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Thread: Wondering why I still shoot film

  1. #81

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    Re: Wondering why I still shoot film

    I would like to address the movements issue. When I shoot 4x5, I use wide lenses and lots of movements. I am good at it and have found it pretty much impossible to really duplicate that with single shot digital and a ts lens because I cannot see well enough to set up the shot. What drove me to digital was that no amount of zone processing and other manipulations could capture the dynamic range posed by an church interior with stained glass windows. With an indexed pano-head, I can fairly quickly shoot a 6x6 matrix of shots, with three bracketed exposure at each point. I use an old Nikon 55mm Micro lens, which is about as distortion free and sharp as it gets. When I am done, I have an image with 20k x 20k or better good pixels and with enough dynamic range to balance the stained glass with the interior. If I remember to shoot a Color Checker as well, I can balance the color quite accurately. I do not need movements because I have so many extra pixels that I can fix the distortions and still have plenty left. Plus there is nothing magic about shift - you still get a distorted point of view. I always to try to get in the choir loft so I shoot dead on with ether film or digital.

    This does not work if things are moving, but then neither does LF in a dim church at f32 or f45. I am also weighting the pleasure of film against the results. I got into 4x5 because of the quality, and the quality is still there for things that move when there is enough light to capture them with one shot but it has to be one shot. Outdoor shots with wind blown clouds or people, for example.

    So, for this use, LF cannot compete with even pretty low end digital - 24MP is more than enough on the sensor, and it also does not need huge dynamic range. Just careful work on a tripod and on the computer when you are done. Even if i was stitching 4x5 - which I have done - trying to shoot bracketed exposures with film and stack them digitally is a nightmare.

    What I am trying to work out for myself is whether it more trouble than joy to keep using 4x5 in the places where it is better than digital? Is the hassle keeping me from shooting when I would have with digital? As several have pointed out, does asking the question imply the answer? Is it just that LF gear is so much more satisfying than digital gear? The feel of leather bellows on a wooden camera sure beats slightly sticky rubber on a DSLR.

  2. #82

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    Re: Wondering why I still shoot film

    Core to this issue, image quality is subjective and dependent on the individual viewer's idealized vision of what the "best" image must be.

    What appears to have happened, digital imaging has won over many, many image makers due to ease, simplicity, control of images produced. These basic digital offerings is more than enough to sway the vast majority of image makers to go-all-in for digital.

    *Then there are "Smart Phone" digital cameras...and their mass appeal, including software altered images via Instagram and much more.

    For those who's point of reference has been digital imaging from their very beginning of how images should appear, this will become their point of reference with an deviation from then on. Much the same applies to folks who use film based images as their point of reference.

    It is most if not all relative to an individual's point of reference and personalized preferences folks... No matter what the numbers, data, theory and all that techno stuff is.


    Bernice
    Last edited by Bernice Loui; 22-Oct-2016 at 22:40.

  3. #83

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    Re: Wondering why I still shoot film

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Richards View Post
    I would like to address the movements issue.
    Hello Richard,


    Still film has some technical advantages that make some recent big money productions use film to just scan it inmediatelly. Let me mention those: StarWars 7, StarWars 8 (Dec 2017). Mission Impossible 5, Batman vs Superman, Interstallar, Brige os Spies, The Hateful Eight, Jurassic World, 007 Spectre. A couple of box office $ billions...

    We can discuss why...



    You are right, technical need to shot LF film is not there in most of cases if resolution is the concern. Image stitching is very powerful, and movements can also be used with digital, for example by using a P3 with a digital back, this is a very common setup with product photography...


    I'm making the way back... as an amateur. I found that film photography is a big vault of imaging culture of inmense importance, the materials and crafting evolved to deliver unique results, and unique interpretation of reality (if that exists...)

    It is a bit like Wagner or Verdi... Today one can generate that with a PC or a tablet. But violins still play today. Masters and amateurs play such a wood box with wires, to deliver a kind of "music".

    Of course practical photography is in the digital paradise.

    What I find in film photography is some weaknesses (workload, ISO), some strengths (can select spectral response from velvia or from portra), and unique footprint (TXP, HP5+).

    Then there is the joy of playing with the same medium AA and Karsh had... or Sally Mann...

    Then there are results. ¿What about of an underexposed 8x10 Velvia slide over 5000cd/m2? Or a BW slide... What about a contact copy that took 3 weeks with SCIM, SCR... This can be compared to adjusting a DSLR image with PS during 3 weeks... yes... in some cases...

    I feel that film/LF also offers a unique way of expression, one can go to it or not, it's not only about how many pixels.

