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HOW MUCH LONGER FOR FILM?

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#1 D13x3

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 01:42 PM

After decades of visual scope use, I am just now planning to get into doing a lot of film astrophotography.

I already have the film equipment... an old but beautiful SLR and all the necessary attachments to couple it to my scopes. Consequently, I don't want to invest more $$ in acquiring digital imaging equipment.

I've been reading on this and other forums that the technology and practice of the film photography industry, as a whole, is facing impending doom.

I am wondering if my participation in it, and enjoyment of it, will be short-lived.

Am I "a day late and a dollar short?" Can the experts on this forum give me some idea of how soon will my equipment become as useless as eight track cassettes?

Thanks and regards,

Sam in Austin

#2 ClownFish

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 02:03 PM

While the film industry is being hurt by Digital, there will be a need for film for decades to come. High resolution digital cameras cost upwards of $1000. A great 35mm film camera (OM-1) costs $70 on eBay.

The vast majority of this world can not afford digital cameras.
Take a trip to Botswana or Central Anatolia and see how many people can afford a digital camera and the computer necessary to really use it.
But they ALL use film cameras. Film is everywhere.

In order for digital cameras to completely wipe out film:

1. They need to have as high a resolution as film, with interchangable lenses (DSLR).
2. They need to cost (camera and computer) under $300. Not likely in the next decade or two.
3. They need to be widely available. Most 3rd world countries can not afford the huge duties on importing this digital stuff.

Until then, I think film will be here a very long time.

Frankly, I think at the pace we are using up resources on this planet, neither film or digital will be widely available to the general public in 100 years. The cost to produce the materials and the cost of fuel to ship it around the world will make this a dream of the past. Not that YOU will be affected to much, but your grandkids will.

Anyway.. I use film not only because of the cost.. but also the quality of the images. Yes it takes more exposure time, but I love to be out under the stars anyways! And from what I have been seeing, people are taking multiple exposures to reduce noise so a short 30 second exposure becomes 20 minutes or more of work. This means guiding isn't so critical but what's guiding? It's not like siting at a scope for 20 - 30 minutes is hard labor!

Unless "working" for a photo is not up your alley. I won't get into the argument about manual guiding vs auto guiders.. people know my views on this!

In the example below , the LEFT photo is from a talented digital astrophotographer using conventional astro equipment. His work is exceptional, and he uses a nice digital setup. This exposure was 35 x 5 minutes for a total amount of work of 160 minutes. Plus the flats, dark frames, and a lot of computer enhancement. A great job.

The photo on the RIGHT is mine, with film. 30 minutes using very modest commercial equipment. Unprocessed in any way. Shoot and print.

Now I know that some objects are better suited for digital, so I am not trying to say one medium is better than another. But this does show that both can accomplish the same thing, and the amount of work when all added up is not much different between the two mediums. Time, on the other hand is... I have to wait to develop my slides, where as a digital photographer and shoot and then go inside and start to play. I also have to wait to use up 36 exposures! If I had my own darkroom, than this would be less of a point, as I could cut the negative and develop right away.

JMHO

Clownfish

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#3 Thierry

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 03:29 PM

hey, ClownFish, u're making me a film-fan !

i planned to buy a Canon EOS350D, but due to its cost, i had to wait (just bought my LXD75 !) and i'm starting to play with my old Minolta... and finally, i believe prefer to stay outdoor than (again and again) near my keyboard LOL
in a few days (Aug. 11-12-13), in France, are organized the "nights of stars". As a local association member, i'll be outdoor for 2 nights, and hope to learn many things about astro... and astrophotography : my equipment is quite ready (only missing the flexible launcher) and hope the sky will be clear for my first shoot ;)
to go back the subject : i don't think i'll buy a digital camera in the next years ! maybe another film camera on eBay LOL

#4 D13x3

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 05:37 PM

Thank you, Clownfish, for a great response and detailed description of the situation.

Your photo examples are excellent -- and, for my tastes -- I like your film shot better than the digital. Based on your assessment (and since I am almost 70 years old) I will never have to worry about constraints on film usage applied by the attack of digital!

