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Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film

Omaha

Omaha, US
566 posts

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Omaha Registered since 07th Jan 2012
Thu 01-Mar-12 12:56 AM

So, I'm reading through the thread on possible D800 blur, and it got me thinking...

Is it meaningful to compare digital resolution to film? More particularly, does the 36MP have "more" resolution than a film SLR loaded with Velvia 100?

Which gets to my other question...back when I was starting out in the early 80's (manual focus, on film, on a Pentax, generally shooting Tri-X, and mostly through my Vivitar zoom), I don't remember thinking blur was a "camera" problem. If you got a blurry image, you either missed your mark with the focus, or your subject was moving too much, or you were moving too much. Mirror slap causing you to lose focus (as is discussed in the Nikon technical guide for the D800)? Never crossed my mind.

I guess my question is whether or not blur is a bigger issue with high-MP digital than it is/was for film, or if we have just grown accustomed to expecting a higher proportion of 'keepers' (back in the day, I might shoot a couple dozen rolls at a football game, and only two would end up in print).

Just some musings...

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dasbose

Escondido, US
116 posts

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#1. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 0

dasbose Registered since 19th Jul 2011
Thu 01-Mar-12 04:45 AM

I was wondering the same thing the other day ( though I've never shot film, unless a poloroid instant camera counts :-p ). I still hear some claim that film has a higher resolving capability than digital - if so, then film shooters have been overcoming this challenge for decades now. I hope to hear from those experienced in both formats. Maybe us digital-only shooters need to just get with the program and work on our technique? Not flaming, just pondering out loud...

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grizzly200

Solano County, California, US
707 posts

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#2. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 1

grizzly200 Registered since 18th Dec 2011
Sun 04-Mar-12 02:50 AM

Squeeze the shutter release, don't jab.

This is the biggest mistake I see inexperienced photographers make. Also, you need to be aware of your shutter speed--you really need to make your body a solid "tripod" and breathe as if you were firing a gun if you want to shoot slower than 1/60 of a second. This is even more important with some of the huge zooms many people use.

James

TomCurious

Bay Area, US
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#3. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 0

TomCurious Registered since 03rd Jan 2007
Thu 01-Mar-12 04:56 AM

DSLRs have now well surpassed film in resolving power, as well as a few other criteria like noise, reciprocity failure, color accuracy etc. There were quite some heated discussions and arguments about 5 years ago when this occurred. The most optimistic studies put the resolving power of the best (smallest grain) 35mm film equal to 24MP, but most folks who did comparisons found it to be closer to around 12MP. The D800 will be way beyond that in any case. And so it will have the ability to expose even slight flaws in lenses or technique, more so tan film ever could.

Tom
Bay Area Nikonian


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SVA

CH
645 posts

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#4. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 0

SVA Registered since 26th Jun 2004
Thu 01-Mar-12 11:42 AM

Velvia renders 125 lpmm - it is 28 MP. But the problem is not because sensor is less forgiving. All you need to see a slight blur with a D800 image is to press a "100% crop" button on your computer - while on film you should really print a 20"*30" image, with an enlarger (or a crop with the same ratio). Then, with film, you'll also regret that you were too lazy to use proper technique, tripod, MLU, whatever...

Vladimir
Russian Nikonian in Switzerland

DMCdigitalmedia

US
130 posts

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#5. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 4

DMCdigitalmedia Registered since 04th Jan 2007
Thu 01-Mar-12 12:21 PM

I think sharp images with the 800/800e will be all about technique, it is going to be much less forgiving than lower MP sensors.

Like Vladimir said "All you need to see a slight blur with a D800 image is to press a "100% crop" button on your computer - while on film you should really print a 20"*30" image, with an enlarger (or a crop with the same ratio)."

Same blur from sloppy technique was there with film...we just didnt have a 100% crop button. I see a difference on a D2Xs using MLU or not and that is only 12.4 MP the difference would be substantially amplified on a 36mp sensor i would imagine. I cant wait to rent one and try it out !

