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35mm astrophotography still viable?

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#1 Moonbiter

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 03:06 PM

In the new digital world, is the old 35mm film camera still viable? I tried my wifes cheap fuji HS30exr and it really didn't do well. I have an old Canon A1 with a zoom, 28 and 50mm lenses. If film is still viable is this camera up to the task of taking decent photos?

#2 bobzeq25

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 03:45 PM

Sure, it's usable.  But you'd need a lot more of everything than you would with digital.  Imaging time, processing skill, on and on.

 

Film astrophotography is still a viable activity.  Just don't expect the kind of results people get from digital.  Two different things.


Edited by bobzeq25, 01 June 2020 - 03:47 PM.

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#3 Moonbiter

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 05:40 PM

Pretty much have to develope your own film now or can send somewherw to get done. I haven't touched a 35mm in decades.

#4 jstrandberg

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 07:37 PM

I miss 35mm astrophotography. There is no romance or wonder in the digital age.


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#5 bobzeq25

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 11:51 PM

I miss 35mm astrophotography. There is no romance or wonder in the digital age.

I don't know about that.  I find it romantic, and I have a sense of wonder that I can see the Horsehead from my light polluted backyard.  Something I would have had no chance of (even in dark skies with a telescope I can afford/carry) without digital imaging.

 

Horsehead HaRGB V19.jpg


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#6 BigBanger

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Posted 14 June 2020 - 06:09 AM

Why even bother?

 

You can get a used, non-cooled entry level camera for well under $200-300. You'd quickly break even because you'd not have to spend money buying and developing film.

 

You'd also develop your imaging and developing skills WAY faster. Imagine seeing immediate result rather than having to wait days for your developed film to come back.



#7 Todd N

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Posted 14 June 2020 - 02:01 PM

Why even bother?

 

You can get a used, non-cooled entry level camera for well under $200-300. You'd quickly break even because you'd not have to spend money buying and developing film.

 

You'd also develop your imaging and developing skills WAY faster. Imagine seeing immediate result rather than having to wait days for your developed film to come back.

You're right but for some of us film has a preferred quality. But, I dare say the best wide-field images are on film. For me, digital turned into a boring and tedious game of data management and post processing despite better images on average.


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#8 BigBanger

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Posted 14 June 2020 - 02:04 PM

You're right but for some of us film has a preferred quality. But, I dare say the best wide-field images are on film. For me, digital turned into a boring and tedious game of data management and post processing despite better images on average.

 

I'm curious, what is the "preferred quality"?



#9 Todd N

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Posted 14 June 2020 - 02:39 PM

I'm curious, what is the "preferred quality"?

Most film response starts to diminish toward the high end(shoulder of characteristic curve) so, brights tend not to be blown out with long exposure while fainter signal can still increase in density. There is exceptions of  coarse. The look of film as opposed to digital; Much of color digital to me looks "fake," almost like a cartoon or painting. Color film doesn't look that way but I prefer black and white images. Oh, yeah, no matter what image scale you never get squarish pixelated small stars with film unless it is scanned at a low resolution.


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#10 BigBanger

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Posted 14 June 2020 - 02:51 PM

Most film response starts to diminish toward the high end(shoulder of characteristic curve) so, brights tend not to be blown out with long exposure while fainter signal can still increase in density. There is exceptions of  coarse. The look of film as opposed to digital; Much of color digital to me looks "fake," almost like a cartoon or painting. Color film doesn't look that way but I prefer black and white images. Oh, yeah, no matter what image scale you never get squarish pixelated small stars with film unless it is scanned at a low resolution.

 

Just for the sake of discussion.

 

Brights (i.e. galaxy cores) can look overexposed when the imager (person) is setting the camera's gain too high, or if he/ she purchased a camera with a too small dynamic range. (Even then you can compensate by combining long and short exposure images, in other words HDR imaging.)

 

As to colors being too vivid in digital pictures, most of that is the result of the imager (person) upping the color saturation in post processing. I agree many overdo color saturation. On the flip side of the coin, if an object is naturally too color saturated (can't even think of one off-hand), the imager (person) can reduce color saturation in post processing.

 

It's interesting that many/ most image processing software come with an effect to take a digital picture and make it look more analog.

 

And finally, even if you do film imaging, if you want to show your works on this or a site such as Astrobin, you'll have to first digitize your image with a scanner.



#11 bobzeq25

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Posted 14 June 2020 - 06:14 PM

You can do effective High Dynamic Range processing with digital.  With or without doing sequences with different exposures.  Make the color anything you want it to be.  It's far more flexible than film.

 

Film is OK.  But not superior to digital.  Just like records/CD.  Or tubes/transistors.  It's simply a different technique, like oil or acrylic paints.

 

Re saturation.  "Natural" color would be pretty much gray.  Your eyes don't see color in dim light.  The proper degree of saturation is simply a matter of personal taste.  Personally I don't like cartoons, but pretty much anything else is fine with me.  I optimize saturation in my images to my personal taste.  One thing to keep in mind is that color blindness is a matter of degree, not an on/off switch.  Different people see color differently.

