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'Film was never this sharp': Breaking Bad photographer interviewed

By dpreview staff on Aug 13, 2013 at 21:16 GMT
Jesse Pinkman and Walter White (alias Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston) in a promotional still for Breaking Bad. Photo: Frank Ockenfels III

Commercial photographer Frank Ockenfels III has worked on several high-profile blockbusters like Harry Potter and Men in Black 3, as well as a number of TV shows, and his most recent work is currently being used to promote the season five finale of Breaking Bad on AMC. Ockenfels' moody portraits of the cast, shot using medium format digital equipment are very distinctive and PopPhoto has published an interview with him, in which he explains how he got started in the TV and movie business, the equipment he uses and why he bases his career around the concept of 'never having just one idea'. 

Jesse Pinkman and Walter White (alias Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston) in a promotional still for Breaking Bad. Photo: Frank Ockenfels III

Of particular interest to photographers are insights into what gear Ockenfels uses, and how. Shooting 'a lot on the Hasslblad and the Phase One backs', he explains, surprisingly, 'we had to step back a little on the Phase One backs because the higher resolution ones are so high-resolution that they almost have to retouch the sharpness out of them. I couldn’t tell you which one we’re using, but we’re not using the highest-end ones because people complained that they were too clear'. 

'Film was never this sharp. It’s sharper than real life. You shouldn’t be able to read a hair inside the tear duct of someone’s eye. On one of those high-end backs, though, you can almost read what someone is thinking. It’s kind of terrifying'.

What he really needs, says Ockenfels, is better low-light capabilities - 'being able to shoot with a medium format camera at ISO 2000 would be really nice. You have to know you can’t have too many dark areas'.

The main cast of AMC's Breaking Bad. Photo: Frank Ockenfels III

When it comes to lighting, Ockenfels likes to keep things very simple, saying 'I teach classes and I teach people not to overthink things. People get nuts and think they need all these lights. I’ll have people show up to my classes and they’ll tell me all these things they want to do, and I’ll tell them to go over to Home Depot and buy a light. They say, "That’s only 12 bucks!" Or, I’ll say use your cellphone. There are a million things you can do that doesn’t require a truckload of equipment'.

Ockenfels is also a keen Instagram user, saying 'you can [find people on Instagram] who aren’t professional photographers, but they do the most amazing work. If they can do it, how a professional doesn’t do it is beyond me. They’re seeing this way every day. It’s amazing'.

The full interview is well worth reading, and you can check out Frank Ockenfels III impressive portfolio at his website

Source: PopPhoto

Comments

Total comments: 118
Eurodynamica
By Eurodynamica (6 months ago)

"'Film was never this sharp. It’s sharper than real life." I think we've reached the point that real life is always a disappointment compared to the images we are shown......

2 upvotes
iMac, therefore iAm
By iMac, therefore iAm (7 months ago)

It's interesting to see a story about 'breaking bad' and image quality since the show itself looks like it was shot on a cheap cell phone.

0 upvotes
BestExposures
By BestExposures (4 months ago)

Are you nuts? The footage is amazing. I just got the Bluray collectors set and it's absolutely stunning visually. They shot it with film, and the resolution is amazing. Digital may be passing films resolution in our near future - but there is something to be said about an analogue medium. When you use film you are making something that is physically there - it's alive - not just a stream of electrons. Think about that for a second. I by the way have never shot any movie on film, it's all been digital for me - and I defend digital all the time - but to say it's not a good medium is absolutely idiotic and shallow minded.

2 upvotes
Mk82
By Mk82 (2 months ago)

Shot in film? Seriously?

0 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (8 months ago)

People still watch this kind of garbage?

0 upvotes
BestExposures
By BestExposures (4 months ago)

I think it's funny that you call it garbage- I wonder if you really watched the show at all. The show is about how a single bad decision, action or inaction has long lasting and disastrous outcomes down the road... it is about how you can do your very best to make drugs safe yet there is always blood shed. It's about how good people fall from grace - and bad people find redemption. I am sorry you are one of the people who think the show was about violence and glorifying drugs - because it really isn't. The writers pulled in those people who like drugs and showed them how they are funding so much destruction to everything around them - even if they are using "responsibly" and aren't addicted. "all hubris must be punished" - now is that garbage?

