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Going from film to digital SLR
After more than 25 years of shooting film, I am finally feeling the pull of digital. The idea of developing and keeping track of 20+ rolls of film from vacation is pushing me toward digital, but I have a few concerns:.

I am not the most careful person with my camera. Are digitals so much more fragile than my old, heavy Canon EOS 650? It has survived 20 years of bumps and drops, and one night out in the rain, with only one repair and one or two cracked UV filters..

Sharp images appear more difficult to achieve with digital than with film. I bought a Nikon compact digital point-and-shoot (7 megapixels) to test the waters a year or so ago, and while I love it's sleek design and convenience, I am routinely disappointed in the images. Even under the best circumstances (subject is still, theres good light, time to get set and hold camera still or its on a tripod) they are not as sharp as my old film SLR. I figure the manual controls, viewfinder and better lenses on a DSLR will alleviate some of my blur problems, but is shutter lag as much of a problem with DSLRs as with point-and-shoots? I know when I press the button on my film camera, thats the image Ill get..

I dont want to do a lot of post-processing. Will my experience with film translate into good digital images to begin with? Does post-processing software come bundled with the camera or is it extra? Can a good photo lab do it for me?.

Im just an avid amateur, with no real aspirations of photography ever being more than a hobby. Mainly I shoot people, mostly children, (indoors and out), landscape, travel and nature photos, and my sons baseball games. As I have two Canon lenses and a Sigma zoom, I prefer to stay with Canon..

Also, Im a buy-and-hold type of person. I dont want to have to buy another camera body again for at least another 10 years (maybe even 20!). What would your recommendation be if budget werent a big issue? And what would I be giving up if budget were a concern?.

This newbie to digital would appreciate your advice. Thanks so much...

Comments (16)

Smschmidt wrote:.

Sharp images appear more difficult to achieve with digital thanwith film. I bought a Nikon compact digital point-and-shoot (7megapixels) to test the waters a year or so ago, and while I love itssleek design and convenience, I am routinely disappointed in theimages. Even under the best circumstances (subject is still, theresgood light, time to get set and hold camera still or its on atripod) they are not as sharp as my old film SLR. I figure themanual controls, viewfinder and better lenses on a DSLR willalleviate some of my blur problems, but is shutter lag as much of aproblem with DSLRs as with point-and-shoots? I know when I press thebutton on my film camera, thats the image Ill get..

I find the opposite is true at 8x10/12" prints using a tripod, mirror lockup, and Kodachrome 25 or 64 compared to similar on a digital SLR at an even higher ISO. My point is I'm picky about acutance and digital doesn't bother me. The quality of the tripod and lenses do..

I can't help with respect to your brand questions other than to say a compact digital and a SLR digital are miles apart in terms of handling and output..

This newbie to digital would appreciate your advice. Thanks so much..

The basics haven't changed. The controls you have on the camera are more numerous. The user interface and handling on the camera and lens counts for a great deal..

Enjoy. You'll be fine making the transition with help from good forum members..

PS: The tone curve and range of digital is different than with film (even slide film let alone negative film). That's the biggest difference I noticed in output between 35mm film SLR's and digital aps-c sized sensor SLR's...

Comment #1

Well I was in at same point 4 years ago. I can only say that once you get digital you be glad you did. One thing is to not get over (like many do) and start looking at whole process as electronic file management it is not.Its still photography. Just look at DSLR way I did. In camera settings of contrast,sharpness,color,white balance is like loading a choice of film for given object. If you know characteristics of your film and been making choices same thing you need to do before shutting with DSLR.

Than RAW v. Jpeg well one is negative film another is slide with a bonus better latitude and ability to fix a bit in PP. And PP dose not need to be extensive. I only shut jpeg and use free Picasa 2 to do anything I need with my digital slides. Yes you need to develop work flow that is good for you.

Than crop to guided composition and in Picasa everything is easy and in plain english not like in Photo Shop that one needs to study few months. So get a any DSLR and you will be glad you did.Mironvhttp://mironv.smugmug.com/..

Comment #2

I moved to a DSLR a little over a year ago having previously shot slides for over 20 years - believe me you won't regret it. Digital is so much more versatile in terms of being able to see what you've captured immediately and not having to wait (or pay) for films to be developed..

