Prints from film v prints from digital images

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by denis, Nov 28, 2005.

  1. denis

    denis Guest

    I am curious as to why photo lab colour prints - even machine prints
    - from an entire 35 film can look 'spot on' - no need for post
    processing as is necessary with most images from a digital camera. How
    do photo labs printing machines achieve this?

    Denis Boisclair
    Cheshire, UK.
    denis, Nov 28, 2005
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  2. denis

    Mark² Guest

    Ever see film images shot under florescent light?
    They look green (unless they have the right filter, or film specific to that

    Or orange under tungsten?

    It happens with film too.

    The other aspect is... Digital images are almost universally viewed
    full-screen...which is FAR greater enlargement than most film shots are ever
    viewed at.

    Film shots are most commonly viewed at 4x6...and just about any camera's
    rendition will look relatively sharp at that size, compared with a
    full-screen-size shot...either digital or film.
    Mark², Nov 28, 2005
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  3. denis

    DD Guest

    What rubbish.

    A soft image looks soft no matter what size you print it at, even 6x4.
    Besides, all images processed at labs these days are digital - in the
    case of film it is scanned first and then printed. Any decent lab would
    do a colour correction for you if you had shot daylight film under
    flourescent lighting.

    The most likely reason for film looking spot on is because it hasn't
    been fiddled with by anyone other than the lab. Most people who send
    their digital images to the lab for printing have been working in a
    different colour space, or have a poorly calibrated monitor. What looks
    good on their screen looks crap on the lab's screen.
    DD, Nov 28, 2005
  4. denis Guest

    Surly if a lab scans film and prints it they are reducing quaility
    because the image being projected onto the paper is 3rd party, my guess
    at the reason why they scan is because it makes quality prints easier,
    while getting the best results in a darkroom take hard work?
, Nov 28, 2005
  5. denis

    no_name Guest


    The negative is scanned in the machine, the image is reversed &
    projected on a calibrated monitor. That guy sitting down there at the
    end of the machine is looking at the monitor and adjusting the color
    balance for each print. This adjustment is then used by the machine to
    make the actual print.
    no_name, Nov 28, 2005
  6. denis

    bmoag Guest

    I have never seen anything even remotely like that in over thirty years of
    shooting color negative films processed in every conceivable setting.
    The horribly low quality of most commercial photofinishing still helps to
    fuel digital camera sales.
    bmoag, Nov 28, 2005
  7. denis

    no_name Guest

    I don't think so. Most of those digital camera users are still going to
    get "horribly low quality" mini-lab prints or prints from the all-in-one
    scanner/printer de jure.

    Digital camera sales are driven by the internet; the ability to attach
    the latest snapshots of the new baby to an e-mail to granma.

    And don't discount the ability to see instantly that you actually got a
    picture of the new baby, not some horribly botched, head chopped off,
    finger over the lens, out of focus, vaguely baby shaped blob on heat
    damaged film 'cause the camera got left in the glove box when you got
    home from vacation last July. The average American family had a 35mm P&S
    auto-camera and when the film was processed, there was a different
    Christmas tree on each end of the roll.

    Now they shoot, pull the memory card out & have the pictures up on the
    family web-page while mama's still cleaning up the wrapping paper and
    bows Christmas morning.

    That's what's fueling digital camera sales!
    no_name, Nov 28, 2005
  8. denis

    Scott W Guest

    Most mini-lab prints suck big time. If I do want a film image printed
    it gets scanned by me and the colors set by me, that way I know what I
    am going to get. I get much better prints this way. But scanning is a
    pain and so this is a push toward digital.
    You make good points and clearly much of this is what is fueling
    digital camera sales. Buy bmoag said that quality was helping fuel the
    sales of digital cameras, not that it was the only factor.

    The list of why one might wish to shoot digital rather then film is
    very long and all of it is pushing people away from film and towards

    Ever last person that I know that was shooting film SLRs is now
    shooting digital, and nothing but digital. These were not people with
    cheap P&S cameras, these are people who shot film SLRs for decades, and
    not one of them does any more.

    I have also noticed that people need higher quality photos now that
    they are shooting digital. The same people who were shooting ISO 400
    film and making 3 x 5 inch prints are now making 8 x 10 prints.

    I put a lot of images up on the web for friends and family to look at,
    but this generally is not what makes them want to get a digital camera.
    It is when I show them 8 x 12 prints that are better then what they
    have seen from a 35mm camera. I know there are people who will claim
    that with their lab they can get great looking prints from film, this
    makes no difference to someone who's lab makes crappy prints from
    35mm negatives.

    The quality of the photos is not the only reason people have moved to
    digital and it might not even be the main reason but it is definitely
    one of the reasons for the move.