4 upvotes
Cankon
By Cankon (3 months ago)

Epic response.

0 upvotes
Lincolnshire Colin
By Lincolnshire Colin (8 months ago)

Degree of desired 'Sharpness' largely depends on the subject surely? Fine art portraits/street photography sometimes do not require sharpness, far from it but on the other hand wildlife stock images require sharpness and if technology can make them even sharper I will be all for it.

0 upvotes
sproketholes
By sproketholes (8 months ago)

"sharpness is a bourgeois concept" HCB

4 upvotes
lcjack
By lcjack (8 months ago)

I find the sharpness disconcerting in that my eyes are not perfect, and I tend to focus on one specific thing, automatically diminishing everything else around it when I do so. I think this is natural... it makes it difficult for me to watch movies in high def, because this is not how I normally see realit

0 upvotes
BestExposures
By BestExposures (4 months ago)

That is the fault of a poorly taken photograph. By using techniques you should guide your viewer to the area you want them to focus on. Perhaps make the whole picture b&w and only have color on the object you want to draw attention to, or use a fibonacci ratio, but lowering resolution isn't necessary. Life has an effective resolution well into the giga-pixels - and yet as a photographer we try to focus on something worthy of taking a picture and that is why I don't buy the whole "high resolution is a distractor" if anything that makes people look at the photo longer and that is always a good thing

0 upvotes
///M
By ///M (8 months ago)

There will never be a camera too sharp for landscape work, not to be confused with a camera for portraits, thats why the Imogon was created, to soften the flaws of the subjects shot w/ 5x7, 8x10 and 11x14 film and made into contact prints. Cameras from the last century do a wonderful job of portraits. I would drop the MF digital and go with a Leica M-9 or M for this type of work. Lots of character potential w/o the grotesque micro detail of peoples pores.

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (8 months ago)

The best show in TV since The Sopranos and a good read but to say that "film was never sharp" totally discounts something like a 4x5 contact print or a drum scanned Velvia slide. And sharpness is but only one aspect of IQ: DR, smoothness of gradations, color fidelity, grain are all equally important.

0 upvotes
RandyPD
By RandyPD (8 months ago)

He didn't say film was never sharp. He said film was "never THIS sharp". Meaning digital was just sharper.

1 upvote
racketman
By racketman (6 months ago)

The Wire came out after the Sopranos.

0 upvotes
fmian
By fmian (8 months ago)

I don't think think the photographer is dissing film. He has done a remarkable job of representing the tv show in its mood and colour palette. If I wore a hat it would go off to him.
It's more like DPreview had taken the photographers line out of context and is using it to create a title to provoke anti film discussion.
Lets see some 25iso film on medium or large format and see how sharp that is.
And to take it a step further, lets look at 2-4 ISO tin or glass plates (I know, it's technically not film). I have a modern 3 ISO image captured on 8x10 tin that is sharper than anything digital can produce.

0 upvotes
MadMacStew
By MadMacStew (8 months ago)

You mean sharper than anything '35 mm' digital can reproduce. Try comparing with the Hasselblad H4D-200, a medium-format camera directly descended from the classic studio photographer's favourite film camera, but with 200MP resolution. That has more resolution than the best available Zeiss lenses, and lenses were never the limit in the days of film. Think of a 60-inch wide print at 300dpi, so it is still pin-sharp viewed from a foot away!

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
fmian
By fmian (8 months ago)

Well that's a benchmark that needs to be tested then :)
I've used some leaf and phase one backs and have not been impressed thus far. Even at ISO100 the shadows kinda look murky.
I wonder if 200mp will help at all to stop digital looking flat and lifeless, regardless of what you do with curves to try and remedy.
My opinion is we need to move away from the Bayer filter,

2 upvotes
Nuno Souto
By Nuno Souto (8 months ago)

Another one trying to make a name for himself by dissing film and its users.
Soooooooo boring...

0 upvotes
T3
By T3 (8 months ago)

He's merely stating the obvious. It's something that we've all known for a while now. That's not "dissing film." Besides, I'd hardly say that "dissing film", especially at this late stage of the game and at a point where film is barely even used anymore, is even newsworthy or enough to "make a name" for anyone. LOL.

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

"'Film was never this sharp. It’s sharper than real life. You shouldn’t be able to read a hair inside the tear duct of someone’s eye. On one of those high-end backs, though, you can almost read what someone is thinking. It’s kind of terrifying'.

