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BerndReini

The look of film

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Has anyone else had a similar experience?

 

Yes. The M6 is officially out of mothballs. Ektar and the reformulated T-Max 100 and 400 are my current favorites.

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I am a devoted M8 shooter myself, but as I said in the beginning of this thread, I just picked up my MP because my M8 was out for upgrade. I will be getting it back tomorrow, yet I will still go out today and buy some more film. It's been fun. If I let the lab process and scan, it costs me $20 per roll including the initial cost of the film. And I am talking about a good lab since I live in LA. I've decided that even though I shoot the bulk of my work with the M8, I want to continue to shoot at least three to five rolls of film every month. If I carefully previsualize these 150 images, there should be a good amount of keepers. This will cost me $100 a month. That really isn't bad.

 

I second the Ektar, and the new TMax films, and I want to add my all -time go to black and white film Fuji Neopan 400 for some toothier but not harsh grain.

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What I really love about film, and believe me there are plenty of things I don't like about it, is how the highlights "roll of." There is this gradual shoulder, and sometimes a little bleed over into the neighboring areas when the highlights go to pure white (see my peer's picture of the little kid). It actually looks nice when this happens on skin tone. If you let this happen with the M8, it is a disaster. I really try to avoid overexposing to this point, but as you can see in those two street images, I try to ride the extremes of contrast in late afternoon light. With the M8, even if someone's arm is overexpose to clipping point, it is just ugly. Now I am not blaming the camera for this, I am simply trying to state my observations after shooting film again for this four weeks stint.

 

That said, I cannot wait for my M8 with the upgraded shutter, especially now that I am used to the soft click of my MP again.

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I understand you say "It works better". I donot understand "it's cheaper". If you shoot in any significant volume, and donot upgrade your equipment merely because there is a new model, digital is cheaper. That fact can be disputed (as can any fact) but not disproved. Also I donot understand "it's less hassle" because there are many additional steps and time with film between capture and a digital file (develop and scan).

 

This is getting boring but I'll give it one more shot.

It's cheaper because most of my camera gear was already bought and paid for long ago, and what I buy now on the used market I get at good prices. Leica does not devaluate too badly, especially film bodies vs. digital.

At the rate I shoot and process film it would take about 15 years before I've spent what the M8 sold for when it came out, or the M8.2 sells for now. (Having tried the M8.2 it would be difficult for me to buy the regular M8 even at the lower cost.)

I have used the same computer/scanner/software system for five years. If I bought a digital camera I would want to get a new mac that can support either LightRoom or Aperture, one or more new editing programs (even my PS is out of date), more hard drives for backup etc.

Since I don't need to do any of this with my film workflow, film is cheaper.

Film is less hassle because strolling down to the photo lab after work in the fresh air is quite pleasant. Saying hello to the friendly people who work there and having a nice chat is quite pleasant.

I find it easier to look at my negs or slides on a light table with a loupe. I can see each frame at full magnification without opening and closing a file. I find it easier to go through approximately 36 frames at a time rather than the 100-200 files I typically shoot on a memory card, to choose the images I want to work with. It's also more fun to use a light table than computer monitor.

Of the 36 or so frames from my roll I may have anywhere from five to 15 that I will want to work with. I mark them, scan them and now I have digital files. If the exposures were good they will only need a minimal amount of post processing. The negs are all sleeved and kept in archival binders.

If I need to go back to the negs it's much less of a hassle to archive them and find them again vs trying to find old files on whatever hard drive or DVD.

Best of all, if I shot slides I can view them with my Pradovit projector! My black and white negs can still be printed traditionally in the darkroom! Or I can scan them and make inkjet prints, email them, post them to a website. I have the best of both worlds and it cost me less!

Thank heavens I'm no longer a professional. I'd hate to be forced into an all-digital workflow. (I know what I'm talking about. I used to shoot virtual tours for Expedia.com and that was all digital and I was editing and organizing hundreds of frames per day!)

So I hope I've made myself clear this time!

