New to digital, old to film

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by jamespetts, Oct 24, 2006.

  1. jamespetts

    jamespetts TPF Noob!

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    I am not sure whether this ought to be in the "digital" forum, the "film" forum, or a new forum for both, so apologies if this hard to categorise message is in the wrong place.

    I have been into photography as a serious hobby for about ten years, using old secondhand manual focus 35mm SLRs (including one from about 1964(!) that I am about to send off to have repaired), and have in that time accumulated a bag full of equipment, including two camera bodies, seven lenses, two flashguns and two hand-held lightmeters, and a separate bag containing a tripod, all of which I have customarily carried whenever I go out taking photographs (in case I see an opportunity for a photograph that I can only take with some equipment left at home...). Needless to say, carrying all of that is something of a strain (when I go away, I often have suitcases lighter), and can make it difficult to get around all the places that I want when I am taking photographs.

    Recently, I went on a brief trip to the Isle of Man, and, not designating the holiday as a specifically photographic holiday, decided not to take the full kit. However, I did not want to come back from my holiday without any photographs at all, and came to the realisation that perhaps buying a good digital compact camera might be the answer not only to that, but also to situations in which the convenience and efficiency of digital imaging were important considerations. So, I bought the Canon PowerShot A630, and have so far been very happy with it (I am still getting used to managing noise levels - although noise at any given ISO rating is not much greater than film grain, digital noise looks worse than the equivalent amount of film grain largely because it is both colour and tonal noise, wheras film grain is usually only tonal noise). After the first full day of taking photographs, I realised that the thing that I missed most about my 35mm eqipment was the tripod, so I bought a mini-tripod that could fit in my coat pocket, and very much enjoyed being able to take good photographs without having to carry a heavy bag, but instead a camera and tripod that can fit into my coat pockets, leaving me entirely free-handed to walk around and enjoy the scenery.

    I do not plan on getting rid of my 35mm equipment, however: I understand that there are numerous advantages to full-size 35mm negatives/transparancies over small sensors like that in the A630, and I certainly cannot afford a full-frame sensor digital camera; plus the fact, I rather enjoy projecting slides, and have a certain fascination with using old cameras to produce good pictures, although I like the latest technology as well. I also understand that chemical film still has some advantages over digital sensors, particularly with long exposures, and I am very fond of taking photogaphs at dusk or indoors without a flash and using long-exposures and a tripod.

    So, I have resolved effectively to have a "light kit", consisting of the A630, a spare memory card, some spare batteries, and a tripod, all of which can fit into various coat pockets, and a "heavy kit", containing the full set of 35mm equipment plus all of the light kit (in case any sucject would benefit from a digital camera, and the mini-tripod can do some things that a full-sized tripod cannot). The idea of having a "light kit" is a rather appealing one, as it gives me an opportunity to take photographs (and good photographs: I have found the A630 a very capable camera) where I might not otherwise have done through not wanting to carry an extremely heavy pair of bags around with me. (I also have thoughts about trying to make my heavy kit less heavy by, for example, removing my old screw-fit Pentax 135mm lens, since I have a good Vivitar Series 1 70-120, and the M42-FD converter and the M42 extension rings that together I only use for very occasional macro photographs, and possibly (or possibly not - I am not sure that I take enough macro photographs to justify it) replacing them all with a single macro lens, and removing one of the flashguns, but that is a somewhat different matter).

    The reason that I am posting all of this is that I should be interested in people's views and experiences on (1) the relative merits for certain sorts of photography and subjects of 35mm film and the small but generally capable digital sensor in cameras like the A630, and (2) the practice of having a good compact with one or two pocketable accessories as a "light kit" in addition to a "heavy kit" of SLR with large range of lenses and accessories. I have not ever tried to use digital cameras before for anything other than casusal snapshots, nor have I ever had to choose whether to take a "light kit" or "heavy kit" when wanting to take photographs of at least a moderately serious nature. Does anyone else here use that sort of combination (digital compact/35mm (or even medium format) film SLR) for different sorts of uses? If so, when do you take your "heavy kit"? I should be very interested in thoughts, experiences and opinions on this and related matters (and any general tips for somebody who has hitherto used 35mm film and has recently embraced digital as well).
     
  2. dirty1thirdee

    dirty1thirdee TPF Noob!

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    I have 3 bodies I use, but I use my d70s the most. Normally I put the D70s with the 18-70mm lens in my backpack with my Canon AE-1, 50mm 1.4, and 24mm 2.8, and a flash. If I am shooting landscape, still life, or at night, I bring a tripod. This is my medium kit. My heavy kit is this and a telephoto lens for the AE-1. My light kit is only the D70s and 18-70.
     
  3. Orgnoi1

    Orgnoi1 TPF Noob!

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    Well that was a ton of reading... =)

    My thoughts on this are really only a mirror of what I do myself...

    I have a smaller digital for really the only reason of if I am somewhere either on my motorcycle, hiking, or just not too into carrying my normal kit around. It is totally capable of doing what I need it to do when I need to do it... but being very avid in both Digital Photography as well as Medium Format film I tend to barely ever take it.