What he really needs, says Ockenfels, is better low-light capabilities - 'being able to shoot with a medium format camera at ISO 2000 would be really nice. You have to know you can’t have too many dark areas'."

If MF gives you too much resolution but not enough low light, switch to D800E. MUCH cheaper and easier to use. :)

2 upvotes
Stanchung
By Stanchung (8 months ago)

Probably prefers the lower DOF MF gives or in love with his Hassy/Phase Obe lenses.

0 upvotes
iShootWideOpen
By iShootWideOpen (8 months ago)

I'd love to take a lighting seminar with this guy. Where can I find info?
Incredible work!

6 upvotes
snerd
By snerd (8 months ago)

Loved Breaking Bad, excellent series!!

0 upvotes
whtchocla7e
By whtchocla7e (8 months ago)

film wasn't just a 2d array of finite integer values either. it had soul, man :(

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (8 months ago)

It HAS soul, man. It's not dead yet.

2 upvotes
groucher
By groucher (8 months ago)

Film is an array of bi-stable silver salt crystals held in a gel. As a crystal is either set 'on' by the incidence of light, or left 'off' by its absence, film is the original digital medium. Ironically, the circuitry that records digital's integer values is analogue.
So which meduim has more 'soul'?

9 upvotes
photoeng
By photoeng (8 months ago)

CMOS sensors are digital, no? The light sensor itself is analog, but the circuitry is digital,no?

1 upvote
MadMacStew
By MadMacStew (8 months ago)

The sensor is analogue, the signal is then converted by an analogue to digital converter (ADC) which can be up to 16 bits. That's a significantly wider range than you get from film - even Kodachrome 25, which I used to use all the time.

1 upvote
M Jesper
By M Jesper (8 months ago)

That last photo is a composite of 8 studio shots and a nice desert wallpaper, but hey i guess it works, imagine the cost of getting all celebs out there in the dirt at the same time. That is professional these days, making it work.

2 upvotes
theswede
By theswede (8 months ago)

None of the shots are studio shots. It may be a composite, but they were all shot on location in the desert.

0 upvotes
Mk82
By Mk82 (2 months ago)

When you work in TV series you get all actors to one place now and then for promo shooting and you have all costumes and make-up artists available to you. It doesn't cost nearly so much as one shooting day, and they do that for living five days a week.

0 upvotes
John Tannock
By John Tannock (8 months ago)

For several years I've been giving Lightroom workshops and start every one with this line; "Ansel Adams is banging on the lid of his coffin to get out because it took him two weeks to do what you're going to be able to do in 5 minutes.
It goes along with something my father used to say; "I could built a house with just a hammer and saw, but why would I".
Our work as photographers is way beyond what was possible only two decades ( less, really) ago.

7 upvotes
Alan M 8
By Alan M 8 (8 months ago)

Whilst I don't wish to diminish the message you're trying to impart on your students, I believe Ansel Adams' ashes were scattered over the mountain named in his honour.

5 upvotes
photo_rb
By photo_rb (8 months ago)

Great message AND great reply!

1 upvote
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (8 months ago)

that's the miracle: Ansel Adams is *still' banginng the lid !!
;-)

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Biggstr
By Biggstr (4 weeks ago)

John, you nailed it. I've been a photo enthusiast since 1963 and was actually better in the (film) darkroom than behind a camera. That said, I was one of the "pixel peepers" of the film generation as I used a grain focusing scope when printing. The digital world cannot imagine the noise in film, whether B&W or color, regardless of speed. My world was blown away when I was digitally processing a photo of the Charles Bridge in Prague taken with my new Nikon D100 circa 2001 ($1,995, 6 MP). There was a "spot" on the photo that I would have concluded was a dust spot in the film/paper era. I blew it up and up and up ... and was shocked to clearly see the "spot" resolve into an airplane with wings! OMG. I've been spoiled ever since. Now, with my new 16MP Olympus cameras, I can get clean photos at ISO 1600 and usable photos at ISO 3200. I don't lament film -- Kodachrome at ASA 25 or Tri-X at ASA 800 (grain the size of golf balls as we used to say).

