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07-27-2011, 01:46 PM   #16
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To OP

Another way of looking at it is if you look at pottery or more generally vases. Yes there are mass produced plastic or ceramic ones, you can get ones thrown on a wheel or hand made as slabs. You can also get ones that are hand made and fired in a wood kilm such as Raku work. Nobody puts down potters making Raku pottery, in fact there work is still admired. But even Raku has its advances.

Photography will never be the same with the advent of digital. Technically film photography will, I hope, continual to advance technically inspite of those who think we are crazy to even consider such an 'outdated' media. Good photography will be made by both film and digital and IMHO more bad photography will be made with digital in comparision to film simply because all those who do not care to learn photography will use the easier media. That is not a put down on serious digital photographers but it is easier and more convienient for most people to shoot digital therefore those who put little effort will choose digital.

When I went to a camera club meeting and was talking about LF photography and said something about aperatures one of the members stated that they all shot digitally so they did not use aperatures. Again just my opinion but I think that a higher percentage of photographers are unaware of the technical basics now than in the fully manual phase and with each advance in automation the lack of understanding was less of a hinderance. Again not saying that no advanced digital photographer knows aperatures and metering or even that a majority do not it is just that with the advent of auto exposure it became easier and with autofocus it was easiser and therefore those who did not learn can continue further on if that makes sense.

There are great photographers shooting digital and fully automated and others hooting sheet film fully manual of course. To put one group down would be wrong but to the OP, every move to more automate any aspect of our life does some dumbing down and some opening of opportunities. Itg is a two way street.

As far as bell bottom pants or short shorts or disco, those are fashions and one cannot truly say that the bell bottom of the 70s was superior to the tighter pants of the early 60s but inferior to the cargo pants of a more current time. If bell bottoms came back would it be because they are now improved?

07-27-2011, 02:42 PM   #17
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Sure agree with the OP. I started with a new H1a before light meters were built-in on "good" cameras. The MX was one of my LAST camera purchases. (Got an LX, but it was not as good for manual metering.) Digital cameras never attracted me, until the Leica M9. That's the only one I can use just like my old film cameras.
I finally got a K-5, and while the image quality is nice, I'm enjoying my MX (and an H1a I found) more. Heading out on a family vacation, and I'm taking only manual film cameras...
I haven't advanced as far as Luddite yet.
07-27-2011, 02:49 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ryan Trevisol Quote
I think you may be generalizing a bit with the part about auto exposure and auto focus. Not everyone uses either all the time in the digital world.

The problem with autofocus is that a prism focusing screen can screw up your metering. I would love to have a good focusing screen on my K-x but I can't afford a screen that won't screw up the metering. If I had a good split prism I could do without AF.

And I don't have a problem with exposure. On my last vacation, it took me about 4 hours to organize, grade, and do all post processing on 1700+ photos. I did it on the plane ride home and had a slideshow ready to go by the time we landed.

Part of that is shooting RAW as mentioned above, but another big part is shooting in M mode. When you shoot in M mode, you get the same control that the MX gave you, with a big difference. Your thumb index finger do the work while your eye never leaves the cup, you can change iso without changing rolls, and at the end of the day, you do get more flexibility and control with digital.

Most of the time, a shutter, aperture, or sensitivity priority mode will give you the wrong exposure because it's trying to make a dark scene light, or a light scene dark. With manual mode you get to pick how much over or under you want it to be. Once you get acquainted with how your camera's meter works, you start using the EV dial a lot and then finally you just graduate to M mode.

Here's a picture that I think came out really well, reflects the reality of how the scene looked when I was there, and which required (as I recall) no post processing at all.


I think there's been a democratizing and commoditizing of photography. The fact that the number one camera in use on flickr is the iPhone 4 should tell you something - the fact that professional tools are in the hands of more and more unskilled and/or dispassionate people. So yeah you get a lot of spray and pray out of folks, but modern cameras haven't made it impossible to take pictures like you used to. Has it advanced photography?

