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Thread: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

  1. #1
    martin
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    Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Iím an amateur mainly interested in nature scenes including close up, textures and contre-jour. Iíve had several MF systems over 12 yrs, but Zeiss lenses seem to keep pulling me back, these days with a 503cw and Contax 645 on a big heavy tripod. Iíve never printed much, mostly admiring my transparencies through a 5.5x loupe. I now have a few images that would look ok on a wall, and would someday like to sell my best as high quality 24x24Ē prints.
    Iím trying to decide at what point, price-wise and pixel-wise, a digiback is a worthwhile move forward in image quality from 6x6/6x4.5 velvia/provia/e100vs. But first, which system to keep? The C645 plus 40mm if cfe, 120 apo makro, 250sa cf with adaptor is adequate and seems ideal, mostly because of the 120, as in my experience itís just plain remarkable, with clearly superior realism over the 100 and 120 cfi. 1:1 macro on the twist, adjustable diopter and focus confirmation favour the Contax, though the 503ís wlf has greater enlargement. The 503 option would include the 40 and 250, naturally, as well as the 100 and 120. Thereís lots of pros and cons to both, and certainly to me the choice is not easy.

    Is the Kodak DCS Proback 645C a good start to equal or exceed a good imacon/drum scan?
    Better to wait a couple more years until 22+mp backs are more affordable? The Kodak was around US12kilodollars new, now 1.5-2.5kilodollars.
    Iím still quite unfamiliar with digital photography, so what sort of hard-firm-software would be needed?
    Any suggestions and helpful advice on when and how to make this transition would be well appreciated. The ecological part of me has always seen a Ďlightroomí as more elegant than a chemical-necessitated dark room, and the obvious way of the future.

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    In testing I did a few years ago comparing a Sinar 22mp back to drum scanned (4000ppi 6micron Howtek) and then rezzing the digital file to the same pixel dimension as the drum scan, there was virtually no visible difference between the two images aside from the small amount of film grain in the scan. Now, I was shooting 6x7 cm Provia, slightly different from your square format, but the results should be very similar. More recently I've done close comparisons between drum scanned Velvias from my Mamiya 7 and very similar images from my 1DsMKIII. It's surprising just how close the MKIII is to drum scanned Velvia. The differences are more in terms of tonality and how the digital files more abruptly run out of headroom in the highlights than film. Still, the two are remarkably close and I'm using one of the best scanners available.

    If you are looking for a MFDB, I would probably not opt for a used Kodak. No support and just not nearly as nice as others out there. If it were me, I would be waiting for a used Phase or Leaf to come into my price range and jump on that. You'd be surprised what you can get them for. In fact, a close friend just picked up a good used P45 (not the plus) for around $9K.

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Others here have much more experience than me in different backs, so I can just compare what I have with what you are looking at. I have a Hasselblad 2000FC/M with 50/2.8, 110/2 and 250/4, as well as a Contax 645 with 35/3.5, 80/2 and 120/4 Macro. I shoot both of those with film, but also use a Sinar eMotion 54LV with the Contax. I have a Novoflex adapter and use all the Hasselblad lenses on the Contax as well.

    First of all, unless it is absolutely necessary to get the last few bucks for the back, I don't see any reason to sell the 503. It is a different way of shooting, and I think you would miss it. I certainly would miss mine. Secondly, your Hasselblad/Contax setup kind of mirrors mine with certain differences. I would prefer the Contax 35/3.5 to the Hasselblad 40/4IF, since it is AF and a little wider, but that is probably splitting hairs.

    I don't have the money for a really great scanner, but the Epson V750 I am using in practice comes close to the Nikon 9000, while not quite reaching it. I find that when I shoot a high-resolution film, like Adox CHS 25, I can get about 25MP of good quality pixels (2400dpi; if I scan at higher resolutions, I don't capture any more detail), and the Hasselblad negatives would come in a little higher than that, although I tend to shoot it with Tri-X, where I get much less. The Sinar gives 22MP of very sharp pixels. Overall, the Sinar probably has a slightly higher amount of detail in the image. Both look great, although film holds the highlights better, and I have more detail in the shadows with the Sinar. Overall, I would call them comparable. Typically I do B&W in film with Hasselblad or Contax, and colour with the Sinar on the Contax, although I sometimes throw a roll of Portra 160 in the Hasselblad.