Use a decent lens rather than the kit lens and you won't have any issues about image quality. Your previous experience with a P+S really isn't comparable with a DSLR and there is no noticable shutter lag these days..

To really exploit digital to the full though you are much better off shooting RAW which will mean doing a certain amount of post processing on the computer but it needn't be time consuming. Most (all?) cameras come with free software but you may find you get on better with something like Photoshop Elements or equivalent programmes that are not very expensive..

I think it unlikely you will stick with one DSLR body for as long as you did your old film camera becuase the pace of change will make you want to change sooner (but that doesn't mean you have to be like some people who seem to have more money than sense and who change their camera every time a new model comes out). If you want to stick with canon then your best choices are the 40D or the new 450D. If price is an issue then go for the lower price camera (i.e the 450D) and you can then afford to change it in 3-5 years time without feeling so guilty..

Confused of Malvern'The greatest fool can ask more than the wisest man can answer'..

Comment #3

Confused of Malvern wrote:.

I think it unlikely you will stick with one DSLR body for as long asyou did your old film camera becuase the pace of change will make youwant to change sooner (but that doesn't mean you have to be like somepeople who seem to have more money than sense and who change theircamera every time a new model comes out). If you want to stick withcanon then your best choices are the 40D or the new 450D. If priceis an issue then go for the lower price camera (i.e the 450D) and youcan then afford to change it in 3-5 years time without feeling soguilty..

I would like to highlight this point. Get a body with the minimum features necessary to perform the job and budget more for lenses. Chances are you will change bodies more often than glass even if you buy the best body available today...

Comment #4

Smschmidt wrote:.

I am not the most careful person with my camera. Are digitals somuch more fragile than my old, heavy Canon EOS 650? It has survived20 years of bumps and drops, and one night out in the rain, with onlyone repair and one or two cracked UV filters..

Depends on the camera, as with film..

The low end cameras are extremely fragile, built with an 18 month or shorter lifecycle in mind (versus 5 years for lowend film cameras...).The highend ones, like their film equivalents, are built like a tank..

Sharp images appear more difficult to achieve with digital thanwith film. I bought a Nikon compact digital point-and-shoot (7.

Yes and no. If your technique is good that will get you sharp images still. But high resolution digital cameras are far less forgiving of poor technique, will amplify camera shake for example to a greater extent than most if not all film..

And the high density sensors of today are also less forgiving of poor optics mounted in front of them (that $10 "lens protector" will have to go, best use none but if you insist buy a a multicoated filter of the best brand you can get which may cost you a good fraction of the cost of the lens)..

Megapixels) to test the waters a year or so ago, and while I love itssleek design and convenience, I am routinely disappointed in theimages. Even under the best circumstances (subject is still, theres.

That's normal for compacts, once you're used to an SLR..

The viewfinder doesn't give a good indication of the final image, the AF and exposure sensors are poor, AF speed is terrible, and in case of digitals there's a long lag between pressing the shutter and the image being recorded so if you shoot a moving target it'll have moved (partially) out of the frame..

Good light, time to get set and hold camera still or its on atripod) they are not as sharp as my old film SLR. I figure themanual controls, viewfinder and better lenses on a DSLR willalleviate some of my blur problems, but is shutter lag as much of aproblem with DSLRs as with point-and-shoots? I know when I press thebutton on my film camera, thats the image Ill get..

Good DSLRs have hardly any shutter lag, no more (or not much more, think microseconds) than the equivalent SLR.There is a price to pay for that, and that is higher energy consumption..

I dont want to do a lot of post-processing. Will my experiencewith film translate into good digital images to begin with? Doespost-processing software come bundled with the camera or is it extra?Can a good photo lab do it for me?.

Most come with post processing software, but I'm not too impressed with it..

I bought Bibble Pro last year (http://www.bibblelabs.com ) which is a lot better (and faster) and very easy to use..

I'd not trust a lab to do a decent job. Most will either do nothing or let loose an array of automated processes designed to soup up the poor images coming out of compacts in the hands of people making holiday snapshots (so everything either extremely overexposed or underexposed, with terrible contrast, etc.) and are thus far too aggressive..

