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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EOS Digital Cameras 
Thread started 31 Oct 2013 (Thursday) 10:43
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How does the cost and quality of 35mm film compare to full-frame digital?

 
EOS-Mike
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Oct 31, 2013 10:43 |  #1

I have the Canon EOS-M and love it. I dream of someday owning a full frame setup like the 6D with kit lens (24-105).

In the meantime, 35mm film cameras are practically free (well, they're super cheap) and newer ones have similar functions to current digital cameras (light meter, auto-exposure, etc.

My question is this: While enjoying my EOS-M is it worthwhile to dabble in 35mm film cameras? Will the cost quickly overrun what I could have saved for the full frame digital cameras?

Some of my questions are:

1. What is a good film camera that's cheap but still will give me reliable light metering on board?

2. What kind of film should I use that would give me full-frame quality that I'd get from a full frame DSLR? (I understand film speed in comparison to ISO). Should I shoot slide film (expensive), or will print film suffice?

3. How do I go about getting my developed images digitized? Should I get them from the lab that way or do I need extra equipment? I know nothing about scanning other than the stuff we all use at work and home. I don't know if that's decent scanning or not. I certainly don't want to lose a ton of quality converting my film exposures to digital.

Thank you so much for any insight.


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5Dmaniac
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Oct 31, 2013 10:57 |  #2

You'd be in for a very long, steep and potentially frustrating learning curve. I grew up with film and have my own darkroom at home. Shooting and developing film is quite different from digital and it certainly takes much longer. If you want good quality pictures and prints you would need your own high quality scanner (a flat bed scanner will not come close to DSLR quality) and then you need to learn how to scan and treat your scans in photoshop so you get the highest quality.

I'd say stick with what you have right now and save the money you would have spent on film equipment and get that FF DSLR some time down the road.




  
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gonzogolf
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Oct 31, 2013 11:16 |  #3

Film $2.50 to $10 a roll depending on what characteristics you want. Keep in mind you buy the film to set the ISO and white balance as its fixed. $5 a roll to get the film developed and scanned and thats drug store developing and scanning prices, not sure about a good lab. So you have $10 or so bucks to get 24 or maybe 36 files, more if you want prints. It doesn't take long to run up the price of a used 5D. I've shot and developed thousands of rolls of film in my lifetime and I dont intend on shooting another if I can help it, unless its for nostalgia.




  
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Oct 31, 2013 11:28 |  #4

Full frame digital will be cheaper than film if you shoot alot. And the more you shoot the more you learn.
A 5d classic, 5d2 or 6d will pay for itself over a few thousand shots.



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smorter
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Oct 31, 2013 11:31 |  #5

Something often forgotten is time. Time spent is the biggest cost.


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EOS-Mike
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Oct 31, 2013 11:42 as a reply to  @ smorter's post |  #6

Thanks. That's all the info I need. I'll take the advice you guys gave. Thank you. :D


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Oct 31, 2013 12:34 |  #7

EOS-Mike wrote in post #16413400 (external link)
I have the Canon EOS-M and love it. I dream of someday owning a full frame setup like the 6D with kit lens (24-105).

In the meantime, 35mm film cameras are practically free (well, they're super cheap) and newer ones have similar functions to current digital cameras (light meter, auto-exposure, etc.

My question is this: While enjoying my EOS-M is it worthwhile to dabble in 35mm film cameras? Will the cost quickly overrun what I could have saved for the full frame digital cameras?

Some of my questions are:

1. What is a good film camera that's cheap but still will give me reliable light metering on board?

2. What kind of film should I use that would give me full-frame quality that I'd get from a full frame DSLR? (I understand film speed in comparison to ISO). Should I shoot slide film (expensive), or will print film suffice?

3. How do I go about getting my developed images digitized? Should I get them from the lab that way or do I need extra equipment? I know nothing about scanning other than the stuff we all use at work and home. I don't know if that's decent scanning or not. I certainly don't want to lose a ton of quality converting my film exposures to digital.

Thank you so much for any insight.


Michael Reichmann of the Luminous Landscape (external link) web site answered this question in two reviews.

In 2000, when considering the Canon D30, the company's first DSLR, Reichman wrote that "I can produce higher quality images from the D30 than I can from 35mm scanned film (using the best desk-top scanner available)." (external link)

Note that Reichmann's opinion was based on a 3mp camera now considered obsolete.

Five years later, when Reichmann reviewed the Canon 5D, which was then considered the company's low-cost full frame camera, he wrote, "Canon has, with the 5D, provided photographers with a full-frame 35mm of sufficient resolution – 12.8 Megapixel – to meet the print and reproduction size needs of the vast majority of serious photographers. Image quality, whether at normal or at high ISO, is as good as it currently gets." (external link)

Also, a useful note. Around the time that the 5D was new, the sales staff at one of the better photo stores in the U.S. noted that cameras such as the 5D had led to a marked decline in the sale of medium format film equipment.

Long ago, the question of the technical quality of any of the best DSLRs was decisively answered in favor of digital cameras. The market has spoken, with the discontinuation of Kodachrome and the reduction of the variations of Velvia that are available.

It's worth using 35mm film only if you're willing to accept the expense of processing and a scanner and tolearn how to correctly use that scanner.




