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[filmscanners] Re: film and scanning vs digital photography
Contentious is an understatement! I don't think we are is disagreement,
and as I suggested it is all about what precisely you are talking about.
At the 6mp level, I think people were willing to sacrifice image quality
for convenience and speed. You've outlined some of that below. And it's
convenience not only for the photographer, but for the
client/publishers/etc. as well. There were a few magazine whose
reputation was built on picture quality that wouldn't buy, but many were
willing to make the trade off. I don't necessarily agree, however, with
the oft-used qualification in the digital era "proper (or normal)
viewing distances". All that says is that it looks OK if you don't get
too close. It is a compromise, something of a cop out, even somewhat
apologetic. I look at all my prints up close and personal. Look at
people in galleries, and you we see them looking at prints close up. And
it is at these distances that you find with the 6mp DSLR's that the fine
detail isn't really there (at best it's faked). 35mm film persisted
because there we a lot of people that still looked closely. Until now
(or about a couple years ago), that is.
Today, however, with the continued development of the medium, we don't
have to compromise any more. The 10mp (marginal) and 12-16mp DSLR's can
give us the convenience and speed everyone desires without really
compromising on absolute image quality (and detail). This is why 35mm is
now dead. The advantages of 35mm film over other sizes are now provided
by digital. The raison d’ete of 35mm film has disappeared. That (speed,
convenience, flexibility, compactness, etc.) is now better filled by
digital. B&W film will probably live on longer than color. And 120 film
and sheet film will live on in fine art circles. In fact, sales of sheet
film cameras are as strong as ever -- and sales of 8x10 film view camera
are growing significantly. Film is not dead, the focus has just move to
Tony Sleep wrote:
> :-) I said it was contentious.
> In absolute and abstract terms I'd agree with you. A decent 35mm, scanned,
> has all those things (and I found a long time ago that scanning & post
> prod gave me better prints than I could achieve in the darkroom - and I
> was a fairly expert B&W printer after 25yrs of it).
> But whether it matters is a more important but subjective question. For
> years I used a 10D with no sense of loss because images were almost always
> going to repro, and seldom used >A4. The gains, in terms of control, tonal
> smoothness, and saved time vastly outweighed the fact that they'd look
> worse as a 16x12 print which would never get made. Although one client did
> get me to blow up a couple to 1 x 1.5m, and they were surprisingly fine so
> long as you were near the proper viewing distance. If you went close, ugh,
> but then 35mm film would be too.
> Another issue that pushed me toward dig was that the materials I liked
> best had either disappeared or had been replaced by updated inferior (but
> less noxious) ones or truncated ranges (Agfa papers only in the top
> selling grades - what idiots). Now they have gone completely.
> And another was client requirements. 4 years ago I took 800GBP worth of
> stale paper and chemistry to the tip because nobody ever ordered prints
> anymore. Clients had begun to insist on dig. delivered electronically, for
> the obvious cost savings as much as anything.
> Film is not dead, and I hope it never is even though I appear to have left
> it behind, but it has become a shrinking, specialist niche far faster than
> anyone expected. There are a lot of losses and downsides to this
> evolution, and gains as well, but they really aren't what anyone expected.
> They are a nothing to do with image quality, which is and always was a
> matter of 'good enough' rather than a techie theological debate. I'm in
> the middle of writing a series of blog pieces about this.
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