Go Back   Rangefinderforum.com > Cameras / Gear / Photography > Being a Photographer > Business / Philosophy of Photography

Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes

Why 35mm in the age of digital
Old 03-31-2008   #1
mhv
Registered User
 
mhv is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Montréal
Posts: 301
Why 35mm in the age of digital

For those who are interested, I wrote an article for Creative Image Maker about 35mm in the age of full-frame digital sensors:
http://creativeimagemaker.co.uk/mod/...view.php?id=49

Hope you'll enjoy!
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #2
FPjohn
Registered User
 
FPjohn's Avatar
 
FPjohn is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Posts: 1,655
Hello:

Interesting article. You concede to digital on the grounds of utility. Am I alone in considering 35mm film to offer both an aesthetic and archival alternative?

Best.

Yours
FPJ
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #3
squirrel$$$bandit
Registered User
 
squirrel$$$bandit is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,252
I like that essay! My day job is that of a writer, and I like your comparison between writing and 35mm.
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #4
mhv
Registered User
 
mhv is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Montréal
Posts: 301
Thanks for the good words!

FPJohn: I wouldn't totally concede the grounds of utility to digital, I'm more of the "if it satisfies you better, run with it" camp. As you said, archival concerns can weight in the balance as well. It's just that a lot of people have switched to digital for practical, rather than aesthetic reasons.

I concentrated on the megapixels/amount of pictures mainly because those are in my opinion the two big concerns for users, and the source of endless holy wars.
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #5
robertdfeinman
Robert Feinman
 
robertdfeinman is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Long Island NY
Posts: 126
I don't use digital, but I don't think you have proved your point. A 35mm sized digital camera has all the same characteristics as an equivalent digital one. An overstuffed Canon or Nikon SLR is just as obtrusive in film or digital. A rangefinder is just as quiet and inconspicuous in either format. The only edge film edge right now is the lack of a full frame digital rangefinder.

Do people think differently when they pick up one capture system or another? I don't know since I don't use digital, but I doubt it. If one overshoots and spends time looking at the screen after each shot that isn't the fault of the camera, but of the photographer.

If there is something special about 35mm you haven't expressed it to my satisfaction yet.
__________________
http://robertdfeinman.com - Landscapes, Panoramas and Photoshop Tips
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #6
RF-Addict
Registered User
 
RF-Addict is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 370
I honestly don't get it - why wouldn't the exact same reasoning for "time extracted" apply to a digital capture? I did not understand why 35mm was or is in any form superior to digital from that article.
I like your writing style and the pictures and I shoot a lot of 35mm film, I just didn't understand your message.
__________________
Juergen

Bessa R2A,
CV 15/4.5 Heliar, CV 21/4 Skopar, CV 35/1.7 Ultron, CV 50/1.5 Nokton
Contax G2, 21, 28, 45, 90 G-lenses, Fujifilm GA645zi
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #7
Ducky
Registered User
 
Ducky's Avatar
 
Ducky is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: North Texas (Richardson) near Dallas.
Posts: 1,275
"The digital SLR is a vacuum cleaner of pictures, obese with supersized amounts of imagery"

Very nice analogy. I agree with the views voiced in the article.
__________________
At my age, morning is an exercise in memory.


My RF Gallery:

My Flickr:
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #8
mhv
Registered User
 
mhv is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Montréal
Posts: 301
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertdfeinman View Post
If there is something special about 35mm you haven't expressed it to my satisfaction yet.
If pressed, I would say that the following sentence says it in a nutshell: "It is about memory, desire, and yearning for completion."

My idea is that memory plays a more fundamental role with 35mm than with other formats, including digital, because we must accumulate "blindly" a certain number of pictures before seeing them.

Of course, you can accumulate quite a heavy stash of pictures with film like one does with digital, but where I think film is special is the forced delay between exposure and feedback. With 35mm, it's unavoidable that this delay be larger than one's memory of the events they photographed. With digital, regardless of how many pictures you take, you can always have immediate feedback. With large format, you still have a forced delay, but you don't have a whole roll to finish--most people will finish their 36exp before processing.