Dennis

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musical

north-central, US
1050 posts

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#6. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 5

musical Registered since 12th Feb 2010
Thu 01-Mar-12 01:34 PM

A facinating thread! I'm one year into doing dslr photography, now in fx and with CS5;
d700, 105 lens. And what came to my mind is that I experience this sort of psycological reciprocity failure (worry). What I mean is that I see flaws so easily that I almost start to not think any photograph I take is worth saving. I'm kidding a little bit, but not totally. I took this the other day, and really it's a fine pciture, just while out shopping... but with the advancment of digital software & zooming in, I can suddenly see failed focus, lens flaws, camera blur... Back in the old film days, "life was easy." "Them days of old." (of film)
Well, I clown around bit, but I'm sure that all in all, we're in a better place, and what does seem tooo good to be true is the way test shoots are free and effortless to delete. I'm also just loving the d700, and sometimes this camera reminds me of film.
I hope this can fit the thread.
Sincerely, jw

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Omaha

Omaha, US
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#7. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 6

Omaha Registered since 07th Jan 2012
Thu 01-Mar-12 03:50 PM

That's a great shot!

As someone who is very much a newbie to digital photography, but who has a rather extensive background in film, I remain beyond impressed with what the technology allows us to do today. Its just insane, really. If you'd have told me in 1980 what cameras would be like today, I would have never believed it.

At the same time, there is only so much a camera can do, and I do detect a certain amount of emphasis on technology that risks overshadowing the imagery. That's nothing new: Ansel Adams was a technologist too.

So, its all about balance.

And some subjects are different than others.

If you're talking about a photo of a static image (a landscape, or a product shot, for example), there's no excuse for anything less than technical perfection. You've got all the time in the world to set up the shot. There's no reason not to get it right.

Other subjects I find more forgiving. This shot is a mess technically (I had to run way too long of a shutter speed to get it exposed, and was shooting handheld with a non VR lens), but it captures a moment that I found rather compelling. And I've sort of convinced myself that the technical flaws in the image add to the overall feel...the grittiness of the moment. It looks good printed out at 16"x20" on my wall.

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Just some more musings...

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nrothschild

US
10916 posts

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#8. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 7

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Sun 04-Mar-12 12:47 PM

Back around 2005 when I went digital and started shooting wildlife I happened across an image I took of 2 or 3 Snow Geese in flight.

I was very proud of that image because it was about as perfect a shot as could be done with the gear I had. It was razor sharp, every feather in perfect relief, razor sharp eyes, etc., etc.

I showed the image to my wife.

She just shook her head and said... "There's something really wrong with this picture. It's too perfect. It's not supposed to be that way".

_________________________________
Neil


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kentak

US
950 posts

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#9. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 6

kentak Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2010
Thu 01-Mar-12 10:45 PM

>Back
>in the old film days, "life was easy." "Them
>days of old." (of film)

You wouldn't think that if you had seen me try to nail the color on portraits of my kids. Make a test print; evaluate the color via color chart; adjust the filters on the enlarger; make another print; etc.

Now, a few seconds with the WB and hue sliders and I'm done. Gotta love digital.

Kent

musical

north-central, US
1050 posts

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#10. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 9

musical Registered since 12th Feb 2010
Thu 01-Mar-12 11:27 PM

:)))))))))
"Close Your Eyes and See With Your Heart." />a quote by Canadian writer Kerri MacDonald.

Coldfront

Marengo, US
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#11. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 0

Coldfront Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 27th Mar 2004
Fri 02-Mar-12 05:51 PM

I love this thread! I shot film for many years and went to digital after a long Hiatus. I had a lot of difficulty with my D7000 and paid attention to the posts here.They pretty much showed most problems to be poor technique.Now with The D700 which seems to me to be excellent while more forgiving than than the D7000, I kind feel as though I'm back with fim.Until I improve my technique I'll wait on the D800. Final line practice practice .......... jim

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km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
3559 posts

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#12. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 11

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Sun 04-Mar-12 09:16 PM

I had given up on photography for years after shooting film and enjoying it for a long time. I got busy with other activities and just stopped taking the kit out when it got too big and involved. I had a GF then who wanted the camera for a "serious interest" so I gave her my camera and about 20 lenses. She promptly sold it all. I prompting got rid of the GF.
My next venture into photography was due to another GF wanting me to get a camera to take photos of her and her fashions(as in advanced amateur clothing designer/model). I got one on my next trip back to the US, when the D90 came out.
I found that Digital, at least with the D90 was almost too easy. AF that worked. Metering that worked. WB that worked. A crazy good flash system.
I had always like manual focus because the focusing screens on film cameras were so smooth and sure, I never remember having unintentionally out of focus shots. The film work was gratifying because prints were viewed at reasonable distances and even if not the sharpest images technically, they always looked good. I got paid a lot for casual photos that were used on album covers and liner notes, some probably were not technically great, but no one cared except for the content and meaning of the shot, usually BW shadowy mood images. Had a few published in travel and backpacking magazines. So all told, there was a high ratio of keeper shots because so few shots were taken, each one was thought about before the shutter released.

