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Is this F6 forum really this dead, or did I miss the secret back entrance? Anyway, I am a new F6 user and beginning SLR photographer who would love to happen upon a lively community that has a strong bent for this specific camera.
In this past year, I only shot a roll or two of medium format, and my Nikon F3 and arsenal of lenses has lain dormant for years. I will probably still shoot some 35mm film in my WideLuxe, but I doubt that I will ever use a standard 35mm camera again unless a project that demands it happens to find me. I certainly will never use the 35mm equipment for personal photography. Medium format still has a slight edge for some things, and it will probably stay in use for another couple of years.
Digital simply has reached the point where 35mm simply can no longer compete. I have a historic love of film, but find little incentive other than nostalgia to use it now.
Thanks for the comment about your film use or lack of. I too have been shooting Nikon bodies for some 20 years and am just now contemplating the switch to digital. I currently shoot with an f5 body, but the older I get (46) the more I get less enthused about lugging the f5 with three to four fast lenses slung over my shoulder. I see now that Nikon has released the long-awaited D200 and an 18-200 AF-VR which has been getting rave reviews as you know. My slow down of shooting with film also has to do with the lack of good commercial printers. Everyone is switching to the Fuji Frontier and the prints look flat. I suppose there will be a point where simple economics will "force" people to make the digital switch. Again, thanks for your insight and assuring me that I'm on the right track in making the digital switch. All the best, Jack.
Not with your enthusiasm. Do what you want to do and enjoy it. A person like yourself new to photography, still has plenty of opportunities to experience film. Just do it!
Living in a beautiful area as you do, you will find &le subjects. I enjoyed a morning there last summer at at the Luther Bubank Home. Perhaps if you visit, you will meet a Dr. there who is connected with the facility. He is an avid Contax shooter, and offers his photos of the plant life to the facility. Perhaps too, he can give you some tips on shooting flowers. If not he is a very interesting person to converse with.
Photography is not any different than any other endeavor, you only get what you put into it. Use your imagination!
I feel at the moment that there is no need to switch. I use digital as my 35mm substitute, but still retain my medium-format and panoramic equipment. While a 16MP to 24MP camera back is still extremely expensive, it is a breeze to take a 16MP to 24MP scan off a 6x7 negative for ultimate quality.
My shooting had pretty much wound down to the point that if there was no paycheque at the end of the shoot, there was no shoot. It was not about a lack of commercial printers, but rather about a lack of opportunity to print my own stuff. I have never been able to accept a commercial print as my own work.
The exposure is only a fraction of it. That captures the raw material for the photograph, but the real art happens in the darkroom. When I closed my last fume-room in the mid-1980s, the fire of personal photography was extinguished. When I did shoot, I would barely look at the prints that came from the commercial labs. They were the lab's interpretation of my vision and rarely did they even come close. The prints had a certain homogenized quality that makes my work lose its energy.
In the first half of the last century, every photo enthusiast had their own darkroom. If you were in a camera club, you would not think of showing a print you had not made yourself - it would have been considered cheating. When colour came into popularity in the 1970s, it was pretty much the end of the personal darkroom.
Processing was not by watching the print come up in the developer tray, but by time and temperature. You had to work in total darkness, temperatures had to be held to Â±Â¼Â° or Â½Â°, and timing precise to the second. You absolutely had to have an enlarger with a colour-head, and an electronic analyzer was pretty much required as well. A bit too costly and demanding for many enthusiasts and the one-hour labs began to grow - and my photography to diminish.
The digital darkroom and to a great extent, digital cameras were my epiphany and the renaissance of photography for me. Digital prints only look as good as the original image that is sent to the printer. It is the skill of the person who processes the image that is key. Learn to process for the printer. If it is a Frontier, get the colour profile for it and process with this in your system.