By the time you can see your 35mm photos, you have already forgotten quite a lot about them. They slip away from one's grasp, and printing them is like trying to reawaken deep memories.

But as the word "essay" means, it's only an attempt to say something, not the definitive word... Again, thanks for the reactions, of all kind, they are appreciated.

Last edited by mhv : 03-31-2008 at 11:21.
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #9
nightfly
Registered User
 
nightfly is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,956
Although I agree with your sentiments and like the imagery of the bloated, pregnant DSLR, I don't think you made your point very well.

I think anything you said really could be said about a digital with the screen off even more so if you are talking about the limits of your memory vs a flash card. Certainly if you can take more than 36 pictures at a time, the memory argument goes even more in favor of digital. Even if you could remember a roll of film, could you remember 2 gigs?

Really the difference to me is quality, not quality in the sense of mega pixels but the actual look of film, the texture of grain and the tonality that film brings. There is an inherent look that I really like, a buzz I get from viewing a negative or a slide that I don't get from looking at an LCD.

There is also the tactile quality of the roll of film, of the image existing in space independently of a computer. The ability to look at a roll of film by simply holding it up to a window with the naked eye.

And of course there is also, to bring it back to this forum, the pleasure of using a purely mechanical device that is always ready, with no need to be turned on. I think even if I had more appreciation for digital imagery, I would be hard pressed to use the devices you have to use to make it.

Honestly at this point in time there is no reason to even make the argument, I think you can only let the work and the medium speak for itself.

Last edited by nightfly : 03-31-2008 at 12:56.
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #10
oscroft
Registered User
 
oscroft is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Liverpool (UK) & Bangkok (Thailand)
Age: 61
Posts: 2,347
I was recently reminded of one of the main reasons I prefer film to digital photography.

I was visiting a family member who is in his 80s, and we were talking about old family members who are now long gone. He said to me he had an old box of his mum's photos (I remember her from when I was very young), and he got it out and we spent a happy hour or two going through them. I borrowed some and took them home to make copies.

Wind forward 30 years and consider a similar situation. I might be here saying "We found an old box of his mum's that contained some obsolete old computer disks. The computers that can read them are well gone now, and the disks are probably unreadable anyway".

And that's one of my reasons - so the old boxes of photos will still be there to be found and enjoyed by people in the future.
__________________
Alan

My Flickr
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #11
mhv
Registered User
 
mhv is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Montréal
Posts: 301
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightfly View Post
I think anything you said really could be said about a digital with the screen off even more so if you are talking about the limits of your memory vs a flash card. Certainly if you can take more than 36 pictures at a time, the memory argument goes even more in favor of digital. Even if you could remember a roll of film, could you remember 2 gigs?
To quote myself again: "Of course you could shut the LCD of the digital camera, and accumulate pictures beyond your memory as you do with 35mm. But the temptation to break the spell persists. 35mm refuses to yield."

I too get a kick from having a physical negative/slide, and it's among the reasons why I choose film. What I'm trying to figure out here is why 35mm in particular. The pictorial qualities matter as well (grain, contrast, etc), but I'm wondering if there's something beyond that.

There's something about the 36 exposures that makes a roll of 35mm self-containted, a coherent creative breath. Maybe it's just habit speaking, but it reminds me of the 12-ish tracks on a standard music album, or the 90-mins movie.
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #12
Pherdinand
the snow must go on
 
Pherdinand's Avatar
 
Pherdinand is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: by the river called the Gender
Age: 43
Posts: 7,828
whats wrong with a vacuum cleaner? i love my vacuum cleaner!
it helps me keep my 35mm (and medium format) cameras clean!
__________________
Happy New Year, Happy New Continent!
eye contact eye
My RFF Foolery
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #13
btgc
Registered User
 
btgc's Avatar
 
btgc is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 4,754
On Friday at party I got K100D in my hands and made some nice shots (I think) of host. I quickly realized that I need to force myself not look at LCD after each shot. Anyone there did so - and missed hidden exposures between ones they took.

