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buying a film leica in 2019
Old 06-07-2019   #1
iridium7777
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buying a film leica in 2019

pardon this post, but it's not trolling, it's a real question.

i was fairly active (if mostly just reading) about 10 years ago when i had my beloved m6ttl, which was sold for an m8 that i had for maybe a year and didn't get anywhere near the use of the m6. eventually i went all digital and now have some nikon dslr or other.

i fondly remember the days when i would carry my m6 with me and a little notebook that i would jot down what film i'm currently using and some notes about shot settings, mastering the sunny 16 rule to the point when the batteries died in the m6 i would use it meterless and had successful results. i still think i have a bunch of slide and other films in the freezer - although i have no idea if it's still good and who would even process my fuji velvia these days.

long story short, i'm looking getting back into the leica range finder and was mostly concentrating on finding one of the digital bodies when i came across an m-a. which then prompted me to look on whether walgreen does develop & scan only (my preferred method back in the day, i think it was something like $6 per roll and if i needed anything better i'd have the negative professionally scanned).

considering i shot/will shoot color 99% of the time, what is really viability of getting into the film game in 2019? looking for development & scanning costs it's closer to $20 per roll, i think i used to run somewhere a roll a week, not including higher res scans if i need to get some. that also doesn't include the cost of film, or the availability. i used to be able to find anything from 50iso to 1600iso of fujifilm color for a couple bucks, now i don't even know?

am i getting myself into an expensive uphill battle/hassle if i'm starting literally with nothing today and i'm better off looking for a digital body instead?

your opinions are much appreciated.
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Old 06-07-2019   #2
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First off, welcome back!
If your film was stored in your freezer, it is still good. I pretty much shoot expired film all the time with excellent results. Labs still develop your Velvia (E6 process).
I see that you have a DSLR so I recommend getting you get it developed but scan it yourself with your digicam. There are threads on this site that discuss that.
Color film is really easy to convert now using www.negativelabpro.com

I use the Leica M-A, as well as others, and really you can't go wrong with any of them. I also just picked up a Nikon S2 rangefinder camera, and that too is really nice but much much cheaper!
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Old 06-07-2019   #3
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If you don't mind mailing your film off for development and scanning one of the sponsors here Precision Camera offer free development of C41 film when pay for high res scan cost is $11.99 for 4181x6305 JPG scans plus shipping handling.
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Old 06-07-2019   #4
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If you look through the threads, Huss and others have posted extensively about scanning film with a digital camera. In addition there are also reviews of labs. Welcome back.
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Old 06-07-2019   #5
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or, shoot B&W and develop/scan yourself.
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Old 06-07-2019   #6
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Here is no diffrence between bw and c-41/e6/ecn2. I do it all at home.
One L c-41 kit will easily give 20 film. I discard it after more than one year and 30+ films.
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Old 06-07-2019   #7
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I do all my own Black and white (which I generally love doing) and all my colour (which I enjoy a lot less). By doing so I have more than paid for the cost of a scanner and now save myself about £5 a roll of colour developing cost and way more for black and white.

That's by the by though - film is still available, plenty of excellent emulsions from Kodak and Ilford and numerous others - I buy mail order and it's a lot cheaper than retail.

When I didn't develop I used an excellent mail order service. I am sure numerous people can advise you on US processors.

I think you will have no problem shooting with film again, just get any classic film Leica and a good meter (if you haven't one in the camera) and it will be second nature again. I returned to film and did take the trouble to learn to develop from an Ilford Artisan partner, and it has paid enormous dividends.

I doubt your film Leica and lenses will depreciate, so it's a riskless option really.
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Old 06-07-2019   #8
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Quote:
am i getting myself into an expensive uphill battle/hassle if i'm starting literally with nothing today and i'm better off looking for a digital body instead?
My opinion, look for a digital body instead.

Why make photographs with film then scan them? Why not just use a digital camera in the first place? Even second place!