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Guest malland

Absolutely clear, photogdave, and it males sense for you because you like it and have the equipment. You also have a very high hit rate, defined here as pictures that you want to work with, 5-15 per roll. My hit rate with film was 2-3 per roll, but with the GRD2 camera this went up by 3-4 times. Now that I started using the M8.2 it's gone down to what it was with film, but we'll see whether it goes back up after I more used to shooting with this camera. But I did find that with digital I started shooting more and more often, since I didn't have the hassle of having film developed and didn't have to scan and spot film.

 

In any case, what you say makes sense for you and there is no need for either film- of digitlal-chauvinism.

 

—Mitch/Potomac, MD

Flickr: Mitch Alland's Photostream

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I also did shoot more and often when I got the M8. I think it has tremendously improved my photography and also my success rate. After so much cheap and immediate trial and error as the M8 has provided me with, I am now a lot more selective about the pictures I take.

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Guest Luis D

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At the rate I shoot and process film it would take about 15 years before I've spent what the M8 sold for when it came out, or the M8.2 sells for now.

 

With name-brand (but not so-called "pro") film, and develop only (not print), one 36-roll will cost around $10 US dollars (maybe a little more if like me you have to mail it for developing since all decent labs nearby are gone). Price of the M8 when it came out was $4800 (I bought mine for that price). Divide $4800 by $10 gives 480 rolls. Divide 480 by 15 (years you say it will take you to spend $4800 in film and process), gives that you shoot 32 rolls per year. With such small amount of photography I completely understand why it is for you cheaper.

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Not to fuel the fire, but I shot about 100 rolls last year. Tri-X at $4/roll, is $400. You can develop about 40 rolls of Tri-X with an $8 bag of XTOL. Fixer is cheap. So lets say $30 of chemicals? Make it $40 if you want. I'm still down for less than $500/year. Thats about 3800 frames (38 frames/roll). If you wanted to do it cheaper, you could shoot Arista Premium 400 (Tri-X) for $2/roll or another cheap film. I bought some Kodak Gold 100 at $0.50/roll.

 

I'm sure if I used my digital camera more, I'd shoot more frames just playing around, and there is something to be said for that, but if I ever see a shot and say, "Hmm, I wonder if I should try it like this?" I do. Film or not.

 

To put it in perspective, I just payed about $150 for 6 frames with matting, etc., for prints. It doesn't take very much for just the framing of prints to outstrip the cost of film.

 

I understand if you do this for a living, you probably shoot a lot more and have instantaneous deadlines, but for a hobby, film is still perfectly adequate in terms of cost.

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...Thank heavens I'm no longer a professional. I'd hate to be forced into an all-digital workflow. (I know what I'm talking about. I used to shoot virtual tours for Expedia.com and that was all digital and I was editing and organizing hundreds of frames per day!)

So I hope I've made myself clear this time!

 

Your point of view is valid for you and may work for low volume shooters and specialists. But it leaves out some things. I am a working professional and can't imagine trying to deal with my work volume with film. Especially when you consider that clients want images in digital form - often posted to a gallery for selection.

 

I posted this elsewhere but here's how I see it it:

 

My biggest problem with shooting film was the fact that I wouldn't know if I had the project covered until some time later when the film was developed. This led to some stressful situations, and required me to overshoot to cover myself. This can also reduce one's likelihood of trying something more experimental, such as a new lighting technique or other untested approach or technique. I also had to shoot reserve film on every subject and hold these back from the lab. At the end of the year, I'd throw away a few hundred rolls of unprocessed film. And film is very wasteful and not as "green" as digital.

 

Workflow with film: (Client can see Polaroids and hope the film comes out the same or that I caught the action or expression.)

 

1. Chemicals and other material must be mined, processed and shipped to the film manufacturer.

2. Film manufacturing uses these raw ingredients, water, and energy. Plus it needs materials for packaging. It must have a building and workers.

