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Thoughts on Digital Photography

By czth in Op-Ed
Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:54:24 AM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

I recently purchased a digital camera (the Sony DSC-F707), and thought I'd write a little about my experiences with it and with photography in general. I've been into photography since 1996, mostly film, of course, but now I feel it's time to make the move to digital. I'd say I'm a fairly serious photographer, and these are my thoughts on it all.

As to my experience: I'm not a professional photographer; my "day job" is coding, like many here. I started with an Olympus 35RD rangefinder given me by my dad, then in October 1997 I bought a Nikon F50 (N50 in USA), returned it for the Nikon F90X (N90s in USA) (more control), after realizing the benefits of an SLR (Single Lens Reflex), i.e. what you see is what you get, and interchangeable lenses. Over the past few years I've picked up a nice collection of lenses (all Nikkor except a Tamron zoom I got with the body: 20/2.8D, 50/1.8, 105/2.8micro, 180/2.8ED-IF[1]), mostly used, and taken literally thousands of photos. For flash, I use the SB-28 speedlight, usually on a bracket or handheld (SC-17 cord to preserve TTL[2] and matrix metering) to eliminate red-eye[3]. I shoot mostly candids and scenery, and my gear has survived four week-long canoe trips into Algonquin Park (Northern Ontario) plus numerous shorter trips. I've been photo editor at Imprint (the University of Waterloo student paper), and taken a lot of photos for it during my university studies (Nikon FM-2ns, F90Xes, and Coolpix 950s; usually Ilford HP5+ B&W film, developed ourslves then scanned with a Nikon LS2000 negative scanner; yes, we're a Nikon shop :-). I know my way around a darkroom and am proficient in Photoshop. I've shot a few weddings for friends, conventions, etc.

I was led by an earlier article to determine I'm an INTJ, anyway, I'm definitely a "System builder"; I have (almost) every roll of film I've shot cross-referenced to a database. But this organization is a lot of work:
  • Taking the photos to get developed, waiting, then having to go and pick them up - or - developing the film yourself, which might be faster but isn't all that cost effective and those chemicals can't be good for you;
  • Filing the negatives in a plastic sheet in a binder;
  • Making a database entry, which involves looking up various records to check dates and times (I confess to being a little obsessed with correct chronology);
  • Sorting through the photos themselves to determine which ones to keep in my album;
  • (Optionally) scanning the prints (HP ScanJet 4200C flatbed) and tweaking them in Photoshop (standard size, eliminate artifacts or blemishes);
  • Organizing the scanned images online in a useful manner (e.g. my Chronicle, which is a bit out of date now, but the design was a good learning experience, or various sites (1 2) for the aforementioned canoe trips). Those sites evolved over several years, using a PHP system with an extensible parser that I wrote (this was pre-XML, but today I'd probably use XML).
That was then. This is now.

The Sony F707 is a five megapixel camera, which means that it's sufficient for all my purposes (usually 4x6 prints, and that size will go to 8x10 easily). Local chain computer stores like Future Shop will now make prints from digital media (memory sticks etc.) fairly cheaply, and the price of good photo-quality printers like the HP PhotoSmart is falling daily.

The F707's lens is a Carl Zeiss, which is among the best, and it does very well in reviews (and here); the 5x zoom is equivalent to a 38mm-190mm 35mm, and it has the usual auto-*, shutter priority, aperature priority, and manual modes, good controls for managing stored photos, hooks up as a USB storage device (I built and installed Linux kernel 2.4.17 last night, pursuant to being able to read the images in Linux), or can be connected to a TV to view the photos on the screen.

So far, it compares well to my Nikon system; the only problem is the flash. As I said, I shoot a lot of candids, and that means the multiflash standard red-eye reduction is useless. The flash is right over the lens, which makes red-eye pretty much guaranteed. This isn't Sony's fault; my Nikon F50's pop-up flash had the same problem. What is Sony's fault is not providing a standard hot-shoe (there is one, but it's not live) so I can use an external flash. I'll probably end up buying Sony's flash (proprietary connection, not a standard flash sync cord), because it preserves the TTL metering.

So, what benefits do I get from "going digital"?

First, the system is a lot lighter and more compact than my gargantuan Nikon rig, and the memory cards are tiny (it comes with a 16M but they sell up to 128M; 16M will take 50 standard-quality 1280x960 JPEGs, so 128M holds ~800!), it should also fit handily into a Ziploc bag to keep it waterproof in the canoe :). That's a significant gain right there, seeing as the image quality is, for my purposes, equivalent. I weighed in my fully loaded camera bag at 20kg (35lbs); the F707 is about 5kg. Means a lot when you're trying to move around quickly, or are carrying a canoe or backpack.

Next, look back at the process above that I go through for each film I shoot. Granted, not everyone is that thorough (fastidious, obsessive, whatever), but these advantages are still relevant.
  • No developing. Period. Instant viewing of results, and the ability to preview, discard, and reshoot immediately (edit, compile, run...);
  • No negatives to file. The closest I come to that is keeping thumbnails of each photo, which I can load into a single web page (by date, subject, whatever) to quickly find an image. The thumbnails can be generated automatically by programs such as ImageMagick's mogrify tool, as I've already been doing with my sites. And for storage/transportation, CDs are cheap, and so is HD space, for that matter;
  • The database becomes a lot simpler, because the camera automatically records the data, time, and exposure of each photograph; all that remains is to sort them chronologically (c'mon, ls will do that), rename them to something useful, e.g. in Paint Shop Pro's browser, and break them down by event, possibly throwing in some PHP code to allow annotations;
  • Sorting just involves going through the images on the memory stick, marking the ones to print, and dropping it off at Future Shop. Assuming their printer isn't utter crap, I already know what the results will look like, so I don't have to (as I would with film) print shots I don't like or that didn't turn out. I usually cull one third to one half of my shots (dupes or mishaps, like blinking);
  • No scanning, but I like to crop photos down to standard size and make various adjustments (yes, the GIMP is good, and open source is great, but Photoshop is still king).
In conclusion, I think the digital camera's time has come, and I see little reason to stay with film unless you need very large prints or five megapixels isn't enough detail. The digital camera is one high-tech device that actually does save time and add convenience - a true labour-saving device of the modern age - and, provided I can get my flash troubles worked out, this one's a keeper.

[1] The numbers are focal length (the usual standard lens is 50mm, although this has been getting wider esp. in point-and-shoot cameras) / maximum aperture (here, the lower the better). "D" means a lens equipped with pins for Nikon's "3D" flash metering; ED-IF is Extralow Dispersion glass and Internal Focussing. (I provide this info so those interested don't have to stare blankly at a list of numbers and can learn something if they want.)

[2] TTL metering is Through The Lens metering, allowing the lens to communicate to the flash how much light is incident on the CCD in this case, whereas if the flash has to use its own sensor it wouldn't compensate for zoom or being moved laterally e.g. onto a bracket or tripod.

