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Digital v Film again

clive_kenyon

Well-Known Member
Hello,
Reference the postings by Michael Hahn on 7th May onwards of which I have just become aware, I feel the need to redress some of Michael's comments.

In particular Michael's inference of why I have not posted web pages to illustrate my point I find disappointing. The pages are available for viewing and have been for some time on on
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I have replied directly to Michael and provided prints to prove my claim that any $70 compact gives better photographs than any current digital camera. Certainly the photographs taken using my Olympus XA compact are far sharper and exhibit a much better tonal range than the digital prints provided by Michael's N -Digital in my opinion.

There are three reasons for this disparity in quality. The first is that a digital camera cannot yet match a film camera in pixels per inch on the film plane. They are getting closer, but not yet. The second is that the CCDs (with the possible exception of the Sigma chip) cannot record the same tonal range as film. The third and equally as important reason is that the current range of home printers cannot match the quality of a traditional 'wet' print. Even the professional labs that use digital printing lack the quality of the 'wet' print.

I am not a digiphobe, quite the contrary. I have a 3.2 Mb digital camera, 3200ppi scanner, Adobe PhotoShop and an inkjet printer. I welcome the day when digital is as good as film. BUT in my opinion that day has not come yet. I suspect that there are many people like Michael Hahn out there who feel the need to justify spending a shed load of money on a product that is inferior to its predecesors. If they are happy with the product then that is OK by me. But, please do not sway others into making the same mistake with false claims.

Those of you who have purchased N -Digitals - God Bless You. You are funding the research that pays for my future digital camera just as with early buyers of satallite TV, cell phones, etc.

Clive
 
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writing4me

Clive, I missed the beginning of this discussion. However, if anyone had taken the time to look through your own web site (as I did some time ago before I lost the link!) they'd know you are a fine shooter. I like your work, as I like many others on this list. (It's wonderful and humbling to be able to chat with others with such talent.) I have read your posts for a long time now, and find you to be lucid and honest in your assessments. I read the information at the link you just provided, and I really can't find any fault with any of what you're saying. If someone is throwing insults at you because of your viewpoint, I don't think they could be well founded in their attack. I like digital too, to some degree, but I also agree with your findings that it isn't quite where I want it to be yet. Not sure what value my opinion holds, but I thought I'd let you know someone else sees merit in your points. Best, Lynn
 

coyot

Well-Known Member
> Clive,

I have in hand some of your shots that you sent me ... and they are very nice shots. However; as an ex&le, I am looking at one of your shots (Shot 2 - Keith - Hunter with cap) printed on Cibachrome and taken with an Olympus XA comact, and while the shot is good, the quality is in my opinion "ok" and looks like a point and shoot shot. This shot is posted on your website, and while you rave about the skin and cloth detail, I take a naked eye view of the shot and see the cap pattern lacking detail, the face skin fuzzy, and the overall image simply soft. The only thing that saves the shot is the high gloss printing of the cybchrome.

I look at one of the shots I sent you of "Michael with Postcards", and see detail and tone exceeding your ex&le! The print you sent me is an 8 by 12 and my shot was printed as a 7 by 11. The difference in size, my be the simple reason why my print comes across as being so much sharper, and with much better tonality. However; when I look at your 6 x 9 ex&les, I can still see a softness in quality. The shots still look good, but if we are honest then close inspection reveals softness, dust and scratch spots. Another advantage of digital ... only a "rare" dust spot. The shot of the motorcycle is nice, but the upper left corner reveals nasty spots in the clouds.

I still stand firmly by my digital purchase solution. I took a trip to Annapolis and New York City last week, took 150 shots and am thrilled with the quality. I am in the process of printing some of those shots. The ND functioned flawlessly on my trip, and using new 2200 NiMH 2200 mAh batteries, power was a very minor issues. I was able to get approximately 100 shots per charge. Most film based cameras would have required changing film 3 or 4 times during that same 100 shot period! This included an occassional review of the images I was taking using the LCD finder. The 17 - 35 lens was tremendous for building shots, and I think I am finally getting a handle on "fill flash" thanks to comments from members of this group.