After 30+ years there will be Memoread Inc. "We will read your memories, just send media" - if only those forgotten CDs, DVDs, CF, SD and whatelse cards will not be damaged (and many will be, as many film strips will be), our kids or their kids will receive pictures (or holographic scenes), converted from obsolete graphic file formats to current ones. This will cost about 50 credits...mhm, in case civilization will not starve scattered around rocks, islands and endless sands.
__________________
MyFlickr
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #14
nightfly
Registered User
 
nightfly is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,956
I think you need to keep digging on.

I used to shoot a lot of medium format film and I felt like 12 shots was the perfect amount. Now I shoot 35 predominantly and 36 feels like a stretch sometimes but it works.

However I think you just habituate to the medium more than anything else. I'm not sure I get the magic you are grasping for. Good photos to me are like poems. They are complete unto themselves but some are haiku and some are epics. Not sure I agree that the format has much impact.

In this film about Bresson he had this great quote about taking pictures that it was possible to take too many, he compared it to eating and said that you don't want to be a glutton or you get sick. Or that's how I remember the quote at least.

But then you have guys like Winogrand who leave behind hundreds or thousands (whatever the legend is) of undeveloped rolls of film.

I do think there is value in not seeing the moment of capture right away, particularly not in the field. It is difficult to evaluate this on the spot. I find I often go back to negs years later because I remember something about a long forgotten shot that didn't do anything for me at the time.

There's something to what you're saying, I just don't think you've quite hit it.
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #15
sjw617
Panoramist
 
sjw617 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: NY
Posts: 374
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightfly View Post
Really the difference to me is quality, not quality in the sense of mega pixels but the actual look of film, the texture of grain and the tonality that film brings.
When did grain become a good thing? You do not see grain when you look through the viewfinder, so why want to see it when you look at the results? It is a distortion of your image.

Steve
__________________
Panoramist
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #16
AzzA
Registered User
 
AzzA's Avatar
 
AzzA is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by sjw617 View Post
When did grain become a good thing? You do not see grain when you look through the viewfinder, so why want to see it when you look at the results? It is a distortion of your image.

Steve
Grain is part of an asthetic quality that is often unique to film.
Some people love it, some people hate it.
I'd rather see grain in an image than digital noise. But i guess everyone has their own opinion.
__________________

  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #17
sjw617
Panoramist
 
sjw617 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: NY
Posts: 374
[quote=AzzA;788631I'd rather see grain in an image than digital noise. But i guess everyone has their own opinion.[/quote]

I don't like either grain or distortion. To me they are both to be avoided.

Steve
__________________
Panoramist
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #18
charjohncarter
Registered User
 
charjohncarter's Avatar
 
charjohncarter is offline
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Danville, CA, USA
Posts: 9,020
mhv, broadly I agree, 4x5 captures-staged/35mm captures-one part on an essay. I do think digital has taken the 'fire hose' type of photography to the level of not being able to see the forest for the trees (plus with digital you lose the sex factor of film).
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #19
mhv
Registered User
 
mhv is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Montréal
Posts: 301
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightfly View Post
There's something to what you're saying, I just don't think you've quite hit it.
I think that's the nicest compliment I've had today!
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #20
AzzA
Registered User
 
AzzA's Avatar
 
AzzA is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by sjw617 View Post
I don't like either grain or distortion. To me they are both to be avoided.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sjw617 View Post
You do not see grain when you look through the viewfinder, so why want to see it when you look at the results? It is a distortion of your image.
Thats your opinion an you're entitled do it.
It all depends on what result you're after though doesnt it? What the purpose of the photograph is. I wouldnt like grain in fine macro work for instance, but love it in other subjects.
When you take a photo there any many distortions. How often do photographs look exactly the same as what you see?
I dont think i've ever seen any, and personally wouldnt be interested in seeing any. I'll just use my own eyes thanks. But that might be getting off topic a little.

If you shoot with film you will see grain. If you shoot with digital you will see noise. Certain cameras, conditions, settings, etc. will increase or minimise these "distortions". I have never heard a person say they like the look of digital noise, but i know for a fact many people love the look of film grain depending on the photo.
__________________

  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #21
dof
Fiat Lux
 
dof's Avatar
 
dof is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: San Francisco, California
Posts: 726
Quote:
Originally Posted by sjw617 View Post
When did grain become a good thing? You do not see grain when you look through the viewfinder, so why want to see it when you look at the results? It is a distortion of your image.