[3] Red-eye is caused by light from the flash reflecting off the blood vessels in the back of the eye. Thus, if the flash is offset from the camera, the reflected rays will generally not return to the lens. (The preflash method instead causes the pupils to shrink, making less of a "target" for the reflection.)


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What type of camera do you have (use)?
o Don't have a camera 7%
o Point-and-shoot (APS/35mm) 15%
o Single Lens Reflex (35mm) 21%
o Medium/Large format/View 7%
o Digital 43%
o Pinhole 4%

Votes: 66
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o DSC-F707
o Olympus 35RD
o Nikon F90X
o Algonquin Park
o Imprint
o University of Waterloo
o earlier article
o database
o Chronicle
o 1
o 2
o evolved
o Future Shop
o HP PhotoSmart
o reviews
o here
o ImageMagic k
o Paint Shop Pro's
o the GIMP
o Photoshop
o Also by czth

Display: Sort:
Thoughts on Digital Photography | 52 comments (51 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
How do cost and repair factor in? (4.00 / 4) (#1)
by tiamat on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 10:57:38 PM EST

Does the digital cost the same (approx) to replace if it does go for a dip in Opeongo? (Big lake in Algonquin park.)

I have no idea how hard it is to replace parts or repair things yourself on a SLR camera. If anyone does know, do they also know if it's harder or easier on a digital one?

Do digital cameras make more noise or less noise than SLR cameras? Can that be affected by turning sound effects off (if there are any)?

noise (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by rebelcool on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:50:59 AM EST

digital cameras are silent (with the exception of the autozoom motor). Many have added a speaker and sounds to recreate the 'click' of the shutter, in order to be more friendly to people used to film cameras. Any decent one will allow you to turn that off however.

So the only things you'll hear are the motor zoom, the high pitched whine of a flash capacitor charging and the 'flick' noise when the flash goes off. Unless you've got really good hearing though, you won't notice them.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

dfjgh (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by scanman on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:26:17 AM EST

On my camera, the autofocus motor makes a sort of clicking noise. This, of course, happens a fraction of a second before the shutter actually opens, which causes people who don't know what they're doing to produce nothing but psychadelic blurs of color when using my camera. :(

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

Interesting (4.00 / 9) (#2)
by quantum pixie on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 11:08:00 PM EST

Have you considered x10's offerings? Apparently, their cameras offer both security and fun.

Free qpt!
slow? (3.50 / 2) (#3)
by knightbg on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 11:49:47 PM EST

the digital cameras i have used seem slow. do you find that this is not the case with the sony?

careful with consumer digital cameras (4.00 / 3) (#4)
by eLuddite on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:09:07 AM EST

This is how they work: (1) click the shutter (2) 5 seconds later the camera signals that it has taken the picture (3) remove clamps and nails immobilizing subject (4) congratulate yourself for saving money on film and processing while buying a set of batteries every 100 shots (5) after printing the image inform the Oxford English Dictionary that "colorspace" actually means "where did colors come from?!"

That said, digital is excellent if you can spend US$5-7000+ on a high end system (SLR lenses, no shutter delay, etc.) That's a lot of money. If, like most people, you count yourself lucky if you manage to squeeze one or two keepers per 50, buy a slide/negative scanner and print only contact sheets.

God hates human rights.

Mine works great (4.33 / 3) (#7)
by roystgnr on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:01:20 AM EST

The only odd thing is that it (Olympus D-510 Zoom) hasn't dropped in price in the 8 months I've owned it. It's rare to see electronics do that.

Here's how mine works: (1) There's about a second shutter delay before the first shot (you can preset it to take a sequence of rapid shots). This is my only complaint. (2) It fits in my pocket, so it goes lots of places I wouldn't have thought of taking a camera before, and I've taken more pictures during the past 8 months than during the past 8 years previous. (3) It uses 4 of the 8 AA rechargeable batteries I have. One set of batteries gets about two days of use, and takes about one day to charge. (4) It produces 8x10 prints that (on photo paper, with a $100 1200dpi printer and a 6-color cartridge) can be indistinguishable from analog photo enlargements. And I never have to print a 4x6 shot: how many pictures are so good that viewing them on a 19" monitor is insufficient, but so bad that they're not worth blowing up and framing? (5) It's not as configurable as a real 50mm, but even with the autofocus, auto white balance, etc. dummy settings it takes better pictures than I've ever seen come out of a consumer camera. Much better, when you consider that I now regularly take 5 times as many pictures as I want to save, and then delete the worst 80%. (6) Did I only mention twice that I take ten times more pictures now? It bears mentioning a third time. You'd be surprised at how many wonderful images you capture when you don't have to worry about swapping or running out of film after a couple dozen of them, when you can afford to take random shots here and there just because a digital shot has zero marginal cost. If you use a digital camera like a film camera, it's still better in many ways. But you won't use it like a film camera.

Yes, if you're a professional photographer (or have too much money and like to pretend you're a professional) you'll have to pay many thousands of dollars to get a digital camera that will be better than film in every way. And yes, there are a couple special ways (telephoto and wide-angle lenses and longer than 1/2 second exposures in particular) in which you'd need a $1000 digital camera to match up against a $300 film camera. For 99% of the population, who want to record memories and not sell artwork, these things are outweighed by the advantages.

[ Parent ]

that's pretty fast (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by eLuddite on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:33:26 AM EST

(1) There's about a second shutter delay before the first shot (you can preset it to take a sequence of rapid shots)

One second is quite fast. You must be shooting without autofocus and/or compressed jpegs and/or small resolutions on a low megapixel camera. In contrast, here are the timings for the DSC F707 mentioned in the article. Your Olympus appears faster despite the Sony's 1000$US price tag. Somehow I dont think you're getting something for nothing...

However, I agree that digital cameras are a blast and an excellent learning tool.

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

I underestimated it (4.00 / 2) (#16)
by roystgnr on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:00:24 AM EST

I timed it just now, and I can get that first picture to take anywhere from .5 seconds to 2 seconds depending on autofocus and flash settings. 1.5 seems most common. The compression settings don't seem to affect the speed of the first shot, they just change the number of shots you can take before the camera's RAM fills up and has to be written out to the smartmedia card. It is a low megapixel camera, but I've got a couple 8x10 picture frames hung with 1500x1200 images that look fine (including some hair-thin crane features in the distance of an Austin skyline shot) to me.

I know there are situations where even the $1000 digital cameras won't cut it... but half of those are things like weddings where you're hiring a professional photographer anyway.

Unfortunately my friend's hard drive is dying tonight; otherwise I'd have some interesting comparisons (scanned professional photos of his wedding vs. my "just got new camera" attempts) to make. My indoor shots (no flash, taken by another friend who hadn't seen the camera before) weren't up to par, but the outdoor shots looked almost as good as the pro's. For flattering portraits a good photographer will be softening the focus to smooth out skin textures anyways, and at that point the resolution of the camera doesn't matter so much.

