Nikon AI vs. Super Takumars

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Pat, Oct 17, 2003.

  1. Pat

    Adam F Guest

    yeah it's not the kit, it's the cost of developing these days

    any lab that does a decent job with MF is going to be at the high end of the
    market these days, and many of them are concentrating more on digital now although you could equip yourself and buy film for no more than a
    good 35mm setup, you'd want to have your own darkroom and an inside line to
    Ilford (for affordable paper, chemicals) to make it economical...

    adam f
    Adam F, Oct 19, 2003
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  2. Pat

    Jeremy Guest

    x-no-archive: yes

    Well, several reasons come to mind:

    1: 35mm lenses typically focus closer than MF lenses do.

    2: 35mm lenses typically have wider apertures than do MF (I'm thinking
    especially of normal lenses here)

    3: 35mm camera manufacturers typically offer more choices in terms of focal
    lengths and availability of zoom lenses than do MF camera makers.

    4: 35mm cameras and lenses are typically lighter and somewhat easier to
    carry around than their larger MF cousins.

    5: Many of us are heavily invested in 35mm, and it might be a financial
    hardship to start assembling a MF system.

    6: Many of us do not make many big enlargements, and are fairly satisfied
    with 35mm prints at 11x14 and under. The cost of MF is not justified for
    the low-volume shooter--especially if he already has a good 35mm system.

    7: Film emulsions have steadily improved, and 35mm can do an acceptable job
    in many situations.

    8: For those that want autofocus and other types of camera automation, 35mm
    has more options.

    9: Some of us like the aspect ratio of a 35mm image better than the square
    format of 6x6 MF.

    10: "Habit." Just plain ole habit--some of us just feel more comfortable
    using 35mm. I have a MF TLR that I rarely use, just because my 35mm gear
    feels like a comfortable old shoe.

    11: higher cost of developing & printing.

    12: More film choices in 35mm

    13: Not easy to get 1-hour processing in MF, as opposed to ready
    availability in 35mm.

    14: Speed. 35mm cameras typically can fire off several shots in the time
    that it takes to do a single exposure in MF.

    15: Hand hold ability. MF cameras, although they can be handheld, seem to
    be biased toward tripod use. Using MF is typically a slower, more
    introspective style of shooting, that is not always the most compatible with
    action shots. (Does anybody make motor-drive units for MF cameras??? 12 or
    24 exposures wouldn't last vary long in a motor-driven unit).

    16: Adaptability. 35mm cameras have attachments and auxiliary poeces that
    let them perform in the widest possible variety of shooting situations (not
    necessarily the best choice for every situation, of course). If you HAD to
    choose only one format, 35mm would be a compelling contender.

    All those points notwithstanding, I completely agree with you that it is
    easier to shoot in MF rather than to try to eek out a few more LPMs of
    resolution with one's 35mm gear.
    Jeremy, Oct 19, 2003
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  3. Pat

    Rafe B. Guest

    The answer is yes.

    One of the more popular MF cameras for weddings and
    event shots is the Pentax 645, which has a motor drive
    as standard equipment, and works quite nicely hand-held.

    In fact, when I purchased mine the motor drive wasn't a
    big draw at all. But the drive grip makes the camera a
    pleasure to to hold, and it's nice not to have to take the
    camera away from your face to advance the film.

    rafe b.
    Rafe B., Oct 19, 2003
  4. Pat

    Loren Coe Guest

    there are (likely) many 6x7's still being worked.
    true, for many casual users especially.
    again, mostly true.
    well, now you want to make a disadvantage out of having interchangeable
    many of your points are subjective. all of the points about image
    quality for instance. 35mm is "adequate" at best in many uses that
    it sees, mostly because the public and management have accepted the
    fuzzy/grainy images widely publicized today. as always, YMMV, --Loren
    Loren Coe, Oct 19, 2003
  5. Pat

    Nick Zentena Guest

    This is only really a low light issue. You lose DOF with the larger
    format. So shallow DOF is pretty easy to get with MF.

    Those modern 35mm are huge. Some are bigger then large format cameras.

    I'd say the exact opposite. If you aren't burning lots of film then
    getting the best possible makes the most sense.