Steve

while it's not in the viewfinder, i see grain when i view the scene before me in my imagination. far from ansel adams' examples of image making, but true to his idea of pre-visualization. it's debatable that it's a distortion of the scene, but for my intentions it's not a distortion of the image.

i respect that grainy images are not for everyone, however for me, it is an intrinsic part of photographing things. if it weren't i wouldn't shoot 35mm.


-j.
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #22
jwhitley
Registered User
 
jwhitley's Avatar
 
jwhitley is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by btgc View Post
On Friday at party I got K100D in my hands and made some nice shots (I think) of host. I quickly realized that I need to force myself not look at LCD after each shot. Anyone there did so - and missed hidden exposures between ones they took.
And there's one of the reasons why my (evil, cough ) dSLR is not usually set to display previews. I choose to use its feedback on my terms.
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #23
craygc
Registered User
 
craygc is offline
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Age: 59
Posts: 1,079
Quote:
Originally Posted by sjw617 View Post
When did grain become a good thing? You do not see grain when you look through the viewfinder, so why want to see it when you look at the results? It is a distortion of your image.

Steve
There are lots of things you dont see in reality as compared to any captured image. If you produce a B&W image then you certainly dont see life that way; even in colour, you dont see colour, contrast and saturation the same way as presented in the captured image - film or digital. Selective DoF, exposure latitude and tonaliity are all removed from a true reality to some degree.

Unless youre into medical or forensic photography, most genres tend to introduce various degrees of reality abstraction. Grain is just one of those degrees, and outrightly dismissing grain as bad and to be avoided suggests a narrow and sheltered view of photographic possibilities and emotions.
__________________
Craig Cooper
Australia
Photo Stream
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #24
Leighgion
Bovine Overseer
 
Leighgion is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Eastsound, WA
Posts: 279
Frankly, I think chopping the introduction completely off, starting from, "A camera is an interface to the world..." and deleting the one reference to digital in your conclusion makes for a much better essay.

You open purporting to defend 35mm film in the digital age, but you don't really do that. The brief discussion of digital in the opening plus one afterthought feels very tacked-on as the spirit of the writing is focused on comparing 35mm to medium and large formats. In other words, film vs film.
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #25
amateriat
We're all light!
 
amateriat's Avatar
 
amateriat is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Age: 64
Posts: 4,279
In some half-finished piece some time back, I wrote that the one salient virtue of film in general, and (for me) 35mm in particular over digital was that is wasn't a moving target. Whichever 35mm camera might be in my hands at a given moment, so long as i know the film that was in it, I have a certain handle on imaging particulars, and I'll also have a handle on what I'll be dealing with in the process of creating prints from the processed roll. The camera might be my Fred Flintstone-primitive Holga 135, my auto-everything Ricoh GR1 or Konica Lexio 70, or my somewhere-in-between Hexars, but the film is the constant factor. The light gets bent, diffracted, and rationed somewhat differently, but the film reacts a certain way in all these cameras, and if I know the film well, I have an Approach.

How well does this play out with a sensor? It depends. Frequently, it can work out rather well. Sometimes I can get blindsided by its limitations in a crucial moment. Sometimes a forgotten sub-menu creates a "gotcha" that can be infuriating. And, this, among a host of other things, changes with the particular digital camera in my hands. This is why I can have a huge appreciation for digital imaging technology, while harboring a healthy distrust for the vast majority of digital cameras of any price range, and continue to work primarily with film for both my own work and whatever for-hire work I might still do from time to time.

Thus, my "philosophy" of film lies strongly in the pragmatic, prosaic realm as opposed to the poetic. That said, the beauty of the "filmic" image isn't lost on me at all; I wouldn't bother to use the stuff otherwise.

The piece was a great read, and adds stuff for the mind to chew on. Thanks very much for this!


- Barrett
__________________

"Print 'em both, kid." -
Frank "Cancie" Cancellare, to a UPI courier, after tossing a 20-exposure roll of film to him.

