No More Film For Me!

I’ve been wanting to scan about 50,000 slides stored in my cabinets. However, this blasted Nikon CoolScan 9000, even though it is Nikon’s premium (US$2000) scanner takes forever to scan slides or negatives. I hate this scanning process. Too much work!

However, I want to digitize my older work, for memory sake. I think I will buy a gizmo that allows me to photograph my slides. I’ll use my Nikon D2X at ISO 100 with my 60mm Micro Nikkor and make nice 12 MP versions of each of my treasures. Even that will take years because of the number of slides I have, not to mention negatives.

When digital first came in and I saw the need to scan my images (before I had a good digital SLR back in early 2002), I bought my CoolScan 9000 to do the job. After days of hard work, I had only scanned a small number of slides. It was just awful work, and the results were not all that exciting because a scan is an inferior second-generation image.

Then, I bought my Nikon D100 in late 2002. I shot a wedding with my F5 and the D100 as a backup, but ended up using the D100 more than the F5. Within a few weeks my F5 was sitting in the camera bag untouched. I had found my niche. No more aggravating scanning or running out of frames at 36 exposures. I just took the picture with my D100 and there it was, ready to use with no extra cost. However, the D100 could not produce the maximum results that a good drum-scanned Provia F slide could make.

Then, after a few years, along came the Nikon D800, which produces images on the medium-format level, with the best images I’ve ever seen from any other camera I’ve used in my life. It has a 16×24 inch (40×60 cm) print at 300 dpi with no enlargement. The D800 with a pro lens makes images of such high image quality, deep resolution, and massive dynamic range, that I do not feel the need to shackle myself again with film. No scanned film, 35mm, medium format (6×7), or even large format (4×5) can outdo the results from a D800 and a pro lens. If you don’t believe me, just rent a D800 and find out for yourself.

However, I still missed my old film cameras. I’d take them out of my storage bag and play with them, peering through my old AI Nikkors. I felt sad that my old faithful lenses with aperture rings were sitting mostly unused. I thought of shooting a little film again, just so I could use my beloved old manual Nikkors. About that time Nikon released the Nikon Df. It uses all Nikon f-mount lenses since 1959. I took my old Nikkors out of the bag and started using them in manual mode on the Df. My goodness, what deep quality this Df sensor has! I can shoot images that look like Provia F slides at ISO 1600. I can get perfectly usable results at ISO 12,800. No more do I have to worry about ISO or image quality.

With the Nikon D800 and Df, I have the best of cameras and lenses—with my pro Nikkor lenses on the D800 (e.g., AF-S Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8G ED) and my old AI Nikkors on my Df. Now, I no longer have any desire to use my old film cameras. The Df reminds me of my old FE; thereby satisfying that strange inner desire to return to days of long ago. The Nikon Df looks like yesterday, yet shoots like tomorrow!

What I am trying to say is that I am Digital Darrell, permanently. I respect that many still want to shoot film. However, in my own personal experience, no 35mm film of any sort can approach what I can accomplish with the digital cameras and lenses I am now using. I take the picture, I process it in my digital darkroom, and I make a Giclée print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper on my 17″ Epson archival pigment-ink printer, which produces prints that will last 300 years in the dark and 100 years on the wall without beginning to fade.

I’m free at last, praise the landlord, I’m free at last! I am Digital Darrell, the High Priest of Digital Deliverance. I have thrown off the shackles of film limitations: No more reciprocity failure for me. No more awful expense from processing. No more lab-induced image destruction. No more storing billions of slides, hoping the bugs don’t get them before the light fades them. No more limitations on the number of frames I can afford to shoot. No more tedious and inferior scanning. No more stained fingers from print fixer. No more wondering if that last frame was a keeper, I can see the picture and the histogram on the back of my camera. I am freeeeee!

Keep on capturing time…

Darrell Young

Dancing clouds on Blue Ridge Parkway

Darrell Young is an active member of the Nikonians User Community, Nikon Professional Services (NPS), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), and the author of 15 photography books from NikoniansPress through Rocky Nook, including Beyond Point-and-ShootMastering the Nikon D610Mastering the Nikon D800Mastering the Nikon D7100, and the upcoming Mastering the Olympus OM-D E-M1, to name a few. He’s been an avid photographer since 1968 when his mother gave him a Brownie Hawkeye camera.

His website, www.PictureAndPen.com, was created to support the readers of his educational books, photography students, and clients. Visitors to his website will find articles and reviews designed to inform, teach, and help you enjoy your photographic journey.