    Getting a Kodak Pro 645 or another 16MP 36x36mm sensor doesn't make much sense to me. You would have less information in the negatives, would lose the 40 as a wide angle lens (it would be about a 60, IIRC), and all at significantly higher cost than just shooting film (unless you go for an ultra-expensive scanner). I would start looking at 22MP backs. The Phase backs are meant to be quite nice, but are very expensive compared to others, even used. A recent Leaf or Sinar 22MP back can be had for perhaps €5000 or so, the Phase would probably be 50% more.

    If the workflow is not an issue for you, I don't see any particular reason to go to digital. If you want to work faster and with less chemicals, then it starts to make sense, but you need to spend some time with the software to get good and efficient. Currently I use eXposure to do white balance, a roughly correct development, and then export to DNG, and fine-tune in Lightroom, but there are other ways.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Welcome Martin!

    Your dilemma is not unusual. Which method: digital or analog? Which system: Contax or Hasselblad? Which scanner or which digital back?

    Any answer will be strictly opinion based on personal experiences and tastes because it is fortunately still primarily "science in the service of art". Often, science may argue one thing while one's eye may argue the opposite. Thus the endless debates on such a subject.

    Regardless which way you go ... scanning or digital ... there are ramifications. You will need to become proficient with either a scanning software, or a RAW processing program such as Phase One C1, Hasselbald Phocus, or Leaf Capture ... as well as retouching software that provides for layer work such as Photoshop. This requires a pretty beefy computer with lots of RAM and a decent amount of Hard Drive space to store large digital files. That proficiency will not come overnight, so patience is required ... probably a lot of patience

    Here is my opinion ... based on having used everything you now have or are thinking about. Plus, now using a 39 meg 645 digital back and also a Imacon 949 scanner for film works.

    1) Select a way to go and stick to it without second guessing yourself or looking back. It is VERY expensive to maintain high-end multiple ways of working in the digital age. It will drive you insane and empty your bank account

    2) I did the above for many years because I was torn between personal work and commercial work ... which is why I still have an Imacon 949 scanner, a MF digital camera system, and an empty bank account.

    3) The Kodak Pro-Back was my start into Medium Format digital capture. It was a great way to learn digital ... then .. but it is now unsupported ... even the batteries for it are extremely difficult to find.

    4) IMO, if you decide on going digital, go for at least a good used P45 Phase One back. 22 meg is a nice start, but you'll hanker for more resolution pretty quickly.

    5) IMO, the most elegant set up for you would be a Phase One P45 digital back on the Contax 645. The Phase backs seem designed for the Contax, and with the integrated battery eliminates a battery hanging off the bottom of the back. The Contax allows use of any Zeiss lenses made for it, as well as any Zeiss C or F lenses ever made for the V series Hasselbalds ... so you can use the best of both worlds.

    Now the contrary opinion:

    6) Strictly my opinion, but the easiest introduction to digital for you right now would be a decent scanner, or a good scanning service. You already have a bunch of film shots. This way would allow you to become familiar with digital software. Once you have the software, you can ask someone on this board to send you a full resolution file of a nature shot from a P45 and compare them with your eyes not someone else's. I'd also advise having one of your best film images printed by a fine art analog lab on real photo paper.

    7) If you do the above, you may be in for a few surprises depending on what you are looking for. I am continually haunted by the fact that I like my film shots more than any digital shot I've done. I keep upping the ante with my digital capture trying to make that feeling go away. It continues to be a very expensive trek with no joy so far. My problem is that I am either to lazy or to impatient for the process of film anymore. However, I do not confuse my immediate need gratification with my sense of art and what the end product actually looks like in a print (not pixel peeping on a computer screen.)

    -Marc

  5. #5
    martin
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    This is a personal reply, with only a few specifics edited out, which I'm adding to broaden the discussion...

    "Hi Martin,

    I'm in pretty much the same boat as you with MF film vs MF digital. I shoot with a Mamiya 7 II and three lenses as well as an extensive Pentax 67 system. I also shoot with a Leica DMR and a wide range of lenses from the 15 to the 800 Modular APO lens.

    You mention wanting to have 24" prints made and sell them. At 24" enlargement, you're probably not going to notice any difference between drum scanned 6x6 transparencies and even a 39mp back. I've seen many comment on this forum that even a 24 megapixel Nikon is virtually undistinguishable from a 39mp digital back at 24" enlargement. My question is: at what size enlargement does a 31 to 39 megapixel back outperform a tack sharp 6x6 drum scan? No one has been able to give me an answer yet.

    One thing I run into from time to time is someone who has played with all the high end digital backs and shot with them for years and prefers scanned film for their own work. Film just has a different look.