If you ‘re making most of your photos in color then, my opinion, is go digital.

The only film I use anymore is black and white. Which is getting less and less now.

I use Photoshop and use ACR to process my RAW files.

At any rate, it’s what I do and thought I would share with you.
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Old 06-07-2019   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Clark View Post
My opinion, look for a digital body instead.

Why make photographs with film then scan them? Why not just use a digital camera in the first place? Even second place!.

Because digital does not look like film. Even scanned etc.
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Old 06-07-2019   #10
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That’s your opinion.
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Old 06-07-2019   #11
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Exactly. Film looks different. Why would it look the same, when there's drastic differences with how highlights are rendered / retained (for negative film)?

Scanning film doesn't change the information held on it, even if "scanned" with a digital camera. A DSLR doesn't revert the highlight retention of the film magically.
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Old 06-07-2019   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Clark View Post
My opinion, look for a digital body instead.

Why make photographs with film then scan them? Why not just use a digital camera in the first place? Even second place!

If you ‘re making most of your photos in color then, my opinion, is go digital.

The only film I use anymore is black and white. Which is getting less and less now.

I use Photoshop and use ACR to process my RAW files.

At any rate, it’s what I do and thought I would share with you.
I 100% agree here. I've done the scanning thing in the past for mostly color and scanned all my old B&W negs as well... Scanning is a pain frankly I've gotten good results....I've seen pro drum scanned negs as well really nice... Been doing photography for 30 some years now.... Digital once you understand it and know how to work it its in my opinion the best option especially for color... I can get every film "look" on digital I like... I'm not heavy handed with my processing...I know how I like certain colors to be and such... Not to say film is bad or anything there is something to be learned from it for sure...
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Old 06-07-2019   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iridium7777 View Post
...which then prompted me to look on whether walgreen does develop & scan only (my preferred method back in the day, i think it was something like $6 per roll and if i needed anything better i'd have the negative professionally scanned). ...

I know up my way, they don't do any film processing anymore (nor CVS). Not sure if it has been eliminated nationally.
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Old 06-07-2019   #14
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Quote:
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That’s your opinion.
No. It does not look the same. At all.
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Old 06-07-2019   #15
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they’re both great options these days with their own sets of conveniences and challenges. i would lean toward scanning film since people are (perhaps overly) pessimistic about digital preservation.
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Old 06-07-2019   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 35photo View Post
I can get every film "look" on digital I like
Yeah nah I don't think so. They are so inherently different it's just impossible - not only in color and tonality but also the range of highlights captured (and for digital, the depth of shadow detail).

I have never seen any direct comparisons of the same image shot on various films and then digital, with the digital image then edited to look similar. I would bet there's a reason for that...

And all those "film presets" from various companies look horrible in my experience.
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Old 06-07-2019   #17
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I won't weigh in on the film vs. digital look. I like both and use both.



I will implore the OP however, that if you do get back into film, DO NOT use any local drug store for processing. I have had about 4–5 rolls processed at drug stores over the last few years (I'm a slow learner…) and they all came out terrible. I don't know if the poor results were do to old chemicals, poorly adjusted/maintained equipment, or just untrained people. Just DON'T DO IT.



I can highly recommend Dwayne's Photo for mail-in developing, scanning, and printing.
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Old 06-07-2019   #18
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Originally Posted by AAlfano View Post
I won't weigh in on the film vs. digital look. I like both and use both.



I will implore the OP however, that if you do get back into film, DO NOT use any local drug store for processing. I have had about 4–5 rolls processed at drug stores over the last few years (I'm a slow learner…) and they all came out terrible. I don't know if the poor results were do to old chemicals, poorly adjusted/maintained equipment, or just untrained people. Just DON'T DO IT.



I can highly recommend Dwayne's Photo for mail-in developing, scanning, and printing.
This 100%
Many make the mistake of thinking because they used ‘cheap’ film it does not
need a quality shop to process it. It does if you want beautiful results!
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Old 06-07-2019   #19
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I'd either go the digital or the MF film way before getting involved with small format shooting. And Leicas are nice but expensive.