I repeat - the print only reflects your skills - not the printer. Printers are incredibly good now. Even the bottom of the line Epson inkjet photoprinter will equal the quality of the best enlarger and enlarging lens, given a properly processed image. It has no intelligence of its own, and will only print what it is given to print and does so with merciless accuracy. The intelligence must come from the photographer who shoots and processes the image.
From a hardware standpoint, the monitor is key. If the monitor is wrong, the print will be wrong. If the monitor is over-bright and red-biased, your prints will be dark and blue-green - about as ugly as it gets. You compensate for the bum monitor by adding what it lacks - that is embedded in the print file - and that is what prints.
In fume-room days, if I were working on a new print for the portfolio, I would expect to take one to two days to get a perfect print, dodging and burning and fine tuning colour and exposure. I would go through an expensive box of colour paper, and the chemistry to process it. Now with accurate monitors and fine inkjet printers, if I give a friend a snapshot, it is of quality equal to the best prints in my portfolio, and it will be the first print out of the printer. I know it is perfect, before I hit "Print". In every possible way, the digital darkroom beats the old fume-room. I have zero nostalgia to go back.
Above all, it has restored the reason I went into photography in the first place - it is such fun and such a rich experience. I maintain a fairly extensive web-site with essays, tutorials and portfolios. Zero commercial prints. I take full responsibility for every image on the site, from concept through exposure, interpretation in processing to the final presentation on the page. If in the end it does not work, it is no one's fault but my own. This is what photography is about.
The digital darkroom has liberated the shooter from the blandness of the commercial lab. It has repatriated full control to anyone wanting to enjoy photography to its greatest extent. There is no feeling of pleasure like sharing a photograph that you conceived, shot, interpreted and fine tuned, printed and presented to the viewer, knowing that you had absolute control at each of these steps. If you had not noticed, we just won the revolution!
Digital cameras have extended my vision in many ways that would be totally impractical with film cameras. I have long pondered the instantaneous nature of still photographs realizing that at best, your message is only about 1/30th of a second of history. What if you could extend this to encompass a period of time in a single print? This I have explored - and I feel successfully.
While shooting film, I was constantly running up against its limitations in high-contrast situations. Using Ansel's Zone System, I was able to place the most significant information on the ideal part of the film's curve, but had to lose highlight and shadow detail. Shooting Kodachrome was a humbling experience with its incredibly short curve. Digital cameras are much like shooting Kodachrome too, however, I have discovered a way to deal with any contrast range. I can shoot interiors in daylight and have good exposures both of the interior AND the exterior. While this technique could be used in film photography, one would need pin accurate camera backs, enlargers and a pin-register easel - plus incredible patience and fume-room skills with masking. See an illustrated tutorial at
When the dynamic range is a bit shorter - but still beyond normal - the same techniques can be applied to RAW format exposures. They are 12-bits per channel and with skill one can recover some amazing shadow detail, creating glowing, luminous images. I used this technique to great advantage in very difficult venues in Las Vegas, Nevada in the USA recently. I posted them on my web-site and there has been an amazing amount of feedback from others who tried to shoot in these venues and got less than ideal results. It even works for street shooting at night, where I could do colour balancing for each area of the image, even with a different light sources. In my daily photography, it has freed me to shoot in places I would not even consider using film.
For ultimate landscapes, medium format film still wins unless one first wins the lottery. With a digital camera and a good bit of skill and Photoshop, one can do a decent 360Â° panorama. Skill and hard work. With my WideLuxe 140Â° panoramic camera, I can do it in three shots and use the most simple of Photoshop layering to accomplish the same thing. Photoshop is all my darkroom dreams come true. It is a very happy place to work.
Why switch? Add digital for the great things it can do, and use film where it is the strongest. There are no laws of monogamy and polygamy in photography. Retain the best of both - keep some film equipment to cover where digital is still weak, and use digital to liberate you from the restrictions of film. Good in combination.
Yeah, carrying medium format-hardware makes your F5 seem like a lightweight - until you see a 13x19 print come rolling out of the inkjet photo-printer.
