Film vs D800E

Started Jan 28, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP bigpigbig Senior Member • Posts: 1,726
Re: Film wishes vs reality

photoreddi wrote:

As for the superiority of film for astrophotography, it's my understanding that digital cameras have several advantages when it comes to shooting long exposures. Stacking many shorter exposures reduces noise and digital doesn't suffer from film's reciprocity failure, so the multiple digital images can be shot in much less time than film would need for its single equivalent exposure. So it's not so much a film advantage that much longer film exposures can be made so much as that due to the nature of film, much longer exposures are required.

First, thank you for the civil discourse. Of course you are correct on many points.

I would challenge you, though, to try to make even a 15 minute exposure with a digital camera. It just becomes so full of "hot pixels" it is unusable.

When a long exposure is being made for motion purposes (star trails) I agree that stacking can be quite effective.

But, when a long exposure is REQUIRED because there is so little light available, film is THE ONLY possibility. Digital is simply incapable of a single continuous month long exposure. Please see Vera Lutter's fine work as an example. Extremely dark scenes or very large f-stops (small apertures or large cameras, room sized) for example require very long exposures.

I made a pinhole camera with a focal length of 1.3 meters (1300mm) and an aperture of 1.2mm for an effective aperture of f1083. I put a D800E inside the camera and photographed the image. On a bright sunny day, at f2.8, ISO800 it took 8 minutes. Not bad, but quite noisy. Of course with photo paper inside, it becomes about a 34 hour exposure or on ISO400 film, 3.5 hours (with a reciprocity factor of 13.3). But both the paper and film have beautiful smooth tonal transition. This is on a bright sunny day.

I also earlier mentioned Chris McCaw's amazing (IMO) work with his project "Sunburn". The film is part of the Art. It can not be replicated with digital sensors.

Check out the idea of Solargraphy.

My guess is that there are dozens of other applications, you've mentioned a few, in which it is the medium that makes the work amazing.

I would love, for example, the have the chance to learn how to create transparencies from digital images and use them to make palladium prints. I simply need to find the time.

In any case, film and digital are different animals in the Art world. Comparing them is missing the point. Saying "I'd never go back to film" is saying they serve the same purpose. At least for me, they don't.

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