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Thread: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

  1. #1
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    Although some cameras are better for some people than others (I personally could not shoot with a camera that doesn't have an eye level viewfinder) and some camera systems are a bit better in certain areas than others; I really don't think that a person (especially a new shooter) can go wrong with purchasing virtually any DSLR on the market today. Or even a fairly recent model used DSLR camera in decent condition. I shoot infra red with an "old" Canon D60 (not the 60D) modified for full-time IR which still takes very decent pictures.

    We are fortunate in having a plethora of great cameras and lenses available both new and on the used market. We are fortunate in having the Internet (caveat: beware of scams) on which to select our gear and forums such as this to answer our queries and to post our images. We are fortunate in having an imense selection of lenses that allows the photographer to shoot in virtually any venue.

    However, most of all, I consider myself fortunate that I don't hear the jingle of a cash register (remember those things?) every time I press the shutter button. I can also save my images to a computer and not have to keep them in a shoebox.

    I wish I had been fortunate enough to have done all of my photography digitally. I can just imagine what a wonderful collection of images (most of which have been lost to time and several moves to different homes) I would have now. If I had owned a digital P&S camera, and kept it in my shirt pocket, during my years as a Navy motion picture photographer, I could have documented events which are only retained in my memory now.

    These thoughts have been stirred up because I just bought a thirty-year old Kodak book on close-up photography which brought me on a trip down "memory lane". It was only twenty-five cents from my local public library's book shop. Taking a trip back in time while reading this book started me thinking about how much easier we have it now than photographers of not that long ago had it.

    The Full-frame vs. Crop arguments or the Prime vs. zoom cat fights are really nothing in comparison to the trials and tribulations (as well as the expense) of the earlier film photographers.

  2. #2
    shreds's Avatar
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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    Richard, of course we are fortunate, but at the same time, during that period you have amassed a huge photographic knowledge, which I have to say can be lacking amongst some new 'recruits' who expect to be able to emulate Cartier-Bresson without the hard work.

    In the time that electronic cameras have been developing, how many changes of format in respect of computers have come and gone and what is more, how many catastrophic hard drive crashes or cloud accounts going belly up might have lost your treasured views?

    Theres a silver lining to every dark cloud.

  3. #3
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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    You both make important and valid observations. I believe the advent of digital has allowed me to progress more rapidly and fully then film ever did. I was never the type to write down all the pertinent data (shutter speed ,aperture et al) to diagnose my failures or rare successes. And the cost of film and processing was always a barrier to experimenting. Now with instant feedback I can see the effect of aperture or speed variation and composition on the image.

    There is also an environmental aspect to this as well. The chemicals use to produce film and process are quite toxic and mainly went straight into the world unadulterated. Now they are largely gone. Big bonus.

    As for the long term stability of the images. A big concern for me as I trust electrons and magnetized particles to remain in their respective positions less than hard physical stuff. Then there is the problem with loss of ability to read the configuration of electron or particles due to changes in operating systems and or computer programs.. Maybe their is a niche market for someone to produce the equivalent of negatives for long term storage ie. transpose the digital data on to small storage media which can then be magnified.

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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    When I get time, during the winter months, I scan some of my old film negatives and find that a lot of the previous poor quality results were simply bad printing from automated shops.

    But when digital cameras started they were little more than expensive 'executive toys' with little practical use. I think it was Nikon who eventually produced the first 3 MP camera; which was really expensive.

    My first digital (1982 approx) was a secondhand Canon Powershot G2 with 4 MP which I purchased for half the new price. Newcomers to digital cameras may be astounded to learn that the new price for that little camera was 700.

    I do wonder, as Trevor mentioned, how long can you store digital images on a CD/DVD before they become unusable.

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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    Richard,

    Your nostalgic journey down "memory lane" with a 30 year old book is what I have for my main photography references. Specifically a 40 year old book published in 1971, the "Photographer's Mate 3 & 2" US Naval training manual which my father purchased through the US Government Printing Office and that I received new. I keep this 679 page text handy on my book shelf for easy access.

    Not on my book shelf, but still readily accessed are my issues of Darkroom Photography magazine that I subscribed to back in the mid 1980's and even my Darkroom Techniques magazine issues from the late 1970's, still with my parents address on the mailing label.

