

  2. #22

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    Re: Will the world ever have the Digital Equivalent of the Analog LF Camera??

    I am a quantum photographer, if this image is not good I am sure in a parallel universe, there is a version that is a masterpiece.

  3. #23
    jetcode
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    Re: Will the world ever have the Digital Equivalent of the Analog LF Camera??

    Quote Originally Posted by Marko View Post
    If you dig a little deeper, you'll quickly find out that chemical processes are actually anything but analog deep down at their core. It's quantum in nature and therefore discrete. Or digital, if you will, since discrete steps can be described by discrete numbers.
    Yes that appears to be obvious in the fact that chemical bonds can be broken and new bonds formed. I sensed that as I wrote this last bit but I am not a chemist or physicist.

    Digital camera does not "make images" any more than the film camera does. In fact, it is essentially the very same device in both cases. A dark chamber with the lens on one end and light-sensitive medium on the other. The aperture is contained in the lenses while the shutter can reside either in the lens or in the camera itself in front of the light-sensitive medium.
    That is fairly obvious as well.

    No, they are not. They are actually quite the opposite - the light consists of discrete wave-particles and the film emulsion consists of minuscule but finite granules of light sensitive material. The dimension of these particles called grain varies from film to film.
    These finite particles are not finite, they are visible measures but composed of much finer matter. In fact there is no real end because we have not exhausted the possibilities of dissecting matter with the means we have at our disposal at this time in history.

    If you want to get technical the universe existed before we had a language to describe it or the notion to understand it therefore we are observers to a reality that is far more complex then we will ever know in this form at this time. Ask a neurologist how much they know about the brain. That's a good place to start.

    In response to analog vs digital "nonsense" no one is making you engage this thread. Why do you want to make it my problem that you are tired of this dialogue?
    Last edited by jetcode; 12-Oct-2007 at 22:25.

  4. #24

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    Smile Re: Will the world ever have the Digital Equivalent of the Analog LF Camera??

    Quote Originally Posted by Marko View Post
    No need to fiddle with dusty film holders in the dark, no uncertainty about exposure on the spot, no need to wait to come back to the lab and process the film no need to handle stinky, toxic chemicals in the confined, dark space, no need to maintain a dedicated dark room with its own plumbing, no scratches, etc.

    And that's just off the top of my head.
    No need to fiddle with dusty film holders in the dark - No need to carry/charge/buy batteries

    No uncertainty about exposure on the spot - treat yourself and buy a lightmeter Marko!

    No need to wait to come back to the lab and process the film no need to handle stinky, toxic chemicals in the confined, dark space - Use polaroid materials, my stinkiest chemical is stop bath, are you afraid of the dark?

    No need to maintain a dedicated dark room with its own plumbing - No need to buy a $2500 printer plus media and ink to print my pictures (BTW I don't have a dedicated darkroom but still manage very well).

    No Scratches - No dead pixels, no upgrade costs, no crashed hard drives.

    Actually I'd really like to banish scratches, I had one in processing last month that cost me a fantastic shot.

    But really I'm very open to both approaches.... If I shot colour I would probably be pretty keen on the idea of something like a self-contained scanning back in 4x5 size so I didn't have to deal with colour chemicals but not if it means a laptop (or its equivalent weight) in the backpack.

  5. #25
    jetcode
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    Re: Will the world ever have the Digital Equivalent of the Analog LF Camera??

    Quote Originally Posted by Mattg View Post
    No need to fiddle with dusty film holders in the dark - No need to carry/charge/buy batteries
    I can pop a couple hundred raw images on 1 battery and 3 batteries is lighter and smaller then a single film holder.

    No uncertainty about exposure on the spot - treat yourself and buy a lightmeter Marko!
    I use the histogram in combination with light meter. The histogram is a powerful tool.

    Use polaroid materials, my stinkiest chemical is stop bath, are you afraid of the dark?
    Last I remember Polaroid materials were not cheap and while you're waiting for exposure verification the light is changing.

    No need to buy a $2500 printer plus media and ink to print my pictures.
    No dead pixels, no upgrade costs, no crashed hard drives.
    Print once (photoshop), replicate forever (output). The power of the digital darkroom is amazing.

  6. #26

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    Re: Will the world ever have the Digital Equivalent of the Analog LF Camera??

