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Alex_Mustard

Nikon F6 Underwater? (AKA Digital vs. Film, part infinity)

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Hi All!!

 

Cool discussion!

 

Here's some rambling from a flu-infested underwater photographer.....

 

I can agree and take allmost any stand in the arguments presented here (maybee its the fever?).

 

I think what divides people is mostly who has a history with film and who does not. If you had sucess with film allways got good results and produced good stuff you might be a little intimidated by the wast crowd producing good stuff out of the box. You were used to be the best at what you did. Now, you might even call digitalphotographers inferiour photographers?

Now if you never actually got to grips with film and never got those good results but had an amazing comeback with digital you might call film dead or inferiour technology?

 

Some facts:

Film still has more dynamic range than digital. (Yes I know you can increase this with a rawconverter and a few layers in photoshop but not right out of the box).

Digital is much easier for a photographer to develop with (faster learning curve) than is film, thus the choice of all if not most new photographers starting out. And the technology is developing faster.

 

Less known fact:

The expression of film and digital is very different. Weather or not you like the one or the other is a personal preference. As with the sun balls.

 

A person that says film is dead, is repeating what was said during the onset of photography - painting is dead. I think as long as digital looks digital and film looks like film there will be both. Which look you like more is personal preference.

 

Another interesting bit is the change of tecnique that came with digital. More blue water, less higlights in the shots. Seems to me there is a film niche there in the future if not digital gets there first. Who knows!

 

Fire away!!

 

Espen ;)

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I think it's just a matter of time till film is dead; like CD's and vinyl. (And I love vinyl because nothing sounds like it). Here are some reasons why:

There are very few young photographers taking up film, and the old ones will die.

I think digital technology will advance to the point where it significantly surpasses film even in dynamic range.

Digital will continue to get better and better for the same money as all tech stuff has. Even medium and large format digital backs etc will come down in price. One only has to look at computers in the last twenty years for this; any of you young guys seen or know how to use a slide rule, and if so would you use it?

As far as the 'look' of film vs digital - this will only be a concern of hobbyists who produce images mainly for themselves. For commercial photographers who make their living from the viewing public it will make no difference, as the public cannot tell the difference.

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Amigos,

 

davidrodkeller is right about one thing.......Shoot to make yourself happy. If he is unhappy with his $4K Nikon D2X he can keep shooting film until he can't get it developed anymore.

 

As far as stating film shooters don't or haven't manipulated images, I'd challenge that. Ansel Adams did it for crying out loud.....Debating how much and what parameters makes no difference, as it violates the "purist" mindset I hear from film advocates.

 

I'd also like to know what dive boat you've seen this plethora of dedicated film photographers who can't bear the "gross manipulation" that will be required to make decent shots. Plus the "weakened composition" strictly assigned to digital photography?......I can't remember the last time I saw a film shooter at resorts or on a live aboard boat!

 

Herb, Your sunballs look great, practically what they look like when swimming at depth looking up a wall.

 

I guess that is why we have these forums, to each his own. On THAT, we can all agree ;)

 

dhaas

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davidrodkeller is right about one thing.......Shoot to make yourself happy. If he is unhappy with his $4K Nikon D2X he can keep shooting film until he can't get it developed anymore.
I don't mind a challenging response, but I do mind when they are premised on falsehoods. I have more than once stated that I am a dedicated digital photographer as well as said my film cameras haven't been used in close to 3 years. And I never commented that i was dissatified with my D2x. The tonal range/high contrast issues with digital is not limited to the D2x. It is a format issue, and one that no digital camera has overcome to date

 

 

As far as stating film shooters don't or haven't manipulated images, I'd challenge that.
Hmmmm....you are challenging something I never said. Straw man arguments are a waste of time.

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DavidRodKeller,

 

No worries, I wasn't trying to be confrontational.....

 

I did read where you have not used your film cameras for 3 years, have a D2X and are using it, but still seem to be lamenting over not using film. I just couldn't read into your posts ardently defending the technical specs, etc. of film as to why you choose to use your digital system. Unless it is the tonal / high contrast issues you believe are insurmountable with even a $9,000.00 full frame sensor dSLR and software.

