Friday, December 23, 2005

Cameras: time to trade film for digital?

For those ending up here after finding my photography site, this post is for you. In the last year, I've been heavily involved with music and haven't done as much photography as I'd been doing previously. However, I have taken a few photos that have received fairly wide exposure, namely this one, this one and this one of violinist and conductor David Felberg; and this one of my string quartet; and then this one of a product, also found here.

And during the process of taking the above product photograph, I used a digital camera. This of course was not my first time with a digital camera... but during this session, I also shot with a film camera - my trusty Hasselblad 503cw. The main thing that I noticed was that halfway through the session, I stopped shooting on film and concentrated on getting the image with the digital camera. For one thing, I could run back to the computer, load up the image, and see exactly what it looked like. Not just a polaroid but the EXACT image.

Not only that, but once I was done with the digital image, I was DONE. No waiting for the lab, no scanning, no color correcting... you see the point. The other images (of David Felberg and the string quartet) were shot on film. And frankly, the quality is still superior. And I wasn't in as much of a hurry as with the product photo.

Here's the dilemma: to get into a digital system, such as Canon's EOS 20D, which I consider to be the bare minimum equipment to do pro work, particularly connected to studio lighting, I would need to sell almost all the equipment I have in order to get into the new system. Bodies (I would probably also get a film body, such as the EOS3, lenses, and a few accessories add up quickly.

It seems that now is the time to unload medium-format equipment because the price is falling and probably won't recover anytime soon. But to give up the medium format system, particularly my "dream camera", the Hasselblad seems a shame. It's a camera I'd like to pass down instead of just liquidating. And it seems that film in 120 format will probably be available for at least another decade. But after that - what happens? The rest of the cameras I'm not as attached to, such as the Olympus and the Contax despite the fact that they are excellent cameras.

Maybe there's another way... maybe I can sell off the 35mm stuff and keep the MF stuff, and put a little cash into this... Hmmm gotta find a way to generate some extra cash and make this happen while keeping the Hassy and the Zeiss German lenses...


Blogger bob said...

I found your blog through your photography site, and enjoyed reading this post. Photography is a hobby only for me, but I've gone from film to digital, back to film after realizing how many great cameras can be had on the cheap now, and back to digital again with my first DSLR. In some ways I agree with you that digital is less work, yet depending upon what you do with it, the digital workflow and digital asset management can be more time consuming. But what I most enjoyed about this post is how refreshing it was to hear someone else talking about having to sell a bunch of stuff to get something else. This is my life as a photography hobbyist. Too often it seems others around me are just dropping large sums of money on some crazy expensive gear without selling anything else and without any plan to make money with the gear. So anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

5:01 AM  
Blogger Karl said...

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the comment. As a follow up to this post, I did pretty much exactly what I had planned to do: sell some film camera systems and purchase a DSLR. I sold my Contax G1 system and my OM4 system, and purchased a Nikon D200. It has been an excellent camera so far. For me, it was a simple economic reality that I would not be able to keep all the cameras and continue buying more. For one thing, I don't make any revenue with the cameras any more, so I could not justify spending thousands on a system. Also, I tend to like to use the equipment I have, so by going with a DSLR, I knew that there would be two camera systems not being used. Thus came the decision to sell them.

I do agree with you that file management and the digital workflow can be very time consuming. However, for certain types of work (I shot product photos for a catalog, for instance), digital is FAR better. On the other side of the coin - I recently went on a hike to the Sandia South Peak and took my Rollei 35. Then I dropped my film off at the lab for double prints, and gave a set to my friend who was with me on the hike. So for different things, the two different media can still make sense.

9:54 AM  

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