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35mm Film vs DSLR

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#1 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 19 June 2005 - 07:53 PM

OK, as a newbie to DSLRs (having shot film for >25 years, mainly terestrial, but some astro), I just have to ask...

Why shoot 35mm film for astro? Sure film like hypered tech pan gives some amazing contrast, and 35mm grain can still beat digital, but:
-atmosphere, optics, and tracking errors limit detail, so no resolution advantage
-stacking photos and post processing is so much easier
-it seems soo much easier to get great results.

So, am I missing something? Should I keep my film cameras?

Thanks,
Mark
 

#2 Allaboutastro

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Posted 19 June 2005 - 08:16 PM

I still think film yields better results if you have the skies and equipment to shoot it. DSLRs are great for all the reasons you mentioned, but I've yet to see a DSLR image that is better than the best film images.

Thus, I think it depends on what your requirements are. If you do live in "urban" areas, you don't have much choice.
 

#3 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 19 June 2005 - 10:38 PM

Thanks Jay.

Yes, unfortunately, despite a love of the mountains and the rural life, I have been stuck in San Jose for the past ~17 years. I had given up on astrophotography until I saw what some people were doing with DSLRs and even cheap CCDs.

I went back and pulled my astro photo album from when I lived near truly dark skies. So few good shots, so much work (hypered and developed my own film back then). But you are right - there is still something magical about looking through a lupe at a good slide on a light table.

Mark
 

#4 Rushwind

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 08:23 PM

It never stays this way, but my reason for starting out as a film astrophotographer is simple:

- Pentax K-1000: $75
- any digital astrocamera: $lots more

Even a DSI is 300 bucks.

If you already know you love the game, and you've got $$ to burn, it's probably easier in the long run to get good results with a CCD. But for shoestring budgets and "using stuff I have around the house", film's still a pretty nice option.

...and there are a *lot* of film accessories out there.

Jimbo
 

#5 jgraham

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 07:47 AM

I do a lot of CCD work with my telescope and some wide field work with my DSI fitted with an SLR lens, but for wide field photography I still enjoy film. It's soooo simple (just a battery operated tracker and my camera, no computer and everything else you have to grad along with it) and inexpensive. Digital image processing has done almost as much for film as it's done for DSLRs; once the image is taken the processing is essentially the same. For me, the price of DSLRs still has a way to go before I'd condsider replacing my SLR with digital.

-John
 

#6 Blueshark928

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 10:16 AM

You know, i have yet to see a well done film based widefield constellation shot bested by a DSLR shot of the same. Thats why i still keep my OM's, even though im now a committed digital guy.

For prime focus AP, the convience of digital is worth the price of admission.
 

#7 denise41

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 11:29 AM

Dear Mark;
I believe that everyone is missing the most important difference, namely the product, that is, the negative or slide itself. I was under the mistaken impression that digital images burnt to a CD were archival. They are not! The matrix of the CD or DVD is dye based and the burn only penetrates this layer. Current advanced aging tests being performed by Willhelm on the digital medium is producing alarming data regarding the archivability of these media. While this may be of little importance to many, it is of great importance to me and others who would like our images to survive us. I have just finished printing some color negatives and slides that are over 60 years old and while some of the colors have faded or changed the image is still recoverable and correctable. This may not be the case with the digital image burnt to the current available digital recording media. As for black and white film, a properly processed silver based negative is essentially permanent. I have printed glass negatives that are over 120 years old and the results were as good as the day they were shot. Many of the glass plates shot by the geat astronomers of the last part of the 19 century are still in pristine condition and the images are stunningly beautiful. Can the same be said of the digital image in the future? Only time will tell but I for one, will stake my efforts on the technology that has been proven over nearly 200 years. I also shoot digital images and enjoy the instant gratification and the linear response to light of the ccd however if your images are important to you, record your digital file to film and store it properly. This apologia on film is meant merely to stimulate thinking about these important considerations.
Denise Libby
 

#8 AuroraSeeker

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 02:04 PM

I have to COMPLETELY disagree with Denise on this one.

