Motivation Behind Shooting Color Film and Scanning

Discussion in 'Scanning and Scanners' started by faberryman, Aug 30, 2018.

  1. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    Will someone explain the mindset behind color shooting film and scanning it. I get the feeling that most color film shooters are not making wet prints (or having wet prints made). Rather they are shooting film, having it processed and scanned (generally at below optimum resolution) at significant expense, posting it on social media, and having the occasional inkjet print made. Given the inherent quality compromises, what is the motivation? Why not just shoot digital? Is it just because it is trendy? The usual counter-culture leanings of youth? Given the demographics of the forum, perhaps the is the wrong place to ask, but maybe someone could take a stab at it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  2. RPC

    RPC Member

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    Personally, I shoot color and b&w negative film and optically print it for best quality. Scanning film has never appealed to me, nor digital.
     
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    faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    I can see the case for shooting color film and optically printing it. I think you are in a distinct minority though.
     
  4. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Subscriber

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    Well, I got into photo when they still sold film cameras to consumers (2004), when I got attached to the hobby I bought several high quality manual focus cameras. Digital seemed expensive and for a while gave worse results, but that time is over obviously. Now, I guess that I just got used to my old cameras, film and scanning, and its certain qualities. But I see your point.
     
  5. RPC

    RPC Member

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    You are correct. Sadly, it is hardly discussed at all anymore here.
     
  6. Billy Axeman

    Billy Axeman Subscriber

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    A scan from a negative (color or B/W) has a completely different character than a digital image, even if you are showing it on a screen in a small format.
     
  7. jim10219

    jim10219 Member

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    I shoot color film and then scan it because I can generally get better quality of colors and can make edits to the film that would not otherwise be possible without a computer. It's also a lot cheaper to shoot color film, scan it, and print it on an inkjet than it is to print it via RA4. And in some cases, I can get BETTER quality with a scanned photo than with traditional methods. I can scan negatives at such a level as to resolve the grain (may require stitching). Then, I can use software to blow up the image beyond what is possible in RA4 wet prints, without grain becoming an issue, by using interpolation algorithms which can make an educated guess at filling in the missing information. And with large format cameras and film, I can get higher resolution, and have access to movements that aren't readily available on digital cameras within my budget. Plus there's not really a good way to print E6 film by traditional methods anymore. Scanning and printing is really the only viable option. That, and shooting film instead of digital gives me options later on. I can print a negative on an inkjet printer or under my enlarger pretty easily. Shooting with a digital camera limits my printing options.

    I still use my digital cameras all of the time. They have their place, and they're often the best tool for the job. But I also like to shoot film sometimes because I enjoy the process more. They're different tools for different jobs. Just because you like your hammer better than your screwdriver doesn't mean it's a good idea to try to hammer in a screw.

    Sometimes I make wet prints in the darkroom. Sometimes I do alternative process printing. Sometimes I project slides. Sometimes I make inkjet prints. Sometimes I just post a photo to social media and never see it again. Most of the time, I never revisit the photo after first glance when I realize it wasn't all that good of a shot. I don't view one method as superior or inferior, in totality, to any other. They each have their pros and cons.
     
  8. Wallendo

    Wallendo Subscriber

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    There are several possibilities:
    1) It allows your to use to use specialized equipment not readily available or affordable in the digital realm
    2) You can take inexpensive cameras into environmental situations where a user doesn't want to risk digital equipment
    3) C-41 film can be used in purely mechanical cameras for occasions where a user is far from power sources or areas of extreme temperature
    4) If shooting a hybrid C-41 flow now, a user can later move up to wet printing and still have the negatives.

    I mostly shoot B&W and E6 (for scanning and projection), but occasionally shoot C-41 with waterproof cameras and as test rolls in new cameras (although I now rarely shoot color tests because 1 hour processing is not available in my area).
    If I just want color prints, I tend to use my digital cameras.

    You could possibly make a similar argument for B&W hybrid shooters, of which I currently am one ... but have purchased an enlarger, tanks, etc and plan to start wet printing in B&W by the end of the year. Today's hybrid shooter may become tomorrow's APUG hardliner.:wink:
     
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    faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    Maybe the issue I see is with scanning. I scan with a scanner that has an equivalent resolution to the vaunted Coolscan. Yet I've never been happy with the output. You usually aren't getting that level of quality when you get you film processed and scanned, so I can't see how anyone would be satisfied.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  10. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Subscriber

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    I have a Nikon Coolscan, which I think gives me good quality. Scanning would be much less interesting on my flatbed, so that's certainly part of it.
     
  11. jim10219

    jim10219 Member

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    DSLR scanning (or mirrorless digital camera now) is the only way to go for me for smaller formats. The results are much better than what I ever could get from a lab, flatbed, or dedicated film scanner. Although I generally use my flatbed for large format film because in order to get the same level of quality with a digital camera, I'd need to stitch together way too many photos.
     
  12. Alan Edward Klein

    Alan Edward Klein Member

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    I like the smell of film.
     
  13. TonyB65

    TonyB65 Member

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    I shot both black and white and colour film, develop it myself and scan it. I like shooting film because it is a whole different ethos and a much different way of shooting. It still looks like film after scanning, and actually Ektar in particular scans beautifully. I also like having negatives and a digital backup. I also shoot digital where film struggles, which is usually in low light, so I have an A7S for that and shoot only film era lenses on that camera. I do intend to wet print black and white eventually but don't have the set-up or time yet. I don't really care what anyone else does or thinks about it, it's what I do. I do laugh at some of the snobbery on either side of the film digital divide. Do what works for you, but don't sneer at what others like to do, that's up them, each to their own.
     
