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I've been shooting a 35mm lens for the last 4-5 years about 90% of the time and now shoot almost entirely on B&W Tri-X for the last 18 months.

 

If I want to shoot colour, I now tend to shoot it on my Rolleiflex, though I do run the occasional roll of Portra through the M7.

 

I think shooting one stock on one lens and camera combination for the bulk of the time is a great way to end up with a huge body of consistent work that feels like one photographer's work.

 

+1
One body, one lens, one grain can be a very liberating experience imho.

Time and again, I take a „sabbatical“ from UWA/tele/digital and restrict myself to a 50 mm LTM-Elmar or M-Cron and some gritty HP5. This visual recalibration also helps me to restrain my postprocessing once I re-enter the digital realm.

Edited by Nick Bedford

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This is an older post, but the topic really never has a final answer, so I thought I would add my impressions. One thing that has not been mentioned is the fact that shooting film can lead to a series of misadventures; failure to load correctly, opening the back thinking camera was empty, the age old look like an idiot- lens cap still on the rangefinder trick. There is also  the delay in seeing what you get with your images some time later, allowing one left with the images in mind, but not being sure they will turn out. I think all of these things add to the experience of film. It becomes more about the moment of taking the pictures, less about the results. Obviously the results are very important, but I think that if the process has some element of "danger", the end result seems, to me, more satisfying. As as a disclaimer, I shoot both film and digital, and feel that shooting film has made me much better at shooting digital. Film forced me to really learn to see the light of the scene, set camera accordingly, and get close to what my vision was at the time.

As it turns out I am heading to Norway today, hope to see the Northern Lights. Originally, I was just going to shoot digital, figuring that it would be mostly dark, need for high iso situations. I am bringing a Noctilux, 35mm Summilux pre-asp, and a 35 Voigtlander type 1 f/1.2, and also 21 super angulon. In the end I also decided to bring film, see if I get some chances to get some images of my gang while away. Still love the look of film, but also enjoy the whole experience as well. So my trusty MP is making the trip loaded with triX400, and my beautiful, beat up, brass showing through M2 has been selected, loaded with Portra 400. Both are packed with two digital bodies, in the Billingham bag, ready to journey out, see what we can experience together, and hopefully get some great images to enjoy.  

Happy Holidays everyone, and enjoy both digital AND film this coming new year!!!

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I shoot both.

There's such a unique look to film, I can't leave it and never will.

On the other hand, digital is a lot easier to use in difficult lighting conditions.

Plus interfacing with the digital world is a hell of a lot easier with a digital system.

For those reasons I got an M-D 262, a digital camera with an analog feel.

 

Edited by plaidshirts

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I shoot both film and digital for money. Assignment for editorial,. textbooks, children, professional as well as for stock. I retired some years ago and put all my cameras away. In the last several months I have had the itch to make photographs again. This time only film. My Leica's both M and R will see service. The M7 and M4-P, along with the R6.2 and the R7. Also want to use my Pentax 6x4.5 auto focus system as well as my stalwart Rolleiflex 4x4 f3.5. I have a number of Canon film cameras and lenses, but I much prefer my Leica's. 

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There are times that I consider going exclusively film and I am working in that direction. I have completely divested from FB and IG who favor a digital environment. Recently I parted with my entire SL system and my M10 and went with an M10D to sit beside my film MP. I am growing weary of the digital rat race of always chasing the next best thing. My original film camera (Nikon FG--circa 1985) still works just fine to make a point.  I do also have the Hasselblad X1D for medium format work, but may pursue going to film there too. There is and always will be something special about film. Cheers--lt

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FB and IG.... oh yes... of course!

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Posted (edited)
On 12/27/2018 at 3:36 PM, plaidshirts said:

There's such a unique look to film, I can't leave it and never will.

While I think that is true for B&W, I am not so sure about colour.

I recently shot a set of comparison images matching an M10 with 50LUX against a Minolta X700 with MD 50mm f1.4 and Gold 200. The reality was that I could pretty much replicate the look of the colour film pretty accurately with minimal edits in Capture One. The weakest point was matching the specific grain pattern, but it is very easy to match the colours from the film and for most purposes the distinction is fairly small IMO (certainly not enough for me personally to justify the additional effort to process and scan C41 films in 35mm format - MF is a different issue, however!).

