The BS of Digital Photography

John Coyle jcoyle at powerup.com.au
Wed Oct 7 23:54:49 EDT 2009


Bit late on this thread, but here goes anyway;
I've been thinking lately about going back to film (more accurately, B&W,
doing my own developing and printing) for what you might call 'proper'
photography, the stuff that we do because we think of ourselves as being
'real' or 'serious' photographers.  I won't move to printing my own colour,
as I have never had any skills in that area: I probably will not shoot
colour negative at all as the local one-hour has gone from being very good
to being of mediocre quality and has increased its prices significantly. 
This train of thought is in part because my wife complains that she waits a
long time to see prints of our DSLR-taken family snapshots, that is if I
ever actually print them.  She also refuses to sit in front of a screen to
view them, and she rightly says it's impossible to put a digital image in an
album to keep on the bookshelves.  So the answer seems to be to shoot much
less and to process using the sort of work-flow which is easier to set up in
LR than in PSE when it comes to similar adjustments to batches of shots, so
that a regular flow of a small number of family snaps is kept up, just as it
was when I used film.  
Another factor is, looking at a decent collection of pre-digital Pentax
cameras and lens, a sense of regret that I have only used my MZ-S twice in
the last two years, my K2 once in four years, and my SV twice in five years.
There are others too, some of which have not seen any use in all the time I
have owned them.  I used to enjoy wet darkroom work, much more than I do
computer processing, and I still have all the gear I need to set up for a
session - all I have to do is throw away the collection of dark-brown
liquids which used to be developer and fix, etc. and buy fresh!
So maybe the answer is three-fold:
	B&W film for 'arty' work.
	Slides for colour 'arty'.
	6x6 for either of the above.
	Encourage my wife to use her digital compact for family snapshots -
she tends to rely on me nowadays, saying that since I am there with a
'better' camera why should she bother.

On another tack, some others in this thread have reported a worrying lack of
consistency in exposures using the latest Pentax DSLRs - this seems strange
given that the first one Pentax made, the *ist-D, is the one I still use and
am very happy with its performance exposure-wise.  Obviously there are times
when it gets it wrong, but they are reasonably predictable, and would
probably happen using a film camera as well.  I cannot ever recall having to
worry about white balance, I sometimes deliberately set exposure
compensation when I can see that the metering system will have problems, but
this is no more frequent than when I shot slide film regularly.  True, it's
not the best camera for fast-moving sports photography, but I do none of
that anyway: the nearest thing to it is trying to catch two-year-old or
sixteen-year-old grandchildren!

John in Brisbane

-----Original Message-----
From: pdml-bounces at pdml.net [mailto:pdml-bounces at pdml.net] On Behalf Of Tom
C
Sent: Tuesday, 6 October 2009 5:08 PM
To: Pentax-Discuss Mail List
Subject: The BS of Digital Photography

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.
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.
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.

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?

Tom C.

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