I actually disagree with you on the "learning tool" factor. Digital cameras teach framing and composition pretty well, but the consumer level models try to hide many of the technical details of photography behind "is it sunny or cloudy" type menus. That's not entirely a bad thing. My pictures of the Sandia mountains and Austin skyline could be much improved with a film camera, of course, but I've got lots of pictures of my little cousins, for example, that wouldn't have been taken at all without a point-n-shoot camera, and that would have turned out lousy if the point-n-shoot had been a film camera.

[ Parent ]

Delays (none / 0) (#46)
by phliar on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:08:30 AM EST

One second is quite fast.
Some times for comparison: if I'm out with one of my compact rangefinders (the Konica S-3, for instance),
  • take camera out of pocket and raise to eye while removing lens cap - 0.25 s (removing the lens cap automatically turns it on)
  • focus - I've already started focusing while bringing the camera up to my eye, since I know how far the subject is - maybe another 0.2 s
  • take the picture - call it 0 s
  • advance film - 0.25 s
Total: three-quarters of a second. If I want to keep shooting, my inter-frame delay is about a quarter second. If there's actually enough light that I'm not using the lens wide open, I already have an aperture and shutter speed in mind. So 5 sec from power on to exposure is too long for me.

Compact rangefinders rock. My Canon EOS system gives me amazing images (especially if I have it on the monopod and I'm thinking) and the USM lenses focus fast and silent, but for sheer speed and stealth, nothing compares to the Konica. Its optics blow away every digital camera I've seen (priced below $200 or so), even when it's at f/1.8. The Konica was about $100.

Another compact rangefinder I use is the Olympus XA. Only f/2.8 but the clamshell is ideal if I'm going to be out on the town and might be drinking - very safe in my pocket with whatever else might be knocking around there. And $60 on Ebay.

Of course conventional 35mm cameras have had about 60 years of development, I'm sure the digital blokes will catch up. The cheaper digital cameras they're making now - what are the odds they'll still be usable in 30 years, like the point-and-shoots of 30 years ago - the S-3 and the XA and the Canonet G-III and the Yashica Electro CC and the Rollei XF35 and ...

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

disagreement (somewaht) (4.00 / 2) (#9)
by mikeliu on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:28:50 AM EST

Ok, I have a Sony P5, and I previously had a Sony S70. Both more consumer level cameras than the one the guy is reviewing.

"This is how they work: (1) click the shutter (2) 5 seconds later the camera signals that it has taken the picture (3) remove clamps and nails immobilizing subject "

Click the shutter, 1/2 a second, the picture takes, done. The only time that I have to worry about how long I have to hold the camera there is when taking shots which require long exposure times since they're dark. The flash solves that for pictures where the subject is close. As an average consumer, I've never even had a camera where it was an option to have a long exposure time to avoid using a flash before, so even though I have to hold the camera still for these, at least the option is there.

"(4) congratulate yourself for saving money on film and processing while buying a set of batteries every 100 shots"

All Sony cameras, and I think almost all high low range cameras up now come with Lithium Ion batteries. Both of mine have them. No batteries. No prints. No processing. No mess.

"(5) after printing the image inform the Oxford English Dictionary that "colorspace" actually means "where did colors come from?!" "

...? I guess I don't get it.

[ Parent ]
fast == low quality (3.00 / 1) (#13)
by eLuddite on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:44:16 AM EST

unless you spend big bucks, of course. See timing information for mid range digital cameras on dpreview.com.

..? I guess I don't get it.

That should have been: "where did those colors come from?!" as in, "i dont remember those colors." All digital imaging systems such as monitors, printers, cameras, scanners, etc have a colorspace. Calibrating the colorspaces with each other is not trivial. If you dont do it, your image's colors vary according to the device and without a professional calibration device, you can forget about print fidelity.

None of this important if you arent serious about your photography, obviously, but serious amateurs should know that digital is far from being the cat's meow, especially for the pretty penny it costs.

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Lucy in the sky (3.00 / 1) (#25)
by vaalrus on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 05:14:27 AM EST

Having learned the hard way how to wring even a modicum of accuracy out of low end scanning equipment for web-press (as in paper-web, newsprint) I know all too well the hazards of digital colour. However, you can get just as bad or worse rendering from the kid with the cataracts running the 1hr photo processor down at the Foto Hut.
But then if you are serious about your photography, you've shopped around for your processing.
At least with digital cameras, we get to skip the correcting for mechanical skew, and dust removal stages before moving on to colour correction. :)
(And <sigh> all these years waiting for Imagek/Silicon Film... Justly deserved vapourware award for them.)

[ Parent ]
Different delays (none / 0) (#47)
by phliar on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:23:29 AM EST

mikeliu writes:
Click the shutter, 1/2 a second, the picture takes, done. The only time that I have to worry about how long I have to hold the camera there is when taking shots which require long exposure times since they're dark.
Not shutter speed, but delay between shots. (There's not much you can do about long exposures except use a tripod or monopod.) Here's a scenario: I see something I want to take a few pictures of. Maybe it's my nephews up to a bit of no good. I grab my camera, turn it on, focus, see a good image, press the button, see another good image, press the button, ...

The cheaper digital cameras (I haven't played with the high-end ones yet) involve large delays. 5 seconds from "power on" to "take picture"; and also some large fraction of a second between "oo, there's a good image, press button" to "camera takes picture" and then another eon from "oo, another nice image" to "sorry, camera is saving the previous picture to the storage device.... ok, camera took picture."

All this is beyond the time to auto-focus, which I can fix by focussing manually.

When dealing with children in action, half a second is an eternity!

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Blah! (none / 0) (#38)
by Silver222 on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 01:18:44 AM EST

I have a Canon Powershot G1. I hold down the shutter halfway to lock the focus, and then I take the picture. It's not hard to do. Hell, I even got some decent shots of the dolphins at Seaworld jumping around. My battery lasts almost the whole day, and recharges in about an hour.

Of course, I almost never print the images. I don't mind viewing them on the computer, and they are easy to share with my family that lives 2000 miles away.

Digital might not work for everyone, but it's not nearly as bad as you make it sound out to be.

[ Parent ]

Questions (4.00 / 3) (#6)
by Estragon on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:35:45 AM EST

1. What are the power requirements? How many pictures do you get for a set of batteries, or for a full recharge? If rechargable, how much is a second battery?

2. How much is a 128M memory card? How many pictures will one hold at a quality level sufficient to make 8x12 prints?

3. How fast does it shoot? My film camera shoots 4.5 frames per second.

4. When will someone make a digital camera that takes interchangable lenses (preferably 35mm lenses)? For my serious shooting 190mm isn't long enough.

