Using digital instead of Polaroid for tests

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Ian Grant

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Having given up 35mm photography 2 years ago, replaced totally by digital, I still use 120 B&W but prefer digital for colour, in anything under 5"x4".

Now I'm contemplating using my Canon Digital SLR for the test exposures with my 5"x4" and 10"x8" cameras instead of using a sheet of Polaroid film.

Has anyone any experience ?
 

David A. Goldfarb

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I've done it to get an idea of color balance (fix the white balance to correspond to the film) and lighting ratios.

It won't tell you, though, whether your shutter is working properly or if you are having some other camera problem, whether your camera movements are right, etc. For that, Polaroid is a better tool.
 
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Ian Grant

Ian Grant

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David A. Goldfarb said:
It won't tell you, though, whether your shutter is working properly or if you are having some other camera problem, whether your camera movements are right, etc. For that, Polaroid is a better tool.

Now these things aren't ever a problem, well rare after nearly 30 years of large format, it's the test exposures I'm talking about.
 

L Gebhardt

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Ian Grant said:
Now these things aren't ever a problem, well rare after nearly 30 years of large format, it's the test exposures I'm talking about.
After only a few years experiance I have found my exposures are very close every time. I have found that neither a digital camera or Polaroid will tell me if my exposure is perfect. With slide film I really need to bracket. My exposures are normally "right" but frequently I prefer a different one of the bracketed shots, but I need to see the final transparency to be sure. I tried it with a digital SLR and the response is just not the same, so I abandoned the extra weight. I now use Polaroid to check the focus, and for extra crap in the frame etc. much more than the exposure.
 

rbarker

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The shortcoming of using the digital for test shots to me is that the screen on the back of the digital is just too small to see the details, and it isn't necessarily the same as looking at the image in Photoshop. As such, I was missing the little stuff. So, I went back to 4x5 'Roids for tests. Plus, I really prefer to use the taking lens and setup for tests, anyway.
 

Charles Webb

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I am not for or against using digital for test images. I don't use digital to test with or to perhaps replace Polaroid, as it seems experience in visualizing what I am setting up for in most cases is close enough. First off I do not consider myself an "artist" I am a person who now makes images of subjects I like rather
than prostitute my self to what someone else dictates how to, and what my
images are supposed to do or are used.

I cannot tell you how many times Polaroid has saved my bacon by showing me something that I had looked at, but never really saw. An example is a certain U.P. locomotive in the gallery with a telephone pole and cross bucks growing out of the engine cab.

If digital works for your test shots, use it, if not, I have found they make a great paper weight and definitely are conversational items to place on your
desk.:smile:
 

bobfowler

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Ian Grant said:
Having given up 35mm photography 2 years ago, replaced totally by digital, I still use 120 B&W but prefer digital for colour, in anything under 5"x4".

Now I'm contemplating using my Canon Digital SLR for the test exposures with my 5"x4" and 10"x8" cameras instead of using a sheet of Polaroid film.

Has anyone any experience ?

Unless you use the very lens/shutter combination that will make the final picture, your "test exposures" will have very little bearing on what you actually record on film. This is especially true when shooting film with a leaf shutter and your electronic proof with a focal plane shutter as leaf shutter efficiency falls off with shorter shutter speeds and also varies with shutter size. At least for now, Polaroid is the best spot test medium we have.
 

bjorke

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Funny that you should ask that, when I'd posted a couple of samples within the the past few days on my blog:

6x6 image and a corresponding digital exposure test. This is after still poking my subject all over the face with the dome of my incident flash meter.

My biggest source of anxiety WRT this is that the digi has less variation in ISO. 50 100 200 400 800 1600 3200 great, but no (in this specific case ISO 320!). And of course the latitude of the digi is teh suck.

I don't try to judge a doggoned thing from the digi screen wrt composition and so forth -- my main goal is to look at the histogram.
 

djklmnop

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If you're shooting landscape, then a reflective meter should be fully accurate providing that everything is calibrated.

The only time I use a digital camera is when I'm in the studio using strobes. An ambient flash meter only helps to display lighting ratio and amount of light falling onto the subject, but does not provide the absolute amount of light reflecting off the subject. So a digital camera is a must for proofing proper light reflectance.
 