I'm happy and relieved...

One more question: I believe that Provia is a slide film. I really want to have prints. Would you mind recommending a good color print film that is easily available; and, that I could use for both planetary and faint fuzzy images?

Many thanks, and regards...

Sam in Austin

#5 John Jarosz

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 06:58 PM

Peter:
That is a great side by side comparison. Thanks for posting that.

john

#6 wilash

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 07:56 PM

Film will remain as long as there is a demand for it. That is really the whole story. But it is not going to go away anytime soon.

#7 LLEEGE

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 09:31 PM

Clown, I have to disagree with that. How many astrophotographers live in third world contries?
How many "civilized" people already own computers?
How many "filmers" develope their own film?
How much does that scanner cost?
160 min vs 30 min? How is that fair?
How bout 30 vs 30?
I live where KODAK is king. Will film be around for a while? Yes. Will it be king? It has already been dethroned.
With that said, the film die hards need to be commended!
Film requires much more care and precission to achieve the results you get. The average photo mount would never stand up to a 30-60 min exposure. Guided or not.
That level of skill is HUGE.
Blah blah blah. Keep up the good work.

#8 wilash

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 09:49 PM

How much does that scanner cost?


What is a scanner?? I have a darkroom though.

LLEEGE, you don't happen to work for Big Yellow, do you? Oddly enough I graduated from RIT back in the 80s - small world (or small WWW). Still have fond memories of Ra-cha-cha.

#9 LLEEGE

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 09:58 PM

Hey Wilash, no I don't work for KODAK. My father and father in law did. They got out when the gittin was good. I know a lot of ex- dakers. Believe it or not, UofR is the largest employer in ra cha cha.
A scanner? How does that film get posted on the web?
Hey, do they have a Nick Tahoes in Japan? I bet you could make a ton on cheese plates with eveything!
I went to RIT as well, and garbage plates ruled!

#10 wilash

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 10:06 PM

Hey Wilash, no I don't work for KODAK. My father and father in law did. They got out when the gittin was good. I know a lot of ex- dakers. Believe it or not, UofR is the largest employer in ra cha cha.
A scanner? How does that film get posted on the web?
Hey, do they have a Nick Tahoes in Japan? I bet you could make a ton on cheese plates with eveything!
I went to RIT as well, and garbage plates ruled!


Garbage plates! I have not heard the the name of that "delicacy" in a looonnnnggg time. Nick Tahoes is baned around the world. The Rochester store is still open because the police are too scared to go in. At least that was my impression in the 80s - at least in the wee hours of the morning. (I don't know why they want to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Nicks has a lot more oil and the wildlife is far more resilient. :lol:)

#11 ClownFish

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 10:46 PM

I wasn't trying to say film ASTROPHOGRAPHY will NOT be overcome by digital.
I was making a point that FILM will not go away for a long time.
There will be film around for the vast majority of the world who have no intention of shooting astro images. It will not go away soon.

A scanner cost about $75.

And it's not a question of who is king or not.
The question was "how soon will my equipment become as useless as eight track cassettes".

For that question, I have no doubt film be be around for many more years.
And when the time comes that film is too hard to get, then he can always go digital. The point is, there is no reason to toss good film equipment TODAY, it works well, and doesn't require you to re-mortgage your home.

Pete

PS: You're right 160min vs 30 is not fair. I didn't have a 30min digital SLR shot of M101 with an 8" newt. But a price by price comparison should also go with it. And to say the average photo mount can't do a 30-60 min exposure is just nonsense. Average scopes these days are far better than the ones used in the 70's and 80's and back then they only used film. I shoot with a stock Meade LXD75 mount. I have not even tweaked the gears like many on here do. Sure it takes skill, but this is a hobby and an art to many people - so this should not be a problem. Skill is learned.

And it's not a question of being a "die-hard". I use what is available now, and what is affordable for my meager budget. When digital drops in price I will probably move over. But I am using a camera from 1980 and it works great, so I will continue to shoot with as long as it's practical.

#12 ClownFish

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 11:06 PM

Here's a more accurate example.
30 min on a digital SLR vs 30 minutes on Kodak E200.