    Of course, making art or good photography do not depends of it is film or digital... !!!!


    Regards

  4. #84

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    Re: Wondering why I still shoot film

    I think the key question in today's world is whether your interest is in the images or in the process. You can pretty much get to any image with digital that you can do with LF, and some that you cannot. (Probably 8x10 portraits with old lenses have the most unique LF look, which would be hard to duplicate.)

    If you have the time and the room, I can see a real attraction in a purely analog process, especially if you have to spend your working life on a computer. (Or if you try to not use computers at all.) You can also generate a print that is a unique object, especially with alt processes. For someone interested in selling fine art, handmade objects have a special status.

    I do not have the time to do an all analog workflow at this point in my life. I scan and work digitally once I have processed my film. Once you are in the digital realm, with all of its costs and learning curve, it probably undermines the attraction of film. You lose the break from modern life, except for the time shooting.

    Maybe I should grab a 4x5 enlarger before they are gone and put it away toward retirement.:-)

  5. #85

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    Re: Wondering why I still shoot film

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Richards View Post

    Maybe I should grab a 4x5 enlarger before they are gone and put it away toward retirement.:-)

    There is a nice direct option I like: Graflarger !!

    Now I'm hacking a RGB light bulb to get variable contrast, I use a Norma as the (difussion) enlarger. Camera lenses work nice for that !

  6. #86

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    Re: Wondering why I still shoot film

    ( Ugh, I wish this thread had ZERO Resolution discussion. )

    The OP's Query regarding why shoot film has the potential for many interesting insights (outside of the oft debated resolution question).

    As mentioned in some of the posts quoted Below - Make images the way that is most enjoyable for you.

    Film -
    I personally Got into LF because I wanted to contact print images and wanted bigger images than 35mm allowed. Right now I wonder if I should be settling for medium format negs. Results with 4x5 have been nice, but the photographing part has not been my favorite.
    I am enchanted by the thought of movements, I think people use them to very great effect. But I don't particularly enjoy using movements myself.
    Glass! I love looking through an SLR and looking at the world, exploring details. (Digital and quality glass is too expensive)
    Chromes, I don't personally know about longevity, but talk about beautiful rendition, quality, vibrance, detail, softness - Yum!
    For making prints, I prefer crafting by hand. Digital editing and computer interface is not my thing. Fiddling with printers feels like annoying maintenance, not craft or interesting/fun.
    Digital -
    I like to see the world and make images, digital allows me to have that at my fingertips. There are great cell phones for quickly documenting!
    compactness - I like my Point and shoot for also documenting, but for creating print quality work it is laking.

    For sharing my experience, I feel I can get good results with digital that don't require much manipulation and can quickly be shared digitally.
    For sharing my insight I find I prefer crafting prints and using my hands more. For that I like to start with film and making images from there, taking notes and changing variables. Pulling sliders and pushing a mouse around sending files to an inkjet doesn't satisfy. When I hold a print I like knowing the path I took and feeling the quality paper - flaws and all.



    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    ...
    Anyway LF photography is not about resolution power, ...

    LF has other capabilities related to movements, format size and film, this delivers a unique look. One may value it or not...

    And then there is the analog crafting joy... also we can value it or not.
    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    ...
    LF resolution is great. Digital can still easily beat it, but who cares? Pretty much no one in this thread is specifically holding up LF as their tool of choice due to resolution requirements. Not to mention typical working apertures of f/22-64 automatically equalize things quite a bit.
    Quote Originally Posted by John W. Browning View Post
    Oddly enough I have just had a resurgence in the use of film. All of those coveted medium and large format cameras that were out of reach before the advent of digital are now finding their way into my possession onto my tripod and being put to use in my business. Film still has something about it. I love shooting E-6 stuff and displaying it on wall mounted light tables. I do wet plate portraits and clients love them. The old has put the fire back in my passion for my work. I do shoot mostly digital for a living but I truly believe that film will no more totally disappear than oil paints will.
    But if you have lost interest in film you probably should abandon it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Core to this issue, image quality is subjective and dependent on the individual viewer's idealized vision of what the "best" image must be. ...
    It is most if not all relative to an individual's point of reference and personalized preferences folks... No matter what the numbers, data, theory and all that techno stuff is. ...
    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    ... You are right, technical need to shot LF film is not there in most of cases if resolution is the concern. Image stitching is very powerful, and movements can also be used with digital, for example by using a P3 with a digital back, this is a very common setup with product photography...
    ...
    I'm making the way back... as an amateur. I found that film photography is a big vault of imaging culture of inmense importance, the materials and crafting evolved to deliver unique results, and unique interpretation of reality (if that exists...)
    ...
    I feel that film/LF also offers a unique way of expression, one can go to it or not, it's not only about how many pixels.
    ... Of course, making art or good photography do not depends of it is film or digital... !!!! ...
    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Richards View Post
    I think the key question in today's world is whether your interest is in the images or in the process. ...
    If you have the time and the room, I can see a real attraction in a purely analog process, especially if you have to spend your working life on a computer. (Or if you try to not use computers at all.) You can also generate a print that is a unique object, especially with alt processes. For someone interested in selling fine art, handmade objects have a special status.
    ~nicholas
    lifeofstawa
    stawastawa at gmail

