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October 11, 2009


What more can you say about the guitar that was the main instrument used by Albert Collins *and* Joe Strummer? At least a bit, apparently. And yes, slide film is all about the discipline; it's what I shot for ten of the last 12 years. Now with the death of Kodachrome and the Rise of the Machines, it's black and white for film and color, usually JPEG, in digital. That's just about right, for me anyway.

Just a note that Kodachrome, specifically, is discontinued because modern slide films have better range and more accurate color reproduction, and because the processing is expensive and difficult and uses some rather toxic chemistry.

I'm not a fan of slide films to be honest. The limited dynamic range is of course an interesting limitation to work with, but the frustrating part for me is the difficulty of making things _not_ look punchy and colorful. There's times and places for that, but for me, more often than not I prefer softer tones.

"the frustrating part for me is the difficulty of making things _not_ look punchy and colorful"

Fujichrome Astia 100F is one of more moderately saturated slide films that are still available today. Of course, "available" is a relative term when we're talking about slide films. You also have the option of scanning and desaturating a bit in Photoshop to reduce the punch.

Mind you, I don't shoot much slide film these days either, but in my case it's more because it's so difficult to find convenient processing.

An interesting post. I am a big fan of slide film precisely for the reasons you outlined. Over the years I came to the conclusion, that if you want to know if a photographer is any good, ask to see his slides. Why? Because, what you see is what you get, no cropping or other alterations of any kind. It seems digital has turned everyone into experts and on many sites people become overly critical of everything that is posted. As if we should all become experts in Photoshop to rescue mostly mundane images.

I recall that Agfachrome was for soft to realistic pastel-like renditions favoured by European photographers, Kodachrome for deeply saturated but understated block-like colours and makes "all the world a sunny day") and longevity, Fuji for punch. Konica was in between Fuji and Agfa. Fuji cracked the market wide open with its Punch and that's what the stock agencies favaoured. Of course, the wedding and portrait photographers always knew better and had to find a palette that was more neutral for good skin tones, and almost all the slide brands made such versions.

No process will mimic the ability of the human eye, so why worry about dynamic range, you get what you get. And like slides, all the manufacturers will be close to each other despite claims of superiority. BTW, I shoot everything in JPG. I don't have the time or money to gather hundreds of 'Raw' images that I will never look at.

I miss the powerful and often moving slide shows with music. Now I am off to look for a good slide cleaner...sigh.


Gordon, you are very interesting man!

Maybe I should also try some slide film. But I would scan it eventually, hm, do you think that's worth the hassle?

"...do you think that's worth the hassle?"

I wouldn't scan every frame, just those that merited the effort involved. One of the benefits of shooting slide film is that you already have a reference for how the image should look on your monitor. That's not easy to do with color negative films. Another benefit is that you can use a loupe to make sure it's acceptably sharp before you scan. Finally, you may be able to find a processing lab that will develop and scan the images all at once. That's definitely the way to go if you don't own a good film scanner + software.

"the Telecaster is just as popular as it ever was"

Are you sure about that? I would expect that sales of analog instruments would be sluggish, compared to, say, software like GarageBand.

"Are you sure about that?"

Musical instrument sales have declined largely because of the recession, not because of lack of interest. In fact, software games such as Rock Band have increased young players' interest in electric guitars. As for the Telecaster being as popular as it ever was, although it was never Fender's top seller, it has always been one of their most popular models and it has never been discontinued from the line.

My Tele spends much of the time in its case because now I mostly play a PRS McCarty. (When I'm not taking pictures, that is...) But every now and then I pick it up and it feels like comin' home. Simple and basic, it's a guitar for purists. There is nothing else like it.

Mr. Finger --- beautiful website. Thanks for tipping me off to it and thanks for doing. I am a newbie and trying to suck all I can out of Cannon 8 MP digital. If I can master that, I may move to SLR. Thanks for the info. At some point, I may be able to understand what you are talking about. -Barb

Gordon, I guess all this explains why I play a Les Paul :-)

I'd been film-free for a solid 6 years when I bought a 35mm roll of Sensia in July. Every frame turned out well but I adjusted myself to its limitations. And in return it rewarded me with much better reproduction of skies for example, when comparing the same lens on my digital camera.

It was developed by Fuji (sent in via my local Wal-Mart. $6.88--if you shoot medium format I hear it's even cheaper) and couldn't conceive of any place doing better job, based on what I knew the original scenes to be.

As long as Wal-Mart has a relationship with a major vendor like the centralized Fuji processing I'll never drive and pay a local lab or even Wolf Camera/Ritz camer. All more expensive and (in my limited experience) far more expensive. Just tell yourself the money goes to Fuji, not so much Wal-Mart if you must.

And let me tell you. When I walked out of Wal-Mart and got into my car I did the very thing we all did many years ago. Ripped open the package and ogled them before so much as turning the key. What a thrill. I was grinning from ear to ear at one particular shot, and it's just a snapshot that's of no interest to anyone but me. Call me a Luddite but I think there's value in waiting a week to see the result. I just can't rationalize why that would be an "advantage," and no, when I shoot digital I don't wait a week before importing.

I can underexpose the digital camera or adjust the RAW file accordingly to best preserve highlights and not get (at least quickly, if at all) the same result.

But overall my digital camera produces better pictures with regard to color accuracy. So I may try one of the so-called "wedding" films next; I'm a stickler for accurate fleshtones, and my family are what I normally shoot.

Regarding digital cameras being easier because of the instant feedback --- I don't completely agree. Yes, it's pretty good for basic white balance and gross exposure errors. But for subtly and color accuracy who's to say that the screen on the camera correlates to your computer screen, to say nothing of the print? So you're still waiting until you get home to see what you got.

On the broader issue there, film has no disadvantage because you know up-front what the characteristic will be.

One last curiosity. After my slides were scanned-in (Epson 4490) I didn't feel the urge to "correct" every damn frame like I often do with digital pictures. Here, my attitude was more, "OK, they aren't perfect and the scanner's lackluster etc. but they are what they are and still beautiful."

My Tele spends much of the time in its case because now I mostly play a PRS McCarty.

So does mine now that I have a Gretsch!

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