Here, a Gallery.
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #26
larmarv916
Registered User
 
larmarv916 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 411
I vote for the idea that photographs made by film are tangible phyiscal art ....and the negative or slide is much like the hard stones that make lithographs , or etching plates, engraved plates function in creation of a print that can not be altered in it's output. Digital on the other hand is not actually a proven archivalbe method that will assure a nongraded source....unlike glass negatives or BW "film" materials. Also the papers that modern digital prints are on have not even surruived 25 years. Most degrade so quickly that it is almost crazy.

Now many companies claim archive duration inks or papers that will last 75 years.....try and get a refund on those products. what laugh.

When you get down to the real bottom line digital is the ultimate disposable technology. Oh yeah there are new gold CD and DVD's that now assure non degrable files. Store on and print it out in 50 years and lets see what it looks like. What computer and operating system will still have the ability to read such "stone age" items like even todays hard drives.

If people are having fun using digital and magazines feel comfortable in using it for production and cost reasons that's fine. But......almost all of the archives that I come in contact with require very little care other than a cool and dry enviorment. Also clean cotton gloves. Anyone can look at them and see exactly what is there. Go try that with an old hard drive that has been sitting in storage for several years...Or an old Cd-rom that is just a few years old.

In the end real film produces real art that is lasting and also phyiscal. It is a real moment of life in an unaltered state. A tangible artistic expression. Produces an phyiscal archive artifact asa an end product.

Digital is like the footprint in the sand that the very next wave wipes away. Oh and one other small item....wait till you see what a strong solar flare does to image files not in sheilded containers. any strong EMP will "fry"any electronic storage device. something to think about.

Best Regards.....Laurance
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #27
nzeeman
Registered User
 
nzeeman's Avatar
 
nzeeman is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: belgrade
Age: 39
Posts: 1,243
if someone want to see world exactly like he see it through eyes - i think best solution is small p&s digi. when you look with your eyes you dont have that extreme bokeh like on 35mm film and on wide apertures. almost everything is sharp to the eyes.
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #28
amateriat
We're all light!
 
amateriat's Avatar
 
amateriat is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Age: 64
Posts: 4,279
Quote:
Originally Posted by nzeeman View Post
if someone want to see world exactly like he see it through eyes - i think best solution is small p&s digi. when you look with your eyes you dont have that extreme bokeh like on 35mm film and on wide apertures. almost everything is sharp to the eyes.
If you pay attention to the way your vision changes under certain conditions–differing light levels, focusing on foreground objects in your field of view, etc., you'll see (ouch, that was unavoidable ) how wrong your conclusion is.

Way, way back (around 1969/70 or so) Bob Schwalberg had an interesting piece on the eye and how it reacts, particularly in fight-or-flight situations, in Popular Photography, and while I don't know if I buy everything he wrote in those few pages, I can confirm at least one of the basics he presented then: namely, that the eye is not simply pan-focus, and shallow DOF is not strictly a camera-borne phenomenon.


- Barrett
__________________

"Print 'em both, kid." -
Frank "Cancie" Cancellare, to a UPI courier, after tossing a 20-exposure roll of film to him.

Here, a Gallery.
  Reply With Quote

35mm
Old 03-31-2008   #29
skibeerr
Registered User
 
skibeerr's Avatar
 
skibeerr is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Melbourne Vic
Age: 58
Posts: 1,074
35mm

The day I have to defend shooting film is the day I will stop doing it.

DSLR and M8 users give proof every day of the quality of their equipment. The ease of use is enorm, compared to loading my M3 . And the things that can go wrong for a DSLR have their counterpart in filmcameras.

The only thing I can say is I feel better with film and the tactile factor of film, the waiting, develloping, sometimes getting it totaly wrong and losing a rol, ads to the pleasure of getting that one tacksharp neg on the lighttable.

But then I am an amateur (lover of) and dont have to deliver on time

And for the 35mm versus medium or large format discussion, as long as there is film I wil love all of them.

