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I'm still young? - Film or Digital?


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#1 Joe Tweaky Rickards

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 04:01 PM

Hey, I'm fifteen should I invest my time in learning with film cameras or just stick to digital as they will most likely replace film in the near future? Would learning with a film camera and digital give me an advantage over young aspiring cinematographers who only know digital? Thanks

Joe

Edited by Joe Tweaky Rickards, 23 April 2011 - 04:01 PM.

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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 04:12 PM

I think that knowing film gives you an edge in basic photography, and that stuff remains valid regardless. You probably won't ever shoot much film; I haven't, and I'm twice your age. In any case it isn't really about learning cameras, it's about knowing photography, and that can be learned on either. You'll probably end up learning specific cameras along the way, but especially with digital cameras they come and go out of fashion so fast that's a constant process in any case.


P
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#3 Joe Tweaky Rickards

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 04:17 PM

I think that knowing film gives you an edge in basic photography, and that stuff remains valid regardless. You probably won't ever shoot much film; I haven't, and I'm twice your age. In any case it isn't really about learning cameras, it's about knowing photography, and that can be learned on either. You'll probably end up learning specific cameras along the way, but especially with digital cameras they come and go out of fashion so fast that's a constant process in any case.


P


Thank you for the advice. So are you saying that I'll pick up the functions of certain camera's on the way - but I should mainly just focus on learning photography?
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#4 Francesco Bonomo

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 05:18 PM

Hey, I'm fifteen should I invest my time in learning with film cameras or just stick to digital as they will most likely replace film in the near future? Would learning with a film camera and digital give me an advantage over young aspiring cinematographers who only know digital? Thanks

Joe


If we're talking about cinematography, do you actually have access to a film camera (16mm or 35mm) at 15?!?

If we're talking about still photography, well, it depends. I'm more than twice your age, and I started when I was 13, with a small automatic Agfa camera, so I didn't really have a choice (and I'm glad for that, actually, but that's another story).
There are people who say you should start with digital right away because that's the future (and some might argue that it's actually the present), and that film is old-fashioned, expensive and full of limitations. I know it's a very personal thing, but I happen to believe that those "limitations" are a great thing: when you only have 36 (or 12) frames per roll to tell a story and they are way more expensive than 2000 digital shots, you tend to concentrate more on what you're doing. You don't know if you got the shots until you develop the negative, and that takes at least the time to go back home and develop it yourself. But that's just the technical part, and as Phil rightly put it, the digital cameras you may put your hands on today won't probably be around in 5 years. So you should definitely concentrate on what won't change: learn about lighting, composition, learn to tell a story with a finite number of shots, watch movies, read books, study paintings and photographs, grab a camera and shoot. You'll make mistakes, and you'll learn a great deal from them. And review your pictures, find out why you like or don't like the pictures you took: that will help you understand a lot about your own approach to photography, and even more about yourself.
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#5 Chris Millar

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 06:18 PM

Learn digital for sure as you'll be making movies pronto but also get yourself a manual 35mm SLR camera with some prime (not zoom) lenses - first either a 'standard' focal length 35 or 50mm or maybe a wide (they are fun for beginners), then a telephoto last... Try to get fast lenses, as in more than one way they'll allow you more freedom, after the focal length there is another number usually preceded by an f - e.g. f1.4 or f2 and so on the smaller the number the faster the lens, there is another number with a '$' next to it, you'll find out that smaller f numbers usually have larger $ numbers - all a part of the learning process Posted Image

Don't go zoom - you'll learn less


Anyways, something like a Pentax K1000 or spotmatic, lots of lenses about and many will fit 16mm cameras like the K3 if you choose to get into 16mm cine -

With film you'll learn lots about exposure and having to think about your shots once there is a cost involved.


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#6 Joe Tweaky Rickards

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 03:26 AM

Learn digital for sure as you'll be making movies pronto but also get yourself a manual 35mm SLR camera with some prime (not zoom) lenses - first either a 'standard' focal length 35 or 50mm or maybe a wide (they are fun for beginners), then a telephoto last... Try to get fast lenses, as in more than one way they'll allow you more freedom, after the focal length there is another number usually preceded by an f - e.g. f1.4 or f2 and so on the smaller the number the faster the lens, there is another number with a '$' next to it, you'll find out that smaller f numbers usually have larger $ numbers - all a part of the learning process Posted Image

Don't go zoom - you'll learn less


Anyways, something like a Pentax K1000 or spotmatic, lots of lenses about and many will fit 16mm cameras like the K3 if you choose to get into 16mm cine -

With film you'll learn lots about exposure and having to think about your shots once there is a cost involved.


