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TP: Digital vs. Film - the lenses tell a story.

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DavidB View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DavidB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: TP: Digital vs. Film - the lenses tell a story.
    Posted: 22 April 2007 at 04:01


This has been moved from the Equipment forums to become a Talking Point.



In a continuing effort to promote reflection and discussion on our shared interest in photography, I plan to bring out a new topic occasionally. This is just one more in a thread:



I do not pretend to have the answers,: I'm just asking some provocative questions in many of these threads.



This one: Why is it that we demand a new camera body, film or digital, at least every couple of years, while we tolerate and actually revere lenses which are over 20 years old? Could it be that we actually value the vision we are trying to achieve more than the technology we use to achieve it? I think so.



I have worked with professional photographers for over thirty years, some using 8x10 view cameras where everything was manual... a lens mounted on a square of wood, fitted into the front frame of a bellows. Exposure timed with a watch, the lens opened and closed accordingly, the lights jolted into action, then extinguished with seemingly mammoth switching gear. But at the end of the day, if the photographer seemed to show affection for anything in his equipment stable, it was the old lens mounted on the front of the camera.



Most of the lenses I use are over 20 years old now, but are the product of the auto-focus age with Minolta. Many have been refined over the years, but not so much that I have bothered to upgrade them. They are just so good. And while I have become impatient, along with others with Minolta, then Konica-Minolta, then Sony with their inability to react to our changing needs for ever-more advanced camera bodies, we have been pretty patient (in fact enamoured) with the lenses. In fact, many users have been on a mission to acquire pre-owned lenses often nearly 20 years old, and willing to pay increasing prices for them.



There has been some debate here on the potential resurgence of film as an altenative to digital, and it has sparked a lively debate, where some members are eager to explore the differences and applaud the strengths. They will be using different bodies in order to do so... but for the most part, the same lenses.



So in the long run, whether it is full frame or a cropping factor, film or digital, it is the lens we rely on to achieve our vision first. And differences aside, it's what we see through the lens of our SLR/DSLR that realizes our vision.



In this regard, the difference between film and digital takes on some perspective.

Edited by rovhazman - 08 November 2013 at 20:48
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OniFactor View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote OniFactor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 04:25
i feel that the major part of this is because there are always new advances in technology for bodies, but the physics of optics doesn't change much, therefore we demand the changes come in the form of the bodies..

a body can run the gamut of 'first time user mode' to 'experienced pro photographer' in just one body, by simply the features it comes with. this is a very very large range of technology to actually encompass, if you honestly think about it, everything from AF, to exposure, to flash control, to even the compression of the image. but a camera body can very easily make the best of all of these areas, without many issues, whereas with lenses.. well, you don't see many 18-500 f/1.2 SSM IS macro lenses, do you? with lenses, to be good, you have to pick what you want to excel at, because the physics of the beast is that such you lose at one thing, to gain another. there are no physics breakthroughs that allow you to improve things so much, like with technology.. you can rewrite the rules of technology every day, and still behind by the time you're done writing. that's why i feel that the demands are from the body, not the optics.

and there is some demand in the optics department. everyone wants some of the old lenses updated, with new features. ADI beercan, SSM this or that.. but you can't really complain when the old stuff works just as good as the new, and sometimes better (build quality, coatings..)
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DavidB View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DavidB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 07:23
Good points, OniFactor.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote MojoRick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 07:32
I recently bought an X-700 with various lenses. As a newbe to SLR film, I was interested in comparing digital with scanned film.

Which do you like:



Or



One is film scanned and processed via Lightroom/PSP and one is the KM 5D processed via Lightroom/PSP. The film is Fuji Superia X-TRA 400. I made the mistake of shooting one at f/2.0 and one at f/2.8.

Film or Digital?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Raimios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 07:45
One thing more to this discussion: It's a question of money too: The tolerances are too small for mass production, especially when we talk bigger sensor sizes. You can easily notice, cameras with smaller sensors have new lenses ... or do you remember any 15* Zoom from 20 years back? Why it's so ... coz it's more easy to build lenses for smaller picture size.
In fact, there are new lens construction for Canon and Nikon ... for professional the price doesn't matter as much as for amateurs. And mostly those professional photographers don't pay lenses themselves ... payers are big magazines etc...

edit:
about those pictures; I'd say, upper one is film....(my guess)

Edited by Raimios - 22 April 2007 at 07:47
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DaveK View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DaveK Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 07:51
Well, I happen to use the most beautiful and payable lenses there are and I'm happy with that!

