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Film vs. Digital for still lighting excersises


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#1 Ryan McMackin

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 02:01 PM

I am going to be shooting a series of lighting excersises in the coming weeks and I'm not sure what format would serve me best as a tool for aquisition and evaluation. Would I be better off looking at hi-rez files on a computer, or prints/slides from film? It seems that most consumer labs to today make digital prints regardless of the source, resulting in prints with a very limited latitude. So, in some ways just working with digital files seems like a comparable or better option.

Any advice/opinions would be much appreciated...

Thanks.
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 02:14 PM

I am going to be shooting a series of lighting excersises in the coming weeks and I'm not sure what format would serve me best as a tool for aquisition and evaluation. Would I be better off looking at hi-rez files on a computer, or prints/slides from film? It seems that most consumer labs to today make digital prints regardless of the source, resulting in prints with a very limited latitude. So, in some ways just working with digital files seems like a comparable or better option.

Any advice/opinions would be much appreciated...

Thanks.


Hi,

If you really want to see your work without any help then reversal film is a good was to go! You have about 1/3 stop of latitude. I used to shoot 16mm 7240, horrible unforgiving stock, but you knew when you got it right!

Stephen
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#3 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 04:32 PM

I am going to be shooting a series of lighting excersises in the coming weeks and I'm not sure what format would serve me best as a tool for aquisition and evaluation. Would I be better off looking at hi-rez files on a computer, or prints/slides from film? It seems that most consumer labs to today make digital prints regardless of the source, resulting in prints with a very limited latitude. So, in some ways just working with digital files seems like a comparable or better option.

Any advice/opinions would be much appreciated...

Thanks.



You've defined an exercise without explaining what the exercise is for. Is your goal to see what format is the most forgiving in the highest of contrast situations, or is your goal to come up with the prettiest images in the highest of contrast situations.

What is the constant that is driving the lighting exercises?
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#4 Ryan McMackin

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 10:11 PM

You've defined an exercise without explaining what the exercise is for. Is your goal to see what format is the most forgiving in the highest of contrast situations, or is your goal to come up with the prettiest images in the highest of contrast situations.

What is the constant that is driving the lighting exercises?


Fair question. I was vague because I have multiple "excersises" in mind. I'm not out to compare mediums (digital vs. film) in this instance I only want to experiment with light. For example, walking a single source 360° around a subject taking photos at 15° intervals and repeating this with a variety of instruments. I would also like to compare contrast ratios, and color; the list goes on.

My question is really what would be the best format for evaluation? Should I shoot on 35mm neg. and make prints, shoot transperancy film to look at w/ a projector/light table or shoud I shoot digitaly and examine files on a computer?

Hope that helps...

-Ryan
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#5 Jason Debus

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 11:36 PM

I would also like to compare contrast ratios

The problem with digital is that it clips when overexposed, like this shot here where the bright parts just turn white (film would have had a little more detail in this case):

Posted Image

Color negative film definitely has more latitude than digital and would work better for contrast ratio tests. If you can afford it there are consumer scanners around $100 that do a good job scanning negatives for evaluation and learning. The color response with digital is also different than film (and different films respond differently to color as well!).

But digital may be right for you if you're not going to get too extreme with overexposure, especially if you've got a decent DSLR with lenses, filters, etc.
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#6 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 09:47 AM

The ideal would be to borrow another still camera body (1 with neg, 1 with slide film) and a dslr and take advantage of the lighting set-ups to test all three simultaneously and compare results.
Stephen is right about reversal film. I started as a photographer shooting medium format transparency and that is one valuable experience in terms of learning about exposure.
Take notes! Maybe make a scrapbook.
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#7 Aleksandar Bracinac

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 06:45 PM

Hi Ryan,

I would took some newer DSLR camera for that. New DSLR cameras has ~8.5 stops of dynamic range which is quite good, and I think better than the slide. It's much faster and also after you check what you've done, you can change the light setup and take new photo again. Much faster and very very reliable. Just set the camera to low contrast and normal saturation.

I did lot of test on that way which help me very much later when I've shoot on film.
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#8 Ryan McMackin

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 12:08 AM

Thanks for the thought y'all!

I'll probably tinker with a little of "all of the above" to come to some conclusions for myself. I think for contrast ratios I'll probably shoot on neg. and look at the negative itself to see when I loose detail...
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