Digital/film? Help me wildlife folks?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by LWW, Jan 14, 2006.

  1. LWW

    LWW TPF Noob!

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    Before it turns to a digifilm debate let me say that I'm a Nikon body/lens person who's well invested in Nikon glass. I also shoot a lot of 50 MM and less work and am aware of the shortcomings of digitals for wide angles...such as my perfectly functional 16 mm rectilear fisheye would be a relatively narrow 24 mm. I can't make any argument to buy a DSLR AND expensive new glass for that type of shooting when I have a paid for like new F4s and glass down to 16 mm.

    OTOH I have lusted in my heart for the big aperture superfast Nikkor telephoto beasts. In film if I want a 500 mm f4 EDIF it's $5,799.95. Hooked up to a Nikon D70 my 300 mm f4 EDIF would be a pretty equivalent 450 mm f4. And it's paid for. A 300 mm f2.8 film lens is $4,499.95. I would lose VR but my 80 mm-200 mm f2.8 EDIF would match it on the long end plus be an effective ED lens down to what a 120 mm would have been. And yes it's paid for. A Sigma 400 mm ED AF f5.6, that's paid for, becomes a 600 mm f 5.6 film equivalent. A Nikkor 600 mm EDIF f4...only 1 stop faster...is $7,549.95.

    For $699.95 I can add a D50 with 18 mm- 55 mm. This would give me a film equivalent of fixed aperture ED glass in 120mm-300mm f2.8, 450mm f4, and 600mm f5.6 and a decent variable aperture short zoom ED glass lens.

    $17,849.85 is what it would cost to upgrade my F4s to those specs, minus the about $1,500.00 I could get for the old glass gives me somewhere in the $16K-$16.5K range new and probably still $10K+ used to acquire.

    Now here's what else I shoot a lot. Airplanes. I live with the USAF's largest base and the world's largest air show. That and the USAF museum...where everything is actually registered and flyable. Plus the national WACO fly in. Plus the national WWI Vintage Aircraft fly in. And the daily flown Wright B flyer. And the national 1:4 scale model plane fly in. And the scale jet association fly in. Plus an authorized AF1 service/repair site. Any way I get to see lots of airplanes.

    I also love to shoot outdoor sports, baseball-soccer-football-rugby-rodeo-auto racing-horse racing type stuff. Also indoor sports such as minor league hockey, college basketball, boxing, WWE.

    What I have wanted to shoot is animals in the wild. Birds, deer, moose, elk, bear, eagles, hawks. The big and the bad and the beautiful and the fast.

    I'm 49 and a veteran, not in as good of shape as I once was...but I can still pass all the US Army physical specs for age 27 so I'm still pretty virile, just not as agile. I'm also skilled enough and sane enough to carry a weapon into the field in case things ever got too close. I understand fully the thrill of the hunt and the challenge of having to go into the hunted's back yard, I just don't have the need nor desire to kill it for the sport. If I had a moose in my lens at 200 yards then it was a trophy if I decided to shoot it with a high powered rifle. Telephoto shooting and long range firearms are quite similar skills.

    Also let me say that I'm not out to dog hunters and I have no moral dilemma with the sport, it just doesn't work for me. One click, I've got a deer that I can hang on the wall...I can't freeze it and eat it, but I don't have to drag it out of the woods either. I also don't want to induce a firearms debate. My comments were only due to the fact that the act of shooting as I describe does have some inherent risks from unfriendly critters, that and there are people who are totally responsible in bearing weapons...others bring far more risk than they eliminate.

    To make a short story long any dollar amount that has 5 digits to the left of the decimal has no chance of flying. Anything that has 4 would create a summit with the war department. $699.95 ain't bad.

    What do I lose by not having the superfast glass on a film system based off of an F4s?

    So far I see:

    -The ability to do everything with 1 body.

    -The fact that the weight savings in glass and body would be about half.

    -Not having the availability of 1/8,000 shutter speed. I seldom used it, but I have.

    -Not having the high ISO availability, such as up to 3200 on Kodak B&W. I seldom use them and when I do it's astrophotography which I use a telescope with a film body. They claim ISO 1600 equivalent for the D50? Is that under bright sunlight only or is it a real possibility. I do shoot some 800 speed stuff with jets and night baseball so if the D50 can do ISO 800 film equivalence under all situations I would rarely lose anything. Not having ISO 100 speed...and slower...really bugs me more, and film is getting the same way.

    Quality wise...how close will I in all reality be to matching the big aperture megaton film telephotos with this weight reduced digiversion?

    FWIW I also have a very sturdy Bogen tripod and monopod so stability is not an issue. Beyond that I am a very good hand held shooter. I routinely shoot down to 1/30 second on film at 200 mm and 1/60 at 300 mm...assuming level ground and no wind. I can't call myself a pro but I shoot enough stuff for money to mostly support my hobby.

