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Very Basic Questions
I'm an amateur shopping for a DSLR to shoot my kids indoors. My Canon S50 P&S is woefully inadequate for the task under natural lighting. My initial budget is less than $1000 for body and 2 kit lenses, or body and 1 good lens. However, I feel like digital camera technology is currently on a steep development incline, where tech gets obsolete within months. So, I ask the following..

1. Has entry-level DSLR technology met or surpassed 35mm film performance in terms of dynamic range, resolving fine detail, and noise/grain at the same ISO's taken by top film SLR's like the Nikon F5 for amateur purposes?.

2. If the answer to #1 is "No," then is it a smarter move to buy the F5 and a decent 7800dpi film scanner until digital camera tech completely replaces 35mm film in terms of IQ? I'll be spending money on film, but I'd be saving hundreds on the body...

Comments (23)

If you don't get many responses try posting in the Open Talk forum. The film v digital debate gets discussed there pretty frequently and very infrequently in the beginner forum...

Comment #1

Whatever the arguments about whether film has better DR than digital or all the other arguments, the truth is that the advantages of digital photography have now convincingly outweighed film for 99.9% of users. You only have to look at the gear pros use for the answer. If you still want to use film, fine. But do it for the nostalgia value, or because you like not knowing how your photos have turned out or something... don't pretend that your photos are going to be better.Androohttp://Androo.smugmug.com..

Comment #2

AJLee wrote:.

I'm an amateur shopping for a DSLR to shoot my kids indoors. MyCanon S50 P&S is woefully inadequate for the task under naturallighting. My initial budget is less than $1000 for body and 2 kitlenses, or body and 1 good lens. However, I feel like digital cameratechnology is currently on a steep development incline, where techgets obsolete within months. So, I ask the following..

1. Has entry-level DSLR technology met or surpassed 35mm filmperformance in terms of dynamic range, resolving fine detail, andnoise/grain at the same ISO's taken by top film SLR's like the NikonF5 for amateur purposes?.

2. If the answer to #1 is "No," then is it a smarter move to buy theF5 and a decent 7800dpi film scanner until digital camera techcompletely replaces 35mm film in terms of IQ? I'll be spending moneyon film, but I'd be saving hundreds on the body..

These are not basic questions .

As Mary said above, this debate rages on and on, and you can read the threads for yourself - they get pretty heated and there is always one on the boil somewhere!.

The fact that the debate still goes on means that it is not clear cut. If one were obviously very superior to the other there wouldn't be much argument..

Having been in a similar position to you, I would say this.... it's just a free opinion and worth every penny..

The technical differences between film / digital, that may or may not be apparent on huge prints examined under a microscope, are irrelevant for your purposes compared to the massive advantage that digital offers in getting instant feedback, and not wasting a lot of money on processing films which have a low success rate (because your kids have blinked, pulled a face, whatever... I used to get three or four decent shots out of a roll of 36, which was a big waste of money)..

The other less obvious, but just as important, benefit of a DSLR is that the instant feedback helps ensure that you can correct mistakes immediately, and that you learn very fast. if you're playing with bounce flash, for example, you can see which shots work and which don't immediately - with film by the time you see the prints you can't remember what settings you used for what picture unless you keep a notebook. There is nothing like trying something out and seeing the results immediately, rather than two weeks later, for learning and getting better. In one year of owning a DSLR my photography has developed as much as it did over the previous 20 years with a film camera..

I can understand lansdcape photographers wanting to use large format film cameras. but for kids: no contest..

Good luck with whatever you decide.

Best wishesMike..

Comment #3

Buying an F5 is silly for an amateur..

But the whole original posting has the signs of a troll..

Assuming the best... there's no clear answer without putting in a million qualifiers, but for most people, new digital cameras are just fine..

As for obsolete the F5 is obsolete, but if you can find one, it will probably still work..

As for taking pictues of kids without flash in bad light... what are the final results going to be like? Nikon D3 would work well under trying conditions..

BAK..

Comment #4

I didn't realize that I had opened old wounds by suggesting such a hotly contested subject. My thought process in asking the question was, if lenses are the real "investment" and DSLR camera bodies become junk in a few years, then why not get a top-notch film body for a few hundred bucks and invest the extra cash in lenses?.

But as your post reminded me, that question is only relevant if I have the skill to churn out great pictures in the first place. I don't have the skill, so I will need to have the instant feedback that only digital can provide, regardless of pixel-level IQ. It looks like digital is the way to go, especially for amateurs like me...