Regards,
Wim
  Reply With Quote

Old 03-31-2008   #30
skibeerr
Registered User
 
skibeerr's Avatar
 
skibeerr is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Melbourne Vic
Age: 58
Posts: 1,074
Quote:
Originally Posted by skibeerr View Post
The day I have to defend shooting film is the day I will stop doing it.
Doing it= shooting film.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-01-2008   #31
matko
Registered User
 
matko is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 28
I like film grain... But I dont like digital grain. Film grain is like vinyl record noise, analog, and therefore much more pleasing for my ears than digital one.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-01-2008   #32
btgc
Registered User
 
btgc's Avatar
 
btgc is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 4,754
I'm pretty sure in future those who use digital cameras today will bash flawless 3D holographic scenes and argue that "back then digitals had soo nice noise, very easily adjustable with noiseware. Those holographs are too soulless for my taste!"
__________________
MyFlickr
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-01-2008   #33
skibeerr
Registered User
 
skibeerr's Avatar
 
skibeerr is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Melbourne Vic
Age: 58
Posts: 1,074
Quote:
Originally Posted by btgc View Post
I'm pretty sure in future those who use digital cameras today will bash flawless 3D holographic scenes and argue that "back then digitals had soo nice noise, very easily adjustable with noiseware. Those holographs are too soulless for my taste!"
Hear Hear!
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-01-2008   #34
Steve Williams
Registered User
 
Steve Williams's Avatar
 
Steve Williams is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Age: 65
Posts: 69
I continue to shoot film outside my professional digital life. I agree with your ideas of photography and a connection to memory. I need to think awhile longer about it be specific to film in the way you describe.

Regardless, I think you did an excellent job with your essay.
__________________
Steve Williams
ScooterNSticks on Twitter
Scooter in the Sticks
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-01-2008   #35
literiter
Registered User
 
literiter's Avatar
 
literiter is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Canadian Rockies
Posts: 1,163
My reasons for staying with film will echo much of what is said, however I also have reasons that are much more prosaic.

I'm at the time of my life where I like things to be simple. As ergonomically inefficient as some of my film cameras are I can easily remember where the controls are after 30 or 40 years of using them. The manual for my M2 has turned to humus long ago but the camera still magically exists and I remember how to use it.

Imagine that you have been driving a car with a standard transmission for so many years, then you are inserted into a new vehicle that will actually drive itself but only after you have studied a operators manual long enough to get you a BA. Then the next car you drive has a different manual.

I'd be dangerous on the road.
  Reply With Quote

We Need a Contemporary Media Studies
Old 04-01-2008   #36
JoeV
Thin Air, Bright Sun
 
JoeV's Avatar
 
JoeV is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA
Posts: 1,707
We Need a Contemporary Media Studies

I'm of the opinion that electronic image capture devices (colloquially known here as 'digital cameras') and film cameras are, in theory, much more similar than what we have been led to believe based on the current product evolution.

Both film and digital employ the phenomenon of electron dissociation by photon bombardment as the means to create a latent image; in the case of the digital camera the latent image is then read off by charge coupling and amplification; in the case of film the latent image is read off by chemical development to metallic silver crystals that form an optical image directly within an emulsion.

The differences we perceive between the two forms of image capture really have to do with the evolution of the devices themselves. In the case of digital we really have a technical legacy of the point-and-shoot camera and the video camcorder. Particularly with the legacy of the video camcorder do we find the bothersome LCD or on-screen menu with its embedded controls that are less than ergonomic. So, too, with the legacy of the point-and-shoot, do we find lacking the kinds of elegant manual controls that we appreciate in the classic mechanical cameras of the past.

I firmly believe that camera design itself has led us to the place where we seem to think that these two forms of photography are worlds apart. It would be easy for a manufacturer to make a digital camera that operated like a classic manual film camera, without the LCD screen at all. Or, if there is to be an LCD, let it be for monitoring and setting the camera's deeper functions, and not for chimping, like the late model film SLRs from Nikon, for instance.

I think there is a lot of value in placing the camera up to one's eye when capturing an image, and also for concentrating on the scene and activity being studied, rather than constant introspective navel-gazing at the immediate result on an LCD. Forcing the user to have to wait till they get home and upload the images I think is a valuable exercise in learning patience and confidence in one's ability to use the camera as a tool for image capture.

