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Sick of digital now...

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Showing 1-25 of 898 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 May 2010 11:32:29 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 May 2010 15:55:09 BDT
Graham H says:
The other day I was out in the back garden on a lovely sunny day, and I thought it a good idea to take some snaps of the cat. As you do.

So, I get my D40, the kit lens, and off I go.

Set modes, point at cat, fire, look at results. "Damn! Overexposed!" Okay, start again with a bit of exp. compensation.
"Hmm. Still not quite there. A bit more I think"
Try again. Not bad, but white balance is way off.
Go into WB menu, tweak it manually, try again. By this time the cat's moved and I have to start again because it's now sitting in the shade. So on goes the speedlight for a bit of fill flash.... Damn! It's off again! Now back into the sunlight.Grrr...

What I'm getting at is that back in the days before about 2004, when all I had was 35mm film, I don't ever remember having to p**s about like this to get decent photographs.
I would just load the film, set the ISO once, point and fire. The camera took care of all the rest and it was nearly always spot on.
And this wasn't some clever camera either, just a Minolta AF Compact. I bought it in 1986 for £65 and it was my main camera until 2004. None of this upgrading every two years business.
Even if I used an SLR it was just as easy. After all, a film camera does one thing, and that's to open a hole to let light through for a specified amount of time. That's it. That's all it does. No White Balance, no editing, no nothing.
As long as you've got the same lens on there then as far as I can tell there'll be no difference between a picture shot with a basic plastic SLR and one taken with a professional one. (Assuming manual focus, etc)

"Ah, but you can shoot loads more pictures with digital" people say.

Yeah, you can. Because you have to! I probably junk 90% of the stuff I take. Good shots are few and far between. I took 25 pictures of the cat. There was only one that I was happy with.
When I used film I kept almost everything, because film made you think about what you were shooting. You'd see the image in your head, set it up and then take it. Because each shot cost you money to process.
Sure, you'd get the odd one with someone's thumb in it, or a bus coming between you and your view. But it was very, very rare for the reason for junking it to be the fault of the camera.
The tendency with digitals is just to machine-gun away in rapid-fire for frame upon frame in the hope that you might "Luck out" and that one of them might be possibly converted into a half-decent picture if you spend enough time and effort messing about in P-Shop afterwards.

I went on holiday to Italy in the 80s once. I thought it was a real expedition because I came home with 3 rolls of film to develop. Three whole rolls! About a hundred frames taken in two weeks.
And you know what? They were nearly all great! I got the prints back, passed them around family and friends, then put them in an album which is still on my shelf not twenty feet away as I write this.
People today will blaze away and take literally thousands of JPEGs on a holiday. Then, when they get home, they'll transfer them onto a back-up drive. And there they'll sit, because the prospect of sifting through that much data and then selecting, tweaking and printing off some hard copies is just too much effort when there's stuff to watch on your SkyHD or something else equally pressing and demanding of our time.

My impression is that the more technology we own, the less we do something useful with it. The great "Banksy" said (with reference to the state of modern art):

"Never in Human history was so much used by so many to say so little"

I think that applies just as well to modern cameras.

This summer I'm resolved to going "Back to the Future" and getting out my 35mm again. Especially now that you can get them processed and scanned at high resolution onto a disc for very little cost.

I'm also going to buy myself a Canon AE-1 Program or maybe a Nikon FE and spend more time taking great pictures and less time d*cking about with buttons and menus.

Phew! I feel better after all that. ;-)

EDIT: Saturday 22nd May:

Bought one! A mint condition Canon AE-1 Program from 1982 newly refurbished with new light seals and mirror box cushions. Including the original 50mm f/1.8 lens. Less than £70 on the auction site. Should be good for another 30 years easily!

In reply to an earlier post on 22 May 2010 12:33:36 BDT
andyt says:
When you get them scanned, someone's going to have to set that white balance...

Posted on 22 May 2010 14:04:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 May 2010 14:14:15 BDT
Graham H says:
Hmm. Depends. On C-41 process print film maybe, because you're very much at the mercy of the bloke operating the printer, but colour slide film should be okay. Anyway, the prints will still be nice even if I use "garden variety" Fuji Superia 400 or similar. I'm quite looking forward to the results!

If it was anything I really cared about I'd send the films off to Peak Imaging anyway rather than take my chances with Boots or Asda.