Hello all ! First of all I wish you all a "Happy New Year" with lots of good pictures. @Larry: I still use a lot of 35mm films with my F100 and the F5, and I still love making pictures in the old fashioned, analogue way. What bothers me is the fact, that there are no labs left, that print my pictures. Here (in Austria) they scan the negatives and make (digital) prints, sometimes of a very bad quality. This really makes me angry, but obviously there are no alternatives. But nevertheless, I only use my digi-camera for family snapshots and things where you look at the pictures only once. Best regards from Vienna Peter (earloffarnborough)
Film is fine, but get at least a baseline scanner such as the flatbed Epson 4990 so you can do your own digitizing and processing.. Learn Photoshop - the people being hired by the labs are under pressure to turn out prints. They do not have time to craft great prints and at the low rates of pay they receive, there is little incentive. As I mentioned in my earlier post, the lowest priced Epson photo printer is easily the equivalent of the best enlarger and enlarger lens.
We are in a brave new world now, and it is a choice of adapting or being left behind. I would have killed to have this advantage forty years ago when I was starting out.
You say there are no alternatives. You are trying to be blind. The alternatives are beyond the wildest fantasies of photographer of just a few years ago! If you are angry, direct the anger at yourself for becoming so dependent on third parties to take responsibilities for what you wish to think is your photography.
If you are underutilizing your digital camera, again that is your choice. You either have a marginal camera, or you have no idea how to use it. The solution for either is squarely on your shoulders. You can try to throw blame in any direction you choose, but it still comes back to you.
Photographers are once again in control. If you want to relinquish that control, you have no excuse - it is all on you. No one but you is responsible.
Film cameras are at the highest state of evolvement they will ever reach. Superb scanners are available to any enthusiast for little more than the price of a decent colour enlarger and a good enlarging lens. A bottom of the line photo printer will produce prints that would satisfy my most demanding client in the decades past. Computers are faster than ever, graphics cards are good beyond imagination, colour management packages will allow you to absolutely reproduce what you want to see in a print.
If you choose to remain stuck in time, unwilling to take responsibility for your own art, then you have nothing whatever to whine about. I and most contemporary photographers would revel in being able to live in Wien (Vienna). Your lack of alternatives only screams your lack of imagination and initiative.
This has liberated you. We have won the revolution. The solution is now ours. We no longer are slaves to the commercial labs. We can make our own art. Inexpensive scanners produce quality we could only dream of with the commerical labs. Cheap inkjet printers let us make perfect prints every time, that will last for centuries beyond silver/dye prints. Stop whining, and get with it man!!!!!
It has never been better for photographers or worse for pretenders. You now have complete control!!! The world is yours!!!
@Larry Thx for your reply. I am afraid you have convinced me to buy a good scanner and to learn photoshop. I am afraid you are right, there is no alternative. As for buying a good digital slr, I think I will wait for a full-format sensor by Nikon, so that I can use my very good Nikon lenses. Best regards and thx once again for your open words. Peter (earloffarnborough)
I strongly doubt that the legendary full frame Nikon sensor will ever materialize. Everything points to the DX sensor for as long as dSLRs are produced by Nikon. All new interchangable lenses are being designed for that format, and none of the film lenses are being modified to work with sensors. Kodak has dropped their full-frame and now only Canon produces one, unless your pockets allow medium format digital with even larger sensors, but still with the accursed cropping factor that cripples wide-angle lenses.
I am blessed with a camera dealer who is an up-and-coming pro photographer, and is keen, articulate and intelligent. She is under non-disclosure agreements, but I was able to extract the information that Nikon and everyone else will be shifting the tech advantage to the 21st century mirrorless design and away from the late 19th century SLRs. The SLR provides a distinct disadvantage, specially when coupled to affordable zoom lenses. The view on the monitor is much brighter than the view on the ground glass. They also have croppign factors from 1.3x to 1.6x, ruining the angle for which you bought your lenses - most profoundly in the wide angle range. A dSLR owner becomes a surgeon, developing the skills to delicately remove microscopic dust particles without wrecking the sensor.