Im just an avid amateur, with no real aspirations of photographyever being more than a hobby. Mainly I shoot people, mostly children,(indoors and out), landscape, travel and nature photos, and my sonsbaseball games. As I have two Canon lenses and a Sigma zoom, Iprefer to stay with Canon..

Depending on your lenses, they may not even work on a Canon DSLR. Canon does have a tendency to change their lens mount like that....

But if you stay with Canon that does give you the advantage of being at least partially familiar with the look and feel of the camera, the control logic and layout, which gets you up and running quicker..

Also, Im a buy-and-hold type of person. I dont want to have to buyanother camera body again for at least another 10 years (maybe even20!). What would your recommendation be if budget werent a bigissue? And what would I be giving up if budget were a concern?.

For a Canon, probably a 5D. Best value for money at the mid/high end..

For a Nikon, a D200. Same reasoning. The D300 is newer and more flashy but it's introduction has caused the D200 price to drop to levels low enough that it's a steal..

If you go much cheaper you end up buying a camera that simply won't last (mechanically and electronically) for 10 years..

And even with those models, you may find yourself incapable of reading the photos you shoot out of the camera in 10 years because there simply may not be any computers with USB connectors to plug in a card reader (or the camera control cable)..

That's the major problem with digitals, you're more dependent than ever on the computer industry which is in constant flux and constantly inventing new connectors and cables to replace existing ones..

And even if you can connect the camera or cardreader, in 10 years (let alone 20) there may be no software that can interpret those images...

Comment #5

The fact that you are using a computer and on the internet tells me there is some hope. Switch to digital and enjoy the advantages of low cost, better image quality, and the ability to easily print, email and process. Try to open up your mind and adapt to change. You will need to be a little more careful of your equipment, you will probably want to upgrade in a few years for very good reasons and you might also find you enjoy the ability to improve your images with postprocessing. For the later, I recommend photoshop elements for under $100. Photoshop has lots of capability most of us will never use, but it is also easy to master the basics and greatly improve marginal pictures...

Comment #6

If you are migrating from film and your budget permits, I think you'll have your expectations exceeded with a Canon 5D and this excellent walk-around lens:http://www.pbase.com/cameras/canon/ef_24-105_4l_is_usm..

If the budget points to one of the smaller APS-C size sensor cameras then expect to find the viewfinder on the the entry level model to be quite disappointing compared to your film camera. The 40D would be better, and it also offers live view on the LCD. Remember the 24-105 lens would effectively be a 36-157mm on the small sensor..

If you are not committed to any particular system and want to enjoy digital to the full on a limited budget, consider a Sony Alpha 350 which has image stabilisation built into the camera body (making every lens stabilised), and a flip out LCD with live view facilitiating the incredibly useful option of easy composition from interesting angles. You can fit third party lenses like Sigma and Tamron if the kit lens isn't what you want..

Go for it - your hobby will get a great new lease of life!.

John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..

Comment #7

Jwenting wrote:.

Smschmidt wrote:.

Still. But high resolution digital cameras are far less forgiving ofpoor technique, will amplify camera shake for example to a greaterextent than most if not all film..

Why would that be ? .

The viewfinder doesn't give a good indication of the final image,.

The LCD on a compact (or SLR, after the shot) gives pretty much what you'll get (or got)..

TheAF and exposure sensors are poor.

Good thing compacts don't have them then. Exposure and focus can be made anywhere, unlike on a DSLR..

AF speed is terrible,.

Stop buying cr*ppy compacts, AF in bad conditions is not good, but otherwise it's very nice..

And in caseof digitals there's a long lag between pressing the shutter and theimage being recorded.

Compacts have LESS shutter lag than DSLR. The AF might be a little slow (prefocus), and if you use the LCD instead of the viewfinder to frame there is a lag between the action and what you see, but shutter lag is nearly nonexistant, unlike DSLR which have to move the mirror..

Good DSLRs have hardly any shutter lag, no more (or not much more,think microseconds) than the equivalent SLR..

See above..

There is a price to pay for that, and that is higher energy consumption..

