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Digital retro: Will it exist?


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#1 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 11:35 AM

What are your thoughts about peoples desire to emulate The F900 look or the Viper look in 10 or 20 years? We're often talking about Kodak 5247 and 5294, etc. etc.
Will we be reminiscing about the camera config menu's and LUT's that exist today?
Will the Digiprimes of today be as interesting to us in the future as say Super Baltar's are today?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 11:57 AM

Possible but I doubt it. It would sort of require either that a famous well-loved movie was shot in the F900 or Viper that later generations will want to emulate the look of ("Zodiak"? "Attack of the Clones"?) or that SO many movies were shot on those cameras that the look becomes associated with a whole era of filmmaking, and copied for nostalgaic reasons, but that's not the case.

And I'm not sure the looks are distinctive-enough anyway, especially not the look of a Digi-Prime lens. That would suppose that lens optics will be radically sharper in the future, and I think we've already reached the limits of that.

I think it's more likely that someone will need to recreate the look of a crappy Mini-DV camcorder in some future production for some reason.

It would probably be easy to make some future 4K digital camera image look like it was shot with an "old" HD camcorder -- cut the resolution by a quarter, add some heavy-handed edge sharpening to compensate, stop down the lens and clip the highlights in post... voila, you've got the instant "video" look.
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#3 Max Jacoby

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 01:23 PM

That would suppose that lens optics will be radically sharper in the future, and I think we've already reached the limits of that.

Indeed it's hard to imagine that prime lenses will get much better in the future. Already I find that lenses like the Master Primes are so well corrected that they look very neutral, like there is no lens to change the perception of reality. In zoom design on the other hand there very likely is some more wiggle room for development though.
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 04:35 PM

It seems every year or so someone asks where they can get an old tube video camera to get that authentic 70's TV look, complete with comet-tailing, etc. The problem is there aren't very many of those cameras still in working condition, so you end up having to "fake" the look through other means.

If the "look" of an F900 or Viper becomes distinct enough that it evokes a certain point in history, or perhaps a certain film, then maybe. I don't know that that look is really that distinct. I'll just be glad when we can finally become nostalgic for the "bad 2K DI look" with its pasty skin tones, foggy power windows over faces, and soft resolution because it will have become a thing of the past...
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#5 John Sprung

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 05:29 PM

Indeed it's hard to imagine that prime lenses will get much better in the future.

There are two ways to make sharper pictures: Better lenses, or larger image area.

Lens making is a very mature technology. But what if there's some breakthrough in chip foundry technology that lets us have Imax size imagers for cheap?




-- J.S.
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#6 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 05:58 PM

Well if lenses can't get too much better maybe they can get less expensive. I know I'm a hopeless optimist!
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#7 K Borowski

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 09:40 PM

What David says basically hits the nail on the head: with the exception of attempting to be historically accurate to this day and age we live in, I highly doubt anyone will wax nostalgic for F900 imagery, just as no one really waxes nostalgic for Scotchchrome 640T or Agfa 3200 color films.

This stuff served (-es) its purpose as an intermediary for something bigger and better yet to come (or as some will say already arrived).

IDK, film just looks glamourous to me, even the oldest, earliest films. THere's a saturation with technicolor, for instance, that is lacking in modern neg films. THere's a look with the old EXR films, with Kodachrome 40, that is gone with newer films. These films all had their faults, but they had their features that met or exceeded current stocks' abilities, at least perceptively. A lot of what some people, even noted cinematographers, perceive as a stock's ability is actually the ability of the DOP who used it to expose for it well. So I'd say a lot of this nostalgic attachment is not necessarily rational, or grounded in a scientifically unachieveable look with current stocks or sensors.

With a few singular exceptions, I dislike the look of HD cameras, just as I am sure many early videographers detested the streaking of their cameras, or many early filmmakers detested the flickering and stuttering inherent in hand-cranked footage along with the excessive halation and unevenness of that early filmstock. Then again, there are a few makers that LIKE scratches, halation, flicker, jitter, and excessive dust (a little dust looks great, right?), so I think there will be a little bit of nostalgia for these times, but I also think it will be misplaced. I think it's like tape right now. Most all digital movie cameras are using it, or at least archiving to it, but everyone seems to hate it and knows it is an intermediary for the age of all solid-state data storage.

Regards,

~KB
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#8 K Borowski

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 09:50 PM

I'd also like to chime in and say that I think lens-making is starting to go *backwards* with an over-reliance on zooms these days (I get laughed at for using primes in still-photography; they're practically extinct except for controlled studio work here), and a reduction in image resolution with HD that necessitates laxer image sharpness from edge to edge due to lower resolving power of HD chips. Hollywood, of course, has much higher quality standards for the most part than most still photographers, but the fact remains that the greatest zoom lens in the world doesn't match the quality of a high-end prime lens closed down 2-3 stops. There are basic laws of physics in play here that can't be programmed away or engineered out.

Also, we are fast approaching the maximal resolution of lenses in terms of what films and sensors can resolve. I'd say that Vision2 50D is probably right at the point where it resolves everything transmitted through the lens as well as any imager or stock can. Due to resolution loss inherent in a lens, there's only so many megapixels of information that can make it through, with the only solution to this problem being in the use of larger and larger lenses and image areas. There are digital SLRs coming out that have 24 megapixel resolutions for a 24x36mm image area. From what I understand, the threshhold with this image area is only about 20 megapixels with the sharpest glass and lens stopped down two to three stops. This would supposedly make the maximum resolution threshhold for a 4-perf Super35mm frame top out around 10 MP. So I am doubtful that any sensor or film stock that claims to resolve to over 3K can actually live up to its manufacturers' claims unless they are using large-format (medium format if you're coming from a still-photography backround) lenses.

Regards,

~KB
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#9 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 01:42 PM

... just as no one really waxes nostalgic for Scotchchrome 640T or Agfa 3200 color films.


But Scotchchrome 1000D and Agfa 1000... yeah.

& Konica 3200 wasn't all that bad.
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