 

It seems many, many professional shooters outside of the UW world are extremely happy with their dSLR cameras and the images from them. Even comparing them to medium format film. Not me, but as I previously mentioned the Canon Explorers of Light shooters. I doubt they would change from film if they felt limited, constrained, or whatever.

 

This thread was started by divegypsy, who I "think" is Fred Bavendam, a very, very talented photojournalist and artist. I wholeheartedley respect his vision and opinion. I just don't agree tat film is viable for anyone starting to shoot underwater today.....Digital has advanced so fast that 99% of new shooters will be more than satisfied with their results. Especially for fun ;)

 

So let's just agree to disagree :unsure:

 

dhaas

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I just couldn't read into your posts ardently defending the technical specs, etc. of film as to why you choose to use your digital system. Unless it is the tonal / high contrast issues you believe are insurmountable with even a $9,000.00 full frame sensor dSLR and software.
I enjoy my digital cameras and would not argue that film is better in all ways, I just recognize some of the shortcomings of digital capture....at this point in time. So in threads like this I see it as an opportunity to be honest about both film and digital. Unfortunately when a certain tone is set like that of the guy who went after Mustard, I get a little poo on me too. this isn't the first time and probably won't be the last :wacko:

 

But I really do believe gross manipulation of images is predominently the realm of digital shooters. It would be foolish for someone to shoot film for that purpose. Minor adjustments yes, but heavy manipulation, I wouldn't think so. So when film guys say digital shooters are people who rely on manipulation to render quality images they are not far from the truth. But they unfortunately paint digital shooters who prefer to remain more pure, with the same brush too. But in either case there is, at least, a minimum of post required if you shoot digital.

 

So let's just agree to disagree :o
Oh, I don't think we are in disagreemnt, I just think I may not have conveyed how pointed I intended my comments to be. This is a hot button topic for sure , so any statement that is even somewhat critical of digital isn't always read for complete comprehension (not that I am accusing you of the same).

 

I am happy with digital, but mostly for the wide work options it offers underwater rather than the nice segue into post that it allows, or because I adamantly believe it betters film in **all** respects.

 

I am one of those people who do not believe in gross manipulation. Much of what I see on this website. that receives high praise, would not cut it for me on that point. And even though I refuse to judge others by it, I am not comfortable showing my shots to people unless I am secure that I have stayed within honesties I lived with when I shot film. If I did this for money then anything would go, but I am fortunate to do it for fun and satisfaction so I can set limits on what I believe represents my photography and what I think is a step too far for making that claim. Changing background water color isn't my photography, eliminating backscatter in post isn't my photography, those are the kinds of things that if done, leave me no measure of satisfaction in the resulting image. Obviously more intrusive post measures are even more egregious....FOR ME.

 

I am off to Lembeh and then Raja late Feb into late Mar. and really want to do more fish-photo and WA in Raja this time....so avoiding sunballs will be a priority ;):unsure:;) I hope you have some good diving in the near future as well.

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This thread was started by divegypsy, who I "think" is Fred Bavendam, a very, very talented photojournalist and artist. I wholeheartedley respect his vision and opinion. I just don't agree tat film is viable for anyone starting to shoot underwater today.....Digital has advanced so fast that 99% of new shooters will be more than satisfied with their results. Especially for fun ;)

 

dhaas

Fred, called out! :unsure: I'm happy to have Fred on board with us here on Wetpixel. It's great to have so many veteran photographers and photojournalists participating in lively discussion!

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So let's just agree to disagree ...

dhaas

 

 

Oh, I don't think we are in disagreemnt ...

 

The two of you can't even agree to disagree. :):lol:

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I shoot predominantly digital now, but my film cameras still get used.

