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02-22-2009, 09:15 PM   #1
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Ken Rockwell The film evangelist

If you actually read Ken Rockwell's site you've probably noticed that he's really gotten into film lately. In most of his posts right now he's just showing off his fancy Leica gear and listing all these benefits of Film. One of the things he keeps on saying is how cheap Film is compared to digital because you don't have to buy a new body every year and then he tells you how cheap cameras like the Nikon F100 and F4 are these days. The thing he doesn't understand is that the cost of film adds up and you also have processing fees, plus getting prints made is going to cost money too.

Digital is starting to sound real cheap now. Once you've bought your body and lens you're not going to spend anymore money on it. The only thing you pay for is getting prints made and maybe a cleaning here and there.

I really like simplicity and look of film, but to me it seems like it's going to cost more in the long run. What's every one else's opinion?

02-22-2009, 09:48 PM   #2
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Ken is in a rage because of the D3x price of $8,000. He is just "stirring the pot." I think what he is saying is that if you include the cost of the camera, you can get FF performance for pretty low cost by using a traditional film camera. Many of us who have shot Pentax SLR's have known that for a long time.

What he fails to discuss however is that I believe the digital sensors have surpassed film in low-light shooting. I am not talking about low-light, long-shutter tripod shooting. I mean hand-held low light shooting like most of us deal with all the time where there is some movement of the subject. High-iso film is more expensive, and requires special handling. I routinely use ISO's that exceed 2200 on my k20d. I haven't gone through his entire site, but I believe all the film shots he uses as comparisons are at low ISO (ISO 50). In that case I don't doubt him that scanned film has certain advantages. I don't find it as convenient though. I do like to check my shots and histogram in the LCD (OK so I chimp like anyone else. )

Last edited by PentaxPoke; 02-22-2009 at 09:57 PM.
02-22-2009, 10:14 PM   #3
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I love his blog, not neccessarily agree with everything he has to say but he's always a good read and his photography tips section is very, very good. He's got a good argument about using film and if I ever get into real serious landscape work or whatever for me its a no brainer to go with a pentax 645n or 67II instead of a nikon d3x. What he fails to realize (or chooses to ignore) is that not everyone is the rich guy tourist who upgrades to the newest and best thing every time it comes out I love my k20d and unless something absolutely amazing and more affordable comes along, I'm going to continue loving it until it dies. It'll still take pictures good enough for me long into the future. Film bodies would do the same but with processing costs (even figuring at $2.50 develop only and free negative scanning at office) they eventually become very expensive to operate. Its really a matter of where it hits you, the higher upfront costs of the DSLR or the over time cost of the film body.

I do love the convenience of shooting digital and he's right, a lot of people take bad pictures they wouldn't have taken on film when using a digital camera but for someone like me who loves to try new things, I can get instant feedback on new techniques I try rather than a more timid approach. I think my photography has progressed much faster shooting on the k20d than on my k1000.

In the end, its preference and like the guy or not, he's got some very valid points about the upside of film. I check out his blog daily and prefer when he talks about taking pictures rather than how overpriced something is or why i'm an idiot for buying the camera I did
02-22-2009, 10:49 PM   #4
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I thought the Nikon D40 was the be all end all!

02-22-2009, 11:48 PM   #5
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I don't think Rockwell is taking into account people who just do photography purely as a hobby. If your a professional who actually gets payed for their work then film wouldn't be such a bad idea. But for a hobbist Digital has more advantages over film, it's quicker, you can view your results on the spot, there's no penalty for taking lots of burst photos, and depending on how much you use it, it could be cheaper than film. Plus like PentaxPoke said, low-light shooting is so much better on a digital camera. I guess it all depends on personal preference.
02-23-2009, 12:16 AM   #6
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I met a guy selling very large prints at two local craft fairs last summer from a film Pentax 67II (not sure that is the right designation). Beautiful landscapes. He thought film had a multidimensional quality to it and wasn't desiring any digital camera.

I think when you're new and starting out like i was 2 years ago. you need to shoot a lot of images and to experiment a lot to findout what interests you and what works. But each of us do get better at choosing and composing worthwhile images.

