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10-28-2018, 03:38 PM   #46
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QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
Rest of the story: {the word "this" refers to the photo in post #41}

...

For fifty years I have taken photos primarily to record history, and this photo accomplishes that goal. It is certainly better than the photo below, which I took in 1967 with an Instamatic 100 recording the last Monon passenger train {and the best angle was looking almost directly into the sun}; I would have loved to have an iPhone then. People keep saying things like "its not the technology, it's the photographer" .... but they aren't satisfied if the photo isn't perfect.
I really like this last photo... For me, it's head and shoulders better than the previous one. I love the natural look of it. Both photos are nice, but this last one has so much more going for it, IMHO


Last edited by BigMackCam; 10-28-2018 at 04:19 PM.
10-28-2018, 04:18 PM - 1 Like   #47
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QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
Rest of the story: {the word "this" refers to the photo in post #41}

The Virginian Railroad was purchased by the Norfolk & Western Railroad in 1959; in the 1980's the Norfolk & Western Railroad merged with the Southern Railroad to form the Norfolk Southern Railroad. In the past few years, the now-enormous Norfolk Southern decided to paint one locomotive to honor each of its predecessor railroads, hence this locomotive painted for a railroad that hasn't existed for nearly sixty years. In January 2017 I saw this train and reached for the only camera I had easily at hand - my iPhone - and took this photo. I was amazed it turned out, because the biggest shortcoming of smart phones is that they have trouble focusing when motion is involved {and sometimes they also exhibit 'rolling shutter' issues}, but in this case it worked. So yes, if I had my K-30 in my pocket, I would have come away with a better photo, but I used the best camera I happened to have in my pocket.

For fifty years I have taken photos primarily to record history, and this photo accomplishes that goal. It is certainly better than the photo below, which I took in 1967 with an Instamatic 100 recording the last Monon passenger train {and the best angle was looking almost directly into the sun}; I would have loved to have an iPhone then. People keep saying things like "its not the technology, it's the photographer" .... but they aren't satisfied if the photo isn't perfect.


This is the far superior image. Film has a certain look that just makes this image shine.
10-28-2018, 04:26 PM   #48
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
This is the far superior image. Film has a certain look that just makes this image shine.
Agreed (obviously, given my earlier response ). And one of the reasons I find it superior, I think, is the lack of harsh processing to render everything sharply and with heavy contrast.

With film, I suspect we were happy enough with what we got if the composition was good and the image broadly represented our intentions. With digital, there's an increasing expectation or desire to get the sharpest image with the best possible contrast. A kind of visual "wow factor".

I know which I prefer... and maybe this is why I like so many of the photos I produce with my vintage lenses, compared to my sharper, better-corrected digital-era glass.

It's subjective, of course...
10-28-2018, 04:32 PM - 1 Like   #49
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
I really like this last photo... For me, it's head and shoulders better than the previous one. I love the natural look of it. Both photos are nice, but this last one has so much more going for it, IMHO
Of course, there are two differences between the two photos:
(1) the first is digital while the second is film
(2) the first is pure train while the second is more "street photo" than "train photo"

As a retired software engineer I find myself wondering whether software could modify a photo to reduce the difference between digital and film, and whether - in a world dominated by people addicted to 'needle sharpness' - anyone would want such a feature. {and that brings us back to the subject of this thread}

10-28-2018, 04:50 PM - 1 Like   #50
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QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
Of course, there are two differences between the two photos:
(1) the first is digital while the second is film
(2) the first is pure train while the second is more "street photo" than "train photo"
When I compare these photos, I'm reminded of the difference between vintage and modern thriller movies. In the vintage movies, it was all about the story, and capturing scenes with composition and lighting as the priorities. With modern movies, composition and lighting still play the same important part, but they almost take a back seat to the visual effects which blast the senses in a bid to create sensory excitement beyond that offered by a simple and honest rendering of the scene...
10-28-2018, 06:52 PM   #51
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
When I compare these photos, I'm reminded of the difference between vintage and modern thriller movies. In the vintage movies, it was all about the story, and capturing scenes with composition and lighting as the priorities. With modern movies, composition and lighting still play the same important part, but they almost take a back seat to the visual effects which blast the senses in a bid to create sensory excitement beyond that offered by a simple and honest rendering of the scene...
Very much so. I have often thought that 3D and 4K miss the point of movie making, which is telling a story. This is the only thing that will let you watch something over and over again and actually enjoy it.