    MF ranges from 6x4.5 to 6x9

    Get a 70mm back. With 6x7 you get I think 55 exposures per roll of film.
    With 6x4.5 I guess it's closer to 100 exposures per roll of film.

    Nick Zentena, Oct 19, 2003
  6. Pat

    Gordon Moat Guest

    I think too much is discussed about the resolution issues. Few of us do the
    majority of our 35 mm shooting off a tripod, and hand held shots loose some
    resolution. Also, the extra weight of some MF gear can actually help make for
    steadier hand held shots, though the biggest gains are indeed in tripod shots
    (resolution differences).
    Less enlargement needed for the same final print size. Scanning is another issue,
    and dedicated film scanners cost more for medium format than for 35 mm. Flat
    scanning (except high end) of medium format looses some of the resolution
    advantage, though often the difference in tonality still holds up over 35 mm.

    Of course the worst thing about medium format film is the taste. I think AGFA
    might have a few mint flavoured varieties, but most are not very palatable.
    If you compare something like an F5, EOS 1, top line Leica, or a few others, then
    the same money can get into several different medium format set-ups. With a few
    exceptions, the lenses are much more, and third party lenses are almost
    non-existent in medium format. The other comparison, with something like an F5,
    is that the weight is similar. Some newer medium format gear is well constructed
    and ergonomic.

    I would think that more interest would be in medium format from advanced
    amateurs. The ability to add a digital back future proofs most medium format
    purchases. Rentals are also readily available in larger cities for some brands,
    including renting digital backs. Current used medium format gear often goes at
    quite a bargain price, so buying used now can get one into some excellent gear.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Oct 19, 2003
  7. Pat

    Jeremy Guest

    Jeremy, Oct 19, 2003
  8. Pat

    Jeremy Guest

    x-no-archive: yes

    MF sales are dropping. The new crop of amateurs seems hell-bent on going
    digital. I believe that we might be seeing MF's golden years--just like
    SLRs had back in the 70s.

    Less new cameras sold will, unfortunately, translate into less equipment
    available on the used market down the road. It's difficult to foresee any
    growth when the number of available units drops.

    Much as I regret it, I suspect that film-based cameras are going the way of
    the vinyl LP, in time. When the pros sell out to digital, in a big way,
    that will spell the end for advanced amateurs.

    It won't happen right away, but I see film cameras becoming collectors'
    items, rather than shooters, in 20 years.

    It's all rather sad.
    Jeremy, Oct 19, 2003
  9. Pat

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Part of the belief is that the newest technology is the "best". The other part
    of the equation is that people are often happy with "good enough", and the
    extra quality is often a lost aspect.
    The sales of almost everything have suffered since 2000. Using just that makes
    forecasting the future very difficult, and fraught with errors. Film sales
    actually dropped in unit numbers at one point, which was (after the fact)
    correctly attributed to a decrease in travel after 11 September. One year
    later, and already film sales had rebounded, and even more time, unit sales
    actually increased.

    Granted, the medium format market has never been a volume business after the
    widespread adoption of 35 mm cameras. If you look at the cameras of the 1930s
    through 1950s, you can see many simple medium format cameras. However, by the
    1960s, sales of 35 mm based gear passed these. The introduction of widely
    available SLR 35 mm cameras further eroded medium format sales, and autofocus
    changed it even more.

    High unit sales are not needed to sustain a market. There are already
    speciality camera makers in the large format segment, and it is foreseeable
    that medium format gear would go this direction. It has been nearly always
    specially equipment, but could become more so.
    Lots of DJs using vinyl, meaning that this market has yet to go away. As long
    as there is demand, there will be supply. The other part of that is as long as
    there is profit, they will be made.
    I do not see it as a "sell out". I have been largely digital since I started
    this in late 1994. However, the direct digital approach is a separate
    development that is just now getting more recognition. You should also be
    careful when you define "pros". With photojournalists, the time to press is the
    issue, but their current digital SLRs could easily be replaced by wireless
    imaging, and in some cases this is already happening. High volume product
    photography actually benefits from direct digital, since the time savings
    offsets the high equipment costs.

