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Sun, Dec. 5th, 2010, 02:33 pm
Good thing I am not using film!

Just checked my 5Dmk2 camera body counter: 55,600 pictures taken since I got it about a year and a half ago -- and I don't even do much action photography! That's equivalent of over 1500 36exp. rolls of film. Assuming (minimal) film cost of $6/roll and another $10 to develop and proof, that's $24,000 in direct cost -- plus the time to develop, scan and archive. Archiving and backing up digital images is a lot easier.
(Deleted comment)

Sun, Dec. 5th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)

Digital at the 5Dmk2 level (or D700 level, or higher) is simply better than comparable film -- or even the low end of medium format film, in the case of the 5DMk2. I've got a 20x30 print (image area; it's on 24" paper) on my wall made from a 6MP digital file (Fuji S2) that's better than I was ever able to do from film at that degree of enlargement, for example.

Sure, large-format film is better (for resolution, at least; lots of things can't be photographed the slow and deliberate way, though).

But a large-format digital back is better than large-format film in most of the same ways a DSLR is better than 35mm film. Which leaves me agreeing with only one bit of your comment -- you get what you pay for.
(Deleted comment)

Sun, Dec. 5th, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC)

Yup. Pixel density just doesn't match up between them. 35mm film has better "pixel count" than any but the highest-end digital sensors. And larger formats make it even more dramatic.

It can be done, but the cost of a sensor to actually match the same film size is very high.

Sun, Dec. 5th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)

The "pixel count equivalency" numbers are highly variable, depending on what they're really measuring.

And they don't matter.

I can make bigger enlargements that look better from DSLR digital files than I ever could from 35mm film. And to me, that's the bottom line. What I can measure or pixel-peep matters only insofar as it helps me predict what I can do in an actual image; it matters not one whit on its own.

I knew we were going to end up all-digital when I realized that the astronomers had all gone digital (more than a decade before we really started to). They have both higher and more precisely defined technical requirements for both resolution and accuracy, and film was swept out of the field very quickly early on.

If you want to keep shooting film because you know how to get the results you want, though, go for it! The results are what matter. Maybe digital can't do what you want yet, or you can't afford the digital that can do what you want now, or you don't know how to get what you want from digital but you do from film -- doesn't matter terribly much which. Use what you like, and make great images!

Sun, Dec. 5th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)

With any expansion of a data set, the number of items in the set determines the ratio of accuracy to size. That applies to enlarging photos.

A given 35mm negative has more data available than a typical digital photo file. Therefore, the 35mm negative can be expanded to a larger size, while maintaining the same quality. Or to the same size, and have more quality.

If you are unable to obtain that, it's an equipment or skill issue.

Personally, I prefer digital. I don't make huge enlargements, so I don't need the extra data that film can capture. The added cost of processing film, and the inconvenience (compared to digital, anyway) is just wasted. It's like having a Corvette, and only using it to pick up groceries from the corner store, half a mile away.

Sun, Dec. 5th, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC)

The limiting factor in 35mm enlargement, nearly always in my experience, is grain, not resolution. Your model omits grain -- a harmful artifact that is enlarged right along with the information in the negative.

Digital photos don't have grain as such (though at high ISOs, the noise can play a similar role).

I've become much fonder of big enlargements (16x20 and up) since I started shooting digitally. And, I will note, most of the rest of the world has too; the size prints you see today are FAR bigger than 20 years ago.

Tue, Dec. 7th, 2010 12:13 am (UTC)

Digital sensors have different, but comparable issues with artifacts and interference patterns.

Anything other than a Foveon sensor must be digitally processed to create single pixels out of the non-overlapping color pixels, and there are invariably going to be some sort of artifacts as a result.

Sun, Dec. 5th, 2010 08:59 pm (UTC)

My aunt has gone full digital now too. she can let my uncle shoot a ton of shots now and as he only gets a good shot rarely, he gets more good ones, but the bad ones now don't cost money, just a bit of memory. Action at racetracks mostly now. before he just shot the cars stationary mostly (winning shots, and after a crash) and only took a few action shots.
Now at a big race, get a good crash action shot, plug it into a laptop, print out a shot to sell right there, no waiting to see if it came out.