Also, after staring for a while at both film and digital shots of the same scene, optimally processed ISO 200 digital images start to look rather like "plastic" and unrealistically clean - even with all NR etc disabled. Adding even a small amount of grain simulation makes the digital output much nicer to my eyes - probably because I am accustomed to seeing grain and noise in pretty much any of the great images of the 20th C.

I would have expected that replicating B&W film on digital would be easier than colour, but the low-fi look of ISO 400 film pushed to EI1600 seems very difficult to replicate with the software that I use. This is particularly true of nighttime shots, where effects such as halation given images a unique look. One of my to-do-list items for 2019 is to see if I can come close to replicating the effect by shooting with a Tiffen "pro-mist" filter on digital.

I would love to only shoot film, but I find that the time required to develop, scan, and digitally process (and clone out dust etc) for each roll of film is exhausting. My limit is about one batch of four rolls per week - which takes about 4 hours of post-shooting time in total.

Edited by Mark II
Moved images to separate post...

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Here are two colour examples: can you tell which is film and which is digital? And would it really make a difference even if you could?

(please excuse the subject matter/framing!)

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And two crops of the two cable cars.

I found the exercise a bit sobering, but still useful given that I will be without my M7 for some time while it is under repair...

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I venture to say the second is film, grain is not so uniform .... nice test though.

 

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3 hours ago, Mark II said:

While I think that is true for B&W, I am not so sure about colour.

I recently shot a set of comparison images matching an M10 with 50LUX against a Minolta X700 with MD 50mm f1.4 and Gold 200. The reality was that I could pretty much replicate the look of the colour film pretty accurately with minimal edits in Capture One. The weakest point was matching the specific grain pattern, but it is very easy to match the colours from the film and for most purposes the distinction is fairly small IMO (certainly not enough for me personally to justify the additional effort to process and scan C41 films in 35mm format - MF is a different issue, however!).

Also, after staring for a while at both film and digital shots of the same scene, optimally processed ISO 200 digital images start to look rather like "plastic" and unrealistically clean - even with all NR etc disabled. Adding even a small amount of grain simulation makes the digital output much nicer to my eyes - probably because I am accustomed to seeing grain and noise in pretty much any of the great images of the 20th C.

I would have expected that replicating B&W film on digital would be easier than colour, but the low-fi look of ISO 400 film pushed to EI1600 seems very difficult to replicate with the software that I use. This is particularly true of nighttime shots, where effects such as halation given images a unique look. One of my to-do-list items for 2019 is to see if I can come close to replicating the effect by shooting with a Tiffen "pro-mist" filter on digital.

I would love to only shoot film, but I find that the time required to develop, scan, and digitally process (and clone out dust etc) for each roll of film is exhausting. My limit is about one batch of four rolls per week - which takes about 4 hours of post-shooting time in total.

5

I get what you're saying but I don't think your experiment disproves the argument that film is "unique" but only confirms that you can manipulate digital files to look like one.

Other than the film itself, I was trying to think of why I still shoot film and I realized that it wasn't just the look but also the process itself. I had to force myself to visualize the image in my head before I released the shutter - hoping I had relayed what I had in my head onto the film, not having the ability to chimp. I had to shoot within the physical constraints of the film and camera used - lower iso, film speed - which made it more challenging and thought-provoking.

It may sound weird, but the joy of seeing a film scan appear on my computer is greater than seeing a picture downloaded from a card. I feel like there is a bigger part of me there compared to digital images. Is it just me? I don't know, but I know I like it.

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Jeez, by that logic you should prefer driving a horse-and-buggy to work.

Contact with another living creature, hoping you remembered to put on the nose bag, not having the ability to check your speed, travelling within the constraints of 1 hp - and shoveling the horse-puckies in the stable ;) ).

(Just kidding - enjoy!)

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Posted (edited)

For anyone curious, the digital image was number II. Attached is an identical crop with the default processing in CO12.

In reality, the colour of the cable car is somewhere in-between the two renditions, although closer to the original digital image. My M10 images always tend to be more saturated than reality and have overly saturated reds by default (in this case probably due to mild IR contamination, which I can not help but wonder if is left in by Leica as a subtle marketing ploy 😉). The film colour rendition was set by calibrating against the orange mask, and it is always a pain to get absolute colour accuracy with film scans because of errors in the individual channel curves and my reliably unreliable developing / exposure.