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  15. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    As you know Frank I have all the camera film gear and processing capabilities for colour film so I only do this, never owned a digital camera. So I scan everything at high resolution and am happy with my resulting Alt Prints. If I win some money I will buy the Phase on Arca Swiss and never look back to film. so for me its a convenience an known quality assurance thing.
     
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    faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    I would be happy with my scanning quality for Alt Prints too. Just not sure why I wouldn't shoot digital in the first place.
     
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    faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    I came late to digital (film: 1973, digital: 2012). I shoot digital just like I shoot film - one frame at a time. Not sure about the ethos part of it. I'm interested in the resulting image.
    No sneering implied; I am trying to comprehend why people do what they do.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  18. TonyB65

    TonyB65 Member

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    "Is it just because it is trendy? The usual counter-culture leanings of youth?" - seems kind of patronising to me. As for the ethos, you don't think shooting medium format or 4x5 using a tripod and spot meter is different to shooting digital? or loading and unloading a camera? or experimenting during dev? It's completely different. It's far more involved approach, there's more work and planning involved, it's easier to get wrong, more challenging, I like that. Digital become boring for me, it's as much about the journey as the end result for me.
     
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    faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    I shoot MF and LF film so I know there are differences. For me, they don't rise to an ethos. Loading and unloading film from a camera or film holders is a mechanical activity also not rising to an ethos for me. The challenges in good film and digital practice are different, one neither less nor more challenging than the other. I like the craft aspects of platinum palladium, which is much of what I do, but I like the flexibility of digital negatives. I've done them from both scanned film and from digital. For me, the journey is important, but the result is more important. But most color film shooters are not doing MF/LF, nor are they doing their own processing, nor are they doing their own scans, nor are they making their own prints, so all of these points seem tangential to the discussion, but I appreciate you viewpoint.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  20. TonyB65

    TonyB65 Member

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    Well I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on the ethos part, I'm not sure how you know what most colour film shooters are doing, by numbers, I certainly don't, though it would be interesting to find out. Lots of people are shooting medium format, judging by the prices of decent MF gear, at least here (UK), as they appear to be rising. Results do matter to me, but colour film looks different to digital to me anyway, a look I generally prefer, so the result is generally going to be better for me anyway.
     
  21. MattKing

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    For me, I have to switch cameras and lenses to go from film to digital. If I shoot on colour film, I can get the results I like from the cameras and lenses I like.
    I would need to invest a whole chunk of money to get a digital system that is similar to the smallest film camera (35mm) I regularly use. And I would need way more money to get a digital system that is similar to the medium format film cameras I prefer.
    And I still project slides - both 35mm and medium format.
     
  22. Eric Rose

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    I feel it's due to the Walmart mentality. People want it NOW, they want it CHEAP and don't care about the quality. With FB and IG people have "friends" all over the world now that are just as important to them as family (and in some sad cases more important) so to share photos they need them digitized. Since FB and IG are low-fi representations of their images there is no point in making high rez scans.

    Further to that if I were to take a high resolution scan into a drug store or Costco to get it printed it will be murdered anyway. There are fewer and fewer high quality photo finishers around these days. Our last local one closed up and I now have to send my digi scan files to Edmonton to get them printed. Lots of hassle and extra expense.

    It seems not very many people have an appreciation nor value craftsmanship anymore. Everything has become a commodity.

    Personally I enjoy using my film cameras but very rarely shoot colour film. I have just recently started shooting some C41 and taking it to the local drug store. I enjoy the process and the anticipation. Maybe my digicams will get a rest for awhile.
     
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    faberryman

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    So if all that it true, why are they shooting film to begin with.
     
  24. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Why? For new people shooting film, because it's cool and different. For us oldsters, because it's cool and familiar.
     
  25. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    and for some people its expired they can't sell it so they might as well shoot it ...
    and while i am in that category and take the film ( if its 35mm ) to my local mini lab
    its still processed and scanned / not optical printed, but its still fuji paper and its great to
    hold a color image. there's really nothing like holding a print no matter what kind it is ...
     
  26. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    That much is true. But do go outside more often: wet hybrid RA-4 prints are made in commercial volumes than home hobbyist RA-4 darkroom prints — maybe not close to you or others in North America, but we Aussies are spoilt for choice, quality and materials.

    What the pithy drugstore offers? Probably.
    But at the other end, a $400 drum scan is never, not ever going to look "below optimum resolution", even if it is bordering on "significant expense" (and $400 is not) A $2.00 scan from a corner store is going to be appalling for any application other than thumbs on a screen. Sadly, this cheap on-the-fly provision of scans is interpreted as the benchmark for all scans. And it is not.

    And the majority of people here are not going to get anywhere near the quality achieved with ultra-high end printing from colourimetrically-correct (matched) drum scans. And that is long before precise exposure on slide film!

    With a digital camera!? Pass—.
    The production of prints from analogue is a craft any which way you look at it, irrespective of darkroom or hybrid print production. If you do not have a solid background in colour work, especially photogravure, mathematical interpolation of colourimetrics for colour matching and high level computer literacy, analogue-digital print production will be entirely lost on you — on anybody. For them, a digital camera is undoubtedly better for their needs.

    Do you mean hipsterism?
     
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