0 upvotes
Markol
By Markol (8 months ago)

I really wonder what it is he could not do with a current 400$ DSLR and the right lens. For what do they need the crazy resolution? Ok, maybe billboards. But technically, a modern DSLR should do the job just fine- I think.

2 upvotes
cercis
By cercis (8 months ago)

Current productions are being shot with the expectation that they will be in syndication for five to 10 years. Since 4k is coming at the retail level, there is a lot more resolution in the current productions than is warranted by present market conditions or consumer demand. Look at the Japanese nature programs in HD from the 1990's. They still measure up, and were the state of the art at the time.

3 upvotes
xMichaelx
By xMichaelx (8 months ago)

The goal isn't to create something just for today's technology; it's to create something future proof.

4K it the Next Big Thing, but it's not even close to the Last Big Thing.

1 upvote
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (8 months ago)

Do you mean 3840x2160 UHD?
It's great for watching 8 Mpx images!

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (8 months ago)

I've seen some pretty ugly things on my old Blu-ray. Won't there come a time when resolution is so high that nothing analog (humans, for example) will be flawless enough to look at? My recollection from working with building wraps is that the required resolution was quite low due to the viewing distance.

0 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (8 months ago)

Film was never this sharp because it was more faithful than digital is. It's almost like the old vynil vs CD debate. Are CDs really better because it cuts off unwanted frequencies?

10 upvotes
wootpile
By wootpile (8 months ago)

I assume you are joking because it is all the opposite of what you just wrote :)

7 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (8 months ago)

Provia_fan, you're right. Both about vinyl and film. Of course, people who never heard a good recording on a good turntable will disagree, and so will people who are so obfuscated by technology that they would never care to look at a good photograph made with a film camera.

7 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (8 months ago)

Another good analogy in this is comic book art vs painting. Which one looks more real and natural? The outlined comic book art or the painting one?

Because that's what digital kind of does, it makes outlines stronger where they never existed in the first place.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Albert Silver
By Albert Silver (8 months ago)

The comparison with vynil and CDs is pure nonsense. CDs do not cut off frequencies, they are digital. They can include every frequency you want. The only group limiting CD quality (and 'cutting out frequencies') is the producer, and not some inherent limitation in zeros and ones.

4 upvotes
tjensen
By tjensen (8 months ago)

The sampling process for cd's does cut off frequencies, but theoretically they're outside the range of hearing. The question is whether the filters to accomplish this are audible, similar to the debate on aa filters for cameras. Higher sampling rates than 44.1khz used for cd's alleviate the problem by using gentler filters.

4 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (8 months ago)

But it is widely agreed by music buffs and DJs that a shiny new vynil sounds better than a CD, as such some of those frequencies that are cut out on a CD must contribute to something. In what concerns photography, the depth and range of colour and field you get is still superior in film. Otherwise, why would manufacturers strive to get film-like results out of their sensors?

1 upvote
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (8 months ago)

You'd better start using Audio-DVDs..

0 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (8 months ago)

And Albert Silver, isn't CD-quality 16-bit 44khz? Do you know what "16-bit" means? If you did, you would know that there is a limitation to those zeros and ones. If you want to get unlimited zeros and ones you are entering the world of quantum computing which hasn't even quite yet established itself in everyday computing.

2 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (8 months ago)

Audio DVDs?...still limited by bit depth and bit rate :D If anyone can point where is the bit depth limitation in a frame of film please do and let us be better informed. There is a reason why film has that smooth roll off of tones which is still unmatched, particularly when you go Medium Format or Large Format.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
tjensen
By tjensen (8 months ago)

The parallels between audio and photography are endless. Like the way film has a "knee" on the linearity curve more gently approaching blown highlights. Very similar to the compression on analog tape.

1 upvote
rallyfan
By rallyfan (8 months ago)

There is a certain delusional quality to the "vinyl sounds best" argument that at this point is almost certainly pathological, as the data indicating the contrary have been readily available for decades. In any case, I don't care what on what format you listen, or to what you listen.

The same type of delusional state is also apparent in the "film looks best" argument. In this case, though, I do care. PLEASE continue thinking film is best.

I've got money on it, so to speak. The more of you that try to convince people grain is better than detail, the more of you that carry on about a dead guy that carried field cameras up mountains to photograph a bunch of rocks 60 years ago, the more of you that ramble meaningless drivel about another dead guy that built a small, light camera suitable for social "posing" by owners and voyerism, the more clients will come looking for an image that actaully suits their needs -- a digital image.