Posted on 22 May 2010 15:14:13 BDT
Is a Nikon dSLR really that bad? My Sony will bracket white balance - I bet most cameras do. Could you not just photoshop the white balance a bit? Or have you become super critical because you have so much (digital) control? Or have you become lazy and accept the auto settings because they are there? And when I say "you" I'm sure that applies to many of us.
I remember sending whole films back because the white balance was off (and they would redo them too). Woe betide if your film had some indoor shots first, followed by scenary (or vice versa).
As for quantity of shots - well thats merely a matter of editing isn't it? Does it matter if you have thousands on disc. I print my favourites like the old days - except I can adjust them to please my whim.
Best of luck with the film though. You certainly have a classic camera to operate.

Posted on 22 May 2010 15:42:46 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 May 2010 21:45:49 BDT
Graham H says:
Well, the Nikon DSLR isn't bad to operate. I think it's just a case of "Options overload". These things have so many functions and adjustments that sometimes it's just refreshing to go back to the simple 35mm with its wide dynamic range and ease of use. I'm not about to junk my digitals, but picking up an electro-mechanical 35mm SLR makes me remember what I like about taking photographs! After all, from 1987 to 2004 my camera had only one control, and that was the shutter button!

I'm really looking forward to the Canon! I've been playing with Nikon's F90X which is also excellent, but there's something quite appealing about a nice simple SLR from the 70's. I think I'll sell off my little pair of Trip 35's so I don't feel so guilty about buying it though. They're nice enough cameras, but I really don't care for the game of "Guess the distance" that is zone focus. I like to twiddle the ring on the lens and be certain!

Posted on 25 May 2010 15:16:21 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 25 May 2010 15:17:41 BDT]

Posted on 26 May 2010 01:14:03 BDT
Onibaba says:
G.E Hearn...
The Canon AE-1 Program was my first proper SLR after years of smaller camera's & is a Camera i have held a very soft spot for ever since...
I used mine happily for many years until i recieved a nice payment for an assignment of work i had been asked to do for a wildlife park & then traded it in & treated myself to a Canon EOS 5 & Battery grip,
Some years later i bought an Olympus Digital compact, & then sold my EOS 5 to move to a digital SLR (The EOS 350D not long after it's release), I have large hands & found the feel of the 350D Horrible after the EOS 5 & Grip,but with a couple of lenses it was all i could afford..
I briefly then owned an EOS 40D that was returned due to confirmed focusing errors, and a while later sold the 350D While it was still worth something..
My latest camera is a Nikon D90 & i have to say that for the Largest percentage of my photography it is a great & more than adequate camera that has given great results, has a wonderful low light performance, & along with the battery grip feels very adequate & solid in my hands..
Of all the camera's i've ever previously used & owned, the Canon AE-1 Program is the one that i repeatedly feel the urge to purchase again...
Not just for nostalgic reasons, but also because when i look back through the photo's i took with it i'm still blown away by the pure quality & clarity of images i obtained with it when matched with the fantastic FD Lenses..
My main reason for buying another is for Landscape photography..
I'd love to be able to justify spending thousands on a Full frame Canon Digital SLR Along with L Series lenses for landscape work but it's not an option..
What i plan to do is to like yourself buy a Mint Condition Canon AE-1 Program , & then with it go for both the 50mm & 28mm Fast prime FD Lenses as i had before... i still have the skylights filters, Polarisers' Close up filters, & & large Cokin filter selection all in Mint condition waiting to be used again..
So can say with absolute certainty that i will have one of these again sometime soon when i see the right one come along..

Congratulations on your purchase, i have to admit to being envious..
I Cant wait to look through the viewfinder and see that focusing screen again.. :-)
Oh & buy the way , yes they were great for cat photo's too.. :-)
I still have some i took with my AE-1 Program of my parents old cat tess,,

I decided some time ago i would buy another one,
& now reading your post feel the urge to get on & do it quicker....
Thankyou.. :-)

Posted on 26 May 2010 02:44:27 BDT
P. Monger says:
Great. So you swap in a good DSLR to get some run-of-the-mill processing knocked up at your local ASDA, on generic film? Sorry, but your nostalgia trip is blinding you somewhat.

If you aren't setting exposure in the same way on the film than you were on digital then they are pushing / pulling the exposures in the lab for you. If you aren't setting white balance then they are fixing it in the lab for you. Get the, ahem, picture?

If you blew up both to an 8 x 10 print you would see terrible grain and lack of fine details on your film exposure from where they had to bring up the shadows by 1 or 2 stops from mediocre film.

You sound like a hobbyist who doesn't care what he produces but would rather snap away in ignorant bliss and let the "magic of film nostalgia" sort it all out for him.

Tip the guy at your photo lab.

