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You say you want resolution? The whole world is watching these digicams.


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Old September 21st, 2007, 06:53 AM   #1
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75% of US pros still using film

According to a Kodak survey:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...f104852D35.DTL
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Old September 21st, 2007, 09:13 AM   #2
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Interesting article. I concur with the notion of the 'cut and paste' look. I've been trying to figure it out for a while, and I really do think its on an 'organic' level.

Even though the article is talking about still photos, I think the primary element that sets digital apart from film in still shots, is the same thing that sets it apart in motion pictures... the 'organic' nature of grain.

While the size of the grain in the emulsion determines the speed of the film, and the size is relatively uniform throughout a given film emulsion, the actual locations of those bits of grain are random. When we watch a motion picture film, we 'see' those bits moving and dancing around, albeit on an almost sub-concious level. Contrast that to the pixels that are fixed in their locations on a ccd, and you get that 'ultra clean, ultra sharp' look of 'video' in motion pictures. The same thing happens in still photography. In still pictures, I think that it makes the 'edges' of objects "Ultra sharp" "ultra hard"... that it makes things look 'cut and pasted' into the frame. Many people LOVE this aspect... it's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just that the eye, or maybe it's the brain - can 'sense' that the defining line between objects doesn't look 'natural'... in the sense that the edges aren't somehow softer like they would be with film grain defining them.

At least thats my take on it.

I love my digital still camera, I shoot tons of pictures that I wouldn't 'waste' a shot with on film, I love how cheap it is to come home from a trip with a thousand photos... that become a carivore of time wading through.

But when I pull out an old negative and scan it into my computer, I am always amazed at how 'different' the image looks up on the computer screen, compared to a shot from my digital SLR.

I tried to describe the difference to my 'film is dead' friend once. "It's like this... Imagine you had to create a mural on a wall... using tiny square tiles, or billions of specs of sand... at a distance, the eye probably wouldn't see much of a difference... but at a certain level... it definitely would"
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Old September 21st, 2007, 01:26 PM   #3
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Quite unrelated to movies for several reasons:
1. Resolution-- DV can't yet get to the resolution needed for stills. Obviously. But it can do a pretty good job matching motion picture film.
2. Cost-- it's one thing to pay for film for stills. It's another to pay for a movie. Much more!
3. 75% refers to still photographers-- for the above reasons, it's not safe to assume that it's related, at all.
4. That's from Kodak. I'm not going to go as far as saying it's not reported accurately, but I'm sure they were careful to design a study that would be in their favor.
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Old September 21st, 2007, 03:03 PM   #4
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It is an article specifically about still photographers who make their living with their cameras. It doesn't claim to be anything else. As to what it is 'safe to assume' -

In terms of the Motion Picture Industry... the vast majority of Major Motion Pictures are STILL being shot on film. I'd guess it is still over Ninety percent. That's why its such a big deal when a production goes 'all digital'. (As opposed to the use of a DI at some point, a common practice nowadays.)

Now, when it comes to 'independent' filmmakers, news gathering,documentarians, industrial and event 'cameramen'... then yes, certainly Digital Video makes up more than Ninety percent of the market. These are the people who cannot afford the expensive shooting ratio that film would require.
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Old September 21st, 2007, 06:43 PM   #5
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I agree with most of your reasons, but I offer a different take . The frame rate of film is lower, and the grain noise animation allows us to perceive a greater rate of motion than is actually in the film. Very clean film would probably not be as interesting. As for the cut-n-paste look of digital, I'll point to overuse of sharpening, especially the unsharpmask. There is too much detail in digital pictures, and digital prints
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Old September 28th, 2007, 08:52 PM   #6
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To be completely honest, there are a VAST number of still photogs who stick to film for no reason better than comfort. Having lived with and around a number of working still photos, I've heard every reason on the planet why film is better... but the honest truth is that each reason given could be easily countered. Believe it or not, there are also a great number of high-fee ad photogs who still shoot film because they haven't a clue how to light, and rely on the dynamic range to save them. I've seen it first hand - bragging about how they light by eye, while the assistants run around furiously trying to save the photog's face. Also, on digital jobs, the capture station is assumed. The client sits at a 24" monitor and watches raw photos coming off the chip as quickly as they're fired. Film gives the photographer time to edit, and tone photos BEFORE showing the client. If you're being paid $15,000-$30,000 for a day job, do you want a monkey on your back?

And don't think that lighting by eye is unique to stills - American Cinematographer had a great article at one point about exposure meters (and how the majority of guys who brag about "lighting by eye" are usually from 2-6 stops off). For the time being, film still offers more exposure latitude which can certainly help if you're stabbing in the dark with your ratios.

There are certainly valid reasons why people choose film over digital capture in the still world (where the quality and price gaps aren't as large as in motion)... I'll just say that of the 30+ working photogs I've talked to in depth about this very topic, 30+ of them had their facts incorrect. And 30+ of them have since switched to digital full time (even for personal work).
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Old September 28th, 2007, 09:20 PM   #7
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Some even say that digital photography has the advantage now in terms of latitude too: for example see http://www.dlwaldron.com/digitalcameras.html.
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Old September 29th, 2007, 04:08 PM   #8
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Wow, there are some rediculous quotes in that survey:

Quote:
"Film by its very physical nature is layers of grains of different colors," he said. "It's hard to describe, but it does actually have a micro three-dimensionality that you can see in that weird way."
I guess he thinks the Foveon sensor is 3-D too.