 

Here's why:

 

- Whilst I appreciate the many advantages of digital, I understand that film still has a number of benefits, namely: full frame (I shoot Nikon) so I can use the 14mm as it was meant to be used, TTL when I need it, and it's my preferred media for capturing sunbursts (my personal view is that it's far easier to get a sunball right on film than digital)

 

- My film system is practically worthless, yet it enables me to carry 2 cameras underwater - 1 equipped for wideangle, 1 for macro. A second digital system would be an enormous expense and would not give me the advantages above. The F100 is still a lot of camera for the money if you consider its second hand value

 

I'll only switch to 2 digital systems if/when a lightweight D200 class camera comes out that's full frame and beats film performance in all aspects, and I've got absolutely nothing better to do with my money. Or, of course, if they ever stop making film. :)

 

Until then, my F100 will still get a regular workout, all be it a lot less than my digital system.

 

And for anyone who's noticed that I'm selling an F100 system, I actually have 2 - the second one I will definitely not sell.

 

Incidentally I am eternally grateful to digital for one thing in particular - Forcing me to shoot manual flash again. Years ago I always used to shoot manual flash with film. Then as I began to trust TTL I grew lazy and drifted into the nasty habit of relying on TTL to light my images rather than giving the light balance from the 2 strobes adequate thought. The result was my images became flat. Shooting manual flash again has really improved my lighting.

 

That said there are times, when I really miss TTL on my digital camera - particularly when you've only got one chance to get a particular shot!!

 

I guess you can't have it all ways - yet

 

Steve

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"Paul, .... are you suggesting that you are not sure, not certain, not absolutely convinced that digital does not render high contrast areas as well as film?"

 

No David, not at all! I was saying that we perceive the way digital capture records sunbursts as incorrect whereas it is film which actually captures sunbursts incorrectly! At extreme exposure levels film behaves differently than it does at 'normal' capture light levels - so it produces sunbursts with smooth tonal edges (that we are all used to) as a result of a technical failing. My point was that if we had never had film we would accept the digital capture of sunbursts as something which was technically correct and would simply expect that banding issues will probably change as the dynamic range of digital capture increases. The same is true of the perceived deficiencies within specular highlights and other problems which I could go on about - digital capture as it stands is far from perfect. If we don't like banding issues and colour fringing then technological solutions should be sought to reduce these, be they software or hardware. Some exist already - I've been using HDR software to see how effective it is and it can produce surpringly good results. Hardware will improve if only because the marketting guys will dictate that it has to to sell it on its specification.

 

But arguing that digital capture is anything other than different to film capture is pretty irrelevant - or so it seems to me. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses, and both require significant skills to utilise at a high level. This said, I will concede that a poor shot on digital can be significantly improved whereas a poor shot on transparency is far harder to improve - I'm not sure that this is a deficiency of digital though!

 

Being ruthlessly honest about this, I don't think that many people except those really delving into the detail of photography would notice most of the problems we are discussing (sadly). And having spent two weeks scanning transparencies I am very aware of the deficiencies of film at the moment, believe me.

 

Lastly, I'll make one last comment about film. Quality colour emulsions are sophisticated and expensive to produce - it is the economies of scale which make them viable. They also utilise some not so nice chemicals to process them and safety/environmental legislation will inevitably become stricter and more costly to adhere to. I suspect that any arguments over digital vs. film will be decided economically. Given the absolute dominance of digital already I am far from conviced that film has a long future ahead of it, and I also doubt very much that high quality colour films will be viable to produce on a small scale - I would like to be proved wrong though, but only time will decide this.

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Just to add to the above. I suppose that my overall point is that we (people in general) don't like change. We get used to the status quo and complain when things are different, whether they were 'correct' or otherwise! The benefits of a new technology cannot be denied by considering its adherents to be in some way inferior to those who remain bedded to the old technology, nor by over accentuating its (inevitable) shortcomings whilst it develops, nor by considering the adjustments ity allows for to be immoral or unfair. What is extremely important is to understand both technologies and use them to their best advantage when and if appropriate.

 

All this said, I can see using film so rarely, that for me it is to all intents and purposes now basically irrelevant! I consider the advantages of digital to be far too significant and its output quality (for underwater use) to be far better than film. Above water I have shot formats from 35mm to 5"x4" professionally so I do understand film and yes, there are times when I fancy using a larger format film camera on land, but for underwater - no! Alex's images speak for themselves - he clearly understands and uses digital to extremely good effect indeed. For myself I find digital to be an incredibly useful tool in temperate waters which allows me to shoot images that I could not have done on film.

