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Anyone still using film?

406 Views 28 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  mbodell
There's been some good discussion about DSLRs on this forum but I was wondering whether people on here are still using film. My brother recently gave me his EOS 350D, which I've been using with a Canon 50mm F1.8. Maybe I just don't get digital SLR photography but I haven't been too happy with the results. A little too soft for my liking (see an example below). Could be the lens - I heard that the 50mm Canon is a bit hit or miss (what do you expect for $100?)

Anyways, I dusted off an old Canon A1 kit which I've had in my cupboard but never really used. I have the standard Canon 50mm F1.8 FD lens, a 70-210 f4 and a 35mm f2.8. Also using the Motordrive MA and have a Canon 199A Speedlite, but haven't taken any indoor shots yet. I love the feel of the camera. My dad has one and as a kid I used to sneak it out of his cupboard when he was out of the house so I could play with it. Thank god I didn't break it! :) I took the A1 out yesterday and took some shots in a local park, without the Motordrive and with just the 50mm + a Hoya Skylight 1B. Gotta, say - great camera for photojournalism. Unobtrusive, lets you blend into the background.

Since I have a decent set of FD lenses, I'm tempted to pick up a used T90 body. B&H has one for about $180, in 8+ condition. Still have a long way to go towards refamiliarizing myself with film, but I'm thinking about using the A1 for black and white (am currently using some Ilford Delta 100) and using the T90 for color. Thoughts? I don't really care about the 1/4000 shutter speed, though having something faster than the 1/1000 on the A1 would be nice. Am taken with the idea of the 1/250 flash sync, though, and I've heard good things about the multi-spot metering, but would love to hear how anyone else found it.

Also, any comments on film choices would be great. I've always used Kodak Gold 100 / 200 in the past, with mixed results.

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Hmm, I shoot medium format and large format film for my personal work.
I shoot medium format/large format digital and digi-slr almost every day when on set for clients.

I think your comment about digital being soft is just the very simple need for capture sharpening. It's just a necessity with digital files.

It's also a necessity with film when scanning...

Although it's inevitable that digital is taking over film (simply for the convenience and quick turn around time) in the commercial photo world, it's not to say that I feel film is dead by any means.

Commercially speaking, maybe traditional printing is about done with though (and despite it's beauty, why shouldn't it be... with C prints that shift color within 5 years unless stored in a fridge.. requiring the need to reprint by hand) why not embrace the ability to actually SAVE and image and just reprint it down the road.

The biggest thing about photography when it first hit the world way back when was this is was the first medium to actually provide the ability to actually reproduce a scene. But of course, every print would be slightly difference since done by hand. Now, reproduction is finally an easily consistent process.

Granted, film production has been cut back drastically, but what remains on the market is the commercially viable stuff, designed for the digital word.

Somebody mentioned Fuji 160C. A redesigned emulsion from the previous generation, the whole Fujicolor line has been recreated for optimal scanning (although, personally I shoot the 160S instead, since I can always add that extra contrast in photoshop later, but can't really take the contrast away)

But although 160S has been my film of choice for a number of years now... I've begun to turn more towards the brand new Kodak Ektar 100. Little more saturated, little less grain. Very nice.

I'd give that a shot if I were you... if they make it in 35mm that is.

Anyway.... I know I just rambled out a bunch of shit.

Don't know how helpful any of it is. I know you're looking for a lot of info on what camera to use...etc, and honestly I don't care much to get into that kinda discussion, I'm just tired of that personally.

But if you got specific questions... I'm more than glad to get involved in the discussion with something thats hopefully comprehensible.
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I think digital's criticism of being too soft is more a result of how easy it is to scrutinize a digital photo - you open the file and are instantly viewing it at 1:1 resolution, which is probably far closer than people typically view film prints. A fair comparison would be to have a digital print made and compare print to print, or to have a negative scanned and compare pixel to pixel.

Digital's biggest failing is low light, and I still have an Olympus OM-1 for long exposure stuff through my telescope, but I'm all-digital otherwise.

Here's a few of my digital photos, and sharpness isn't an issue.
I would agree with this. Considering viewing an image in Photoshop at 66% is the equivalent of looking at the print through a 2X loupe, it's great for retouching skin or other fine details... but to actually judge a potential print... it's senseless.

And that's the other thing, when judging sharpness, it's all about the final destination.

Sharpening for screen is completely different than sharpening for a print. When printing, what you see on screen is never what actually translates on paper. Generally, a properly sharpened print will look way to sharp on screen. When sharpening for screen, it gets significantly more easy to judge, but then again.... even screen to screen it varies since the ppi of each screen is different as well.
It may be that the little point and shoot cameras are just running an internal sharpening filter on the photos automatically, as they tend to be aimed at the general public who just wants a good pic with little to no effort.
Well, yes, the majority of P&S's out there only shoot JPEG, with only a few shooting RAW.