I guess my point is, the advances that we've made sometimes fail (AF in low light, program exposure etc), but they don't often. When they do, a skilled photographer can still use his eyes and fingers to take a good photograph.
A big plus one to M mode! I'm so very glad that I learned with a Pentax MX because I learned the fundamentals without digital aids. I still have it and play with it once in a while. But I'm also very glad that it's not the only arrow in my quiver...

How's that for a Luddite metaphor? Or should that be "Ludditious"?
07-27-2011, 03:15 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnmflores Quote
The 70s were a long time ago - did you really expect the world to freeze at the peak of disco, short-shorts, and roller skating?

Life's a cycle though. 30 years from now the 20-somethings buying dSLRs today will be lamenting what photography has become.
No, I didn't expect the world--and photography--to freeze. I expected them to advance. The whole point of my post is that what we have today is very questionable if we think of it as 'progress.'

You are right that the 70s were a long time ago. (My wife continually reminds me of this.) However, real progress would consist in a camera that maintained the reliability of the past, while going even further in terms of image quality and creative options.

We have, I believe, gone backwards (way backwards!) in terms of reliability, and we're about at the same place as concerns image quality. We might have more 'creative options' today. However, as others have noted, the 'spray and pray' mentality that accompanies digital photography has not resulted in a higher level of photographic aesthetics.

BTW, my family will be vacationing in Italy next month. Two cameras are coming along: My wfe's Fuji X100 and a Pentax MX (with a couple lenses). The DSLRS are staying at home.


Last edited by Byrd-2020; 07-27-2011 at 03:50 PM.
07-27-2011, 04:30 PM   #20
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Digital has made the bottom far better, but the top has moved little.

Digital is unequalled at verisimilitude (look it up).
07-27-2011, 05:01 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Byrd-2020 Quote
No, I didn't expect the world--and photography--to freeze. I expected them to advance. The whole point of my post is that what we have today is very questionable if we think of it as 'progress.'

You are right that the 70s were a long time ago. (My wife continually reminds me of this.) However, real progress would consist in a camera that maintained the reliability of the past, while going even further in terms of image quality and creative options.

We have, I believe, gone backwards (way backwards!) in terms of reliability, and we're about at the same place as concerns image quality. We might have more 'creative options' today. However, as others have noted, the 'spray and pray' mentality that accompanies digital photography has not resulted in a higher level of photographic aesthetics.

BTW, my family will be vacationing in Italy next month. Two cameras are coming along: My wfe's Fuji X100 and a Pentax MX (with a couple lenses). The DSLRS are staying at home.
Ahh, Italy. I got married in Gubbio, Umbria. Such a photogenic country. I went with a Pentax K20d and 3 primes - the DA 21, 35, and 70 Limiteds. The only thing I would change would be a 15 for the 21 perhaps. Enjoy!

I'm not so sure that we've gone backwards in terms of reliability. Hypothetically, maybe. But practically, I don't know. I've got 100,000 photos on my hard drive, most taken with a half dozen digital cameras. Not a single one of them has required any repairs or adjustments. That includes being hung off of a motorcycle, shooting in the rain and snow, and -40 degree temperatures.

And I had a photographer friend (educated with Nikon FMs et. al.) that literally shot the lights out of a series of digital point-and-shoots. Like 50,000 shutter actuations in a year before the shutter died. Could a point and shoot film camera take 50,000 photos before some mechanical part failed?

And regarding a "higher level of photographic aesthetics" ... doesn't that ultimately come from the photographer, not the camera? I've got two points to make about this:

1 - Maybe the progress is, as others have suggested, the continued democratization of the medium. The digitization of photography - along with advances in AF and AE - has put the ability to take technically sound photos into many more hands. Going back to the 70s again, a point-and-shoot was a dumb box - fixed focus lens, rudimentary metering, plastic lens. These days, a point-and-shoot will identify and focus on faces, detect when there's a strong backlight, and fire the flash while stabilizing the sensor. Is it a good photo? Depends on the photographer.

2 - The advancements that are making photography more democratic are simultaneously making it harder to stand out, forcing the really motivated and creative types to try new things. Yes, most of the stuff on Flickr and elsewhere are pretty pedestrian - decent image quality but nothing that couldn't have been done with film. But every once in a while you come upon something that literally could not have been done 30 years ago - like tack sharp and shot at astronomical ISOs or wide dynamic range or some really neat strobistry. And if you're really lucky, it's by someone that has both the technical chops and a truly creative eye.