    "I've had 6x7 transparencies drum scanned and printed as large as 50x64" and the images were stunning. Disney bought two of these large prints back in '99 and loved the output. They were printed on a Mimaki 60" printer with technology that was mediocre compared to what is now available with the new Epson 11800 printer.

    One thing to consider is investing in a back with intent to sell images in a market that has collapsed in the past year. I've sold my work through a very high end venue since 2003 and sales died completely as of February of last year. Not a single sale since... and my market was a market with tons of discretionary spending. I've decided not to go MF digital until 1. the market significantly recovers and 2. I'm convinced that a 31-39 megapixel back looks significantly better than scanned 6x7 transparencies.

    "Personally, I think the money would be better spent buying a wide format printer and learning how to print your scanned transparencies. There is a significant learning curve involved, but I got into wide format printing because of the Disney sale (the custom printer I had been using for years literally lost his mind and kept me waiting over three months for the Disney prints... only to deliver absolute garbage after all that time. I flew back east and printed the images on a big Mimaki printer owned by a company that wanted to use my images for advertising their machines). After nearly losing that commission... I decided it was time to bite the bullet and buy a 44" printer so I'd never have to rely on any custom printers ever again. It was the best thing I've ever done.

    "Think carefully about this. A high mp digital back will mean having to buy a faster and bigger computer and there will be a significant learning curve before you have the back "dialed". You know your Contax and Hassy cameras and your next step should be learning how to print your own images. I truly don't believe anyone who is being honest with you will say your images will be noticeably better with a digital back, at least at 24" size.
    Best of luck with your decision."

    thanks for your answers so far...there seems to be a common theme coming through...

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Here is a simple yardstick answer based on my experiences.

    1) Scanned film has a different look than digital; neither better than the other, but different.

    1a) Generally speaking and IMHO, film has smoother look to its tonality while direct digital is cleaner from a noise/grain standpoint.

    2) Per-shot costs comparisons between film and digital depend on how much you shoot, so no blanket statement can be made here.

    3) If you scan a lot, you'll need a good scanner, and they can run half the cost of a good used high-res digi back.

    4) The best scanned 35mm can probably be equalled with about a 9-11MP digital file;

    5) The best scanned 645/6x6 film can probably be equalled at about 18-22MP direct digital, though scanned 6x7 seems to exceed that pretty easily.

    6) The best scanned 4x5 film is probably comparable to around 45MP direct digital, but it's difficult to get a perfect 4x5 capture plus processing and scanning, so I would say current 35-40MP direct digital competes head-to-head with 4x5 most of the time;

    7) The best scanned 8x10 probably would need around 100MP direct digital to compete, however it's almost impossible to get a "perfect" 8x10 capture, given lenses, processing and scanning, so in reality I think 8x10 is exceeded by todays 50+MP backs.

    8) I personally find the film workflow a total PITA relative to direct digital, but if you're patient, you can certainly achieve excellent results.

    So bottom line, from a cost comparison standpoint, you need to do the math based on how many frames you shoot, per frame processing costs, per frame scanning costs and whatever you think your time is worth. You can figure your digi back (and probably your scanner) will be worth 1/2 what you paid for it over 3 years of use.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    As I was reading Jackís answer I kept finding myself in agreement with the points he was saying all the while thinking to myself the main point which is found in #8. Iíve scanned MF as well as 35 both conventional and from an XPan. The key to scanning is getting the most complete accurate scanner which in the long run will run big bucks. Scanning can be very expensive both in the price you pay for equipment and the time needed to obtain excellent images.

    You can either scan film or take direct digital captures either way will be costly and give varying level of success. I still have my scanner however I no longer shoot any film nor do I scan film.

    Good luck with you choice.

    Don
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Out of curiousity, which scanners are much better than the Nikon 9000? I have an Epson V750 and find the step up to the Nikon too small, and have heard mixed reports of it anyway. I am curious what the next step after that is. An Imacon/Hasselblad? Which models are good and how much do they run second-hand?
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    I feel compelled to interject further opinions on this subject.

    The caveat I have to acknowledge is that I've slowly been divesting myself of film based gear. I am now a full time professional photographer without an influx of mega discretionary capital from being a (now retired) advertising executive that funded most any photographic whim. This necessitated making a decision, because being a full time Pro is a very different from being an advanced amateur with the means to finance photography pursuits. The entire commercial world is digital based. From weddings to advertising, it's dominated by digital capture and reproduction (with a few doing film as an alternative, usually side-by-side with digital).

