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#1 kaberthur

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Posted 28 April 2003 - 08:51 AM

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Some questions for the digital experts from a film based professional
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Should I replace my Nexus housed film Nikons by their expensive digital equivalents, shall I also need to bring my fragile and also expensive laptop to store the images ?

Digital imaging says that "you can select your good shots on the spot (or after the dive) to free space on your memory cards". Supposing that I leave the laptop at home, how can I know that my shot is sharp when I view it on the small low resolution camera LCD screen ?

How do I work in 99% humidity environments with high moisture sensitive equipment and without the luxurious faclity of a "dry room" ?

I sometimes hardly get enough power to charge my strobes. How can I charge the cameras and laptop then ?

Trickier : I can take up to 50 rolls of slide film (36 exposures) on a single 8 days assignment. Out of that, I get 100 to 150 top end photos once back home. If I want, these rolls can give me up to 6000 x 4000 pixels (24Mpixels - 70 Mb on disk) uncompressed TIFF digital images using the excellent Nikon Cooslcan filmscanner, and this for each single shot. How many data storage cards do I need to bring home 150 maximum uncompressed resolution images of a D100, assuming that I sort them on the spot ?

I'm not anti-digital, I'm just trying to figure-out how I could decently switch to it whithout turning my work into even harder than today in terms of equipment handling and maintenance while working in remote and extremely humid locations ? This is not even talking about the price I must pay for the upgrade...

Thansk to whoever will take the time to reply.

Sincerely yours,

Bert
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#2 bobjarman

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Posted 28 April 2003 - 09:35 AM

1: there are other methods to save your images, (ie Digital Wallets or other protable storage devices) That said, I have rarely seend anyone who used a digi camera who didn't have a laptop. It's the best way to preview and decide which are worth keeping. Plus if you have a laptop with a CD burner, you can burn a copy of the raw files as extra image protection.

2: Unless you have really really good eyes, you cant. You can get rid of the obvious errors, and delte some from the histogram.

3: I never had a problem with any of my digital stuff when I shot digi. Just be careful of a: leaving it in the sun where it will melt. and b: taking it from the A/C of the cabins to the dive deck. Use a plastic bag and let it come to temp before opening.

4: I charged my strobes on the charging table, and my laptop in the Lounge or in my cabin.

5: This is a guess, but I would guess that with a d100 you could get around 150 images on one 1gb card. Thats based on the 215 I can get with my 4.3mpix 1d. Someone who shoots can correct me on that one......

As far as image size, you cannot get that size a file from a digital without interpolation. I am pretty sure the d100 gives you 3000x2000dpi which will equate to about a 17mb file when converted from raw to Tiff format.

Personally, unless you are blowing up to humongus sizes or heavily cropping the image, I don't think file size would be a problem. I have a few 16x20 prints from my 1d that were professionally done, and I would defy anyone to tell me difference between a film shot.

All that said, and even as a total land digital photograher. I switched back to film.

As a caveat, I was shooting with a G2 Canon, which although a great camera, cannot hold a candle to a SLR in terms of features and capabilities to control the shot. So take that fact into consideration as you read my reasons:

A: I am tied to canon gear. Canon does not offer TTL capabilities on any of its digital SLR's. You have to shoot ETTL, which no UW strobe company has a product for. (With the exception of Ikes Sensor system) I shoot manual on occasion, but I love TTL as a standard.

B: Highlights with a digital are incredibly difficult control. Underwater hotspots and blown out highlights were very difficult for me to manage. And if you have shot digital before, you will realize that blown out highlights look a lot worse than on slide film, IMO

C: Cost. At the time, there were no housing for my 1d. Even if there were, I am not sure I want to stick a $4,000 camera and 1,500 lenses in a $10,000 housing as an amature hobbiest. :D I was able to put a very nice used UW dual strobe film system together for less than $2,000.

D: I found I spent all my time on the boat working with images, sorting editing etc. I kind of like the social aspect, which I seemed to lose when I was shooting digital.

E: Lastly, I always seem to find a few images that I like that need heavy cropping. When I shoot slides, I can get the slide cropped and duped by the lab and still have a great res image to print from. I lose that with digital.

Someday, I am going to be on a dive boat with a friend wh will let me take a full feature digital SLR underwater and test it out. Than I will probably get the bug again.

