Scanning a color photo

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Jim McKee, Jul 22, 2003.

  1. Jim McKee

    Jim McKee Guest

    Hi everyone - does anyone know the actual technical details of the
    difference between a photo made directly by a digital camera and one
    which instead is scanned from a color print? Along the same lines, I was
    confused today when I read an article about a new digital camera which,
    however, has an OPTICAL zoom so that much crisper-than-digital results
    are obtained. My question - then how is it a digital camera?
    Jim McKee, Jul 22, 2003
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  2. Jim McKee

    Jeremy Guest

    x-no-archive: yes

    A film-based camera produces images on negatives or slides. This image can
    be converted to digital in 3 ways:

    1: Just scan the print, on a regular flatbed scanner, to make a digital

    2: A better way, scan the negative on a negative scanner, which has a much
    higher d.p.i. rating than does a flatbed scanner. The negative holds more
    information than does the print, so a negative scanner, while more
    expensive, will yield a better result.

    3: Have the negatives scanned by your photofinisher when they are developed.
    This is the best time, because there is no dust or dirt on the
    newly-processed film. I routinely have Kodak make a "Picture CD" ($7.99
    extra) when they process my film. The images can be printed as big as 8x10
    and still be of acceptable quality. And I do not have to buy my own film
    scanner or spend a couple of hours scanning the negs myself.

    Downside is that you can make metter scans (more d.p.i.) if you do the job
    yourself, but that requires that you invest several hundred dollars in a
    scanner (and the related computer equipment to which to connect it), and
    that you learn how to scan. See for an online tutorial.

    The film-to-digital route is probable the best way to get good digital
    images, as long as you can live without the instant gratification of seeing
    the image within moments of taking it.

    1: By using film, you can continue using your present lenses. If you have
    a lot of them, as I do, you will be able to take photos in many more
    situations than can a digital. I am thinking primarily about a wider focal
    range. As an example, my digital camera covers a 38-86 mm range. My film
    camera has lenses at 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 55mm, 135mm and 200mm and 400mm, PLUS
    I have a teleconverter that can double the focal length of any of my lenses.
    That means I can go as high as 800mm with my film camera. In addition, my
    Pentax prime lenses have MUCH better quality than any digital lens has.
    Better flare control, less distortion, sharper, brighter images.

    2: There is no digital camera on the market today that has sufficient
    megapixels to equal the amount of information captured on a 35mm negative.
    I know that you may find this hard to swallow, but you are sacrificing
    quality by going digital. The kid next door, who has his grandfather's
    Minolta SRT 101 or Pentax Spotmatic from 30 years ago, WILL produce better
    results than you will, with your $1,000.00 Sony with the Carl Zeiss zoom

    3: If you take photos on film, and store the negatives, you can always
    re-scan them if the technology improves in the future. By contrast, a
    digital camera's image file cannot be re-done down the road--you are limited
    to whatever information was originally captured).

    With regard to your question about optical zoom, you need to understand the
    difference between OPTICAL ZOOM (good) and DIGITAL ZOOM (crap):

    1: Optical zoom means that your camera has a zoom lens. When you zoom in on
    a subject, the image is magnified by the camera's lens before it is
    projected into your camera's chip to be recorded. That is the only TRUE

    2: Digital zoom is where the camera crops out the outer edges of the
    picture, and expands the center section. You could do the same thing
    yourself in any image editing software. The trouble is, you are throwing
    away a good chunk of the pixels in the photograph, and you are spreading the
    remaining pixels out. The price you pay for this is severe reduction in

    3: Many cameras offer a combination of digital AND optical zoom, and the
    camera manufacturer states the "Total Zoom" in their specs. Don't be fooled
    by this. The only real zoom, that does not result in decreased resolution,
    is OPTICAL zoom. A typical consumer digital camera has between 2x and 3x
    optical zoom. My camera, for example, has 2.3x optical zoom. That means
    that my lens has an equivalent focal length of 38-86mm--not so good, but ok
    for most typical snapshots.

    As you can probably tell, I am not crazy about digital. It costs a lot, its
    quality is restricted, its focal length is nowhere near what I have for my
    film cameras, the cameras eat up batteries, there is no choice in lenses
    (what comes with the camera is what you get), They can break more easily
    than my Pentax all-metal camera bodies, and, just about every year, the
    technology is improved, making last year's camera like yesterday's
    newspaper. There is no resale valus after 5 years.