    Here are a few impressions I've gathered regarding Medium Format Digital capture, (speaking strictly from experiential opinion).

    MFD is a different world ... it is a technology world that easily can re-focus your relationship to photography and the craftsmanship entailed. If you skim the posts on this excellent forum, it becomes clear that digital technology discussions dominate ... depending on your mind-set, rightly or wrongly, validity is measured in pixel peeping comparisons done on a computer screen. Threads dealing with such issues have increased exponentially, because the changes seemingly never end, nor does the upgrade path to bigger and better. The cost of staying on this is path staggers the imagination and is measured in 10s of thousands of dollars.

    Incremental changes in digital technology are not as great as the manufacturers hype, nor the declarations of those (including me) that have invested in them. In actual application to the end product, the differences are minor between last year's technology and this year's technology ... however, the price for it is anything but minor.

    Conversely, film and scanning is a constant. It is what it is. Same as it was 5 years ago, same as it'll be 5 years from now. If it is winds your clock now, that won't change. The equivalent of a new $30,000. digital sensor is a different film for $5.

    It requires an enormous effort to keep up with changing technology. This is the hidden part of the Iceberg. With film and scanning you spend more time perfecting your skills and craftsmanship with a given constant, rather than constantly getting up to speed with the latest innovation in software, digital back innovations, camera integration ... or costly new lenses supposedly made to exploit one more nano speck of resolution than most human eyes cannot detect in actual application.

    While, it can be said that one can just get a digital back and stick with it like with the film/scanning option ... few people do that. The CVF 16 meg back becomes outdated, and the new CFV/39 back becomes the panacea. A P45, becomes a drooling need for P45+, a P45+ becomes a P65+. Each a siren's song that comes with a hefty price tag attached to it.

    IMO, not one single photographer I know, who's work I have followed over the years, has become a better photographer for it. In some cases they have become distracted by the relentless pursuit of technology, and became the worse for it. But one thing is for sure, not one of us will EVER admit to that

    In short, if the look of film winds your clock, and you aren't infected with impatience and immediate need gratification ... if you actually like the often thoughtful, sometimes plodding, old-school process of selecting and making a photograph ... think it through carefully ... they are two very different worlds in more ways than one.

    -Marc

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Out of curiousity, which scanners are much better than the Nikon 9000? I have an Epson V750 and find the step up to the Nikon too small, and have heard mixed reports of it anyway. I am curious what the next step after that is. An Imacon/Hasselblad? Which models are good and how much do they run second-hand?
    I have the Epson V750. I do not use it to scan films. I use it to make contact sheets to file with the negs., and to scan older prints where the neg is no longer available (like for friends and family).

    I started with a Polaroid MF scanner, moved to a Minolta Dual Scan MF scanner ... then was loaned a Imacon 848 by a dealer, and ended up re-scanning much of my library after seeing the difference. Smart dealer

    I then bought a Imacon 949 which was better than the 848 in terms of IQ and speed. The Imacon 949 (now Hasselblad X5), has a diffused light source where the 848 did not. The 949 is the fastest scanner I know of ... a MF film takes 1 minute @ 3,200 dpi. 35mm film can be scanned at up to 8,000 dpi in 1.5 minutes ... less time if at a lower resolution.

    With the 848/949 and rebadged Hasselblad versions, you can batch scan using a multi-holder attachment that allows for larger automatic scans of many holders at a crack.

    There is a huge selection of film holders, including panoramic MF, 35mm slides in their holder ... and none of them involve glass carriers, newton rings, or fluids.

    The issue isn't as much about price for a used one ... it's finding one that someone is willing to sell ... at least one that wasn't employed in heavy production tasks ... although, it must be said that these scanners are built like tanks that were meant for high production output.

    -Marc

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    I will primarily be scanning MF with a little 35mm on the side, and I wouldn't mind having the option to do 4x5" in the future, although I am not willing to pay lots extra for that ability. Perhaps a 343 is a good compromise between price and ability?

    What is good about the diffuse light source, perhaps less sensitivity to dust or something similar?
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Out of curiousity, which scanners are much better than the Nikon 9000? I have an Epson V750 and find the step up to the Nikon too small, and have heard mixed reports of it anyway. I am curious what the next step after that is. An Imacon/Hasselblad? Which models are good and how much do they run second-hand?
    I use my Epson flatbed to scan bulk contact sheets. The Nikon 9000 is a step up, but you need to calibrate its focus, and use multi-pass to obtain all it can offer -- I recommend getting Vue-Scan to run it and taking the time to learn it.