    Anyone who has went through a similar process I appreciate the advice. Is it worth it to have a DSLR only for long range shooting?

    LWW
     
  2. sobolik

    sobolik TPF Noob!

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    To me all questions digital boil down to this,
    cost compared to probable obsolescence due to changing technology or "It just stopped working."
    What is your conclusion in the context of my statement?
     
  3. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    One thing to keep in mind is that the 1.6 multiplier comes from a crop factor. It would be the same as shooting with the F4, then blowing up the neg and cropping it down at the same time. Here's a comparison between the physical size of a D70 sensor and a 35mm negative.

    [​IMG]

    And at 3008 x 2000 for an image size, this has the resolving power of a negative 0.6" x 0.4" (using 5000dpi as the resolving power of good film). The actual sensor size is 0.9" x 0.6". This means that a low ISO film is likely to give you a better shot, even at that crop.

    [​IMG]

    I would first borrow or rent a D70 and do a shooting comparison. Take a shot with it, then move the lens over to the F4 (keeping the same settings), and take the same shot from the same spot. Crop the F4 shot to match and make a print of each at the size you normally would. The D70 will only be worth changing to if the image looks better to you and you don't have other reasons.

    I personally don't think this is a reason to switch. There are many reasons to use digital, but it looks like you have a lot of reasons to with stay film.
     
  4. LWW

    LWW TPF Noob!

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    So your contention is that a film shot taken at 300 mm and digitally cropped to match the D70's 450 mm equivalent would be superior to the digital only rendition...or IOW why bother.

    I've thought of that angle as well.

    LWW
     
  5. THORHAMMER

    THORHAMMER TPF Noob!

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    problem solved.....

    if you mostly shoot wildlife then the crop factor is a blessing...

    go d70 and use all the awsome glass you have now, then you can get a full frame nikon when they come out and still sell your d70 for 60% of what you paid for it 7 months earlier !!!!!!!!!!
     
  6. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Exactly. Or at least close enough that it won't be worth the money and hassle. I haven't tried it, so I can't say for sure, but that's where the numbers lead. Only way to know for sure is to try it.
     
  7. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Not if you take more into consideration than just the crop factor. It's not like the lens suddenly becomes better. Something has to give. The multiplication is the result of a reduced capture size. This is not a good thing.
     
  8. THORHAMMER

    THORHAMMER TPF Noob!

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    you have a point... Im guessing he doesnt need to print his pics like bigger than 18 x 24, i dont think you'll notice degregation on anything smaller than that.... but i dont know nikon all that well im a canon man... lol.....

    I probably said it wrong, i didnt mean it was automatically jut better, but I also didnt articulate very well... You have an easier time zooming in tight to pull out close up shots of wildlife... these should be just fine noise/quality/sharpness wise with your existing lenses, but if your shooting for like exhibit quality and size prints than you really do need full frame digital, or regular 35mm......

    borrow a buddies d70 and try it for a day, or rent one for 40 bucks....
     
  9. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    Even though you don't want to get into a digital/film debate, that seems to be what your question boils down to. What do you do with the film you shoot now? Scan it and share it online? Make enlargements and frame them? If so, what size?

    If you are framing 8x10s and 16x20s around the house, I think you'll find the quality of digital more than fine, and won't notice a drop in resolution. As Mark said, it's not a magnification increase that digital gives, rather a crop, but you have to also look at it like this. The digital negative for a 6mp DSLR is 6.84 x 10.253" at 300 dpi. Digital can be interpolated the same way 35mm can be enlarged. If you ask different people, you'll get different answers as to the amount of enlarging that either format can handle, while maintaining acceptable results. This is all in the eye of the beholder, and to each his own. I've seen 20x30s printed from point and shoot 35mm, and I've seen them from 6mp digital images, and honestly, it all depends on the shot. I regularly print 20x30s from 6 and 8mp and enjoy the results.

    I have to agree with Thor, that you should rent or borrow one first, and have a go in the field, and then make a few prints and see for yourself. If you take on a digital, you have to get into the computer end of it as well, and $699.95 isn't going to be your final cost. You'll need batteries and CF memory, in addition to storage space on your computer, in the event that you start shooting lots of photos.
     
  10. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Just to clarify, I wasn't saying that digital wouldn't be good enough for enlargements, just that it would actually have to be better than a cropped 35mm neg for it to make sense switching (if the increase in apparent magnification were the only reason for switching). Otherwise, he could just crop his negs and get the same result without spending hundreds of dollars on a new body.

    If a digital enlargement is the same as an enlargement from a cropped neg, switching doesn't gain him anything. It doesn't really matter what he does with it. In this case, it is the comparison between the two that is important.
     

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