 

Back to the topic - are there any F6 housings???

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I think it's just a matter of time till film is dead; like CD's and vinyl. (And I love vinyl because nothing sounds like it). Here are some reasons why:

There are very few young photographers taking up film, and the old ones will die.

I think digital technology will advance to the point where it significantly surpasses film even in dynamic range.

 

Okaaayy...

 

Firstly, didn't know I was that old... :lol:

 

I hope so! But I think that availability of film will be a problem before we have a digital with out of the box dynamic range like film.

 

To answer Paul.. Nexus has a F6 housing.

 

Cheers,

Espen :)

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I was saying that we perceive the way digital capture records sunbursts as incorrect whereas it is film which actually captures sunbursts incorrectly!
You will note I never said digital does it wrong or film does it right: I said one was far more pleasing and the other was s#*t.

 

Being aware of that premise: how I perceive an image is what determines what is and what is not correct for me. Whatever technical standard you reference when you say digital does it right and film does it wrong is irrelevant to me. Film records sunballs/bursts with a comparative nuance that pleases me. It doesn't drag your eye away from the subject and plant it squarely in the middle of an overexposed, harsh bit of blazing chromatic fringing and blooming. Digital does in most cases.

 

My apologies if this seems a rather simple and elementary response to your comments, but I just don't care what is right and what is wrong (this assumes your assertions are correct in the first place). I care what my eyes see and how my mind reacts to it.

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I'll only switch to 2 digital systems if/when a lightweight D200 class camera comes out that's full frame and beats film performance in all aspects, and I've got absolutely nothing better to do with my money.
Eventually the money saved from film purchase, for an active digital photographer, trumps all comments about costs even if one is using a paid for film system.

 

I shoot, D2x and Seacam (my Seacam ports and accesories from F100 setup all fit D2 housing), but savings resulting from no film purchases are very close to paying for those two pieces. Film cameras never get to the point where they "pay you back" in a similar way. In fact it could be argued that the longer a film shooter waits, the more money he pays for his digital system even considering lowering prices for digital bodies.

 

But I understand money is not the only, or even most important, matter for you.

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"I care what my eyes see and how my mind reacts to it."

 

Fair enough, but I for one won't shoot film simply because it may produce nicer sunbursts - the other advantages of digital outweigh ALL the advantages of film as far as I am concerned - cost not taken into account either!

 

If anyone is interested, there is an excellent book called "Visual concepts for photographers" published by the Focal Press back in 1980 (so its probably based on film!) which is fascinating in its delving into the way we preceive images and their content. It has some information on tonal reproduction and our perception of it!

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Is this thread going anywhere? I'm going to rename the topic title so that the subject more closely relates to the content.

 

It seems that we're just announcing our subjective opinions -- perhaps with a bit of fact thrown in every once in awhile. And then, the facts are dismissed because they don't matter when subjectivity is king.

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Fair enough, but I for one won't shoot film simply because it may produce nicer sunbursts
I not sure what that is in response to, but I never made the assertion that anyone, including myself, should shoot film because it renders sunbursts better than digital.

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Hi Eric

 

Perhaps it isn't on track anymore but its creating a lot of interest judging by the number of views!

 

And I'm fascinated by the different opinions shown here.

 

Aren't forums sometimes supposed to be for discussing subjects which, whilst perhaps wandering off topic, might spark people to think about what they expect to achieve through their image making (of whatever type) and thus improve/enhance their own photography?

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Paul -- yes, that's what they are for. As long as readers are still getting something out of this thread, I'm all for letting it continue the way it has been going. Plus, I've updated the subject title, so now it's clear what the thread is about.

 

The Film vs. Digital debate is one that has the potential to rage on forever, much like Mac vs. PC, Blond or Brunette, etc. :)

 

Game on!

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Speaking of which, do you know what you get when three blondes do a headstand........

three brunettes!