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3 Comments

  1. Greetings Darrell.
    Wow! Your article on “No More Film For Me!” was superb! Thank you for voicing quite eloquently, the thoughts of many photographers including myself, on the virtues of digital capture. I too, came from a Nikon SLR and film development/printing background, and agree that with the new sensor and post processing technologies, there is now little advantage to rely on changing film types to achieve the “look” one seeks in the final image. In the beginnings of digital, I would have said that one cannot get the “look” (image characteristics such as color temperature, tonality, dynamic range) of various films like Kodachrome, Fujichrome, Velvia, Provia and the like, during the same shoot under the same lighting conditions. However, that is obviously no longer the case, as even “prosumer” cameras (Olympus OM-D EM-1, Fuji X-series, etc.) have the internal ability to change color temperature and thus “film type” at will, at the image level, to say nothing of the immense power of Photoshop and Lightroom. I too, have been a Nikon devotee for about 40 years, and am quite enamored of the image quality of the D800/800E, Df, and even the D610. (I currently shoot a D5200 which is no slouch with good Nikkors accompanying it!)
    That said, I am now researching the new Sony A7r, because, with its lack of AA filter, small size, native Zeiss optics, and even ability (via adapter) to use my Nikkors, I feel that it would yield images with overall quality and sharpness VERY similar to that of the D800 and D800E. The only thing I would be giving up in practical terms is speed (in all its implications, i.e., AF, image processsing, file reads/writes, etc.). However, not being into Action/Sports, but rather a Landscape/Nature/Product shooter, speed is less important to my line of work. So, I feel that the Sony product would suit my needs quite well, without sacrificing anything in the image quality/sharpness department. If you find fault with this reasoning, please let me know, as I highly value and respect your photographic opinions! Thank you sir!
    Regards,
    Steve

  2. Hi there Darrell:

    I started my own journey in Photography in the summer of 1979. By mid 1985 I had plethora of Nikon bodies and lens but primarily I used two Nikon F3 bodies. As it turns out I never upgraded those bodies and used them till I switched to digital in 2005.

    The F3 is an amazing camera and tough as nails but when I first switched to digital I wasn’t really convinced and invested in a consumer grade Nikon D70. My only problem with the D70 at the time was that it was a soft little body and I was always afraid of breaking it. These days I use D3 bodies but it’s time again to upgrade to the D4 just to remain competitive with ISO if nothing else.

    Like you I don’t really miss the days of film. I’m 100% digital and have been almost from the day I brought the D70 home. My one and only regret is that digital bodies do need to be upgraded to remain competitive and unlike the F3 bodies will never last me 20 years or more.

    Fallowd you here from your post on G+ Master Your Nikon.

    Have a great day,

    Barry

  3. Hi Darrell. Great article and if I had that many slides I wouldn’t want to see film again I’m sure! However, after a break of 12 years and having sold all my film kit and dark room, I have started in a smaller way all over again. I love my D800/D7100 and now my Fuji X-E2 and Fujinon lenses (sorry!), but since I joined a Monochrome Society I have become hooked on B&W film again. Also its sister group, which is a dedicated slide group, has rekindled my passion for transparencies. I don’t want anyone to think I’ve become very keen, however over the last 9 months I have bought a Nikon F80, F100, Olympus OM2SP (which was my last SLR, a Bronica ETRSi and the necessary 75, 50 and 40mm lenses! My very first trip into Medium Format everas I could never afford that as I had a growing family to support (sorry KR). In addition I now process my own 35mm and 120mm B&W negatives and I am about to do so for colour slides again. I’ll even resurrect my passion for Cibachrome printing too if possible. However, I will not start printing B&W again as I can HR scan and print. I am loving it and enjoy using Velvia and Provia again for slides and Ilford Delta and Fuji Acros for B&W.

    All that said, do I still enjoy digital, you bet. My D800/D7100 bodies and my pro lenses are without doubt cutting edge camera technology and they will be used on a 90 to 10% basis against film. I also admire my Fuji, which to me is what a CSC is all about.

    So, there we are very, very different story to yours Darrell. Will it last? Who knows, but provided that film continues to be manufactured and it doesn’t become cost prohibitive, than yes. By the way, my favourite film camera of all is my Nikon F100, linked with my Nikon pro lenses it rocks. That’s one thing that Nikon can boast about, but some of the other manufactures can not.

    So, there we go. Sort of “one in” and “one out” scenario 🙂

    Richard

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