Both systems are great. And it is killing me to have to go buy film again and think about hauling out my old scanner........

.........come to think of it, I tend to switch cameras every trip or two, so maybe I'll be back to digital by this time next year!

#3 chrisg

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Posted 28 April 2003 - 09:58 AM

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Some questions for the digital experts from a film based professional
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Should I replace my Nexus housed film Nikons by their expensive digital equivalents, shall I also need to bring my fragile and also expensive laptop to store the images ?

You can buy battery powered hard drives. They take up a lot less space than a laptop and
aren't so power-hungry. a 60gb unit should hold on the order of 100 dives worth of raw images..
more if you cull the obvious bad shots. some allow preview, deletion, etc, while the simpler units just have a "copy card" button.


I've got 2 - I copy full CF cards to both for redundancy.

#4 craig

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Posted 28 April 2003 - 12:28 PM

As a pro, I think you have to decide whether digital can meet your quality requirements first. If you don't believe so you clearly wouldn't switch. If it can, comparisons with the resolutions of film scans won't change that.

Assuming you would consider the Nexus D100, a single image in RAW mode is about 10MB. If you come home with about the same number of keepers, you'll have 2 - 2.5 GB of RAW data plus converted files. That's easily handled in a variety of ways, but I think you'll have a strong desire for a laptop. I don't know how you can make sufficient judgements in the field without one. A D100 gets about 100 uncompressed RAW images on a 1GB card.

If you don't have a laptop you'll want something that can take an entire card at a time since I doubt you'll be happy diving with a partially full card and culling in-camera between dives. If you end up just using cards, I think you'd want a minimum of 3-4 1GB cards on your trip. I personally take that many even with a laptop.

Your final questions regarded humid conditions and charging. I think these are less of an issue. My Nexus D100 gets two dives on a charge (probably three). You need two batteries minimum, preferably three, and two chargers. They are small, light and universal. The laptop needs to be protected and will probably be plugged in most all the time. Clearly there are more electronics that can be damaged by moisture, but you already have that problem with the strobes, so I don't think anything changes there. One more charger outside and the laptop inside. Between dives, changing the card in the D100 is quicker than changing film, so half the time you are actually better off.

Still, I think you have to decide if digital can meet your quality requirements first. You're obviously concerned about that and I doubt you'll find the answer here. If you are satisfied with the quality, the other issues won't change things IMO. You will need to bite the bullet on a laptop, though.
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#5 scottyb

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Posted 28 April 2003 - 03:25 PM

Bert, as an enthusiastic amateur, I can only add a few thoughts to what these guys have said. The Fuji S2 seems to be the only DSLR that is TTL compatible with todays underwater strobes. It uses the same batteries as my strobes, AA NiMh's x 4, and I have easily taken 100 shots on one set of batteries. I have a 12 slot charger and can recharge them faster than I use them, even when on a live-aboard.

I agree with Bob that working on a laptop changes the way you enjoy your vacation, but for me on my 2-3 trips per year, I can't get enough of it. The instant gratification and ability to make changes if necessary, were unknow territory for me as a film shooter for many years. Even if I had E6 processing onboard, there is a 1 to 1-1/2 day turn around.

I can't see myself diving somewhere so remote that there is no electricity, not as a vacation. This is something that can be overcome, just not as convenient as working on a laptop. If you are forced into using all CF cards, then it would be the same as film except you have the thumbnail to see on the LCD and access to a histogram. Plus, X-ray does not harm digital film. 50 rolls in 8 days, now that is some serious diving. I thought I was working to take 22 rolls in 5 1/2 days.

#6 kaberthur

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Posted 29 April 2003 - 01:20 AM

Thank you very much for all your very detailed replies.

I understand that digital photo REALLY becomes an advantage compared to film when the laptop comes along. Actually it confirms my thoughts as I suffer to death of not being sure of my results until I step out from the lab, days or sometimes weeks after taking the shots. That's why I have to take so many rolls while I'm on the spot.

However, apart from moisture and charging issues, the laptop weight becomes the main problem. Since I already have to deal with 70 kg of equipment (photo+dive gear+swimming suit) altogether for my single person, I cant' decently imagine adding 5 to 7 kg since airliners become less tolerant nowadays at the check-in desks.

