[alt-photo] Re: AUUGGHH... Restarting and new decisions... Need advise.

Trevor Cunningham trevor at chalkjockeys.com
Thu Dec 31 05:07:10 GMT 2009


Your post was a breath of fresh air! I've recently put my Mamiya up on a 
shelf in lieu of Nikon digital gear (although I have had a Sekor lens in 
my bag which has more recently been replaced by a Tamron 90mm 2.8 
[amazing lens]). I went digital due to a high volume of travel and the 
lack of medium format film in the places I live...over the past eight 
years, I've had to do without a really professional shop/lab. But, your 
post gives me hope. I'm interested to know which scanner/printer combo 
you're using. I'm currently in the printer market and have had my eyes 
on the HP b9180. From everything I've read, it does a great job with 
both prints and digital negatives.


Diana Bloomfield wrote:
> Hey David,
> I'm intrigued with your questions and only wish I could seriously 
> contemplate whether to buy a Leica M9 or a medium format digital camera.
> I have a Canon 5D, which has been terrific for when I'm being paid to 
> photograph people.  It's fast, does the job well enough, and-- in the 
> end-- everybody seems satisfied and happy.  I recently rented the 
> Canon 85mm 1.2 lens for a job, and it was a dream.  I really loved it 
> and loved the results.  Honestly, it made me like the camera better-- 
> which makes me think I just haven't been using the right lens.
> For my own artwork, though, I rarely use that camera-- mainly, 
> because-- in the end-- I just don't like the format. I find myself 
> cropping to square, or something close to it, all the time.  (I never 
> actually liked the 35mm format, either, though I have had an M6 for 
> years and love it).   I tend to still use 4x5 film for my 4x5 pinhole 
> cameras-- and medium format film for my other cameras-- In fact, I 
> recently purchased (from a guy who went all digital all the time) a 
> Mamiya 6, with a couple of the lenses that accompanied it, and it is 
> one amazing camera (and the lenses give spectacular results).  I 
> really love using that camera. I scan my negatives and make larger 
> digital negatives for alt process work.   I do believe that a great 
> flat-bed scanner (and they are out there) works really well, at least 
> for my purposes.  I think a drum scanner would be serious overkill-- 
> at least for what I do.
> I'm not at all averse to making digital prints, either.  (I probably 
> shouldn't say that, as one could possibly go to hell for making that 
> statement on this list).  But I do believe that the digital prints 
> made from scanned negatives are often more impressive than digital 
> prints made from a digital camera.  The digital prints made from 
> actual film don't seem to have that flat 'digital look.'  The 
> owner/manager of my local photo lab here told me a long story once 
> about why digital prints look so flat, compared to images made with 
> film--  His reasoning was way too technical for me, so I forgot most 
> of what he said as it went way over my head-- but it seemed to make 
> sense at the time.  I have actually seen quite beautiful digital 
> prints, but I have found that those who learned how to make prints the 
> old-fashioned way (in the wet darkroom) tend to also know how to make 
> prints on the computer.   An excellent printer and scanner-- as well 
> as superb paper-- surely helps.  Mostly, though, what we tend to see, 
> I think, are the results of enormous numbers of people who never 
> learned how to make a print, either the old-fashioned way, or the 
> digital way-- and they seem to be overly enamored with Photoshop 
> (especially the over-sharpen and saturation tools).   But I've made 
> some digital prints that I think are gorgeous (if I do say so 
> myself!), and I've certainly seen some that are amazing-- compelling 
> and impressive, both image- and print-wise.
> I understand that Canon's latest digital camera (still too expensive 
> for me) now produces the 'look' of film in the print (not offering 
> that flat digital look), and lot of folks think you'd be hard-pressed 
> to see the difference as to whether the print was made from film, or 
> straight from the digital camera.  My issue is-- several thousand 
> dollars later, and upwards to $10K  or more if you're talking an M9-- 
> and you're STILL essentially working with a 35mm, or small format 