    Quote Originally Posted by jetcode View Post
    In response to analog vs digital "nonsense" no one is making you engage this thread. Why do you want to make it my problem that you are tired of this dialogue?
    These comparisons can be useful to photographers who are trying to decide which way to go and how to invest their money, but only if they are based on facts.

    I am not calling them nonsense, however, because most of the "analog" parties to these "discussions" are using false, outdated or simply incorrect statements trying to permanently settle a comparison between one dynamic, changing technology and the other mature one which has reached the end of the (technological) road.

    This may be advancing a certain ideological claim, but it is definitely doing a disservice, if not harm, to anybody who is looking at this board to find reliable answers to few-thousand-dollar questions.

  7. #27

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    Re: Will the world ever have the Digital Equivalent of the Analog LF Camera??

    Quote Originally Posted by Mattg View Post
    treat yourself and buy a lightmeter Marko!
    I actually got two - an old Minolta light meter and a brand new Seconic spot/flash meter, thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mattg View Post
    Use polaroid materials
    Polaroids? Why on Earth would I be paying $3 per pop just to make sure my exposure is right when I can look at the histogram for free and make as many adjustments I need?

    As for the rest, I started with photography as a kid, back in the late 60's and kept doing it until the mid-80's. I only picked up digital a few years ago when I came back to photography and now, with LF, I am starting to do traditional again. And I earned a degree in physical chemistry in the interim.

    So, I believe I won't overstate the matters if I say that I am a bit familiar with both dark and the chemicals, just about enough to be fairly comfortable with both.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mattg View Post
    But really I'm very open to both approaches.... If I shot colour I would probably be pretty keen on the idea of something like a self-contained scanning back in 4x5 size so I didn't have to deal with colour chemicals but not if it means a laptop (or its equivalent weight) in the backpack.
    Whatever works for you is perfectly fine with me. Your question was why would anybody use anything other than film with LF and I provided one possible answer.

    I don't think that either of us is wrong, as long as we don't claim that our way should be the only way.


  8. #28
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    Re: Will the world ever have the Digital Equivalent of the Analog LF Camera??

    The thing I would miss with the large medium format digital backs is wide-angle capability. With a 35mm digital lens, one can get the equivalent of about an 85mm lens on 4x5. (Assume a 0.8 aspect ratio in both formats, and a light sensitive length on 4x5 film of 4.75") That doesn't cut it for wide-angle photography.

    In contrast, to obtain the wide-angle effect of a 47mm lens on 4x5 for the digital back would require about an 18 mm focal length digital lens. Technology has a long way to go, before that's possible.

    Maybe sensors can eventually get larger without the typical geometric increase in price.

  9. #29

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    Re: Will the world ever have the Digital Equivalent of the Analog LF Camera??

    I'm a digital kid. I started hacking computers when I was 12, and I'm 38 now. I work in digital signal processing, and design and program embedded platform computers to route digital signal in complex venues and studios.

    And I shoot film, and I'm kicking myself not to have discovered it earlier.

    There are many reasons, but /just/ the storage point is enough for me anyway. In 3 years of DSLR, being increasingly picky, I have about 100GB of images. Thats after many passes of trimming the collection.
    DVD are very unreliable, and can't be trusted by themselves, and take only 3/6GB anyway.
    To make sure of one's backup, I think you need at least 3 DVD of different brands, stored in different places. And I know that because I've had a lot of DVDs 'verified' failing after just a few weeks. Anyway, thats a LOT of DVD to backup 100GB, and it's only 3 years!

    So, in 3 years, I've already completely overflowed my capacity to backup my images; it is not possible to backup my stuff in a secure way to guarantee that it'll be there in 5 years. Not even mentioning 20, where there 'dvd drive' will have gone the way of the dodo.
    And don;t tell me 'hard drives'; they have the same failure rates these days.

    However, now, I know that my binder(s) with the film will still be there. Gently aging, most probably, but still perfectly usable.

  10. #30
    Steve Gombosi
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    Re: Will the world ever have the Digital Equivalent of the Analog LF Camera??

    I think it depends on what your definition of "equivalent" is.