Again, I am NOT saying film is better than digital. I am simply saying they both work well, and that film is not going away anytime soon. If you already own film stuff use it! If you want to switch over, switch. If you're just starting out, look at your budget and then decide. They both work. Clear skies to you all!

CF

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#13 Thierry

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 03:04 AM

great explanations more, ClownFish !
u're right on this comparison, not classification ;)
may i add some more things / questions :

- your last example shows a great difference on colors... the real one may not be so variable ! color sensibility of digitals is not (yet) really known, i'm afraid... and film response is not linear as well (Provia 400F and Elite 200 are known in astrophotography for their response to red, no ?)

- there must be a great lost, publishing low-res pics on forums (but low-res, or limited size, is necessary for hosts !), and a real comparison may use hi-res pics...

- digital is limited by its number of pixels, now commonly around 3000x2000 for decent astro use (however it can be emphatised by numerical treatment on multiple exposures...)
compared, what is the common scan result for a 35mm slide ?

- such digital definition is around 1000 euros as u need a case and objectives for common use : Canon EOS350D, for example, is around 700 euros case only, or 1000 with 2 objectives and a battery grip... if u own an old film camera, u don't need more than a T ring !

thanks for your contributions, guys :)

#14 JamesBaud

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 04:47 AM

Err, meade DSI Pro is 510x492 pixels. Pixel count isnt everything.

I know its irrational, but the idea of paying 5 bucks a roll irks me, even though it'd take hundreds of rolls to cost as much as a DSLR! That, and the lack of instant feedback. But clownfish alone proves film is still VERY viable for astrophotography :) Your photos are amazing!

#15 Thierry

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 07:27 AM

hi James !
i'm a newbe (only 6 monthes, without photo yet :( ), so excuse me, but do u have any example from a DSI Pro to compare ?

#16 Thierry

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 07:33 AM

... and as far as i know, Canon Digital Rebel is a factory-transformed EOS300D, without red filter near the captor... more than 6 Mpixels !

#17 ClownFish

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 08:46 AM

I'm not sure about the pixel (grain) size for slide film, but another consideration is actual picture field of view.
35mm film covers a huge amount of space. When I scan my images I do so at 2400 dpi, but then reduce them to 300 DPI. Here is an example of a 300dpi image - uncut, unedited, raw slide. This shows how wide the field of view is with film using a 812mm F/L scope. Something I'll miss when moving over to digital.

http://www.sweetwate...ginal300dpi.jpg

-caution: 1.44 meg size

#18 Dean

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 09:29 AM

I'm not sure about the pixel (grain) size for slide film, but another consideration is actual picture field of view.
35mm film covers a huge amount of space. When I scan my images I do so at 2400 dpi, but then reduce them to 300 DPI. Here is an example of a 300dpi image - uncut, unedited, raw slide. This shows how wide the field of view is with film using a 812mm F/L scope. Something I'll miss when moving over to digital.

http://www.sweetwate...ginal300dpi.jpg

-caution: 1.44 meg size


I think some CCDs are pretty close if not there already. For example this is a full frame from my ST10 with a 4" at 820mm. The chip size of the ST10 is about 15x10mm, so it has about 1/4 the area of a 35mm frame. Some newer CCDs such as the ST1100 have the same coverage as a 35mm frame - for example this is M33 taken with a 16" with a FL of 3414mm - the image has been reduced about 2.5 times its original size. But then that CCD costs about $8k.

#19 ClownFish

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 09:51 AM

That's a nice shot Dean. Lot's of H-a there!

But I think your camera goes for about $3,500 used? I'm just trying to show that Sam need not throw away his good film equipment just yet; that there is still a use for for film. Does he need to toss his film equipment in the trash and start buying digital from scratch, or will he be able to use film for astrophotography.

I'm sure if Sam has the extra cash lying around he wouldn't be having this discussion. Having a dedicated CCD camera for astrophotography is a dream for most folks.

8K!!!!! Do you have any idea how much film that will pay for? I will be dead before I finish it all :) Not to mention I'd have to refinance my home!

