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Old 11-11-2005, 12:58 AM
stellabuster
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Film vs Digital debate

I would like to start a debate re Film vs Digital.

Let Iceman Mike the owner, decide which team comes up with the best argument. No prizes, but a lively debate all the same.

I am sure there would be enough of you to put up an argument of debate whether or not, film is a dying breed since digital came in.

Weigh up the Pros and Cons. Let's get something going here! Any takers for film? Any takers for Digital? Think of the What, the When, the Where, the Why, and the Who of both mediums and let the games begin!

Last edited by stellabuster; 11-11-2005 at 01:08 AM. Reason: spelling mistake
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  #2  
Old 11-11-2005, 04:32 AM
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I'm sure there'll be some takers as there's been similar less structured debates here and there in the past.

Roll on a good debate.. but please guys, keep it civil, think before you post and re-read your post before you press submit.

If anyone starts getting personal or nasty their post will be deleted.
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Old 11-11-2005, 05:45 AM
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Hi All, I can't say much re the use of film and digital for deepsky use - years ago I did plenty of deep sky film photography, but I've yet to experiment with digital on deep sky. For Lunar and Planetary photography, however, the two are like chalk and cheese. I can't count the amount of film frames I would have churned through years back to get a smudgy smear of Jupiter just showing the two most prominent bands. Contrast that to the spectacular images for Jupiter that are produced using digital webcams today. Better planetary images can be taken by a novice now on their first night out with a digital webcam than an old pro could with film could capture on a good night of seeing 20 years ago. That's not to say that web-cam imagery is not a skilled activity, just like film it is one where as the users skill-set and toolkit develops so does the detail and impact of the pictures produced - only need to take a peek at some of the images and techniques presented in the Solar System forum here to see that.

Film might or might not have a continuing role for deep sky photography, but for lunar and planetary I reckon it's bucket has been well and truly kicked!

cheers,
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Old 11-11-2005, 05:47 AM
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I guess there's 2 aspects to the debate - for use in astrophotography, or for use in general/terrestrial photography.

I'm not sure what aspect James had when he started the debate, but I guess it's fair to cover both.
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Old 11-11-2005, 09:12 AM
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My preference is definately for digital, it enables a newcomer to photography, once the camera is purchased to experiment with it and all it's settings with no more cost to the hobby, that's accepting most households have a computer, printer and internet access.

Apart from a couple of cents for charging of batteries, there is only time to spend not $$ on endless rolls of film and development costs.

Advantages like, re-sizing, cropping, and all extremes of editing are easily learned and taken advantage of with the click of a mouse and some time, again costing you nothing, while enjoying what your work can look like and mastering your cameras and softwares settings.

If you get a dud shot out in the field, you can view it instantly and trash it, change some settings and shoot again, i think that's the biggest advantage with digital, instant access to the quality of the shot.

As i don't use film, i can't see any negatives with digital
and don't ever see myself using film at all.

I'm sure others with more knowledge than me, can add much more to this debate, this is my take on it.....

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Old 11-11-2005, 09:26 AM
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Fim is dead!!!!

Ok how about I just jump right in and stick my neck out.

Film for astrophotography is about 95% dead....

There are some extreme cases of people using film for wide format imaging, but even then I dont see the point with SBIGS current crop of massive chip

Digital is now rivaling film for resolution. an 8mb Canon 350D with 6.4 Mircon pixels will produce as good if not better res than film.

BUT the real benefit of digital is the factthat there is no reciprocity failure like in film. The repsonse is linear. ie iso 800 = ISO 800 over the whole exposure. No need to account for the fact that after x minutes your IS800 film will only really be ISO 200.

The fact that Tech pan film is also now very hard to find and expensive is also a nail in the coffin for film.

What are the pros of digital then:
- Zero processing cost
- No reciprocity failure
- Rivals film resolution with 4 x sensitivity
- Immediate feedback when focusing and composing images
- Short exposures and stacking can be used. less to go wrong in short exposure
- Software can be used to automate exposure capture as well as focus camera accurately
- Anyone with a PC can process images. Ie have there own digital darkroom. dont need developing skills and access to a darkroom to process digital images
- costs are falling every month and technology is improving all the time. Film technology seems to have stagnated. (Kodak recently closed its melbourne operation. reason stated was Digital sales were outselling film 50 - 1)
- Digital images are stamped in the EXIF header with info about trhe exposure. eg exposure time, ISO setting, f ratio etc... this is a great learning tool to see what exposures worked well and why.....