Answers (4.00 / 2) (#8)
by roystgnr on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:28:21 AM EST

1. With my camera (Olympus D-510 Zoom) and usage patterns, I can fill up the 32MB card (about 75 pictures) on a set of 4AA batteries. I generally delete half my pictures as I go though, so 150 pictures on a charge is probably a good bet. It takes one day to recharge a set of batteries and usually two days for me to use them, so I just bought two sets. I forget what the batteries cost, but they were less for each set than for the $15 charger, and they're supposedly good for a thousand uses. I used to use Alkaline batteries when I thought that NiCd was the only alternative; now that NiMh batteries are out there I don't understand why non-rechargeables are still purchased.

2. For the highest quality 1600x1200 JPEGs, it's about 1-1.5MB per pictures. For the more compressed JPEG setting I use, it's about .3-.5MB per picture. You can see an example here, and I can't see any compression artifacts even on the wood grain in the door or the curve of my glasses rim. (What's that you say? I chose this picture to show off my girlfriend and not because of it's unique JPEG-testing features? What a suspicious mind you have!) Keep in mind that 128MB smartmedia cards are a bit above the linear price curve, but at 64MB (150 pictures) and below they run about $1/MB now.

3. Not very fast. It takes almost two seconds to charge up, set autofocus, and set autocontrast for a shot using the flash, and even in the fastest conditions it'll still only take about 2 shots per second. Also keep in mind that in the under $500 price range you'll rarely find stuff that will let you set focal length, shutter aperture, shutter speed, and such directly instead of through "user friendly" menus, which have their limitations. My camera won't keep the shutter open more than 1/2 second under any conditions, for example, so I can't take any cool long-exposure shots at night.

4. If you're willing to spend 4 figures, right now. If you're looking for a consumer camera, it won't be nearly soon enough.

[ Parent ]

Limited answers, of course (none / 0) (#11)
by roystgnr on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:35:25 AM EST

In case I didn't make this clear, the reviewed camera is also about twice as expensive as mine; obviously performance will be better. It looks like a few people want this to be a general "digital vs. film" discussion, but if you're just concerned with the particular reviewed model I'll try and keep my trap shut. ;-)

[ Parent ]
replies (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by mikeliu on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:37:16 AM EST

I've owned a Sony P5 and a Sony S70, both more consumer level cameras than the one the story author has.

"1. What are the power requirements? How many pictures do you get for a set of batteries, or for a full recharge? If rechargable, how much is a second battery? "

Both of my cameras ran off Lithium Ion batteries. The number of pictures you get on a single charge is soo high. I have no idea. Surprisingly (to me at least) taking pictures doesn't seem to be the primary drain on the batteries. The amount of time you can have it on, though, is limited. On my P5, battery life is terrible, about 1 hour on a full charge, ~90 minutes if you keep the lens retracted and just view pictures. On my S70 battery life was great, probably about 2-3 hours on a full charge in picture taking mode.

Second battery is usually between 50-100 dollars, depending on the camera.

"2. How much is a 128M memory card? How many pictures will one hold at a quality level sufficient to make 8x12 prints?"

Cheapest I've seen it a little less than 50 bucks for a Lexar 128MB. Holds 85-100 2048x1536 (3.3 MP) shots.

"3. How fast does it shoot? My film camera shoots 4.5 frames per second. "

Film cameras have much, much faster shoot speeds than digital. I'm not sure why this is an issue for a non-professional, but if it is, then you'll have to move towards higher end digital cameras to get competitive speeds.

On my S70 shooting rate was terrible, but that camera's pretty outdated now. It got probably 1 shot / 3 seconds. On my P5 a shot takes .5-1 second I'd say.

"4. When will someone make a digital camera that takes interchangable lenses (preferably 35mm lenses)? For my serious shooting 190mm isn't long enough."

SLR form factor digital cameras exist. They're just very high end. Just like in the regular camera market.

[ Parent ]
delay between shots (4.50 / 2) (#18)
by eLuddite on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:25:55 AM EST

I'm not sure why this is an issue for a non-professional,

Shutter delay (not shutter speed) is the time it takes the camera to record a single frame. This differs from frames per second[1]. An SLR which does 4 fps has a shutter delay of zero, effectively, compared to the digital's seconds (even one second is long.) Long shutter delays are a drag because they prevent you from knowing what the camera recorded: You see something. You press the shutter. Two seconds later the camera tells you it took the picture. One second into the process, the scene changed. What did you record?

[1] Digital cameras also have terrible FPS numbers which disqualifies them from action scenes. If you're recording to TIFF (no compression, understood at any service bureau), you can take a nap between shots.

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Digital cameras and interchangeable lenses (none / 0) (#48)
by phliar on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:42:10 AM EST

Estragon asks:
When will someone make a digital camera that takes interchangable lenses (preferably 35mm lenses)? For my serious shooting 190mm isn't long enough.
Right now!

Both Canon and Nikon have digital bodies that take their current lines of lenses. The Canon D-30 and Canon EOS-1D, the Nikon D1x and Nikon D-1, and the Fuji S-1. [Links are to reviews on photo.net, an enthusiast-run site who are very up-front about any corporate ties.] The image sensors on all these bodies are smaller than 24mm x 36mm so your pre-existing lenses effectively get a focal-length multiplier anywhere between 1.3x and 1.6x.

Drawbacks? They still haven't worked out all the usability and technical bugs, and... the bodies cost in the many thousands of dollars.

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Thanks (none / 0) (#51)
by Estragon on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 11:53:59 PM EST

Thanks for all the answers (both in this thread and elsewhere in the discussion).

[ Parent ]
ive got a dc290 (4.00 / 2) (#15)
by rebelcool on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:00:14 AM EST

which is a rather unique camera. It's fully programmable.. that is, you can actually write programs for it and upload them to the camera. I actually saw someone had ported MAME to the thing! (you havent seen anything until you see your camera playing bubble bobble..)

Some of the more useful features of that were a range-finder that utilized the autofocus among some other nifty little programs.

The only thing I wish it could do would be have faster response time, and if it could do video. I mean, its got a microphone for associating sounds with your pictures (???), but no video capability? Bah.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

some others (3.00 / 1) (#17)
by rebelcool on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:02:59 AM EST

did a little looking around..this page has Doom, the version of MAME, and apparently an MP3 player for the camera (the 'digita' is the camera's OS)

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Digita OS followup (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by djotto on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:15:47 AM EST

After reading this comment, I spent a while running around looking for information on the OS embedded in the DC-290, and thought I'd report back with what I'd found.

As far as I can tell, the Digita OS (from Flashpoint) got incorporated in half a dozen cameras from three manufacturers (Kodak, HP and Minolta). The DC-290's a 2.1 megapixel camera, and the others are of the same vintage or earlier.

There was a developer community of sorts (a Flashpoint-owned website that now contains advertising rather than scripts) and there was a documented scripting language, or you could cross-compile C code onto the thing. As already mentioned, there are ports of MAME and Doom floating around.