I think professionals have developed that expertise so that they most likely need to do a lot less shooting than amateurs like myself. So film is probably quite financially credible for an experienced shooter.

I think there are a lot of people who trade up every year or two. Thats a fair amount of money that probably would pay for a lot of film. Just my guess and i'm not ready to give up my digital camera - love my K10
02-23-2009, 12:52 AM   #7
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Thread moved to General talk section instead of General Pentax section.
02-23-2009, 01:20 AM   #8
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Ken Rockwell is simply a joke. You can't try to be unbiased when you're obviously biased.

02-23-2009, 08:22 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by julianactive Quote
I thought the Nikon D40 was the be all end all!
Me, too! Ken said so!

And, you don't have to buy a new digital body - ever (unless it dies).

There is no way I would shoot film again for my own use.
02-24-2009, 12:47 PM   #10
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The only two reasons to buy a new digital camera. One, the one you have breaks... or the new one has features that are indispensible yto your work. Just because a new one came out is no reason to buy the newest model.

As to film being cheaper than digital... At the risk of beating a dead horse, I did a side-by-side comparison and the 2 actually come out pretty even..

You can read it here... https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/495421-post33.html

It makes a lot of assumptions but I have never seen anything else try to actually quantify the total costs of each medium.

Mike
02-24-2009, 01:10 PM   #11
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Ken Rockwell aside, the fact is you have to shoot a *lot* of film. An *awful* lot of film, before the costs per exposure get anywhere near digital's. And with film you *don't* have to buy the most expensive gear out there to do it, and get comparable results, either. For the most part, spending a few hundred extra on a better film camera is just going to mean you get something more refined and more durable, with few differences in the images it can make.

With digital, if you can't afford the latest and nicest, you're making performance compromises and being slower on getting your shot and also not necessarily getting the reliability.

It's why I'm with Pentax, now, cause a K20D came in reach, and that's something reasonably-comparable to what I could do with a film camera, image quality, texture, and other quibbles aside. (Mind you, it's a better digital than I *expected* to be starting out with, and this isn't to say digital doesn't have useful, if not essential qualities, like the fact that people are used to seeing something *instantaneously,* not waiting for you to recover from any shoot and get in the darkroom or out to a lab. My first digital was a bridge camera I'd been hoping would be fast enough to let me grab filler stuff to email the local papers, which idea proved.... Over-optimistic, let's say. But the idea there was really just to give myself a little incentive for some otherwise monotonous walks, in the 'feeling useful' sort of way. The little guy *does* and did save a lot of *film* in terms of the social snaps you might want to be taking to loosen people up or whatever. Did something useful, from back when you couldn't get even an early DSLR set up for the 200 bucks this cost. )

*Now,* if you're starting fresh, you could do something similar *with* a Pentax DSLR, a film body, and the right couple of lenses, though. A couple-few hundred bucks to eat up some snapshootey and has-to-be-now stuff isn't such a bad bargain at *all,* I'd say. I got a K20d cause a bit of Fortune's smile crossed my path right when the prices were lowest. (Ironically cause someone was convinced that manual-focus Nikkors were 'useless,' and who was I to protest that assessment more than twice if he was selling cheap. The bargain I bought got me over the hump, here. ) Otherwise, I'd been watching and waiting for something really workable to come within reach.... might have been a long slog saving for enough digital gear to be useful, (I was starting to consider *istDs as compared to really reaching for a used K10, or maybe a Canon 20d. Now I'm happy cause I didn't have to throw a few hundred at something *and* salt away for upgrades. If I need more digital camera than this, I'm getting paid for it, being the rationale. )

So, basically, there's a big hump with digital, at least if your film gear doesn't fit up to any digital bodies. A lot may depend on what your financial situation and skillset and intentions are.



Film, you can play it hand-to-mouth if you have to: digital is either a lot of saving for a lump sum or running up a credit balance before you can do *anything.* And that's *assuming* you have the computer gear to do anything with the images. A darkroom's cheaper than that, too, but you might already have a nice computer for some other reason, and that won't cost you more money or space.

