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07-15-2010, 10:12 AM   #1
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Open inquiry to the film 645 users regarding the 645D.

Assuming you have afforded or been granted to own the new 645D (or any MF digital camera of your choice), my inquiry is:

As far as only B&W photography is concerned (no color) do you think that switching to digital would bring any improvement to the quality of your photography? Kindly note that I am not inquiring about the convenience of processing, not about the operational cost, the higher resolution or prompt results; my inquiry is only on the aesthetical and artistic merits of the final picture. I am sure you all have a rough or sound idea of how digital B&W pictures look compared to your own film ones.

Your answers, in cumulative, will be a sound indication of the reference state for B&W photography in our time as well as where digital stands compared to analog we used so far.

Regards,

Bob Yildiran

07-15-2010, 10:39 AM   #2
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What about the fun factor. I found more pleasure in taking, developing, scanning (well not quite on that one) and doing light processing 120 film that I would dealing with digital. It is like going to the farmer's market or going to fast food.
Also I found that the grain, changes in development...give a slight different look that is more enjoyable than the digital perfection of digital images.

But that is just me.
Anybody wants to buy a K20D like new with a nice set of A lenses?

Cheers,

Luc
07-15-2010, 10:46 AM   #3
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And the people who own a DMF camera can be counted on, what, one hand around here and then narrow that field down to only the ones who only shot BW film on a 645 camera and you have some meaningful statistics about that inquiry.
07-15-2010, 02:14 PM   #4
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Black & White on Digital??

I have shot medium format black & white film and like the look I get from film. Unfortunately, I cannot comment on whether I like the look I get on medium format digital since I have no experience there. I do have some very basic experience shooting black & white digital 35mm (both full frame and APS-C) and so far I prefer what I see on film. But that may change in time as I gain more experience with digital black and white.

I really don't have a lot of black & white medium format images I can share that illustrate my point but here is one. This one was shot with a medium format 6x9 folding camera on Ilford Pan F Plus and scanned. As scanned it is a 21mb image. The image I have downloaded here is a downsized copy to enable transfer via my internet connection.


The next example is a shot of the same flowers taken with my Pentax *ist DL2 as a black & white jpg image. As you can see in this example the digital image does not have anywhere near the same tonal range that is displayed on the film image.


I realize that this was not really a fair comparison, but both images are 1 megabyte images as they were sized through Photoshop. Other then downsizing there has been absolutely no additional post processing done on either image.

I realize that this is a Pentax site, and I try not to use cameras from other brands, but if anyone wants I can try this same shot using my Canon full frame later this evening to see what I end up with. But honestly I still do not expect any digital camera to produce the black and white tonal range that the Ilford film produced, even using a full frame camera.

Now I know that my inexperience working in black and white digital is showing here because I have seen some really gorgeous black and white digital work done by a lot of people on this very site. I am only barely getting started with digital black and white. But, I would also be curious to know, will digital black and white, with no post processing in Photoshop, provide the same range that is possible with film?

07-15-2010, 02:37 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pioneer Quote
...
I realize that this was not really a fair comparison, but both images are 1 megabyte images as they were sized through Photoshop. Other then downsizing there has been absolutely no additional post processing done on either image.
...
No, it's not fair. In both pictures there is not that much light range in the scene yet the film has lost detail in the shadows and the digital has whites that were not made "white" but could have been.
07-15-2010, 04:06 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
No, it's not fair. In both pictures there is not that much light range in the scene yet the film has lost detail in the shadows and the digital has whites that were not made "white" but could have been.
Tuco, You are certainly right to criticize my poor attempt to provide some comparisons. Your critique of the film shot is well taken but I actually thought that I had blown the highlights on that image, not lost the shadow detail. The shadow detail still seems to be there. As I get better with digital I can probably improve what I post here.

I suspect that some post processing can help both images and I am only beginning to learn how to work with black and white in digital. Here are both images with a bit of post processing applied.

Digital and black and white imaging is an interesting subject for me and I am sure there are likely others out there who have better examples to share than I. But my original impressions still stand. I believe that black and white film still has the advantage, particularly when working in medium format. I am always amazed at the amount of detail available in a black and white negative.



07-16-2010, 10:49 AM   #7
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Pioneer, thank you for the comparison samples. Especially in the second set you have demonstrated the typical shortcomings of digital such as shifted gray-scala and limited gradation of tonalities. You can go ahead and try further with PP; for example by matching the whites first then you will note the mid-grays will be shifted and highlight details will be lost... or by matching the blacks and dark greys first (which is easier) then the light grays will turn comperatively darker. I mean it is almost impossible to match the overall tonalities of digital to resemble the "look" of film. I think it has a lot to do with the inherent DR characteristic of film.
07-16-2010, 10:59 AM   #8
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If a digital MF camera provided selectable sensor 'filters' or 'transfer functions' that allow a preset or customized set of color response curves, then I would think it could be competetive with b&w film. Imagine you could switch from say a Tri-X response to a Neopan response to a Panatomic-X....and with a MF size sensor.

The total latitude would still lag film.

07-16-2010, 04:50 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
If a digital MF camera provided selectable sensor 'filters' or 'transfer functions' that allow a preset or customized set of color response curves, then I would think it could be competetive with b&w film. Imagine you could switch from say a Tri-X response to a Neopan response to a Panatomic-X....and with a MF size sensor.

The total latitude would still lag film.
Nesster, some digital manufacturers, for example the m43 series Olympus, have tried to introduce some in-camera conversion functions under the name of Art Filters, one function being Grainy Film however to provide only high-contrast grainy look with washed-out mid-tones. The most important contribution came from the Silver Efex, offering emulation for more than a dozen popular B&W films and the Flickr.com are full of samples; however they still are a far cry from actual film. BTW, I have found a few looking exactly like film and when I looked at the tags accompanying, I noticed they actually were shot on film however after scanning processed with the Silver Efex.

IMHO, DR is the key and at the present state film will continue to rule. There still seems a long way to digitally express of what easily available through physics and a little bit of chemistry.
07-16-2010, 05:09 PM   #10
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I ran across a photography thread some time ago dated around 2005ish IIRC and some guy working for a company was soliciting input from the forum members and they were supposedly developing a digital back that would be specialized for doing only BW. He had a kinds of technical reasons why it would be better than color converted gray scale digital. I guess it never made it to market because I've never ran across one yet.
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