Now, with digital, the technical traits of images are higher, particularly with my D7000 but the shots mean less because there are so many and viewing them on a screen is so different than a print on the wall. The ability to zoom in to exaggerated magnifications also shifts it from a content activity to a technical activity, sort of the difference between writing and word processing. The criteria on which people seem to judge the value of a photo is different. Sharpness was not so critical a factor that would trump any content or subject as now.
Color is judged differently now, whereas a tint or cast could have been an artistic element before, now it is a defect to be stamped out even if it leave the image sterile and pointless when doing so. Pixel peeping has ruined the enjoyment of more images than any other habit. You can always tell who are the pixel peepers in museums, the ones straining to get closest with nose pressed up against protective glass over some priceless master or straining to get past the rope crowd control to inspect a 9 ft canvas at 2 inches.
The art lovers however, are the ones stepping back, far enough to grasp the whole without scanning with their eyes. I wonder what the brush stroke peepers get out of looking at a large scale painting so closely. Are they trying to decode some secret intent or technique on the part of the painter? Same with 24" monitors at 100% crops...why?

Do they also get within 2 inches of the subject of a portrait to count nose hairs as a way of judging the appeal of the subject. I assume the only reason for doing it is because it is possible and the viewer is bored.
In many ways I think film was more satisfying because of the way the results were viewed and judged but were usually less technically perfect.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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musical

north-central, US
1050 posts

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#13. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 12

musical Registered since 12th Feb 2010
Sun 04-Mar-12 10:30 PM | edited Sun 04-Mar-12 10:33 PM by musical

Hi Stan,
I really appreciate your narrative on this. I sort of, well, kind of, relate. Somehow it all works out, though?
Hmm, I remember, in 1983, going to London with a Pentax, just two prime lenses, no lens cleaner, no flash, probably no lens caps, and a broken light meter... but taking really nice snapshots all over the city. I could not be too creative though. Film, its cost, did steer me to conservative photography, and that haunts me today, and frustrates me.

Remember worrying about any wasted shot? Remember worrying about the cost of each picture?
I did all the pre-thinking in my mind with film, and then took one picture-- like "throwing the long pass on third down" and just saying a prayer. Once, I saw a professional burn through film with a motor drive, but no way, not me. I'd do maybe one picture each 20 minutes. Oh, no WB. I just guessed exposures. I avoided night pictures.

Well, Stan, you could buy yourself a d800 and count nose hairs 'till the cows come home. Isn't that a funny way to put it.
The world changed, that's all. It's going to be ok. I love my camera. Facebook probably gets on my nerves? If I were king, I'd say "let them all have d800s," and ban facebook maybe.
jw


"Close Your Eyes and See With Your Heart." />a quote by Canadian writer Kerri MacDonald.

km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
3559 posts

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#14. "RE: Dumb(?) question about blur and digital v film" | In response to Reply # 13

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Mon 05-Mar-12 05:37 PM

Brings back some memories for sure. When I was shooting film, the cost was not an issue, never thought about it back in the 70s and 80s, through any of the 86 countries I visited. But the activity of shooting caused me to slow down, lots to think about when setting up and composing each shot in addition to MF, light meter, etc. When I would return from a trip of a few weeks I might have only 5 rolls but each was significant to me. Now, I routinely shoot 600-1200 frame per night on a weekend of club or concert shooting, mostly club where the images are more important to the subjects than to me. I do it because it makes people happy and its fun but other than those(for me, very good reasons to do anything) reason, they are not art or "significant" meaningful images.
Now, money is a factor in how much i can spend traveling or buying toys since I live off the local economy here in Russia, and before I was mostly living off royalty checks and income from my several businesses. I am in my 3rd retirement but never sat back and relaxed for more than a day or two before getting worked up about some new opportunity. Now, in this retirement in a far off and strange land, I spend my time between three businesses, each started on nothing, and more socializing time than I have ever had...even as a teen. Photography is a hobby that facilitates the other hobbies. Meeting fascinating people(read beautiful young women) is certainly aided by having either a every cute small dog, or a mean looking large camera;>)
I can't stand FaceBook either...
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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G