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The Film vs. Digital debate is one that has the potential to rage on forever
Paul and Eric,

I never perceived this as a film vs. digital debate. That description implies far more than what has actually been discussed here (outside of the guy who took a few pokes at Mustard). But when it comes to these two formats most opinions are all or nothing. For some reason it is difficult for film shooters to agree that digital offers some major photographic advantages and for digital shooters to admit that film continues to manage some situations better than digital does.....so in the end it is a "Film vs. Digital" debate rather than a simple discussion regarding specific truths.

 

It's a shame it always ends up this way. But film people fear digital and digital people are uncomfortable with the ease their system allows them. Fear and guilt....the perfect recipe for defensiveness.

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...and digital people are uncomfortable with the ease their system allows them.

We are? :)

 

As one who has never really known film (save for the occasional instance when my parents have handed me their film Rebel, and told me to take a photo of them on a vacation :lol:), I see digital as a medium that has provided expression to those who would otherwise be mired in film processing costs. That, and the quickest way to learn about photography, instant feedback being what it is...

 

Without digital...I doubt I would be diving as much as I do, and certainly not engaged in underwater photography. Being able to - that's what counts.

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Hello again guys,

 

First of all let me say that what I wrote a few days ago was never intended to be or intended to be construed as a personal attack on Alex Mustard. It was mostly intended to point out the fact that after saying for months (or years) that manual strobe shooting was as good as TTL, even to the starting of a topic called TTL anonymous (not unlike alcoholics anonymous) Alex had crossed over to the “dark side†and was suddenly embracing TTL, which I had said a long time ago was one of the major reasons I was still staying with film. And which (Alex’s change) I found rather ironic, considering the ehthusiasm with which he had previously said that TTL wasn’t of particular value for digital.

 

Secondly, I have not and do not attack digital as a capture medium. It is merely another capture medium, not unlike the sea change that took place when Velvia was first introduced challenging Kodachrome’s dominant place in the film market.

 

I absolutely believe that digital has many things to offer, particularly to the new photographer. And especially for the new underwater photographer. Digital is a great teaching medium because of its instantaneous feedback. And great for news and other places where immediacy is a vital issue. But I also feel these is no substitute for really learning how to use the camera properly and not to depend on the feedback of digital. Too many good shooting opportunities come along just once, and for a brief moment. And to take the attitude that you just make a close guess, and then correct on the second shot or on the computer later is, in my opinion, a philosophy that just doesn’t work in the real ocean.

 

My comment about those that do – do, etc. Was meant to be just a parody on Woody Allen’s comment in the movie “Looking for Mr. Goodbar†in which he said, “Those that can do. Those that can’t do teach. And those that can’t teach, teach phys. Ed.†At the time I was married to a teacher of physical education who didn’t really find Woody very funny either. And in the age of political correctness and having seen how the topic on shark feeds degenerated to the point where the topic was closed, I should have been more cautious.

 

Again, I want to apologize to Alex if he took any of what I wrote as a person attack. I also know that many people appreciate the educational cruises where there is a resident pro to help provide guidance and assistance. I do sometimes go on dive boat cruises. And on the cruise I go on, or virtually whenever I meet other underwater photographers, I have been willing to share any of the technical information or techniques that I use. And I tried to do just that almost a year ago when I suggested the quick two-shoot TTL fill flash technique I use that gives me professional quality satisfactory results over 90% of the time. And as quality TTL finally is achieved by strobes for digital cameras, this technique should work equally well.

 

As background for everyone. My name is, as was suggested by either Eric or James, Fred Bavendam. I am now 60+ years old and was recently, two years ago, in a car accident that came very close to ending my diving forever. Fortunately, it did not. I still make my living just shooting underwater pictures, which I sell directly to magazines myself, or through photo several agencies. I have done this for the last twenty years. But my main motivation isn’t making a lot of money or being famous. I simply love being in the water so much there is nothing else I can think of that I would rather do. And having been able to do only that for twenty years makes me one of the luckiest people in the whole world. I love being in the water so much, and watching all the fish and other animals that there are times that I think I am a fish that was born into the wrong body.

