Can you practice film skills with digital cameras?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by keller, Sep 12, 2005.

  1. keller

    keller TPF Noob!

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    I'm considering getting a digital camera for general practice, since with digital I can immediately check the pic on a laptop to see what I did right/wrong.

    The only worry is, can you practice taking photos with a digital camera, and "transfer" those skills to a film camera? As in, are the techniques/skills (lighting, exposure, etc) used for digital camera similar to those you use for a film-based camera?
     
  2. Meysha

    Meysha still being picky Vicky

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    The simple answer = Yes. Using a digital camera is just like using a film camera.

    However depending on the digital camera you buy, you will be able to only control certain aspects. If you want to learn how to use film but on a digital camera then make sure you get a camera where you can change the shutter speed, aperture, both independantly and fully manually as well.
     
  3. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    The full answer is = up to a point :lol:
    You can develop a basic understanding of how aperture and shutter speed work together (along with composition) but you need to remember that digital sensors don't respond to light in quite the same way as film.
    If you move to film at a later stage you will find that the results you get will usually be different from what you have come to expect (quite apart from the technical considerations of processing and printing). Digital is very forgiving - and does a lot of the work for you. For this reason people who start out using digital tend to believe that there is a lot less to photography than there actually is.
    Just something to bear in mind.
     
  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I would compare it to a watercolor artist picking up oil paints. Each medium has different characteristics that must be explored and learned, but much of what makes a good painting will be transferable.

    With film there is a sequence of procedures that must be followed after the exposure to get to the point where the photographer can see the photo. This takes at least 1 hour, and maybe weeks or months. If anything is done wrong during any of the procedures the quality of the photo will be affected in a fairly permanent manner. Also every single exposure, good or bad, costs money; even if I don't get a print made I have to pay for film and chems. These things encourage a methodical approach to learning and practicing photography (previsualization), and tend to discourage trial and error shooting.

    With the instant feedback of digital, and the bad exposures only costing battery power, it makes random shooting much more rewarding. :) Also the ability to conveniently fiddle around endlessly with the original exposure makes it easier to get away with less than perfect exposures and compositions. But there is no reason why the digital photographer can't use previsualization; it just requires some discipline.
     
  5. Ant

    Ant TPF Noob!

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    If you don't have the discipline just do what I do and buy more, and bigger CF cards :D
     
  6. John E.

    John E. TPF Noob!

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    This will probably get me in hot water with all the film buffs but.....

    I believe you can learn faster on how to get a good exposure for film using digital. One of the main reasons is the quick turn around and ease of experimentation. Use a dslr. In order to achieve this you will have to learn how to shoot manual and learn how to meter. A good exercise is to take a picture of a scene and meter on the different light sources to see how it effects the overall exposure. If you shoot raw and find yourself not compensating for exposure then you are ready for film. Remember that you will have to concentrate on getting a good exposure on the first click of the shutter button

    Type and characteristics of different film is a whole different ball game, for that you have to use a film camera. Hertz and Ksmattfish are absolutley correct.

    As a person who loves digital, when I find myself adjusting exposure compensation more than 1/2 an fstop then I consider it a mistake and give myself a severe :whip:
     
  7. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    You do learn a lot about composition and exposure when shooting digital. Also when working with a flash, and balancing it with ambient light, it's easier to learn with a DSLR

    But film has to be exposed differently in order to get the same result. In digital you lose the highlights, in film you lose the shadows if you underexpose, and there is not any info in the emulsion to print from.

    I started with a DSLR and experimented a lot with different DOFs and apertures, checking sharpness and flash. All of it has transferred to or benefited my film work greatly.

    However there are quirks to shooting film just as much as there is to digital.

    What are you planning to do with your photography?
     
  8. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    I disagree. Digital has a very small dynamic range compared to film, and cannot reproduce the same color range of film. To get results that look anything close to film, you have to do quite a bit of post processing, whether you shoot in auto mode jpg, or full manual raw.

    I see on a daily basis how unforgiving digital is, because I retouch bad school photography, done by people who are not photographers, who's exposures are all over the place, and it really shows in print quality.
     
  9. steve817

    steve817 TPF Noob!

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    I'm with Matt on this one.
     

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