  7. #87
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Wondering why I still shoot film

    Hi Pere... It was my own nephew who stitched a lot of those moon shots, at least of the back side, up at LBL when he was a student at UCB. The workstation had
    a screen that must have been six feet wide, and obviously back when such things were still extremely expensive. But he was also along on a number of my more strenuous backpacking into the mountains with large format gear. I wouldn't have it any other way, even if lightweight high-resolution DLSR's existed back then. It's not the same kind of experience. Probably why some of my recent hiking companions have ditched their DLSR's and turned to at least MF film cameras. There's a lot to be said for being forced to slow down and look at things more intently. Perhaps someone could install a timer in a DLSR that allows only one shot a day; that might help.

  8. #88

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    Re: Wondering why I still shoot film

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Perhaps someone could install a timer in a DLSR that allows only one shot a day; that might help.
    Yes ! this can improve the photography the skills of many !!!

    Since I've started learning LF I discovered that if thing can be done with a single shot it is better done !

  9. #89

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    Re: Wondering why I still shoot film

    Analog camera equipment and analog processes appeal to us I think because there is something distinctly human about them, something with which we connect at a primitive level. That 8x10 studio camera that sees and functions just like my eye, the ground glass as optic nerve, and me as the brain- there is something pure and comprehensible and clean about this setup. I can explain it to a child.

    How does a digital camera really work? Well, I don't know, nor do I care because I doubt that the knowledge would feel important nor beautiful.

    The human race was so ecstatic to finally be able to capture light and permanently put it on an object back in '39. A print is an object that exists in three-dimensional space. We have mostly lost this image-object that consists of captured light on film and paper. Now we have electronic images on screens that solely exist as light. When the screen is off, the image is lost. Images are once again ephemeral. We asked for and received the possibility of an infinite set of images, but the price was that the new images would be ineffable. We have them all, but we also HAVE nothing because the images only appear and only exist for the time that the light pours forth from our screens, whereas an emulsion holds its image indefinitely, even in the dark.

    Yes, we can print digital images, but there is another problem with digital imagery that isn't resolved by printing. The lure of digital is the promise of perfection: perfect resolution, no aberrations, no dust, nor scratches, nor flare, nor distortions of any kind. That for me is the path to anxiety-ridden madness. The results, we say, feel sterile. Why? Because we are human beings: physical, complex, and imperfect.

    I am reminded here of spotting prints. I turn on a bright lamp and post it just above a print and I lean in really close (these are 8x10 contact prints) and AACK! all of the imperfections jump out at me, raising my pulse. There are little specks of dust or tiny scratches or maybe Newton rings or God-knows-what going on when I look that closely. I spot and spot, then looking that closely under that bright light I can still see my handiwork, I'm probably just making things worse. But the magic happens when I carry the print into the natural light of the living room and look at it at arms-length under the cloudy bright light of the day: it is beautiful, it is perfect, but perfect in a very human, imperfect way. I can't see any of the imperfections when I just look at a natural distance under natural light, but they are there, and the imperfections of the image-object inform the way it makes me feel. If it were truly perfect, it would be alien.

    It is a print for a woman named Maria. I give it to her, and she hangs it on the wall and sees it there.

  10. #90
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    Re: Wondering why I still shoot film

    I like the music analogy.

    Listen to baroque music played with period instruments, and with modern instruments. For example:

    - lute vs. guitar
    - baroque vs. modern violin
    - harpsichord vs. piano

    Setting aside that scoring for modern instruments can be different than period instruments, the sound and feel of the music is completely different. I prefer baroque music played on period instruments. Examples include pieces by Vivaldi and Bach.

    In a similar way, I like film for the look and feel it gives me. Modern equipment has different characteristics that I choose not to employ, for no other reason than I prefer film for its aesthetics.

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