Thanks boys!

0 upvotes
fmian
By fmian (8 months ago)

Wow, Rallyfan. Kinda disturbing to know that some camera users out there are blind. There is a clear difference between film and digital. If you can't see it then more power to those who can I guess.

0 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (8 months ago)

By implying I'm blind you're resorting to insults, ostensibly in lieu of a logical argument.

By implying I can't see a difference between film and digital, you're resorting to a straw man argument, as in fact I've never stated I can't see a difference. In fact, if someone helps you re-read my post, you might come to understand that I specifically point out differences.

However I'm not here to argue or to generate an air of negativity. Instead I'll focus on what you and I have in common.

Example: Neither you, nor I, know what you are talking about.

0 upvotes
fmian
By fmian (8 months ago)

Rallyfan, calling out people who think one looks better than the other as delusional is also insulting.
To simply boil it down to a matter of grain vs detail shows that you have limited visuals in seeing the difference, ie. impaired vision, ie. blindness.
Is that logical enough for you?

0 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (8 months ago)

The statement is illogical.

The data are widely available. Whether you like one "look" over another is a matter of personal msiconception (what some might leniently refer to as "personal taste"). However, data are data.

In any case, I prefer you continue seeing film as "better," as explained above, if you are generating images for second-party use. If you are shooting for yourself I don't care either way.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
MadMacStew
By MadMacStew (8 months ago)

Typical comment by someone who doesn't understand that 33.33 vinyl has less bandwidth than CD, and *much* less dynamic range. OTOH, it has loads more distortion! :-)
BTW, film is basically digital, as a single grain (actually clump of grains after development) is either black or white, the difference being that film has the equivalent of around 12 bits of resolution, but good modern sensors have around 14 bits. Please also get over the notion that digiital has 'stairsteps', dithering removes that issue, leaving a smooth dynamic range much wider than any analogue medium (especially true of vinyl vs CD, but also applies to film vs digital).

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
rallyfan
By rallyfan (8 months ago)

Very useful comment, thank you.

I had pictured (no pun intended...) film at the microscopic level as binary analogue but I like your explanation much better

0 upvotes
wootpile
By wootpile (8 months ago)

I've done stage and movie stills. Al i can say is it is A LOT harder than most people realize because you aren't just shooting the cast and freezing a couple of scene highlights... You have to capture and be able to transmit the essence of the show through your stills.

That, regardless of what gear or how big a assistant crew you have, is very difficult.

Weddings, high-end fashion, events, are all baby work compared to movie shoots done right.

Cudos to Frank Okenfels for getting it right!

Comment edited 38 seconds after posting
7 upvotes
Fazal Majid
By Fazal Majid (8 months ago)

Film was never this sharp? I take it he has never seen the humongous, yet finely detailed prints of Avedon's "In the American West".

3 upvotes
T3
By T3 (8 months ago)

Yeah, but Avedon shot those images on a Deardorff view camera with 8x10-inch sheets of film. Shooting with a huge, clunky large format camera with 8x10 sheet film is a pain in the butt to work with. I'm pretty sure Ockenfels is comparing to film formats that he might have been using to do these kinds of shots back in the film days, like 6x4.5, or 6x7 at most, not some enormous woodframe 8x10 view camera.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
11 upvotes
tinternaut
By tinternaut (8 months ago)

Indeed. Having viewed some really large prints from large format, and watched someone actually use one of these cameras, I concluded large format can't easily be beaten, for inconvenience or the quality of the resulting photo. Imagine what large format digital could do, if it were ever to happen!

0 upvotes
groucher
By groucher (8 months ago)

Large format digital for static scenes such as landscape is alive and kicking - e.g. D800 plus PTGUI. In some ways, stitching images is better than LF film as there are no DoF problems since each image is re-focussed.

0 upvotes
Kodachrome200
By Kodachrome200 (8 months ago)

there is large format digital it works like a scanne bed that you put in the film holder area of the camera you open the lens and it literally works like a scanner

2 upvotes
Fazal Majid
By Fazal Majid (8 months ago)

You are referring to scanning backs like the original Leica S1 circa 1999 or the current Better Light 4x5 scanning backs. They don't suffer from Bayer interpolation artifacts.

