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Thread: What's Your Take on Digital Photography These Days?

  1. #1
    Old but Crafty RayMac's Avatar
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    What's Your Take on Digital Photography These Days?

    Well it's been about 20 years now since digital cameras began to take off in the consumer market. They were around before that of course but mainly as expensive professional units.
    In 2002 I was still a dedicated film photographer. I bought a new Nikon F80 AF SLR back then. And that continued to be my "focus" for a few more years.
    In 2003 I got my first digicam (Canon Powershot A60 2 MP - Wow!) I've gradually upgraded my digital stuff over the years and did my last serious film shooting in 2006.
    My current travel cam is a pocket sized Canon S90. However after a 10 year absence I have decided to get back into SLRs with a small and light Nikon D5500. That will mount my old film lenses but I have to focus manually with them. To get full AF compatibility with my 1990s lenses would mean a huge, heavy and expensive DSLR and I don't think I want to schlep anything like that around any longer.
    I'm not a selfie, Instagram, Facebook type of photographer so I can never see a smartphone camera taking the place of a real one in my life. However a lot of folks seem to have gone this way - after the small cheap digicams destroyed the film market, they are themselves being decimated by iPhones and iPads. There's even some question if eventhe consumer SLR market can survive this type of disruption.
    It seems ironic that digital cameras which started out as professional instruments may eventually end up back where they started. Go figure.
    So where do you stand these days? Thinking of a new digital camera or content with your smartphone? Are you an Instagram addict? Are you going to make a return to film ( a similar phenomenon to the vinyl and turntable nostalgia that's hitting audiophiles today?)


    Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap. ~Doug Larson

  2. #2
    I had an (expensive for the time) real film stills camera once, back in the eighties - permenantly attached lens - I can't remember what price it was , but it was a fair wedge of money at the time ..... 150 ?
    Some relatively no-name japan stuff.

    The waiting for the results (often disappointing) a week or so later took all the fun out of it ..... so I sold it eventually ....... didn't have one for decades then......

    Then perhaps 10 years ago, bought a pocket 5MP sony... was good at the time, got some photo's from it (at the time) - still got it somewhere - works perfectly, .....then five years ago got another Sony (in a deal)

    Then 6 months ago I bought my Panasonic GX7 and a few lenses ... and I'm still experimenting .....

    So I never did my own processing with real film , before my time ... or I didn't have a camera in my life early enough to get into self processing ..... so all that has passed me by - much like LP's and cassettes have passed some of the kids of today by ... they never did get to use them


    Ahhhhhh , those were the days ......... looks misty eyed

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by RayMac View Post

    So where do you stand these days? Thinking of a new digital camera or content with your smartphone? Are you an Instagram addict? Are you going to make a return to film ( a similar phenomenon to the vinyl and turntable nostalgia that's hitting audiophiles today?)
    I am planning on buying a digital camera this year for what it is worth.
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  4. #4
    When I was young I had a film SLR and enjoyed the quality that it was capable of, especially for taking photos indoor without a flash. In time though I tired of being stuck behind a large bit of equipment and found I prefered simply not taking photos to carting it about and getting nice photos.

    Then when phones started getting cameras I found that I got more pleasure from that than from the Canon and it's multiple lenses, even when picture quality was still a total joke. Similarly I get plenty of pleasure from being able to mess pictures around with free software.

    So I don't think I'll ever return to SLRs, despite knowing full well how superior they are to what I have. Maybe I'll change my tune in a couple of decades time.

  5. #5
    Moderator gnuyork's Avatar
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    Ray, I had a similar journey. I did film photography in high school and college, processed my own film and made B&W silver darkroom prints, and with color transparency and made Ilfochrome prints. Around 2001 I got my first digital - a canon eplh (2MP). I had a lot of fun with that little camera, and eventually got an Epson to make 8x10 color prints. The results astounded me.

    After renting and playing with one of the first canon DSLRs I eventually bought one a few years later - the Canon EOS 1D mkII (8MP). This is when I dove heavily into digital (the body alone was $4500!!). I purchased another larger Epson printer, a 1280 that I converted to all B&W with the MIS ink system and made ver nice fine art B&Ws. Back then I still felt B&W inkjet to be lacking without going to a custom all B&W ink set up. Shortly after Epson came out with printers that really could do nice B&W. Skeptical, I bough an Epson R2400, if nothing else it would be a good pigment color printer. I banged out my first B&W and my jaw dropped. It was better than the my custom MIS set up in my opinion.

    After a few years of doing the digital thing, I became somewhat bored and got back into shooting film. I like the flexibility of digital, but I no longer found it rewarding. I purchased a 4x5 camera and an old Kodak Ektar lens from Ebay. I started reading Adams books and reading about and understanding the zone system, though to this day, really have not put it to full practice. Later I purchased some more modern 4x5 lenses (sharp as they get) and started shooting color transparency again. I purchased my second epson scanner (V750) to scan the 4x5 transparencies and make inkjet prints. This combo was very flexible - the best of both worlds (sort of). There's no doubt the flexibility of photoshop is an advantage, but in the end, even inkjet prints, as nice as they look, do not quite compare to real Ilfochrome prints, same goes for B&W silver prints, in my opinion.