But firstly, I'll agree with Denise on the fact that, yes, that CDs and DVDs do have finite lifetimes, and a digital image on a single CD will likely not last as long as photographic plates.

Now your argument is valid regarding the integrity of CDs and DVDs for archival, except that you are forgetting one thing. Who in their right mind would put all their eggs in one basket and archive their best image on a single CD or DVD?? No one.

Most intelligent people that back their "best" images do so on multiple CDs or DVDs as well as keep a running copy of the FINAL "best" image on their hard drive. Periodic back-ups on the main drive (where your "best" images typically will be, will always be captured again and again. So you may have the "best" image reproduce on a new CD every week,month, or so.

Also, EXACT replicas of your image can be reproduced, again EXACTLY bit for bit, on several pieces of media. For example, I keep complete back-ups on a monthly basis at my home, my parents home, and at work. So in the case of a fire or other disaster, if I lose one set of back-ups, i always have another somewhere else. Not the case with an image that is captured on a single piece of film or glass.
 

#9 ClownFish

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 02:04 PM

It took me a while to figure out what "Opologia" was :)
I just found it, under "Apologia". Nice word. I like it!

The one advatage of the digital media is duplication without degridation. I can send a millon copies of digital data and all copies are indistiguishable from the original. Film can't touch that. Now then, as far as shelf life, film beats it hands down, as would any analog system. Cut a negative, and it's easy to fix. Cut a CD and it's destroyed.
CF
 

#10 Allaboutastro

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 03:38 PM

It's hard to scratch a digital file! Sorry, but I never could handle a film negative for any appreciable amount of time without screwing it up, somehow.
 

#11 ClownFish

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 04:02 PM

I didn't say scratch... I said CUT.
As long s you keep several copies of your digital media, then I would say you're safe. In any case, I have no intention of keping my images longer than I am able to see and comprehend them. If it lasts 40 years, I'm happy.
If my children want to see M13, they can get off their lazy bums and shoot it themselves.
 

#12 AuroraSeeker

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 05:45 PM

If my children want to see M13, they can get off their lazy bums and shoot it themselves.


Exactly.

Many of the glass plates shot by the geat astronomers of the last part of the 19 century are still in pristine condition and the images are stunnungly beautiful.


I'm certaintly no great astronomer. No reason i need my stuff to last for hundreds of years. Plus, if i lose an image or two. Big deal. I'll just go out and re-shoot it. Its not like i'm shooting any ground breaking stuff. I shoot basically the same old stuff people have been shooting for years.
 

#13 denise41

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 05:58 PM

Dear Peter;
I Thank you for catching my mistype of the word apologia as I'm sure you'll appreciate my catching your mistype of the word degradation. I would also like to thank all of you who share my concern for the impermanence of the digital media and the many ways to try to stave off the inevitable. There is one consideration that has not been addressed in the defense of digital reproduction and archiving and that is the march of progress which makes all things electronic soon obsolete. Remember the floppy and zip drive? Try to access the information on a floppy disk with a new computer and you will understand my point. It was not my intent to offer an either or comparison but to simply state the obvious need to save important digital files to a more permanent media. The image is the end product of the most important aspect of any photographic endeavor and that is the time taken from ones life to produce the end product. Put more simply, it is the record of the journey, not just the destination, that is of the greatest value and worth passing forward to future generations.
Denise Libby
 

#14 AuroraSeeker

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 08:55 PM

Remember the floppy and zip drive? Try to access the information on a floppy disk with a new computer and you will understand my point.


Thats a very poor comparison. Again you make the assumption that someone would actually maintain his/her best data (images) on a single floppy or zip drive. The fact is, someone that carefully archives their data will always update data previously saved on "outdated" media to new media. Or in the professional case, important data is always kept on a local (or server based) hard drive and periodically updated to new media.

It was not my intent to offer an either or comparison but to simply state the obvious need to save important digital files to a more permanent media.


Yes it was. And again, there is no reason to save important digital files to a bulky, lossy medium (again the digital to analog conversion which is lossy) if a proper data archiving process is followed.