 

I did briefly own a Nikon D2X. And a Fuji S2 before that. But I found that digital did not offer enough advantages to ME to justify the expense of switching to digital for underwater shooting. I gave my S2 and its Ikelite housing to a friend and sold the D2X to a friend who uses it topside and loves it. Digital, at this time, just requires too much time on the computer to suit me. I would rather spend my time traveling, diving, and meeting people. I also bought my first cellular phone a year ago but rarely use it.

 

Just call me DAD – Digital Age Dinosaur

 

I own three SeaCam F5 housings, which, at the time I bought them (before George Bush destroyed the value of the US$) cost me only a little more than one SeaCam for the D2X would cost today. I now have 5 Nikon F5 bodies with action finders and multiples of all the lenses I use most. I usually travel with two complete sets of housings, strobes, ports, and F5’s. In set in separate check-in pieces of luggage so that if the airline loses one of the check-in’s, I arrive with enough gear to keep shooting. I try to hand carry the lenses and film.

 

I would be much more interested in digital, particularly for my topside shooting, if Nikon offered a full frame digital camera similar to Canon’s 1Ds MkII. But currently, the lenses offered for the smaller digital chip interest me much less. I didn’t find Nikon’s 12-24 f4 lens was as "usable" as the 17-35 f2.8. And there is nothing even remotely similar to the 70-180 Micro-nikkor for the digital chip. And there is nothing on the market that I know of that offers the perspective of the 60mm Micro-nikkor.

 

What interests me the most, equipment-wise at the moment, is that Zeiss starting to offer lenses in the Nikon mount. And I might mention that Zeiss says that one of their new lenses has resolved over 300 lines per millimeter ON ACTUAL FILM, at ideal apertures. The D2x has 182 sensors per millimeter, and because the digital image has to be magnified 50% more linearly to fill a particular size print or page, that means a theoretical maximum resolution of 120 lines. Fuji says Velvia, Provia, and Astia can resolve 150~160 lines.

But all this is just lab numbers, not the real world. Each recording medium has its own advantages and its own disadvantages. And it is up to the photographer to decide what is important to him, or her.

 

Nikon has just introduced a new 105mm, at double the cost and weight of the older model. But on the digital chip it acts like a 158mm, which means even greater water distance between the photographer and the subject. And a different perspective visually. 105mm was first popularized as the virtually perfect people portrait lens. Good perspective rendition, no noticible forshortening (ie nose too big) without flattening the features too much. Nikon's 180 f2.8 never really caught on for portaits because of feature flattening and an excessive working distance in the studio. So why a new 105mm? Why not 70mm, the digital chip equivalent unless maybe (I hope) Nikon is seriously thinking full-frame?

 

Again, I meant no offense to Alex or anyone else personally. And offer a sincere apology if my comments were taken as a personal attack.

 

On the other hand, if my comments have brought new energy and new thinking into the film-vs-digital debate, there has been some positive benefit. But regardless of the recording medium, I feel that it is the final image that matters. Not how it was taken.

 

divegypsy

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Hi again guys,

 

Divegypsy (AKA DAD) here again. I reread what I just wrote and although it contains more misspellings and an occasional mis-word, I hope the meaning comes through loud and clear. NO OFFENSE WAS INTENDED.

OK, 'Nuss said on that.

 

As I said, I consider myself a DAD. So if anyone wants to contact me to ask just about ANYTHING to do with underwater photography, technical, business, or just philosophical, please just write to me at fbavendam@hotmail.com. And I'll reply when I get the time. I really haven't learned a lot of the technical aspects of the computer life and age. So a straight email is best I do. No live talks (except on the telephone or in person), and a few pictures sent as an email attachment.

 

I prefer to spend my time traveling and diving and meeting real people as opposed to learning the next version of Photoshop, Lightroom, Noise Ninja, etc, etc. And often refer to the computer chip as the silicon parasite that we humans have infected ourselves with. I probably use my laptop more for watching DVD movies while traveling than anything else when I am not at home. And sometimes still miss the old days when I could just tell people "I'll be off diving for the next six months and unreachable", vs today where so many people expect that I will be checking my email two or four times a week. Do they really think I'd rather skip an afternoon or evening's dive to check email? Especially if that means hunting for and paying for time in an internet cafe? This, to me, is not what life is about.