CF

#20 Thierry

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 09:55 AM

i don't know what's ST10, ST1100 neither...
a 1.44meg size pic, 300 dpi, reduced from a 2400 dpi : that's a 92meg size original scan, and not yet original slide :p
this result is reachable at low cost (:smirk: after efforts, patience, clear nights, etc)...
but i can't buy a $8K CCD :(

#21 D13x3

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 10:30 AM

Clownfish,

I hate to bother you again, but my last question seems to have gotten covered and lost due to all the responses.

You seem to be partial to, and use only, slide film for your excellent shots. However, I would like to use print film. Also, I will have no choice but to depend on "drugstore" processing.

Can you recommend for me, some color print films that are easy to find, and can be successfully processed by the teenager at the neighborhood Walgreen's?

I would really appreciate it.

Again, many thanks,

Sam in Austin

(P.S... And, you're right... I don't have the $$ to invest in digital!)

#22 Nodda Duma

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 11:00 AM

Grain size for Kodak Technical Pan Film (which you can still find if you know how to look) is less than 5 um (I think it's something crazy like 1 or 2 um diameter). Films like E200 and Provia 400F are around 10-15 um grain size.

However, the comparison with pixel size is not a direct relationship, as grain sizes vary and the placement is random. The conversion is probably best practically made by determining what resolution scanner is needed to get above the Nyquist sampling frequency.

Whatever the calculations are, in practice for astrophotography slide film 3600 ppi seems to be sufficient. Below this, you will either get aliasing (scanner pixel size comparable to grain size, really brings out the grain), or you don't record all of the information. For Technical Pan Film, it's more like 4800 ppi. Of course, the higher the scanner resolution, the better off your picture will be for post-processing. More information allows you more options in processing.

Similar to digital imaging, file size is solely a function of scanner resolution when scanning film. Scanning a 35mm frame using a 16-bit 2400 ppi scanner and saving as a lossless file type will give you a file size of 15.4MB.

16-bit 4800 ppi scanner will give a file size of 61.7 MB. Someone correct these if I calculated wrong [(24mm/25.4) * (36mm/25.4) * 4800 * 4800 * 16/8]

Cheers,
Jason

#23 LLEEGE

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 11:05 AM


If you're just starting out, look at your budget and then decide. They both work. Clear skies to you all!

CF


Clown, I wasn't trying to belittle film. I was under the impression that film astro was more difficult than digital due to the exposure requirements.
Plus ,I think in the long run, the costs will balance out.
A used 300D can be had for under $400 on ebay.
Lets say you spend $4 on a roll of film and $6 for processing. 40 rolls, and your even.
I'm just guessing on the film costs, but I bet I'm low on the figures.

#24 Dean

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 11:09 AM

That's a nice shot Dean. Lot's of H-a there!

But I think your camera goes for about $3,500 used? I'm just trying to show that Sam need not throw away his good film equipment just yet; that there is still a use for for film. Does he need to toss his film equipment in the trash and start buying digital from scratch, or will he be able to use film for astrophotography.

I'm sure if Sam has the extra cash lying around he wouldn't be having this discussion. Having a dedicated CCD camera for astrophotography is a dream for most folks.

8K!!!!! Do you have any idea how much film that will pay for? I will be dead before I finish it all :) Not to mention I'd have to refinance my home!

CF


Thanks.

A used ST10 runs about $5k. I think that's about the cheapest you can go and get something in a CCD (other than a DSLR) that is in the same ballpark as 35mm as far as resolution & image size. You can get some nice CCD cameras for as little as $500, but they are usually in the 500-700 pixels square range.

I agree with you've said about film - it's not going to go away for a very long time.

#25 ClownFish

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 11:13 AM

Sounds good to me! All I know is it's pretty fine, a lot higher resolution than seeing and equipment will usualy allow! Tech Pan (B&W) is the best for high res work and Ha nebulae, but it is no longer being produced. You can find it though, while supplies last.

As far as other films, check out: http://www.astropix....ROP/I04/I04.HTM

or

http://www.covington...stro/films.html

Or

http://www.astroshow...trotip/film.htm

Peter


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