Film to Digital - Experiences?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Erendiox, Feb 13, 2007.

  1. Erendiox macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
    Hey everybody.

    I'm a long time film user. First camera I ever got my hands on was an Olympus OM-2 (35-105mm) and I use it as my primary camera to this day. I also have a more recent Nikon body (though still old) and macro lens (70-210mm), also film. These beauties and I have gone through some good times together. 2 photography classes, my associates in communications, and numerous trips to far off places. I wouldn't give them up for anything.

    I'm now starting to look forward a bit however. I know I may start taking pictures professionally, and, while I hate to say it, I probably should think about going digital. If there's one thing I hate about shooting film, it's so very expensive and money is not what I'm rolling in. To get quality film and quality processing, I can only imagine what I'd have to charge a client to even break even on a project. I know that a good digital camera will be an excellent investment and, with a good amount of use, will eventually pay for itself by all of the film and processing costs that I'd be sidestepping.

    I guess what I'm asking is, is there anyone out there that had to make this kind of transition? Did you like/hate the look of digital compared to the look of film? Is it even possible to be a photographer nowadays and not shoot digital? Film just seems to have so much more character than digital. It handles highlights better than digital, color is better if you have good film, scans get much better resolution than most digital cameras, and I'm also in love with that satisfying click of the lever on my OM-2 every time I advance. I really, really wish I didn't have to give any of that up. :)
  2. Lovesong macrumors 65816


    Sep 15, 2006
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    It can be a relatively difficult transition. I used a Maxxum 600si for about 6 years or so in the late 90's. When the digital cameras came out, I really didn't think much of them. In 2001 I got a small Olympus P&S for Christmas, that I started using, and though the quality of it was lacking, the fact that I could snap 5 or six pictures, and then chose the best one on the spot was a definite plus. I ended up selling the 600, and got a smaller Maxxum 5, which was a nice camera, and the combo seemed to work nicely for a while.
    A couple of years ago, I decided that digital was truly the way to go. I bought a Lumix FZ-20, which was OK- 5MP, 12X zoom- sort of in between my pocket Oly and the SLR. After a year of using it, I just felt limited by its manual control options, and ended up selling that this past summer. After much deliberation and thinking about it, I saved up some pennies, and dropped them for a Canon 5D. To be fair, that camera truly blows away the Minoltas I had, and, in many ways, I feel like it was a home-coming of sorts to a camera that just reads my mind.
    Now, I'm no pro by any means of the imagination (maybe a serious amateur on a good day). For me photography has always been a love, and film was what I always associated with it. After 6 or so years, I feel like I've finally accepted that digital is the way of the future, and the editing possibilities on a tiff file, that I can make a number of different copies and versions with a touch of a button, truly allows me to spend more time doing what I love, and less time in the dark room.
    I'm sure you're probably thinking about skipping those 6 years of questioning yourself (unlike me), and go for a serious digital right off the bat. The answer is, yes, digital has arrived, and it's likely to stay. While some die hards will still point out that from a technical stand, film is still better in terms of resolution (a good slow film yields about 19mp), the fact is that you can push a digital to 16.7 (39+ if you want an HB) at ISO 3200, and still have good images, something film simply can't do.
    Just my 2 cents.
  3. Foucault macrumors 6502


    Dec 30, 2002
    Pasadena, CA
    The bad news is that film is still far more superior to digital although digital is getting closer and closer every year. The good news is that most of your clients are getting more used to how digital photograph looks, and are more accepting about images taken with a digital camera. Most can't even tell them apart. Unless you are doing fine art photography, where you will be putting up giant prints in a gallery, digital photography should adequately meet all your needs. Of course I wouldn't go throw away all your equipment. I see a lot of photographers doing both.
  4. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    I'm a pro photographer - landscape and location - and I really agonised about 'going digital'. I thought I knew 'my' film inside out (Fuji Velvia), and I wasn't sure I wanted to learn a whole new technology. Well, my doubts were unfounded: digital (Nikon D200 + 2 lenses) is fine. A steep learning curve (I'm not young!), but fun. Go for it...

    Attached Files:

  5. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    I'm done with film. My A-1, F-1 and FD lenses are all collecting dust.