I don't see how DSLR use more energy than SLR -because of shutter lag being the same-. Moving the mirror and shutter is probably even easier (smaller sensor vs 35mm film). Of course the electronics use more power. But then there is film advance....

And even with those models, you may find yourself incapable ofreading the photos you shoot out of the camera in 10 years becausethere simply may not be any computers with USB connectors to plug ina card reader (or the camera control cable)..

Lol, you can still get serial adapters, I wouldn't worry about usb going away anytime "soon"..

And even if you can connect the camera or cardreader, in 10 years(let alone 20) there may be no software that can interpret thoseimages..

Rrrright, guys, this just in, we can't read GIF anymore, it's more than 10 years old...

Comment #8

Sigezar wrote:.

The viewfinder doesn't give a good indication of the final image,.

The LCD on a compact (or SLR, after the shot) gives pretty much whatyou'll get (or got)..

The LCDs and EVFs on current cameras have very poor resolution compared to an OVF, or to the camera itself. (Typical resolution is less than 1/4 megapixel for the LCD, vs. 6-10 megapixels for the camera. Even some "best of breed" Minolta P&S EVFs just barely approached the 1 megapixel mark.)..

Comment #9

Smschmidt wrote:.

I am not the most careful person with my camera. Are digitals somuch more fragile than my old, heavy Canon EOS 650?.

Probably. But here's what I'd do: figure out how much you spend on film & processing in a year; plan on upgrading your DSLR every 3-4 years, and compare those costs..

It has survived20 years of bumps and drops, and one night out in the rain, with onlyone repair and one or two cracked UV filters..

My 3-year old DSLR isn't suffering damage, but electronic quirks/bugs. My next camera will have a manufacturers extended warranty and may likely be an entry level model so I can more easily stomach junking it for a new one in 3-4 years..

Sharp images appear more difficult to achieve with digital thanwith film..

Not my experience at all. At print sizes suitable to the sensor (currently 6MP but soon to be upgraded) my prints (certainly to 8x12") look sharper from digital than from Velvia/Provia. Bigger prints from film will show more detail, but again, stepping up from 6MP would help that greatly on the digital side..

I figure themanual controls, viewfinder and better lenses on a DSLR willalleviate some of my blur problems, but is shutter lag as much of aproblem with DSLRs as with point-and-shoots?.

No, though p&s's are better these days, too ... I always half-press to lock focus first, and rarely have shutter lag issues on my Canon A610. Definitely no issues with my 3-year old DSLR..

I dont want to do a lot of post-processing. Will my experiencewith film translate into good digital images to begin with? Doespost-processing software come bundled with the camera or is it extra?Can a good photo lab do it for me?.

Yes & no. If you don't want to post-process, you'll want to learn to control white balance, because Auto is fine sometimes, but not others. I always shoot raw+JPEG so I leave it on Auto WB usually (sometimes tungsten preset) and frequently PP for WB if nothing else. Experience with film will help with exposure - unlike digicams which are wonderful when it comes to exposing ready-to-print pics with blown out backgrounds to expose for subjects, DSLRs expose like film SLRs but (in my experience) with even more of a tendency to balance the scene in order to preserve highlight and shadow detail (assuming you can get the subject where you want it in PP). That will likely vary from one model to the next..

Also, Im a buy-and-hold type of person. I dont want to have to buyanother camera body again for at least another 10 years (maybe even20!)..

Yeah, I thought that once, too  Remember what you're saving in film costs. You've got a sensor that will start showing hot pixels; things to go out of alignment, sensors that can lose their sensitivity ... you wouldn't think that things would just "go buggy" over time, but they do..

What would your recommendation be if budget werent a bigissue? And what would I be giving up if budget were a concern?.

Canon - it's entry level versus midrange and handling & viewfinder quality are a couple of big factors. The 40D is a very nice camera, but the dRebel is a superbly competent camera for a lot less money. Many, many differences worth exploring between them - check out the Canon forums (I'm not a Canon user so can't advise)..

- DennisGallery at http://kingofthebeasts.smugmug.com..

