digital and B&W : LUSENET : Ask William Photo : One Thread

If 35mm is taken over by digital how do you recomend shooting B&W photos.Can photo software compete with the darkroom?What is your opinion on this issue.If digital becomes the standard what digital cameras would you recomend to shoot B&W? Thank you Michael

-- Michael Hensley (, February 21, 2000


First, I'd like to address when 35mm will be taken over by digital. To a lesser extent this is "when will silver imaging go out of date".

35mm is designed to be fast and cheap from the get-go. Digital is NEITHER. Beyond that, digital cameras are about 2.5 megapixels right now on the high end (this is NOT counting 4x5 or 6x7 scanning digital backs). A mediocre film scanner can get 3600x2400 (that's about 8.5 megapixels), with a high end drum scanner doing even better. Digital cameras are still slow to expose (most are getting a 1/125th exposure, tops, with pro cameras theoretically going higher), can't be push processed, you can MAYBE squeeze a burst of 5-6 frames off in a second with a delay until you can shoot again (slow download from on-board memory to storage) (film cameras, i.e. Eos 1V are pulling 9 frames per second CONTINUOUS, not burst, with motion picture cameras running at 24 fps).

Digital cameras chow batteries (hello NiMH, for $30-$50/4 batteries & charger). Digital cameras take longer to change film (Smartmedia is quick to change, but expensive at about $1/frame. floppies (mavica) are not cheap either, and terribly slow. memory sticks really aren't cheap. yes, you can reuse the same media again and again, but when I'm shooting, I typically need 80-120 exposures before I return to someplace where I can download the images off the media, so I'd need $120+ of efilm. along with a $600+ camera (probably more like a $1200 C-2500, or if the lottery picks my numbers I might be able to get a D-1 at $5000, which would let me shoot almost the way I want to).)

For digital software competing with darkroom, yes, it can. But on either side of that digital software, you'll need a good scanner, and a good film recorder (or a durst Lambda or a lightjet or something).

For digital cameras to shoot black and white, i would probably say anything you can afford. The more pixels the better, the more color depth the better. Then get it on the digital side and desaturate. most people will probably take that and play with the contrast curve so that they get a high contrast image (just black and white, no grey).

I honestly think that if (_NOT_ when) we go all digital, black and white will die. everyone will be so caught up in the color world that they'll forget why they bother with black and white. But, I don't think we'll see digital taking over for at least 15 more years (probably at least 30), I think that the poorer nations (i.e. hungary) will continue to work with silver because it's cheaper, and so 35mm will still be available; as such I don't think it will die.

Movies, how will they distribute movies when film dies? that's what I want to know. I don't want to pay $7.50 to watch a DVD in a crowded room with noisy babies.

-- William (, February 23, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