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Old Mar 17, 2010, 5:56 PM   #11
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I am leaving the quote intact and referencing Paripatetics quote because they both need to be classified as "Good Old Days" fuzzies where we remember the good and forget the bad. I started learning photography in the late '60 and actually used cameras marketed from the mid-'50s through the late seventies. This included "high-end" P&S cameras and interchangeable lens cameras in formats from 1/2 frame 35mm through medium format. The '80s were spent with video tape and the '90s with 35mm auto-exposure/focus P&Ss and switched to digital cameras in this last decade. Most current tiny sensor (1/2.5) P&S superzoom cameras today will produce a better 8x10 at ISO 400 (lower noise/sharper) than a 35mm SLR load with Hi-Speed Ektachrome pushed to ASA 400 (there were no color negative ASA 400 films at the time). That same tiny sensor camera will beat a mid-'90s 35mm P$S loaded with Ektacolor 400 (been there, done that). Even APS-C and 4/3 DLSRs will beat film SLR using the emulsions available in the '70 producing 11x14 prints.

I'm not denying that a good photographer today, using modern emulsions can't produce good photos with '70-'90s SLRs but today's DSLRs but a good photographer produces good result regardless. However the modern DSLR will produce those results with less "fiddling" with the equipment and over a wider range of conditions. Likewise the modern digital P&S will equal or beat the 35mm P&Ss of the '90s on both IQ and ease of use.

I was there in the "good old days" and my memory hasn't failed.

A. C.
Unless I'm mistaken, we are talking about build quality here not image quality. This is all about spending your hard earned dollars on an expensive product that fails when you need it most or right after the warranty expires...
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Old Mar 18, 2010, 10:11 AM   #12
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Unless I'm mistaken, we are talking about build quality here not image quality. This is all about spending your hard earned dollars on an expensive product that fails when you need it most or right after the warranty expires...
I'm not sure we can even support that argument. Freed from the cost burden of film and processing we now shoot far more with our digital cameras than we ever did with our film cameras. I have shot 650 photos at an afternoon event with one superzoom P&S and with film in the old days, similar event, I probably ran no more than 2-2 1/2 36 exposure rolls though one of my SLRs. Another example, for a 2 week vacation in 1975 I would pack 1 36 exp. roll per day, 14 rolls for 504 photos (this was also National Geographics recommendation to their pros on assignment in those days) while today I'd likely take 1000-1200 photos on a similar vacation. I really think that even with much greater potential for failure though fantasticlly greater functionality we really and truly use the heck out of our cameras.

Final point, relative to our disposable income now vs. 1975 the modern camera's price/perfomance/reliability ratios are a bargain.

A. C.
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Old Mar 18, 2010, 4:14 PM   #13
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I have had many arguments fighting the same corner as you.

Ordinary people, using ordinary 35mm film, with ordinary lenses and processing in a high-street minilab didn't have the remotest chance of producing the quality of images that they can now achieve with an entry or mid-level DSLR camera. I know because I was one of those people.

Which is not to say that the very best technicians using professional films, top-grade processing and top-grade lenses and enlargers couldn't produce great results. But that wasn't available to the masses. And nowadays, the films are better, very high resolution scanners are not terribly expensive and incredibly high-quality C-type and inkjet prints can be made via online services. So a hybrid film/digital setup can also give much better quality than I was ever able to do in the bad old days.

One final thing. I can't remember who said "Your first 10,000 images are your worst." but I absolutely believe it for many or even most photographers. I never got through those 10,000 shots when I used 35mm film, it was just too expensive. But with my DSLR I managed it in little over a year. And of course it included the obligatory 1000 shots of squirrels and ducks. Now I shoot far less and have gone back to using a lot of film because I love using a rangefinder camera and can't really afford an M9.

But I am not a believer in the "good old days". Digital has been wonderful.
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Old Mar 19, 2010, 11:14 AM   #14
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Peripatetic: Thanks for the reminders of how the digital age has influenced film photography and expanded horizons of photography in all it facets.

Actually I'll quibble a little on color processing in the "old" days. There were labs reachable through mail order that did high-quality (although not custom) work and at extremely reasonable prices. The lab I used did direct (type R) prints from full frame and medium format transparency up through 11x14 and for other formats and larger (to 20x24) prints using a 4x5 internegative at no extra cost. As I say this wasn't custom work but if one sent a quality slide or negative they'd delivery a quality print consistantly. That influences my shooting style even today, get it right in the camera rather than depend on salvaging the photo in the darkroom and previsualize the end product before pressing the shutter. That approach also simplified my own B&W darkroom work.

I agree that most people didn't realize there were alternatives to the local drug store or camera shop (and by the way I never saw much quality difference between the two.) I won't go into the details but when I was able to show what could be done the photographers in a Prince Albert. Sask began to avail themselves of the similar services to the ones I used and elevated the quality of their work.

I share your appreciation of the rangefinder camera. I had (and have) a Nikon SP which was a joy to use. Loaded with Tri-X (which I processed w/Microdol-X 1:3 dilution) it was my choice for my personal candid street photography. Low light focusing was never an issue|:-) .

A. C.
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Old Mar 19, 2010, 5:33 PM   #15
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It's true there were some good labs, but they were expensive, and without your own darkroom it was complicated to get the prints right and often hit-and-miss.

Here's my current rangefinder baby...

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad...er/zeiss-.html

I just bought a batch of Kodak Ektar 100, which I haven't tried yet. We'll see how it goes. :-)

My other camera is a 5DMkII. :P
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 1:53 PM   #16
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Here's my current rangefinder baby...

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad...er/zeiss-.html

I just bought a batch of Kodak Ektar 100, which I haven't tried yet. We'll see how it goes. :-)

My other camera is a 5DMkII. :P
Thanks for the link. The ZI sure seems to be a neat camera, even looks elegant which a lot of DSLRs don't manage.

A. C.
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