Film vs Digital pictures

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Bill Boyce, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. Bill Boyce

    Bill Boyce Guest

    This will be received as a troll by some, but I assure you it is not
    intended that way. I'm just looking for some viewpoints to weigh. I'm 74
    and have taken pictures since I was 12, developing 127 size in a tray in
    a closet. I use both film and digital cameras, but am not "into it" like
    I once was, and don't have the latest equipment, since I have other uses
    for my money. I'm not in the megapixel horsepower race, but understand
    those who are, as a former "equipment freak". I believe sheer ownership
    of latest and greatest equipment is a valid reason to enjoy photography,
    even if the results sometimes are sometimes less than pictures taken
    with modest equipment.

    Now for the real purpose of this post: I saw an ad recently calling
    pictures from a certain digital camera "film-like" in a positive sense.
    The implication was they are a little softer, with a certain "feel" to
    them. Then, I'm hearing that there is a "return to film" by some younger
    photographers. Then there's the discussion of certain lenses having the
    right bokeh, which I believe is a type of desireable out-of-focus
    softness, mainly in portraiture backgrounds. Is this counter to the
    maximum sharpness movement?

    This reminds me of a parallel reaction to transistorized sound in
    high-fidelity vs the famous sound smoothness of "vacuum tube amplifiers".

    There is a not more expertise and knowledge in this group than I ever
    had, so I ask about this apparent paradox of directions. Maybe sometimes
    we want ultra-sharp pictures and sometimes more "arty" stuff. So if
    stuck with too much sharpness maybe we rely on Photoshop to do that,
    like my personal hero Gene Smith used to do with film when using his
    Leitz Valoy, waving a panel of black nylon stocking under his Minolta CL
    lens to "confuse the grain" a little.

    Any thoughts? JPBill
    Bill Boyce, Dec 16, 2008
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  2. Bill Boyce

    Paul Furman Guest

    Count me among the gear-head bokeh lovers but I don't think it's a major
    trend. There are a lot of people moving up to DSLRs now from compact
    digitals with much deeper DOF so maybe you are seeing people experiment
    with that as they explore new toys. So yeah to some extent that's
    considered a cool effect and it certainly isn't trendy these days to set
    up a tripod & stop down as far as possible, the trend is more for high
    ISO (ASA) to allow more freedom from light & tripod restrictions, plus
    gyroscopic stabilization, all to make it easier & more carefree.

    You do see people playing with lensbabies (cheap tilt shift lens that
    allows freaky effects) and there is a bit of a trend for doing fake
    tilt/shift blur to make the photo look like a miniature model.

    Today's high megapixel cameras have smoother noise (grain) so even if
    you crank them up in low light, the noise looks more natural, less
    digital. I've heard people refer to that as film-like grain.

    Taking this idea hard core, one could do an artsy series with cell
    phones exploring the moody effects of flare and abberations from that
    medium :) it would be a reference to the frantic nature of modern life...

    Paul Furman

    all google groups messages filtered due to spam
    Paul Furman, Dec 16, 2008
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  3. Bill Boyce

    Annika1980 Guest

    Your audio analogy isn't that far off. Many people grew up with
    analog audio and it's inherent noise and distortions so when they hear
    a digital recording without these artifacts they think it sounds cold
    and clinical.

    Similarly, a photo with no film grain is abhorent to a lot of the film
    luddites. The good news with digital is that you can always add the
    film grain look after the fact. Those that will tell you that you can
    never digitally recreate the look of certain films are just being

    When I see one of these grainy B&W film shots of a foggy pond it makes
    me want to vomit. I've seen fog and I've seen a clear blue sky, but
    I've never seen a clear blue sky with grain or noise in it.

    An audio component that adds it's own sound is not high fidelity.
    This excludes components like speakers, EQ, or digital processors
    where the aim is to shape the sound a certain way.
    Look at it this way .... if you bought a camera that always boosted
    the reds in every shot it would be a crap camera.
    Annika1980, Dec 16, 2008
  4. Bill Boyce

    Noons Guest

    Annika1980 wrote,on my timestamp of 16/12/2008 3:36 PM:
    And that is of course, another lie.
    and those who tell you you can, are lying
    and/or trying to push a product.

    When I see one of those bird shots where each
    feather looks like it's been dipped in a tub of
    hair gel, I just feel like vomiting as well.
    And that is of course also true about different
    musical instrument makers...
    Noons, Dec 16, 2008
  5. Bill Boyce

    Noons Guest

    Bill Boyce wrote,on my timestamp of 16/12/2008 1:34 PM:
    You'll get plenty...
    Quite true.

    Which was?
    Mostly b&W, but also colour with Holgas and such.
    The maximum sharpness movement is promoted by morons with
    not a clue how to isolate a subject in a photo.
    In other words: the "everything in focus" landscape brigade.
    And even there they are wrong: the best landscapes are taken with certain
    areas out of perfect focus, on purpose. But let's ignore that for a tick.