3. Waste from film manufacturing needs to be disposed of.

4. Film needs to be shipped to a dealer. More store space and workers.

5. I have to pick up the film from the dealer or have it shipped to me.

6 I have to inventory it and store it in a fridge. Some always goes to waste.

7. Shoot film - typically resulting in a large bag of waste wrappers from each day's shooting of chrome and Polaroid. It goes in the trash.

8 Label each roll or Quickload sheet of film that will be processed along with its corresponding "hold" rolls or sheets. This needs to be done for every setup or change. Label and attach a Polaroid to each.

 

Additionally, a nearby lab must exist that is equipped and staffed. The lab uses chemicals, water and energy. The chemicals must be disposed of.

9. Take film to the lab. (Or use a messenger.)

- 9.5 Sometimes a clip test needs to be read. So I either have to go to the lab, or the test has to be sent to me.

10. Pick up film from the lab. (Or use a messenger.)

11. Physically sort, edit and label the film.

12. Send selected film to the client. (Or I select the best shots and scan them.)

13. Client (ad agency or designer) may send the film to their client for selection or approval.

14. Client scans film and returns it to me. Or I scan it.

15. Upload the scanned files to the client or send a disk.

16. File the film in a job jacket placed in a filing cabinet.

17. Archive the scans on a computer hard drive.

 

Inventory of disposables: Various formats, speeds, and types of film. Polaroid in packs and sheets. (When I shared a studio with two others, we had 3 packed full size refrigerators.) Film storage sleeves, labels, inkjet ink and paper for proofs, cds and dvds, shipping envelopes for film and disks.

 

Digital workflow: (Client can see images as I shoot tethered.)

1. Shoot the photos.

2. Back up the photos to disk or laptop.

3. Copy photos onto my office computer.

4. Sort the photos on screen and make low res proofs.

5. Post proofs for selection so that all interested parties can see them.

6. Make conversions and adjustments to selected files.

7. Post the files or send a disk.

8. Archive the files on a computer hard drive.

9. Format the cards.

Inventory of disposables: CDs, DVDs, inkjet ink and proofing paper. Envelopes for CD and proof sheet shipping.

 

Equipment differences:

Film - Scanner needed. I actually have three film scanners. I usually shot on several different format cameras. (35, 6x6 and 4x5 (with roll film backs.) Large light table, color meter, gel filters, spot flash/ambient meter, incident flash/ambient meter, file cabinets, fridge. (Let's leave the darkroom out of it.)

 

Digital - digital camera bodies - Now they may be more or less costly than film bodies. I don't require several formats. I carry two laptops but that is optional for others. Memory cards, more hard drives than would be used just for scanned photos. Shelf or drawer space to store hard drives. I don't use separate meters or gel filters.

 

The economics, lack of instant feedback, and delay caused by film are working against it in commercial applications. My clients wouldn't accept the delays, costs, and uncertainty caused by using it. Even if I loved film.

__________________

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1. Chemicals and other material must be mined, processed and shipped to the film manufacturer.

2. Film manufacturing uses these raw ingredients, water, and energy. Plus it needs materials for packaging. It must have a building and workers.

3. Waste from film manufacturing needs to be disposed of.

4. Film needs to be shipped to a dealer. More store space and workers.

 

I agree with you about the pressing needs of working photographers. If for no other reasons, the deadlines kill you. But, seriously, I don't think you can't count those first four parts as part of your workflow. Also, those exact types of things go into making digital cameras, memory cards, computers, and all the other stuff we use.

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Alan, not sure why you mention steps 1-9 in your film workflow. I notice you've deliberately left out the digital equivalent of the logistics chain: such as the environmental and social impact caused by solid state manufacturing processes, for example, or the trips to the store to buy new memory cards and additional hard disks. If you want to make an apples for apples comparison you have to include both. Or neither.

 

So let's try something more balanced. Assuming you keep your digital workflow as described, this is my film equivalent (actually did this a couple of days ago).