 

From "Lessons from the Masters" paraphrased.  "I used to do color according to strict standards, using G2v stars as my white reference, etc.  I was sure that one day the Color Police would show up at my door, and confiscate my equipment.

 

These days I just please myself."  <smile>


Edited by bobzeq25, 14 June 2020 - 06:23 PM.


#12 Todd N

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Posted 14 June 2020 - 08:38 PM

You can do effective High Dynamic Range processing with digital.  With or without doing sequences with different exposures.  Make the color anything you want it to be.  It's far more flexible than film.

 

Film is OK.  But not superior to digital.  Just like records/CD.  Or tubes/transistors.  It's simply a different technique, like oil or acrylic paints.

 

Re saturation.  "Natural" color would be pretty much gray.  Your eyes don't see color in dim light.  The proper degree of saturation is simply a matter of personal taste.  Personally I don't like cartoons, but pretty much anything else is fine with me.  I optimize saturation in my images to my personal taste.  One thing to keep in mind is that color blindness is a matter of degree, not an on/off switch.  Different people see color differently.

 

From "Lessons from the Masters" paraphrased.  "I used to do color according to strict standards, using G2v stars as my white reference, etc.  I was sure that one day the Color Police would show up at my door, and confiscate my equipment.

 

These days I just please myself."  <smile>

I have had large poster prints made of some of my digital images and all that dynamic range is impossible to render into the more limited range of print material; similar with film in some cases.  One gets blown out sections which require more processing time and money to get it acceptable. The quality of digital takes a big hit when inkjet/dye printed. I don't do analogue prints yet but I aspire to do so.

 

I have recently experimented with tricolor compositing with film. I used a color card as a reference. Depending on exposure, development and other parameters results vary enough that exact color balance isn't likely possible and can only be approximated. So, I have decided likewise if I can get close enough, say within 10% then declare victory and be done with it. A long time ago it occurred to why not set CCD color balance to an F star which is more or less white and easier to find from what I can tell(Procyon, Polaris). Would it make much of a difference?


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#13 Michal1

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Posted 16 June 2020 - 05:16 AM

"35mm astrophotography still viable?"

It is still possible to pursue it and enjoy it. Some people even prefer film for astrophotography. The majority however prefers the digital sensors -- which doesn't mean that doing otherwise is "wrong".

 

 

I'm curious, what is the "preferred quality"?

This is difficult to explain in exact terms. Imagine the same scene painted by hand and captured photographically. How do you determine which image is nicer? It is a matter of taste.


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#14 DanH.264

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 01:30 AM

The dynamic range and reciprocity failure of film is helpful for star trails, and you can do super long exposures in one shot.  (It is hard to call it reciprocity failure when it is beneficial.)

The dynamic range of negative films makes it harder to overexpose stars and lose color, compared to digital.  The reciprocity failure helps to keep the sky dark, since film is less effective at aggregating low levels of photons into an image.  



#15 bobzeq25

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 10:26 AM

The dynamic range and reciprocity failure of film is helpful for star trails, and you can do super long exposures in one shot.  (It is hard to call it reciprocity failure when it is beneficial.)

The dynamic range of negative films makes it harder to overexpose stars and lose color, compared to digital.  The reciprocity failure helps to keep the sky dark, since film is less effective at aggregating low levels of photons into an image.  

All these things can be done digitally.  We collect the same photons, and digital can parse them well, with extraordinary flexibility.  It's mostly using the right processing program (PixInsight) and having the skill at using it.  Which takes years to acquire.

 

Here are some examples.  Vicent Peris qualifies as a professional astrophotographer.  He's reprocessed Hubble data, and improved the results.  I was lucky enough to take a weeklong course from him once.

 

https://pixinsight.c...ples/index.html

 

He's one of the authors of PixInsight.  I have an introductory book about PI.  It's 452 pages long.  It covers the basics, but it's far from comprehensive.  There's only so much you can do with PixInsight in 452 pages.  <smile>

 

Perhaps an even better example of the sophistication of digital processing is this superb piece about noise reduction.  I've used the basic method on some of my images.  Takes me about an hour to get all the masks, etc, somewhere close to right.

 

https://jonrista.com...duction-part-1/

 

The original question was is film astrophotography still a viable activity?  I said it was, and I still believe that.  It has its own charm. 

 

But it's not technically superior to digital, which is extraordinarily flexible, in the right hands. 

 

I play around at it.  <grin>  Takes me 10-50 hours of work per image, just on processing.  In my best year I did 17.
 


Edited by bobzeq25, 26 June 2020 - 10:35 AM.


#16 TxStars

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 04:45 PM

I enjoy the look of film and like to have something real (slide / negative) in my hand to view, print / scan..

Bottom line is if you want to try it and or like it do it and don't worry about it..