Whenever you shoot a JPEG, be it a P&S or DSLR, the camera is then processing the file internally, using the sharpening (among other) settings that you set, in camera. These settings are then made a part of the file, and cannot be undone.

With DSLR's comes the ability to shoot RAW (and of course P&S's like the Canon G series, the Panasonic LX3, and a few others). When you shoot a RAW file, none of those in-camera settings are applied to the RAW image. There is no in-camera processing done. So, if you were to compare a JPEG vs. a RAW straight out of camera, the JPEG is always going to be sharper (and generally be more contrasty and saturated as well).

It isn't until you open the RAW file in it's processing software that you are then given the option to work with ALL of the data captured from the sensor, to tweak it to your liking. When you shoot that JPEG, the settings are applied in camera, and all that extra data is then thrown away.

So, if you're shootin RAW with your DSLR, and things are looking a little soft right from the start compared to a JPEG, chances are it's because you're not applying your capture sharpening.

Additionally, DSLR's (and perhaps P&S's, I'm not positive) all have a piece of glass that sits direcly over the sensor. This piece of glass is the IR filter, which prevents a particular spectrum of light (not visible to the human eye), from having an effect on the sensor (which is sensitive to that portion of the spectrum).

The addition of this glass filter also softens the data at capture, and when shooting a JPEG (processing done in-camera), the cameras software is written to account for this adjust accordingly. With RAW capture, this is not automatically accounted for.

Now, I'm not sure what file types you're creating at capture, or why you've chosen that particular type... but to compare the two to film, you might use this analogy:

Shooting a JPEG is like shooting E6 (Positive, slide film). When you're making your film selection, you're choosing what level of contrast and color saturation (and even sharpness, to some extent) before you even make the photograph. What you're left after the processing is that final image, a positive RGB image, ready to go.

Shooting RAW is like shooting C41 (color negative film).... sorta. The color saturation (well, the color palette really.. some films are warmer, some are cooler, some are balanced for tungsten light, etc), and tonal curve (read, how contrast in the scene is translated onto the emulsion) is chosen at time of film purchase, but the majority of the image (your vision) is translated to paper during the printing stage, where you have many controls over the appearance of the image. The thing is, with RAW, you don't really have the "choice of film" ahead of time. In other words, the contrast curve, color balance, and color palette are all something you tweak after capture.

Anyway... I hope that made sense.
Being a photographer, I have a way of expecting people to know what I'm talking about.... so again, if I can help explain anything.. just ask.
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Most 50mm lens will be sharp be design since they are a 1:1 ratio to 35 mm and they are the easiest to manufacture/design.
I'm not sure if saying a lens has a 1:1 ration to the film size is really a good way of phrasing things. Honestly, I'm not really even sure how to interpret that.

Every lens projects a CIRCLE of light on the film plane. Every 35mm (film size) lens projects a circle large enough to cover the surface of the film. A medium format (120mm film) camera lens projects a larger circle, and so forth.

ridinhome said:
Pardon my ignorance but is that still the case with a non-full frame DSLR? The 350D has a crop factor of 1.6x, I think so would that impact the sharpness of a 50mm?
This image that is the circle of light, which is vertically flipped from what's seen by our eye, is generally sharpest in the center of the circle, and as light falls off on the edges, it gets softer.

With your 1.6x crop size sensor, which is smaller than a piece of 35mm film, the sensor is only seeing light projected onto it from a smaller portion of this image circle... that is, it's using less of the image circle, so it's actually eliminating the softer edges of the circle.

That's why if you were to take one of the new DX lenses (not sure what Canon calls them... but the ones designed specifically for the 1.6 crop sensors) and mount it onto a 35mm size imaging area, you would see vignetting, or light falling off on the edges. The image circle that these lenses project is sized smaller than that of 35mm film, and is unable to cover the full size.

ridinhome said:
Given the fact that you can pretty much achieve any effect in Photoshop these days, why would you use a filter with a digital camera? Or am I being simplistic?
Well... this is a potentially complicated question, if one were to take into considering balancing color temperatures of various light sources... but to keep it simple.

There are indeed still reasons to use a filter in front of the lens, and of course, situations where it's completely unnecessary.

Aside from the color balancing, there are two common filters which immediately come to mind, which would be impossible to truly reproduce in PS.

The first being a polarizing filter. Most people know this filter as the one you can rotate on the front of your lens (circular polarizing) to give you much deeper blue skies and saturated colors. Although that's reproducible in PS, the other thing this filter is capable of doing is remove glare from the surface of shiny objects (seeing yourself in a window, for example). This is something that could not be done in PS (easily, and accurately).

The other filter would be the ever common UV filter, or haze filter. Although it's possible to add more contrast after the fact, the effect is not quite the same as cutting down on the effects of UV light before it hits the sensor. It's just not the same thing.

Oh, and of course there's the protection a filter on the front of your lens provides. Nothing PS can do to prevent the front of your expensive lens from getting scratched or cracked.
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