On the down side, they were selling the hobbyist SDK at $400, and the overhead of having an OS appears to slow the camera down appreciably.

Flashpoint tried making the OS modular (reducing the minimum footprint to 0.5Mb or so), adding some wireless bells and whistles, and rebrading as "DigitaX", but I don't think it's done them much good - I can't find any cameras running this. Serious companies seem to have already committed to ASICs.

It's a pity really - I'm not a fan of digital photography (bad colours), but a small programmable camera probably would have tempted me - I could have thrown together an address book application for it and avoided getting a PDA for a little longer (I don't like carrying devices), or messed around writing on-board photoshop-like filters.

[ Parent ]
my digital camera thoughts (5.00 / 3) (#19)
by mikeliu on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:36:12 AM EST

Ok, I've replied to a few other people's concerns already but I think I should put up my own thoughts on digital cameras. I've owned two, the Sony P5, which is currently a high end consumer-level small form factor digital camera, and the Sony S70, which at the time I bought it was a high end consumer-level quality-oriented digital camera, but which is now probably low-mid range. The camera that the author reviewed is probably a different camera than most consumers would wish to buy, and the points he raised very different than the ones most consumers would think about, so I figured I'd give my own perspective on consumer level cameras for people who just want to take pictures (not enthusiasts). (The reviewed camera is probably in the prosumer enthusiast level. It's not gonna be good enough for most professionals probably, but more than enough for most any casual enthusiast)

Digital cameras changed the way that I do photography. Not only did they do that, but they did so in ways I never expected. When most people think of digital cameras, they think about the convenience of not having to develop film, and that's about it. I was no exception to this, and it's true, it is great not having to develop film, but that's not the half of it. What truly makes them great is the way they change the very pictures that you take.

It's sort of like switching from an hourly internet plan, to an unlimited one. Even if you only average 12 hours of use a month, and it would be cheaper to go with the metered plan, it changes the way that you surf. You no longer feel constrained, you no longer have that vague tension in the back of your head, telling you that you should hurry up and get offline, since every minute counts. Now that you're freed from that, the very time that you spend online becomes more enjoyable.

Digital cameras are the same way. Once you are freed from film, from the knowledge in the back of your head that you will be paying for every shot that you take later, you take different pictures. Long shots that might not turn out, go nuts! After all, if it doesn't turn out, who cares, just delete it. Shots of something trivial or small? Why the heck not? Hard drive space is cheap. I used to only bring my film camera with me to places where I was sure would be memorable; once I got my S70, I took it to places where I thought there was even just a pretty good chance it would be memorable.

But I learned something from my S70. I realized that you can have your S70 with its high quality Carl-Zeiss lens, hell you can even have your SLR camera with your 1000 dollar super-lenses; but it doesn't do you a whit of good if they're sitting on your shelf at home because it was too much trouble to take it with you. The S70 was the same size as an average consumer level point and shoot film camera, maybe a little bigger. I found I wasn't taking it with me to places simply because it was a hassle. I don't care much for the look of walking around with my camera slung around my neck, or with a special bag for carrying it, and sticking it in my pocket would create an awkward bulge.

So recently I picked up the mini-form factor Sony P5, and I couldn't be happier. It's about as easy to carry around as my wallet or pda, just drop it in my pocket and go. I used to only bring my S70 with me to places where I thought there was a pretty good chance it would be memorable; once I got my P5 I take it with me almost everywhere. If there's the slightest chance that something interesting might be where I'm going, you can be sure my camera will be going as well.

Digital cameras are a lot like laptops, or PDAs. Size is a greatly overlooked factor, especially among first time buyers. They think that, oh well they're already all so small, what's a few grams difference. The things is, you can be happy while you're using a big one, and not realize what you're missing even, but the moment you upgrade to a form-factor optimized model, you wonder how you could ever have lived with your old one, and can never go back. Look at your computer background. Is it 1024x768? Or even 1600x1200? If you have a picture for your background, have you EVER thought that it in any way looks undetailed? Now take your 1600x1200 screen, and increase the resolution by another 50% plus change. There's your 3.3 megapixel camera's output. For viewing on a computer, everything over your screen resolution is probably overkill. If you want to print them out, 2.1 megapixels produces a decent print. 3.3 is flawless as far as I can tell. I cannot emphasize this point enough (for average consumer level buyers): how often you use your new toy will be directly related to how much small it is. Just as an average consumer has no need for a 2Ghz computer, the average consumer has no need for a 6 megapixel camera. Anything 3.3 will be more than enough for almost everyone, and maybe even 2.1 is enough.

So after I switched to digital, not only do I now have better pictures (from taking more risks on long shots) but more pictures (because I can take it with me more, and not worry about wasting film). These alone are probably good enough reasons to switch to digital, and I didn't even rehash the things the original poster mentioned.....

Oh, and maybe one last overlooked factor is the fun of having a little LCD on the back of your camera. While maybe not such a big deal, no one can resist the fun of looking at the picture right after they were taken. It's like back in the day with polaroids - you'd have to be not human to not-crowd around and ooh and aah trying to get a peak at the picture you were just in. It's the great equalizer. Be you geek, teenage girl, businessman or kid, no one can resist the curiosity of seeing what they looked like in the picture.

Right on, and some more ideas (5.00 / 2) (#21)
by czth on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 03:14:07 AM EST

I feel constrained to reply, to mention a few more things you wouldn't think to do with regular cameras. I like the unlimited/hourly Internet plan analogy, too :). The LCD on the F707 has a zoom, too, so you can zoom in close on the photos you've taken and pan around.

I'm looking for an apartment so I'm closer to where I work, and so I took my digital camera with me and snapped photos of the outside of the buildings I was looking at (and I will of the interior when I pick some to look at), and also of the nearest street sign, so I could recall what intersection they were at (5911 Main Street doesn't mean a lot, especially as my map doesn't show street numbers at intersections; naughty map).

True, I'm an enthusiast, maybe I should have made that clear, although I think the article did that (I hope I didn't load it too heavily for people who aren't up on their F-stops and all :). Most people won't need the F707, and for pros it will perhaps, as I said, replace the old Polaroid standby used to check lighting and not become a primary unit. But today's high tech is tomorrow's midrange and the next day's junk (exaggeration, of course, but you get the idea).

But I learned something from my S70. I realized that you can have your S70 with its high quality Carl-Zeiss lens, hell you can even have your SLR camera with your 1000 dollar super-lenses; but it doesn't do you a whit of good if they're sitting on your shelf at home because it was too much trouble to take it with you.

Absolutely. I'll have my camera wherever I am, if it has the potential to be remotely interesting, even more so with the digital. Plus, you never know when you might witness an accident/crime/newsworthy event and be able to get off a shot as evidence (and email it to the local paper through your 'phone...). At my university, our math homework solutions were often posted up behind glass, just one copy; a digital camera gets you a transcription you can peruse at leisure (just watch for glare from the glass).