Modern movies all look better, but only a few of them will actually stick around and when they do, it is because of story and characterization and not high production values.
10-29-2018, 04:49 AM   #52
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Agreed (obviously, given my earlier response ). And one of the reasons I find it superior, I think, is the lack of harsh processing to render everything sharply and with heavy contrast.
I'm finding I really prefer the last photo too. This all makes me think of a photo exhibit in the mid 80's I was checking out with a friend, and I can't remember what the photographer was doing, but the images were too real. We came away thinking that something just wasn't right, and they didn't look right, even though they looked very vividly real. Wish I could remember more about it, but it ties right back to what were' seeing here, which is there's so much more to what makes a photo visually pleasing than sharpness, contrast etc. Really getting a hankering to go shoot some film.
10-29-2018, 05:07 AM   #53
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
That looks good... but, with respect, you can see the over-processing in terms of excessive sharpening / local contrast / HDR-style processing, right? For instance, if you look along the top edge of the train carriages, you can see the "halo" effect (the unnatural lightness between the edge of the carriages and the sky). And you can see the over-sharpening on the lettering on the sides of the carriages. That doesn't make it a bad image, but if we were looking at a DSLR or MILC photo, it's the kind of thing where we might suggest the photographer was a bit too aggressive in post-processing. Which sort of references my point about the in-phone processing being designed to provide immediate appeal, but not standing up to close scrutiny...

Doesn't mean it's not a nice looking shot (it is). Doesn't mean it isn't useful. But it's not what we'd look to produce from a DSLR-captured, hand-processed photo
I guess I don't have the eye for those kind of details, because when I look at the photo in question it's hard to see any of that since it's displayed at just over one megapixel and we don't have access to the larger original. I can't tell if the slight blurring or artifacts along the train car/sky border are a result of over-processing, motion blur, or just pixelation because the photo has been downsampled to a relatively low resolution.

10-29-2018, 05:15 AM   #54
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QuoteOriginally posted by ThorSanchez Quote
I guess I don't have the eye for those kind of details, because when I look at the photo in question it's hard to see any of that since it's displayed at just over one megapixel and we don't have access to the larger original. I can't tell if the slight blurring or artifacts along the train car/sky border are a result of over-processing, motion blur, or just pixelation because the photo has been downsampled to a relatively low resolution.
With regard to the halo effect, it can't be due to movement because it's a thin line of considerably greater luminance than either the sky or the train carriages. So it's definitely due to either in-camera or post-processing. The effects of downsampling the photo to the size displayed here would reduce that halo proportionately. Which speaks to one of my earlier points... For photos displayed at relatively small sizes, phone camera photos can look great. They can even look great printed or viewed at larger sizes if you just look at the image and don't scrutinise the quality, as we photographers tend to. But when you look more closely, the images don't generally stand up to close examination when displayed at larger sizes... That's just my personal opinion, of course.
10-29-2018, 05:26 AM - 1 Like   #55
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
When I compare these photos, I'm reminded of the difference between vintage and modern thriller movies. In the vintage movies, it was all about the story, and capturing scenes with composition and lighting as the priorities. With modern movies, composition and lighting still play the same important part, but they almost take a back seat to the visual effects which blast the senses in a bid to create sensory excitement beyond that offered by a simple and honest rendering of the scene...
It used to be all about the art:


Now it's just cheap and gratitutous special effects:


10-29-2018, 05:27 AM   #56
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QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
Of course, there are two differences between the two photos:
(1) the first is digital while the second is film
(2) the first is pure train while the second is more "street photo" than "train photo"

As a retired software engineer I find myself wondering whether software could modify a photo to reduce the difference between digital and film, and whether - in a world dominated by people addicted to 'needle sharpness' - anyone would want such a feature. {and that brings us back to the subject of this thread}
It's an interesting challenge.

It would not be too hard to convert a film image into a modest megapixel digital image by scanning the film at high resolution and then carefully binning the image to simulate the RGB Bayer filter sampling of the scene.

Converting digital to film is a bit trickier because it involves simulating the statistical speckling of the grain.

The harder trick is getting the colors close to right. The spectral response of any given film will be different then that of any given sensor. Neither film nor digital gives full spectral data which means getting film's colors right from a digital image is impossible and vice versa.
10-29-2018, 12:45 PM   #57
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
It's an interesting challenge.