    I shoot primarily transportation photography, so with that it entails a wide group of equipment, ranging from a full camera set up, to a ladder, to tripods/monopods. Luckily I have a truck with cap to carry it all as it would be very cumbersome otherwise... the only good thing is that my subjects tend to be close to accessable areas and I never really have to "pack in" my main gear. The same really goes for my MF kit.
     
  4. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I would take "the complete kit" when I go on holidays (check my profile to see of what it consists), carry the small Powershot and the tiny tripod for it (the latter only sometimes) when I go out rollerblading and cannot be bothered with (or find it too dangerous to) bring(ing) the 350D, take out the Leica for special appointments that I set myself (like teaching myself to use a prime lens after having used zoom lenses for so long) - and only rarely use the 500N these days... which is a pity, I say.

    Well, and once on holidays I find I mostly use the 350D with the 70-300mm lens on and the Powershot for wider angle photos (though the angle cannot be as wide as that given by the kit lens which came with the 350D). So while I carry much, I use a lot less in the end ...

    But for special trips or holidays I feel I want to have all the opportunities (equipment-wise, as it were) I can have. Maybe I must still learn to really use them all ... but for that I would need to be on holidays all on my own, neither with the family nor with any group, for on AVERAGE times away or holidays I never have the TIME to really explore or use all my equipment - I will always get either groans or angry or miffed looks, or, if all goes well, laughs and mockery about the fact that I ALWAYS bring up the very far rear of things.
     
  5. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Well I like to be difficult... on my last holiday I packed my bag to the gills (the proverbial gills; it isn't an amphibious camera bag or anything). And it wasn't anything resembling a coherent kit either... it included an autofocus Minolta (film) with 50mm prime and 19-35mm zoom, manual focus Pentax (film) with 50mm and 85mm primes, Olympus fixed lens compact (film), and Sony Cybershot compact (digital)... and lots and lots of film. The vast majority of shots I got were taken with the film cameras, but I found the digital p&s very useful - especially when I wanted to get macro shots. I also learned the importance of not leaving your memory cards at home - I only took a 256mb card with me, and as a result had to both shoot at 5mp (it's a 7mp camera) and make judicious use of the delete button. In the end I got quite a few shots on the camera of my phone as well - a Sony Ericsson, the first time I ever bought a half-decent phone - it has a 3mp camera which is actually very good for snapshots to print at 6x4.

    Since then I've finally got around to getting myself a digital SLR, and I like it. A lot. This with either the kit lens or a 50mm f/1.4 is now the one camera I take with me pretty much everywhere. But I certainly haven't abandoned film - I like colour print film for its exposure latitude, and black and white because I like developing it and hope to get access to a darkroom again. In particular I use film for wide-angle shots, because I can't currently afford a good wide-angle lens for the cropped sensor. I also still use the Sony compact quite a lot, because it's nice to have a camera whose shutter makes no noise and to be able to shoot macro without having to switch lenses or attach extension rings.

    I like the idea of a light kit and a heavy kit. As you can see I'm nowhere near that organised; I just pack whatever I think I'll need at the time and hope it's enough. If I were to go away on holiday again now I'd definitely take my digital SLR, but I would still take at least one film camera as well, for black and white, for wide-angle stuff and for lighting conditions where the digital sensor can't cope with the dynamic range as well. Those are the main reasons I'd continue using film and digital.

    Any general tips for digital? Yes. Buy a memory card. A large one. Then buy another one. And another. And don't leave them at home :lol:
     
  6. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    My personal choice would be to have the small kit a film camera if my main kit was. To do digital well often requires an investment, just as doing film well often does. I waited to get into digital capture until I could afford a camera that made good use of it. If you were just grabbing some snaps or teaching yourself photography, then I think a small digital is a great choice. But if you know your way around a camera and have a full film kit, I'd lean towards something simple like a small rangefinder. People tend to worry about having zooms available to cover a wide range, because they want to be able to get every shot, but I only shoot with a 50mm and an 85mm, and that's on an SLR. If you look for shots with a focal length in mind, you'll find them.

    I used to have my EOS-5 packed with several zooms, a TLR, and a bunch of stuff in a large backpack, and would throw the SLR and a lens into a smaller bag if I really needed to be light, but now my 10D and two primes fit in a small bag rather well. That's turned into my main kit, with enough room for a couple of odds and ends. I've found that now that I've found my style, I've been able to trim down a lot. Shooting available light helps with that, but most people don't go that route.

    I'm not saying that people should ditch their zooms; that was just right for me; but for a light kit, you don't need to worry about getting all types of shots.
     
  7. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would add that it doesn't make much sense to worry about the format. You can say that the digital SLR format is inferior to 35mm (I'm having a hard time believing this myself, by the way) and I'll just say that 35mm is inferior to 6X7 medium format or 8X10 large format.

    In my experience, image quality is a given. It is what you and the camera recorded. If you can go back and improve it by reshooting it, then do so. Otherwise, then it is a given. How you use the image in the final product is a major element and there are plenty of options for that. Image quality may affect some uses for the image, but there will be plenty of others.

    For example, look how acceptable an image can be made by projecting a 72 dpi image on a computer monitor. that same image wouldn't look right on a 16X20 print so you just don't use it that way or you get one that will. Creativity doesn't end when you release the shutter.
     

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