Digital? Film? Both?

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Aug 12th, 2004, 09:22 AM
  #1
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Digital? Film? Both?

I realize this discussion could be endless.
Currently I shoot with a Canon EOS Rebel- and consider myself "just a hobbyist." My preferences are generally wildllife, macro nature, with some (little) landscape. Would anything be gained by obtaining one of the new 6 mg digital SLR s- for example the Canon digital Rebel - since my current lenses would be interchangeable?
Is there any advantage to purchasing - a 4 mp point and shoot as a back-up to my traditional canon?
People often talk about the cost advantage of digital in term of film, developing etc. But don't you usually want prints as well- and if this is done by a lab aren't the costs the same? If you do it at home - does this require an expensive printer and lots of time tweaking your pics?
I'd love to hear the opinions of Fodorites on this - am tired of reading the reams of technical stuff -- Probably the most important question is the aesthetic - is there any more "magic" to one medium over the other - given some good photography skills and a "good eye?"
Sharon
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Aug 12th, 2004, 11:00 AM
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I'm sure you will lots of responses to your question and "anything to be gained by obtaining one of the new 6 mg digital SLR s" will be a matter of perception.

One advantage is being able to see the image as soon as you take it. Then you know if you "got it" or should retake it. As for as the cost of printing, if you take 15 rolls of film you develop 360 pictures. If you take 360 digital pictures, you will most likely not print all of them.

This website http://www.naturescapes.net/home.htm
has many wildlife, macro and wildlife hobbyists who post their photos and ask for comments and critiques. I would guess the majority of them have switched to digital. When they post a picture they tell you what camera, lens, and exposure they used. You need to register to see the photos/comments but it's worth it. Many of the people that post at this site are not professionals but they do have "good photography skills and a good eye".

I use a Canon 10D and love it. Would never switch back to film.

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Aug 12th, 2004, 11:33 AM
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There are many answers as there are photographers.

You will probably want some prints but with digital you pay only for the images you've picked out and sent for print. For me that's usually only a selection from each roll of film so costs end up lower.

For longer trips you save on transport issues for film (space, storage conditions etc). We take a CF card plus a small X Drive onto which we empty the card every day or three. Of course we do need chargers for both the camera batteries and that X Drive but that's not much space and not been a problem. We did same with our previous digital camera before we bought the Nikon in May.

Other advantages are ability to quickly see on the back of the camera if exposure/ capture was OK. I wouldn't waste time deleting shots as you go (since you can do that at home and also because the little panel isn't big enough to give you that accurate an idea about the images) but it can be helpful to get feedback on how you are doing as you go.

You can change ISO whenever you want - no worrying about light conditions changing mid film.

Disadvantages. If you shoot slide film you may find the saturation and quality of colour doesn't match up though this can be offset to an extent in quick processing on a computer before printing. If you use 35mm film and tend not to make HUGE enlargements quality is reasonably similar IF you are talking about one of the BETTER digital cameras.

Hope this helps a little.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 12:45 PM
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Sundance, Since you posted this in the Africa section, I will assume you are making a journey there. When we went to Africa I was still shooting film. I have since acquired a digital camera. Here is a very lay answer to your question: when I go to Africa again I will take both.

In my opinion, digital photography (at least that which I can afford) does not begin to compare in quality to high speed film. With film I got photos of herds of elephants where one can actaully see the dust they are kicking up.

That said, I love my digital. I travel with in constantly and even use it in an underwater housing while diving. I have a great deal of fun with digital -- taking lots of photos that I can edit on my computer and turn into cards to send to friends, or make bookmarks, or use to enhance my Christmas letter or print on art paper to frame. I do not, however, believe that the prints made on my (high quality Canon) photo printer are nearly as good as those done by a professional lab.

Regarding cost, I negotiated with a professional photo lab before we left for Africa to develop and print all my film when we returned. They gave me a rate that beat the Walmart prices and the color quality was amazing. (Please don't scrimp on the processing of photos that you may only get once in a lifetime. If you can afford to go to Africa, include the cost of "good" processing in the budget.)

For digital, I can't imagine how much the ink to print all 1000 photos I took in Africa would have cost. The ink is quite expensive and so is the paper. I have learned the hard way that using inexpensive paper doesn't work. If you have a Canon printer you MUST use Canon paper. It simply won't print properly on house brand stuff.

I do think that it is wonderful to know that you have captured a shot immediately and digital does that. However, in Africa the light was so amazing that every shot was great. Of all the photos I took, I only tossed maybe a dozen. That's not bragging, because I'm only a rank amateur - its just the nature of the subjects and the environment.