 

 

1. Shoot the photos

2. Process the film. Took around an hour to develop and dry 10 rolls with a mixture of development times. Would have been a bit quicker if they were the same film stock.

3. Inspect on lightbox; make final selection.

4. Batch scan selection. Took about 1 1/2 hours - prepared some invoices in between waiting to reload the scanner.

5. Copy scans to disk and upload to website for client review.

6. File negatives for long-term storage

 

I'm not saying film is as easy or convenient as digital. It's clearly not. But working with film is perhaps not quite as convoluted as you seem to suggest.

 

BTW, the bit about commercial economics is interesting. There are a number of film photographers who are enjoying commercial success because their work is differentiated from the rest of the market. A couple of them in this forum, even.

 

So I use digital and I use film. They're both good and they can both work equally well commercially, and I don't see the need to choose one or the other as a matter of doctrine. So I make my choice on a case-by-case basis according to the needs of the day.

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Alan, not sure why you mention steps 1-9 in your film workflow. I notice you've deliberately left out the digital equivalent of the logistics chain: such as the environmental and social impact caused by solid state manufacturing processes, for example, or the trips to the store to buy new memory cards and additional hard disks. If you want to make an apples for apples comparison you have to include both. Or neither.

 

 

Film and processing are consumable items that are used once. Memory cards and hard drives are used over and over. That is the difference. I still have and use all of the memory cards that I bought 6 years ago. The only hard drives that have been disposed of are the ones that wore out. And I'd need hard drives for my scanned film images also. I archive onto DVDs and I mentioned that as a disposable item for scanned film or digital photos.

 

As for scanning film, I did that for many years. There is no easy or simple way to batch scan medium or large format images with any quality - except maybe for use as proofs. With 35mm there are batch scanning solutions, but I don't know how well they work. If I wanted to scan and post 100 images to an on-line gallery, I'm sure it would be a major effort.

 

When I scan MF film, I expect to be able to do around 4-10 per hour considering I am going for high quality and also have to clean them up. 35mm is faster, unless you take them out of the mount and use a glass holder for flatness.

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Yes. The M6 is officially out of mothballs. Ektar and the reformulated T-Max 100 and 400 are my current favorites.

 

I have already adopted new TMX 400, and I will go and pick up my first roll of Ektar 100 tomorrow. I want to see if, for me, as I already said, digital is for color, and film for b&w. One thing for sure, all this going back and forth between digital and film, and actually trying, without suceeding, to decide which you prefer is a lot of fun. But of course, I'm just an ordinary amateur photographer.

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My workflow...

 

1-Shoot

2-Overnight film to my lab in L.A.

3-Take care of other more important things that benefit more my business than sitting behind a computer doing post-processing (such as networking with the top wedding coordinators in the country, magazine editors that feature my work further enhancing my exposure to prospective clients and other industry professionals, etc...)

4-After 2-4 weeks (depending on the time of the year) receive my developed film, proofs and high resolution scans

5-Edit my work (involves eliminating bad shots and sorting the images)

6-Upload images to online galleries

 

As you can see, the only difference between my film and digital workflow is that I now have more time for other things more important than post-processing. Please keep in mind that I could not outsource my digital post-processing like I do with film since my look (back when working with digital) was highly customized to my taste and to closely mimic that of film.

 

Cheers,

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My workflow...

 

1-Shoot

2-Overnight film to my lab in L.A.

3-Take care of other more important things that benefit more my business than sitting behind a computer doing post-processing (such as networking with the top wedding coordinators in the country, magazine editors that feature my work further enhancing my exposure to prospective clients and other industry professionals, etc...)

4-After 2-4 weeks (depending on the time of the year) receive my developed film, proofs and high resolution scans

5-Edit my work (involves eliminating bad shots and sorting the images)

6-Upload images to online galleries

 

As you can see, the only difference between my film and digital workflow is that I now have more time for other things more important than post-processing. Please keep in mind that I could not outsource my digital post-processing like I do with film since my look (back when working with digital) was highly customized to my taste and to closely mimic that of film.