    As for what's better, the top-end Imacon's come next at a full step up from the 9000. Next, any drum scanner that can do 1600 DPI or more, or any of the last three generations of Creo's will outperform the top Imacon. HOWEVER, this last set only outperform the Imacon when doing wet mounts which are very messy and time-consuming, and they're a lot slower than the Imacon -- slow like plan on at least 20 minutes per scan to clean a 6x6 frame, wet-mount it, scan it at the resolution you want and then clean off the neg before putting it away. By contrast the Imacon can do that in like 3 minutes per neg, plus it can batch.
    Jack
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    IMO, not one single photographer I know, who's work I have followed over the years, has become a better photographer for it. In some cases they have become distracted by the relentless pursuit of technology, and became the worse for it. But one thing is for sure, not one of us will EVER admit to that
    I'll admit it, but doesn't mean I like admitting it (). Seriously, my best images have been made with camera gear I am intimately familiar with handling, used in situations where I am paying strict attention to making images and unconcerned about the gear I'm using. And speaking only for myself, the entire process of managing, exposing, processing and scanning film concerns me
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    ďOld schoolĒ film shooting was great Ė for awhile. I also liked the results from the scans that I was able to achieve. However thereís a huge time investment in film/scanning. Thereís only one lab in Tucson that I trusted with MF and that was time consuming both in the two trips it took (one to deliver the other to pick up) and the amount of time it took for developing. I also didnít like the idea of giving up control over the development process. Once I had the negatives I then ended up spending several hours just getting a couple images scanned and into a digital format I could work with. Iíve got an Epson 750V and while itís a great scanner itís not a drum scanner. I got better scans if I did it wet however that adds even more time to the equation. Bottom line was there were at times several days (at the least) till several weeks (the most) before I saw my image.

    Shooting digital hasnít made me a better photographer however it has allowed me more creative input from the onset of the image. I have full control over an image I take digitally, from cradle to grave and I have no one to blame if the image is screwed up but myself.

    I still have several strips of MF and XPan negatives hanging near my workstation more to remind me of my roots than anything else. Iíll admit we often get caught up with the newest best whiz-bang technology however Iím currently put myself on a leash and am only concerned with updates to my current software.

    Iíve fully embraced digital capture, warts and all.

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    I'll admit it, but doesn't mean I like admitting it (). Seriously, my best images have been made with camera gear I am intimately familiar with handling, used in situations where I am paying strict attention to making images and unconcerned about the gear I'm using.
    Quote Originally Posted by Don Libby View Post
    “Old school” film shooting was great

    Shooting digital hasn’t made me a better photographer however it has allowed me more creative input from the onset of the image.

    I still have several strips of MF and XPan negatives hanging near my workstation more to remind me of my roots than anything else. I’ll admit we often get caught up with the newest best whiz-bang technology however I’m currently put myself on a leash and am only concerned with updates to my current software.
    ...seriously selective quoting there.

    I agree. Unfortunately. And for me, the realization has been that I have put a massive amount of time into understanding and getting started with digital MF, but my best results (and most enjoyment) are coming from B&W MF film... I keep looking this fact in the eyes, and thinking "I just need to keep working on it", but although I write lists of questions about how to get the most out of MF digital, and although I keep answering these questions, I still get more from film...

    I am not quite sure what to do about it. I am considering a lot, but haven't made any moves yet. I have looked through the 300-odd MF digital shots I have made in the last 6 months (yep, that's all; it takes too much time, time I don't have any more due to my little daughter), and there are maybe 5, 10 if I am lucky, which I think I couldn't have done with film or the M8.

    Is that worth it? I don't know. It is a really tough choice. I am considering all my options. I could sell my Sinar eMotion 54LV and buy an A900, and get something with much less mental overhead. Or I could get the M9, with all its limitations. Or I could get a high-end film scanner. Or I could just pay off some debt, and this last option isn't too attractive, but it may be the wisest of all, because after all, the M8 and the Contax 645 with B&W film are keeping my happy.

    Ideas?

    Maybe I should move this to another thread. On the other hand, it seems to mirror the thoughts of the OP...
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post

    Ideas?
    B&W film is the only reason I still have a 35mm film body, film backs for my MF camera and have not sold the Nikon 9000 scanner. OTOH, I did not shoot a single roll of film in all of 2009, so one has to assume the inevitable ...
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    I love good B&W.