    The biggest thing about digital for me is what happens after the image is captured. Darkroom days are over. I don't have to strain my eye looking through a loupe on a lightbox. No longer is dodging and burning a process that makes it difficult to replicate prints. Color issues because of slight fluctuations in temperatures during processing are gone. Move to digital - as fast as you can. :)

    Think carefully about which DSLR platform you choose, too. I went Canon because of (1) excellent experience with their film cameras and (2) their system is more extensive than any other.
  6. jlcharles macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2006
    Wenonah, NJ
    I use digital for my event photography and film for me. It's just more cost effective and quicker to get action shots up on my website and orders out the door using digital.

    If and when I move on in my professional offerings to weddings and/or portraiture, it will be with both.
  7. -hh macrumors 68020


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    I agonized for quite awhile too. I'm only an amateur, but I've been shooting film since the 1970's and just finally got a dSLR in 2005 for land photography (my underwater camera system is still film, since it looks like I'll need around $5K to replace it).

    I was very reluctant to "jump" because of concerns over image quality and archiving. And I'm still concerned about archiving. For image quality, 8MP was about what I considered the minimum for what I want to keep, although I'd really like to have 24-48MP (my personal opinion for 'true equivalency').

    What I have found are a couple of things:

    - the basic rules of composure, etc, never change
    - its nice to have a deeper magazine and be able to change ISO quickly
    - power management can be a nuisance
    - ditto data management (on the road & at home)

    Its also a lot easier to manipulate images, and we do see "abuses" in oversharpening and oversaturation on a frequent basis. For example, I know that I took the saturation too far in this photo of a hornbill.

    However, I do find that it has opened up new doors of creativity, because it has virtually eliminated the "cost per shot" for experimentation. For example, the only reason that I bothered to take any night sky photos last year was because I knew that I could 'chimp' them in an immediate feedback loop to see if they were coming out at all and to zero in on the optimum exposure. Things looked pretty good in the field, and I ended up with this milky way shot, although this "Revision 1"; I finally have gotten it balanced in an IMO more faithful rendition, but don't yet have it online. This one's a bit too cool (blue) and around a 1/3 stop too much exposure, which resulted in a slight exaggeration over what we actually saw that night.

    Overall, this doesn't mean that I'm ending my time with film. It merely means that I have one more tool with which to capture memories, and it has certain trade-offs that probably tend to make it the more favored tool for a particular application. Nevertheless, we do know that sometimes there's no really good substitute yet - - which is why one of the images that I have hanging up in my office at work is an inkjet print of a digitized Kodachrome slide that I took just a couple of years ago. Any photographer hound can look at it and in an instant, recognize the red tones in the clay and say "That's Kodachrome!"

    Cue Paul Simon. Its time to go home :)

  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You give up some quality but you gain a lot of productivity. If you are a pro it's about making money per unit time. So poductivity wins.

    I think you pay more for digital. sure you save the cost of film but a pro will be buying a couple $1,500 or $2,000 cameras and replacing them every three years But either way $15 per roll or $3k per year in updating DSLR bodies is a very minor expense compared to the cost of business (rent of office space, taxes, insurance, advertising, ...)

    If you think pro DSLRs are expensive, I know some one who shoots video for a living. About a two year lifetime on new HD cameras and they have five figure price tags (Yes the cameras last longer but if you have a two year old camera yu are not competitive with the "other guy" and you loose to him.)
  9. Erendiox thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
    Thank you all for your replies. :)

    Looks like a switch is inevitable, but really I can make it with zero difficulty. I'm 20 years old and very computer savvy. I'll miss the old fashioned feel of my OM-2, but shooting film will remain a hobby for me at the very least. :cool:
  10. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA

    A lot depends on what you shoot, what yoru requirements are, etc. If, like most pros, you shoot positives going digital with a modern LF, MF, or high-end 35mm will likely end up giving you about equivalent results if the output medium is commercial print, which all tends to be digital anyway these days. If you're doing fine-art monochrom or duotone processes, then digital isn't quite there yet, for all else it's a coin toss.

    If you process your own film, costs aren't all that bad- if you're only shooting 35mm, unless you're pushing positives, I can't image you won't spend more time in PS than you'll spend in $ getting things developed.

    Small format analog enlargements were good to 8x10 and ok to 11x14- APS-format high res images are good to 11x14 and ok to 24x30 or so. While you may see a side-by-side difference, on its own merits digital works just fine.

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