Would that camera be used just for still photography?

Thanks for all the advice people.
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#7 Stephen Williams

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 04:11 AM

Would that camera be used just for still photography?


Yes or possibly some stop motion of upto 36 frames!
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#8 Simon Wyss

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 05:58 AM

Clutch as much of the old-time thing as you can. Yes, we can, it’s in the can.
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#9 Joe Zakko

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 08:00 AM

I don't think film will ever truly die, it'll eventually become the minority unfortunately. There is a lot to learn from film, it teaches discipline and will improve your skills, it looks better, and any school you apply to will be impressed if you submit something you shot on 16mm. Most film schools still teach a lot on film, so it's not forgotten by schools either.
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#10 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 03:30 PM

Film gives you a certain discipline, which is ALWAYS missing when people learn video and ONLY video. There are a lot of nuances that you have to take special care with (such as avoiding flashing the film and budgeting the amount takes you use) when shooting on film. Not mention how film reacts very differently than video when exposed to light.

So, yes...I am a "FILM FOREVER!!!" guy. But with that said, you should be versatile in BOTH mediums. That will get you all the more experience and work.

Edited by Bill DiPietra, 24 April 2011 - 03:31 PM.

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#11 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 04:10 PM

The basics of photography are the same no matter what the acquisition media is, film or videotape or harddrives. A camera works the same today as it did a hundred years ago. You have a box with a hole in it. A lens goes in front of it. A shutter moves. The iris adjusts how much light gets through the hole. Something on the other side of the hole "captures" the image.

You can learn all of that equally well whether you're using film or "video" cameras.


Now, once you know the basics, there are some differences in the variety of capture media available and the cameras the do it. And different kinds of projects will demand that you know one camera or capture media over another, so the more you know about ALL OF THEM, the more marketable you can make yourself.

The important thing to know is that no matter what anyone says, film is not somehow inherently "Better!" than video or any other capture media. It's just different with different parameters and different results which can be construed subjectively as "better" or not. Cameras are just tools and just as much lousy looking junk can be shot with film as can video. The difference is in the hands of the Cameraman who knows his tools and knows how to properly light and stage action with the proper lenses and exposures and settings to capture the desired images.
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#12 Chris Millar

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 05:21 AM

Would that camera be used just for still photography?

Thanks for all the advice people.


yup - I know might sound wrong to suggest getting into stills when you're talking about cinema, but there is so much you can learn from stills that directly applies to cinema that its a no brainer and as Stephen suggests, you could do some interesting little stop motion projects - hey maybe a half frame camera would be up your alley - something like an Olympus Pen F, the frame is near enough to a cinema aspect and you'd get twice as many shots per roll. They are collectable however, so will cost you more than a Pentax 35mm for instance.

I should buy one one day - but have been sidelined by the Alpa half frame versions instead Posted Image
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#13 Patrick Shelton

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 11:02 AM

god i just love this website...

i guess i should contribute sense im hear and all

well OP your young, meaning your like a sponge, i feel im the same way. Just learn everything and forget nothing, whether it be film or digital. Both are important in this day and age.

But like stated previously digital is always changing, film is the foundation and will always stay that way.
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#14 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 11:19 AM

But like stated previously digital is always changing, film is the foundation and will always stay that way.


That's not entirely correct. "Film" is not a static entity. Not only does the hardware change constantly, but so do the capabilities and limitations of filmstocks. Just as a "digital" Cameraman has to keep up with the constantly changing hardware of the electronic arena, so too do "Film" Cameramen who are offered new cameras and new filmstocks.

The basics of photography do not change, but the methods and tools available to capture images do whether a Cameraman is using film or electronic means. Film isn't the foundation. The box with the hole in it is.
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#15 Adriana Craciunescu

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 01:41 AM

You should definitely start out with film. I did, and it was eventually all for the best.

I'm 22 now, a student at the National University of Theater and Film, in Romania and I'm in my second year and preparing for my first 35mm short. It's great, we still use film. We already did some 16mm shorts and I'd like to encourage you to pick up film. I first started with photography, I was 16, had no money, only could buy cheap film and borrow a friends camera, but having only 36 "frames" i could use taught me to be selective, to be careful when I push the button, to look for the more expressive shots... and In time, working on film prepared me by educating me. I learned about exposure, about light, about framing, about composing, about translating the reality on film, about lenses and filters... and the more I photographed, the more I loved it. Even made a small lab for black and white photography ... yet again, giving me the advantage when we had our first 16 mm that in my mind, I knew how it would look like...

So, I hope I haven't bored you, and my opinion is helpful; I know digital is more comfortable, but If you really want to learn, I think investing in film is the answer.
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