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Thinking about going digital

G

Guest

I'm computer and photography literate to some extent, but I'm a total novice in combining them both. So there are some beginner questions. (Since current digicams don't satisfy my claims, I'd like to keep my superb Contax G2 gear and scan the 35mm film.)

1) What about quality of home done digital darkroom work? When I know what I'm doing, is there a considerable loss compared to average minilab results?

2) Should the final prints always be done by a service bureau / lab on conventional photographic paper (after scanning and editing on my own)? What about today's inkjet printers in comparison?

3) Is it possible to do the photoshop (color-) work with a TFT notebook display?

4) Perhaps it's easier to deal with slide-film rather than negatives? (There should be no or at least fewer changes necessary in the "digital color mixing box")?

5) Is it a must to use photoshop? From my today's point of view the most important application will be cropping down pictures (whithout using scissors).

6) What semi-professional film scanner do you recommend to the hypercritical photoG?

Any help with anyone of the points would be welcome.

Till
 
G

Guest

Hi Till,

I am a digital novice too. I never did my own darkroom-work. I was always relying on the service of professional labs. I am shooting on slide film only, mainly Velvia and Provia 100F.

Since my preferred lab went out of business last autumn, I had to look for a new one. So I made some test prints with always the same slide in 3 different pro labs in Frankfurt/Germany. Each digital print costs over 16 Euro for 20 cm x 30 cm. I did also manual prints in 2 labs for over 35 Euro each.

To say it in one phrase: I was disappointed, to say the least. The quality was really bad. Even after complaining and redoing, it was only slightly better. One lab made even a digi-print without mentioning it and trying to sell it as a manual dark room print. All the labs are specifically for pros. So there should be normally the quality a Contax user would expect, especially for that price.

After these results, I thought in this quality level I can do it also on my own. If you compare prices for top 135 scanners as the Nikon 4000 and the prices for each print in the lab this investment gets fast on a break even….

So I purchased a Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED and the printer Epson Stylus Photo 1290, which goes up to A3+. I think the number for the Epson is different in the US. Why this combinations? Because all the professionals I asked advised me to buy it. Nobody recommended a Canon, although the new Canon was not on the market at that time. For this I opened a specific thread, look at “scannersâ€. I use a notebook with 14’’ TFT, which is really not professional, but I do not yet want to invest also in expensive screens, calibration systems etc.

Until now I made just a few scans/prints so far, I have not had enough time and to do it really in quantity. My first impressions: you need to learn Photoshop seriously. Basically the same effort as you would start with the traditional darkroom work as a novice. You can make wonders with that software.

The results are impressive. First of all, all prints are better then my test-prints with the pro-lab. Even with A3, you will almost not see any resolution problems from very near (< 20cm viewing distance). I even did not have to make many corrections, just playing around (I did not know how to do that anyway).

What are the drivers for a better result? If you want to have the maximum quality, you need the right mixture between the film you are using, the paper for the printer, calibration of your screen with the printer output and experience in how to adjust in photoshop to have this or that effect.

What others told me, who know more about these things: The weakest spot in the chain is the paper, not the scanner. So you get better results if you would adjust the whole production chain for a decent drum scanner – some (not all) of them have higher resolutions then my Nikon Scanner - and a Fuji Frontier print out on their specific paper.

I have never tried that, because the results with my equipment have already been very impressive and I think I should first learn more about photoshop before modifying other variables, which I can not control. But this would be my next step if I find the limitations of my current equipment. Photshop is industry standard and I do not think that there is any software out there with more capabilities. Nikon software 3.1 is great, especially the dust removal (ICE). You can scan the slides directly via Nikon Scan 3.1 into Photoshop.

Others told me slide film would be better to scan than negative film. Do not ask me why. I shoot slides anyway and it will be difficult to get these great projections on paper. Fuji in Germany told me to use Fuji Provia 100F or 400F, because they are designed specifically for scanning purpuses. The Velvia is to thick for easy scanning and you will also get problems in the darker area of your pictures with it. This reflects also my own experiences.

I think learning by doing is here the main point. And of course the Q&A in this Forum
happy.gif


Hope that helps a little bit.

dirk
 
G

Guest

I have similar questions and concerns as Till. I would like to scan and print from black and white negatives especially. I know very little about scanners, printers and software for my purpose. I have some familiarity with flatbed scanning, however, my HP Starjet 5p scanner is limited to prints only.

