This just doesn't seem right, backing up digital photos to film at
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You say you want resolution? The whole world is watching these digicams.

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Old February 1st, 2004, 05:33 PM   #1
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This just doesn't seem right, backing up digital photos to film

I came by this article from some magazine called Arizona Highways. They give their explanation why they don't accept digital photograps for their magazine. His reasoning comes off as a bit strange to me but what really made me wonder was the last paragraph.

One last thought on the film vs. digital debate: If youíre planning to switch to a digital camera soon, donít give up on film just yet. Remember always to back up your digital photographs on film. Even if you have already made the move to digital, consider that todayís best cameras record digital files at a little more than 11 megapixels. But what if, in the near future, the standard moves up to 20 megapixels or higher? If you have backup on film, you can scan your images at a higher resolution. But will your old 11-megapixel files be convertible? We donít know for sure.
I can't quite tell if he's talking about some how putting your 11 megapixel digital stills on to film or something else?
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Old February 1st, 2004, 05:51 PM   #2
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You wouldn't be converting your 11megapixel stuff to 20 anyway. If you already have the files as he states why can't you print to film then, or scan at the higher rate? Sounds like a brilliant idiot to me.
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Old February 1st, 2004, 06:40 PM   #3
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That is what he says to do. Print it out to film and then if the standard changes you can scan the film at the higher resolution.
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Old February 1st, 2004, 06:53 PM   #4
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The problem with the authors logic is that an 11MP file would only have 11MP of data (pretty obvious). But printing an 11PM file then scanning at 20MP would still be only 11MP of data (no improvement). Film backup would be a waste of time and money. If your worried about formats becoming obsolete, then save your data to multiple formats. TIFF is pretty safe, as is JPEG and PSD. RAW formats from various camera manufactures are a little problematic.
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Old February 1st, 2004, 08:00 PM   #5
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I understand his argument but it's weak. I think he would say what if tiff isn't around in 10 years. You could always rescan film as blahblah. Just a bad argument.
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 06:36 AM   #6
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What if film scanners are obsolete in ten years, then he's screwed. The what-ifs could go on forever.
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 07:14 AM   #7
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The author of this paragraph is an ignoramus. This is a real publisher? I'm shocked. Anyone involved in photography should know that digital up-converting of 11 mp to 20 mp via photoshop is going to be much higher quality than transferring 11 mp to film and then scanning that film at 20 mp, if for no other reason than because an intermediary step in which noise is introduced is eliminated.

And yeah, TIFF and JPEG aren't going anywhere, and I suspect neither is PSD. As for RAW, if you keep track of the resolution and bitrate in the file name, raw data (as Photoshop defines it, i.e. nothing but pixels) will be usable forever.
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Old February 16th, 2004, 12:11 PM   #8
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Anyone who bashes the quality of digital photography isn't experienced enough to fully appreciate the potential of the medium. The reason for the resistance against digital images is probably because they've had submissions that were poorly shot or processed, and it was a nightmare to deal with. Having been in the digital prepress business almost since it started, I see a lot of this happen even with professional photographers. But, as always, good equipment in skilled hands can work wonders.

To suggest that there's a need to transfer digital image data to film for long-term storage is like saying you should take your money out of the bank and stuff it into your mattress. It's just not a good idea.

There will be some resolution loss and color shift when going to film, and further resolution loss and color distortion going from film back to digital, not to mention adding some grain. Furthermore, all color films shift hue and saturation over time so it's a poor long-term storage strategy. You'd be wiser to spend your money making extra copies and storing them in seperate locations under controlled conditions.

Digital loses nothing over time except for the fact that the storage medium may degrade and make the files unreadable. As for format, TIFF has been around for more than 10 years already.

And regarding enlarging the image, it would be better to up-res a digital image using a plug-in like Genuine Fractals but for magazine work you probably wouldn't have to enlarge the image much, if at all.

For a magazine cover you wouldn't need much more than an 25-megabyte file. Magazine line-screen resolution is 150 lines/inch. That means the file used to generate the color sep needs to be anywhere from 225 to 300 pixels/inch at 8.5x11 inches. Less than 25 megabytes.

An 11 megapixel image is 33 megabytes (3 bytes/pixel).

The publisher of the magazine needs to talk to his prepress expert before announcing his publishing requirements. He's taking about printing pictures at "300 dots per inch". No one prints in "dots per inch" unless they're talking about the image setter. For color seperations, the proper term is "lines per inch". If they're printing at 300 lpi, then it would require some huge files scanned at 450 to 600 pixels/inch. But he notes that they're scanning at 300 dpi (should be ppi). In which case they're probably using a 150-line screen which is common for magazine work.

Also, he seems to suggest a problem with converting RGB to CMYK, that there may not be enough color information for the conversion process. The CMYK color space is far smaller than any RGB color space. And the problem is always that of trying to reproduce RGB colors that don't exist in the CMYK scheme, not the other way around. He might be referring to the problem of some digital cameras not having enough shadow detail or brightness range compared to film, in which case he's right.

As for the quality of digital photography, check out Stephen Johnson's national parks project.

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Old February 16th, 2004, 12:25 PM   #9
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While the reasoning given by the article quoted in the original post is sophistic, it's not entirely irrational to desire to print each of the three chromatic channels of digital photographs to black and white film for archival purposes--although doing so assumes the computer systems of the far future will have no conversion utilities for reading and processing digital images generated today.
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Old February 16th, 2004, 12:29 PM   #10
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The organization I work for produces several high quality trade publications, along with many, many different types of printed collateral pieces. On occasion, there is a need to do a product shot or something, or even a full page ad.

While SLRs of any type provide you the control that you really need for a good print piece, when Depth of Field doesn't matter and when you simply need good color reproduction and good resolution, even a 3.2 megapixel consumer Canon camera will do. We've done it over and over, many times over.

But the shots were well staged, well lit, and professionally handled when being dropped into the printbooks.

Basically what I'm saying is that no normal publication is so high resolution that it will matter until you drop below the 3 Megapixel range. But that also depends on the quality of the camera. I've used a Fuji 4 MP digicam that paled in comparison to the Canon S30 3MP cam.

But again, an SLR is best. And with Digital SLRs dropping in price and giving you the same DOF control as film cameras, there's no reason at all to think you must shoot on film. In addition, fewer and fewer publications will accept professional photos that have not been touched up in some fashion, just to sweeten them a bit. Just recently a photographer friend of mine was saying that he lost a steady freelance gig once when he was being too much of a purist and didn't submit digitally sweetened shots. He never made that mistake again...
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Old February 22nd, 2004, 09:53 AM   #11
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The studio that I work for did some shots for a trade show booth that were almost 8 feet tall. The client didn't have the money to shoot 4x5 so we shot them on a Canon 1ds and enlarged them in Photoshop. The resulting files were 1.4 gigabytes. The quality may not have been on par with 4x5, but it was easily as good if not better than medium format film. While not only costing more, 4x5 would have been a major hassle since we were shooting portraits.

The art director emailed us and said that the client was thrilled with the shots.
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