    Later I purchased a used Leica M6 that was barley used. Seriously looked brand new - (got a killer deal right at the height of the financial crisis around 2008ish) and I purchased a Summicron 50 mm lens from KEH, again looked brand new. This might be my favorite camera, but it's a tough call between that and shooting 4x5 - just different styles and mindsets with each. Again later I purchased a high res film scanner, Minolta DiMage 5400, and a couple years back yet another Printer. This time a Canon ipf 8300 which is a 44" wide printer. It's huge, almost the size of a small car, lol. For a while I was shooting Kodachrome and Ektachrome street images and scanning them with the Minolta and making large color prints on Metallic paper. The last gallery show I did was made this way. I was astonished how large I could take 35mm images, but the combo of the Summicron lens and the high res Minolta were strengths for the process. Most images were 24" but I did make some panos that were almost 4 feet long that looked very good considering they were 35mm slide scans.

    I have since acquired a few more digitals to mess around with - Leica X1, Canon 5DMkII, but I still prefer working with film if I'm doing something fine art. The 5D I purchased mainly for it's video capabilities, which still is quite impressive even today.

    Last year I came to the realization that my favorite color films have become extinct (well Kodachrome has been gone for a few years now) but my favorite Ektachrome for 35mm, a my favorite for 4x5 was Velvia RVP 50. All gone!!

    So I did some web research on a close digital alternative to the colors I was able to get from those films, and the I kept coming across the Sigma Faveon cameras. Last year I purchased through one of the cyber monday deals, a Sigma DP2 Merril. It's a slow, quirky, fixed lens, clunky camera, but I tell you the RAW files I get from this digital is the FIRST digital camera that has me excited all over again. I have used $80K digital backs on $15K+ cameras that give me lesser results than what I see in the Sigma files. It's truly quite remarkable.

    So today, I still have a heart for film, and I still shoot 4x5, and the Leica rangefinder, depending on what type of shooting I plan to do. But more times than not, I grab the Sigma, again due to the convenience, and instant results. I can take a photo, download the card to my computer, work on the file in Lightroom, upload to my server and post here all in a matter of an afternoon (or less) and then post to Instagram. I still have plenty of undeveloped film sitting around, that I keep "meaning" to process. Where Digital is much easier to commit to finishing.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it

    PS - I recently got into vinyl too. I didn't know what I was missing all of these years of CD. Vinyl rocks!
    Last edited by gnuyork; May 6, 2015 at 04:03 PM.

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  7. #6
    Old but Crafty RayMac's Avatar
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    Joe,
    You are still really into film still from the looks of it. I have a Minolta slide scanner somewhere and I should really get a copy of Vuescan and get it working with Windows 7. There's still a bunch of 30 year old slides I need to scan.
    I did some darkroom work back early in my career, as the research lab where I worked had a fully equipped darkroom. However being a chemist this seemed too much like my real job to enjoy it LOL.
    I'm keeping my F80 but I have to say that I am really sold on digital now. The last stuff I shot with my 35mm film camera looked pretty grainy compared to what I usually get even with my pint sized S90. That was with some Fuji 400 ISO print film.
    The one film camera I'd love to get is a Rolleiflex - just to sit and look at it on my desk. What a machine!
    Another digital one that looks great to me is the Fuji X100T.


    Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap. ~Doug Larson

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  9. #7
    Old but Crafty RayMac's Avatar
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    So I don't think I'll ever return to SLRs, despite knowing full well how superior they are to what I have. Maybe I'll change my tune in a couple of decades time.
    Well it took me 10 years to get a digital SLR so I understand. Actually you don't need an SLR 99% of the tiime. Today's point and shoots are pretty good for everything except fast motion and fast focusing.
    I read an article lately that said the hard core camera makers like Canon and Nikon blew it by concentrating too much on fashioning superb hardware while most folks today just want good software that would help them put stuff on Facebook, Instagram etc. A cheap point and shoot is better than most phone cameras but the smartphones are still eating their lunch when it comes to sales.
    I suppose I'm not typical because I want a great camera first and then I'll worry about how to publish the images.


    Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap. ~Doug Larson

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  11. #8
    I do most of my photography to record images I may want to paint. When I used film I found myself compelled to be slavishly accurate to the image. When I switched to digital I had no trouble at all in using the images as mere tools or hints. Overnight I became more creative and the switch to digital was one of the reasons I became a significantly better painter, so I am a dedicated digital user even though I prefer film.

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  13. #9
    Super Member Raza's Avatar
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    I've taken some pretty great photos (at least in my opinion), just with an iPhone camera. I mean, my Nikon D3000 is an entry level DSLR from a few years back and it's still way more camera than I am prepared to handle, and I've taken photography classes to get better at taking pictures.

    I have a digital point and shoot, a Canon something or other that that guy with the website said was the best point and shoot available (you know who I mean, I can't remember his name). It's great. But at the same time, I always have my phone with me, and it's not far off the mark, especially now that there's photo editing right on the phone. I can take a photo and instantly balance out color or crop out details I don't want. It's fascinating. And I don't have to carry another device.

    Especially for travel....checking a bag costs so much these days, and a camera bag can take the place of a regular carry on, my DSLR doesn't make any trips by plane with me. It's too much to lug along. Even a P+S gets to be too much if I'm walking around with just my pockets to keep stuff in. With keys, phone, wallet, lighter, et al, my pockets are at carrying capacity already. No room for a marginal improvement over my phone camera.

  14. #10
    Moderator gnuyork's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raza View Post
    that that guy with the website said was the best point and shoot available (you know who I mean, I can't remember his name).
    Ken Rockwell, I presume.

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