Sony has shot the first volley of the revolution with their APS-sized R1 sensor - nearly identical in size to Nikon's DX sensor. Since there is no mirror, the lens is almost in contact with the sensor, allowing light to hit it at the optimum angle and avoiding the plague of retrofocus reverse telephoto designs that SLRs require with wide angle lenses.
Samsung fired the second volley with a flawed camera, but with a spectacular huge monitor. Look for big sensors with extremely low noise at high ISO ratings and large articulated monitors that practically let you see in the dark in the coming generations. We are now crossing the threshold into a whole new world.
My dealer confirmed that Nikon has two camera in the pipeline to replace the wide-angle and general purpose CP8400 and the telephoto varient of the same camera, the CP8800. We expect them to be announced at PMA in February, though she has held working prototypes. There is a slim chance that they will be announced at CES this week, but I am discounting that. If there are production glitches, there is also Photokina coming up this year. It is expected that pretty much everyone will be coming to market with a camera based on the 10.2MP CMOS APS-sized mirrorless Sony sensor this spring.
I am currently shooting with an 8MP Coolpix CP8400 and my photography content has never been better. At this point, I am serene, letting my arsenal of Nikon glass lie fallow. The mirrorless design has been an epiphany for me. It is as unaggressive as the Leica, and lets me get within the personal space of my subjects without intruding. The camera is nearly as large as my Nikon F with motor, but somehow becomes invisible. See
It takes me places I would not even contemplate with film. However with its tiny crowded sensor, it is best in decent light and low ISO settings. There is a whole lot to like. A superb 18mm->64mm component that rarely comes off the camera. A fine ED-glass lens that is crisp, contrasty and nearly devoid of chromatic abberation.
I also have left over from the past, a 139mm->170mm and 255mm component for the rare occasions when I need something beyond 85mm. In spite of the noise, I have been able to do images that I would not even contemplate with a film camera. See my recent shoot in Las Vegas, both in very low light and extremely high contrast venues. With the features built into the camera, my results were everything I had hoped for. The work-arounds were in no way onerous, but an APS sized sensor capable of high ISO speeds would have been very nice in spite of the added bulk.
The run of the mill shoot is also enhanced by these cameras. I can colour balance each area of an image shot under mixed lighting conditions, according to the light source. See the intimacy that the 18mm affords with people-photography also.
And I can combine a period of time into a single image showing a complete event that would otherwise require a movie. This could be done on film, but only if your time had little value and your skills were enormous.
Digital is not a replacement for film. Unless you have the business to support replacing $30,000US backs every other year for your Hasselflex, medium format photography on film still reigns supreme for huge product and landscape prints. Digital as you will see with the URLs above, is a whole new medium that opens up opportunities that a film photographer could not even dream of. It is the biggest single advance in the technology of photography since Fox Talbot made a positive/negative print back in 1936. Its impact upon the art of photography may be even greater.
For ultimate quality of large prints at an affordable cost, it still is medium and large format that reigns. For ultimate content and ultimate photographic pleasure, it is digital. I see no use for 35mm, except in specialised purposes, like with my WideLuxe that does panoramics much easier than any digital solution. Medium format cameras - though not extreme lenses - are selling for pennies on the dollar, since the majority of professional users must move to digital. Great bargains are to be had with a bit of shopping. The Nikon F3 and the Leica M3 have not left the shelf in half a decade. My medium format SLR equipment has been dormant for even longer.
The 21st century mirrorless digital camera is astoundingly capable and versatile, opening whole new genrés of image making. Nothing in four decades has impacted the quality of my content with such force - and the images are on my site as evidence.
