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Leica Monochrome vs Black and White Film


Anthony MD

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3 hours ago, Jeff S said:

I’d rather read a best bag thread.

No two people produce the same results, even when using the same film, chemicals and gear. Just as no two people produce the same results using the same digital gear, software, etc. Trying to debate general results from film vs digital just adds to the silliness, let alone on a forum where the  presentation is sub-optimal and of course digital only. I’ve seen crap results, and superb results, in person, from those using each medium.  The medium isn’t the cause.

Jeff

The number of people shooting with a digital camera and who say 'I don't do any post processing', or 'I don't have time' I think proves you wrong. Demonstrating the abilities of a digital camera to the forum is not two people having different opinions, it's usually just two people photographing something different. At the very least somebody using film has chosen an aesthetic stance beforehand by choosing Tri-X or FP4, not letting the (digital) camera dictate the image for them. If you ever need to cure insomnia spend five minutes looking at M11 images posted on the forum, utter unadulterated perfection, yawn.

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3 hours ago, Jeff S said:

Sure, but again, I’ve seen good and bad prints from both. I just don’t see the value, nor do I engage in, picking a side and declaring a best process....

Again; I agree with all the above.

The most important thing for everyone to understand is that there is, in absolute terms, no 'Best Process' nor is there any reason to choose one over the other apart from personal preferences or requirements. The concept that, somehow, there is an inherent 'winner' between Analogue and Digital photography is completely ludicrous not to say divisive, invidious and mutually destructive from both perspectives.

Philip.

Edited by pippy
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I'm pretty sure I can't, or won't, resolve this to anyone else's satisfaction. 

What I can do is to say that for me, photography is a process that I use to produce an object, that is, a physical print; a print viewed under reflected light, not a digital file viewed under transmitted light.

And no sidetracks about transparencies here: a tiff or a jpg is not a transparency. The Kodachrome or Ektachrome slide is a physical final product too. A tiff or a dng or a jpg is an image captured in a storage medium, not finalized in a presentation medium; an lcd is not, to me, a final or satisfactory presentation medium: maybe for a video, but not for a photograph intended as an archival object. 

A well-produced print can engender in me, as the producer, a keen level of satisfaction - if my goals have been achieved. The born-digital image rendered to physical digitally-produced print does not lose out to the analog/chemical print in any respect in this regard. I say this as a person who's been producing analog/chemical photographs for more than 60 years. 

How do I judge? Well, does it work as a final image? Does it achieve what I set out to accomplish? Does it look right? Does any visible aspect of the print detract from what I intended in making the print?

The differences in the final product between digital and analog photography are really, really subtle. They're more like the differences between C-minor and B-Minor than like the differences between oil paints and watercolors. For that matter they're much more subtle than the differences between a print produced from a 35mm negative compared to a print produced from an 8x10 negative. 

In the end, it's the print that counts. 

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51 minutes ago, 250swb said:

The number of people shooting with a digital camera and who say 'I don't do any post processing', or 'I don't have time' I think proves you wrong. Demonstrating the abilities of a digital camera to the forum is not two people having different opinions, it's usually just two people photographing something different. At the very least somebody using film has chosen an aesthetic stance beforehand by choosing Tri-X or FP4, not letting the (digital) camera dictate the image for them. If you ever need to cure insomnia spend five minutes looking at M11 images posted on the forum, utter unadulterated perfection, yawn.

I don’t waste my time looking at mediocre (to be kind) forum pics.  Just because most here don’t post great pics, and don’t a know a tone curve from a pretzel, let alone a local adjustment, etc hardly proves me wrong. Most never have seen a decent print, or care about one, film or digital. Most people lack a discerning eye. But some do, and that’s where I’ve spend my time for the last 50 years… including in the digital world.

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S
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15 minutes ago, pippy said:

The most important thing for everyone to understand is that there is, in absolute terms, no 'Best Process' nor is there any reason to choose one over the other apart from personal preferences or requirements. The concept that, somehow, there is an inherent 'winner' between Analogue and Digital photography is completely ludicrous not to say divisive, invidious and mutually destructive from both perspectives.

 

Exactly, Philip.

Jeff

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As I have recently become aware of the two formats being discussed, film was relatively an easy way of capturing images.  I can remember shooting with a Leica M3, and shooting with my Nikon F2 without any of the complications of computer software and Lightroom applications.  Shot a roll and had it developed!  Today, even with the “simplicity” of the M-D, it’s not that simple…!

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Well I think there  are "Best Processes", all depending totally on what you want as a final product.

There are also best exposures, best printing, best formats, best film...etc all are different depending on the vast range of wished for end results. Obviously a Poster size print pasted on a building has totally different image quality requirement compared to a quick email snap.

Personally I'm usually looking for an A3+ print I can make, or something to post in the Forum.

Ansel Adams "pre-visualisation" is more loded than meets the eye.

But I think most of us here are tolerant and understand these various principles.

...