It would not be too hard to convert a film image into a modest megapixel digital image by scanning the film at high resolution and then carefully binning the image to simulate the RGB Bayer filter sampling of the scene.

Converting digital to film is a bit trickier because it involves simulating the statistical speckling of the grain.

The harder trick is getting the colors close to right. The spectral response of any given film will be different then that of any given sensor. Neither film nor digital gives full spectral data which means getting film's colors right from a digital image is impossible and vice versa.
There was a fairly recent post elsewhere on these forums with a link to fun little quiz (I think it might have been on Peta Pixel) where you had to pick which photos were taken on film and those taken with digital. The shots were taken at the same location (a photography store) and time, so the subject matter, colours, lighting etc. were all fairly consistent. I picked out every film and digital photo correctly, and I'm sure many other folks were also able to. I couldn't tell you exactly why, though... but it's probably a combination of factors including the tonal response, saturation, grain, etc. In any case, whilst some film emulations are very, very good, I think it's pretty difficult to precisely duplicate the real thing
10-29-2018, 01:09 PM   #58
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I think there's some nostalgia at work here. Whatever else you may say about the two locomotive shots, there can be little question that the phone shot is technically superior to the film [instamatic] by (at least) an order of magnitude. So I'm not seeing any edge 'halo' or other sharpening artefacts remarked upon in it, whereas the instamatic shot has a mushy quality that some folks apparently consider charming (some spectators in period costume ogling the loco don't hurt the effect).


A technically good shot can be degraded to resemble the product of an instamatic with a plastic lens (or whatever). The reverse isn't so, though the instamatic shot has some info that could be brought up with a better scan coupled with some thoughtful PP.
10-29-2018, 01:49 PM   #59
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QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
I think there's some nostalgia at work here.
I think that's a factor, sure

QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
Whatever else you may say about the two locomotive shots, there can be little question that the phone shot is technically superior to the film [instamatic] by (at least) an order of magnitude. So I'm not seeing any edge 'halo' or other sharpening artefacts remarked upon in it
See attached a resize of part of the phone photo (I hope @reh321 doesn't object to my using this image - if he does, I apologise and will be happy to remove it). Do you see the "glow" along the top edge of the brown carriage, similar to what you'd get with a slightly over-processed HDR shot? I locked onto that right away in the original size shot that @reh321 posted. It's possible I'm more sensitive to it, and perhaps many people wouldn't notice. But I mention it by way of explanation

QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
whereas the instamatic shot has a mushy quality that some folks apparently consider charming
I don't see mushy. I do agree that it's quite soft (maybe we mean the same thing with different words), but it looks "natural" and doesn't detract from the scene (for me, at least). That might, in part, be the nostalgia element you mentioned

QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
A technically good shot can be degraded to resemble the product of an instamatic with a plastic lens (or whatever). The reverse isn't so
And yet, we can be pretty sure that the phone's original unprocessed raw image, before it got to the JPEG engine, is nothing like as sharp and (apparently) detailed as we see in the posted photo. That JPEG engine is doing all kinds of processing to make the captured image look sharp and detailed.

I have a Panasonic TZ-70 which takes great JPEG photos for a compact camera with a small sensor. They're sharp, with great colours. It also shoots raw if required, and this is one of the reasons I bought it. Honestly, I was aghast when I saw the quality of raw files. I take my hat off to the software developers at Panasonic who were able to develop a JPEG engine that could transform such awful raw files into really rather good JPEGs. Despite many attempts in Lightroom (my software of choice at the time, and with which I have pretty considerable experience) , I simply couldn't quite match their results. Because of this, I mostly shoot JPEGs with that camera now

QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
though the instamatic shot has some info that could be brought up with a better scan coupled with some thoughtful PP.
Going back to the thread origins, I think the point here isn't that the film photo is better or worse than the phone camera photo. It's that a phone camera, whilst increasingly capable, has an awful lot of work to do in software to even begin to compete with larger sensor DSLRs and MILCs... and then, only at smaller reproduction sizes.
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Last edited by BigMackCam; 10-29-2018 at 02:48 PM.
10-29-2018, 02:35 PM - 1 Like   #60
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
See attached a resize of part of the phone photo (I hope @reh321 doesn't object to my using this image - if he does, I apologise and will be happy to remove it).
No apology is needed - I'm always interested in thoughts of thoughtful members such as you and Mark.
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