I'm quite willing to develop my own black and white negatives but I would like to avoid the wet darkroom for prints. Can anyone recommend some good books that address the needs I have? Also, if anyone has any suggestions for specific scanners and printers that I might investigate, that too, would be appreciated. Thanks,
Dennis
 
G

Guest

Hi Dennis look up this website
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!

it will give you some info on scanner information.
if you need more information do email me as i have
some experience working scanner slides using slide scanner and as well as using flatbed scanner.
 
G

Guest

Till,
I am an Advertising Art Director/Creative Director, and own my own photo company on the side. I see, and am involved with, digital
imaging up to my eyeballs everyday.
Here are a few things to consider: assuming you have a computer with enough juice to drive all this stuff, and you have USB ports on it to plug in the extra equipment:

GET PhotoShop immediately. P/S Elements to start with is okay, but you'll quickly outgrow it. If you have the money, get the new PhotoShop 7. It has some amazing new tools specifically for photography retouching. The P/S learning curve is a hairy-scarey one, but well worth it.

Next, a 4000dpi scanner like the Nikon, Canon
Minolta or Polaroid. You'll need it for 35mm.

The home printer is a matter of projected use. If you are going to make 7X10s on down to family album size take a look at a Dye Sub printer. The output is very much like a regular print from a photo lab. For B&W or larger size prints you have to investigate an ink jet printer.
For this, were I you, I'd go for the new Epson 2200 mere weeks away from delivery.

One last piece of advice, get a little digital camera like a Canon digital elf, and experiment with digital input to your computer and working on the images with PhotoShop.
These usually come bundled with a basic PhotoShop program.

I've never uploaded an image on this forum, but I'll try to show you a scanned 35mm from a Contax N1 w/24-85 Zeiss lens.

Hope this helps, and feel free to e-mail me with any questions.
1207.jpg
 
G

Guest

Well, the up-load size requirement makes this just about a useless exercise.
 
G

Guest

..within the the next couple of days, there will be a totally new desigend photo-upload section at Contaxinfo.com. This will allow also bigger file size - if my webhoster is making it possible...

dirk
 
G

Guest

Dirk,
That would be most excellent. In order to at least show off some of the abilities of these cameras and lenses it sure would help to increase the size of posted images somewhat. I often upload on the hoto.net site to great sucess. Hope you can achieve about that size up-load.

Great site by the way. Keep up the good work, we Contax lovers have to stick together.
 
D

drhdrum

Where to start... I love my M6 & summicron lens. The images I capture are wonderful... However, everywhere I go another photographer is trying to convert me to the Digital world. I must agree, the thought of taking a picture, getting an instant preview and being able to manipulate and print my own pictures is very appealing. But how good is the quality, really? Is it worth giving up the M for a high end Cannon/Nikon/Fuji??? When I purchased my M I thought I'd never need another system (for my needs) but I have to admin the appeal for Digital is growing... Can anyone give me an honest opinion on the Pros and Cons of going Digital? thanks
 

rico

Well-Known Member
Doug,

You are free to enjoy digital and film both! I have a Canon D30 DLSR, but more often prefer my manual-focus Contax 135 film SLRs. I handled the M6, M7 and MP for the first time last week (Leica Demo Day at Calumet Chicago), and was impressed by the construction and classic controls.

Continuing advantages of film and Leica M include freedom from the battery regimen, instant shutter response, quality slide projection, dynamic range. Plus, an instrument that retains resale value and functionality for years.

Digital is good for high volume (sport), output for the web or digital archive, rapid turnaround, or you want specific features (voice annotation, tethered operation, video out).

Ignoring the differences in workflow, there is rough parity between 135 film and a 6MP DSLR.
 

see

New Member
Have just had a similar experience. Am in a Photographers Guild where two members (25% of membership) have gone exclusively hi-end digital. I was somewhat interested so bought, 4 months ago, a Nikon 2100 Point & Shoot. It in no way replaces any of my Leica Equipment ( I use both M and R). I use it mostly as a totally different form of art, making images with it as a part of a system which involves heavy Photoshop manipulations, and it makes a great snapshooter when my grandchildren visit (which is not too often, unfortunately), as they want instant results and it lets me provide this to them with my laptop computer without my taking time away from them in the darkroom. But for my serious stuff, it is still Leica all the way. No way will I go digital hi-end.
 
