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02-04-2007, 11:20 PM   #1
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Slide film vs. Digital?

I was talking to some friends of mine, and they were all film users who switched to digital. When they were talking to a recent digital convert, a few of the comments I heard was:

"Treat your D-SLR as if there was some slide film in it".

I haven't shot with slide film, so I don't know what they meant by this.


02-05-2007, 02:10 AM   #2
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So I think I am shooting properly then. I sometimes find myself going about a 1/3 stop overexposure a few times (in P mode if I check the meter) to get a good shot, but a recent night shot I did really showed me how far I can go with the exposure - I blew out some detail on a sign not to mention the blue.

I don't think I'll get another opportunity to try the same shot (they only light up the place for Christmas) but at least I will know what to do if faced with a similar situation.

02-05-2007, 04:55 AM   #3
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There is less latitute with slide film than color negative film. Thus with digital you have to be a little more "right on" with exposure settings. In fact unlike color negative film, the only room for error is in underexposuring not over.
02-05-2007, 08:52 AM   #4
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Both Colin and kshapero spoke well. I would like to add that saying you have mentioned is more related to JPEG than raw shooting. With JPEG similarity to slide is very strong since with JPEG you get what you get immediately and it is not so convenient to edit later and "redevelop" JPEGs, which is indeed similar to slides.

However, while "expose for the highlights" stays, shooting raw will give you additional control in the post processing stage, which is now getting closer to printing from a negative. My prior experience with color slides, color negatives and B&W negatives (processed and printed myself) allows me to say that shooting raw is somewhere between slides and negatives: while you should expose for the highlights (the opposite of film negatives) in most cases it is possible to properly develop or recover shadows (not likely with slides). As you can see, although there are similarities digital photography has some new rules.

If you shoot raw then you could maximize dynamic range by shooting this way: switch to spot metering, find the brightest area in the scene while avoiding specular highlights (that is, light sources or reflections of light sources), set Tv/Av to get reading of +2 to +3 (test at what reading your particular camera sample overexposes, then go -0.5 down and remember that number) and take a picture. This will assure you never get blown highlights and provides sometimes unbelievable flexibility when it comes to recovering shadows in raw processing. (Note that this procedure requires post processing to get proper final result, similar to printing negatives.)

-= IVAN =-

02-05-2007, 12:21 PM   #5
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Hey alvin

the reason I used slide is because it taught me the hard way on how to get proper exposure. either you hit the nail on the head, or you had a white washed out slide or one that was to dark to see. I could be wrong, but I was told 1 1/2 stops compared to 4 or more stops with negatives.

the other reason I used slide was control. when slides are processed, you get exactly the exposure you set your camera for. with negatives, most of it was up to the machine that printed it off.

slides also had better dynamic range and the colors were twice as saturated then negatives.
also, when you get them to make a print from the slide, you only tell them to match density and color. they have a great reference (the slide that was exposed the way you wanted it to be) to print from
once I tried bracketing exposure with negative film, and when they were processed they all looked the same. negatives have a wider exposure tollerance which can be a bonus or a negative.

all in all, learning on slides helped a lot when changing to digital


02-07-2007, 02:22 PM   #6
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Personally, I feel like my DSLR images have MUCH more dynamic range than my slide film ... particularly in shadows. That said, once you clip the highlights you're in trouble. Yes, RAW can save you sometimes but those highlights are precious.

Anyway, I'll take DSLR images over film any day ... even my ISO 50 stuff has more grain than my ISO 200 images have noise. I rarely used ISO 800 or 1600 back in my film days because of the grain ... but I wouldn't hesitate using ISO 800 or 1600 on a DSLR if I needed it.
02-07-2007, 02:54 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by JJJPhoto Quote
Personally, I feel like my DSLR images have MUCH more dynamic range than my slide film ... particularly in shadows.
I think that's especially true with our K10Ds. My old Nikon D50 didn't do near as well with shadow detail.
05-26-2007, 11:16 AM   #8
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Shooting with good slide film and then drum scanning produces the best digital images one can get from a camera. But with the workflow being so much easier with digital cameras, I can't recommend doing it.

For those that have had the pleasure of starting their photography career with digital cameras, I say move forward and forget about film. Naturally, you still need to learn all the physics (shutter speed, apeture, Depth-Of-Field (DOF), etc.), but do it with the digital camera. You can apply all the same information found for film cameras, just realize that your "film stock" is different. And now that the digital workflow has overtaken (or will overtake) the film industry, you can learn all the techniques required for a digital sensor before the film hold-outs do!

11-23-2008, 03:36 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by TravellingLight Quote

The mantra with negative film is "Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights". With slide film, it's "Expose for the highlights, pray for the shadows".

In digital, your worst enemy is blown highlights, so you're closer to slide film technique. The difference is that digital blows out very suddenly, while even Velvia blows relatively softly, so you have to be very careful with digital. The catchphrase here is "Expose to the right", meaning you check your histogram to see it's as far to the right as possible without clipping. The further you are to the right, the less noise in the shadows.

I don't know how the K100D meters, but I can tell you that our *istD, K10D and Canon 5D all usually need 1/2 to 1 stop overexposure from auto values, sometimes more. Take a test shot, chimp the histogram, and apply compensation to almost but not quite clip the highlights.

If you shoot RAW, it's permissible to clip one channel, but not in jpeg.

Hope that's clear, but if not, shout again.


Some very helpful input in the thread.

I was surprised to see, how hard it was to boost shadows in a slide shot I had taken.

BW negative film, I still like a lot, though. Am experimenting with the different ones at the moment
11-23-2008, 04:02 PM   #10
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I just got back from a trip where I shot digital with a k10, and film with fuji sensia. The film was processed and scanned at the lab. Both went into lightzone. For all the digital images I expanded the contrast, for most of the slide, I didn't need to. Does this mean for my setup I'm getting more dynamic gange from the slide?
I too like slide because it eliminates the processing variable.
11-24-2008, 10:38 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by JJJPhoto Quote
Anyway, I'll take DSLR images over film any day ... even my ISO 50 stuff has more grain than my ISO 200 images have noise. I rarely used ISO 800 or 1600 back in my film days because of the grain ... but I wouldn't hesitate using ISO 800 or 1600 on a DSLR if I needed it.
You should pop over here:
11-24-2008, 01:02 PM   #12
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I read in some reviews that Pentax in particular among digitals does better with shadows than highlights, even in post-processing, so I plan to use my old guidelines about 'expose for any highlights you can't do without, and don't be afraid to let a blue sky go.'

My attitude toward color tends to be, 'That which goes in the extra body for when you see something your slide film can do well,' of course.

Some readjustments of perspective will of course be in order, but as a general rule, get the right exposure on your subject, or you have nothing. Polarizers do a great job of equalizing any conflicting desires, that way, with sky or particularly-reflective buildings.
12-03-2008, 10:02 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by reelitupandup Quote
LV Dan

digital will die out long before film does

If you're talking about digital and analog as a whole, I don't see how digital would die out.

But I will hazard a guess and say that my K1000 and Spotmatic will outlive my K200D.

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