If you want rangefinder and a smallish one, go for a Fujica 6x4.5 rangefinder and a busload of 120 film before you even hit the M6 price point.

The image quality of medium format surpasses any expensive Leica lens without too much effort.
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Old 06-07-2019   #20
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I have a few sort of simple observations, but they may be useful.

Anyone that can afford a Leica camera and lens can afford the film and processing.

Film shooting is about doing your own developing and printing B&W on an enlarger, so if that's not going to happen may as well go digital. Doing it yourself teaches you so much more about photography. It's inexpensive, learnable by just about anyone, and even in a tiny studio there's room to do it.

Color is probably for sending out, but plenty of people here do it at home. It's just more exacting. and you have to work in total darkness for a fair part of it. To me, film shooting is all of a piece: the shot, the developing, the printing.....and controlling it all yourself is the only way to get consistently professional results that will get the prints that you like, not that the lab likes.

I cannot believe that anyone on this forum thinks that film and digital look the same. They're two totally different mediums, not at all alike in terms of technology and work flow (until you digitize an analog image and edit it, and/or print it out of a darkroom), and the photos ain't the same either, although there are similarities. Scanned negs still retain their native look, and it isn't anything like digital. Some people like one medium, some like the other, and a lot use both.
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Old 06-07-2019   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johannielscom View Post
I'd either go the digital or the MF film way before getting involved with small format shooting. And Leicas are nice but expensive.

If you want rangefinder and a smallish one, go for a Fujica 6x4.5 rangefinder and a busload of 120 film before you even hit the M6 price point.

Those are important points. Are you looking to get back into film because, you know, its film, or because you'd be using a Leica? If it were me, moving to film for the first time (or back into film), I'd seek a reasonably-priced (but good quality) SLR. Or the above mentioned 120 options.
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Old 06-07-2019   #22
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The problem with going back to film I found is that I no longer have the patience to wait to see my pictures...
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Old 06-07-2019   #23
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No problem for me. Makes for pleasant surprises. Usually.
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Old 06-07-2019   #24
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The problem with going back to film I found is that I no longer have the patience to wait to see my pictures...

Yes , I have that trouble as well.
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Old 06-07-2019   #25
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Buy a film Leica, why not!!

I am thoroughly enjoying the process of film. When I shooting on a Film Camera, I don’t care about sensor size, pixels, and resolution.
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Old 06-07-2019   #26
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I love both digital and film. There’s nothing I enjoy more about the hobby than developing and seeing what I’ve got. Far more enjoyable than loading a memory card. This extends to enlarging as well. Darkroom time is my little therapy that I do for myself. IMHO nothing beats a silver gelatin print (except maybe platinum or palladium).

I use the mp240 for color and the m6 for black and white.

In summary, a Leica film camera makes sense if you enjoy the process and the look film will give you. I’m of the kind that it is different than digital. If you want to just shoot and not worry, go digital. The results are absolutely fantastic as well. It’s a Leica...it’s an experience. I never believed it until I used one.
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Old 06-07-2019   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post

Film shooting is about doing your own developing and printing B&W on an enlarger, so if that's not going to happen may as well go digital. Doing it yourself teaches you so much more about photography. It's inexpensive, learnable by just about anyone, and even in a tiny studio there's room to do it.
I'm not sure that this is so. I remember seeing a piece online where folks were prepping Cartier-Bresson photos for book publication from negative scans with Photoshop. For B&W I've been very happy with scans, the more precise adjustments possible with masks in Photoshop than dodging and burning and printer printed prints. The output does not look like digital capture, although it does not look exactly like optical printing either. It does, however preserve a film look, particularly in medium format, that I have not been able to realize with digital black and white.

I absolutely agree that well done optical printing is beautiful and that learning to do it teaches one a lot. Not everyone can accommodate a wet darkroom though, and many display their work predominantly online. Scanning and printing B&W from digital is just another way to go and still enjoy film.