 

I use binders for my Slides and Negatives and store them in a cool dark place..

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_3501.JPG

Edited by TxStars, 27 June 2020 - 04:47 PM.

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#17 jgraham

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Posted 28 June 2020 - 12:29 PM

For some it's not so much about which format is 'better', but what brings me joy and happiness. Alas, my film days are behind me, but looking through my binders of slides and boxes of negatives brings back found memories. I recently found the negatives from the very first pictures that I took way back in the spring of 1968; 1 hour star trails taken on good old Tri-X using a Voighlander Bessa II. :)

 

Time marches on...

 

Enjoy each day!


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#18 Alen K

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Posted 08 July 2020 - 11:04 AM

I shot only 35mm film for several years. I enjoyed the largely non-electronic nature of it (non-electronic aside from the telescope drive system), especially the freedom from a computer, which was something I used constantly in my day job. (I didn't need it at the telescope even for guiding because I manually guided!) I will always prize the resulting binder of slides (and some negatives), which looks just like the ones in the picture above (same ring size, same color). While I scanned all of the slides and negative strips many years ago and backed that data up, it's still nice to occasionally look at the physical slides with a low- or no- power slide viewer. (They have never been subjected to the punishing heat from a slide projector, which almost always warps them.) It's something about their tangibleness; their "feel." 

 

However, I don't let sentiment influence what I do today. Yes, I could still shoot film, although the variety is limited and lab processing more difficult to arrange (no local place for that anymore for me and for most people). But I never will again. The benefits of digital, enumerated countless times already by countless astrophotographers and which I will not repeat here, make it the smarter choice for me. I'm getting results with digital (in my case a Pentax K-3II DSLR) that I could not have achieved at all with film. And it is all far easier. One only need take a good look at the progression of images from astrophotographers over the last three decades or so to appreciate the benefits of digital, which have also resulted in more people doing astrophotography. A hint of those benefits can also be gleaned from the modest efforts in my own CN and Astrobin photo galleries, which include both film and digital images. 

 

That said, I have my own technological limits. I have not enjoyed my admittedly limited experiences with dedicated, cooled astrocameras, so I will likely always stick with non-dedicated digital cameras, despite knowing that even better results can be achieved with dedicated cameras. And, no doubt coloured by my avoidance of a computer at the telescope in my film days, I continue to avoid using one today, at least as a separate piece of equipment. (There is already a computer embedded in my camera and another in my GOTO mount!) I do eveything without a laptop and I don't even guide anymore, given that with PPEC engaged I can do several minutes unguided. (I likely could not avoid guiding if I operated at a much longer focal length than the 762mm I use today or did narrowband. But then stand-alone autoguiders do exist, although they cost more than many laptops.)

 

But that's just me. Different people make choices for different reasons. If you want to do film, I say knock yourself out!


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#19 PXR-5

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 05:59 PM

I miss film 😭
I can't do this new fangeled stuff :(

#20 TxStars

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 12:45 PM

There is still film to use, just a bit harder to get it developed in some places..

Where I live there are still some Pro Labs 



#21 calypsob

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 09:53 AM

Film is nice but where do you get it developed properly?
And if a plane or satellite photobombs the image, its permanent right? I gues if you have a dark room it could be masked out of the image. Not sure how many dr stops exist in film but I suppose a pseudo hdr approach is also possible with masking. If you are comparing to high tech digital, well you can also post process the heck out of film, it just takes a ton of work making masks, dodging burning and sharpening, not to mention the extensive chemical and dust management. Is film viable? Yes but if you are trying to get near digital results you will spend alot more time and money. Is film cool? Well to me heck yea, I love 645 format, you just dont see much post process heavy astro stuff.

Edited by calypsob, 21 July 2020 - 09:56 AM.


#22 Diorman

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Posted 09 February 2021 - 10:26 PM

For small objects like galaxies, a long focal length helps resolution. Haven't tried Fuji Acros yet but these shot were taken with a 12.5" f/6 on TMAX 400 film. Longer focal lengths help with enlargement and minimizes grain and bloated stars. I'm interested in shooting galaxies with B&W film and am inspired by the article in Astronomy May 1980 p47 by Thomas Dessert who published an article of his galaxy photos taken with a 10 inch f/6 reflector on Kodak 103aO and 103aF films. His photos were 15 to 30 minutes. I sold the 12.5 inch but am working on a 10 inch F/5.7 for shooting galaxiesM31_M33_Tmax400.jpg


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#23 Diorman

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Posted 09 February 2021 - 10:40 PM

This shot of the Eagle nebula was taken on hypered Tech Pan with a 10 inch F/5 but the stars look a little bloated because I enlarged it too much in the printing. Thats why a longer focal length is better if you want to get detail in small objects and most of the objects are small; especially galaxies. What's also nice is that if you make prints, you don't get any pixelated stars and the overall shot looks more natural than digital.

 

img014.jpg

 

 


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