Comment #5

The body isn't junk in a few years unless it is broke, it should take just as good pictures as when you bought it!.

GaryPhotos at http://www.pbase.com/gary_602zAll who wander are not lost!..

Comment #6

Could not resist this!Where do you expect to find a D3 for $1000.00 with any lens?.

BAK wrote:.

Buying an F5 is silly for an amateur..

But the whole original posting has the signs of a troll..

Assuming the best... there's no clear answer without putting in amillion qualifiers, but for most people, new digital cameras are justfine..

As for obsolete the F5 is obsolete, but if you can find one, itwill probably still work..

As for taking pictues of kids without flash in bad light... what arethe final results going to be like? Nikon D3 would work well undertrying conditions..

BAK..

Comment #7

Mike703 wrote:.

As Mary said above, this debate rages on and on,.

Amongst people who enjoy debating for debating's sake, yes. The rest of us are busy taking photographs with our digital cameras, while the old film cameras languish in a cupboard somewhere, with no resale value and unlikely to be used ever again..

Film does have one advantage, which is ....... no, I won't go there ..

Comment #8

For kids / family pictures, etc - digital is the way to go. You get instant feedback & a chance to re-shoot the picture right then and there - if you aren't satisfied. You can upgrade to the very expensive equipment if and when National Geographic calls you. (I know I'm still waiting.) .

Meanwhile, you might benefit from reading the May issue of PC Photo where they compare several DSLRs from each of the major manufacturers. They have also posted the article on line, see here:.

Http://www.pcphotomag.com/...iewscomparisons/d-slrs-pro-vs.-enthusiast.html.

Also, check out some of the other Photo Magazines (Popular Photography, etc.) to see if they offer any articles that help with your decision..

Then, look at the many excellent reviews by dpreview to further narrow your choice..

Finally, visit your local retailer in order to handle those cameras on your "short list"..

Usually, people find one or two cameras that are intuitive and are within their budget. And, fortunately, today's cameras are so good it would be difficult to make a bad choice. Good luck..

All the best,Jim.

Photographers take pictures, not cameras...

Comment #9

Hi,.

I wonder if I dare ask the obvious; and that is have you looked at the pictures from your Canon and thought how little DR they have, or have you just read about it in a review? I am asking because I keep notice things being stressed in questions that, in practice, very few people will notice. What I mean by that, is that looking at a print people won't notice it....

My 2d worth would be to suggest - as others have - that a bounce flash indoors on a reasonable camera will do the trick. Indoors means wide angle but pictures of people mean not going beyond the FoV of a 100 or 105 mm 35mm film camera lens. So a decent kit lens in the (x3 zoom range) and a hot shoe and a decent flash would be the answer..

Looking at the Canon, I can't see much wrong with it or anything people would complain about: judging by the sample pictures in the gallery. I'm wondering if the real problem is the usual one with kids and that is that they are incredibly difficult to photograph just as they are. Mostly because they hate posing and are never still for a second..

OTOH, you may have years of experience with film and I'm wasting my time. But this is just my 2d worth..

Regards, David..

Comment #10

Mike703 wrote:.

The fact that the debate still goes on means that it is not clearcut..

Would that that were true! The fact that people will argue is why debate doesn't cease... and NOT that there is necessarily anything worthwhile to be argueing about..

If one were obviously very superior to the other there wouldn'tbe much argument..

Oh no? Try telling that to evolutionary biologists doing their best to deal with creationism in the United States..

People choose their *truths* for a whole bundle of reasons that have little to do with their veracity.... [but then I'm sure you know that.]Regards,Baz..

Comment #11

Thanks for the reply. I'm a film newb as well, so your criticism of my premise is just. To answer your questions about the S50..

I hate 3 things about my Canon S50. Noise, lack of dynamic range, and slowness. Noise is ok outdoors (as the dpreview samples show) because I can use ISO 50 or 100. It's indoors (especially in the evening when I get back from work) where I'm having serious problems. Because anything above 200 ISO is too noise-ridden to be of much use, I must use flash most of the time. At 200 ISO, I can maybe get a 1/15 or 1/10 exposure time.



As for DR, I do see a lot of highlight clipping in daytime shots, especially when the kids wear white dresses. My vacation shots on a sunny beach ended up in a highlight blowout bonanza. Turning down the exposure compensation to prevent blowout merely resulted dim images that didn't convey how sunny and hot it was that day..