I was never a huge color film shooter, and I do use digital for color almost exclusively. Those more knowledgable than I about the merits of color negative or chrome films vs color digital capture are better advisors on that point than I could be.
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Old 06-07-2019   #28
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That’s your opinion.
It is not opinion. It is fact. I can't get the same with digital cameras.
Otherwise I would have ditch the film already.
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Isn't the opposite true as well?
Old 06-07-2019   #29
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Isn't the opposite true as well?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
It is not opinion. It is fact. I can't get the same with digital cameras.
Otherwise I would have ditch the film already.

Dear Ko.Fe.,


It's just as easy, and just as accurate to say that, You can't get the same with film cameras?


If you doubt that, try shooting a 36 exposure roll of film at ISO's that vary from 80 to 3200, in both color and B&W. Let me know how the development goes, and please post your results!


I'm not trying to make fun of you, I'm just pointing out that many people disregard the options afforded by digital cameras.


Regards,


Tim Murphy


Harrisburg, PA :-)
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Old 06-07-2019   #30
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Originally Posted by Dralowid View Post
The problem with going back to film I found is that I no longer have the patience to wait to see my pictures...
May I suggest this Leica for you?

https://www.adorama.com/lcsfw.html


All kidding aside, this is one reason why I started to scan my own film. I would drop off the film to be developed at my local shop, get it back same day. I'd then scan it that evening. When I used to mail it for dev and scan (my local shop is awful at scanning) it would take 2 weeks before I got it back. Plus postage costs etc.
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Old 06-07-2019   #31
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Quote:
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Dear Ko.Fe.,


It's just as easy, and just as accurate to say that, You can't get the same with film cameras?


If you doubt that, try shooting a 36 exposure roll of film at ISO's that vary from 80 to 3200, in both color and B&W. Let me know how the development goes, and please post your results!


I'm not trying to make fun of you, I'm just pointing out that many people disregard the options afforded by digital cameras.


Regards,


Tim Murphy


Harrisburg, PA :-)
Hug? I shot digital and film. No point of lecturing me. I shoot digital on ISO 12800 since 2010. In color. It is not how to shoot. It is about film been looking way different from digital.

I just been in Contemorary Photography museum in Chicago. Yesterday.
Recent, big ink jet prints from negatives scans of bw film taken in 2009. Provided by Ryerson U in Toronto. The quality of the prints are amazing.
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Old 06-07-2019   #32
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Not gonna go there with film vs. digital, because I shoot both happily. There is an entirely different ethos with film, regardless of the final outcome. If I have a "special occasion" or want to be fully immersed in every step of the process, it's film all the way. If I just want to run around and grab a bunch of snaps, knowing I can delete 95% of them when I get home with zero cost, I use digital. Both of these are great and I use manual focus lenses exclusively, so it's not really an either-or. Sometimes it'll take me two months to get through a roll of film, sometimes I'l bang out two rolls in a day.

Re: developing - no. None of the chains do it anymore in the States. I believe Costco was the last to bail. There are a few decent options in most metropolitan areas (boutique labs) that'll develop and scan c41, but you're looking at $10-20 a roll. Trust me, that adds up QUICK. You are also at the mercy of the lab techs, who don't know how you intended to expose a shot and may just run your roll through some "auto levels" profile, which you'll hate.

Fortunately, there are options, but you need to decide if it's worth the investment of your time. You can save a BUNCH of money with a few basic supplies, available from the good folks at Film Photography Project (no affiliation, just love those guys) and a scanner, or a DSLR scanning rig. I've developed and scanned upwards of 300 rolls in the past few years in my kitchen sink, using only a changing bag, a Jobo tank and a thermometer. I mix the 1L c41 powder with distilled water and refrigerate between uses, getting an average of 15 rolls per batch. I scan using a humble Epson V600 I got off Craigslist for $100 and went from VueScan to NegativeLabPro (Huss, you are a LIFESAVER) to handle the processing.