    That said Iíve been very impressed with the B&W images Iím getting with the 1DsII IR camera so no more B&W film. To be totally honest, I havenít shot a single roll of film for 2 years now.

    Don
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Libby View Post
    I love good B&W.

    That said I’ve been very impressed with the B&W images I’m getting with the 1DsII IR camera so no more B&W film. To be totally honest, I haven’t shot a single roll of film for 2 years now.

    Don
    Excellent point. Anybody interested in buying my Nikon 9000? It comes with the optional glass Anti-Newton film holder --- $2600 for the whole shebang, in the boxes.
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    I have nothing to offer to this discussion but have taken much away from it. Thanks to all. I am not that much different from Martin except already have a Nikon CS8000 and my wife has just ordered an Epson 4880 printer. But thanks to the thoughtful and well articulated posts I have more information rather than dogma with which to assist in future decisions on supplementing MF film with a digital back or not. This may not be the most active photography forum on the web but it sure is a great one.

    In the meantime I am happy with the equipment I have and have tended in the last couple of years to shoot almost entirely black and white film and have again got a darkroom after 10 years without and have two DSLRs (my wife's and a borrowed one). And with Jack's conclusion on #6 my time may be limited but not anywhere near what my money is

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by redrockcoulee View Post
    And with Jack's conclusion on #6 my time may be limited but not anywhere near what my money is
    And why I didn't put a value on "time" in my conclusion. For pros, it's certainly a consideration. But for the artist or hobbyist, the time spent doing it may in fact be a credit on the balance sheet
    Jack
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    martin
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Not sure whether to start a new enquiry or continue this thread but since it holds many thought provoking responses for which I am grateful I thought no harm would come from carrying onÖI sold all my camera goodies for greater financial needs some time ago but would now like to get a Contax 645 again, initially using film and later perhaps a modest dbÖI really liked using it as well as its fabulous image quality but am a little undecided whether to just towel the whole mf idea and follow the crowd into the high end dslr arena. I like mfís seductive IQ and prefer the deliberate tripod approach, though with something I can also shoot candidly slr-style. Recently I came across some inspiring words summed up thus: just find a good tool to use, flog it till you use it intuitively and take your time photographing what you like. Since I canít afford both systems, as would immediately come to the pro folksí minds (horses for courses), Iím weighing this against the convenience of smaller size/portability, low light ability of 24x36 sensors and faster lensesÖyet I have some doubts that the dslr convenience and ďnowĒ factor will be any more helpful for me.
    I would like to hear what others think about this, as itís not really a straightforward request for a ďdo this, forget thatĒ reply.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    MFDB's in Contax mount have come down pretty significantly. There is currently a Leaf 22 back (VG back even by today's standards!) in C mount for under $5K on eBay right now.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    tetsrfun
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Excellent point. Anybody interested in buying my Nikon 9000? It comes with the optional glass Anti-Newton film holder --- $2600 for the whole shebang, in the boxes.
    ********
    There seems to be an influx of "new" 9000ED scanners coming on the market. Now listed as in-stock again at B&H. I bought a new one last week from another Nikon dealer, new with 1 year warranty. Maybe Nikon is emptying a warehouse somewhere???

    Steve

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Thanks to all who posted on this subject. The information and wisdom expressed is most helpful to amateurs like myself.

    This is the best discussion of this subject I've ever read.

    Texsport

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    I found this to be quite informative on this subject.

    http://toyotadesigner.wordpress.com/...power-of-film/

    Texsport

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    [QUOTE=fotografz;170734
    IMO, not one single photographer I know, who's work I have followed over the years, has become a better photographer for {digital}.
    -Marc[/QUOTE]
    If you can get it right first time, every time, with film, without the instant feedback to confirm that you got it right, you may not be a better photographer with digital.

    If you are doing complex interiors with many light sources in combination with window light, and including the view out of a window, and you have not had the experience of filtering the different light sources and putting a day's work on one sheet of 5 * 4 film, and consistently getting it right...

    ...with this logic I expect the instant feedback of digital, and the ability to layer-merge different light sources, will make me a better photographer.

    There are thinks you cannot (practicably) do with analog, like auto-stacking 100 images for macro DOF merge.