Dave Parker

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djklmnop said:
So a digital camera is a must for proofing proper light reflectance.

I disagree with this statement, I have used polaroid for proofing in the studio for many years now and it works just fine for proper light reflectance proofing.

Dave
 

Aggie

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Why are we discussing a digital camera usage on an ANALOG only site?
 

djklmnop

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Yikes, I came across wrong. What I mean is, in the studio, you will need some form of proofing be it digital or polaroid. There is no way to know exactly what you have unless you are taking an actual reflective reading off the subject illuminated.

Didn't mean for that to sound as if digital was a must over polaroid. :smile:
 
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Polaroid does a great job for me. Once you have tested the difference between film and polaroid and understand that colors and contrast vary between the 2 you learn to adjust for them while balancing your light and exposure. I've done this for a very long time for both studio and landscape. There are temperature issues( 75 degrees and up and 60 degrees and below need to be watched) If its cold I keep it in my jacket if warm in a cooler. Blues and purples do not register well at all on polaroid. Anyway as long as you have an awareness of these issues polaroid is great. I do take a digital with me now but only for recording shots and locations for future reference. Cannot see how that little screen could compare to a polaroid.
I would have no problem using at as a tool to make my analog exposures better but to date have not found it to work very well.
 

JohnArs

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Hi

I use many times the pixelhorse for checking the lights and the setup but I do it not on the monitor of the Fuji S2 but on my little I-Book where I really see larger then on a pola if all is fine. If it is a very difficult shoot re DOF etc. I do now the test with the Pola an my Sinar or Bronica! But I reduced my use of Polas at least to 30% from the Past! Its a good tool as many others also!
 
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Ian Grant

Ian Grant

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Aggie said:
Why are we discussing a digital camera usage on an ANALOG only site?
Because I asked a sensible question.

In the past 2 or 3 years I've had to use the meter system on a digital camera when the batteries on my Spotmeter have failed. I should add that in the last 20+ years I've often used my M3 Leica's meter or the meter of one of various Pentax's for my large format work.

When it comes down to it all the talk of inaccurate shutters is irrelevant you know your own equipment and the light meters are relatively accurate. That will always be the same regardless of your methods of working.

I'm definately not suggesting relying on the digital camera's pre-view screen, rather the image yoiu downlaod on return.

I can only speak for myself here, 20 years ago I shot mainly 5"x4" with 35mm featruring mainly omly as a sort of diary mode. Now I shoot 5"x4" & 10"x8" and digtal is the diary mode,

So it would make sense to use digitl instead of Polaroid0
 

djklmnop

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Actually, I rely on the Histogram on the digicam. I shape my light using the modeling lamp and 300% of the time, it comes out the way I intend it to. The histogram is useful for determining the range of light in that scene.
 

Dave Parker

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Ian Grant said:
Because I asked a sensible question.

In the past 2 or 3 years I've had to use the meter system on a digital camera when the batteries on my Spotmeter have failed. I should add that in the last 20+ years I've often used my M3 Leica's meter or the meter of one of various Pentax's for my large format work.

When it comes down to it all the talk of inaccurate shutters is irrelevant you know your own equipment and the light meters are relatively accurate. That will always be the same regardless of your methods of working.

I'm definately not suggesting relying on the digital camera's pre-view screen, rather the image yoiu downlaod on return.

I can only speak for myself here, 20 years ago I shot mainly 5"x4" with 35mm featruring mainly omly as a sort of diary mode. Now I shoot 5"x4" & 10"x8" and digtal is the diary mode,

So it would make sense to use digitl instead of Polaroid0

For an analog site, I don't think this is a sensible question, but that is my opinion, many of us for many years have been able to accomplish what your asking about with out the use of digital, yes I have used digital and I find the batteries failing on them far quicker than I do on my meters.

Polaroid, gives me a closer rendition than any digital camera has and at this time ever will, myself, have never seen a digital give me the type of color or exposure I need to shoot 4x5 or 8 x 10.

Of course this is me, and I am going to stick to what I know works for me.

Dave Parker
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