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,, 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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