    Amateurs like to emulate the "pros" they see most often in public. Those "pros"
    are often just photojournalists, and many also are heavily involved in video.
    News, in the form of sports, or stories, is best served by tight deadlines, but
    amateurs do not have these deadlines. Still, the camera makers know that the
    more of their products seen at the news worthy sports and events, will generate
    some sales amongst well off amateurs.

    The last issue about some "pros" is that they have always been a small part of
    film sales. The greatest sales are still one time use cameras, and consumer
    print films. Considering that "you take the pictures, and we do the rest" is
    still valid, this will remain popular for a while. If digital disposable become
    more popular, and the batteries can last for two Christmas events, then maybe
    disposable camera sales will decline.

    Those who choose to watch the "Making of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
    Issue", would see lots of Mamiya RZ67 cameras in use, and Polaroid proofs. Big
    sports and news events are okay, but if I was going to emulate someone, it
    would be the swimsuit issue photographers. Oh . . . and the reason for the big
    cameras is that viewing the chromes on a light table makes for fast non-linear
    editing. All the film gets scanned later anyway, so in fact it really is
    digital imagery.

    Consider also that many people do not like sitting at a computer, or getting an
    inkjet printer to give a good looking print. Lots of people still have that
    flashing 12:00 on their VCR (now DVD), and want to minimize time on a computer.
    I do not see it. However, if both of us are around in twenty years, we can look
    back to this post. My predictions are that wireless imaging will largely
    replace direct digital point and shoot cameras within five years. Wireless
    imaging solves what most people doing digital imagery want, which is an image
    for e-mail. The difference is that they can just send it to another phone, and
    dispense with e-mail entirely. If you consider how badly Spammers have screwed
    up the e-mail system, this makes wireless imaging even more appealing.

    Considering that wireless imaging may be the next big thing, and the flooding
    of e-mail turning off many people to computer usage, this could actually create
    a market for film in the future. Those who want prints could still use film.
    Nearly one out of five households in North America uses a disposable camera as
    their primary camera. The super long battery life, or lack of battery in some,
    makes these great for long term sitting and not taking pictures.

    Another issue is that the world for cameras and film is much bigger than just
    North America, Europe, and Japan. Consider those other markets, and more
    development outside the western world, and you have emerging markets for film.
    In fact, public documents of financial status for Kodak, Fuji and AGFA,
    indicate that these "emerging markets" are under exploited. Twenty years could
    easily see these emerging markets having enough free time to want to "share
    moments, share life".
    Only if you want to be defeatist. Some futurists predict that computer usage
    will actually drop in the future, with fewer people having a need for a desktop
    computer, as we now know it. Phones are getting smarter, with ever increasing
    features and functions. Twenty years can easily bring an all-in-one device that
    anyone can carry all the time.

    Sony, Samsung, and Philips have already been at work on projector devices that
    fit into a mobile phone. Combine that with a camera, and a white wall, or piece
    of paper, can anyone can share images, with no need for a print. Only the
    current battery technology lack of development keeps this technology off the
    market. In twenty years, I would expect something like that to be fairly
    common. Again, this would side step a computer.

    Another issue that always crops up is technology backlash. With the ever
    increasing desire to remember simpler times, be nostalgic, or try something
    "different", many items can become a resurgent market. Recent examples of this
    are the rangefinder renaissance, the new popularity of large format,
    rediscovering Polaroid, more people using B/W films, and printing images with
    the frame information showing. Retro and vintage are always popular, creating
    ready markets for many devices.

    I do think there will be some companies that disappear from the camera market,
    and more that will merge. At some point, the market may only be Nikon and
    Canon, and every other company a small player, like Leica, Hasselblad, Mamiya,
    and Rollei. The bad part of that is the new prices could get very high. Perhaps
    there will be a future market in camera repairs . . . .


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Oct 20, 2003
  10. Adam F wrote:


    If they are anything like the Color Yashinons on the Electro35s, they must
    be amazing. There's a certain cachet to a lens that produces an image that
    reveals detail that might not be regarded as too unsharp to be in focus,
    right down at the level of the grain... in Fuji Reala, yet! (Viva la

    Anyone else have this experience?