Comment #10

Although I drive an 18-year-old car and don't own a cell phone, I'm not a total Luddite : ) I am sure I would love the full-frame Canon 5D. Alas, it's price tag is probably out of reach, especially if it may not last 10 years (although I will do a cost analysis versus film just to make sure). I am off to peruse the Canon forums to see whether the 40D or 450D would suit me, keeping in mind the advice about investing in the best lenses I can afford..

I appreciate all your thoughtful remarks and look forward to future help, especially with post-processing encouragement, when I do get the camera..

Thank you,.

Sherri..

Comment #11

I'd recommend something like a Pentax K200D, Olympus E510 or Sony A300/350. All have in-body image stabilization, and regarding the Pentax and Olympus, the kit lenses are darn good. Don't know about the Sony kit lenses.shinndigghttp://www.pbase.com/shinndigg..

Comment #12

Tom_N wrote:.

Sigezar wrote:.

The LCDs and EVFs on current cameras have very poor resolutioncompared to an OVF,.

That's hardly the point, it gives accurate exposure, DOF sometimes, white balance...

Comment #13

Jwenting wrote:.

Smschmidt wrote:.

I am not the most careful person with my camera. Are digitals somuch more fragile than my old, heavy Canon EOS 650? It has survived20 years of bumps and drops, and one night out in the rain, with onlyone repair and one or two cracked UV filters..

Depends on the camera, as with film.The low end cameras are extremely fragile, built with an 18 month orshorter lifecycle in mind (versus 5 years for lowend film cameras...).The highend ones, like their film equivalents, are built like a tank..

Nah, that's not true. I have an "old" Rebel XT that I've had since 2005. I use it as a second body for weddings and travel. It's seen a very high amount of use, with countless shots through it. I've even shot it at Iguazu Falls (on the Brazilian and Argentinian border) where the extremely heavy mist billowing up from the falls was like shooting in the shower! And it survived just fine. It's survived plenty of knocks and drops too.

And it's still going strong. After about three years of use, with far more frames put on it than I ever put on my film SLRs, the shutter has yet to give out. And when it finally does, it will have paid for itself many times over. Most hobby shooters will shoot far fewer frames than I've done with my XT..

Keep in mind that even entry-level bodies like the Rebel XT have metal subframes underneath their resilient plastic outer bodies, whereas entry-level film SLR cameras are almost entirely plastic. And, in fact, today's entry-level DSLR cameras are far superior to entry-level film SLR's. Today's entry-level DSLR cameras are far from being fragile. They may feel fragile, because they are so light and compact. But that does not mean that they are fragile...

Comment #14

Smsmitd, don't be confused by posters answering you talking about things like RAW and batch processing. They know not what they say..

Sure get a nice DSLR. A Canon or Nikon or Sony, tou should be able to use some of your old lenses o the relevent camera I gues but ask in the camera shop (or here). Start of slow, get PhotoShop Elements for your computer it is inexpensive and a great programme. You will have a lot of fun. The camera work pretty well the same as the non digital ones. I shoot mostly in M (Manual) on my cameras.

You will enjoy it, the instant result was worth waiting for.Jules.

Why can't you blow bubbles with chewing gum?..

Comment #15

JulesJ wrote:.

Smsmitd, don't be confused by posters answering you talking aboutthings like RAW and batch processing. They know not what they say..

I agree..

I only shoot jpegs and have no trouble with them..

I blow them up bigger than I ever did with 35mm film and they are much better!.

RAW has it's place and time (bad lighting or if you plan on doing extensive manipulation to the shots), but those who shoot RAW-only generally don't know how to use their camera(s) to it's fullest, thus their need to have the ability to manipulate every shot..

With RAW, you will have to post process in your computer every image you ever want to use or print..

Shooting jpegs, you can walk right in to any photo lab and get a print straight off the memory card, and if you have your exposure correct, you won't need to do anything to the image!.

I think the 5D is overkill for you (and most other shooters).look at the 40D for durability or the Rebel XTi/XSi if lower price is important..

By the way..

If your exsisting lenses are all actual Canon lenses (not after market), they will work on your future Canon DSLR purchase, although there are a couple older Canon lenses that had issues with the new bodies..

J. D.Colorful Colorado.

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Remember.always keep your receipt, the box, and everything that came in it!..

Comment #16

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