Also, if you check my posts, you will see that I did mention your website, but since you told me it was still "under construction" suggested that you be the one to reveal the address to the site.

Michael.
 

clive_kenyon

Well-Known Member
Just so you other folks can see what this is all about I have posted some of the 6 or 7 photographs that I mailed to Michael in the Photo Gallery / Test Section.

He comments on just two of them ("Hmmm" to quote the man himself), one is in the Gallery (a scan from a slide) and the other (a Cibachrome) is already posted on
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I would welcome your comments.

Clive
 
D

djg

Clive,

I'm trying to get a feel for your basis of comparison. Going by the web link in your message, with the photographs of the hunters, you are basing your comments on a scan of ink jet prints made from an ND and scans from a Cibachrome made from an Olympus SA? Or is there more? I hope there is. If you want to do a proper comparison you need two things:

1. Original full size ND file
2. A direct film scan of the 35mm film shot by the XA, with enough resilution to show the grain

To do otherwise is to simply test the ink jet printer, which does no justice whatsoever to any original file viewed directly, say on a nice monitor.

What I'd like to point out is that the digital vs. film is not a striaght forward fight, if it is a fight at all. What you intend to do with the final product, and what equipment you have through the whole chain, is sometimes even more important.

There are many low-image quality ink jet printers, and only a handful that provide what I would consider quasi-photgraphic quality with some reservation. You can also do better with dye-sublimation thermal printers. But the printing end of digital is at a more embryonic stage.

It seems to me you are judging ND images by how well you can get a particular ink jet printer to print it. If I am mistaken, please let me know.

And I HAVE to take exception to your cynical jab at my financing your technical future because I bought an ND - you are making an under-informed judgement, although I don't mind the attempted humor. Please do not compare an Olympus XA to an ND until you have used both to their fullest extent, or I'll have to do some drastic name calling
.

And remember, while your 35mm negatives are fading and deteriorating, my ND TIFFs will be rock solid and their printed images improving with each evolving printing technology :D. Unless you scan them, of course ...

Ah, this brings back memories of the vinyl vs. CD discussions. Both sides have points.

BTW, I really like your compositions!

Cheers,

DJ
 
W

writing4me

(Quoting DJ
"And remember, while your 35mm negatives are fading and deteriorating, my ND TIFFs will be rock solid and their printed images improving with each evolving printing technology :D. Unless you scan them, of course" (end quote).

Hiya DJ, Just a reminder, your TIFFs are rock solid, but the media you're saving them to may not be. Remember that the cd's and dvd's that we can burn in our computers these days don't have as long of a shelf-life as the professionally made cd's and dvd's which are created through a completely different process (like the films and music you buy at the store pre-recorded). The cd's and dvd's available to be recorded in our computers start to deteriorate after maybe 5-7 years. Besides that, every 5-10 years, new media comes available and makes the old obsolete (ie vinyl records and cds as you mentioned) That means, although you are archiving all of your digital files, you need to make sure that you will still have a device capable of reading them from that media well into the future and that you will need to resave these present day archives before that media starts to go bad. I believe the library of congress has been shooting not only chromes (for their archives) but they store them in secure temperature controlled locations.. PLUS, they keep digital archives... plus yet another backup that I can't recall what the format is. Film and Digital both have limitations and issues for long term storage, just slightly different issues
Ain't it fun? ;) -Lynn
 
D

djg

Hi Lynn,

Absolutely right! As we write (literally) I am in the process of upgrading my PC. I have redundant everything
. I've given up on tape as storage, and am installing mirrored RAID arrays, with hot swappable drives of course, for off-site storage. Let's face it, EVERY media is perishable eventually, so what we need is quick ways of lossless duplication. Norton Ghost and removable (or swapable) media are a great boon! With cheap SATA drives in the 200 GB range.