    Scott W, Nov 28, 2005
  9. denis

    Jeremy Guest

    Amateur photography is clearly abandoning film. But it appears that
    film-based photography is moving toward a high-end niche market. Zeiss Ikon
    is coming out with a line of excellent lenses, Leica is still hanging in
    there, and Nikon and Canon are emphasizing their digital gear over their
    older analog technology.

    And, while this is subjective on my part, there is a certain "sameness"
    about digital photographs that makes them uninspiring at times. There was
    an article a few months ago in the NY Times that noted that most
    professional photographers were using the same 3 or 4 lenses, and a few
    photographers that bucked the trend were creating stunning images on film,
    using classic film lenses. Many of us already own a collection of splendid
    lenses from our film days--and these lenses don't perform the same on
    digital cameras, if they can even be mounted at all.

    There is no question that news photography and any requirement that requires
    speedy processing is now in the digital domain. Same for more pedestrian
    uses, like insurance claim photos, home inventory photos, identification
    headshots for things like employee badges, time-lapse photography,
    scientific experiment photo documentation, etc. But there is still a range
    of subjects, like landscape, architectural, fashion and fine art
    photography--where there are no tight deadlines that must be met--where film
    does not hold out a prospect of being an inferior choice.

    Just as there is a certain "film" quality to movies shot on film versus
    television programs shot on videotape, there is something about digital
    photos that suggests that they are "different." Film is not going to die
    off--you just won't be able to drop off a roll of 35mm for one-hour
    processing at the local pharmacy or supermarket.
    Jeremy, Nov 28, 2005
  10. denis

    Scott W Guest

    It would appear that this is not the case. Whenever I have seen
    numbers professional film sales have been falling faster then consumer
    film sales. According to the Canadian Imaging Trade Association in 2004
    professional slide film sales dropped by 28% and negative professional
    negative film sales dropped by 32%. I use Canadian number since that
    is what I have, but I would guess it relects the over all trend.

    BTW Consumer film sales drop 25% in 2004.

    Scott W, Nov 28, 2005
  11. denis

    Jeremy Guest

    Sales are, indeed, dropping. But film's demise is not as certain as many
    would predict. It is going to change, but not go away. One day the 35mm NG
    may have as low a level of activity as do the LF or MF groups, but there are
    millions of film cameras out there, and film has not been replaced entirely.
    Jeremy, Nov 28, 2005
  12. denis

    Colin D Guest


    That can be true, but IMO it's the very simplicity of digital shooting
    that is responsible. The vast majority of digital images are jpegs
    straight from the camera, churned out by the camera's automated
    processor, and then printed or displayed by automatic technology. So
    they look the same.

    Film cameras are used mostly by people who use the one-hour labs for
    their prints, and they can look the same too, except for differing film
    characteristics, which would produce different-looking prints.

    But, just as knowledgeable film types can choose the film for the effect
    they want, digital shooters can use RAW images and modify the look of
    the images with Photoshop or other image-manipulating programs to
    produce the image they want, and those images can be very different. A
    couple of my friends use Canon digital Dslr's as I do, work on the
    images as I do, but their images bave a completely different look to
    mine. Sameness is not inherent to the medium.

    Colin D.
    Colin D, Nov 28, 2005
  13. denis

    no_name Guest

    Jeremy wrote:

    Well, the LF & MF groups are seeing some activity, although some of it
    is cross posting from the digital groups bearding the lion in his den
    type stuff; digital fanatics trying to "prove" digital is better than MF/LF.
    no_name, Nov 29, 2005
  14. denis

    Guest Guest

    Well, my wife is a pro that shoots nothing but film as what she sells is
    artistic and her publishers demand slides and the last place she would
    spend her time was in here or on usenet at all. How many women do you see
    in here? A lot of women are serious shooters. A lot of film is still
    being shot every day and will be for quite some time. We have a friend
    who is a nature photographer and shoots both digital and film but when he
    goes on assignment to remote places he takes only film cameras, one that
    requires batteries and one that does not. Guess why.
    Guest, Nov 29, 2005
  15. denis

    DD Guest

    Well, I'm moving in the opposite direction. I see better quality coming
    from my film than I do coming from my digital.

    There are many factors that influence this, such as the types of cameras
    and lenses I am using, the places I go to to get my pictures printed,
    but the biggest factor is the change inside of me when I shoot with film
    as opposed to digital.