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 02-24-2009 at 01:49 PM.
02-25-2009, 05:53 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote
Ken Rockwell aside, the fact is you have to shoot a *lot* of film. An *awful* lot of film, before the costs per exposure get anywhere near digital's. And with film you *don't* have to buy the most expensive gear out there to do it, and get comparable results, either. For the most part, spending a few hundred extra on a better film camera is just going to mean you get something more refined and more durable, with few differences in the images it can make.
True, but you don't have to buy the most expensive digital gear either! Even a 6MP DSLR puts out some quite respectable results. Anything even semi-recent will perform as well as the vast majority of film cameras (pro bodies like the 1V excluded). e.g. a Samsung GX-1S or a Canon 20D would cost next to nothing these days and still are great cameras that perform as well as most people would ever require...

QuoteQuote:
With digital, if you can't afford the latest and nicest, you're making performance compromises and being slower on getting your shot and also not necessarily getting the reliability.
Yes, you have a very valid point there. If you have the same lens and film there's really nothing keeping you from getting the exact same result whether it's a Nikon F6 or an old N80. With digital you obviously have the differences in sensors.

QuoteQuote:
So, basically, there's a big hump with digital, at least if your film gear doesn't fit up to any digital bodies. A lot may depend on what your financial situation and skillset and intentions are.
Well, not that big of a hump as I said earlier -- $300 or so will get you a decent used DSLR body that will perform very nicely in most situations. Sure, you can get a film SLR for $50 or so, but $300 isn't unattainable at all for most. Especially once you add in the costs of going through a few dozen rolls of film!

QuoteQuote:
Film, you can play it hand-to-mouth if you have to: digital is either a lot of saving for a lump sum or running up a credit balance before you can do *anything.* And that's *assuming* you have the computer gear to do anything with the images. A darkroom's cheaper than that, too, but you might already have a nice computer for some other reason, and that won't cost you more money or space.
Yeah, most people will have computers. But if they don't, take this for instance: I bought a Dell XPS410 off Craigslist with 1TB of drives, 4 gig ram, Vista 64-bit, DVD burner etc for $300 (and yes, it was a legit Vista license). $300 is something like 30 rolls of film with processing, and I could probably fit some 60,000 of my RAW files on there without a problem.

So for fun... (let's leave lenses out since they can be used on either)

Basic digital:
$300 used camera body
$20 memory card
$300-400 for a half decent used computer
----
$620-720 and you can go take tens of thousands of shots without additional expenses.

Basic film:
$100 decent used camera body (with AF and power drive etc)
$10/roll for film and processing
----
$600 for the first 50 rolls (1800 shots).

Even with moderate shooting you can see that film catches up pretty damn quickly price wise. People often tend to compare a $25 used manual everything SLR with a $1500 DSLR body which tends to skew the numbers significantly.

There are some other differences worth mentioning that some have touched upon. Say you're working on a particular issue/shot -- especially in difficult or artificial light (e.g. using multiple off-camera flashes). Getting it right can take quite a bit of trial and error; with digital you get immediate feedback that tells you if things went ok or not. With film, you'd have to go to the minilab, drop roll off, wait an hour or a day, and then check the results. I guess what I am shooting at here is "opportunity cost" -- the intangible cost of time spent waiting around for results and seeing if what you did is workable or not.
02-25-2009, 06:39 PM   #13
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the thing that always gets ignored is PP time. i'd rather have the lab scan my film and process rather than waste hours in front of the computer post processing.

ken rockwell always comes across quite poorly imo, like how he has trademarked "REAL RAW" and uses it as a proxy for the word 'film'
02-25-2009, 06:43 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
the thing that always gets ignored is PP time. i'd rather have the lab scan my film and process rather than waste hours in front of the computer post processing.
You can take your SD card to "the lab" and have them make prints just as fast if not faster.
02-25-2009, 06:55 PM   #15
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i'm not talking about the process of making prints, but the process of making a satisfactory photo
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