As noted, image rendition is only part of the reason to shoot 35mm film. While a disciplined shooter with a digital Leica can pretty much identically replicate the film shooting experience, using an old and visibly worn film camera has twice in the last year got me out of trouble with people who were worried that I might be connected to the police or the "wrong" media. I never thought that the "hipster" defence would ever be a reason to shoot film 🙂.

I have also shot under conditions where the risk of damage to the camera pretty much ruled out using something like an M10, making film the safer option.

Edited by Mark II
spelling

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Well I guessed it right (in my head) regarding which one was film and digital. IMHO, digital images that have grain overlaid onto them look just that, ie, an image where the subject has high edge sharpness (which tells me “digital”), but then with grain overlaid that doesn’t look particulalrly integrated into the image in the way that film does naturally. “Digital grain” seems to also look much more uniform (across BOTH highlights and shadows) compared to film.

Not sure it matters either way though, all a matter of palate.

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I have just scanned some TRI-X negatives taken over 40 years ago. Still as good as when they were taken. I'm not saying that digital images won't be usable in 40yrs time just that a lot more care will have to be taken in storage etc to ensure that multiple copies of the files are kept and the hard drive/DVD/CD will still be operational. These negs were in a glassine bag  in a drawer in my darkroom - a lot less hassle.

 

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Yes - last month I also scanned a batch of B&W & colour negatives from the early 80's. For all the B&W (mix of Ilford and Kodak films of various types) there was no indication of any degradation at all - very impressive.

However, several of the colour films were clearly degraded with colour fades and shifts. In some cases the changes were also non-uniform, making simple global colour corrections insufficient to restore them. I think that most (all?) C41 films are not regarded as archival quality, so scanning is probably the only way to preserve them.

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What scanners do most people use at home?

My experience of scans is done by outsourcing to labs - either via (1) mini lab scans (biggest I get open to 15x10” at 300dpi) when I get the film processed, or (2) drum scans (which are obviously great for prize shots).

The mini lab scans are often rather contrasty (especially with E6) and overly sharpened.

Does a 35mm home scanner like a Plustek produce a noticeably better image compared to mini lab scans?

 

Edited by Jon Warwick

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Certainly to the extent that the scanning is under your direct creative control - "If you want something done right, do it yourself!"

Scanning software generally has a subset of the same controls and options that cameras or Photoshop have: contrast curves (master grayscale and individual RGB color), "Levels," manually-selected focus point as well as auto, white-balancing, user's-choice to use dust-removal or not, option for "multi-sampling" to reduce scanner noise, grain reduction (or not), USM sharpening (of varying amount - or none) etc. etc.

Most of which gets set before the actual scan is made, and thus is already applied at a higher bit-depth than the final jpeg or TIFF (more or less like shooting digital RAW instead of in-camera jpegs). Less distorting of the data required in post-processing.

I don't even "batch-scan" - I prefer to "tune" each scan to suit the individual image and film characteristics.

Other than that, it depends on the hardware scanner itself. Key parameters being lens resolution (my Epson scanner produces 3200 ppi files - its lens really only captures ~2000 ppi); Dmax (ability to penetrate deep dense E6 shadows and pull out detail - not quite as important for neg films); and light source (a soft glowing tablet-like light panel, vs. (for example) Nikon's point-source color LEDs. The first helps extended, smooth tonalities, the second helps emphasize resolution (but also emphasizes grain and dust).

You just have to read the specs of various scanners, and then "filter" those through various online samples and reviews/tests and experiences (including many here, over the years).

All that , of course, leaves aside the convenience-factor - "It is 9 pm on a Sunday night, and I just processed some film myself, and now I want a scan."

Edited by adan

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13 minutes ago, adan said:

Most of which gets set before the actual scan is made, and thus is already applied at a higher bit-depth than the final jpeg or TIFF (more or less like shooting digital RAW instead of in-camera jpegs). Less distorting of the data required in post-processing.

huh? How is that possible?

Some of the settings are defined using a pre-scan but they are applied to the scanned image once the full scan is done, aren't they. I mean, how can the software apply sharpening to an image that's not yet scanned? I could be wrong but I don't think there is any advantage to applying settings to the scanned image rather than subsequently to a TIFF. Quite the contrary as if you scan as neutral as possible you get sort of a raw scan.

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