What are the cons:
ummm none ?

Ok so I am biased. I just cant think of one good reason to use film so I see the debate as a foregone conclusion.... All the old pros like Michael Covington (author of : Astrophotography for the Amateur) and Robert Reed (Author of Widefield Astrophotography) have now converted to Digital themselves.

so i say RIP film

Regards
Chris Venter
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Old 11-11-2005, 10:51 AM
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Great topic!

I will act as defence lawyer for film...

One major advantage that film has is price. You don't need a PC, uber GPU etc... and a background in image processing (therefore expensive image processing software - barring freeware) to get a good image. Also, most images these day are many many images stacked and processed / darkframes subtracted / noise reduction...blah blah, whereas film is mostly just one image acquired with skill / luck / good equipment (conceded - this also applies to digital imaging)...

If you look at some of the most incredible images ever taken (ala David Malin) they are on film...in fact, I would hazard a guess and say that these images are probably what inspired most digiphiles in more recent times.

Getting back to my original argument - film is cheaper, although if you wanted to argue that it requires $50,000 worth of Agfa (or whatever) auto-processing equipment then you would be entirely correct.

Time is also another factor - I bet I could get a roll of film processed faster than it would take to process 24 digital images (hrmmm...that could be a better argument!)...

BTW - I own both an SLR and a DSLR and my SLR is collecting dust...! Also, after years of messing around with film I never really got a good shot - 2 weeks with a DSLR and I've got some great shots! Merely making an argument purely for arguments sake!

p.s. Chris - how is M45 coming along?
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Old 11-11-2005, 10:56 AM
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Oh, and just to add some fuel to the debate - I think film is harder to master than digital...! (haha - that oughta get em going!)
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Old 11-11-2005, 11:10 AM
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I've been using film since before most of you were born my first camera was a Kodak Brownie using 127 b&w roll film.
Forty years later I got a very early .8mp DC, print quality was not acceptable but could see potential for low res images for emailing etc.
After another few years gap I took the next step and bought an OlympusZ5050 got confidence in the quality possible for terrestrial shots and never looked back.

After seeing some amazing images on IIS and elsewhere I realized that digital was the future for home astro-imaging and recently got the bug,
just need some (a lot) of practice and try to understand what all that technobabble means.
Looking forward to listening to the experts at Lostock.

You gotta love being able to take a heap of pictures and review immediately and dump the rubbish at no additional cost.

Film 1827 - 2005 R.I.P.

Chris
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Old 11-11-2005, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cventer


What are the cons:
Start up costs from scratch if you want to enter at the higher mid-range level.
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Old 11-11-2005, 11:49 AM
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Regarding David malin film images. remember he was is also using Siding Springs Observatory Telescope (ie big sucker and hardly amateur equipment) and was a master in the dark room. He spent many more hours in the darkroom dodging and burning negatives and digitally subtracting blurred negatives from originals to create unsharp mask affects etc.... Essentially he did what we do today on a PC in the darkroom.

Just imagine what he would have done with a 20Da ? In fact I have seen more than a few digital astro images with amateur equipment rival or better some of his images.

Regards
Chris
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Old 11-11-2005, 12:20 PM
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Most of us know about the obvious advantages of digital: the convenience, the instant review, the endless roll of virtual film etc. But what I would really like to know is how quality compares between digital and film in the hands of a professional.

I read somewhere that a slow film in a 35mm camera can record the equivalent of 20+ megapixels of information, but I have no idea if this is correct. Looking at enlargements produced from ISO 100 shots, I'd say you have at least 10 Mpixels worth in a decent shot. I recently met a professional photographer (took him observing and he loved it btw) and he swears by his medium format film camera, and claims that it's miles ahead of digital cameras costing a lot more.

Having had a quick froogle for "medium format digital camera" I see that most new ones now accept both film and CCDs or "digital backs". Now, wouldn't that be a fun toy! Only about $US22,000 for a medium format with a 22 Mpixel digital back with 16-bits per colour. Maybe I could talk them down to $20,000.
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Old 11-11-2005, 01:15 PM
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The devil is in the detail hey Chris!

You are absolutely correct re Malin - I suppose then it boils down to equipment / experience, etc...

I guess if we both had the same optical equipment and hooked up a digital v's film camera what would the end result be, given ceteris paribus? (this could be a good experiment!)...