I fully agree with Marc - the images are what matters, but hey, gotta love the toys, photographic and electronic! Plus, I picked up a Tablet PC - I loaded Photoshop, Raw Developer and a slew of other stuff. I'm going to experiment tethering my ND to it and see how that fares this week-end.

Cheers!

DJ
 
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writing4me

Are you sure you're not part of the library of congress, DJ? Your place sounds very up to date and secure!


As for tethering the ND, you reminded me of something. I was subcontracted on an industrial photo-shoot almost two years ago where we did something similar. We were using a Better-Light system, a Sinar and a PowerBook laptop... add in a little cart and some cables and we turned out some respectable work in a highly automated robotics environment. It was nice for the client to see the images as we captured. Would be interested to know how your experiments go. (I still teeter on the edge of do-I or don't-I like digital.) Happy Fourth, -Lynn
 
K

kaisern

>=20 >=20 >=20 > [I was using Broncolor power pack for location work and hook the camera w= ith > my Powerbook for real-time capture, the biggest problem I have with ND is= that > for reasons I don=B9t know, not everytime the camera is connecting to the > computer, so sometimes I have to use memory card. Canon 1D or 1Ds is ver= y > stable for remote capture and works everytime. Do you have similar probl= em > for connection between ND and computer? One other problem is the sync co= rd > sometimes sends electrical shock back to the camera and cause malfunction= so I > always use wireless. Regards, kaisern] >=20 >=20 >=20
 
K

kaisern

>=20 >=20 >=20 > [The version of Adobe RAW Developer I have does not support N Digital, bu= t > does support Canon, Nikon and Fuji, not sure about Kodak. Does your RAW > developer plug-in support ND? Where to buy it? Please. Brgds/Kaisern.] >=20 >=20 >=20
 
K

kaisern

>=20 >=20 >=20 > [TDK has a line of scratch resistance CD or DVD have durable top layer sa= id to > withstand much longer. Otherwise we have to wait and see how long the > commercially available CD or DVD can last. Regards, kaisern] >=20 >=20 >=20
 

clive_kenyon

Well-Known Member
DJ,

The image of the shooting man on the web site is there to show the deterioration of the raw image when printed on an inkjet printer (Epson Photo 700). If I do not make that plain then I apologise.

All Michael's images were sent in the form of home printed A4 prints. I actually made the point to him that I suspected that the printer was not doing justice to the images at which point he flew into a tantrum because I, as he saw it, was rubbishing his printer when it had received 'Rave Reviews'.

I made three types of image:- Pure photographs produced by conventional wet means from slides and negatives, Commerical prints from my scans using a high street processor's do it yourself service and thirdly I printed the same scans using my Epson (which also received rave reviews as I recall). The best quality images were conventional photos, second best was the commercial prints and a poor third are home produced prints. I now see no point in printing my own images when for 50p (80 cents) I can obtain a superior 6" x 9" print from the high street.


The Angling Scene detail is from a flatbed scan of a 9" x 6" pure photographic print. If a Contax ND can produce as much detail as that in a printed image (because at the end of the day that is what we look at) then I have lost my argument. But, I have not seen any digital image yet, either from Michael's ND or in the magazines to worry me.

One final point that eluded me earlier: Three of the previous posters were concerned that I had used a loupe to view Michael's prints. Why? I can only presume that your images will not stand up to close examination. Are you saying that your $7,000 ND is as good as my $70 XA providing you don't look too closely at the results?

Clive
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Clive, sorry to seem to be dogging you thread to thread, but I am a practical photographer, interested in useful information to learn from.

In my experience, no gallery has ever passed out loops for patrons to examine the work.
Reasonable viewing distance is the standard most use to evaluate work, analog or digital.

The ability to make an inkjet print verses a traditional wet print is a matter of skill, experience and equipment. I have seen Irakly's gallery show mostly printed ink jet, with many images shot with the ND. NO WAY could you use a $70. camera and get those results. Using the correct post proceedures with ND files, I have surpassed custom made, same sized wet prints from a N1 using the same lens...with a lot less trouble. Comparisons need to be made at the same skill levels in both mediums. The truth is that the two mediums are different from each other, so both are valid depending on the end result one desires.