    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, Oct 20, 2003
  11. Pat

    Bob Monaghan Guest

    interesting discussion ;-) I suspect 120 film stocks will be available, at
    least via mailorder, for some decades to come; even glass plates are still
    available from several sources now, after all ;-)

    Existing production tooling for many models of medium format gear are
    already paid for; so some models like pentax 67 are likely to go on being
    made until the tooling wears out. Unlike 35mm, lots of MF cameras are
    available for decades, with minor feature additions or improvements.

    The growing crop of digital backs and electronics rich autofocus MF
    cameras is going to change this pattern, with more rapid obsolescence and
    more repair problems (proprietary chip parts etc.). But many of the older
    cameras and lenses now in amateur photographer use will likely outlast
    their owners lifespan in non-pro usage (lots less film cycles per year..)

    My personal bet is that many serious amateurs and some pros will continue
    to use film for its "look" and many benefits, as well as retro nostalgia
    ;-) The second and third world markets will support low cost new gear
    such as the kievs and seagull, along with film stocks from existing

    I do expect that costs will go up, partly as the supply is being picked up
    by users who are stocking up and completing their kits now that prices are
    at historic lows in constant dollar terms.

    Ed Romney, the camera repairer/author, noted that there are many bodies
    with normal lenses (or zooms today) sold, but very much fewer lenses sold.
    My own study of JCIA stats suggest that only 2 1/2 lenses are sold per
    camera body today, and that perhaps 80-90%+ are zooms. So I would expect,
    as Romney suggested, that the prices for odd-ball lenses will go up faster
    than the basic camera bodies. As people want to use their retro and
    nostalgic pentax M42 or Minolta SRT kits, for example, they will likely
    bid up the prices of the existing prime lenses for those kits in the
    future. We are also seeing a lot more interest, thanks to the internet, in
    cameras and kits, not just the big $$ collectibles of the past, but even
    the less pricey but serviceable SLRs and RF of the past. Add in millions
    of new amateur photographers from digital photography and cell phone
    users, plus millions more from the third world who get the $$ to buy in to
    this hobby, and the destruction each year of millions of existing cameras
    and SLRs, and you can see a future for film based photography. If a
    simple digital insert is finally made for 35mm kits, it will offer the
    best of both worlds, the fun of old-time cameras and controls with direct
    digital images for some users, with the option to slip in film and shoot.

    I agree that we are probably going to see the bulk of digital users go to
    direct wireless transfers and never printed files and images online; which
    makes Kodak's future problematic given lost film and paper and chemicals
    sales (hence their 75% drop in stock prices?). I also expect a "sweet
    spot" around 16MP where larger MP sizes won't be needed by most users, and
    simply be more costly and slower to download or print.

    In other words, I expect high end digital photography, along with high end
    film and 35mm SLR and medium format users, to become a niche market too
    ;-) Since the big investment is in lenses and accessories, it is easy to
    see future DSLRs which could be retro'd to match different SLR makers
    lenses (e.g., an adapter to use M42 lenses, or Minolta SRT, or Nikon
    AI/IC...). It is also likely that only a handful of pro users and serious
    amateurs will need or want the maximum quality that high end digital and
    film use can provide; most users will be happy with the equiv. of 8x10"
    prints today (8x10" and larger are only 1% of all prints made in minilabs)

    my $.02

    grins bobm
    Bob Monaghan, Oct 23, 2003
  12. Pat

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Bob Monaghan wrote:

    Hi Bob,
    I think one of the nice things is less changes in less mounts, or the ability
    to mount older backs and finders. However, I still think a few companies may
    disappear, since the corporations that control them may not want to continue
    limited production.
    I do not think that more electronics means more repair problems, though the
    features that are tied to software may place a software obsolescence obstacle
    against equipment. We might be seeing this already with Rollei changing the
    new Master Control Unit to add a software and computer driven option. If
    Rollei decided to eliminate the stand-alone Master Control, and go software
    only via computer, then future buyers would be tied to Rollei's commitment to
    software updates. Another good example of this has been Kodak, who still
    continue to provide software updates for their pro digital equipment.
    Hopefully, Kodak will continue with this, and other companies will follow
    their lead.
    Read through some history of the Japanese camera industry, and much of the
    early gear was thought to be of low quality. I could imagine that the Chinese
    will get much better at quality control, and that future products might be
    considered high quality. Of course, that could drive the prices higher.
    Could be something like was Leica has done with the R9, or perhaps like NPC
    does with Polaroid backs. Basically, any camera with a removable back, or the
    capability of a data back, could be modified to use a digital back. The other
    option is what Sinar and Horseman are doing with their digital adapter
    bodies, which gives life to many older lenses (particularly Nikon AI mount).
    I think the stock drop reflects the facts that film is high profit, and
    digital is not. Kodak indicates some loss of direction with current
    statements. The same may have happened if they had announced they were going
    to rename the company "".
    Memory and storage get better all the time, as do computers. However, what
    does not get better fast are printing methods, meaning commercial printing.
    At the moment, having 400 ppi at the final printed size, plus bleeds, is the
    maximum. I am not sure how MP computes in that, since normally I just look at
    the maximum possible file size when evaluating direct digital gear, though
    usually just at 300 ppi.
    Sure, which puts Leica as the best niche player, and perhaps Hasselblad a
    close second. ;-)
    Scanning will be viable for quite some time still, and can only get better.
    That is the future of film combined with digital technology, and is the same
    situation it has been for nearly the last ten years.

    With medium format digital backs likely to eventually become affordable,
    another option is constructing adapters. To bypass Sinar and Horseman, one
    could take an old Hasselblad back, and an old Nikon manual focus back (for
    examples), and graft them together to get a mounting for a medium format
    digital back. Of course, the medium format start is a much better launching
    point for future proofing gear.
    Nice to converse with you again Bob. Come back again some time.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Oct 23, 2003
  13. Pat

    Loren Coe Guest

    there has been some discussion of "digital backs" and hi-end adaptors
    for various pro-equipment but no one, afaik, has mentioned the most
    obvious product that would sell like milk and bread: digital dropin
    adaptors for 35mm SLR's. this is surely coming, but just don't expect
    it from the major manufacturers because it's not in their best interests.

    the array would have to be thin, and the film plate may have to be
    removed, but that would be simple. how to cheat the film counter?
    just don't. i have never seen a camera that could tell if any
    film was actually loaded and advancing (well, manual cameras anyway).

    the cassette well is plenty large enough for the balance of the
    adapter/electronics. a big plus, it will be portable between
    cameras, so one expense for digital conversion of a number of
    cameras. also, fancy installations could modify the film door
    and fit usb, power or other connections. --Loren
    Loren Coe, Oct 23, 2003
  14. Pat

    Gordon Moat Guest

    The older E-film (and under several other names) idea was a sound idea, but run
    by a bunch of idiots. While in principal, their drop in idea was good, there
    were large problems still to solve. Mostly, the battery power, and image storage
    were very limited. At the claimed maximum resolution, you would have been lucky
    to get three shots before needing to download images and recharge. That solution
    was barely better than using a Polaroid back, and probably why they never had
    enough investments to continue.
    Judging by older Nikon manual focus gear (and new FM3A), the film counter is not
    an issue, though the film advance lever does cock the shutter. Also, there would
    be a need to manually set the ISO, so the exposure metering would be correct. On
    the FE and FM series, the back is easily removed, and could just be replaced.
    Same thing with the F3, and actually several other older cameras from many
    manufacturers. Basically, any company that offered a data back could be made to
    fit an appropriate digital back, though if demand were small, then they might be
    made to order items.

    The business model could work like NPC Photo currently does with their Polaroid
    backs for various 35 mm cameras, and many medium format cameras. In fact, it
    would not surprise me if NPC eventually offers digital backs for older gear.
    I like the cartridge idea, but I still think that to get proper storage and
    battery life, a bigger arrangement would be needed. The development of the
    digital back for the Leica R9 points us in a direction that others may follow.