    I agree with what you say about consumer digitals though. They are
    better than the old P&S type cameras most people were using.
    DD, Nov 29, 2005
  16. denis

    Jeremy Guest

    This is probably not a reason that most people would say is valid for
    remaining loyal to film, but here goes:

    The independent part of me just can't stand hearing that relentless mantra
    "Film is dead" from all those morons that never even handles a good, metal,
    heavy film camera and lens, and who think that it is impossible to produce
    any image at all unless the camera computes and sets the exposure and the
    lens automatically focuses on what is (hopefully) the main object in the
    frame. There are way too many consumer "digital-know-it-alls" who seem to
    think that any camera with film in it is a dinosaur, and any photographer
    that uses such a camera is nothing but a brainless Neanderthal. Never mind
    the fact that many millions of great images were taken on film, or that
    there is a treasure trove of superb lenses out there--lenses that create
    memorable and unique images. Never mind that there is a wide variety of
    film types, that offer the photographer a virtual palette from which to
    choose so as to obtain exactly the results he wants. Never mind that the
    simple addition of a good film scanner enables the photographer to keep all
    of the benefits of film while adding the ability to digitally edit those
    images--just as he can do with a digital camera's output.

    I'm sick of reading one-line descriptions of lenses on many digital cameras
    from the review sites--the ones that say something like, "The lens seemed
    reasonably sharp, and we didn't notice any distortion." As though those
    reviewers know anything about distortion to begin with.

    Digital is fine for many purposes, and I would be the last person to make
    fun of anyone that chose to go that route. But I have become weary of
    hearing digital gearheads that mock anyone that is engaged in doing
    something different.

    Like, if they don't approve of my choice of camera, who cares?
    Jeremy, Nov 29, 2005
  17. denis

    Scott W Guest

    Most of the points you make are valid. BTW my fist SLR was an old
    Nikon manual everything, no auto focus and no auto exposure and yes it
    was heavy and yes it was metal. I also did my own darkroom work using
    BW film. None of this makes me an expert in film shooting but you
    should keep in mind that many of us who now shot digital have had a
    long history of shooting film first.

    It was your statement "But I have become weary of hearing digital
    gearheads that mock anyone that is engaged in doing something
    different." That I found a bit odd, since I find it mostly goes the
    other way with a number of film shooters claiming that if you want a
    quality photo you need to use film. When the digital shooter say it
    ain't so, that digital can and does produce great photos, they (the
    film shooters) act like they are the ones under attach.

    If you look at the people that are defending digital they mostly all
    shot film or continue to shoot film. Many of them use MF and LF to get
    past the limitations of 35mm.

    As for film dying, well it is clearly true that the film market is
    dying. It is also clear that the selection of film we be going down
    and getting it processed will continue to get harder. The true is that
    each year a lot less people care about film then the year before, and
    this is going to make it increasingly hard for those who wish to
    continue shooting film. But it seems a bit silly to try and get mad at
    the people who have switch away from film.

    Scott W, Nov 29, 2005
  18. denis

    no_name Guest

    Jeremy wrote:

    Seems to me that's as good a reason as any. The contrarian streak has a
    large place in the "American" psyche.

    I still shoot film because (among other reasons) I like the results I get.
    no_name, Nov 29, 2005
  19. denis

    Jeremy Guest

    But it seems that just about every other post on this NG has some comment in
    it that "Film Is Dead!" Jeebus, that is really getting boring.

    I have a digicam, I find it useful for certain types of shots, and I don't
    blast digital users at all. I fully expect film sales and processing to
    disappear from consumer-oriented locations like drugstores, and I don't
    worry about that. I do not believe that film will be difficult to buy or
    have processed, especially in this modern environment, where goods are
    routinely transported all over the country. Just look at all the eBay
    transactions where ordinary people have no problem shipping things to
    anywhere in the world.

    I'm just sick and tired of seeing so many self-proclaimed experts predicting
    the demise of all film, and suggesting that those of us that use it must be
    dull-witted for doing so. I am an amateur. I have no deadlines to meet, no
    need to procure the latest equipment, no need to be able to fulfill every
    type of photo assignment that is given to me, and no need to trash all of my
    film bodies and lenses just to keep up with someone else's idea of what is
    state-of-the-art--especially when those critics probably never took a decent
    shot in their entire lives.

    I just find this never-ending "Film vs. Digital" debate to be really
    overworked, really "old," and really dumb.
    Jeremy, Nov 30, 2005
  20. denis

    Mark² Guest

    Then the trolls are having their way with you, and you're giving them the
    pay-off they seek by voicing your annoyance.
    Most of those lines are written only to incite response (trolling).
    Occasionally, there are nails that seem aimed at film's when
    more film companies go belly-up, etc.
    I understand these posts, since they certainly do point to a changing
    Film isn't dead...and any reasonable person knows this...but there's no
    question that the balance is quickly changing.
    Mark², Nov 30, 2005
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