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Are Film Users Inflexible???

Discussion in 'Film Forum' started by Bill, Jul 11, 2008.

  1. I may be sticking my foot in my mouth, but I think this may be an interesting discussion whether it has any photographic value is open for discussion.

    I started taking photos of my first born in the mid 60’s. Yes I remember the 60’s. My interest increased to the point that I spent hours at a time developing, printing and drying B&W images, from 4x6 to 16x20. For a few years I developed slides, until I realized I didn’t have much control as I did with B&W. Now I still continue to take some B&W photos with film, but most of my images are now digital.

    Since my interest lies with both film and digital, I read and contribute to both within this forum. I have noticed that the opinions express in the film posts are more defined and less flexible than opinions under the digital posts. I find that I still have my favorite and go to film, however, I don’t that that same commitment to digital sofeware.

    Question: Do you think that is due to, each film has its specific purpose and functions best under very specific conditions, therefore, each film user’s opinion has to be set and inflexible, whereas, digital photography is in constant change, therefore digital user’s have to be more flexible in their photography and in their opinion?
  2. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    I don't understand your hypothesis Bill. When you say that film users are less flexible than digital users (although most folks here use both) do you mean that they always process the same? Or that they center their work on a specific subject? Or use the same film?

    Please flesh out your question with some specifics and it will be easier to discern what you are asking. Thanks!
  3. Bill
    I have to admit that I'm not sure of what you asked, but I'm a non-native English speaker, however I'll try to reply for what I can.

    For sure different kinds of film (slides, negative colour, b/w, infrared) have a different approach because it's a different medium and needs different means and times to be processed. Plus, each own has a "classical" field of use because of its characteristics:

    slides are usually for landscapes and studio shooting, negative colours for everyday life, but also for weddings, as well as B/W that is often used also by PJ because of its superior exposure latitude.

    On a DSLR you have the same identical sensor doing it all and the quality / graininess / look of a B/W image is nearly identical to the same image in colours, but you don't lose anything in sharpness or noise.

    Moreover, with the newest cameras, also high iso use has been "flattened" and actually we see iso 6400 images as once were others at iso 800 And so on.

    Third, digital images can be so easily tweaked by the pc that OF COURSE a DSLR user is more flexible than a film one.

    In the end, I really think it's a different approach even if I heard many people saying the contrary. Imho.
  4. By nature, people are more committed in the film niche because the decisions you make are more permanent, and you tend to go with what works. With software, it's "try this. Ooops, undo! undo!" and then try something else. You don't have to choose negative/transparency, color/bw before the exposure is made.

  5. My initial questions is in regard to how film users stick to there opinions and standards much more than digital users. It seems that once a film user decides on a film or photo procedures, they become less flexible then the digital user. It is my thought that since the nature of film seldom changes (for specific conditions) the film user’s opinions on most photographic maters, seldom changes. On the other hand, since digital seems to be on constant change, the digital user's opinions on software and procedures are in constant change.
  6. cotdt


    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
    I think the reason film users stick to their opinions regarding film choice, camera, format, etc. is because there is such a big difference between the various films and equipment. Slide film is very different from negative film, which is obviously different from B&W silver. Wet prints also look very different from inkjet prints, with a very different process as well. Rangefinders are very different from SLRs.

    Whereas in digital, there is not much variety so people can easily change their opinions. DSLRs across the brands are quite similar to each other. Everyone uses a similar process to get their photos.
  7. Sean summed it up best IMO.
  8. Yup, Sean summed it up. At this point, I'm thinking a lot of people shooting or going back to shooting film are more open minded about photography. They are finding that there are different tools and different mediums for different situations. I didn't think I'd ever shoot much film again, I'd begun a mission to get it out of my fridge and I lamented the crappy price I was going to get for my F5...now I had to turn on my garage freezer because I had no more room for pot-pies!:biggrin:
  9. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Oh, ok. I see what you are getting at. I view photography, more than other visual arts, as an exercise in working within strict limitations. First of all, there is the fact that photographs map a 3 dimensional scene onto 2 - an entire dimension is collapsed. Then there is the border of the picture. It ends abruptly at the edge. Sure paintings and drawings have borders, but the border can be extended if need be. The border of a photograph is inherent, and represented in the viewfinder. When a monochromatic image is made, a third limitation is applied.

    These constraints apply equally to film and digital photography. With film, however, one is held to an even tighter realm of interpretation. Especially if the image is not digitized and then manipulated. However considering that much film photography is ultimately digitized, the special constraints of film end there.

    The sensitometric and colormetric responses of film have their counterparts in the use of various sensors in digital. A Canon cmos sensor has different characteristics than a Sony ccd for example. These dis-similarities do not correspond to the differences in film one-to-one, but they are of a similar nature. The choice of film is more likely to be based on it's characteristics than is the choice of digital sensor. So in that, I would contend that film shooters have the option to be more flexible, not less!

    Now if you had asked, are film shooters more likely to be purists, I would have had to agree.
  10. agw0


    Oct 28, 2006
    Munich, Germany
    No, I don't think so.

    There are, IMO, two basic approaches possible:
    1. Strive for consistency
    2. Explore creative options

    If you want consistency, this means finding a work flow that works for you, and then not to change it without need. This holds true for both film and digital. For film it's obvious, that film/development combinations have to be kept fixed if one wants consistently reproducible results. For digital, IMHO its equally true that one needs to settle on a work flow that is properly calibrated, if consistent and predictable results are wanted. This means, that hunting for the latest gadget in terms of bodies or pp software every year is not a good idea, if consistency is sought. So, I think the amount of inflexibility needed to achieve a consistent work flow is irrespective of whether one shoots film or digital.

    Exploration of creative options, OTOH, is equally possible with film and digital, and IMHO for film even needs more willingness of larger changes to one's work flow. While using Photoshop a large number of creative options are available, if one wants to achieve similar flexibility in creative options with wet processes only, then much more experimentation and willingness to try "strange" things is needed.

    Fortunately, I'm more the type searching for consistency. So, no developing in coffee for me...:wink:
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