    I think what needs to happen is imaging chips becoming much less expensive. Soon
    we should see greater availability of full 35 mm frame chips in more
    configurations, making the possibility of special items for older gear more
    viable. The full frame chips may move more towards CMOS, mostly due to cost
    issues. This would be a shame, since CCDs work slightly better at colour
    accuracy, though as long as we are stuck with Bayer pattern sampling, all this
    runs into limits.

    I wonder how many units of the Horseman DigiFlex I and II, and the Sinar M have
    actually sold. While these are intended to put medium format backs onto these
    bodies, and allow use of older lenses (mostly Nikon manual focus), they are nice
    solutions. Since Horseman developed a second version, and Sinar joined this
    market, it seems there is demand for these types of solutions. I still see these
    as the best bets for my older and still very good Nikon lenses, but the prices
    leave little room for profits.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Oct 23, 2003
  15. Pat

    Loren Coe Guest

    maybe i overestimate the current level of miniaturization, but the
    battery for the array would not have to power a flash or focus motor.
    however, a straight dropin would have to somehow be able to sense
    the film advance state, probably by mechanical means. if you lose
    the takeup spool, there is more room for batteries, whatever.

    Regards, --Loren
    Loren Coe, Oct 24, 2003
  16. Pat

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Just storage and circuitry, including the imaging chip. Probably fairly low power.
    Eliminating an LCD display would also help, though that would mean no image review in
    the camera.
    I think any removable back camera could be adapted, if there is a market for this.
    Something as big as a motor drive, or even slightly smaller, could hold all the
    storage, and perhaps an LCD. The other issue is that these devices could cost many
    times more than the cameras.

    When imaging chip yields go up, and prices go down, we may see some of these ideas.
    Only time will tell.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Oct 26, 2003
  17. Pat

    Bob Monaghan Guest

    the key investment for most of us is in the optics for various 35mm and MF
    systems. A digital camera body which could mount optics from various 35mm
    camera systems and a larger sensor version for MF would be a nifty way to
    add digital, especially if you could use different lens brands on the same
    body (as with T4/TX automatic diaphragm mounts). This could probably work
    with AF simply by moving the chip back/forward, as with the Contax SLR
    design, thereby turning all manual focus lenses into AF operation on the
    new digital body ;-) this would also simplify the problems mechanically to
    a simple lens mounting system for most brands, expanding the range of what
    one digital design box could do. Think of it as a third party body for
    multiple makers lenses? ;=-)

    grins bobm
    Bob Monaghan, Nov 4, 2003
  18. Pat

    Gordon Moat Guest

    I am not sure it would be most, but for professionals, the lenses are often
    the next biggest expense to the lighting gear.
    Like the two Horseman DigiFlex bodies, and the new Sinar M system. The
    Horseman allows more choice on the MF digital backs, since the Sinar M only
    works with Sinar digital backs.
    I do not see where this type of digital capture would benefit from autofocus.
    Someone interested in the larger MF digital backs probably would not use one
    for sports or photojournalism, since there are better choices in 35 mm sized
    direct digital gear. There is a step up in image quality using a MF digital
    back, and manually focusing would compliment that quality equation more than
    auto focus.

    However, the Contax N Digital did point out an important potential pro
    market. While the Contax 645 can take some digital backs, and is autofocus,
    the N Digital provided a lower cost option. Unfortunately, the low sales of
    the N Digital seem to indicate that few are interested. Autofocus might sell
    more cameras, but it is a separate consideration to digital backs. The N
    Digital tried to address that by allowing mounting of the 645 system lenses.
    I could see where the back film registration distance could be varied, though
    there is also the issue of communicating the aperture to the camera body,
    unless you only wanted manual exposure. I wonder if it really would be a
    benefit, or just a gimmick. Most professionals are fixed on one 35 mm lens
    system, and usually one brand of medium format gear.

    Anyway, Sinar will vary the mounting on the Sinar M, though this special
    order option comes at a cost. This offers a slightly wider choice option in
    lens mounting than Horseman, though the cost is much higher. Considering the
    cost of a digital back, or even leasing, both the Sinar M and two Horseman
    choices are low cost. Both systems currently work better with manual focus


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Nov 4, 2003
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