Posted on 26 May 2010 12:49:21 BDT
JD Wiltshire says:
And with a digital camera the batteries are never charged when you need them!

In reply to an earlier post on 26 May 2010 16:50:58 BDT
T. Davies says:
And who's fault would that be ? Remember even the old AE-1 uses a battery for metering ,or has that been forgotten in the mists of nostalgia !

In reply to an earlier post on 26 May 2010 16:52:19 BDT
Mr D,
Surely you can keep a spare battery charged up? Do you have a mobile phone? Is the battery always flat?
I must admit that I did like clockwork cameras though.

Posted on 26 May 2010 20:31:33 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 May 2010 22:09:59 BDT
Graham H says:
P. Monger:

I'm not getting rid of my DSLR, as I said. I just feel like a change now and again, that's all. Hobbyist? Yes, I am. I freely admit it. But I still like film, and with all this kit going for stupidly low amounts of money these days then why not? I've spent very little money on film gear. My Nikon F90X in almost new condition with the battery grip was well under £70. In the late 90's it was the thick end of a Grand! Wouldn't you?
I know you can't get parts anymore, so I bought another equally good one even cheaper to keep as a spare. The Canon is something I'm really looking forward to, and I've now spent the princely sum of £25 on a mint condition 28mm wideangle lens to go with the 50mm 1.8 it comes fitted with.
Battery gripes? Certainly the AE-1 program has a battery. It costs about a quid and lasts for around a year. :-)
Generic film? No, I'll buy decent stuff from Fuji for the amount I use. Asda? No thanks. There are better places. Anyway, I like the idea of using 35mm now and again for a change of pace.

I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. Digital is good, but that doesn't make film any less valid than it was from about 1920 up until around 2002. There's a place for both for me. Modern cars are technically great, but I still like old ones too!
Anyway, if I go off my film gear I can soon knock it out again for probably what I paid for it. It can't exactly depreciate much more, can it? And if I take it on the beach, drop it into the sea etc. I won't cry half as hard as if I'd done the same with a Nikon DSLR and AF-S lenses!


Thanks for your post! I enjoyed reading it.

Buy another AE-1 P? Yeah! Grab one! They're silly prices. I've looked at a lot, and they seem to go for between £50 and £80 with the 50mm f/1.8 lens on average. The lenses go for a tiny percentage of their original price too. And lenses wear out even less than the bodies.
As long as the seals are good and there's no "squeal" from the aperture gears they should last many many more years.
You've got one up on me because I've never owned one. I'm looking forward to the experience though.

My other choice would have been a Nikon FE, but the Canon came along first. The Canon also has the advantage that the lenses are very cheap, as they don't work on EOS or DSLR cameras, whereas most old Nikon lenses can still be used on the current cameras in some form or another, so they sell for a lot more.

This is the one that I almost bought:

But the one I settled on had the manual and a filter as well as the dust caps and was about the same money.

Posted on 29 May 2010 01:10:51 BDT
M. Kenny says:
have to say I'm not sure what the problem is really. Ive owned 4 digital cameras now including one slr and you sound like your just anti-technology to me. Most good Nikon SLR cameras have excellent abilities to evaluate a photograph on full auto and all I have to do on my current Nikon is adjust the white balance which lets face it is a click of a wheel, walking is harder quite frankly.

Digital is wonderful, lots of efficient use of power and with it being digital lots of wonderful picture oportunities, remember you are saving the planet. lastly perhaps you would of rejected your film prints had you been able to see them instantly? just another wonderful side to technology we or should I say you take for granted.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 May 2010 10:35:22 BDT
I rather like playing with digital images. Because of my poor colour vision I could never attempt colour development but with digital I can experiment and always have the original data if I make a horlicks of it.
Nearly every image can be improved with a bit of cropping and a tweak on the contrast and white balance. If you had to leave it to a lab it would be slow and economically unsustainable.
I have also digitised old negatives and prints. It's remarkable how tiny proofs and contact prints can be blown up to yield interesting pictures of long dead relatives etc. All thanks to digital.
I think the main difference between my old gear and the new is not film versus digital but the use of nearly all prime lenses such as my f2 28mm, f1.8 50mm and f2.8 200mm. Focussing was of course manual. Now we all have zooms with (generally) disappointingly small apertures to stifle creativity and encourage high ISOs with consequent noise. They all have autofocus with all the disadvantages (as well as advantages) inherent in that. None are insurmountable problems but do require a different technique. I do like my Tamron constant f2.8 17mm - 50mm though.
My biggest moan about compacts and bridges is the ubiquitous power zoom - which I find a bit of a blunt instrument compared with the manual zoom of the dSLR.