The slow AF and memory card write speeds cause me to lose a lot of action, especially indoors. It often takes 2-3 seconds to AF, and if I get a focus lock and take the picture. If I run out of memory buffer (which I often do), then it takes a long time for the images to write to the card..

I want something that is leaps and bounds better in all these areas. I understand DSLR will do it, but my only concern is that I will not be satisfied with the camera for 20 years because with anything electronic that follows Moore's Law, I'll be compelled to upgrade every 4-5 years. My dad had the same old Nikon film camera for decades. Although it didn't have all the whiz-bang gadgets, film was film and image quality never suffered as long as he got the right shot. The same cannot be said of digital technology where IQ, not just the whiz-bang factor, is fundamentally improving with each generation...

Comment #12

So, my question is:.

Has dslr tech gotten to the point where I won't notice or care about the ever improving IQ of each generation, and won't be compelled to constantly upgrade because IQ has become "good enough" that typical 35mm film results are the same or even worse than today's digitals?.

No one's really answered the IQ question, but from what I gather so far, ease of use and immediate feedback are very compelling reasons to use digital anyway...

Comment #13

Yes..

I have a Rebel XT and it has met my needs for 3 years and I can produce images that is suitable for A3 (13x19) printing and above..

I will upgrade eventually to a 5D class but it is because that would be a camera for the long haul due to the features set and my desire to have a FF camera. But I wouldn't upgrade just for image quality as the XT is giving me more than enough..

I think for your purpose an entry level DSLR with a good quality medium zoom lens (+50mm f1.8) and a flash will meet the stated needs and also provide room to grow..

For me, I am happy if I can keep getting pictures with this quality. As long as the shutter doesn't fail. Don't go to the film route unless you are sure that is what you want. The cost associated with film will escalate really fast and at least for myself, I learn more in one year with my 350D than the last ten years I have with a film body. Cost was one of the reasons but instant feedback is also priceless (to me.).

Shot with 350D + 17-40L:.

The first 4 shots is to illustrate the speed of DSLR for capturing a child's expression..

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Shot with 350D + 70-200 f4L:.

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Shot with 350D + 50 f1.8:.

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Johnnyhttp://tuxbailey.zenfolio.com..

Comment #14

AJLee wrote:.

So, my question is:.

Has dslr tech gotten to the point where I won't notice or care aboutthe ever improving IQ of each generation, and won't be compelled toconstantly upgrade because IQ has become "good enough" that typical35mm film results are the same or even worse than today's digitals?.

No one's really answered the IQ question, but from what I gather sofar, ease of use and immediate feedback are very compelling reasonsto use digital anyway..

Hey AJ,.

I've definitely been in your situation. I'm a beginning photographer, have kids, and had a Canon S50. I still have and occasionally use my S60. I found them limited and slow, especially indoors and especially for taking photos of my new baby. As in all things in life, photography and equipment is about compromise..

I had had SLR EOS film cameras and had enjoyed their flexibility and speed, but never had the money to learn photography due to the high cost of film...nor was I diligent enough to take great notes about what I had done. Since the early days of digital I immediately knew the format was for me. Instant feedback and the ability to take hundreds of shots to experiment. No way I would or could ever go back to film..

My first DSLR was a Rebel XT (350) which was (and still is) a superb camera. It was far more camera than I was photographer. I now have a 40D having sold the XT and a 30D in between. No regrets..

If you read some of the other Canon/Nikon/etc. forums you'll notice there's a much bigger difference between P&S digital and DSLR than between DSLR megapixel ratings. My wedding photos were shot with a 6mp Canon 10D and I still marvel at them. The new DSLRs, even the cheap ones, can shoot amazing, sharp, and astonishing photos in the proper hands (not mine!). They are fast and capable, and after one hour of shooting you'll wonder why you waited so long to upgrade from your S series..

As someone here said, the film vs digital debate rages on and will continue to do so. So too does the argument about how many megapixels are "enough" and at what point do you sacrifice noise for pixel density. But again, it's a compromise between convenience, price, quality. Camera makers will continue improving current technologies and will introduce new ones. It's like computers. If you keep waiting for the newer faster model, you'll drive yourself crazy and never buy one.

You'll never get these opportunities again..

This article is from 2006 regarding film vs digital, but Ken Rockwell is a damn smart guy and it sums things up well:http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/filmdig.htm.