Sun, Dec. 5th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)

I am reminded of what my college photography professor told us: "They best way to take a great picture is to take as many pictures as possible."

Digital cameras allow more of us to at least become good, if not great photographers. I really need to spend some more time taking pictures.

Sun, Dec. 5th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC)

That is quite a few, for that amount of time.

I seem to be still under 17,000 on my current body. But then I'm not doing it full-time.

Mon, Dec. 6th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)

I only average 2000-3000 shots a year at work, but then the photography is mostly incidental to my work as an engineer. If the shot is good enough to document and show what I want to have preserved then it is good enough, no need to try for the perfect shot.

Sun, Dec. 5th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)

Spray & pray with a digital doesn't make you good. Just lucky! :)

Sun, Dec. 5th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)

This isn't a digital vs. film issue at all (though the 36 exposure roll limited the burst length for film users who didn't invest in the rare 250-exposure back and the even rarer equipment to process long rolls like that).

If you want to limit yourself to pictures that sit still while you work slowly, or to pictures that are predictable enough that you can see what's coming, get set in advance, and fire one shot at the key moment, feel free.

But stop trying to claim that's the only valid way to make images!

Different pictures (and different kinds of pictures) need different approaches. Making fun of entire approaches is doing a disservice to the whole of photography.

Ctein, normally a photographer who shoots very few pictures, recently wrote an article on some kinds of pictures he's tried recently where human vision simply isn't fast enough to see what's happening, never mind muscle response pushing the button in time.

Mon, Dec. 6th, 2010 05:08 am (UTC)

Underwater, digital is SO MUCH better. Not needing to open the housing for a week is amazing.

Mon, Dec. 6th, 2010 05:41 am (UTC)

I'm not saying there isn't situations where rapid succession shots are required, But I've seen way too many photographers who only shoot that way.

Mon, Dec. 6th, 2010 02:07 pm (UTC)

I can't disagree with that. It really is a solution to some photographic problems—but only some, not most.

Mon, Dec. 6th, 2010 09:38 am (UTC)

Spray and pray, no, but what Oleg and folks like him do isn't spray and pray!

One difference between myself and Oleg is that if I take ten rapid-fire images, I'm hoping one will come out looking good enough to use on the build log for documentation. If Oleg takes ten rapid-fire images, it's because he's already picked the light, the composition, the setup, and is looking for two or three incredible images, of which one will be absolutely awesome.

If we compare it to firing guns, I'm holding down the trigger on the subgun and hoping that the muzzle rise doesn't end up putting rounds into the ceiling, while Oleg is working on knocking out all the tiny tombstone-shaped targets on the paper.

Well, he also takes pictures of handsome and gorgeous models, and a beautiful cat, while I'm taking pictures of aircraft repair progress, but that's not a digital vs. film issue.
(Deleted comment)

Mon, Dec. 6th, 2010 02:22 am (UTC)
olegvolk: Re: Bomber storage?

Every time better media comes out, I simply copy everything to multiple new volumes. Files from hundreds of 100MB Zip disks are now minor directories on multiple hard drives.

Mon, Dec. 6th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC)
dd_b: Re: Bomber storage?

I'm keeping all my digital images (including digitized film; a growing
category) online on hard drives; that's the cheapest and most reliable
bulk storage available today. As I replace drives in the file server,
the data gets copied over. I suppose I can claim that it's moved from
PATA to SATA and from longitudinal to perpendicular magnetic recording

It's backed up on external hard drives, and most of it is backed up on
optical media still. Both exist in copies stored off-site. Thus, if
my house were to burn (or be flooded) (or carried off to Oz by a
tornado) (the first two of which are among the more common disasters
striking people), I'd lose very little of my digital photography, and
essentially all of my film photography except the parts already

With large amounts of infrequently-used data, you have to be careful
that you'll detect any errors that occur in a timely fashion. Most
fileservers (at the home and small business level) don't check a file
for errors if the user doesn't ever access it, so an old image might
be damaged without anybody noticing until it was too late to recover.
So I'm running a weekly check (and it doesn't depend just on the hard
drive thinking it can read the spot; it stores block checksums for all
data and metadata blocks, and checks those). This kind of operation
is often called a "scrub".