I do believe that most digitals (again, we're talking hobbiest cost point) are too slow for wildlife. I have trouble capturing the "wildlife" of my 20 month old grandson. I also think that battery life is a major issue with digitals when traveling. Unless you are assured that you will have access to electrical current proper for a battery charger every day - and have several rechargable batteries along -- you could miss a great shot. Digitals just blow through batteries.

For scenery or still objects, I love digital. For action - I'm still hooked on film. Hope this helps.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 01:11 PM
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TC makes a very good point with speed.

There are two elements to speed. One is the ISO of the film - a more sensitive (or faster) film can allow you to shoot in lower light situations but results in more graininess of images. This is replicated pretty well identically in digital.

But there is also the issue of how long it takes for the camera to be ready to take another shot after the previous one.

Some digitals can be very slow on this front. With film it's literally a case of opening shutter, letting light onto film and closing shutter, then winding film on. With digital the information that the sensor records must then be written (saved) from temporary memory onto the card and the time it takes to do that varies across models greatly.

When you're shooting moving wildlife it can be incredibly frustrating using a digital with slow frame rate. Mine is incredibly fast but it's what's called a prosumer camera - not a model for the professionals but more than what most consumers might want or pay for.

That said in terms of capturing detail, a 5+ megapixel cameras can capture the same dust being kicked up as 35 print film. Lower end digitals just don't have the resolution and that's definitely a negative point if you want to blow up large prints.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 01:27 PM
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Kavey is right. Be sure to compare apples to apples. The Canon Digital Rebel, 300D, is a prosumer camera and produces very high quality images.

If you want to see wildlife images taken with the 300D (Canon digital Rebel) go to that website I referred to above and go to search and in search query type "300d" and search category pick "wildlife" in forums. It will pick up a few images taken with that camera. Also do the same search in the "bird" forum. There are several people posting photos taken with the 300D. The quality of the pictures taken with that camera is very comparable to an SLR.

Also, another very big bonus for having a DSLR is that the effective focal distance of all lenses is 1.6 times longer than with your 35mm SLR. If you have a 200mm lense, on a digital it will have an effective focal distance of 320mm. So with a picture of a lion taken with a DSLR and an SLR from the same distance, the DSLR lion will be much closer.

The pictures I took last year in SA are at http://www.pbase.com/cjw/south_africa.
They were taken with the Canon 10D. The Rebel has a few less features than the 10D but it's basically the same camera.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 01:44 PM
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I think TC and Kavey (2nd post) captured many of my concerns re: digital.
My sense has been that the "prosumer" models are the way to go- given problems with shutter lag, degradation at ISO 400, etc with the less expensive digitals.
I would really like having the histogram, instant feedback, and not having to lug film- but at this point, I'm not sure it's worth $1,000+. Especially when you figure in the obsolescence factor, i.e., my guess is by Christmas, the prices for these cameras will come way down. Then by next summer there will be new models with more bells and whistles...
sigh- I guess i should be grateful that right now my 35 SLR Canon and lenses produces some pretty fine pictures.
Sharon
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Aug 12th, 2004, 06:57 PM
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sundance,
I made the switch to digital a couple trips ago, and have been VERY VERY happy with Canon. The EOS Rebel uses the same CCD as the 10D, and it can deliver outrageously good photos. Since you already have Canon lenses, the 6mp Rebel is definitely the way to go...because if you are an active hobbyist you will eventually want to go digital. As a hobbyist, you will find that you learn much more, much faster, when you get the "instant feedback" that a good digital 35mm camera can provide. AND you won't have to worry about a big bag of film--just about a small wallet of compact flash cards.

The point and shoot shutter lag would drive you crazy...don't do it!! But the Rebel shoots at least 3 fps-- not so bad. You won't notice the lag with the first shot...only a problem if you are shooting many frames in rapid succession...and probably only if you are shooting raw files (as opposed to smaller jpeg files). There is a brief lag-- about 1 second-- when the buffer is full from shots in fast succession. I don't think you will miss shots because of shutter lag.

On one trip (when I was still using film) I took along a small point and shoot, and it was useful only for people and landscape shots. For the great wildlife stuff, you'll definitely want the flexibility and control that 35mm allows.

One tip: if you are thinking of gettingthis for a trip, get it early, and get used to working with it...more photos are lost because the photographer wasn't ready...or wasn't familiar with the camera than because of shutterlag! I love my Canon 10D...

And I figure that I am pretty much ahead of the game, because I haven't had to process about 200 rolls of film. You can get a very good injet printer for $150 that will allow you to print all but your VERY best prints. (the cost isn't in the printer, its in the inks and photo paper). AND there are lots of options for emailing photos or creating a digital album that you can burn on cheap CDs for friends and family. You can use them as wallpaper on your computer (fun!)...make your own greeting cards (I'll get around to this someday....)
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