Getting into photography

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EXreaction
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Getting into photography

Post by EXreaction » Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:14 pm

I have really always wanted to get into photography, but I've never been willing to spend the money for a good digital camera.

So lately I've been thinking about film cameras and have looked into it more and I'd have to say I am definitely interested in trying out film photography for myself. I am especially interested when I think of the photographers who are getting rid of their old film cameras for new digital ones and hoping I can get some used equipment at a good price.

The only problem is I have no idea about what to look for in a good film camera, oh, and I should mention that I also have no idea how to develop my own film.

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Re: Getting into photography

Post by thecoalman » Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:04 pm

You might get the camera cheap, I'd imagine even get a new one really cheap. I know the last time I was in a camera store the SLR's were really cheap, they were almost giving them away but have you considered what the film and/or developing is going to cost you? Film alone is $$$$ and it's only going to get more expensive as less places are developing it.

A good DSLR is equal or better than 35mm depending on what models you are comparing and it's going to save you a ton of money in the long run over film.
Last edited by thecoalman on Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Getting into photography

Post by EXreaction » Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:17 pm

I would be developing the film myself.

A good DSLR would cost around $600 or more.

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Re: Getting into photography

Post by Techie-Micheal » Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:27 pm

Keep in mind that a darkroom, chemicals, and so on would end up costing you more than a good DSLR.

Furthermore, developing color pictures takes even more chemicals, knowledge, and equipment. Developing color images takes a very specific temperature, a lot of skill, and various other things aside from what I just mentioned. You would be better off with a DSLR. I don't mean to rain on your parade, but I do actually have some experience in the darkroom. :P
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Re: Getting into photography

Post by EXreaction » Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:31 pm

I've already got space that could be used as a dark room. :P

I think I may just be putting this all off for a while then. Maybe I'll take a photo development course some time and see just what it takes.

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Re: Getting into photography

Post by SamG » Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:33 am

My own opinion, based on my own experience, is that a $600 DSLR may not be able to compete, even dollar for dollar, with a 35mm SLR. I get a lot of flack for my view, but for years I took pictures with a Canon FTb (which used Canon's top-of-the-line lens series for that time), and I have yet to see a sub-$1000 DSLR deliver images that made my FTb obsolete.

Now if you can get a medium format camera like a Yashica MAT 124G (though they might not be especially cheap), the $600 DSLR simply has no chance.

So to me, the total cost of ownership of a good 35mm SLR is only part of the discussion, since that camera will likely out perform the $600 DSLR for anything more creative than a standard size print.

Just IMHO, of course. If drathbun happens across this topic, he'll have opportunity to set me straight. :D
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Re: Getting into photography

Post by EXreaction » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:03 am

Yes, it would be fantastic to get into medium format film.

If I were to get into film and really like it I would certainly look into medium format.

I don't remember the exact numbers, but a really good 10MP DSLR camera is about as good of quality as pretty much any decent 35mm film camera. I don't know of any digital camera that can get close to medium format film quality (which IIRC, was something akin to 50MP).

One other problem I have no idea how to overcome would be actually making prints from the negative. How could someone do that themselves?

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Re: Getting into photography

Post by SamG » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:36 am

EXreaction wrote:I don't remember the exact numbers, but a really good 10MP DSLR camera is about as good of quality as pretty much any decent 35mm film camera.
I was at a photography workshop this past winter where a professional photographer said that 8MP DSLR shots equivalent quality to a 35mm negative.

But I simply don't buy that. I'm sorry. An 8MP (or 10MP) image is large, not dense, relative to a 35mm negative, especially a slow negative.

So, for example, I suspect that if two SLRs with 85mm lenses were sitting side by side, one an 8MP DSLR and one a 35mm SLR shooting slow film, and both took a photograph of a crescent moon (relatively large angular diameter with abundant fine detail), on moderate enlargement the superior image density of the 35mm negative would be obvious. That's my suspicion.

I didn't have a darkroom but I had a friend, when I was young, who did. He could make enlargements up to 16" x 20" in his home darkroom using an enlarger, a device that essentially projected the negative's image on photographic paper -- sort of like a microscope in reverse, where the paper was mounted flat on the machine's base, and the enlargement head was directly above, pointing down at the paper. As I recall he could do some color correction within the enlarger's head. But that was a long time ago, and my memory is vague.
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Re: Getting into photography

Post by EXreaction » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:58 am

The main problem I have with digital cameras is noise.

We have a Sony Cybershot which is rated at 7MP. To look like a decent image that has to be scaled down to at least 1/3 of it's size because it is so grainy and nasty. Even at 1/3 the size you still have the noise and artifacts from compression.

Now that is supposed to be a lot better with DSLR's that support RAW image format, but I am not sure because I've never tried it.

I don't think I would make large prints often, but I'd like to be able to make larger prints if I got a really good shot.

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Re: Getting into photography

Post by Techie-Micheal » Tue Sep 16, 2008 3:41 am

http://www.popphoto.com/cameras/3569/10 ... otout.html

This should give you some insight in to the noise and such. While I'm no means an expert in photography (see the drathbun comment by SamG :P), I can tell you from my own experience that unless you plan to do huge prints on a regular basis, getting a 8-10mp camera will be just fine.

To emphasize my point on TCO for 35mm and darkroom:

I paid 200 dollars for a used 35mm.
Looking at a minimum of another 200-500 dollars for chemicals and equipment (cite)
Cost of proper disposal of used chemicals: Unknown. Varies by location

Total cost just to do black and white: 400-800 dollars at a minimum.