Dan
 

#15 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 09:33 PM


Thats a very poor comparison. Again you make the assumption that someone would actually maintain his/her best data (images) on a single floppy or zip drive. The fact is, someone that carefully archives their data will always update data previously saved on "outdated" media to new media. Or in the professional case, important data is always kept on a local (or server based) hard drive and periodically updated to new media.




This is exactly what I do, and I keep many copies of my data in multiple places (home, work).

Once the consumer market for film collapses I doubt companies will continue to sell photographic paper or darkroom supplies for ever. It used to be people were keeping their film cameras because they didn't have a computer. Now anyone can walk into Walmart and stick their memory stick into a machine that makes prints on the spot.

I'll bet computers outlast darkroom equipment and developing chemicals.
 

#16 ClownFish

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 09:49 PM

Unless you live in Botswana or Katmandu or the many other places where people can't get decent computers, or afford to pay for them. I think film will be on this planet for a very long time.
 

#17 wilash

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 10:41 PM

The reports of my death have been greatly overexaggerated.


Well, film is not just sold to consumers, it is also sold to photographers. And there are a lot more formats than 35mm. The sale of large-format cameras is going up, especially over 4x5. Professional photographers are still shooting film. Movies are still on film. There is a significant interest in film photography in larger formats in the amateur community.

The market forces are changing. Since the photographic market was stagnant before digital, I don't think you can expect the traditional segment to grow after digital.

Which is better? That depends on the person. The film/digital agruments are pointless - it usually ends up being a "mine-is-better-than-yours" argument. If the system gives the result you want, great. If not, get a different system. If someone claims superiority of one over the other, they simply don't understand photography or photographic technology.
 

#18 AuroraSeeker

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 06:46 AM

Well, film is not just sold to consumers, it is also sold to photographers. And there are a lot more formats than 35mm. The sale of large-format cameras is going up, especially over 4x5. Professional photographers are still shooting film.


Although some professionals are still shooting film, for the most part, they are moving to digital. I belong to several professional photographic organizations, and i'm seeing even the most die hard old-timer professionals, that swore on their life they'd never switch to digital, finally going that route. Its just a fact of business - clients don't want to wait to see prints anymore. All my friends who are professional portrait photographers shoot digital as well, not to mention my friends who are professional sports photographers.

Again, i'm not arguing whether film is better than digital or vice versa. But in your statement, you make it sound like only amateurs are going digital, when that is not true. Professionals and amateurs alike are going digital.

And yes, i agree. The film/digital arguments *are* pointless. Whatever works for one person is what is best. But we can't sit here and deny the fact that digital is overtaking the photographic world.
 

#19 Allaboutastro

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 06:45 PM

Are we talking about imaging storage, or imaging itself? If the latter, how did the conversation migrate there?

I'd agree that there are still uses for film in everyday photography, but there is no question that CCDs yield better results for astroimaging. Increased sensitivity, much wider spectral range, better resolutions, linear response, and now, larger chip sizes...all reasons that CCDs rule.

The only reason that DSLRs still can't yield the quality of good film astrophotos (from dark sites) is because DSLRs still lack the ability to go deep, due to cooling inefficiencies and the lack of sensitivity and resolution due to the color filter array...not to mention the poor h-alpha response. However, a little modification of a DSLR will really start to overcome film...plus, they can be used in moderately light polluted environments.

But the CCD technology itself, when used within a package designed for astroimaging, yields far superior results. I'm not sure that can be questioned anymore. Film still has it's uses for widefield, piggyback imaging in dark skies, but otherwise, there's no way it's the superior technology.

As for the ability to store data, give me digital anytime. Overtime, you will lose archived film data (no matter what you do). Not so with digital, as long as you do what any reasonable person does, and that's to make multiple copies of the data and to restore it periodically.
 

#20 AuroraSeeker

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 07:33 PM

The discussion is basically regaring digital archival vs. film archival, not the actual imaging.

Dan
 

#21 Allaboutastro

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 08:52 PM

The discussion is basically regaring digital archival vs. film archival, not the actual imaging.