So if you don't think that digital photographer has made the royal us better photographers, maybe it's not quite fair to blame the camera. After all, us serious photographers are so quick to point out that it's the photographer and not the camera that makes the image. If that's true, then it's the photographer not the camera that makes a mediocre image as well.

Ok, I've gone on too long. Maybe I'll go look at old photos of Italy now.... cheers!
07-27-2011, 07:44 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
That is a lot like saying a negative isn't exposed well. That could be me, the body, the settings or both.
It was the K20d's poor metering.
07-27-2011, 09:47 PM   #23
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I grew up in my dad's small darkroom, immersed in the odors of photo chems. I really learned my sh!t with an ancient German 1934 Kodak Retina I, the very first 135 film camera: no RF, no metering, just aperture-shutter-focus controls to operate. Meter (handheld) or judge light; pace off distances; shoot (mostly) slow film through a 50/3.5 lens. I now have 35 film cams: folder, view, box, RF, SLR, TLR, VF, cine, in numerous formats. I've even built my own. They're great, and I even still use some of them sometimes. But my digitals get a lot more shutter-clicks.

Photography (the word) means "writing/drawing with light". Modern tech goes beyond that; imaging includes non-visible and non-EMF energy sources. We produce images for utility and art, to record and distort, for truth and propaganda and and science and whatever. The next generation will be imagers, not photographers. We are dinosaurs-on-the-hoof. It's time to evolve further. I look forward to xray-ultrasound-holo-3D-thermal-etc GXR mountors|lensors.

Our cameras are so quaint. Let us cherish them.

07-27-2011, 11:16 PM - 1 Like   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by redrockcoulee Quote
...
IMHO more bad photography will be made with digital in comparision to film simply because all those who do not care to learn photography will use the easier media.
,,,
My mother took up photography in her 70s. She used an Olympus 35mm P&S (this was pre-digital), all she knew how to do was load film, turn the camera on, zoom in & out, press the button, remove the film and send it for processing. She took some great pictures as she had a good eye. There are plenty of people who know all the technicalities but who almost never produce an image I'd care to spend much time looking at.

Digital has really opened up photography - it's cheaper than it ever was (at the bottom end), and for most people's purposes they don't need to know anything technical. They are not after making art, or getting the sharpest possible image, they are after memories. However one person's beloved memories are another person's boring images....
07-27-2011, 11:25 PM   #25
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OP asked
QuoteQuote:
...But my question is this: Have we, with our modern digital cameras, really advanced photographically?

No doubt the ‘digital revolution’ has in many ways made photography more convenient.
Yes, modern digital cameras have advanced us photographically because of your second point.

The digital revolution has made it much easier and less costly for a large number of people to make a technically reasonable photograph.

A very small fraction of that large number of people have been enabled artistically (they couldn't do it before because they lacked the technical ability to handle development etc.) Therefore the net effect has been an increase in quality at the top - but with a huge increase in mediocrity overall.

