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Thread: Back To a Noob

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Thumbs up Back To a Noob

    Hello everyone! This looks like a great forum. For this, my first post, I'd like to ask a question of the group that may have been asked before. If so, my apologies but I hope you'll tolerate it again.

    In the 1970s and early 1980s I was a professional photographer. I trained in large format but was employed for the most part in a Biomedical Communications department. During that employment I did lots of macro work and used almost every professional 35mm camera of the day (Nikon, Leica, Canon), as well as the medium formats (Hassleblad, Mamiya) and large formats (Sinar, Toyo, Arca Swiss, etc.)

    I left the field and went on to enjoy a career in which I never took a picture. But I miss it, and want to start again. I've decided to make the plunge and buy a Digital SLR. So while I'm deciding which one might suit me best (I'm a life-long Nikon fan) I'm curious to know how the digital experience will compare to my prevous film-only experience.

    Do people still shoot film? What criteria influences that choice?

    How high should I set my expectations regarding the image quality of modern cameras?

    Aside from the myriad of technincal details to be learned, are professionals able to get past them and actually be creative? (I know, kind of a dumb question, but people get so bogged down with widgets)

    Are the cameras rugged? Fast? Dependable?

    In short, I'm looking for insight from folks who've made the transition from film to disc. I am very experienced with Photoshop and have all the software necessary to manipulate digital files (but I can't help but miss the darkroom!).

    Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Austin, Texas

    Re: Back To a Noob

    Hi Tinsnip,

    Welcome to PR. I'm really pretty new to digital myself, so take this as observations from a digital beginner. The answers to your questions depend a lot on who you ask, how much money you're willing to spend, and what type of photography you want to do. I think you would be impressed with the quality of a DSLR, in general. I am.

    I'd say the range of current DSLRs varies from just exceeding 35mm quality to just exceeding medium format quality. That's mostly based on what I've read. If you're willing to sell your car, assuming it's a nice one, you could get a digital Medium Format camera that will knock the socks off MF film, but will still not compete with large format. I think they're about $25K. Of course this is all subjective, because you don't get exactly the same look from digital as you get from film.

    I have a Nikon D70s, and I think it easily exceeds the quality of 35mm film. It may be better than my Yashica TLR, but I seriously doubt it could compete with a Hassy. Some more expensive cameras probably could though. I'm very happy with the D70s.

    Digital has less exposure latitude. It shoots more like slide film than negative film. There are tricks you can do to combine multiple exposures to increase the dynamic range, but this is not always practical. High ISO perfomance is much better than film, IMO.

    The advantages of using digital are obvious, and for many types of photography the image quality is better than film. But, there are many costs beyond the obvious camera expenses that I was not aware of at first. Here's a list of things you may find yourself wanting, some of which you will need:

    noise reduction software
    RAW conversion software
    cataloging software
    Monitor calibration hardware and software
    a better monitor
    a card reader
    more memory cards
    you'll have to get a new flash if you want to make use of Nikon's TTL features.
    extra archiving media, like redundant external hard drives
    wide angle lenses

    I hope this was informative.


  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Re: Back To a Noob

    That is exactly the kind of input I was looking for. I am encouraged to hear you say that one of the better DSLRs can match or exceed the performance of film. And, it isn't surprising that the dynamic range of digital falls a bit short. But it seems like a reasonable compromise.

    I think I'll hold off a bit on that digital medium format... sounds like way more than I need to test whether this new idea is nostalgia or real passion.

    My MAC workstation is set up for my Graphic Design business so I have a terrific monitor and calibration system in place already. The full Adobe Creative Suite 2, and various other software so I should have a running start.

    Thanks for your reply!

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