[ Parent ]
you summarized the reason why digital is *fun* (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by eLuddite on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 03:57:41 AM EST

Digital cameras encourage you to chase the "happy accident." And that's a lot of fun to do. However, for those photographers -- or clients -- with an "eye" who wish to record a vision, digital isnt quite there yet. Those photographers require tools that are predictable and under their maximum control. It's the difference between fun and craft.

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Trying... to resist... urge... (none / 0) (#44)
by mayo on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 09:14:11 PM EST

Oh hell, I just can't...

you'd have to be not human to not-crowd around and ooh and aah trying to get a peak at the picture you were just in

It's true, there's nothing like some good old fashioned home pics of you and the missus making the beast with two backs. Yet another great example of the innovative new uses for digital cameras now that the need for processing has been removed. :)

[ Parent ]
Excellent! (none / 0) (#49)
by phliar on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:10:15 AM EST

mikeliu writes an excellent piece on how digital cameras changed photography for him/her.

Once you are freed from film, from the knowledge in the back of your head that you will be paying for every shot that you take later, you take different pictures. Long shots that might not turn out, go nuts! After all, if it doesn't turn out, who cares, just delete it.
That, and this:
...you can have your SLR camera with your 1000 dollar super-lenses; but it doesn't do you a whit of good if they're sitting on your shelf at home because it was too much trouble to take it with you.
That is the secret!

Some of us learned the first lesson through insanity and the second through experience. Insanity because you stop thinking about how much it costs. Seriously, I don't even know; I just place my credit card on the counter and sign the slip. I don't look at the amount because that would just make me feel bad. I make a couple of hundred exposures in an evening, of which maybe fifty or so are worth keeping. Getting a digital camera is probably better than trying to get this kind of insanity.

Then about the camera in the closet at home: took me a a couple of years to start seeing and then to realise that I was missing many excellent images because I didn't have a camera with me. But I got smart: earlier in this thread I posted a long glowing account of how I love the compact rangefinders like the Konica S-3 and the Rollei and the Olympus XA. Because they fit in the pocket, at least one of them goes with me at all times, along with the wallet and the phone. If I'm taking a small bag, I might toss in a little table-top tripod. If I'm taking a big bag, the EOS can go with me, and the monopod.

However, for my purposes digital cameras that I can actually afford don't cut it. My biggest complaint is about the optics: too slow and too soft. The Konica's f/1.8 will rattle your eyeballs. To get this lens in a tiny camera I can put in my pocket... almost too good to be true.

and maybe one last overlooked factor is the fun of having a little LCD on the back of your camera.
This is key also. For me, personally, I don't pine for it because of the kinds of images I take (not usually fun-filled images that entertain) but for the most part, the "instant cheap Polaroid" thing is great. (And what do you mean by "It's like back in the day with polaroids"? Lots of my friends still take lots of Polaroids at parties!)

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Replies to questions etc. (5.00 / 1) (#20)
by czth on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 03:00:13 AM EST

I was a bit ambivalent about posting this; wasn't sure it would get posted. I wrote it because I thought the benefits of digital, and my transition, were worth describing, and looking in the k5 archives I didn't see any other (recent) stories on digital photography, and thought this might be interesting, at least to fellow photographers.

Here are some answers to the other comments, joined into one comment to save precious bits:

Regarding the editorial comment about APS: heh, I meant to include it and then forgot; oh well, APS is crap :P, isn't the 35mm small negative enough already?

Re: Opeongo: I was there in 1997, big lake to paddle, especially against the wind (did you do the 5305m portage, through the Big Crow etc.?) Anyway, here's some cost information. Prices in Canadian dollars, since that's what we use over here:

Nikon gear (used unless marked new): F90X body (new) - $1200, Tamron zoom lens I never use - $400 (new), 20mm - $400, 50mm - $150 (new), 105mm macro - $900, 180mm - $800. SB-28 flash - $500, SC-17 TTL sync cable - $100. About $4500 all told. Plus you have to factor in film and developing. The Sony F707 is $1800 here, and the Sony flash is around $200 I think. The 128M memory stick is $200, extra batteries (they last about 3 hours) are $90 (that's going to be the worst cost in equipping for a week in the park). Self-repair isn't recommended on either camera, and I wouldn't want to try to take either apart.

Noise: the F707 is very quiet, quieter than my Nikon, which, granted, isn't all that quiet, but probably quieter than other SLRs too (Canons are supposed to have a good rep in this area, any comments from Canon users?)

Speed: No speed problems, press and take, focussing is very fast, and there is a manual focus option on this camera if you prefer it. For metrics like speed and colour, resolution, etc. I refer you to the review links I included in the article; they do very precise calibration testing, and results are quite good for the F707 in particular. They also cover power requirements and do battery tests; my article wasn't meant to be a technical review, more experiental.

Not sure about frames per second, but it has a burst mode which can shoot three at a time I believe (not to be confused with autobracketing, which it can also do). Oh, and my film camera can shoot at 5.6 fps :^). The kind of digital cameras that take interchangable lenses (e.g. the Nikon D1, D1H, D1X, etc. or the Fuji body that takes F-mount lenses) are very expensive ($5000-$7000 US), and I find that the range of the F707's zoom combined with the weight and convenience are quite good considering the cost, although I'm sure I'll miss my 180mm, and come back to film occasionally. The F707's lens is F2.0-2.4, which I thought was pretty good, I was half expecting a crappy 4.0-5.6 or somesuch when I first looked at the camera.

Er, no, hadn't considered the X10, thanks for, er, popping it up, as it were :P. Oh yes, and disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with, nor do I own stock in, any of the companies I mentioned; the F707 is just a great camera, as is my F90X.

As an aside, I will be shooting a wedding in Chicage this fall, and I'm considering using (some or all, depending on availability and quality of printing) digital; whether I do or not will largely be guided by my experiences with it between now and then.

Since as I mentioned before I haven't seen many articles on photography, I'm considering writing another one more about the artistic side, I hope it's as well-received as this one. Thanks for your comments.


Cannon EOS (none / 0) (#29)
by K5er 16877 on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:35:50 PM EST

My wife is a fine art photographer. Her Cannon EOS is fairly quiet. I can hear the shutter and advance, but I've never thought it to be obtrusive. In fact, I've never even thought of noise to be a factor (maybe for wedding photography or possibly true candids).

[ Parent ]
noise levels (none / 0) (#37)
by janra on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:01:31 PM EST

I could always hear my camera take a picture, but I never realised just how damn loud it was until at a memorial. After the first one, only 2-3 more pictures, then it was put down. I didn't want anybody to get annoyed...

Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.
[ Parent ]
Canon noise levels (none / 0) (#50)
by phliar on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:29:22 AM EST

The F707 is very quiet ... quieter than other SLRs too (Canons are supposed to have a good rep in this area, any comments from Canon users?)
The regular EOS cameras are not very quiet, but not very loud either. The USM lenses are just about completely silent while focusing, but the clunk of the mirror kind of ruins the mood!