I also realise from your comments that I overlooked the strobes issue. I work exclusively with the excellents Ikelite 200 that so far resisted to all travelling bad treatments. I thought that switching to digital would only mean replacing the cameras and housings (sic), but if I also have to forget my strobes... hopefully my strobe arms and synch chords will remain compatible:-)

Thanks again for all your clarifications that encourage me to remain old fashioned for the time being. I look forward to admiring your photos at the resort lounge while mine will remain mysteriously hidden in their plastic boxes...

Happy diving,

Bert
http://www.visualdiving.com

#7 Kasey

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Posted 29 April 2003 - 03:17 AM

No need to replace your strobes - you won't get TTL with anything but an S2 anyway, and with an S2 your strobes will work fine (i think). However - with digital you could downsize you Ike 200s to 125s or DX90s - the weight savings would offset your new slim laptop - 5-7 kg sounds like an outrageous machine. My TI BOOK weighs in at half that.
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#8 bobjarman

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Posted 29 April 2003 - 04:45 AM

As my dear friend Charlton Heston might say........

...."you can take my 200's when you peel my cold dead fingers from around them"

:D :D :P

#9 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 29 April 2003 - 05:36 AM

...."you can take my 200's when you peel my cold dead fingers from around them"

I've been on trips with people who would do this without a second thought - In fact still 'twitching' wouldn't bother them!!!

Summarising on what has gone before:

As a professional my time on assignments is dedicated totally to the job in hand - Nothing else matters, afterall we are not on holiday. I do not shoot UW digital on assignments but a laptop goes everywhere with me for communication ease and for writing up the notes. PDA's are not up to much, unreliable and I regard them as fashion accessories - It was useful when my eldest was teething. Moisture is not really that much of an issue and my unit has probably endured hundreds of thousands of miles through tropical conditions. The killer of laptops in the tropics you will find is those micro ants that flock into the fan vent and proceed to die on the processor causing it to over heat - Not too much problem on a boat; maybe, but in jungle conditions. Then the cameras that can cope with high humidity and abuse are going to cost between four and seven thousand dollars each. That's 3-5 times the equivellent Dynax Titanium or D1v

Digital systems will give a photographer instant notice of shooting conditions and show any need to make alterations to equipment or technique to suit conditions, but as was said before by Bob subject will dictate the effectiveness and quality. Hotspots, sunspots moving objects are not that good for digital presently.
Then there is the infamous black line generated around lighter subjects which removes the natural graduation from a subject and its background.

Digital SLR's are also a major investment as no 'pro' can afford to take only one body - If it flooded first dive one would look a real 'ass. A typical digital professional setup is therefore going to cost a minimum of $20,000.00.
You are going to have to sell a hell of a lot of pictures to get that back.

#10 craig

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Posted 29 April 2003 - 05:41 AM


...."you can take my 200's when you peel my cold dead fingers from around them"

I've been on trips with people who would do this without a second thought - In fact still 'twitching' wouldn't bother them!!!

Wow! Tough crowd.
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#11 scorpio_fish

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Posted 29 April 2003 - 08:59 AM

My M.O. for the last trip was:

1gig microdrive (holds 107 raw files) in camera. Remove card after dive. Place card in card reader attached to laptop. Laptop plugged in to outlet in room or salon. Start download.

Put another card in for 2nd dive. Repeat process.

End of day put in fresh battery. Place first battery in battery charger to recharge. Recharge Ikelite strobes with fast charger.

Do not waste time evaluating images on your LCD. LCD quality varies from camera to camera. The ability to see the LCD varies depending on ambient light. I keep the review mode set to histogram. It gives me a quick read on exposure. Adjust and fire.

Strobe power settings varied from 1/8 to as much as 1/2 in certain circumstances. Shooting ISO 200 gives you two more stops of light. Strobes rarely ran down much over the course of the day (Ike 200's)

I also didn't evaluate and delete many photos from the Laptop. Again, judging images on the laptop's LCD monitor is iffy at best, too.

Got home and transferred images to desk top PC with calibrated monitor. Started deleting bad images.