You can get a decent digital camera for the top-end price, without having to worry about chemical disposal and other issues.

Also keep in mind that 35mm film will be much harder to come by in the near future.
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Re: Getting into photography

Post by EXreaction » Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:48 am

I would be shooting for more along the lines of a $50 used camera if I could find it. Though it looks as though it may be hard to find a good camera at that price because it sounds more popular than I thought it would be yet.

I've seen another place that said it would cost about $50 for getting the chemicals that I'd need.

As for equipment, most of the stuff I would need could probably be found here or be thrown together with junk I've got.

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Re: Getting into photography

Post by thecoalman » Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:52 am

EXreaction wrote: I don't remember the exact numbers, but a really good 10MP DSLR camera is about as good of quality as pretty much any decent 35mm film camera.
I believe 35mm is equivalent to a 4MP image or somewhere in that range. That's a rough guesstimate from scanning my own negatives. Having said that you really can't go by MP. I know one pro on another forum and he uses a a 2.5 MP Canon (or somewhere around there) from a few years ago and swears by it. And no its not a PAS. ;) If you're looking for used maybe a older model DSLR might be something to consider.

You'll get much nicer prints with really large blow ups with the higher MP, 35mm will start getting grainy after 8X10 but having said that how many people look at really large images like that a few inches away? ;) My sister-in-law has a wedding picture hanging on her wall from a 35mm that must be like 3x2 foot and it looks fabulous but you're going to look at this picture from many feet away.

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Re: Getting into photography

Post by Techie-Micheal » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:02 pm

EXreaction wrote:I would be shooting for more along the lines of a $50 used camera if I could find it. Though it looks as though it may be hard to find a good camera at that price because it sounds more popular than I thought it would be yet.

I've seen another place that said it would cost about $50 for getting the chemicals that I'd need.

As for equipment, most of the stuff I would need could probably be found here or be thrown together with junk I've got.
Well, you'd need trays, lights, thermometers (if you are going to be doing color), timers, paper, an enlarger which would probably start at the low price of 200 dollars. Note I'm not talking about the kind of enlarger to do blowups, but simply take the negative to a positive. This site gives a more complete list than I can, since it has been a while since I've been in the darkroom. http://www.photography.com/topics/building-a-darkroom/

I really think you need to consider the overall cost of this. I used to want a darkroom too. It was something cool and I could do my own prints. Except for color. Color prints take a lot more than what this link states. It is only for black and white.

As for a used $50 camera, I doubt you could find one at that price. Even if you could, I doubt you would be happy with it. The place where I bought my 200 dollar camera told me I was lucky to get it at that price because they usually go for more. Unless you happen to get a really old Olympus or something. And by old, I mean 70's to 80's ... The more recent SLRs are going to cost you more as they do have some electronics, like auto-focus, film rewind, changing of settings such as shutter speed, you know, things you would need to do. :P

Again, I'm not trying to talk you out of this or into a DSLR (I think I was slightly misleading in my previous reply on accident, I don't actually have a DSLR yet), but I've been down this road before, and like I said, I do have some experience in the darkroom. I get the feeling that you aren't taking in to consideration the things that I've already said, so I want to stress them as much as possible. Aside from the one-time costs of the enlarger, timers, and so on, you'll also need recurring costs with chemicals and paper. Here's some information on color darkrooms, which incidentally backs up everything I've said so far about both color and black and white (which while unsurprising, was totally by accident :P): http://photo.net/learn/darkroom/color-darkroom
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Re: Getting into photography

Post by SamG » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:12 pm

If we're going to do an apples to apples TCO, then we need to include the cost of owning and operating a photo-quality printer. Even in the case of Kodak EasyShare portable photo printers, the price per print is much higher than conventional photo processing.
Techie-Micheal wrote:I can tell you from my own experience that unless you plan to do huge prints on a regular basis, getting a 8-10mp camera will be just fine.
We're just going to have to disagree here. Moderate enlargment (which includes in frame enlarging, such as cropping) reveals the differences, in my experience. In cases where a sub-$1000 DSLR is used like a PAS, sure, the results will be fine. But for creative work, pixelation (and digital noise) is, in my experience, almost always more distruprive than the usually more uniform softening result of film grain.

When it comes to big enlargments, even at viewing distance a pixelated digital image (remembering that pixelation "clumps" at contrast and color boundaries, etc.) is less appealing than a uniformly soft film image. IMHO.

And IMHO, the reason why digital photography succeeds better than it would have even 20 years ago is that people have gotten used to viewing images in digital "frames" of some sort. They've gotten used to a digitial look and feel to images. It's just a digital version of the "Instamatic" type of photography. But for photographers and photography qua photography, these aren't the measure, I don't think. As soon as someone talks about operating a darkroom, I think it completely relevant to take a hard look at the negatives -- whether a digitial RAW or 35mm film -- and ask hard questions of what you see.

EDIT: I say all this all the while being pretty sure Dave would completely disagree with me, so I don't want to come across as being willing to die on the hill here. It's just that my eyes, used to 30 years of film photography with my dearly departed Canon SLR, have yet to understand what the experts are saying.
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Re: Getting into photography

Post by Techie-Micheal » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:41 pm

I'll ask my friend who does wedding and other photos what her opinion is. I'm pretty sure she uses 10mp cameras. I know one is a Canon Rebel XTi.
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