Getting Started

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by gsa22soccer, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. gsa22soccer

    gsa22soccer Guest

    Me and my dad are really hoping to get into photography. My dad use to
    be an amateur photographer in his college days and enjoyed using a
    darkroom. I'm trying to get my dad to purchase a REAL camera so we can
    take REAL pictures. My dad is not enthused with the new digital
    technology and claims it takes the creativity and freedom out of
    photography. I was just curious how much money it would cost to buy a
    good 35mm camera and to start a makeshift darkroom and even if we
    should invest in a digital camera and if so what would be a good
    digital camera and how much does it cost...
    gsa22soccer, Jul 6, 2008
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  2. gsa22soccer

    Peter Guest

    One sort of picture is about as real as another.

    One bit of good news about your situation is that the selection of
    equipment at a reasonable price is quite large. One reasonable avenue
    to finding equipment is ebay. If you look at:
    you will see more than a quarter of a million items offered to assist
    with photography (if the link doesn't seem to work, go to
    put the cursor over "categories" near the upper left of the screen and
    select "cameras & photo"). Understanding the limitations and
    advantages of any reasonable number of these items is an ambitious

    One point to consider is what you mean by the words "REAL pictures".

    Digital cameras can make nice pictures and do so quite inexpensively
    if you already have a computer and only need to look at them on the
    computer screen. Making printed pictures can become even more
    expensive and time consuming than using film and silver based printing

    As you seem to realize some 35mm cameras are available at bargain
    prices. Generally speaking once you expose film in one of these,
    seeing a picture needs some more effort. The film must be developed
    (for black and white, this is fairly simple and inexpensive). Still,
    you then need a way to see a larger copy of the picture since the
    original images are somewhat small (typically 24x36 mm.).

    There are 2 solutions for this. One is an enlarger and a somewhat
    more elaborate darkroom than what is needed to develop film (a
    smallish toilet can work for developing, if it can be made dark). The
    alternative is to scan the negatives with a film scanner (good ones
    tend to be somewhat expensive - >$100).

    A way to avoid the need for an enlarger (entirely) is to use much
    larger cameras (typically 5x7" or more). With these contact prints
    are useful and somewhat more easily provided than enlarged prints.
    Still, a large camera is a big nuisance and tends to be more expensive
    and is much more fussy.

    Normally, the advantage with digital is that an image of some sort is
    available, immediately. With film one must learn to become very
    reliable and learn a more complex formula for making an image of
    dependable quality.

    Image quality is easily seen in terms of technical points (sharpness,
    contrast, grain, dynamice range or color response & etc.). There is
    also a question of what is a pleasing image. Artists have wrestled
    with this for centuries. Reflecting on what they have to teach is a
    point to consider. The other side of the question is taking pictures.

    Broadly, the best advice starting with photography really has nothing
    to do with equipment. Select what you will and take some pictures.
    Most of the learning and other good comes from using the camera and
    studying what you get. There is much equipment to choose from and few
    photographers can actually exploit the possibilities they already have.
    Peter, Jul 6, 2008
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  3. Well, I don't know if I agree that digital removes
    either the freedom or creativity from photography but its
    different. I happen to like film.
    Used film equipment is going very cheaply now. I bit of
    searching around eBay will give you some idea of prices but
    I suggest researching a bit so that you know something about
    what you are buying. The same counts for darkroom equipment.
    Very good enlargers are going cheap and that is the single
    most expensive item with the exception of semi-automatic
    processing machines like the Jobo and even those are much
    cheaper than they used to be. You really do not need a lot
    of equipment to get started. The cost of digital depends on
    whether you include the computer. If your quality standard
    is not extremely high you can get quite adequate digital
    cameras for a couple of hundred bucks and very good printers
    for about the same. Without the computer the cost may be
    about the same for digital or film except the used stuff for
    film will generally be higher end than the digital stuff
    available at the same price.
    Working in the darkroom requires learning a craft. I
    think its worth learning and fun. This is not to say that
    digital does not require skills, certainly people make good
    money by knowing how to run high level image editing
    programs like Photoshop but the nature of the skills and
    craft for "chemical" photography is different. Some
    knowledge is the same, for instance some idea of how to
    compose and light. The image to be photographed is
    independant of the means of photographing it.
    In any case I encourage you to try old fashioned
    chemical photography.
    Richard Knoppow, Jul 6, 2008
  4. The link I use to eBay's photographic stuff is much more compact:

    "Wikipedia ... it reminds me ... of dogs barking idiotically through
    endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it.
    It drags itself out of the dark abyss of pish, and crawls insanely up
    the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and
    doodle. It is balder and dash."

    - With apologies to H. L. Mencken
    David Nebenzahl, Jul 6, 2008
  5. Ive read the replies to this and while I dont disagree with them, Id like to
    offer my tuppence worth. Id say that you'd learn the basics of photography
    better with film than digitial. Film costs money so every frame counts
    compared to the "delete" button on digital. Hence you'll think longer about
    the set up of each shot. Although Ive been to the sharp end at digital I
    still enjoy going back to the basics with film and Ive taken some shots that
    simply couldnt be replicated with digital. Also, developing and printing
    with film is creative and Ive found that to be a great joy - also
    exasperating at times!

    McKev \(yay!\), Jul 30, 2008
  6. gsa22soccer

    otzi Guest

    Yes I too would suggest using film, at least for starters. Film may be
    dearer per shot but don't be fooled, for every comment about the blessing of
    digital there is a lot that is not said. Like costs. Yes costs. Digital is
    good make no mistake but to achieve the blessings of film you need good
    stuff. Most cameras seem pretty good even the point and shoot, well sort of.
    But to gain the really useful blessings of digital you are best to master a
    couple of chapters of photo shop, and I will admit that is beyond me. You
    need an accurate monitor a really good printer and a really good scanner.
    photo ink jet paper is quite pricey as is the ink.

    When traveling a digital needs the back up of too much stuff if you wish to
    do more that store your images in camera..
    Film cameras-I presume 35mm are very competitive these days, film is better
    than it's ever been and your dark room stuff is easily bought off ebay.

    It boils down to whether you are a hands on person that likes to create
    using active hand (objective) Working on your own in peace and quiet_your
    space. Or some one that's just loves sitting on your backside gazing
    aimlessly at a monitor screen. (subjective) Working in the house interrupted
    by passers by to tell you tea's ready, seeing what your doing, etc,etc,

    Hour for hour you will blow away far more of your life on the monitor than
    you will in the dark room. And I don't know why but digital users are always
    buying more stuff, well that's what their partners recon any way.

    = Otzi
    otzi, Jul 31, 2008
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