Finally, there is the title to my response. We need to be media literate. Meaning that we need to understand the evolution of the systems that have brought us to where we are at in photography. And we need to be able to parse out the distinctions between fact and mere manufacturer's marketing hype when we engage in discussions about the technology at hand. We exist within a cyclic, iterative process of technological development, which implies that what we are offered in the way of camera technology is as much a product of the past choices we have made as it is of any futuristic visionary appeal. Manufacturers are as much chained to the technology treadmill as we users are; they fearfully limit themselves to new product development that falls squarely on what they perceive will sell well at minimal risk to the stockholders. Which means sticking to what has already worked. No LCD image review? Manual controls? Sounds risky; old-fashioned; out-dated. Let's stick to embedded software menus and a few tiny buttons. It's much safer.

~Joe
__________________
"If your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light"

Inventor of the Light Pipe Array
My Blog
My latest book
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-01-2008   #37
Nh3
-
 
Nh3 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Toronto
Posts: 894
Despite all my love for film I can't wait for a digital back for my M4-P.

... or a digital M that I can afford.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-01-2008   #38
mhv
Registered User
 
mhv is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Montréal
Posts: 301
Quote:
Originally Posted by amateriat View Post
If you pay attention to the way your vision changes under certain conditions–differing light levels, focusing on foreground objects in your field of view, etc., you'll see (ouch, that was unavoidable ) how wrong your conclusion is.
To add to your comment: I have noticed that my eyes create rather crappy bokeh. One day I was reading a magazine in a cab, and noticed in the corner of my eyes that the bright spots of the traffic were out of focus, and what's more, that they had the dreaded doughnutty shape of bad bokeh! So I plucked my eyes away and called Leica...

Thanks too for the kind words, from you and from other people.

Leighgion: I prefer to leave the essay as is, it follows from the organic unity of its composition. But if I were to tackle this issue again in another essay, I would of course present it differently.

To all: let's not get too carried away in the film v. digi argument. It's not so much an issue, as I think both technologies have their merit.

I propose we focus more narrowly to the reasons for sticking to 35mm.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-01-2008   #39
jwhitley
Registered User
 
jwhitley's Avatar
 
jwhitley is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by literiter View Post
Imagine that you have been driving a car with a standard transmission for so many years, then you are inserted into a new vehicle that will actually drive itself but only after you have studied a operators manual long enough to get you a BA. Then the next car you drive has a different manual.

I'd be dangerous on the road.
Saying this from the perspective of a professional software developer: it's not just you. True simplicity in modern toolmaking is elusive and difficult. As you and others have pointed out, film developed a certain status quo that made its intricacies accessible over time. Digital technology (in general, not just in photography) has caused a giant shake-up. Many tasks that were never amenable to having tools, or which could never have even existed without computers, now sprout complex new solutions like weeds. The complexity is sometimes man-made, in that the tool design is poor (think "feature creep".. companies battling with bullet-lists) or just not yet sufficiently developed. In other cases, the problem domain itself is complex... poor attempts to hide that inherent complexity can often make matters worse.

All of this is both daunting and exciting. It's daunting because finding simplicity (some would say "good design") is itself a complex task, and exciting because of the opportunities for creating fantastic new tools.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-01-2008   #40
literiter
Registered User
 
literiter's Avatar
 
literiter is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Canadian Rockies
Posts: 1,163
Quote:
Originally Posted by jwhitley View Post
True simplicity in modern toolmaking is elusive and difficult.

The complexity is sometimes man-made, in that the tool design is poor (think "feature creep".. companies battling with bullet-lists) or just not yet sufficiently developed. In other cases, the problem domain itself is complex... poor attempts to hide that inherent complexity can often make matters worse.

All of this is both daunting and exciting. It's daunting because finding simplicity (some would say "good design") is itself a complex task, and exciting because of the opportunities for creating fantastic new tools.
Yes, it is about design isn't it? Designing a modern tool/system/camera that is reliable, simple and useful, seems to be difficult. Sometimes I think it's us, and the intricacies of our wants, which the designers try to give us.
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:12.


vBulletin skin developed by: eXtremepixels
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

All content on this site is Copyright Protected and owned by its respective owner. You may link to content on this site but you may not reproduce any of it in whole or part without written consent from its owner.