> camera.  That makes no sense to me.   If I had the money, I'd be 
> getting a medium format digital camera, for sure, but I would never 
> pay thousands for a small format camera, and a format I really don't 
> like.
> I still use (color) film and have an Epson flat-bed scanner which is 
> wonderful and works really well.  Maybe I'm too easily impressed, but 
> I don't think so.
> Anyway, not much help here-- but given that you seem to have the 
> available funds-- and, by your own admission, an arm that doesn't work 
> as well as it used to--  my free advice is to buy a medium format 
> digital camera.  You'd still have to make digital negatives, but they 
> would be first generation negatives.  I'm sticking with film, but only 
> because I can't afford what I'd like.  :)   I just hope they keep 
> making it.
> That's my 2 cents.  Good luck!
> Diana
>> Ok all... The basic story here is that I'm taking a bit of a 
>> sabbatical from my day job (in high tech) and going to devote much of 
>> the next year to various pursuits, most of them photographic.
>> I haven't photographed much at all in the last 8-10 years... And I 
>> hate even to admit that. I shot some 8x10, but mostly 4x5... 80%+ 
>> Polaroid type 55 which I dearly love, but also ready-loads (and 
>> occasionally film holders, always for the 8x10 and rarely for the 
>> 4x5) because while I'm more contemplative than the typical 35mm 
>> photographer (and ALWAYS use a tripod) I did like to work lite (and 
>> my favorite of 2 4x5s is my Polaroid 110 conversion). I'd process all 
>> of the film myself, and had all but abandoned Silver for Platinum 
>> printing. I was starting to get into digital negatives so I could 
>> standardize on 11x14 prints, but hadn't gotten very far. I did 
>> however scan every negative for cataloging and for my website.
>> Jump ahead to late 2009 and I have the same basic desire for my work, 
>> if not wanting to work even a bit lighter (part of the reason for my 
>> time off is due to being on disability from almost having lost my 
>> right arm and shoulder.. I've still got it, but it doesn't worn near 
>> as well as it used to).
>> So I start thinking.... I prefer ready-loads and Type 55 even more... 
>> There ARE no B&W ready-loads available anymore, and until The 
>> Impossible Project ( http://www.the-impossible-project.com/) gets 
>> Type 55 revived, I'm limited to a very small stash I have in my deep 
>> freezer.
>> My workflow was analog, with a side of digital, but was and will 
>> likely move to at least analog-digital-analog. I want to print Pt at 
>> 11x14 for the most part so there'll have to be a digital (negative) 
>> before the print... Hence the digital step in the workflow.
>> Maybe it's time for a change.
>> Is the quality of a good drum scan from a 4x5 negative still so much 
>> better than a digital camera when printing negatives at 11x14 as to 
>> make it worth hauling film holders or a couple or three Grafmatic 
>> holders, a changing bag... And still processing the negatives myself?
>> Or is it time to consider a Digital Camera-Analog print workflow?
>> I'm one of those people who can tell an analog print from a digital 
>> print... At least anytime I've called it out in a gallery or 
>> photography exhibition I haven't been told I'm wrong (I'm usually 
>> asked how I knew). From personal experience of my (and other's work) 
>> I can't seem to see it in an analog print from a well made digital 
>> negative (but all were from scanned negatives).  I don't really know 
>> if I'd see it in a digital capture.
>> If I did move to a digital camera, I'd probably go higher-end... And 
>> likely medium format.  Something like a medium format digital 
>> solution (Phase One, Hassy, or Leica S2) or a Phase One, Leaf, or 
>> Hassy back on an Arca-swiss or other "technical camera" platform 
>> (then I don't have to give up movements).  Either way, that would 
>> require a significant investment (somewhere in the $13k - $25k 
>> range.) I might also consider a Leica M9 and get a couple of those 
>> sensuous lenses, which would cut the price down to around $10K or 
>> $11K with a couple of lenses, give up some quality due to the smaller 
>> sensor (still 35mm Full Frame), but again lose movements for the 
>> ultimate in lightness and portability.
>> Thoughts???
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