Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2002/12/08

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Subject: Re: [Leica] OT: The endless nonsense about film vs. digital (long rant)
From: "Doug Lee" <>
Date: Sun, 8 Dec 2002 10:55:36 -0500
References: <>

For those interested, there is/was an interesting thread on the medium
format forum on regarding digital vs. film, entitled Digital might
not kill medium format.

- -Doug

- ----- Original Message -----
From: "Martin Howard" <>
To: "Leica Users Group LUG" <>
Sent: Saturday, December 07, 2002 5:45 PM
Subject: [Leica] OT: The endless nonsense about film vs. digital (long rant)

> I subscribe to Photo Techniques, the US magazine primarily for LF
> weenies, but also a great bogroom read for wannabees like myself
> (actually my real reason for subscribing to it is David Vestal's
> column).  While seated upon the aforementioned facility this evening, I
> came across an article by Paul Schranz in the latest issue (Nov/Dec
> 02).  He writes about "conventional" and digital photography, a sort of
> personal odyssey through technology and back.  In this, we can find the
> following sentences:
> Film is still the best means of recording an image. The best scanners
> do
> not yet meet the richness of data that is available on film.
> Inevitably,
> that time will come, as will digital camera quality.
> I, for one, don't think that that time will ever come.  Like most areas
> of technology, what drives development is economy.  If there is little
> or no economic incentive of developing a digital sensor for cameras, or
> a scanner, that matches or surpasses chemical film, then it is unlikely
> that it will happen.
> Fine art photographers seem to be split in two communities: those who
> vow to continue with film, printing on fibre paper to archival
> standards, and those who dabble with digital images at some point in
> the process.  (An interesting aside is a group who belong to the
> former, but still use computers to produce masks which are subsequently
> sandwiched with the original negative for [contact] printing.)  The
> most fervent arguments about quality seem to be raged in this
> community.  Is digital good enough?  Can you tell the difference
> between a chemical print and an inkjet print?
> In reality, fine art photographers don't count worth a toss.  They're
> about as important to the those that fund the digital photography
> development as the super-heavy-weight vinyl LP weenies are to the music
> industry.
> What matters are large volume, commercial photographers and the general
> public.  I'd guess that the commercial photographers that count are (a)
> advertizing, (b) press.  Both of these are characterized by a degree of
> ephemerality where convenience and "good enough" are more important
> than whether something is qualitatively the same as a archival,
> selenium toned, fibre print at 20x24" from an 8x10" T-MAX 100 negative
> observed through a 5x Schneider loupe.  The same goes for the general
> public: good enough is good enough.
> What will happen is that digital (camera) technology will improve to
> the point where three things coincide: (a) tiered quality and pricing
> ("consumer", "prosumer", "professional");  (b) quality improvements
> until "good enough" (given the application area) has been reached;  (c)
> ease-of-use issues, convenience, and infra-structure break above the
> cost-of-entry for new consumers.
> Once this happens, improvements will not be in the direction of the
> information capacity of the digital technology and this will probably
> happen well before digital devices come even close to (i.e., several
> orders-of-magnitude away from) capturing the amount of information that
> film does.
> And, just as you can still buy tube amps, and play new LPs on recently
> manufactured turntables, I suspect that film will be around for a long
> while yet.  Existing in a somewhat marginal role, but still existing in
> parallel with digital imaging.
> M.
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In reply to: Message from Martin Howard <> ([Leica] OT: The endless nonsense about film vs. digital (long rant))