Not gonna lie- it is an investment. You can buy in pretty affordably, but it takes lots of time and trial and error to perfect the Black Art that is scanning color negatives. For me, I've decided that it's worth it. Not only am I happy with the results, I enjoy the meditative process of developing and the attachment I feel to the final images, knowing that I was present in the process for each moment along the way.


Quote:
Originally Posted by iridium7777 View Post
pardon this post, but it's not trolling, it's a real question.

i was fairly active (if mostly just reading) about 10 years ago when i had my beloved m6ttl, which was sold for an m8 that i had for maybe a year and didn't get anywhere near the use of the m6. eventually i went all digital and now have some nikon dslr or other.

i fondly remember the days when i would carry my m6 with me and a little notebook that i would jot down what film i'm currently using and some notes about shot settings, mastering the sunny 16 rule to the point when the batteries died in the m6 i would use it meterless and had successful results. i still think i have a bunch of slide and other films in the freezer - although i have no idea if it's still good and who would even process my fuji velvia these days.

long story short, i'm looking getting back into the leica range finder and was mostly concentrating on finding one of the digital bodies when i came across an m-a. which then prompted me to look on whether walgreen does develop & scan only (my preferred method back in the day, i think it was something like $6 per roll and if i needed anything better i'd have the negative professionally scanned).

considering i shot/will shoot color 99% of the time, what is really viability of getting into the film game in 2019? looking for development & scanning costs it's closer to $20 per roll, i think i used to run somewhere a roll a week, not including higher res scans if i need to get some. that also doesn't include the cost of film, or the availability. i used to be able to find anything from 50iso to 1600iso of fujifilm color for a couple bucks, now i don't even know?

am i getting myself into an expensive uphill battle/hassle if i'm starting literally with nothing today and i'm better off looking for a digital body instead?

your opinions are much appreciated.
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Old 06-07-2019   #33
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I also won't wade into the film vs. digital debate. However, to piggyback on what imagesfromobjects said, one thing that digital can't quite replicate is the haptic experience of shooting a film rangefinder: loading the film, re-cocking the shutter and advancing the film, rewinding at the end of a roll. I enjoy all of those things as part of the shooting experience, and that outweighs the cost and inconveniences that come with shooting film. Ejecting an SD card and importing files to my computer just doesn't give me nearly the same satisfaction.

As far as the costs for color film (the preference of the OP), no doubt sending film to labs for processing and scanning can quickly add up. On the other hand, a digital Leica isn't without its own cost outlay. Ultimately, the camera is just a tool. As evidenced by this forum, people will argue until they're blue in the face about film vs. digital, but so long as you're happy with the final output, that's really all that matters.
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Old 06-08-2019   #34
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Hi,

There's for and against film and digital.

Film and my cameras make me slow down and think about the photo but I have to take 36 or 24 before I'm sure I got what I want.

Digital is great for weirdly difficult shots and you can take 5 or 6 bracketed and find out minutes later if you got it right. OTOH, batteries are expensive and you need two and they can take hours to charge...

As for costs, I have bought film and digital cameras for pennies and been very pleased with most of them. Film can cost a lot or little but buying cheap and putting in the fridge saves money. So does developing and scanning.

OTOH lab prints are dirt cheap once you've worked out what a home printer costs to run and use and replace.

Lastly, films were printed by scanning etc from the 1980's if my memory is working properly. All the labs I saw and used worked with one of those huge machines that did it all and not one had a darkroom... In the early days each one was shown on a screen and the operator adjusted them manually. So much for the look of film vs. digital.

Regards, David

Last edited by David Hughes : 06-08-2019 at 00:49. Reason: Finger trouble...
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Old 06-08-2019   #35
Ko.Fe.
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Why Film vs Digital threads never shows on the Home page?