This work flow is infinitely faster and easier than shooting slides, getting them processed and scanning them on my Coolscan 4000.
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#12 ehanauer

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Posted 29 April 2003 - 01:45 PM

For what it's worth, here's my take:

I shoot jpg fine on a D100 with a one gig microdrive, which holds over 300 images at that resolution. That's good for three dives. At the end of the day, I'll trash the obvious rejects on the camera's lcd before downloading. Then I download the survivors to a 10-gig Mindstor AND to my Mac G4 laptop before formatting the microdrive. I do another edit on the laptop, but keep all of the first edit on the Mindstor just in case I threw away a gem. The laptop goes along on every assignment anyway, for the journal, notes, and dive log. That way, my article is 2/3 written when I get home.

Why jpeg instead of raw? Photoshop 7 has excellent tools for compensating exposure and color balance. I'm more comfortable working with that than with Nikon software.
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#13 kaberthur

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 02:14 AM

with digital you could downsize you Ike 200s to 125s or DX90s

I'm ready to give up many things to improve my photography, but NOT my 200s !!!

Hotspots, sunspots moving objects are not that good for digital presently.
Then there is the infamous black line generated around lighter subjects which removes the natural graduation from a subject and its background.

Even with high end digital SLRs ? Oh nooo...

This work flow is infinitely faster and easier than shooting slides, getting them processed and scanning them on my Coolscan 4000.

That's for sure the drawback of scanning slides and your workflow is very attractive in terms of time savings once back home.

However, the extra time you need to monitor your downloads and change your camera batteries between two dives certainly shortens your resting/sleeping time between these same dives, what I consider mandatory to stay fit during extended periods of repetitive diving.

Furthermore and overall, since the extra time spent in scanning slides leads to better image quality, the question about digital no longer applies for me.

Thank you again for your useful testimonies.

Bert
http://www.visualdiving.com

PS :

The killer of laptops in the tropics you will find is those micro ants that flock into the fan vent and proceed to die on the processor causing it to over heat.

Telling who rules the world between ants and humans is just a question of scale.

#14 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 02:41 AM

The Nikon 16mm FE is one of the main reasons that I won't go fully digital at the moment. And for this reason I still do not believe that digital is a complete alternative to film.

On digital the Fisheye is a great lens - about 120 degrees coverage and without those corners, much less bendy images. But it is a very different lens to a 16mm on 35mm film (particularly for scenics, large vistas and split levels - all of which are most most finacially rewarding shots - marine life has never brought in much cash for me, and this is a Pro debate).

Of course digital makes getting a lot of shots much easier than on film (white balance + filters, multi image panoramas). And this is well documented on wetpixel...

So at present I suggest getting into digital (to start getting your head around the creative capabilities of the equipment - so as not to be miles behind the game when digital becomes better in [B]all[B] departments than film in X years) while still shooting plenty of film. On my last holiday in Grand Cayman I shot 30 rolls (30*36= 1080 shots) and downloaded 1700 pictures from my D100.

This seems the best approach for me. Hope it helps,

Alex

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#15 Kasey

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 05:19 AM

I'm with you there - I really hope Nikon introduces a DX fisheye ASAP
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#16 james

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 05:22 AM

Hi gang,

Just back from Trinidad and I think this is a great thread. (I shot all digital on the trip and so did my buddy)

Some info:

A decent travel laptop will weigh about 4 lbs - so that's not an issue for me. Besides, it gives me something to do on the airplane. I had all of my images from the trip sorted before the plane touched down in Miami.

Security checkpoints - I have NEVER had a problem getting through security. No fogged film to worry about.

Batteries - not a problem. If you can charge your strobes, you can charge your camera battery. Batteries have come a long way. With my cam and 2x Ike DS125's I can take 300 photos on a dive if I really want to. Can you freaking believe that!!?!?!? 300 shots.

Digital files are "cleaner" looking than slide scans and no dust bunnies to clean up afterwards. I get pretty good 12 megapixel output from my S2pro.

Workflow - Sorry to report, but shooting digital probably won't save you time. Instead of scanning slides, you will be converting RAW files and tweaking in photoshop instead. This "workflow" process will speed up/improve with time so that eventually it will be faster than sorting and scanning slides - but not initially.

HTH
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#17 Simon K.

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 09:46 AM

Workflow - Sorry to report, but shooting digital probably won't save you time. Instead of scanning slides, you will be converting RAW files and tweaking in photoshop instead. This "workflow" process will speed up/improve with time so that eventually it will be faster than sorting and scanning slides - but not initially.



But to be fair, you have to say, that with converting raws you can do stuff you can only do if you are processing the slied by youre self. So you have to count this in, too.

Simon