An eye-opening photographer who has proven to me time and again it's not the camera that takes the photos is this lady. Many of her older photos were taken I believe with an S50. They blow away what I can do. Granted her stuff is a little too "photoshopped" for many, it's still a good reminder of what a simple tool in good hands can accomplish:.

Http://www.pbase.com/mardoli/caffe.

Her other galleries are worth checking out as well..

On this board check out photos by Daniella, CityLights, and others. I don't see how you could say their shots were "missing something." If you really want more dynamic range, HDR digital photography seems to be a very intriguing sideline. I'm sure a search here for HDR will yield some pretty amazing results. A DSLR and software from companies like Photomatix make it cheap and relatively simple..

Hope this helps!.

-Phil..

Comment #15

HI,.

Thanks for the answer: in that case I'll agree about a dSLR or one of the halfway there ones. But nothing with more than x3 or x4 zoom as the extremes get a bit silly due to various compromises. The two lens kits I'd go for comes from Olympus and would be the E-510 or whatever it is this week. I'd not worry about it becoming obsolete because obsolete stuff goes on taking pictures. Also budget for a decent flash with a bounce head (most of them probably have one but I've not bought a flash for many years)..

Regards, David..

Comment #16

AJLee wrote:.

I'm an amateur shopping for a DSLR to shoot my kids indoors. MyCanon S50 P&S is woefully inadequate for the task under naturallighting. My initial budget is less than $1000 for body and 2 kitlenses, or body and 1 good lens. However, I feel like digital cameratechnology is currently on a steep development incline, where techgets obsolete within months. So, I ask the following..

1. Has entry-level DSLR technology met or surpassed 35mm filmperformance in terms of dynamic range, resolving fine detail, andnoise/grain at the same ISO's taken by top film SLR's like the NikonF5 for amateur purposes?.

2. If the answer to #1 is "No," then is it a smarter move to buy theF5 and a decent 7800dpi film scanner until digital camera techcompletely replaces 35mm film in terms of IQ? I'll be spending moneyon film, but I'd be saving hundreds on the body..

1. Yes. Easily. They were probably equal in 2003..

I compared scans of Velvia to my old D70. The D70 won hands down even at ISO 400 vs. Velvia at 50. Same lens, same subject, same lighting...

Comment #17

Greg Nut wrote:.

1. Yes. Easily. They were probably equal in 2003..

Yes, I am of much the same opinion regarding the time of effective parity. Since then digital has pulled ahead greatly.Regards,Baz..

Comment #18

Thanks again for all your input. I truly appreciate the sample pictures (beautiful!) and the sympathetic responses. Now, I must go back into my cave and research!..

Comment #19

Greg Nut wrote:.

1. Yes. Easily. They were probably equal in 2003..

I'll second that; been thinking about it and I think that the film camera you own and use will also influence your opinion. Then add the price of a decent digital camera then (Horrendous) and you'll see why people think the way I do. It wasn't so long ago that a dSLR cost four or five thousand, btw..

Imagine someone with a Pentax K1000 or Olympus OM1 etc being expected to pay those sort of prices for a dSLR: or (say) an Olympus -II (film) P&S looking at a noisy, auto-ISO P&S....

Regards, David..

Comment #20

Digital image quality is at least equal to film now and in many cases better. Digital is by far the best way to go Digital Cameras cost more but the images are much less expensive to capture than film. There are several very good starter digiital SLRs - Canon - Nikon - Sony - Pentax ect. Read the reviews and try them out at a local camera store to see which fit your needs best.Milt..

Comment #21

[snip].

As for DR, I do see a lot of highlight clipping in daytime shots,especially when the kids wear white dresses. My vacation shots on asunny beach ended up in a highlight blowout bonanza. Turning downthe exposure compensation to prevent blowout merely resulted dimimages that didn't convey how sunny and hot it was that day..

Check out those DSLRs that can enhance the apparent dynamic range of their sensors. They use a variety of names for this technology - e.g. Dynamic Range Optimization, D-Lighting, Shadow Adjustment..

The camera automatically adjusts the curve to capture the shadows without blowing the highlights. I'm impressed by the range that the DRO on my Sony A700 allows me to capture in-camera..

Do a search in the various forums for examples. You'll be amazed...

Comment #22

The point of the D3 reference is that it's a good camera for shooting fsst moving things in really lousy light, as per the ad with the motorcycle in it..

Probably hard to find an F5 for a grand, too..

BAK..

Comment #23

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