  
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ramair455
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Oct 31, 2013 15:29 |  #8

forget about 35mm film and stick with FF digital. You really need to move up to 6x7 film to see a appreciable difference, and even though it can be questionable with the new FF dslrs




  
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DocFrankenstein
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Oct 31, 2013 15:52 |  #9

Film has less resolution, but arguably better tonality and texture... as well as different experience of shooting and approaching your subjects.

Try film only when you're fully comfortable shooting in manual and have metering down.

Film $2.50 to $10 a roll depending on what characteristics you want. Keep in mind you buy the film to set the ISO and white balance as its fixed. $5 a roll to get the film developed and scanned and thats drug store developing and scanning prices, not sure about a good lab. So you have $10 or so bucks to get 24 or maybe 36 files, more if you want prints. It doesn't take long to run up the price of a used 5D.

If you shoot black and white film and roll it yourself, it takes a long while to run through 500 bucks worth of film.

Time is the major expense.


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gonzogolf
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Oct 31, 2013 15:58 |  #10

DocFrankenstein wrote in post #16414270 (external link)
Film has less resolution, but arguably better tonality and texture... as well as different experience of shooting and approaching your subjects.

Try film only when you're fully comfortable shooting in manual and have metering down.


If you shoot black and white film and roll it yourself, it takes a long while to run through 500 bucks worth of film.

Time is the major expense.

This assumes you have the tank, the timer, the chemistry, and a place to do it. Its still not a cheap undertaking when you start from scratch and then you are still left with a negative rather than a scan.




  
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Gobeatty
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Oct 31, 2013 15:59 |  #11

It's not either/or in my view. You can pick up a fantastic film camera at pawn shop prices - Nikon FM2 or FE2, Canon A whatever, Olympus OM-1 or 2, with lens, for peanuts.

Why not?

Buy a few rolls of ISO 100, 200 or 400 film - maybe even a roll or two of 1600 - shoot, develop and get it out of your system. It will be huge fun and you can keep the camera or sell it used for what you paid.


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DocFrankenstein
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Oct 31, 2013 16:11 |  #12

gonzogolf wrote in post #16414285 (external link)
This assumes you have the tank, the timer, the chemistry, and a place to do it. Its still not a cheap undertaking when you start from scratch and then you are still left with a negative rather than a scan.

I've "scanned" by taking pictures of the negative with a 50 and extension tubes. You'd be surprised how acceptable the pictures turned out to be.

The downside is not money. The process takes a LONG time and care to do.

I shoot 35mm for semi pictorialist, grainy blurry look and because I have a dedicated scanner and an enlarger.

But one could shoot medium format and scan it on a flatbed. Less frames and larger negative accentuates the process of shooting film. Those 12 or 10 shots last a long time.


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DocFrankenstein
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Oct 31, 2013 16:14 |  #13

Gobeatty wrote in post #16414287 (external link)
It's not either/or in my view. You can pick up a fantastic film camera at pawn shop prices - Nikon FM2 or FE2, Canon A whatever, Olympus OM-1 or 2, with lens, for peanuts.

Why not?

Buy a few rolls of ISO 100, 200 or 400 film - maybe even a roll or two of 1600 - shoot, develop and get it out of your system. It will be huge fun and you can keep the camera or sell it used for what you paid.

Exactly. There's plenty of cameras around for under 50 bucks. Get one of those, shoot a few rolls and see how you like it.

The thing "digital shooters" don't understand is that you don't shoot film the same way you shoot digital. If you have two system, you don't just go and shoot "1000 shots on film". It's usually a huge challenge to carefully finish a roll of 36 exposures.


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sjones
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Oct 31, 2013 16:59 as a reply to  @ DocFrankenstein's post |  #14

Reference point for me was different when I switched to film: digital rangefinder (which at the time wasn't even full frame). Even after spending US$500 on a dedicated Nikon 35mm scanner (sadly discontinued about a year later), I still had several thousand dollars left over for film and paper.

However, the lack of an affordable digital rangefinder was not the only reason behind the switch, since I still, in general, prefer B&W film to digital conversions. And as I discovered after switching, I love the process so much more.

Also, on average, it takes me two to three weeks to go through a 36-count roll of Tri-X. Film expenditures are manageable.

But I'm speaking only for my situation, and the OP is likely, for what he is seeking, better off going after a DSLR.

This said, when folks start talking about better resolution, time, and costs, it's wise not to do so in absolutist tone, because different folks have different needs, priorities, and preferences.

That is, while film is inarguably more time consuming, the significance and impact of this will vary depending on the individual. And of the quadzillions of digital photos that I've seen (from Facebook to professional), I've never once thought, wow, this is so much better than film. Not once.

Others are free to disagree, but then, that's really my point.

I'm out, but PM's always welcome.


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Blaster6
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Oct 31, 2013 18:04 |  #15

gonzogolf wrote in post #16414285 (external link)
This assumes you have the tank, the timer, the chemistry, and a place to do it. Its still not a cheap undertaking when you start from scratch and then you are still left with a negative rather than a scan.

And if you don't you can buy that stuff cheap. (Chemicals & paper will be the big expense and of course you do need a dark place to put it)

Just check craigslist and you will probably find enlargers and associated equipment for sale. I posted mine and never got one legit reply. Supply is greater than demand.


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How does the cost and quality of 35mm film compare to full-frame digital?
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