The good stuff may have fallen percentage-wise while the absolute number of good photos has increased.
07-29-2011, 10:40 AM   #26
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Its a bit difficult to answer for the new generation of photographers, of which I would count myself one, having only become interested in photography in 2008...someone who has never shot film in the past may more than likely learn with digital first off. To get people interested, seeing photos and the quality possible is useful as an incentive, and the distribution of these photos is made much easier via the digital process. So digital definitively helps get new people into photography. However, digital I think is the result of the application of technology (rather than an application seeking new technology), and still isnt quite there yet, due to manufacturing costs. I personally think 35mm film offers the optimal blend of compactness, IQ and depth of field control...and have got into film as a result of trying digital first. Certainly, decent B&W film, shot well, developed and printed well, can produce a "nicer" image, but from start to finish, that process is a lot longer than for digital.
07-29-2011, 11:33 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by hoojammyflip Quote
Its a bit difficult to answer for the new generation of photographers, of which I would count myself one, having only become interested in photography in 2008...someone who has never shot film in the past may more than likely learn with digital first off. To get people interested, seeing photos and the quality possible is useful as an incentive, and the distribution of these photos is made much easier via the digital process. So digital definitively helps get new people into photography. However, digital I think is the result of the application of technology (rather than an application seeking new technology), and still isnt quite there yet, due to manufacturing costs. I personally think 35mm film offers the optimal blend of compactness, IQ and depth of field control...and have got into film as a result of trying digital first. Certainly, decent B&W film, shot well, developed and printed well, can produce a "nicer" image, but from start to finish, that process is a lot longer than for digital.
In general the reason I shoot film is the b/w, and i rarely shoot colour film. There is something about a well produced b/w print (wet print) that i think digital has yet to match. Colour on the other hand i think digital is in many cases better (certainly it's more flexible in changing light sources) but only of late. the FF options of course i think have surpassed 35mm (and the K5 as well IMO) but still they aren't great at b/w regardless of the various PP techniques and plugins (but it is now damn close and i think the biggest hindrance is in the print end)

I also shoot film for DOF as well and for that I actually shoot 645 not 35
07-29-2011, 12:06 PM   #28
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Using a DSLR can be almost exactly like using an SLR I've found depending upon how you go about it. Yeah, you can use AF 100% of the time and take a thousand pics and hope for one good one, and I'm not saying I don't sometimes do just that when I am severely pressed for time and trying to get "any" good shot that I can. If I have maybe 2 seconds to catch an ansty eagle you bet I am going to leave the camera on auto and go for it. If I don't have the time to fiddle, I don't. Better I take 25 quick shots trying to get one good one of that bird than none because I am too busy trying to set up my camera while he is busy flying away...

But most of the time except for the fact that you're not having to load film in, you can also take your time and make your own settings and do exactly what you did with a film SLR. Post processing whether it's done in a photo lab or at home with a computer is sometimes necessary. You don't think the photo lab isn't likely doing some when your pics come out all a tad overexposed? A good film lab often will make adjustments for that kind of thing. Or the photographer will have to if they're making their own prints. Old film SLR's aren't perfect either. They mess up on exposure too. That's why I usually have a light meter in my pocket as a backup for the one in the camera.

I pretty much view my K-x as a digital SPII actually. Except for the fact that I can shoot on auto with AF if I want to and that I am using memory cards instead of film it's not been such a different thing for me. My *ist was no where near the camera the K-x is, and maybe that has a lot to do with it, but my K-x is a dream camera and I'm very happy so far with it. It actually feels a lot like my SPII only it's digital. It fits right into my hands and feels like it belongs there. Don't get me wrong I still take Queenie out for a spin now and again but that's more for the sake of nostalgia and as a hobby thing than not. My K-x could take over completely for my SPII. The fact that I still choose to shoot with my SPII sometimes is much more a matter of love than practicality. I just plain adore my SPII and refuse to stop using it completely, and won't so long as I can get film for it.

07-29-2011, 05:35 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
In general the reason I shoot film is the b/w, and i rarely shoot colour film. There is something about a well produced b/w print (wet print) that i think digital has yet to match. Colour on the other hand i think digital is in many cases better (certainly it's more flexible in changing light sources) but only of late. the FF options of course i think have surpassed 35mm (and the K5 as well IMO) but still they aren't great at b/w regardless of the various PP techniques and plugins (but it is now damn close and i think the biggest hindrance is in the print end)

I also shoot film for DOF as well and for that I actually shoot 645 not 35
With black and white there is also the magic of seeing the image develop in the tray which you do not get in colour (or from a printer). The last 35mm colour film I shot was in a rented XPan. And now I have finished the 4X5 Velvia I will most likely not shoot in that format anymore. I still shoot colour in the Hasselblad and part of that is the square image and part is it is much easier to switch the back than pull out a different camera. But most of my colour is with the digital.
07-29-2011, 06:02 PM   #30
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I will shoot colour in the 645 usually velvia
35 strictly bw except for test rolls on a camera because ill get them developed faster by spending $3
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