    My Ricoh RDC-5000, which I bought in December 1999, cost me $700, not
    counting extra batteries, charger, and memory chips ($69.00 for 16 meg chips
    back then). It is 2.3 megapixel--the biggest available at that time. It
    makes excellent 5x7s and nice, but not perfect, 8x10s. I have to tweak
    every single shot in my editing software, to correct the color balance,
    adjust brightness and contrast, and sharpen the edges. I am my own
    darkroom. It takes HOURS of work to get the images the way I want, assuming
    that I shot 50 photos in a single session.

    I have them printed by Kodak, on real photo paper, at a cost of $.99 per
    5x7. Plus shipping. Very expensive.

    Contrast that with my film camera: At my wholesale club, I can buy 8 rolls
    of Kodak Gold 200 color print film for $16.00. That's 6 rolls of 24
    exposures, and 2 rolls of 36 exposures--8 rolls in all.

    I can get KODAK film processing there at a cost of $3.89 for film developing
    and 24 5x7 prints. For $2.00 more, I can get a second set of 24 5x7 prints.
    AND, I only had to drop off the film, and pick it up the next day. Kodak
    did all the work, developing, color-correcting, printing. I did not have to
    spend hours at my computer, being my own darkroom technician.

    Digital is great when all you want is the occasional snapshot of the kids at
    the pool, or home inventory images, where you don't intend to print them,
    but just want to keep them stored on a CD in your safe deposit box, in case
    you sustain a future loss. They're great if you want to email photos of the
    family back to the relatives in distant places. They're great if you need
    FAST images, such as news photography, or insurance claims adjustor
    documentary photography, etc.

    If you are a low-volume shooter, digital is excellent, because you don't
    have to wait weeks or months to use up a roll of film before you get to see
    the photos.

    If you want to take intimate photos of your wife or girlfriend, digital has
    obvious advantages. You can do your own "photo processing."

    But, if you are looking for maximum quality, film is the way to go. My own
    solution is to have both film and digital cameras, and to use whichever one
    is best suited to whatever my need is at the time. When I bought my digital
    camera, I thought I could chuck my film gear. It took me a whole year
    before I came to the realization that, despite digital's advantages, it was
    NOT going to be able to replace my film cameras for EVERYTHING. That is
    why, when I read those never-ending threads in newsgroups about "Film vs.
    Digital," I am turned off. It is not a case of "either-or," but rather a
    question of "which one best suits my needs for right now?"

    To have a look at some of the things that the digital camera salesman
    neglects to tell you, see this link:

    There is no doubt in my mind that many people just assume that digital is
    going to kill off film, and they buy digital equipment thinking that it is
    the only way to go. That may or may not be true, depending upon one's

    I hope that I've been able to clear up some of your questions on this issue.
    Jeremy, Jul 22, 2003
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  3. The new pro-level digicams with 11 or 12 Mp equal the resolution of 35 mm
    film. There is light scattering in the emulsion - despite a black backing
    on the film hat reduces the effect somewhat - that limits the resolution.
    But you won't be able to do better than what is on the film. Ever.

    Marvin Margoshes, Jul 22, 2003
  4. Jim McKee

    Paul Handley Guest

    Jeremy I went the same route and you echo my on sentiments exactly. I not
    quite so decerning with my DC and just enhance and print in photoshop
    Paul Handley, Jul 23, 2003
  5. Jim McKee

    Jim McKee Guest

    Thanks, Jeremy, for a really informative answer to my question.
    Jim McKee, Jul 24, 2003
  6. Jim McKee

    Jeremy Guest

    x-no-archive: yes

    SSSHHHHH!!! Don't let T.P. hear you say that!!

    Jeremy, Jul 24, 2003
  7. Jim McKee


    3: If you take photos on film, and store the negatives, you can always
    Until they improve the film emulsion again and again and again... While when
    they improve the ccd sensor in your digital camera you can replace it? or
    does it end up next to that old 8086 pc?
    CRAIG PALME, Jul 28, 2003
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