    Not even close. The use of differential and/or selective focus in
    photography to isolate/enhance subjects is as old as photography itself,
    it's got nothing to do with transition from film to digital or being a
    new thing.

    The transistor sound harshness to vacuum tube smoothness is
    by comparison new. And mostly caused by bad transistor designs of
    the 70s and 80s. New designs using high headroom power supplies and
    MOS-FET output stages do not have anywhere the same harshness in
    over-drive as the old designs and approach the characteristics
    of vacuum tube gear.

    What happened is that initially, digital cameras with their
    microscopic sensors and short fl lenses made it a lot easier for
    folks to take photos in sharp focus. And the myth that digital is
    "sharper" was created. It isn't, certainly not with Bayer sensors.
    What you see as "sharp" is an interpolation that can never be so.
    But it looks as such because of the sensors and their relationship
    to the lenses used, so folks perpetuate the myth.

    Of course. If you look at photos with a digital display,
    and print with a digital printer, you'll get perfectly
    acceptable results with Photoshop and a digital camera,
    and you certainly don't need to upgrade every 18 months.

    Any 6-8 megapixel quality digital camera will provide you with
    superb images that do print real well in a digital printer.

    Is it the same as film images? Not in the least. Is the "haze"
    created by Photoshop in any way the same as the lens "bokeh" one?
    Not in the wildest dreams. Do you or would you care?
    Is it worth for you to have the "look" of film in your images?
    If not or you don't know what it is, then the answer is
    clear: stick with digital.
    Noons, Dec 16, 2008
  6. Bill Boyce

    Noons Guest

    Bill Graham wrote,on my timestamp of 16/12/2008 6:13 PM:

    I've heard that one heaps before. There is an interesting comparison
    between the bokeh of various lenses at the rangefinderforum.
    Very educational, if you can find it. Picking a Sonnar from a Leica
    'chron with b&w film becomes clear.

    I don't see any digital "filter" doing anything of the sort anytime
    soon. Don't forget that true bokeh is proportional to distance
    to film plane: digital filters have no clue about that distance.

    Of course, one can painstakingly manually apply a filter with
    different gradations to make it look like a specific lens effect.
    That is the hallmark of the idiot who spends more time making
    effects than using his/her gear, though.

    It is similar to someone claiming all operating systems and computer
    programs can be written in Assembler: of course they can, but would
    you - or anyone else sane - bother? Would anyone pay you to do
    so? Of course not.

    Much better to just grab the right gear and get it done properly.
    And that is why certain lenses have certain bokeh and people use
    one or the other depending on what effect they might want.
    Noons, Dec 16, 2008

    Somewhat OT this, but thanks for mentioning the rangefinder forum
    ( In addition to discussing the bokeh of
    different lenses and many other gear topics, you'll find the manner of
    discussion to be refreshingly civil compared with some in this group.
    Foul language and ad hominem attacks are simply not tolerated.

    Harry Lockwood, Dec 16, 2008
  8. Bill Boyce

    Annika1980 Guest

    Nope, it's a fact.

    Those that claim it can't be done are too chickenshit to put their
    money where their mouth is and participate in a test.

    I could post samples all day taken with various films and the same
    shots taken with digital and you'd never be able to consistently pick
    out the film shots .... at normal viewing distances and sizes.

    There is software available that simulates both film colors and film
    Why someone would want to degrade a good digital image down to film is
    another question.
    Annika1980, Dec 16, 2008
  9. Bill Boyce

    Peter Irwin Guest

    The look of film depends vastly on the film used and the amount
    it is enlarged. A four times enlargement from 100 speed film
    has practically no graininess and has very high resolution.
    An eight times enlargement from 400 speed film will usually
    have fairly obvious graininess.
    In the early 20th century when large format was normal and
    prints were either by contact or small scale enlargement,
    a large part of the lens market was given over to soft focus
    lenses. It was a common complaint that photography gave an
    unnaturally sharp view of the world.
    The better tube amplifiers of the 1950s and 60s had no sound of
    their own. Some of the initial "tube vs transistor" argument
    was caused by defects in some early transistor amplifiers, but
    a lot of it was caused by the tendency of audiofans to hear
    differences in equipment which do not appear to be caused by
    a verifiable difference in sound.

    Peter Irwin, Dec 16, 2008
  10. Bill Boyce

    Noons Guest

    Annika1980 wrote,on my timestamp of 17/12/2008 5:57 AM:
    Nope, it's a lie.

    Are they? Let me see, that would be a test made
    by you, under your rules, and only judged by you?

    Of course not. Your "normal viewing distances and sizes"
    wouldn't allow showing ANY difference between a 4MP and
    a 21MP camera anyway, so what's your point?