Bill Atkinson used one to make the photos in his book "Within the Stone", and the main market is museum art photography.

0 upvotes
Couscousdelight
By Couscousdelight (8 months ago)

"What he really needs, says Ockenfels, is better low-light capabilities - 'being able to shoot with a medium format camera at ISO 2000 would be really nice. You have to know you can’t have too many dark areas'."

If he wants to make hi-iso pics with a Medium format, he should leave PhaseOne for a Pentax 645D, which have a nice hi iso mode :

4 upvotes
wootpile
By wootpile (8 months ago)

LOL! that's funny

0 upvotes
M Jesper
By M Jesper (8 months ago)

How about the new Leica S ? Although it is almost not even medium format, i think it has decent ISO performance ... (?)

0 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (8 months ago)

"You shouldn’t be able to read a hair inside the tear duct of someone’s eye."

How do you see that on a 1920x1080 screen? He is shooting for TV now.

1 upvote
5inchfloppy
By 5inchfloppy (8 months ago)

he's shooting for posters and other promotional work related to the TV show, not filming the show.

Blow the image up and put it on a billboard, and passers-by will be able to 'read a hair inside the tear duct'.

17 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (8 months ago)

It makes sense then.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Haider
By Haider (8 months ago)

Just another Canon shooter;)

3 upvotes
Joesiv
By Joesiv (8 months ago)

Strange really, all he would have to do is resize the photos to a smaller resolution, something like a bicubic smooth, and those who complained would probably be happy. I'd prefer to have the high resolution originals just incase I needed to do any extensive post work.

I wonder what resolution he is actually shooting at, if ISO 2000 is what he'd like, I wonder if he's ever tried a D800, might surprise him.

Comment edited 59 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (8 months ago)

@Haider LOL!

0 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (8 months ago)

I can't disagree. Images have never been better, work flow has never been easier to manipulate, and products have never been easier to share.

A lot of the criticisms tend to boil down to angst-driven "get off my lawn!" cries from self-annointed purists that have the time to cry in the wilderness.

Most people simply go on shooting images. Life moves on.

27 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (8 months ago)

But you also pointed out why some people so fervently defend digital: " Images have never been better, work flow has never been easier to manipulate, and products have never been easier to share."

I dispute that images have never been better, but the rest is very true and that's why so many are quick to dismiss film. The reality is that digital has brought an oversaturation of the market where mediocrity outweighs quality by the ton.

I use digital myself and it's all good and easy, but I prefer film for the things that have always mattered and that digital can't quite match yet. The sharpness that you get or might get with digital is not quite real, simple as and generally when people make comparisons of digital and film the first and for some the only format that comes to mind is 35mm, they don't even consider 120 or Large Format.

0 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (8 months ago)

Lets recognise things for what they are, digital might give you the workflow and the ease of use minus wastage, but doesn't give you the colour or depth which usually translates into faithfull reproduction of something. Otherwise, why would sensor makers or camera manufacturers strive to make cameras and sensors that are "film-like" in those characteristics? There's got to be something about film don't you think? Why are some major production houses still shooting 35mm or 70mm film?

1 upvote
rallyfan
By rallyfan (8 months ago)

I can't speak for production houses. There is a specific "look" to well-shot movies that is attractive even in my view, but that's only because it reminds me of the outdoor cinemas I'd visit during the summers of my childhood. It's no more accurate than any other image from the past. Maybe the houses are striving for that look to augment rose-coloured glasses worn by their audiences. I don't know, but I suspect simple nostalgia rather than a desire for accuracy.

I can't speak for camera manufacturers either, but I suspect their marketing propaganda sometimes speaks of "film-like" qualities in order to target a specific clientele. Nostalgia sells sometimes. Previous generations spoke of "the good old days" and by that they meant the... 1940s. We tend to overlook flaws and problems from the past because they're gone, and we miss the years more than we miss the difficulties.

As film users age, they will invariably require more and more health care. Autoradiogrammes are now digital...

0 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (8 months ago)

'you can [find people on Instagram] who aren’t professional photographers, but they do the most amazing work. If they can do it, how a professional doesn’t do it is beyond me.'