Posted on 29 May 2010 12:20:23 BDT
I found myself in a similar position in 2005 - disillusioned with digital, shooting too much just because I could, losing self-discipline because it cost nothing to make mistakes. My images were lovely, but I wasn't enjoying taking them anymore. I needed a new challenge, so I bought a friend's Nikon FE and lenses...and I never looked back. The Nikon restored my pleasure in photography, and the cost of shooting film made me more selective, and conscious of technique. I went on to medium format, which is still my greatest joy. I can't imagine anyone ever regretting the decision to get back to the essence, as I see it.

Posted on 29 May 2010 13:49:53 BDT
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Posted on 29 May 2010 15:06:54 BDT
frogs says:
I couldn't imagine going back to film. The way I consume photographs these days is almost all digitally. Online (Flickr, Facebook, DeviantArt etc), emails. Actual prints are few and far between.
I always shoot in raw now, for every picture. With both my SLR (EOS 40D) and compact (Panasonic LX3). That way I get the best possible result, and I ignore white balance (leave it on auto all the time) and sort it out in ACR if necessary.
But there is certainly room for all formats from pinhole cameras to uber expensive Hasselblads.

Posted on 29 May 2010 15:33:51 BDT
Sou'Wester says:
Although it can be tempting to use a digital camera like a machine gun and shoot umpteen images, the best results will still come when people take their time and concentrate on taking a few properly composed pictures instead of many indifferent snaps. That said, I've no desire to go back to the days of film. Took hundreds of slides in the 60s, 70s & 80s; they are hungry of space, require lots of extra equipment (projector, screen etc) to view properly and pick up muck whenever they are removed from storage, and are also prone to fading. It took me four years, but it was with a huge sigh of relief that I finally got them all scanned and converted to digital format. Result, pictures that hardly ever saw the light of day are now being looked at regularly, shared with friends/family and some even published. I finally purchased a digital camera last year and though it has taken a little getting used to it is now giving excellent results.

Posted on 29 May 2010 15:55:42 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 May 2010 16:07:53 BDT
Graham H says:
M. Kenny:

"...Digital is wonderful, lots of efficient use of power and with it being digital lots of wonderful picture oportunities, remember you are saving the planet. lastly perhaps you would of rejected your film prints had you been able to see them instantly? just another wonderful side to technology we or should I say you take for granted. "

One more time: I still have my digital! This is just another, different and satisfying way to take great pictures!! Why does everyone think I want to see digitals consigned to the dustbin and 35mm once again ruling the Earth?
There are circumstances in my life where I would rather use a 35mm SLR than a DSLR, that's all. And I can still get digital files off 35mm. All I need to do is tick "Scan to CD" and pay an extra quid. Then I can play with them to my heart's content on the PC should I feel so inclined.
Save the planet?? Yeah, Right! So it's better for the planet if we manufacture new cameras constantly, out of plastics and chemicals (only to junk them every five to ten years when a new must-have one comes out, or when they break) than it is for someone to still be using one built 30 years ago and to have every intention of using it for another 30?
This is the same argument used to convince the gullible that by buying a new Toyota Prius they're somehow doing more for the planet than by continuing to drive their 15 year old Nissan Micra. For those that worry about such things, most environmental harm with new products is caused in their manufacture and disposal. I would guess that more damage is done this way than by a few people like me having C41 process films developed.

Dr. G. Austin:

"...My biggest moan about compacts and bridges is the ubiquitous power zoom - which I find a bit of a blunt instrument compared with the manual zoom of the dSLR"

Agree 100%. Why do we even have to have zooms on compacts? They're useless for sports or anything any distance away anyhow. I would far, far rather have a Compact with one decent fixed prime lens over which you had manual aperture control down to about f/1.8 or even 1.4. But no manufacturer has the balls to make one. You can still zoom easily enough by taking a few steps forward or backward.
I honestly believe that they do it because the pokey-outy zoom bit is always the part that breaks first, and means we have to keep buying new cameras. My first digital was a Minolta DiMage XT and I was very impressed with that design. They had the zoom mechanism internal to the camera by means of prisms. Great idea! No external moving parts.

B. VD Velden-Elliott:

Couldn't have put it better myself! Thanks for that post. Just what I was trying to say in the first place.

Still waiting for my AE-1 Program to arrive. It's arrived in the UK now and apparently waiting to clear customs. The 28mm f/2.8 lens has arrived though. Can't wait to play with them together!