F

fastfashn

I just bought a digicam - a 2MP Fuji to take pix of my kitty (etc). It took care of my buy a new toy urge, only cost $169 (less 128MB card), and it's fun.

It's also made of plastic, the lens is good for 2MP but not much else, and it has a few quirks. It won't last long, maybe a year or two before it breaks probably... I'm going to take happy, fluffy photos with it, and use it to "set up" some film shots, but I can't see it as taking the place of my RF.

Like any machinery, the RF won't do everything, SLRs have their place, point and shoots have theirs.=20

If you dump the M6, my phone number is 317-408-8893. Thanks.
 

dravns

New Member
Hi All,

I replaced my digital Canon G2 with D30 as soon I could get my hands on one. Digital allows you to overshoot(quantity)at every opportunity. The resulting picture files are easy to do everything with except manage. And by this I mean manage long term. How many of us that have had a PC since the XT came out can access much of anything that we did back then without a hassle. Granted much has changed but I wonder how many of the digital photos I've taken in the past 3 years will be seen by anyone 20 years from now. I archive on CD and print really very few of the digitals I take. I print and album ALL of the film I take, someone would be able to see them in 20 years. As has been said before each media has a different purpose. The quality of what I get fom my M and the fact that it can be "seen" makes a big difference to me. Just another view...
 

dirk

CI-Founder
Doug,

I looked at different digital cameras within the past months, i.e. Canon 10D, Sigma SD9, Contax ND etc. and talked to many people who purchased within the last 12 months a digital camera. Here are some observations:

1. Most of them bought into digital to be able to have the fun-effect to see the image immediately, not because it might be cheaper better or something else. Second most mentioned reason was the hype in the media about digital and the curiousity about it.

2. All digital images I have seen so far even on expositions from Canon with the 10D - are still not on par with a very good scan of a very good film with a very good lens in front of it.

In most cases the images are looking kind of "flat". Colours are not the same as Velvia or Provia 100F. Especially with portraits, you see a kind of "cut the face out and glue it on the picture".

3. The disadvantage of digital in general (storing issues, batteries etc.) are still not resolved in a acceptable way for non-professionals.

4. Image quality of the analogue lenses, once used with digital cameras is something the industry tries to avoid talking about. Also the multiplier for your focal lenght is a horrible, if you see the prices you have to pay to use your preferred lenses and the quality you get, because it is actually a wideangle with all the inherent cons in image quality.

My own experience is especially with Contax N1 and N-lenses, Fuji Velvia and Fuji Provia 100F, scanned with a Nikon Supercoolscan 4000 and printed out with an Epson Stylus Photo 1290/1280 up to A3 on Epson Premium Glossy. I can say with this experience that all my prints are looking better than the same pictures made with the mentioned cameras. This might be the lenses, but I think it is also the current status of the development in digital cameras. I would stick with analogue and ask the same question in two years from now here again.

In the mean time buy a digital P&S to get used to it. But do a research beforehand, since the differences are still significant up to 800 Euro in image quality which you get for the same price.
 
F

fastfashn

True... "I wonder how many of the digital photos I've taken in the past 3 years will be seen by anyone 20 years from now." I can still see slides of my parent at Yellowstone 50 years ago. Unless the house burns down they will still be around (since they aren't sitting in sunlight or a d& basement) for a while yet.

Is there ANYTHING created on a computer fifty years ago that anyone could still use or want to use? Oh, maybe scientific data that was xferred to hardcopy and printed or stored on microfiche, but the actual data medium, punchcards or magnetic tape is dead, dead, dead. Archival is acid-free paper. Archival are books kept in the cool dark. Archival is painting on canvas. Electrons are ephemeral.

You know what tech support will tell you about any computer hardware or software three + years old? Sorry, we can't support that anymore.

If you want something to show the Grandkids, make prints, preferably on some acid-free stable medium and keep it out of the light. Race memory will be printed in books or carved into granite blocks.
 
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