I like digital color for family pictures. No reason to deal with film for this.
But...
I went to see Fred Herzog work in Vancouver. Big prints from scans. Later on it was specifically mentioned what this exhibition became possible because of the scans.
Later on in the Modern Color book they have digital photo among film ones. The difference is obvious and to me digital sucks.

In same museum yesterday, I observed prints from digital camera. They have no value as art to me. Just good images.
Comparing to Vivian Maier scans from color film, I have seen in 2018. Those were pleasing.

Where are people who see it and where are who are not able to see it, for some reason.
Whose who can't see writes this:
Quote:
I can get every film "look" on digital I like...
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Old 06-08-2019   #36
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I don't over think shooting film as it really doesn't make much sense in the digital age, but I enjoy it, its good fun!
I wouldn't buy an MA though get something classic like an M4 and the money you saved buy a scanner.
Good luck.
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Old 06-13-2019   #37
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thank you all for your inputs. it's funny i found a thread in this sub forum whether one likes the film or the film camera. perhaps what i remember about using a film leica 10 years ago is nostalgia that can not be reproduced today -- larger costs of film, more problematic service availability for film, now i have two kids and considering i didn't develop and scan my own when i was single 10 years ago i really am not going to get into it today.

i know i use my dslr less and less, probably because of the bulk and pathetically most of my images are now done by the little device that's in my pocket, since it's always with me. my m6 used to be always with me, because it was much smaller and lighter than my nikon dslr with a 28mm prime on it right now is.

i started looking at MP or whatever the newest film model is and guess somewhat shocked that it's $3.5K for a used one, when i can get a TYP240 under 3 and there would be no additional costs "per roll". problem is 10 years from now the 240 may be a paper weight worth nothing and the MP film one would still be cranking out pictures, although who knows how much film will cost then.

ultimately i probably miss more using a leica than a film leica and considering the digital of today i should probably look for a used 240 if i decide to go a leica route.

thank you all for inputs, again, and your enthusiasm.
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Old 06-13-2019   #38
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iridium7777, your story sounds familiar. I sold my Leicas and went totally digital in 2008. About the same time, I shut down my darkroom for good. I had three refrigerators at the time and the freezers were full of film. I gave almost all of it away but I still have a coupla dozen rolls of 120 and 35mm film, still frozen. Keep thinking I'll get around to shooting it someday. But I know I won't.

I was at the supermarket last week and I checked out at the tobacco counter. Looking over the checkout lady's shoulder during the process I noticed the price of a carton of Marlboro cigarettes was over $80. I gave up smoking when the price was less than $8 for a carton. Like cigarettes, buying film, chemicals and paper or having film processed and scanned is no longer cheap. I won't start smoking again both for health and economic reasons since I'm now an old fart and retired.

The argument over film or digital is idiotic. People are doing excellent work with both mediums and the issue of which looks best is silly. Digital may not look like film but it can look outstanding. On a personal note, I know for an absolute fact that my current B&W inkjet prints are superior in every way to the darkroom prints I made from film. Others get better results from film and chemicals. Some can do excellent work in both. Both mediums are gonna cost a lot--digital for the gear, film for the materials. Photography is not a cheap pursuit.
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Old 06-16-2019   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Clark View Post
That’s your opinion.
You can't tell the difference? Really?
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Old 06-16-2019   #40
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With some simple processing in PS one can mimic the look of film pretty easily if one lusts over that look. The ease of digital for color outstripped any need for me to shoot color film a long while ago. But I still throw a roll of Portra 160 in the Nikon 28Ti to have at the ready all the time.

The hassle of mailing out film is an annoyance, and I will never scan my own film as I have zero patience for the endless cloning away of dust. To each his own.

I’d say the 240 is a great option, and spending some time with PS messing with the color sliders will quickly lead to a few simple tweaks that can bring that film-like color if you desire. The grain settings in Camera Raw are also quite good. You can even get in and blur the corners a touch to mimic an enlarger being not quite fully aligned. Not difficult at all in my workflow.
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