It is somewhat sad - I have a great arsenal of glass for my Nikon F3, but none of it works with dSLRs. It will gather dust. I probably will relegate the CP8400 to backup status if Nikon - or one of the other camera makers - brings out a camera that is equal in all ways, but has an APS-sized sensor that lets me get ISO400 quality at ISO3200. The world turns, life goes one and one must accept the changes. But it has never been a better time for photographers.
I agree that it has never been a better time for photographers strictly based on the choices available to us. It's not an either/or question..film or digital. Both are worthy mediums offering unique creative possibilities. I began with digital and know quite well what a digi camera is capable of. But the more i learn about film the more i like it. So instead of upgrading my digital equipment yet again i bought a Leica M7 with 3 lenses. i scan my negs and edit with CS2. i know you are enjoying a photographic rebirth with your CoolPix, Larry, and that you have relegated most of your analogue equipment to the dinosaur heap but some digital enthusiasts will actually be incorporating the analogue format into their shooting for the sheer organic pleasure of the medium and the rich depth of the results. There is room for both formats and if readers here are interested in exploring film i encourage them to do so. My personal feeling is that if film is good and digital is good, knowing when and how to shoot with both is utterly fantastic!
The full frame Nikon is the Holy Grail of many Posters. But any time I want "wide angle" I just take two pictures and stitch them together in photoshop. There are tons of advantages to smaller sensors. 1. Best use of the old glass. 2. Light weight lenses designed to optimize the new digital sensors. 3. Future developments?? What if Nikon comes out with a 300-900MM light weight superzoom? Would you go back to lugging around the full frame telephotos? Nikon is developing upwards in mm with their new lenses. Maybe someday we will see this and then the big lenses will become collectors items. 4. Lighter cameras. 5. Faster write times 6. Any others? 7. Oh the best for birders-the croping of the lens that allows you to be effectively nearer the bird. 8. Price.
Nikon may well put out a full frame if they can when they can just because they can. But I expect them to continue to support the new size. Hasn't Canon boxed themselves into a corner by supporting R&D in two formats?
Also it is curious that the medium format digital Mamiya 645 is equipped with what would be a 35mm full frame sensor. Look at the cost of that one.
Very well said Kathleen! I shoot a D1X & Coolpix 5000 in digital format, but there is no way I would ever purposely pack up my film cameras and just not use them! There are applications that film supercedes digital hands down and other situations where digital would be the desired format in the work I do (mainly wildlife and nature). Larry can let his collect dust if he so wishes - but I can say that I never will. I sell as many images shot on film as I do the images shot digital - so really there is no trade off for me in the matter! I am under no time constraints with my work for the most part - so with that said I try to produce the best image possible (you will always find me in the sw&s and wetlands with my Lecia as well as my D1X). I love the art of photography and that includes the history of it. Convenience is a relative term - when I hear it said that digital is more convenient than analog I almost bust a gut laughing. It depends on what equipment you have and why you shot the image in the first place really! If you figure the learning curve for most photographers to really get a decent workflow in Photoshop VS darkroom techniques I would venture to say that the average person can learn the darkroom with a greater degree of ease as Photoshop! I have no formal art education beyond what I was required to take in gaining my Masters Degree in Engineering and am totally self taught. I have the utmost respect for education but I also think that many people miss some of the best shots due to some instructor telling them how technically incorrect the composition would be if you shot it. We each have our own paths and just because a person tells me they would sell all their analog equipment after shooting it for 10/20 years because digital is more convenient I don't have to have to buy into it and start placing classified ads to do the same! It would be like me telling someone that is comfortable with a Nikon 5500 that to do the work they are doing they need a D1X/D2X and $30,000 worth of lenses. I have seen award winning shots that were taken with a disposable point and shoot film camera you can pick up for $8 at the local Mom & Pop store! Keith
It came to mind reading Kathleen's message, that were I still primarily shooting film, the 35mm and medium format SLRs would still be languishing in the dinosaur heap. Pretty much everything I have been shooting for the past many years is highly unsuited to SLR cameras. Most would be done with either the Leica or one of the medium format rangefinder cameras.