Quote:
By contrast, he said, "digital pictures look very flat, and even the prints. ... Digital looks literally cut-and-pasted.
Preposterous. Digital only looks cut-and-pasted when it's been oversharpened or filtered.
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Old September 30th, 2007, 07:51 AM   #9
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The sooner Kodak accept that film isn't where their future lies and start throwing their R&D funds into building the world's best digital sensors (so good that all the digital camera companies want to licence Kodak sensors) the better I reckon.
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Old October 14th, 2007, 09:36 AM   #10
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I think the key to this is that they sent the survey to 40,000 photographers and only 9,000 of them responded. Of that 9,000, 75% still favor film. One could project that had the other 31,000 responded that this pattern would have held true, but perhaps most of those that replied were those who felt threatened by digital and wanted to strike a blow back so as to speak.

I know I am not a professional and I only know one true professional wildlife photographer. He is a digital convert. Of all of the people I know who have actually tried digital, and some of these are extremely talented and critical individuals, none, I repeat None! have expressed any desire whatsoever to go back to film.

A lady outdooor writer once lamented the modern technology and gave as an example a superb photograph of a hawk taken by her husband with a Nikon DSLR. She said this picture only consisted of digital pixels and lacked the realness of a film image. I guess she didn't realize that the film image was not real either, but just a bunch of silver-halide particles.

She also said digital images were viewed on computer monitors and were not real like a good print--that you couldn't hold them in your hand. I guess she never heard of printing a digital file.

I think the real problem is that the relatively low cost of shooting digital has enabled a lot of people to shoot enough images that they are able to perfect their skills. Some of the "professional" class may view this as a threat.
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Old October 14th, 2007, 01:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willard Hill View Post
One could project that had the other 31,000 responded that this pattern would have held true, but perhaps most of those that replied were those who felt threatened by digital and wanted to strike a blow back so as to speak.
That's possible, but the sample size was adequate from a statistical perspective. What would be helpful here would be to see the actual wording of the questions and whether the 9000 respondents really prefer film or just have a lingering attachment to it - and how do their customers feel? What really matters here is that Kodak is getting wiped out by a global shift to digital photography, so what's the point of a survey saying that people are still fond of film?
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Old October 14th, 2007, 06:41 PM   #12
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That's definitely true
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Old October 14th, 2007, 08:58 PM   #13
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Of course, Kodak is the world's largest supplier of film. Does this mean that's all they do? C'mon, they are not oblivious to the world. Kodak has focused in recent years on three primary markets: digital photography, health imaging, and printing.

And in 2007:
Quote:
On June 14, Kodak announced a technology advance for CCD and CMOS image sensors. The new sensor technology provides a 2× to 4× increase in sensitivity to light (from one to two stops) compared to current sensor designs. This design is a departure from the classic "Bayer filter" by adding panchromatic, or “clear” pixels to the RGB elements on the sensor array. Since these pixels are sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light, they collect a significantly higher proportion of the light striking the sensor. In combination with advanced Kodak software algorithms optimized for these new patterns, photographers benefit from an increase in photographic speed (improving performance in low light), faster shutter speeds (reducing motion blur for moving subjects), and smaller pixels (higher resolutions in a given optical format) while retaining performance. The technology is credited to Kodak scientists John Compton and John Hamilton[16]. Initially targeted for consumer markets such as digital still cameras and camera phones, the technology is expected to be available in early 2008.
They are not exactly swimming against the tide to digital photography, they very much plan to be a part of it, heck, they invented some of the digital photographic technologies in use today.

But if some people still like film, I'm sure Kodak will be happy to still make it for them.
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Old October 15th, 2007, 12:03 AM   #14
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I did some research to get the price to shoot large format film. 4x5" film cost min (outdated film from bhphoto) US$1.5 per slide

8x10" film cost US$8 per slide

Film Processing 4x5" cost NZ$8.35 8x10" cost NZ$19.30

To do a drum scanning of the slide film scan file size 350 +mb cost NZ$200.00

I don't think that I will shoot 1200 photos in one session using large format film. Even I can afford the price, I can not carry the weight of the 1200 slide film.

From what I guess, till now I shot around 100,000 photos in four years which might be someone lifetime takes to get these shots in old days. ;-)

100,000 photos might cost one million dollars in 8x10" format
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Old October 15th, 2007, 03:33 AM   #15
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Just my personal observation: A few years back the majority of all pictures in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition were shot on film. Things changed about 2 to 3 years ago. In last years contest the majority, about 2/3, was digital. I guess that this year 75% or 80% will be digital. So at least most wildlife photographers seem to have converted to digital.

For my wife and me there is no way back to film. We sold all our analog gear two years ago. It is very comforting to know, that the exposure is correct and that the camera is working properly when you spent a hell of a lot of money for a trip to the African bush shooting wildlife. In the olden days you easily ended up with a bunch of under-/overexposed slides because you didn't know, that the exposure meter of your camera was nuts.

If you are working for picture agencies, as my wife and I do, there is another aspect: many agencies accept only digital files these days. So you can as well use a digital camera in the first place.
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