Dan


That's what I thought. :)
 

#22 Nodda Duma

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 12:00 PM

While perhaps 35mm format will be overtaken by digital, it's the wider formats that digital imaging won't be able to touch. The cost and acceptance rate for Focal Plane Arrays at larger formats are just too prohibitive to justify their development for the consumer market anytime soon. Even a 35mm format CCD camera costs thousands and thousands of dollars (vs. $10 for a disposable camera).

What you will see instead is higher resolution at smaller-than-35mm formats. That is, it's easier to put more and more pixels into a smaller image area than it is to make a larger FPA. In addition, camera lenses are easier to design for a smaller format than for a larger format. Like a lot easier. So instead of 6.3 MP in a 20 x 15 mm area (or whatever the number is at the moment...I don't want to look it up and you probably know what I'm getting at anyways <g>), you'll see a trend towards something like 10 MP or 20 MP in that same 20 x 15 area.

Cheers,
Jason
 

#23 denise41

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 02:56 PM

Dear Jay and Dan;
It may be of some interest to you and others to note that during the last five years at least, the Vatican, the Biblioteca Nacional de Espana at Madrid, the Biblioteque le France in Paris, the Louvre, the Kennedy Presidential Library, the Library of Congress and too many others to mention, have been saving their collections to digital archiving formats for access to researchers and the public however in the last year, due to concerns regarding the permanence of the digitally stored data, the above mentioned institutions have implemented a program of digital to silver film based transfer for the permanent archiving these irreplaceable collections of some of the most important images, documents, etc known to mankind. But what do they know? They are only professional archivists with unlimited resources and they choose as their ultimate archive medium, film! Lossy, bulky and antiquated silver based film, you know Jay, the stuff you assert just fades away. I believe these professional archivists should come to this forum where they may be enlightened to the error of their ways and learn proper digital archiving methods from our own resident experts.
Denise Libby
 

#24 ClownFish

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 04:23 PM

Wow... some people ae getting a bit emotional here!
Come on folks, let's not let this get personal.
 

#25 Allaboutastro

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 05:18 PM

Dear Jay and Dan;
It may be of some interest to you and others to note that during the last five years at least, the Vatican, the Biblioteca Nacional de Espana at Madrid, the Biblioteque le France in Paris, the Louvre, the Kennedy Presidential Library, the Library of Congress and too many others to mention, have been saving their collections to digital archiving formats for access to researchers and the public however in the last year, due to concerns regarding the permanence of the digitally stored data, the above mentioned institutions have implemented a program of digital to silver film based transfer for the permanent archiving these irreplaceable collections of some of the most important images, documents, etc known to mankind. But what do they know? They are only professional archivists with unlimited resources and they choose as their ultimate archive medium, film! Lossy, bulky and antiquated silver based film, you know Jay, the stuff you assert just fades away. I believe these professional archivists should come to this forum where they may be enlightened to the error of their ways and learn proper digital archiving methods from our own resident experts.
Denise Libby


Denise:

I don't disagree entirely. But I think you are neglecting one point. I'm not the Library of Congress who will lock such things up for 80 years for the sake of prosperity. I will likely need to use this data, at which point the oil from my fingers, the dust from the air, the scratches from a scanner, and other forms of general chaos will damage this data. ONE tiny scratch and information is lost.

Most of us are quite pragmatic. If it's not convenient for us, we won't use it. With proper precautions, digital is the way to go. Honestly, I think the institutions who are "concerned" about their archives are knee-jerking at this point. They are willing to go through the tremendous effort and cost of making one archival copy on a medium that can be destroyed in a fire. On the other hand, If I lose a CD-ROM because my dog needs a treat, then it's no big deal! I've got three others that I can go with at anytime, two of which are kept away from home. It cost me less than $1 for the CD-ROMs to put them on and they were burnt to disk while I slept.

Likewise, I think it's quite shortsighted for anybody to think that there will NOT be new digital (or otherwise) technology within the next day to 80 years that solves all of these issues.

Therefore, I'm more interested in what others like me do with their data. And until a easier, cheaper, or better method comes along, I feel quite safe with digital archival storage.
 


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