I am now rarely taking a commercial or journalistic shoot. After hundreds of thousands of shots workin' for the Man, I have finally earned the luxury of being an enthusiast. While I will consider any project that sounds interesting, it is now my goal to pursue both personal photography and a wide variety of new-media projects. SLRs do a very poor job at what I am currently pursuing. If I ever once again undertook a major commercial project, they of course would be hauled out of retirement. At this point, my photography is far too subjective to use one.
On my last major travel shoot with film, I carried three medium-format cameras - a Brooks VeriWide 100 with a 47mm SuperAngulon over a 6x10cm format - equivalent to an 18mm lens on a 35mm camera, a Plaubel Makina 67, with an incredible 80mm f2.8 Nikkor over a 6x7cm format and a GraphicXL with a 180mm Zeiss Sonnar over a 6x9cm format. No SLR at all.
These three instruments were an ideal combination. The SuperAngulon can not be beaten for architecture and epic landscapes, and on a camera that was my workhorse for decades. It does not have a rangefinder, just a viewfinder. With the incredible depth of field a 47mm lens provides, a rangefinder is not needed. One focuses by guess and by gosh, and none of my shots has ever been out of focus.
The Plaubel Makina is wonderfully self-contained, though fairly large, and is nearly as unobtrusive as a Lecia for street photography. Most people find it easy to ignore. A perfect walkin' 'round camera. The Zeiss Sonnar saw little use, but was handy when I needed to compress perspective a bit. Three cameras and three lenses covered everything ideally.
In so many ways, the CP8400 parallels them. It is as unobtrusive and self-contained as the Plaubel Makina - an even better street camera than the Leica. It has the 18mm lens of the Brooks, and is used in much the same way, but also way beyond - the difference between an f-2.6 and an f-8.0. The 18mm capability was the main reason for its acquisition. One might say the camera is the essential accessory for the 18mm lens.
For low light, the Brooks absolutely had to be on tripod and it was rarely shot hand held even in great light. As well as architecture and landscapes, the 18mm is a stunning lens for environmental portraiture. One can get within the personal space of the subject for intense intimacy, but also link them to the environment where they flourish. Sadly I sold it, desparing ever being able to justify a scanner that could handle its images. Now I have such a scanner. Ah, well...
With the 18mm off, the CP8400 has a zoom range equivalent to 24mm->85mm - covering both the Plaubel and XL with the Zeiss Sonnar. There are two more lenses, equivalent to 140->170mm and 255mm but like the Sonnar, are rarely used. There has been no transition bumps whatever to digital, and the CP8400 is the third in the line. Each has been narrowing in on providing the platform from which my goals are best being achieved. Even though now rarely shooting for publication, I feel that my content, and my interpretation and presentation of it are at the best in my life.
The articulated monitor has been another epiphany that has translated to quality of content. It renders an already unobtrusive camera, nearly invisible. When doing close people photography, the camera is just out of the direct line of site and people ignore it. Nothing is as inhibiting as being stared at through a SLR and huge lens. Totally intimidating and a killer of spontaneity. In the field, it is like using a familiar view camera - except the image is upright and unreversed.
While a CP8400 has an assist for panoramic photography using stitching software, nothing can come close to the ease of a real panoramic camera. With the afore mentioned scanner, now my WideLuxe is completely viable again, and makes a 140Â° panorama with a single shot, and a 360Â° with three.
Yes, film still has a place. However it is just one of the tools in the tool kit. After hundreds of thousands of film exposures, the new discovery factor Kathleen is enjoying has long since faded, and it is just another day on the job. Great job though. The discovery factor is alive and well and living in my web pages through digital. An affordable, large sensor mirrorless digital that can match a scan from the the Plaubel or Linhof will probably mean that the film will stay in the fridge. I would say that other than the WideLuxe which might never retire, the other medium-format rangefinder cameras still may have a few years.