 

Life is about experiences. About what you do and what you believe. And though I make my living as an underwater photographer, my cameras and pictures are not my goal, my purpose. They are only my ticket. My ticket to the ocean. They pay for my travels and my time watching all the great critters and things that happen in the ocean.

 

Film vs digital. Simply different recording mediums. Much like different painters used different palattes of paint colors. Digital is simply the new "flavor" of the day. And that too will pass. The image, what you show and share with others is all that really matters. Digital has a lot of advantages. To me what interests me the most is that it MAY be greener. No used and thrown away film. No processing chemicals. But what about the production of the actual digital chip? A Fuji photo guy told me that the dark, and relatively unknown side of digital, was the amount of very toxic chemical used in making the chips and the disposal of them later. Can't verify its truth. And manipulation. Its gone on for almost as long as has photography. Ansel Adams zone system was simply a means of manipulating the contrast and tones to match a preconceived notion. And filters? Polarizers. Velvia (better than real) vs Kodachrome colors. Even what constitutes reality is only in the eye of the beholder.

 

In the movie "Don Juan DeMarco" (a really god move in this beholder's eye) Johnny Depp says to Marlon Brando, "There are only four questions in life of any significance." "What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for? And what is worth dying for." "The answer to all four questions is exactly the same." "ONLY LOVE."

 

And that is why I travel, dive, and take underwater pictures. I love being in the ocean.

 

So let's never lose that point as we talk about underwater photography, and its tools and and techniques. The real point is doing what we really love to do. And helping each other when we can.

 

divegypsy

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Thanks for adding some more well argued points to the debate, Fred. As Eric says Wetpixel is all the richer for having the views of very experienced underwater photographers, like yourself.

 

The one thing I have learned from being involved with the digital vs film debate over the years here on Wetpixel it is best to stay out of things! Those who are intrenched on either side are not going to change their opinions with well argued reasoning! But once again I can't resist sticking my neck out.

 

As I am sure Eric has, over the last few years I have got many, many emails from experienced and well known UW photographers asking about their own transition to digital. And contrary to what many might think I do not immediately tell them to switch - it is important for each to consider their own investments, work flow and clients (film remains perfectly acceptable - certainly when scanned - to every publication). Although I also send most photographers who ask a JPG of one of my shots at the same rez as one of their 4000dpi slide scans - for them to compare to their best professional scans - which has persuaded many to swap!

 

The other common subject in this debate is manipulation. With digital a degree of post processing is inevitable. To get the best quality out of a digital SLR we must shoot RAW. And RAW is set up to produce rather flat images - in the knowledge that post processing can add contrast, but not detail. Therefore it is important for digital images that want to be considered as wildlife pictures to adhere to strict rules.

 

For this reason I like the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year submission rules - which allow for RAW adjustment and levels but not change to the content of the frame - and no selective adjustments within the frame (requesting the RAW files to verify this). I believe that one of the reasons that this competition remains so popular with the public is that they like to know what they looking is a real photo.

 

As a result it is also easy for film vs digital to incorrectly become a non-manipulation vs manipulation. First digital images can be regarded as straight photos (well, at least within the terms above) and second since all printing is digital now - film shots are often manipulated before submission or publication. IMO - the best underwater photo collection of the last 10 years is Laurent Ballesta's amazing book - Planet Mers, published in 2005. But Laurent is happy to admit that while he shot it entirely on film some images have had many many hours of work in photoshop.

 

I think the manip vs enhancement vs straight shot debate is VERY VERY important. But it is very wrong to make this a digital vs film debate.

 

One final and curious point: I believe those photographers who stick with film may see an increased demand for their work. As we all know film has a distinct look to digital - and I think that photographers whose work is characterised by the look of film will stand out from the crowd in the future - probably making their images more desirable to publishers.

 

Alex

 

p.s. Worryingly I still have more awards from the Antibes Festival taken on slide (4) than on digital (2)! Maybe this digital thing isn't all it is cracked up to be!

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