    Back in those days, I shot and processed 35mm and medium format B&W and color. Everything was done by manual exposure set through a hand held light meter and manual focus, with no image stabilization. ( That's what a tripod is for )

    Even today with my Sigma SD14 dSLR and Photoshop, I still go by the original photography concepts. Color film is composed of three layers each sensitive to a different range of the spectrum. The Foveon imager in my SD14 achieves the same layered architecture so that every photosite detects Red, Green, and Blue. I never considered the Bayer on chip filter mosaic with the added computational software over head of pixel interpolation and the necessity of a soft focus anti aliasing filter the right technological path. Yet, even being completely in the 21st century with my camera technology, I still use film with a Sigma SA-9 fSLR and I intend on returning to medium format and expanding to include large format.

    My reasons, with the photography that I do, film out performs digital. Plus the technology is available now that allows film scanning which includes multi-pass HDR digital files with automatic scratch detection and removal. Combine HDR scanning with the cost of a used film camera with film processing and you still come out ahead financially. A 35mm fSLR, shooting with FUJICHROME PROVIA 100F yields an image equivalent to a 34.5 megapixel digital imager. What's the cost of a full frame 34.5 megapixel dSLR ?

    You may no longer hear the jingle of a cash register, but I've been seeing it on the come back with modern digital photography. Do you know anyone who shoots with a iphone, ipad, other smart phone, or similar device ? Yes, there is no Cha-ching from film processing, but there is that 24 month contract on the phone and the monthly cellular subscription that needs to be paid every month. If I shoot a roll of color C41 negative film and send it to a local lab, each image costs $0.45, yet if you take a typical smart phone monthly subscription and average one quality image a day over the span of a month, that still means each image costs about $3.00, that's nearly ten times higher ! Oh, and just try to change out that kit lens that came on your smart phone.

    I often contemplate how ironic it is that digital photography took the film processing costs out of the equation, only to have mobile phone technology bring even greater per image costs back.

    Yes, I know I tend to be a bit of a photographic traditionalist, but the core aspects of photography that drew me to it in the first place are the many scientific disciplines that photography entails - optics, light, quantum physics, chemistry, mathematics, so many fun things to play with all rolled into one and the results are the final images that you can hang on the wall.

    I feel a person picking up a modern camera today misses out significantly having no experience with the fundamentals. Can you recall the thrill of seeing the images captured on your first roll of processed film as you brought them into the light still dripping with fixer ? Or watching carefully in that dim safe light as your first print materialized on the paper in the developer tray ? Now think, What comparable aspect of photography exists today, unless someone goes out of their way to work with film ?
    Last edited by Steaphany; 5th September 2011 at 07:55 PM.

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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    This is a very inspirational discussion if you ask me. I never really got to take pictures with Film cameras so I wouldn't know about prices but when I look at some of my moms old photos from way back I marvel at the quality of these pictures and the uniqueness they have. I think that photographers that grew up using film cameras as a learning basis have a unique edge over those that only know digital.

    Although it is really great to store all your data on PC it is so easy to loose everything, I use to keep all my pictures on my PC, one day we had a power surge and my entire drive was destroyed, all my pictures were lost, so yes it is great but it has its setbacks. On the other hand it is very nice to be able to just pull out a photo album and show some great photos, as far as I can tell, very few households nowadays still have those because it is so much easier to just have the pictures on PC.

    On the plus side, it is really great for experimenting with new techniques or just playing around, I think if I had to use a film camera I would be to conservative to try out half the things I do with my digital SLR.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    Quote Originally Posted by shreds View Post
    In the time that electronic cameras have been developing, how many changes of format in respect of computers have come and gone and what is more, how many catastrophic hard drive crashes or cloud accounts going belly up might have lost your treasured views?

    Theres a silver lining to every dark cloud.
    On the other hand, although the few black and white photos that I have from the 1940's and even other B&W images from early in the 20th Century and perhaps even late in the 19th Century are still intact and viable.

    However, I look at some commercially printed color images from the 1970's and they are almost all faded away. Even some 8x10 images that I printed myself have lost much of the color and are almost monochromatic. These images have not been exposed to a great deal of light. However, the 8x10 images were stored in plastic preservers while the commercially processed images were stored in a photo paper box (which should have been archival). But, I don't know if I ever heard the word "archival" in those days in reference to the storing of images.

    I fear that I am not the only one whose images are fading away. Perhaps we will have lost an entire generation of photographic memories...

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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    >> ... yet if you take a typical smart phone monthly subscription and average one quality image a day over the span of a month, that still means each image costs about $3.00, that's nearly ten times higher !

    But your 35mm camera probably drops a lot of phone calls.

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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    Sic transit gloria mundi.

    I expect I will have to get over the idea that 2 billion years form now a race of aliens will be shifting through the ashes of our species and come across a trove of my images and thus understand that humanities main commercial interactions occurred clustered together around a ceremonial plant covered with lights and and small hangy things and exchanged, in the case of the older bald ones, brightly wrapped packets of foot covers and nasty, gaudy upper body covers. The very young ones seemed incapable of feeding themselves and are usually seen with colourful food smeared on their faces. They are always seen baring their teeth so must have been a highly antisocial species.