Why would that be surprising to anybody? It's been always the case that people do much better work as their hobby than as their professionl. One thing is to be compelled from within, the other thing is to be compelled from outside by the desire to make money. Professionals need to learn to do only one thing well -- making maximum amount of money with minimal efforts. All the greatest artists were not the greatest businessmen.

2 upvotes
deleted-13120401
By deleted-13120401 (8 months ago)

I think what he means is it's surprising to find truly inspiring work among the dominant majority of generic happy snaps on Instagram. Although I get your point - hobbyists (inc the very talented ones) don't have as many channels to publish through, so of course you'd find them on Instagram etc.

If someone could give me reccs of who to follow, I'd use it more, rather than as another social network (which I don't need).

4 upvotes
nikonuser72
By nikonuser72 (8 months ago)

Exactly. Van Gogh didn't sell a single painting during his lifetime.

0 upvotes
StevenE
By StevenE (8 months ago)

Most of instagram is garbage. This comparison picks a handful of the best pics from millions upon millions of examples of crap and then compares these few with the worst available shots from one professional. how surprising is that?
Instagramers accidentally get a good shot and then post it. A good professional gets a great shot on-demand every time.

PS... even a mediocre amateur hockey player will occasionally get the best of a pro

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (8 months ago)

Well I can't remember who said it but it was a famous photographer, he said that the difference between an amateur and a professional was one makes 10% of his income off photography and the other 100%

0 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (8 months ago)

StevenE, how right you are

0 upvotes
photoaddict
By photoaddict (8 months ago)

too sharp? That's not accurate, it's more like "film was never this detailed."

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (8 months ago)

The title is slightly misleading. Mr Ockenfels III didn't mean to make a mockery of film, but to set a reference against which to compare medium format image quality, which he deems too sharp. And rightly so: I, for one, don't like images sharper than real life.
As for Instagram, well... I'm yet to read an interview with someone who actually finds something less than glamorous about it here at DPR, but I'm afraid that ain't never gonna happen. Oh well.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (8 months ago)

"Too sharp" images are a ridiculous thing to complain about, it's trivial to blur or resample them in post. Good luck adding detail to a blurry, grainy film image though.

6 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (8 months ago)

That's all nice and well if you believe detail is the ultimate achievement in photography. Some people want the images to look natural, though.
And, if someone doesn't have the skill to make sharp images with film, then he/she's got a serious problem and should look elsewhere for a hobby.

2 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (8 months ago)

A good analogy in this is comic book art vs painting. Which one looks more real and natural? The outlined comic book art or the painting one?

1 upvote
calking
By calking (8 months ago)

@ Manuel...
I was looking at a 4k television on display at Best Buy recently. I consider it to be overly sharp as well, to the point of being almost video-game like. And you are also right -- there are those who base a good picture entirely on sharpness (or more accurately, acuity) rather than on the content of the subject. There are thousands upon thousands of both amateur and pro photographers who don't own D800s and Zeiss lenses, nor medium / large format backs and cameras that create superior images every day....with and without grain, laser sharpness, etc. of course, many forum heads here aren't satisfied with a photograph until the pixels have been examined with an electron microscope in a controlled lab environment, which normal photographers and viewers know is just downright stupid.

@ rally ... Your personal disdain for Adams and Cartier-Bresson aside, get over yourself, will you? There are those who still like film, vinyl, and climbing mountains with big gear. Deal with it.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
rallyfan
By rallyfan (8 months ago)

Adams and Cartier-Bresson are both dead.

If you like climbing mountains with big gear, don't let me hold you back. In fact take a turntable with you while you're at it. Maybe something with a sand-filled plinth and fitted onto an air-leveling table. Don't forget a carbon-fibre tonearm and seven-nines silver cabling.

Have a good trip.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Pedro Moreira
By Pedro Moreira (8 months ago)

Love the series, love this shots!!! Yoooo Bitxxxh! :)

3 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (8 months ago)

FILM IS DEAD! Long live mirrorless!

0 upvotes
Dave Luttmann
By Dave Luttmann (8 months ago)

Mirrorless film has been around for a century

5 upvotes
MarkJH
By MarkJH (8 months ago)

Maybe it's ironic snark? The mirrorless fanbois just got "pwned?" Eh, I'm trying to see a way it works for him, because otherwise he might as well be running around the comment spool screaming "I DON'T KNOW WHAT A LEICA IS!" Nothing good comes from that.