However, there was one EOS: the (630) RT. It didn't have a moving mirror that clunked while taking a picture; it had a fixed semi-transparent mirror. Of course you lost 1/3 stop because of it, but it's the quietest - SLR I have ever seen. And you didn't lose sight of your subject while the mirror was flapping about. (The new EOS bodies have very quiet film advance.)

Taking about noise, have I mentioned compact rangefinders lately? No mirrors to clunk and flap, no focal-plane shutters dragging across, just a tiny little "snckkk" of the leaf shutter inside the lens.

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Linux compatibility (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by czth on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 03:21:02 AM EST

I know I'm posting a lot of comments here... but just a note about getting the Sony DSC-F707 to work with Linux. Basically, no problems. I googled for "USB Linux", hit the first site, found the camera on the list of supported devices (as a USB mass storage device), had to change a line in a header file (drivers/usb/storage/usb_unusual.h IIRC) so the F707 would be recognized, since only up to the F505 is listed in the 2.4.17 kernel, add SCSI disk support, recompile, reboot. I didn't bother with the hot-pluggable support tonight (just plugged it in before rebooting), but there are plenty of links for that on the USB Linux FAQ page and the directions look good.

On reboot it worked like a charm; mkdir /mnt/usb; mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/usb. No problems reading or writing to the device.


My digital camera. (3.00 / 1) (#24)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 04:37:11 AM EST

A friend of mine got a cheap camera off ebay and I borrowed it a few times. Then he fried it with an unstable power supply.

Later, I was wanting to suppliment the nice old film camera than my dad gave me. I love the thing, but it is a pain to take all over the place. So I got a digital campera off ebay.

For the most part the quality sucks. The focus is fixed, it sucks in less than perfect light, etc. But it is light and small and, more importantly, I don't give a shit if it gets broken. Thus I can take it all over and get more pictures (which is the point in having a camera).

I dread the hour or so after every long trip that I know I will have to spend in Photoshop, fixing the pictures so that they are presentable. But oh, well. Some day this camera will break, I will laugh, and if I'm inclinded I'll think about a better quality one then.

My film camera (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by wiredog on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:19:56 AM EST

In 1988 I went on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada. A week above timberline. I carried a Nikon FM2, 28-80 and 70-210 Nikkor lenses, and a 50mm F1.2 Nikkor lens. Plus 10 rolls of film. No batteries, since the FM2 is fully manual, and doesn't require batteries. Survives being dropped into an alpine lake pretty well, too.

Digital? Not yet. For me to get a digital camera it will have to have interchangeable lenses, so I can do telephoto (at least 4x), macro, and wide angle. The batteries have to last through at least 400 shots. And it has to be tough. If I fall down and land on the camera, or drop it, it has to survive. It has to survive getting wet, in the rain anyway.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"

picture database? (none / 0) (#30)
by klash on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:39:21 PM EST

Can you elaborate on how your database works? I've tried to think of effective ways to build a picture database, but I can't come up with any scheme that I like. What does the implementation look like? How flexible is it?

Photo database (none / 0) (#34)
by czth on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 05:59:50 PM EST

My "Chronicle" database organizes photos by roll of film, basically; searches can be done by set name or photo title (title is taken from the filename, each set gets a directory, I use ImageMagick to make thumbnails); it's keyed to my negative database whose fields you can see on the form here. Plus I have some other "event" sites such as camping trips which are more chronological and like normal web pages (such as this one), where I only store photo captions and descriptions in the database. If you want more info, feel free to email me at dbr at davidrobins dot net.


[ Parent ]

Retrofitting a film SLR for CCD -- Possible? (none / 0) (#31)
by OmniGeek on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 04:25:54 PM EST

I have a great camera (Minolta X-700) with an insanely great lens (Vivitar Series One 28-105 zoom) that takes incredibly good pix. A bit heavy to lug, yes, but really good quality results.

Has anyone heard of successful efforts to develop CCD retrofits for 35mm film cameras? (replace the standard back with a CDD back, that kind of thing. I don't expect to see a drop-in CCD replacement for a film cartridge, but 'twould be interesting...) There is such a large population of good 35mm SLR gear out there that it seems likely to be a worthy development effort, and I have heard of efforts in progress to do it, but no reports of success yet. Naturally, it wouldn't be for everyone (still that big chunk of stuff to carry), but it is an interesting idea...

drop-in CCD replacement for a film cartridge (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by jabr on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 05:33:03 PM EST

I don't expect to see a drop-in CCD replacement for a film cartridge, but 'twould be interesting...)
Actually, that *does* exist. I've been watching this company for a few years now, hoping they'd eventually support my SLR.


[ Parent ]
SiliconFilm (none / 0) (#41)
by ghoti on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 07:58:54 AM EST

Haha, very funny. SiliconFilm has been a running joke in various newsgroups for a long time. They STILL can't ship a product, after like five years of development. And even if they were to ship their efilm tomorrow - who would buy a 1.3 MPixel sensor in 2002? Come on, they're a joke.
[ Parent ]
Here's an interesting article.. (none / 0) (#33)
by henrik on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 05:35:31 PM EST


The above is a review by a professional photographer that compares a Canon EOS-D30 and a Canon EOS 1V body loaded with Fuji Provia 100F. His conclusion: The D30 (3.3mpixels) is comparable, and in some cases superior to a scan of the Provia by a highend scanner (4000dpi, "equivalent" to a 12mpixel image).

Up to around 11"x15" the digital image is better.

I don't think it'll be long before digital is the dominating "film" type. Then again, i don't think traditional film will ever dissappear.

Akademiska Intresseklubben antecknar!
that isnt too surprising (none / 0) (#35)
by eLuddite on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:19:40 PM EST

Since the D30 *is* a 1v with a ccd back.

From the article you cite:

It is inescapable that the D30 produces sharper, better looking images than the scanned film combination at sizes up to about 10 X 13"
You realize "scanned film" is a picture of a picture, right?

Digital: transfer an image from a digital camera to photoshop (no degradation) and print it on a printer (1 degradation).

Film: scan film into photoshop (1 degradation) and print it on a printer (1 degradation).

To be fair, what he should have done in the film step is to print the film directly (1 degradation) or shot slides (no degradation, the slide *is* the film.)

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Well.. (none / 0) (#36)
by henrik on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:46:27 PM EST

Since the D30 *is* a 1v with a ccd back.

Acctually, just being a nitpick: The D30 is in no way a 1v, i doub't they share many components. Also, the D30 uses a CMOS sensor, not a CCD. afaik, the D30 is the only high quality CMOS camera ever sold.

You realize "scanned film" is a picture of a picture, right?