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by Texsport View Post
    I found this to be quite informative on this subject.

    http://toyotadesigner.wordpress.com/...power-of-film/

    Texsport
    I found that to be a complete and impressive load of crap. It is total mathematical theory and bears no resemblance to reality. Don't get me wrong, I wish it were true, but those numbers just don't hold up. If you actually believe him, go shoot a scene with a Canon 1v with the color film of your choice and a 1DsIII using the same lens and same tripod. That is about as apples to apples as you will get, and let me know if the print from film has more detail than the print from digital. I can promise it won't. That's not to say that the film shot won't be aesthetically pleasing (personally I prefer the look of film to the look of digital), just that the math in that article is crap. The big difference between film and digital is that film is a sloppy process and digital is a very precise process. With film, there are so many places to add error and messiness into the imaging chain, the errors are cumulative and you generally don't know about them until the final product.

    I once sold a bunch of 20x30" prints to a homebuilder for a gallery display in their lobby from a Canon 10D. Further, the shots were not as sharp as I would have liked (hand held, 70-200, f4, 1/125, ISO 100). On the final print, there was not a lot of detail, but they looked great anyway. I don't think 35mm film would have looked nearly as good. By contrast, I have some prints from a Fuji 6x9 I used to have. Even with a low res drum scan, on a 20x30 print you can put a loop on the print and see more detail.

    I stumbled on this thread because I have a trip coming up that begs to be shot with large format film. I haven't shot a sheet of 4x5 in ten years, and that was with quickloads in a studio. I have always eschewed MF digital because of the costs. However, buying LF gear, film, processing and scanning for about 50 final images, plus the time involved is making MF digital seem much more reasonable.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    For me this is so simple. If I wanted to shoot film than I better consider getting out of being a commercial photographer. I will go out of business by the time it takes to process a roll of film. I kid you not. NO ONE wants me to deliver film anymore.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  29. #29
    tetsrfun
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Out of curiousity, which scanners are much better than the Nikon 9000? I have an Epson V750 and find the step up to the Nikon too small, and have heard mixed reports of it anyway.
    ********
    I have both; just recently acquiring a Nikon 9000. So far I would say that the 9000 produces better scans but it is incremental. I prefer using the 9000 especially with the MF "glass" film holder. I modified the original 9000 MF holder for wet mounting. The 9000 it is also much less a dust "magnet" than the 750.

    I think that the next, practical, step up is the big leap to Imacon/Hasselblad. I guess a used drum scanner is an option but I have no desire to be a scanning tech or work with unsupported legacy gear.

    Steve

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_Green View Post
    I stumbled on this thread because I have a trip coming up that begs to be shot with large format film. I haven't shot a sheet of 4x5 in ten years, and that was with quickloads in a studio. I have always eschewed MF digital because of the costs. However, buying LF gear, film, processing and scanning for about 50 final images, plus the time involved is making MF digital seem much more reasonable.
    I would totally agree with this. When I compare what MF digital (and 35mm digital) cost and compare it to how much I used to spend on 4x5 colour film, processing and any subsequent printing, especially considering not every shot was a winner, then digital certainly feels more cost effective. The big difference for me is that the equipment is a large capital cost with low on going overheads whilst shooting film was almost the opposite. (I'm not a pro so revex of the equipment via lease etc isn't an option for me).

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    The one big thing folks do not take into account here is time involved. For the hobbyist not a big deal but the working guy it is a issue. Film takes longer and your still involved in the process even though you may not be developing the film
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    The one big thing folks do not take into account here is time involved. For the hobbyist not a big deal but the working guy it is a issue. Film takes longer and your still involved in the process even though you may not be developing the film
    Yeah, that is part of my concern. The part of the shoot that requires a fast turnaround will be digital. However, there is a significant opportunity cost to shooting film, even if I will have a couple months to turn that part around.

    I think the cost of equipment is something that has to be considered too. I will subject film cameras to conditions to which I would not subject a MFDB system. Also I worry less about theft or someone getting excited about MF digital at a border crossing with old looking film gear. Maybe it's just me.

  33. #33
    SCHWARZZEIT
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    I just found this very interesting review of Kodak's new Portra 400. This is a much more down to earth read with real world samples.

    -Dominique

  34. #34
    tetsrfun
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by SCHWARZZEIT View Post
    I just found this very interesting review of Kodak's new Portra 400. This is a much more down to earth read with real world samples.

    -Dominique
    Interesting, Porta 400 also come in 220. I thought 220 was long dead or am I missing something?