    If you're asking whether we will ever see single, full-frame large format CCD sensors (4x5 or 8x10), I think the answer is no - not because it isn't technically feasible but because it doesn't make economic sense. That's larger than the standard size for a semiconductor wafer - it would require completely new technology essentially from start to finish, to serve a *very* tiny market. Semiconductor fabs are extremely expensive facilities; the only reason semiconductors are inexpensive is because the cost is amortized over a large number of chips. Unless somebody else needs an 8x10 chip for something, and is willing to order them in large quantity, the incentive just isn't there to build a single chip that large. I don't think you'll even see full-frame medium-format (6x6 or 6x7) sensors.

    This doesn't even account for the low yield you'd expect from such a device. A substantial number of the chips cut from a current wafer are discarded because they're flawed. Having to produce a large, 100% functional sensor would drive the cost way up. Unless the Pentagon develops a sudden appetite for a few million 8x10 CCD sensors, I wouldn't hold my breath.

    You might see digital backs with arrays of sensors. This would require re-arranging the sensor electronics a bit. You'd have to handle the "blind spots" (well, blind grids) at the sensor boundaries, but that would be trivial to do in software (vertebrate eyes have been doing this for hundreds of millions of years, after all). None of this is impossible, but what you'd end up with is a very expensive specialty item - simply because the usual economies of scale that make consumer electronic devices so cheap really don't apply. You're not going to sell millions of them, just hundreds or thousands, so you'd have to recover your costs by charging proportionately more.

    We haven't even started talking about power, cooling, data transfer, or data storage. How big a file do you want to produce from a full-frame 8x10 sensor? Let's assume you want something in the same range as you'd get from scanning an 8x10 transparency at 4000 dpi with say, 48 bits per pixel. That's 1.2 gigapixels at 6 bytes per pixel = 7.2 gigabytes per image. That's essentially 2 DVDs worth of data for a single image. If you scan your film at 8000dpi, we're talking about 5.2 gigapixels or 28.8 gigabytes per image. That's slightly more than 1 single-layer Blu-ray DVD or about the capacity of 2 single-layer HD-DVDs for *one* image. What does the sustained (not burst) transfer rate to storage need to be? Well, the 1X data transfer rate to a Blu-ray disk is 36 Mb/s, so we're talking about roughly 2 hours to archive a single uncompressed, raw 8000dpi image at 1x, assuming I did the math right. This will, of course, improve with time (I'm sure we'll see 4x, 8x, etc. Blu-ray and HD-DVD writers). Flash memory for storage might be faster, but has its own problems.

    Scanning backs? We have those already for 4x5. I think they're a niche market within a niche market, because only a subset (although probably the largest subset - most people who make their living from LF are probably doing studio product shots) of an already small group (large format photographers) find them useful. This isn't a function of resolution or dynamic range, it's a function of mechanical scanning speed. These are still a specialty item, but they don't require the technology startup costs of a one-shot LF sensor. If there were enough demand to justify an 8x10 scanning back, we'd have them already. They'd be big, heavy, and expensive, of course...and that wouldn't be likely to improve since most of the weight and size would be due to moving parts.

    Which brings us to the other possible definition of "equivalent": a (for the sake of argument) single sensor (regardless of size) that produces an image "as good as" a big piece of film. This
    depends on your own personal definition of "as good as", which drags us into the whole digital vs. film religious war. I'm not going to get involved in that - it's the photographic equivalent of the Thirty Years' War. I will say this (based on the above): I haven't seen any 1.2 gigapixel sensors lately, much less 5.2. I don't think such a sensor could be made in current sensor sizes: that's about a 2 order of magnitude increase in density. Assuming you can fabricate at that scale, I'm not sure the CCDs will hold charge well enough.

    Do you want movements, too?

    Again, the problem is that the available technology will be driven by the demand of the mass market, simply for economic reasons. What's the mass market for imaging in the early 21st Century? Well, it's:

    1) Web pages, cellphone displays, "electronic picture frames", and emails (very low res)
    2) 4x6 prints (maybe 8x10 for very special occasions)
    3) HDTV displays (2.07 megapixels for 1080p, by my count)

    Not one of these requires a gigapixel sensor. A person who actually thinks HDTV is "high-definition" doesn't need more than few megapixels at most (which seems to be where the sweet spot in the market is). Anything above that is hype - kind of like 6400 dpi prosumer scanners. ;-)

    A lot of people are perfectly happy with webcams and cellphones.

    Steve

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