True, but a slide scanner has a much higer resolution and color sensitivity than a D30 CMOS, and so does film. Furthermore, it's generally accepted that a good scanner + printer will give you results as good as "non digital" prints. But not having access to photoshop is a big disadvantage, even for traditional photos. The whole step of Scanning + Printing is mostly to get access to photoshop.

Also, i have a feeling that guy knows how to get the best possible results from film. All in all, i think it was a reasonable comparasion.

Akademiska Intresseklubben antecknar!
[ Parent ]

Shortcomings of digital (none / 0) (#39)
by dabadab on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 07:25:19 AM EST

Well, it sounds great, but there are still some shortcomings of digital.
One is the CCD's dynamic range: it's quite inferior compared to analogue film. This means that pictures easily burn in - where would you see "bright - even brighter - even brighter than that' on analogue shots, you will see a uniform whiteness on a digital picture. And it's not something that happens only in extreme cases.
Other is the CCD's noise that effectively limits its sensitiveness. Most consumer digi cameras are locked on ISO 100 sensitivity because if they would amplify the signal more (say, ISO 400) the resulting picture would be full of different coloured spots. This makes it troubleful making pictures in bad lightning conditions.
Third is price: my Digital IXUS costed approx 4 times what a similar analogue modell would.
And the last thing is this memory card thing: although it can hold lots of pictures (although the OP overstated it by a factor of 2), if you run out of empty space there is no easy remedy: you need your laptop (if you have one) or some other mean of transferring data from your memory card(s) to some safe place - whereas you can just walk in any store and you can buy as much analogue film as you want.
Of course, I still like digital (my IXUS is perhaps the smallest and lightest camera ever) it still needs some time to claim absolute superiority over analogue - but it's quite ready for use and it is much more fun for most ppl than analogue.
Real life is overrated.
CCDs can be sensitive (none / 0) (#40)
by hughk on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 07:35:45 AM EST

I have been used to 35mm transparencies for a long time and they were comparitively limited in their 'dynamic range', but the results are very good.

However the CCD is now the image capture device of choice for the astronomer. So much so, that many of the plates for astronomical use that were formerly produced have been discontinued.

I agree with your points about cost and memory. Sure, I can carry a few spare chips with me, but do I really want to lug my Notebook with me on holiday?

[ Parent ]

They can be but they are not yet (none / 0) (#43)
by dabadab on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 10:45:42 AM EST

at least not in consumer cameras. Specialized professional equipment can be different - probably a very high quality CCD does not make that much of difference in the cost of a huge telescope as it does in the case of a point-and-shoot digital camera.
I fully expect CCD prices to drop and quality to improve but till that average digital photografers have to pay close attention to light conditions.
Real life is overrated.
[ Parent ]
Digital is still somewhat too expensive. (none / 0) (#42)
by WWWWolf on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 08:36:06 AM EST

Five megapix? Nice if you can afford it. I don't have that sort of money.

My personal observation is that I'm still going to pick the film, because digital is too expensive.

I have a "cheap" digital camera. Good enough replacement for "instant cameras" but not good enough for anything "serious". (My idea of "serious" is putting pretty photos to my photo album and web page.)

Of course, "cheap" in my case meant 150 €, and it's in quotes because it wasn't a small investment for me. If I'd like to buy a "cheap" 35mm cameras, I can get a really good point-and-shoot camera for 50 € - about the same sort the digital camera I have, actually.

Since I got my 35mm SLR camera for free (not that anyone would pay the camera in question any money these days, anyway =), and digital cameras in my price class (around 150-300 €) suck compared to 35mm, I'll take 35mm any day.

Of course, if you have tons of money to spend, digital is probably better.

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

For me - almost (none / 0) (#45)
by phliar on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 09:34:26 PM EST

I have both Nikon (FM body, a few prime [non-zoom] Nikkors) and Canon (EOS, various primes and zooms, my favourite being the 100mm f/2 USM; contemplating getting the 28 - 70 f/2.8 L USM), as well as a lot of the 70s rangefinders - Rollei 35, Konica S3, Canonet III etc. and a TLR for medium format. All of my shooting now is available light (i.e. no flash - although occasionally I use my Canon Speedlite 540EZ off-camera with bounce and diffuser) in bars and clubs, so I use 400 speed film pushed 2 stops, in other words an effective film speed of around 1600ASA. (For anyone curious, Kodak Tri-X or Ektachrome EPH)

When will CCD sensors and digital cameras be good enough to do what I can do with f/1.8 - f/2 and 1600ASA?

I also don't like the "look" of CCD. I've heard that the CMOS sensor in the Canon D-30 is really nice, and the D-30 will take all EOS lenses. With all that money I have tied up in Canon glass - each lens is around $500, the 28-70 f/2.8 L is $1000 - the attraction of the D-30 to me should be obvious. But I can't afford $3000 on a new body!

Cataloging is another issue. I've been shooting for about 12 years. This means I have about 15,000 images (don't know for sure how many) that are "keepers" and no catalogue. I have a general idea of the images I have, but every now and then I'll come across something that makes me go "Wow! Where did that come from?" I don't need chronology etc. but my images are often just the intermediate step in some further process - manipulated, composited, stuff done to them in the darkroom before I have something I can show. Sometimes I just want an image of X. (Yes, I'm a disciple of Jerry Uelsmann - in fact my teacher was his student's student.)

I also do a lot of digital manipulation - PhotoShop a few years ago, The Gimp now. (I have a 12x14 Wacom tablet that The Gimp supports fully - I don't miss PhotoShop any more!) This means I have to scan in my slides manually. And then there are all the advantages you mention. Going digital seems the ideal route! But $3,000....

(The other problem I have: I make polaroid image transfers from my slides. I'd like to make them from my manipulated images - which means I need some way of printing my images to Polaroid Type-59 film. I can't afford $6,000 for a Polaroid film recorder, so I think I'm going to build one - cheap linux box as a driver, used process lens and large-format shutter for the optics - need a source for a high quality 7" or so monochrome monitor though, and I haven't found one. Anyone see something like that, please let me know!)

I really want to -- need to -- go digital. Anyone one want to sponsor my D-30 purchase?

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...

Uh-hum... (none / 0) (#52)
by bigbtommy on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 07:53:44 PM EST

Taking the photos to get developed, waiting, then having to go and pick them up - or - developing the film yourself, which might be faster but isn't all that cost effective and those chemicals can't be good for you

I do black and white and colour at home. Black and white costs me 11 for every 48 films processed. It would cost me 3 or 4 per FILM if I had them done commercially.

Colour (E6) costs me 1.20 per film and takes me 30 minutes plus time to clean the tanks etc. It would cost me 4 a film to have E6 done, and take four days.

Chemicals? Black and white, as long as you don't have any skin allergies is safe. The E6 bleach-fix (Fotospeed) is evil stuff, and would probably give you cancer if you get it on your skin. That's a rubber gloves job...
-- bbCity.co.uk - When I see kids, I speed up

Thoughts on Digital Photography | 52 comments (51 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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