    Steve

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_Green View Post
    I found that to be a complete and impressive load of crap. It is total mathematical theory and bears no resemblance to reality. Don't get me wrong, I wish it were true, but those numbers just don't hold up. If you actually believe him, go shoot a scene with a Canon 1v with the color film of your choice and a 1DsIII using the same lens and same tripod. That is about as apples to apples as you will get, and let me know if the print from film has more detail than the print from digital. I can promise it won't. That's not to say that the film shot won't be aesthetically pleasing (personally I prefer the look of film to the look of digital), just that the math in that article is crap. The big difference between film and digital is that film is a sloppy process and digital is a very precise process. With film, there are so many places to add error and messiness into the imaging chain, the errors are cumulative and you generally don't know about them until the final product.

    I once sold a bunch of 20x30" prints to a homebuilder for a gallery display in their lobby from a Canon 10D. Further, the shots were not as sharp as I would have liked (hand held, 70-200, f4, 1/125, ISO 100). On the final print, there was not a lot of detail, but they looked great anyway. I don't think 35mm film would have looked nearly as good. By contrast, I have some prints from a Fuji 6x9 I used to have. Even with a low res drum scan, on a 20x30 print you can put a loop on the print and see more detail.

    I stumbled on this thread because I have a trip coming up that begs to be shot with large format film. I haven't shot a sheet of 4x5 in ten years, and that was with quickloads in a studio. I have always eschewed MF digital because of the costs. However, buying LF gear, film, processing and scanning for about 50 final images, plus the time involved is making MF digital seem much more reasonable.


    Though you criticize the article, you seem to have bought into the value of large film negatives resolution qualities being greater because of smaller enlargement requirements.....I certainly have.

    I shoot 6x9,6x12, and 6x17 MF for anything to be enlarged for printing. Thanks for the approving opinion.

    I'm not a professional photographer, and even though I digitize 6x9 images, I don't really believe manipulation of digital images is where I want to go....not enough equipment, time, or need for my collection and pleasure....and digitally perfected images look manipulated and fake to me, way too much of the time. Absolute perfection doesn't exist in nature...anywhere.

    Texsport
    Last edited by Texsport; 21st December 2010 at 19:23.

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by tetsrfun View Post
    Interesting, Porta 400 also come in 220. I thought 220 was long dead or am I missing something?

    Steve
    Black and white 220 died when Kodak discontinued TXP (or Tri-x 320 or whatever they were calling it at the time) a while back. There are still several choices in 220 color films.

    John

  37. #37
    tetsrfun
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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Quote Originally Posted by jsparks View Post
    Black and white 220 died when Kodak discontinued TXP (or Tri-x 320 or whatever they were calling it at the time) a while back. There are still several choices in 220 color films.

    John
    Thanks...I just got some 220 E100 and Porta 400 today. Too bad about the 320; just when I was getting back into film. A few rolls of Tri-X 320 show up on e-bay and seem to go for a premium.

    Steve

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    I shot a lot of Ilford HP5 220 for a while. I was shocked and a bit angry when it was discontinued. I always wanted Tmax 400 in 220, but I don't think Kodak ever made it. I did shoot a lot of TXP around 1980, but it was never my favorite film. I did get some to try as it was the last 220 B&W standing, but never really got around to using it before it was discontinued. I decided I could live with 120 in a film I liked more than 220 in a film I didn't.

    Especially after using digital for a while with hundreds of shots on a single card, only getting 10 shots on 6x7 is hard to deal with not to mention twice as much work in the darkroom with twice as many rolls of film to develop. Just one more reason why I don't shoot as much film as I used to.

    John

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    Re: Price/Qality point for MF film to digital

    Having films and papers being discontinued at ever increasing rates was one of the big reasons I went to MF digital. I want to make pictures, not rotate film in a freezer. Being a Portriga Rapid refugee I just did not want to wake up and have yet another favorite material poof! gone. Or have Kodak jack around with Tri-X AGAIN.
    I can wake up and take one photograph or 10,000 any day I want. I come back review, sort and on a good day make a print that I can enjoy. I keep a few metal frames that I rotate work in/ out of. All this is heaven to anyone who loves photography.
    Digital has also allowed me to grow into color without hassles. Certainly not easier, but more direct and personal to print your own work.
    I always like to make the argument if we had digital first and then film came along nobody would use it...what? I have to soak plastic strips that can scratch in 3 different chemicals and dry them out. Then I have to project that in a dark room and soak them in chemicals? Not on your life. I loved silver gelatin technology and deeply satisfying results... I have printed literally tens of thousands of black and white prints, but getting good materials is going to become a frustrating and costly affair.
    At this point with careful technique the ugliness of digital can be avoided... don't clip the whites, don't over sharpen, etc. Make the jump, move on and enjoy what the new tools have to offer.

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