Edited by david strachan
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23 hours ago, Anthony MD said:

Why would you want a digital image to look like film or film to look like digital?
Variety is the spice of photography…!

A correction from previous post.  Processed it in Lightroom...!

 

 

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15 hours ago, david strachan said:

Ansel Adams "pre-visualisation" is more loded than meets the eye.

 

...

That’s Minor White’s term, which Ansel found redundant, using instead “visualization.” And even he changed his print preferences over time, as proven by his continual re-prints of “Moonrise” over 34 years, increasingly adding contrast and darkening skies.  Tastes change, and are very much subjective; there is no best absolute approach. Thankfully.

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S
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On 10/5/2023 at 1:10 AM, pippy said:

I am rather puzzled by this mindset as well (hence post #9). In order to be aesthetically pleasing does a photographic print have to have a random grain-pattern which is visible to the viewer? When I visited the Amazônia exhibition of photographs by Sebastião Salgado I was amazed to read his own description of the lengths he had gone to try to make his digital photographs resemble traditional 'analogue' prints. Why? He has also been quoted(*) as saying;

"Digital photographs cannot have that treasured sense of embodied memory because a photograph is not something material today; it's inside a computer.......We no longer see photographs as documents but as things that can be manipulated with Photoshop; glamourised on Instagram. Before, we took a picture. It was reality."....

Now, don't get me wrong; I like Salgado's photographs as much as the next person but the sentiments expressed above are complete and utter bollocks.

Me too! In my case it was probably the fault of seeing, at a fairly young age, an exhibition of photographs by the members of Group f64........:lol:......

Philip.

* In his defence I must stress that this passage has been taken from an article published in 'The Grauniad'; make of that what you will......

I understand why he moved to digital (equipment weight, carrying film with him on the plane, environmental challenges and film irradiation in airports) and explains the process to reproduce grain of Tri-X (https://www.facebook.com/CameraOwnerMagazine/videos/️-why-did-sebastião-salgado-shift-to-digital-photography-from-film-what-lenses-d/1103098343825370/) but he then undermines his own processes with his comment unless it is taken out of context. Maybe he is trying to say that with film one could only alter ‘reality’ so much, but the degree of manipulation with digital processing is unlimited and may result i an image that does not at all document what the camera was pointed at. After all, he is also a photojournalist. Of course, where one points the camera may also be the equivalent of a comment being taken out of context.

I too am a great fan of Salgado’s work but  was shocked when I saw Genesis - not over the extraordinary subject matter and composition, but the cut glass over-processed look of many of the digital photographs.  

On 10/5/2023 at 5:41 AM, IkarusJohn said:

I seem to recall that Salgado started his Genesis project while he was still using Tri-X, then switched to a Canon digital.  In processing the images, he and his wife then spent a lot of time converting the digital images to get the Tri-X look.  I can’t say I spend any time trying to work out which is which.

I was unaware that he used film for some of the Genesis project but that may explain some obvious differences.  In his attempts to give the digital photographs a ‘filmic’ look, they were processed through a film internegative.  Of course, if he’d used a Leica Monochrom I'd be raving about the photographs rather than declaring him the traitor heretic that he is having gone from film Leica film to digital Canon 😆.

Actually, what bothered me most about Genesis (which of course I have) was all the double-page landscape spreads with the much of the photograph's overall impact and detail/subject lost in the curves into the middle fold - criminal !  I would have liked the option of another edition which was a physically larger book without the double-page spreads, or even done on fold-out pages which at least avoid the deep curved fold in the middle of the photograph. 

Edited by MarkP
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8 minutes ago, Jeff S said:

I’m surprised Salgado didn’t commission  Leica to produce a monochrome S camera, as did Koudelka, to combine with film output.

https://petapixel.com/2015/06/04/leica-crafted-a-one-of-a-kind-panoramic-s2-for-josef-koudelka/
 

Jeff

Not just a Monochrom but panorama format for framing - obviously with significant loss of sensor real estate. Koudelka’s work with that camera is extraordinary.  Easier to carry around than a Fuji 617!

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5 hours ago, MarkP said:

I too am a great fan of Salgado’s work but  was shocked when I saw Genesis - not over the extraordinary subject matter and composition, but the cut glass over-processed look of many of the digital photographs.

I have the large format books (they came with their own easel).  I agree on the images spread over two pages - they’d look fabulous, but for the gutter.  I rest my SWC in the middle to get a better view of the images.

I’m of two minds about Salgado.  Some of his work, I love.  He’s like a serious Erwitt.  But then there are others that leave me unmoved.  The idea with Genesis is you’re suppose to turn a page a day.  I’m insufficiently disciplined, so I just flick the pages over at random.  Like you, I’m suspicious over some that appear filmic and others I think have been over processed.  I like and use Tri-X, but I find the digital conversions a little too contrasty - reminiscent of Jacob Aue-Sobol’s Russian photos with the Monochrom.

It’s nice, however, having the book open and displaying changing images.

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