As far as storage of digital images, the medium is still relatively new and those issues will be solved eventually because millions of dollars will go to the one solving it.

Glass plates and tintypes once had their own set of problems that were solved. The solution for digital storage will come rapidly, so for now a couple of 200 gig redundant hard drives inter-linked to Retrospect do it for me. If I need more space I'll get it...these hard drives get less expensive every month.

Also, as far as the articles I've read about CDs and DVDs, the shelf life of CURRENT gold CD/DVDs is 5-7 years until you burn them. Once burned they supposedly will last approx. 100 years with reasonable care.
 
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writing4me

Kaisern, You mention that you had trouble with a direct connection between the camera and the computer. When I was using the Sinar and the Betterlight set up, we often initially had problems with "noise" caused by an unclean power source. The power source was the standard outlet used in the studio for everything...however, it turns out that the fluctuations in the electrical current would put volumes of noise into the image as it was being created. These exposures would sometimes take minutes to accomplish, and the least bit of interference from the power source was disasterous. The noise was actually horizontal bands of color that completely destroyed the image. The problem was solved with the purchase of several high-end line conditioner/surge suppressor. They were the size of a computer monitor, were extremely heavy and very expensive. I wish I could remember the name of the product exactly. It wasn't my studio, I just used the equipment
I wonder if that might be the situation with the ND? -Lynn
 

rcnet

Member
[..Hello...I'm am a observer/reader to the sight...Can someone explain = why a "gold" CD/DVD or any recordable CD has a shelf life of only 5-7 = years and a read life of 100 years after being"burned".. Does this mean = we are seeing "regular" burnable cd's on the market place that have pasted their shelf life? Can someone = explain exactly what the downside to buying burnable cd's is as far as = what can go wrong if a burnable cd has pasted it's "shelf life" ? ..]
 

clive_kenyon

Well-Known Member
Marc,
Please do not apologise for your questions - they are valid.

If we were just saying that digital prints are acceptable then yes, let us simply view them as we would gallery images and again, yes they may well be acceptable. But, what this issue is about is absolute quality - which system produces the best image. When lenses are called into question or film for that matter testers reach for a microscope to be able to see the subtle differences. When I enter a photographic competition I often see that judges have commented about lack of detail when the image was viewed through a loupe. They do this becaue they are not just judging asthetic issues, but technical ones too.

You say that your friend has produced images from purely digital files that cannot be surpassed by a $70 compact. Michael Hahn made similar claims yet when I viewed his prints they were inferior to similar size traditional photographs in two main areas - fine detail and lack of tonal range. These are also obvious in digitally captured images that you see in Photo Magazines. I can spot a digitally captured image at 20 feet! And remember that the printers resolution is only 150 dpi and film images are conmverted to a digital file before printing yet the film based images simply have more detail and better tones.

There was a letter published in Outdoor Photography last month that reflected these views (no, not mine) and the editor confirmed that whilst digitally captured images were'OK' the best image was one transferred from conventional film.

As I said before - If someone can show me a print from a Contax ND that matches the fine detail of my Angling Scene taken on a $70 compact then I will admit defeat.

Clive
 
D

djg

Hi Clive,

You are absolutely right in that you mentioned the ink jet printer used as being a limitation. And I do totally agree that photographic paper will definitely give better resolution, as I mentioned. Ironically, the larger you make the printed image, the more important the source becomes while printer resolution becomes secondary.

What I don't understand is how you then generalize that an XA will always provide a better image than an ND. The point I was trying to make is that under certain circumstances that may be the case, but if you optimize the production chain from each of the sources, like Marc says, you will definitely get superior images from the ND.

Also, you are assuming that the printed paper is the final product. While that may be true in your case, computer monitors are becoming more and more prominent as a mainstream photographic output.

