The BS of Digital Photography

paul stenquist pnstenquist at
Tue Oct 6 07:16:51 EDT 2009

On Oct 6, 2009, at 3:07 AM, Tom C wrote:

> I just ordered a K-7 against what may may be my better judgement...
> I'm optimistic that it will meet my present needs, though I'm pretty
> sure it's far too noisy for any astrophotography.
> It has started me thinking though about the tradeoffs between film  
> and digital.
> WIth film (E6 or positives specifically):
> One had to wait for the results.
> What you saw is what you got.
> Notwithstanding the development process, the largest variables in the
> result was the metering accuracy of the camera body (MX or Pz-1P, both
> overall excellent), the attributes of the film that was selected, and
> the judgement of the photographer.
> When I scanned a transparency, I pretty much considered that it was,
> as recorded, based upon my decisions at exposure time. It was a 1st
> generation image.
> With digital (shooting RAW):
> I see the 'results' (almost immediately).
> I'm unsure what processing has occurred in camera.
> I'm unsure how the sensor has responded to the scene and how the
> software in the camera has adjusted the image. I can guess, but I'm
> not sure.

When you shoot RAW, no processing has occurred in the camera. However,  
the jpeg viewed on the LCD screen has been processed. You can adjust  
how much or how little by tweaking yur jpeg settings.

> I'm unsure if the image shown on the playback screen is an accurate
> representation of the scene or if it will match what I see on the
> computer screen.

Once your computer is calibrated and you understand the way your  
camera functions, you can count on a much better match than you ever  
could have achieved on film. After tens of thousands of rolls of film  
and close to 70,000 digital  images, I'm absolutely certain of that.

> I'm unsure if Photoshop or ACR, or whatever software used, is
> displaying an accurate representation of the recorded image.
> Screen calibration is an issue unto itself.

Screen calibration is a science. You can make your conversion software  
accurate and repeatable.

> Maybe there was just as many variables with E6 and they were taken for
> granted at the time, because we didn't (or I didn't) have the
> knowledge 6 - 10 years ago to know the difference. Certainly all the
> post-capture and transposition to digital issues existed.
> Nevertheless, with the advent of digital capture, it seems or feels as
> if the process is far more complicated.  Maybe my RAW image is the
> equivalent of my transparency, but it just does not feel the same. It
> seemed that I could look at a transparency and say "Wow, that looks
> exactly like what I saw" or "Wow, I messed that one up".  With digital
> I feel much more insecure.  Was it me, the camera, the software, the
> hardware?
> It seems the almost instant gratification of digital capture and the
> speediness of results has been eclipsed by the, OMG factor, and 'what
> do I have to do to adjust this image?'.  Time saved by instant results
> is erased by time spent post-capture processing.
> Does it seem that way to others as well?

No. Now that my workflow is consistent and well planned, my RAW images  
are just about right on with my ACR default settings. I never could  
say the same when it came to scanning transparencies.

> Tom C.
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