Same object / field of view / exposure times etc which one would produce the better image? I suppose that there would be less processing work done on the film image, as opposed to the digital image - but then again, you can always tweak the digital image. Naturally, once you have the print you are stuck with it!

Again, ceteris paribus with equipment and no tweaking (processing), the film image would look much better than a noisy unprocessed digital image.

I am not at all bagging digital, definitely the future!
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Old 11-11-2005, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdb
Oh, and just to add some fuel to the debate - I think film is harder to master than digital...! (haha - that oughta get em going!)
Oh no, film was easy - I just took it Rabbit then went to pick up the piccies a few days later.
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Old 11-11-2005, 01:24 PM
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...to 'Master' 33S!

Processing for sure is easier when you get the 'wed wabbit' to do it!

Last edited by jdb; 11-11-2005 at 01:26 PM. Reason: forgot to poke my tongue out!
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Old 11-11-2005, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stellabuster
I would like to start a debate re Film vs Digital.
Are you mad? hehe this debate was over a while ago now?
you can pin the exact day down to SLR/35mm films death - particularly wide field piggy back stuff (you could hear the audible last breath) it was the day the Canon EOS 300D was released. Before that dedicated astro CCD's had long ago killed prime focus 35mm film stuff imo.
Having said that - I still like the colours of stars and differentation in apparent size on film much better - even if they are bloated! at least they are usually round I mean I notice S&T still use Akira Fuji's medium format wide field masterpieces when they want to show an area of sky that resembles more closely what we mere mortals see with the eye - (remember when we used to use those things in our heads?) btw Akira has always been myself and some friends #1 hero and inspiration from day one to get into widefield stuff.
It is very impressive that they go down to 100 magnitude - but at what cost? - till there is just a mass of similarly sized square white stars all joined up? hehe I am playing devils advocate of course
And Slice has a good point - some newbies might have available their parents or older relatives old slr 35mm cameras handy - therby reducing start up costs straight away.
What about the learning curve re processing DSLR stuff? thats expensive and huge - years of work - I saw some new to imaging people saying just recently on this forum that they werent getting good results with stacking?
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Old 11-11-2005, 02:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cventer
Regarding David malin film images. ......He spent many more hours in the darkroom dodging and burning negatives and digitally subtracting blurred negatives from originals to create unsharp mask affects etc....


Regards
Chris

David attended the Newcastle Astronomical Society a few years ago when he "retired" to start his new direction in life. the talk he gave was about the development of film and on how he did the pictures we admre so much. Yes indeed there was a lot of wizardry and wonder to behold and he has kept most of those secrets to himself, but only letting a few out to tempt you into wanting more.

yes the society bought his 100 dolar book

the best bit was the fact I got the whole lot on video
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Old 11-11-2005, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdb
Great topic!

I will act as defence lawyer for film...

One major advantage that film has is price. You don't need a PC, uber GPU etc...
Aren't PC's like TV? every home has one

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdb
and a background in image processing (therefore expensive image processing software - barring freeware) to get a good image.
You can get all you need for $2.00 per CD in Singapore and the internet will give you all the processing tips you want

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdb
Also, most images these day are many many images stacked and processed / darkframes subtracted / noise reduction...blah blah, whereas film is mostly just one image acquired with skill / luck / good equipment (conceded - this also applies to digital imaging)...
Yeah! that true, but you have a delete button with digital, no one gets to
see you unskilled attempts.

regards,CS
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Old 11-11-2005, 02:39 PM
jdb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xrekcor
Aren't PC's like TV? every home has one



You can get all you need for $2.00 per CD in Singapore and the internet will give you all the processing tips you want



Yeah! that true, but you have a delete button with digital, no one gets to
see you unskilled attempts.

regards,CS
you still don't need a pc or tv (as you put it) for film (as per my original post)...

you don't need to break the law, have an internet connection or go to Singapore...just go to almost any shop and buy a roll of film - simple, legal and no wasted bandwidth...

and, you don't need to show anyone your 'not so good' prints...
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Old 11-11-2005, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdb
you still don't need a pc or tv (as you put it) for film (as per my original post)...
You get to process your own image to the best out come. You are in control
unless you have your own darkroom.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdb
just go to almost any shop and buy a roll of film - simple, legal and no wasted bandwidth...

and, you don't need to show anyone your 'not so good' prints...
You dont unnecessarily waste money on expensive processing on images
that are not up to scratch, no waste products being pushed into the
enviroment either

regards,CS
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