    I may be off in the time on this but I believe DVDs and CDs delaminate over time, losing the photoreactive layer in ten years or so. They go the way of all things. However I suspect most of my images are are mainly for my own amusement and that of of my nearest and dearest so the loss of most; if not all my stuff; will be of no import to posterity. Which is ironic as my current project is to document old barns and farm houses before they rot and vanish. Which only goes to show the underlying disconnect between reality and my intentions and actions.

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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    I think ALL images, no matter how banal are important for posterity. Sure there are millions of 'family snaps' that have, from the viewpoint of a photographic enthusiast no artistic merit. However, just think, if there were just one photograph of a family taken in say 1200 or 1600 for example, how valuable would that be? The images we take are windows on history in say another century or even a millenium!

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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    Quote Originally Posted by Steaphany View Post
    Richard,
    If I shoot a roll of color C41 negative film and send it to a local lab, each image costs $0.45, yet if you take a typical smart phone monthly subscription and average one quality image a day over the span of a month, that still means each image costs about $3.00, that's nearly ten times higher !
    Suspect comparison alert, this comparison may not be directly between two similar points.

    Just to expand the comaprison a little here, if I read it right (or even possibly left).
    Assuming roll of 36 frames at 45c per makes $16.20 per roll. Digital, of course, we can takes hundreds at virtually no cost, upping the chance we get the required shot.

    Quality image - but surely this depends on the use of said image. To quickly show your colleagues for immediate amusement (or other edification) may BE the purpose, therefore an image of poor technical standards may be a great image for it's designated purpose. Think of all the war/sports/candid shots that are not tack sharp, properly exposed etc. but capturing the moment (referencing the previous statement by someone about Henri C-B) is the important thing.
    Gotta go, but I am pretty sure there are other aspects about the comparison that cause me a little concern.
    Going out to take pictures of friends with my digital camera. Gonna take lots of shots to get a few keepers, by their standards and by mine (which are noticeably different).

    Graham

  12. #12
    Steaphany's Avatar
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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamH View Post
    Just to expand the comaprison a little here, if I read it right (or even possibly left).
    Assuming roll of 36 frames at 45c per makes $16.20 per roll. Digital, of course, we can takes hundreds at virtually no cost, upping the chance we get the required shot.
    Graham,

    Are you shooting those photos with a dSLR or a SuperPhone ?

    For a dSLR, there are negligible costs once you have everything.

    But, I was referring to all those people who buy mobile phones with cameras and now think they have become photographers ( When I come across a bragging phone-photographer, I ask how many lenses they have in their kit - They end up confused by the question ), This is how I introduced that paragraph:

    Quote Originally Posted by Steaphany View Post
    You may no longer hear the jingle of a cash register, but I've been seeing it on the come back with modern digital photography. Do you know anyone who shoots with a iphone, ipad, other smart phone, or similar device ? Yes, there is no Cha-ching from film processing, but there is that 24 month contract on the phone and the monthly cellular subscription that needs to be paid every month.
    Worse still, I have seen professional photographers fall from the cliff into the mobile phone world and instead of posting dSLR photography, they now only publish snaps and videos taken with a phone.

  13. #13
    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    I just calculated my cost per photo using my digital gear. Dividing the number of images in my files (I discard the completely useless images so maybe I am under by 10 percent in total images shot ) into the investment in my gear I came up with two figures. Dividing using cameras only (two bodies excluding lenses,tripods,bags et al) it's $0.21. With all the gear bought in the last five years since I got back into the hobby it's $0.48.

    The first amount is probably more reflective of the cost of digital versus film as the bulk of my lenses are full frame anyway.

    As for cost per great image. Either $13500 or infinity (zero divided into any number)

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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    Whilst we newbies have lots of advantages with regards to the ease of learning how to use a DSLR compared to a film camera and I do think that people who have learnt to shoot with film will have more skills than those of us who have only used digital I also believe that we have missed out on being able to use some of the classically shaped cameras from the past.

    I cannot name the makes and model numbers of these great looking cameras but I am sure that many people on this forum will be able to.

    The images of press, professional and hobbyists with the relatively small but brilliantly designed cameras of the past always brings a warm feeling to me.

    I think it is quite sad that, in DSLR form, we pretty much only have a big lump of black plastic to choose and that all manufacturers products look the same.

