Black & white film vs. digital

Instead of shooting digital photos with a dinky camera, why not shoot black and white with a SLR? Film can cost under $2.00 a roll. You’ll get super high quality.

They say that digital cameras will have to be 12 mega-pixel to get the equivalent of 35mm. I’m thinking of setting up a photo lab in my apartment to develop film. And then I’ll scan the negatives to get prints.

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19 years ago

This is a fascinating topic. I will read that at work sometime. I have been shooting with digital part-time for about 4 years for a direct marketing agency. In October of 2002, I was able to start using a Nikon D100 6.1 megapixel SLR camera.

Let’s say I shoot something with a 35mm SLR and scan it in and then I shoot the same subject with the D100 digital. What is a crucial point in comparing these two techniques is the scanner used for the 35mm scan. You need a top-end scanner to even start thinking about how the 35mm will match the D100. If you use a $500 scanner, there will be no comparison. The D100 will blow away the 35mm. Guaranteed.

I never had the experience of shooting 35mm and getting the film scanned on high-end drum scan and then comparing it to a digital photo. So, I really can’t say which is better. I guess what my point was before is this: when you start introducing extra stages of “imaging” in the process, your final product is only as good as the weakest link. And the more stages you go through, the more detail you will lose.

So if you shoot 35mm, make prints, scan in the prints, you are going through 3 steps to get to digital. AND your result is only as good as the weakest link in your imaging. Is the print printed as crystal clear as possible? Is the scanner high-quality? You could lose one step in that process and scan in the negative, but then there is a lot of pressure on your scanner to make sure that it captures all the detail. But it’s still another step. With digital there is only one step. You can’t get any shorter than that. You shoot digital and it’s digital. wham.

Now if your intent is to have physical prints, and having them digitally is secondary, then you have another issue. By going digital, your weakest link will be your printer. How good is your printer? You can shoot with the great D100 camera with a great lens, but then you get crappy prints cuz you have a 100 dollar printer. But with 35mm you shoot and make prints from the film. Ah.. I’ve gone on too long. I need to eat lunch.

laura k.
laura k.
19 years ago

what’s SLR? super long rats? sandalwood leaf raisins? surly London roadkill?

Tom Saaristo
19 years ago

I will admit that I love the convenience of my digital, but when I was a 35mm dude I always [well, almost always”> shot in black and white. The quality [thanks to Helix and a good camera”> was always excellent.

15 years ago

OK so I’m old school, I used to use a fully manual 35 mm SLR then moved on to a manual / auto focus 35 SLR. Over the years shooting some B & W’s, done some of my own developing in the past. I have a newly Red painted living room. Decided to put some of my B & W’s up that I have taken over the past years.

My newest camera is the Cannon EOS Rebel XT 350 D. (10meg) I’ve been happy with the snapshots, the ability to delete the prints that weren’t so great before printing. Sooo… last summer took some beach shots with the newer D Camera. I took them to be developed to a lab, wet processing. Boy was I disappointed!

Compared to my previous beach shots from the 35 camera they can’t compare. Even the color is not correct it’s a cooler white almost green or bluish compared to my previous SLR prints done at the same lab from an SLR negative. I could blame the lab but it happened 2 different places. I had the camera set to B & W setting adjusting some for the bright day.

Anyway this summer I’ll be taking my older version SLR camera to the beach. Using my D camera for color prints…

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