Posted on 29 May 2010 16:19:04 BDT
You're welcome. :-) And may I just add: I am, in fact, a "digital consumer" too, in many ways: I have a photoblog, and a Flickr account (more than five years old, with only analog offerings), and Facebook, etc. I used to get my 35mm scanned to disc, and now I simply scan my MF negs myself, on an Epson flatbed. Photography, these days, needs to be world-wide-web-shareable, but that does not limit anyone to digital cameras. Not at all! A simple search on Flickr will testify to the enormous appeal of (and dedication to) film - and to what film can do. I do, actually, see a difference in depth and complexity, but that might just be my bias speaking. :-)

Posted on 29 May 2010 16:23:20 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Jun 2010 10:23:42 BDT
Graham H says:
"...- and to what film can do. I do, actually, see a difference in depth and complexity, but that might just be my bias speaking. :-) "

No, not at all. Film has hidden depths that can be revealed with scanning. This is why old "Remasters" of cinema productions look so good. As digital conversion technology gets better then so do the remasters.

If something was shot on digital then whatever came in through the lens, then the anti-aliasing filter, the sensor, the noise reduction processing and finally onto the memory card is all you're ever going to get. It's just 1's an 0's. Yes/No. That's it. You can tweak it, but you're never going to unlock any more detail, texture or atmosphere because there isn't any. Whatever was captured at the time has been encoded into 1's and 0's and saved. And "That's yer lot".

Have a look at any of NASA's shots from the Apollo era. All taken on basically Hasselblad 500C cameras that were modified to be used in space and protected against the extremes of heat and cold encountered on the Lunar surface. Outstanding pictures even 40 years on.

Another point is that if I'm taking a camera along to an event or situation where it might get rained on, broken or stolen then I'd rather take a 35mm that can be replaced for less than the price of an entry-level compact yet provide results equal to or better than an expensive DSLR.
I have a mint condition, boxed and immaculate Nikon F65 35mm SLR with the kit 28-80mm zoom lens. It can take excellent quality pictures. It cost me the princely sum of £35. Can't get those results for that sort of money with anything digital.
Come to think of it, I bought that package just for the lens, so the F65 was essentially free!

A mate of mine has just bought a mint Nikon F100 body. Retailed new at £1200. He paid £125 on Ebay. The price of a reasonable digital compact! Crazy, crazy times. Will people regret selling this stuff off so cheaply in a few years? If I'd bought an F100 new I'd keep it rather than practically give it away.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jun 2010 21:42:41 BDT
P. Monger says:
G. Hearn, there's a lack of logic on your part here.

You are claiming that a film transfer to digital BEATS another digital capture? Well that just makes no sense. The weakest link in the chain determines the quality.

Sure, shooting directly to a processed JPEG removes the options to go in later and push / pull (ect) the image, but DSLR's offer RAW image formats that are almost matching the best 35mm films for dynamic range , and effective resolution has already been beaten. A 'full frame' DSLR shooting in RAW nudges out a 35mm in pretty much all measures of quality.

RAW files are effectively a "digital negative" and all that you could do on 35mm is replicated PLUS a lot of extra stuff .. such as single-shot HDR images, to name one.

If NASA astronauts had shot their images on a full frame DSLR you wouldn't have moon-landing-fakers claiming the landings were faked because of the blown out blooms / highlights on the flag poles (it covers the framing markers)


Posted on 3 Jun 2010 13:52:43 BDT
Messrs Hearn and Monger,

May I remind you that RAW processing has moved on somewhat. You can now use the powerful RAW editing tools on Jpegs too - while it's true that a RAW image may hold more detail (by virtue of the fact that a Jpeg has been processed to some extent 'in camera' nevertheless, the major facilities available for RAW editing are now available for Jpeg images - Photoshop CS3, CS4 and the new CS5 has this facility, simply use Photoshop's 'Bridge', right click on an image, and from the pop up menu, choose, 'open in Camera Raw'.

I've achieved amazing results, I suggest you check it out!

Posted on 3 Jun 2010 18:12:53 BDT
Graham H says:
I shall. As soon as I put my AE-1 Program down! It arrived yesterday and I've been out in the sun on a nice day off taking snaps of things. I love it! It's a great little camera. :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2010 18:20:06 BDT
:-) G.E. Hearn: Have fun with it! As you will! I know that going back to film entirely changed my attitude to and my love of photography - but then I don't like editing after the fact (I prefer cropping in camera and only size in PS) and I totally despise HDR. So I'm biased. Tsk. Do you have a Flickr account you'll be posting your results to?
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