  15. #15
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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    I agree with Richard's observations. I began my interest in photography when I was back in high school. I have dad's old Voigtlander fold-up camera with its Compur shutter (circa 1930s). I got serious about photography when I went overseas to the Philippines (1965) and Vietnam where I shot lots of Ektachrome slides. Pentax, Canon, Nikon and other 35mm Japanese cameras and lenses were cheap through the military base exchange. I still have my Pentax Spotmatic. I've used several film formats as my interests changed.

    I had a wet darkroom for several years in my basement. Photography was expensive and time consuming back then. I think this had the advantage of making one consider how to take the shot so you had the best chance of success and not waste film and processing. My 4x5 required deliberate and careful set-up; this was good training that I still use today whenever the subject permits. A basic knowledge of shutter speeds, f-stops, depth of field, etc. is still the same today except you can change ISO speeds between shots instead of rolls of film.

    I love digital for its immediate feedback; this speeds up the learning process. Plus, the image data is saved with the file instead of having to record it manually on paper. Image processing on a computer gives me far more control over the image than I could ever achieve with printing and processing print paper. While it was fun to see the image magically appear in the developer, Photoshop is so much faster... and no expensive chemicals or long print washings to get rid of the fixer. With digital, you can take the shot and have an inkjet print in less time than it took to develop the film. That is convenience.

    I think the relatively inexpensive digital cameras we have now has made photography popular and affordable for the masses. Image quality from recent point-and-shoot types rival high-end pro cameras from only a few years ago. The quality of the photo, however, still depends upon the knowledge, skill and artistry of the shooter. That cute, little camera does not make you Ansel Adams.

    I save my digital files in the Adobe Digital Negative format so that they may be read (hopefully) with future software and not rely on any manufacturer's proprietary coding. Since I do not shoot professionally, I'm not particularly concerned if my images last into the next century... I won't. I really enjoy the digital age. I think the famous photographers of the past would certainly enjoy the benefits of digital.

    - Paul -

  16. #16

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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    Quote Originally Posted by Steaphany View Post
    Graham,

    Are you shooting those photos with a dSLR or a SuperPhone ?

    For a dSLR, there are negligible costs once you have everything.

    But, I was referring to all those people who buy mobile phones with cameras and now think they have become photographers.
    Hi Steaphany, I was believe I was fully aware of the thrust of your argument, and that what I shoot with is off topic (so no need to pursue that further).

    In summary, I just do not see the logic of the two sets of information you presented as a comparison with respect to costs of image between digital and film.

    I was using your own information given for the comparison you presented, nothing else.
    Even with a cellphone you can take as many pics as you want, or none. The cost of taking a single picture is the same as taking hundreds as the phone rates are independent of the rate of image taking.
    You were comparing the cost of taking a 'quality' image (at the rate of one a day over the period of a month) and comparing that to the cost of a roll of film (and processing). Also no mention of how many quality images you would get from that.
    I feel that the comparison is either lacking a great deal of information to make it valid or it si misleading oand of no value, unless I have misread it severely.
    Now, if you were to compare the cost of a single 'quality' image (and that would need a definition) taken via film (per day over a month) and compared that to the same parameters as digital, then we have a more valid comparison.
    Graham
    (prepared to be educated)

  17. #17

    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    @ Paul, I too still have my old Pentax Spotmatic, a camera that was a gift from a late family member that really got me started in film photography. I keep it out of reverence and respect.




    Quote Originally Posted by Steaphany View Post
    ...I was referring to all those people who buy mobile phones with cameras and now think they have become photographers ( When I come across a bragging phone-photographer, I ask how many lenses they have in their kit - They end up confused by the question ),




    Worse still, I have seen professional photographers fall from the cliff into the mobile phone world and instead of posting dSLR photography, they now only publish snaps and videos taken with a phone.



    There are people who take superb shots with cell phone cameras: http://www.flickr.com/groups/73532194@N00/




    oiPhonography Blog: http://www.iphoneography.com/


    Fine Art with Camera Phones: http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/h...otography.html




    I do not see it as any different than the photographers of old, who used very simple equipment such as box cameras. There are professionals today who continue to use such cameras with a fixed focus and a single shutter speed.




    A phone camera is much more sophisticated in comparison. Phone shooters may have the best of both worlds. The cameras are fairly simple and they can use PS processing to really make their photos shine.

  18. #18

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    Re: Digital photographers of today are so fortunate...

    Photography is still photography though. You need the same skills as before. The camera can be fooled and you have to know when that's likely to happen and what to do about it. What I miss on modern cameras is the depth of field marks on the lens body which I found helpful in the old days when sorting out hyperfocal focussing. Nowadays a lot of it is by guess.

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