They are more than 20 years years old now (expect for the G lenses; they are 15 years old) but I still love 'm. I will not trade them for new ones. It's a bit like selling my babies. I have some spares too and why a 100mm f/4 and a 100 f/2.8? They both have there specialties.

OK, the AF is slow and they are not coated, but the optics can't be better. I like 'm all a lot! And I'm not a person who wants better and better. I think my picures are great (if you don't mind me saying that myself) so what more would I need?

If I compare my 200 mm f/2.8 G APO HS with the beercan, is it so much better optical? NO! Even though the 200 is a prime! Just a little (sharper, colours, bokeh) but the price is much higher! And the new lenses? Better? I don't think so. Not much.

And what I remember all the time ... it's who shoots that 'makes' the photo!


Regards
Dave

Edited by DaveK - 22 April 2007 at 09:32
Best regards, Dave
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bob J Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 09:03
My guess is that, once the technology is more mature, the race for changes to camera bodies will fall off, although dSLRs affect image quality in a way that film ones never could: so many of the improvement we see in bodies are about giving better resolution and better dynamic range which were things that film bodies could never have an effect on.

It does of course, still hold true that a dSLR that took great photos two years ago, will still take great pictures now, even if it has less pixels and lower dynamic range than current models.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Raimios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 09:18
And what I remember all the time ... it's who shoots that 'make' the photo!


More than truth ... I have a meeting a week ago with old photographer friends (some are pro's, some not..)
Coz we haven't met very often, we all have some portfolios as a seeds for discussion. One most interesting portfolio has been done by cellphone camera (1.3 mio). So resolution, or overall picture quality wasn't very great, but the pictures were ... that portfolio was like notebook of daily life; very common, but same time very weird and interesting. So more important is what, and how, you shoot, than how fine equipment you have
Like you have most powerful supercomputer, but without an idea you can't even invite so simple as e=mc2   :)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Maffe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 11:29
The development of optics is not as fast as the body with itīs electronics and computers inbeded.
The reason I "need" Sony to make a new good camera house is that when my camera breaks down need to know there is a new good camera to replace my old.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dunadan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 11:44
I wouldn't really agree about impossibilities in evolution in optics. I was thinking about this and... well - why there is no AF STF lenses? why there is know Macro f:1.4 lenses? why there is no 16-300 zoom?... new APO technologies ( i.e. Canon's DO lens - don't know how if it works good but anyway - something new ), new lens systems with better bokeh, brighter lenses ( i.e. 200-500/2.8 monster ), smaller lenses. There is a plenty of fields in which lenses could be imporved... then - why is it going so slowly in comparison to bodies? I think there is no general need for such high developement in optics. I mean VERY general - look at the electronic - it evolves in every field of science - optics not...

But I'm happy about this :D otherwise we would have to chenge lenses every 4 years :D
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Silver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 12:06
Mojorick

Im not certain wich are wich, but I do like the first one better.. the second seems to lack alot of the detail wich is in the first image. Also seems like there is more blur, a much smaller part that actually is in focus in the 2nd image.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote H_K_F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 13:46
MojoRick, I would like to borrow your photos for a quick demo, I hope you don't mind.

From your 2 photos, the top one is a digital image, the below is a film image.

A digital file can be easily modified to have the "film-look".



It can be easily done as below.



Digital simply has a higher dynamic range than film.
Image from film looks more dynamic (punchy, contrasty) because it has a lower dynamic range. : )
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Post Options Post Options   Quote vitor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 13:53
#1 is digital
#2 is film, with film the DOF is more tight, so you get more blur even if using the same aperture, which you didn't.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote vitor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2007 at 13:59
Originally posted by H_K_F H_K_F wrote:


Digital simply has a higher dynamic range than film.
Image from film looks more dynamic (punchy, contrasty) because it has a lower dynamic range. : )


I got a bit confused here ... Digital as a lower dynamic range then film, period. Can you explain what you meant ?
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