(I'm leveraging my experience as a software developer and sysadmin,
and I would not recommend that people without similar experience or a
strong interest in diving in and learning a lot try to use the exact
scheme I'm using. My fileserver is running Solaris and using the ZFS
filesystem. Probably the closest to a packaged system with this
technology is the NexentaStore product -- which I haven't used, and
hence have no opinion on.)

(I'll slightly take issue with planned obsolescence here; I
don't think IOmega wanted the zip disk to end as soon as it did, for
example. But that's a side issue. Technological progress or planning
makes little difference to somebody caught with out-of-date media.
It's a very convenient thing that my Blu Ray drive will read DVDs and

Mon, Dec. 6th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
zeeke42: Re: Bomber storage?

"It's a very convenient thing that my Blu Ray drive will read DVDs and

I think that backward compatibility will continue until optical media isn't the cheapest method of bulk duplication. I don't follow storage research to know when this will be the case. There's so much built up around 120mm optical disks that I think it will last as long as physical media distribution.

Tue, Dec. 7th, 2010 02:13 am (UTC)
dd_b: Re: Bomber storage?

We may be on our last generation of physical distribution media; Netflix is going more and more to streaming video, and video rental stores are closing right and left.

Tue, Dec. 7th, 2010 04:17 am (UTC)
hisamishness: Re: Bomber storage?

I wouldn't rely too much on optical media for backup storage. The +/-R types are based on dyes that degrade over time and media that can delaminate from either manufacturing defect or storage conditions. (RW is more resilent, as it uses a metallic layer instead of dye, but it's still not perfect)

I'd use CD/DVD as short term or transport media only. Don't expect it to still be good 5 or 10 years down the road.

As for DD_B's setup, yes - a bit level integrity checked backup server like Solaris/ZFS gives you is an ideal platform. Add a quick and dirty FreeFileSync script in the startup menu to sync the working folder from your computer to the archive share on the server and backup is mostly automatic.

Tue, Dec. 7th, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
dd_b: Re: Bomber storage?

I haven't had a CD or DVD go bad on me yet (other than immediate burn failures). My oldest examples are only 16 years old so far. And most of those are top-line Kodak media. But then the later ones are Kodak Gold Ultima and MAM Gold archival DVDs. They're certainly not eternal; nothing is. But they'll outlast about any other media I've ever owned in semi-careful storage (not just thrown in a heap!).

Tue, Dec. 7th, 2010 05:17 am (UTC)
hisamishness: Re: Bomber storage?

You know enough to get good media. I'll bet the next 9 people you see (random in public, not your circle of friends... *grins* ) will have whatever was cheap at Target/Walmart that week.

Tue, Dec. 7th, 2010 05:21 am (UTC)
dd_b: Re: Bomber storage?

OH, I've got cheap stuff too. I use it for burning boot CDs for Linux, and transporting files to work, and all the usual things. But yeah, I don't use it so much for the things intended to be long-term archive disks.

Tue, Dec. 7th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
hisamishness: Re: Bomber storage?

Dang It dd_b... you're making me want to bring up a solaris/zfs server again!

Any ideas when The New Masters will release the next open-source version? I tried with the last, but could not handle the GUI not being able to do manual IP assignments on the box. :-(

Tue, Dec. 7th, 2010 04:22 am (UTC)
dd_b: Re: Bomber storage?

The new Evil Masters are not going to be good, it doesn't look like. I'd look at the free fork the Nexenta people are contributing too; which I'm sure has a name, although it's escaping me at the moment.

I've never actually figured out how to get into an installer GUI for Solaris. It's just such an un-solaris kind of idea. Now you have me wondering how I set up my static IP (Summer of 2006; memory decays....).

Tue, Dec. 7th, 2010 05:19 am (UTC)
hisamishness: Re: Bomber storage?

The install was normal. (I forget what it looked like)

Once I had it up and running, I logged in and tried to use the NIC config options in the GUI. It would revert to DHCP beautifully, but would fail in unknown but assured ways when trying to set a manual address. Yes, I even googled how to do it command-line style, and that didn't work either.

At that point, I put it aside and decided I'd touch it again when they released the next rev.