 

Cheers,

It's funny how some people just don't want to believe it can be this easy!

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what res are the scans you get from LA-+ who is the lab?

 

sounds like a good workflow.

 

My workflow...

 

1-Shoot

2-Overnight film to my lab in L.A.

3-Take care of other more important things that benefit more my business than sitting behind a computer doing post-processing (such as networking with the top wedding coordinators in the country, magazine editors that feature my work further enhancing my exposure to prospective clients and other industry professionals, etc...)

4-After 2-4 weeks (depending on the time of the year) receive my developed film, proofs and high resolution scans

5-Edit my work (involves eliminating bad shots and sorting the images)

6-Upload images to online galleries

 

As you can see, the only difference between my film and digital workflow is that I now have more time for other things more important than post-processing. Please keep in mind that I could not outsource my digital post-processing like I do with film since my look (back when working with digital) was highly customized to my taste and to closely mimic that of film.

 

Cheers,

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what res are the scans you get from LA-+ who is the lab?

 

sounds like a good workflow.

 

All my film work is done by Richard Photo Lab (Richard Photo Lab), they are the best film lab out there... The great thing about Richard is that they work with you to nail your look (developing, color, etc...) and base all your work on those parameters... If you go to their lab you can see how certain folks work only on a specific photographer(s)... Think of it like having your own lab technician and if you ever want to tweak anything you can just give them a call. This is the reason why the top film wedding shooters from all over the country send their work to Richard.

 

Cheers,

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Film and processing are consumable items that are used once. Memory cards and hard drives are used over and over. That is the difference. I still have and use all of the memory cards that I bought 6 years ago. The only hard drives that have been disposed of are the ones that wore out. And I'd need hard drives for my scanned film images also. I archive onto DVDs and I mentioned that as a disposable item for scanned film or digital photos.

 

I dunno. I'm only a happy snapper, not a pro, but in the few years I've been involved in digital I've constantly upgraded external drives, main computers, laptops, calibrated displays, and of course camera bodies.

 

The film I've shot on my 1953 IIIf remains happily in the one (large) pack of wallets I bought years ago. Sure I've gone through some chemicals but nothing like the environmental impact of all the above hardware with its exotic materials and rare earth resources.

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I shoot both film and digital professionally. I know when I have to shoot digital and I know when to shoot film. For example, I have clients that love the look of EFKE IR 820 infrared film when I shoot it in my 500 CM, so they know they have to wait for that and they do.

 

I have a really high hit rate with film, probably over 70% per roll, rarely lower and often higher, been shooting it for 34 years, I am 42 soon. I guess I just have different clients than others do. Some of them don't mind waiting and others just love the non photoshopped look of certain film images.

 

And the workflow in film is often easier, shoot, develop, scan, output, sleeve and archive.

With digital, I am dealing with terabytes of data annually and the time it takes to render thumbs, backup and archive is very time intensive.

 

Honestly, if I could afford to never shoot digital again, I would. I am very confident in what I can do with film, never stress about if I got the shot or not and just prefer it over digital in nearly every instance.

 

And I have been shooting digital for over 14 years by the way...

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My workflow...

 

1-Shoot

2-Overnight film to my lab in L.A.

3-Take care of other more important things that benefit more my business than sitting behind a computer doing post-processing (such as networking with the top wedding coordinators in the country, magazine editors that feature my work further enhancing my exposure to prospective clients and other industry professionals, etc...)

4-After 2-4 weeks (depending on the time of the year) receive my developed film, proofs and high resolution scans

5-Edit my work (involves eliminating bad shots and sorting the images)

6-Upload images to online galleries

 

As you can see, the only difference between my film and digital workflow is that I now have more time for other things more important than post-processing. Please keep in mind that I could not outsource my digital post-processing like I do with film since my look (back when working with digital) was highly customized to my taste and to closely mimic that of film.

 

Cheers,

 

Shhhh! Don't let the secret out...

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