I also believe the Zeiss lenses on the ND will make their mark in overall contrast and color rendition, which are far superior than that of the XA's rather humble lens (good for the price, though
).

I believe a valid comparison could only be done by printing an original ND file (not some web JPEG version) on a truly high-quality ink jet, and a custom print from an XA neg / chrome, from the same subject, preferably one chosen for its wide latitude of tonal range and contrast. Comparing otherwise is good only for lively forum discussions
.

But in the end, hey, we can all agree to disagree. After all, how boring would it be if we all thought exactly the same way!

In the meantime, enjoy your XA (well, I'm sure you use your other cameras as well).

Cheers,

DJ
BTW, know anybody in the NYC area interested in a Jobo ATL-3? I'll give them a great deal.
 
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writing4me

I've been kicking around this idea for a few days now. I think the definitive test in my mind would be to take the ND and a camera like the XA (or another?) and set them both up for the same shoot. (Maybe an outdoor shoot under decent conditions, no artificial light source?) The film camera could do its best on some sort of pre-agreed slide film, and the ND could do it's best at it's optimum settings. Take the slide film and run a real drum scan.

Place both images at the same size and same dpi in Quark Xpress (page layout program) and then output a digital pre-press proof from a printing company. Place a blown-up segment of each image just for reference. To me that shows what it can be under press conditions, which is as critical as anything.

If I can help by placing the images in Quark or something like that, I'd be glad to do it.

Any thoughts on this? -Lynn
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Lynn, why not artificial light? Wouldn't professional level stobes provide absolutely consistant light temp and volume?

I've run test exactly like you mentioned for my advertising agency. The Art Directors and Production Manager wanted it when we first considered using digital for our client's printed matter. Drum scans, the works.

Result? Like a vast majority of commercial work today, we are now all digital...including the capture.
 
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writing4me

Hi Marc,

There isn't anything wrong with artificial light. My only thought about it was that maybe the person who would undertake the task of running this particular comparison test might not have a studio set-up available. If that would be the case, then setting up a tripod and a quick-release plate on both cameras outdoors in good light would be fine. One a few shots would be necessary and I can't imagine the light would change that drastically to affect what we'd be looking for. If studio lighting is available, great. The whole idea I had was to further the studies Clive (Kenyon) was working on by himself. That's why I mentioned the Oly XA. I'd be curious to see something like this.

I've been tossing around the idea of running something similar for myself later this summer. Comparing side by side the results from a high-end DSLR, a better slide scanner (Nikon 4000? or?) and a Drum Scan. I don't have the time right now, but would like to get to that.

I'm sure you did run tests when your agency was making the switch. It's been nice to see your feedback as you got aquainted with the ND too. I remember at first there was a bit of a learning curve. If I remember right, there was a point at the beginning where it seemed you wondered what you had bought. But it all turned out well for you after you got acquainted with it.

As for the all digital workflow in studios and agencies. Well, I can't speak for them all. I know that there has been a decrease in the number of pro labs still open for business in Wisconsin. Largely I'm told it is because many of their clients are doing their work in-house digitally. However, we had a lot of labs. Maybe too many. Not all were great, although they were termed professional. So, it might be good that the fittest survived. One of the fittest is a lab/studio in Milwaukee. Very high-end clients. Exceptionally fussy. Very well thought of. In fact, I don't know of one bad thing that could be said about them, they're fabulous. They are running both digital and traditional film in their studios yet. Matter of fact, my good friend with the old Leicas runs their E-6 department. I don't hate digital, but I'm not competely pleased with it for all uses yet. I know, call me a fussy-whatever, but I just can't quite warm up to it. Of the shots that I did myself with the Sinar and the better-light I had to do considerable tweaking in PS after the fact. They were good shots, but they were always soft and flat until they were worked up. But, I used them, and in the end the clients were always very pleased.

Anyway, hope you understand that my thought about no studio lights was just to make it easier on who-ever might undertake the task of shooting both cameras.

-Lynn
 
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