0 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (8 months ago)

Huh... I didn't get it, either.

0 upvotes
markie_jan61
By markie_jan61 (8 months ago)

Sorry to see two personal attacks on G3User. Regardless of his opinion, let him express it without being disparaged by anonymous critics.
--

7 upvotes
itsastickup
By itsastickup (8 months ago)

Which ones are anonymous?

In any case, G3User makes some very strong yet unsupported statements that are insight-free. He's decreasing the S/N ratio around here. The replies may help to increase the S/N ratio in the longer term.

0 upvotes
mgrum
By mgrum (8 months ago)

@itsastickup

Ad hominem attacks also decrease the SNR...

1 upvote
G3User
By G3User (8 months ago)

These images don't impress me. Camera manufactures strive to produce great images from their products and then this guys throughs a yellow instagram filter on them, very unprofessional. I would expect this from my teenage daughter but not a pro. The expressions of the 2 people at the top are not very nice, they are saying to the Frank " I have no respect for you, put that camera down".

3 upvotes
straylightrun
By straylightrun (8 months ago)

Haha, wow. Let me guess, you're part of the older generation?

3 upvotes
teaboneski
By teaboneski (8 months ago)

I'm sorry you're such an angry person. You should try meditation.

4 upvotes
KevinFultonPhotography
By KevinFultonPhotography (8 months ago)

Meditation could help, but maybe he's been sampling some of Heisenberg's product.

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
9 upvotes
Nishi Drew
By Nishi Drew (8 months ago)

If you can't tell the difference between a typical lousy instagram shot against these professionally lit, sharp and well composed production shots then YOU are the amateur here.

15 upvotes
jhinkey
By jhinkey (8 months ago)

Dude, it seems you've never seen the show. The staging, lighting, and post processing all seem to work to convey the mood and storyline of the show.

Those guys are in character - these are not candid shots.

19 upvotes
chj
By chj (8 months ago)

"The expressions of the 2 people at the top are not very nice ..."
Seriously? Have you ever watched the show? I don't think gritty dramas want their actors looking "nice". This isn't a sitcom or a Disney after school special.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
10 upvotes
jdu_sg
By jdu_sg (8 months ago)

I'm going out on a limb here ... T R O L L

5 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (8 months ago)

Oh sure, Instagram could produce those shots...once you set up all the lights the right way to manage the dynamic range. I mean come on, taking the car shot as shown would be impossible with an Instagram phone app without some kind of reflector in the car, and the group shot would be hopelessly backlit. These are not amateur shots.

2 upvotes
Stu 5
By Stu 5 (8 months ago)

G3User you might not be aware of this having never shot stills for a major film or TV program but the standard industry practice is that you shot Raw files which at the end of each day are handed over to the publicity department. The TV/films own publicity department then do their own colour grading and retouching. This arrangement will have been built into the contract that the photographer would have signed at the start when they also signed copyright over to the production company. This is the give the production company full control over the images and what is done with them.

The expressions of the actors in the first photo will be what the publicity department of the TV program required in the photo. A series of photographs would have been taken for them and they then would have edited through them until they decided which one they used to promote the production.

4 upvotes
straylightrun
By straylightrun (8 months ago)

G3User probably doesn't know what Breaking Bad is.

2 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (8 months ago)

It's a highly stylized, very deliberately shot series in general.

I don't watch it, it's too much of a chick flick frankly, but the way it's shot is very nice in my view.

0 upvotes
OdzBodkinz
By OdzBodkinz (8 months ago)

They are watching television. No posing for portraits.

1 upvote
T3
By T3 (8 months ago)

"The expressions of the 2 people at the top are not very nice..."

Uh, have you ever even seen this show? LOL. Oh, wait, you probably don't own a television. Sorry, but these aren't meant to be Sears portraits. Clearly, you don't understand the atmosphere of the show, which is appropriately reflected in these images.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Eleson
By Eleson (8 months ago)

I agree! Picasso and Salvador Dali sucked as well for not portraying the world as it is ...

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
John Motts
By John Motts (8 months ago)

Come on guys, G3User's post just has to be a joke.

2 upvotes
chj
By chj (8 months ago)

I don't think it's a joke, other comments suggest he has a pet peeve against "yellow instagram" images.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 118