Category Archives: Photography

My thoughts on a variety of photo taking.

Pigments vs Pixels – Film vs Digital Photography #3

Photographic film uses pigmented particles to display color.  Electronic display screens use electronic means to display color with density rated in pixels.  The results are similar but not the same.  Back 40 years ago the photographer in the family bought Kodachrome 64 and shot slides.  When developed they were displayed by projecting the images on a screen.  Kodachrome 64 was capable of very saturated colors with deep reds.  It had very fine detail rendition.  To get this result took decades of development.  In my opinion, today for the best display of brilliant colors looking at slides on a light table or projecting them on a screen is still the best result.

botanical gardens bldg

The above picture was taken with a Motorola Droid Maxx phone camera.  This picture was taken in January and basically this is what came out of the camera.

Even before I started buying digital cameras about 15 years ago I still considered it a chore to get out the slide projector and show the latest batch of them.  Today nearly no one will do this.  So is it worth it to shoot film when you are only going to see the results on a flat screen?  Yes.  When you capture that image with either negative film or slide film you always have the original film.  You can have prints made from the film.  You can rescan the film as that process improves.  If you take a digital picture you only have the digital file.

Frazier on walk

This is our dog Frazier shot with an Olympus Stylus Infinity using Fuji Supurbia (cheap print film).  I had it developed by The Darkroom and they sent me the results scanned and negatives.  The original scan was about 4 megs and I slightly upped the color saturation using iPhoto

This sounds very complicated but simply put, if you have some red roses in your back yard you want a good picture of you may not be able to get the red you want if you do not have a camera and display screen capable of capturing and displaying the red tones you want.  On the other hand a camera loaded with Fuji Velvia or Kodak Ektar 100 will give you the colors you want easily.  And if your display cannot reproduce the colors you want today if you take film and get a better display later you will be able to see the picture you wanted to capture.

But for most people modern digital cameras take very good pictures easily.

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The picture above was using a Nikon DSLR.  It was taken at mid day and the reds on the Jeep are relatively true and vivid.  

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But nowhere near as nice as this reddish rose taken with my Olympus DSL and Velvia 50.  Admittedly part of the appeal of the rose picture is the subtle bokeh.  

As I said in post #1 on photography I have both types of cameras and intend to use both.  If photography is fun for you I suggest the same.

 

Film vs Digital Photography #2

After spending a couple of years taking similar pictures with both film and digital my opinion is that both have a use.  You can use one or the other or both as I intend to do.  Why, because it is fun to do so. Is one better than the other?  No, not really, they are different and give different results.  Similar results, but not the same.  And the use of a film or digital camera, each has positive and negative.

Here are a few comments on plusses and minuses of both.

Lake in Mt Laguna meadows

The above picture was taken with my cell phone.  The original is about a 4 meg f2.4 shot taken about 11am in the local mountains.

  1. Most simple film cameras take a picture as soon as you press the button.  Most simple digital cameras do not.  So if you are trying to get a great shot of your kids or grandkids, most of the time a simple film camera even a disposable one will work better.  I have been able to get great pictures with my cell phones and compact digitals over the years, but getting kids pictures to turn out great is hard because they are always moving.
  2. A big benefit of digital cameras is that you can see the picture you are going to get before you take it.  Using live view  you can adjust the scene till you get the shot you want.  This is very easy with a modern cell phone.  And also fairly easy on a DSLR.  A big problem though is seeing the screen clearly in full sunlight.  It works wonders at dusk.
  3. Many inexpensive film cameras that sell used cheaply are beautifully made with metal cases and lenses.  My Olympus OM2n from 1980 can be bought today on ebay for next to nothing and is a thing of beauty.  The quality that it was built with is first class.  I would guess you could buy a very good OM2n today with an 50mm f1.8 lens for $100 or less.  The least expensive digital camera that looks and feels almost as good is the Olympus OMD or the Fuji DSLR.  The OMD will set you back $800 and the Fuji $1,400.
  4. Digital cameras provide instant results.

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This picture is also from my cell phone and I just love the colors.  This is almost untouched in post processing.  I just moved my cell phone around till I got the lighting and shot I wanted.

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I did the same here but with my Nikon DSLR on live view.  I just moved the camera around till I got the lighting I liked.  For these two shots digital works better.

Hailey fathers day 2012

When you shoot film many times there are happy surprises when you get the roll developed.  The original of this picture on a good screen is a great picture.  Very wide dynamic range, crisp details, beautiful colors.  This was shot with inexpensive Fuji snapshot film and my 1953 Voightlander Prominent with a 100mm f4.5 lens.  But I want to emphasize that you need a good screen to see the beauty of this shot.  On my Apple retina screen you see all the detail and colors.  On my larger Samsung monitor the strands of blond hair are not bright and clear and the colors are dull.  Plus Hailey’s skin tones a far better on the Apple screen.

 

Photography Film vs Digital #1

I have loved taking pictures for a long time.  I think I inherited the habit of recording family events and places we have been from my father.  Adding an “art” quality to my pictures is something I am now trying to do but still in the learning stages.

But this post is about film vs digital.  Film was dead and now it seems to be making a comeback with amateur picture takers.  My guess is that professional photographers in many cases never stopped using film.  I was an early adopter of digital cameras.  Back in the late 1990’s I bought several Sony digitals and used them mostly for work.  I have been in the printing and publishing machine business and we use a lot of digital pictures in emails and our web site.  About 3 years ago I was having trouble getting my compact Sony to snap a shot quick enough to catch action.  Usually my running dog and active grandchild.

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I started to research getting a DSLR (digital single lens reflex).  To say that you can get overwhelmed by the choices is an understatement.  After months of research I had bought nothing.  But I did start to test out my old film cameras again to see how they compared to digital.  All this was a huge learning process.  I had only used digital for years and so I had to relearn using film.

Film lesson number 1 – different films give remarkably different results.  So first off you need to use a film that will work well with your subject.  Basically, people shots and scenery shots require different film.  If you try to hit a happy medium in my opinion your results will be less than optimum.

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The top photo is with a Nikon 3200 DSLR set to scenery shots.  I shot this picture mid day.  In my opinion the ability of the Nikon to get good scenery shots like this in mid day sun is a very desirable feature.  The second shot is with a 1980 Olympus OM2n and a 50mm f1.8 lens.  The film in this case was Fuji Velvia 50.  The shot came out with good color rendition and very good detail.  I had this film developed and scanned by The Darkroom in San Clemente CA.

So my point for my comments here is that film is far from dead and that the type of film you use is important.  Key being that people picture films and scenery films tend to be different.