    "Simulates" does not mean "equals".
    Indeed. And why would anyone bother to even
    compare the glorious colour of film to the
    drab brown-green mush produced by the Canon
    image processing is yet another.
    Noons, Dec 16, 2008
  11. Set your line wrap to something normal, please.

    Oh, never mind. This last paragraph shows your abysmal ignorance in some
    matters, or is it merely extreme prejudice? Too bad, because you've
    shown elsewhere you can think and write.
    John McWilliams, Dec 16, 2008
  12. Bill Boyce

    Noons Guest

    John McWilliams wrote,on my timestamp of 17/12/2008 9:52 AM:
    Define "normal"?
    Can you grok "I don't give a shit what you think"?
    Noons, Dec 16, 2008
  13. Bill Boyce

    Annika1980 Guest

    Sure they did. They all had irregular frequency responses that were
    not flat so they all contributed their own "sonic fingerprint" to the

    When digital sound came out on CD many people complained that the
    recordings sounded bright or shrill. This was because almost all of
    the recordings had been mastered (pre-equalized) for analog
    reproduction and had boosted HF response.

    I remember when CDs hit the market. You couldn't walk into a Hi-Fi
    store in Atlanta without hearing Billy Joel blasting from the
    Annika1980, Dec 17, 2008
  14. Bill Boyce

    Colin.D Guest

    Woohoo, that's rich. You must have a split personality, Noons. Your
    posts here are almost exclusively expletive-laden, ad-hominem-laced
    diatribes. Just watch your reply to this post.

    Colin D.
    Colin.D, Dec 17, 2008
  15. Bill Boyce

    Peter Irwin Guest

    Rubbish. They were had very flat frequency response, and the effect
    of a small amount of output impedance on departure from constant
    voltage response was very small in the best cases. For instance, the
    output impedance of a Marantz 9 was 1/16th nominal tap impedance
    in the midband and was about 1/15th nominal at 20hz. It did get a little
    higher in the top (10-20 kHz octave) but that was unlikely to cause
    audible effects. To put this in perspective: realworld speaker loads
    will show no more than around 0.6 or 0.7 dB departure from constant
    voltage response. That's not plus-or-minus - it would be plus or minus
    0.3 or 0.35dB.

    Peter Irwin, Dec 17, 2008
  16. Bill Boyce

    Noons Guest

    Annika1980 wrote,on my timestamp of 17/12/2008 11:53 AM:
    Actually, quality tube amplifier frequency response is remarkably flat,
    within a sufficient range. And distortion levels are remarkably low
    at very low to medium volume levels.
    What they also have is a smooth transition to overload, which
    classic class B and A-B transistor output stages don't have.

    Wrong. You are confused with RIAA equalization which had to do with
    recording on vynil disks and indeed showed some HF boost as well as
    some LF compression.
    Noons, Dec 17, 2008
  17. Bill Boyce

    Noons Guest

    Colin.D wrote,on my timestamp of 17/12/2008 11:53 AM:
    No. It's the truth.
    My posts are nothing of the sort. My replies to you
    and other imbeciles like you are indeed so. You are a perfect
    example of the stupid troll that populates the Usenet:
    NOT ONCE have you posted anything to do with photography
    but you are oh-so-quick to pass judgement on others.
    Which defines you as the imbecile troll you really are.
    And yes: this is directed at YOU, fuckwit. And quite rightly
    so and won't cease to be, no matter how much you whine about
    it, you pussy footed yellow-bellied coward.
    Got it?
    Noons, Dec 17, 2008
  18. Bill Boyce

    Colin.D Guest

    Prediction 100% accurate. Claim proven.

    Quote from above: "you'll find the manner
    of discussion to be refreshingly civil compared with some in this

    Quote in reply fron Noons: "why do you think I frequent it -and others -
    much more than here?"

    Inference: Noons implies he is refreshingly civil. News flash: Noons
    is neither refreshing, nor civil. In fact he is probably the most
    potty-mouthed, uncivil poster in this group.

    Noons is so predictable. Anything he agrees with gets a syrupy,
    ingratiating response; anything he doesn't agree with gets the treatment
    demonstrated immediately above - insults, ad-hominem attacks ad nauseum,
    foul language, name-calling, and outright lies.

    Noons acts just like an uneducated 13-year-old school drop-out lout, all
    mouth and posturing, a well-known tactic among his kind to cover his
    problems - he thinks. He is more transparent than an overexposed
    transparency. A pathetic case indeed.

    Colin D.
    Colin.D, Dec 17, 2008
  19. 75-80 characters.
    If it were true I would grok it.
    John McWilliams, Dec 17, 2008
  20. Bill Boyce

    Annika1980 Guest

    No confusion ... that's exactly what I'm talking about.
    Many of the early CDs of the time were mastered with RIAA EQ.
    Annika1980, Dec 17, 2008
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