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Lake Artemesia Trails, College Park Md.

[Canon 5D Tamron 28-300VC ISO250 1/500s F8 0eV 50mm effective > Bibble 4.1]

Please forgive me for oversharpening this in Bibble.
Unfortunately the raw file for this is long gone.
I’ll just have to wait a few months and shoot it again.

I don’t really like what has happened here (at Lake Artemesia with the 5D shot raw > Bibble 4.1, in general): the green is too bright, this shot is "sweet" like spun cotton-candy. I mean, I’d hate to think that the colors are almost "correct".

But this makes for a good comparison-shot…I don’t think that scanned 35mm color negative film will match this for fine-detail, but it will be interesting to see the color comparison. Just 4 more months 😉

However
regardless of how good it is
I would hate to think that one needs to spend k on a digital camera and lens to get a shot that looks even this good. Even if the 5D can be found for under K on eBay now, that lens is still 0 retail. That’s a great rig for most shooting, there just isn’t much that it can’t handle, but still, 00 is an awful lot of money to spend just to take pictures. And you still have to take the pictures! It’s not like you spend that much and you get a hard drive full of great shots. No you still have to run around for 2, 3, 4 years or more taking 00 worth of good shots.

One of the good things about shooting film out of cheap SLRs is that you might spend k on the same 1500 shots from a 00 camera and lens, but at least you’re spending that on a per-shot basis not before you’ve even shot it at all. 360 35mm color negative film shots will cost you at most, what, for 10 rolls of *good* 36-frame film plus .50 at CVS to develop them, plus the camera, lens and scanner, which might be 0 total if you’re shooting a garden-variety Tamron 28-80 and a V300? 0 total including everything. Vs for even a Nikon 3100 and the kit lens that’s 0 on your credit-card for at least the time you "borrow" the rig from the store. Plus 20% restocking fee if you buy it from a discount store and return it within the return-period. G12? 0, LX5: 0, GH1: 0. You can’t win going small-format with any of the gear that’s on the retail market right now: the reason that it is cheaper than a good fullframe is that the IQ is lower. You’re spending good money for bad images; were that not the case, no one would buy a fullframe. Pros wouldn’t drop k on MF gear if they could get their shots with adequate quality with a 0 point & shoot.

Second, people think that they are saving time and money by buying a digital camera vs shooting film and ignoring the fact that 99% of the time that camera will be sitting in a bag. It’ll be a 0 brick. Then you lose money through "amortization". By the time the average person gets 500 shots out of it the camera could easily be found for half as much on eBay not to mention on CL where the truly-desperate dump their gear when they need money really, really fast. Those of us who shoot at higher-than-average rates must then weigh the benefit of those shots against the inevitable loss of value of the gear, and the fact that we now have all these shots that still aren’t ideal compared to what we really want (tell me that you’re perfectly happy shooting a subframe especially a low-end subframe and I will know that you are lying) and meanwhile the gear that we really want is getting cheaper, driving down the resale value of our gear that much more. We can’t win by trying to save money buying "intermediate" gear, that money will just be lost over the long run. We can only win by waiting for the cost of the gear we really want to come down to realistic, rational prices.

The key is to buy really really cheap gear and then get good shots out of it. Then even if you’re not quite happy with them you can console yourself in two ways:

a) at least they cost you pennies per shot, literally
b) you probably wouldn’t be perfectly happy with your shots even taking them with the gear that you really want.

No matter what, don’t spend a lot of money to get shots that you aren’t completely happy with. That’s double-stupid. If you really, really love photography like I do, you owe it to yourself to invest in a cheap film camera and at least a halfway-decent scanner like the Epson V300. Do yourself a huge favor. Even if it seems like a pain in the ass and a lot of work to make film shots look as good and clean as digital shots, at least you’re not wasting a lot of money in the process. Digital is easier, true. So is running down to Best Buy and buying 00 worth of camera gear. If you want to do something "easy", just send your equipment money to me, whatever amount of money you are willing to spend buying cameras at BestBuy, Target, Costco, Penn Camera, Ritz, Adorama, B+H, whatever camera store you want to name. Take out 0 that a decent film SLR, Tamron 28-300 and V300 will cost you on eBay and send the rest to me at touristguy87@yahoo.com through Paypal. You’ll save just as much money and once you get the shooting technique & workflow down, spend only a few minutes more per image in post-processing. and get results that range from not much worse to slightly better than what you can get with a 00 digital camera & a 0 lens.

In fact I will bet you half the retail cost of your favorite digital body that in the long run you will be happier shooting stills with film in a SLR instead of buying that body new retail, as long as you can still get your shots with commercial-grade ISO100-800 35mm film & development and you’re not a pro trying to sell the shots and writing the gear off on your taxes. Even if you lose that bet you would still save half the cost of that gear. And I’d still say that about any digital body on eBay that sold retail within the past year or two. The only technique that I can think of that would absolutely require digital would be HDR with more than 10 stops without a GND, or a frame-rate high enough to make it impractical to save money to buy a film camera to reach it (which is pretty-much video anyway). LiveView, tethered shooting, live histograms, HDMI output? Who really needs that. Instant turnaround, maybe. But then you’re probably selling the shots. Most people who don’t sell their shots don’t need those features. Sure you can always come up with scenarios where a digital camera is "needed" (not to mention a specific feature on a specific digital camera), the question is are those scenarios necessary for you to shoot in. If not you are letting the fringe case dictate your general behavior. That might work ok for the TSA. It will not work well for the average Joe Blow who wants to take some pictures.

We waste oodles of time and money on photography, really, for our own pleasure. But there’s no reason to waste the *money* especially when you’re going to waste the time anyway. And it’s a lot more fun when you’re not stressing about the money, the additional technique required is just a challenge, and the extra time & effort to process film over digital is hardly worth worrying about when you are already post-processing thousands of digital shots that you don’t need. Instead of tens of thousands of digital shots you’ll do thousands of film shots, most of which will look just fine, and some of which will clearly look better than digital…even if you *had* shot them with a 00 fullframe.

You want fine-detail? A 5D will beat the average 35mm film & a cheap scanner every time. You want a good-looking shot on the average scene? 35mm film and a cheap scanner can give that to you.

Will a 5D give you a good shot, or even a 5DMk2?

Why drop 00 on one if you’re not sure?

Why spend "real money" on anything that costs "real money" if you’re not sure that you’ll not only need it but need it often and that it will also perform well enough to make you happy with it? If it’s stupid to play the lottery, how smart is it to buy a 00 digital camera? I think that most people reading this would say "not very". Well if it’s stupid to buy a 00 digital camera how much more intelligent is it to buy a 0 digital camera? The whole market for cheap digital gear exists in the space below expensive fullframes and MF digital backs. Buying them is not inherently more intelligent. For most of us, it’s still dividing zero by the cost of the gear. You’re not making any money on your shots either way, and you’re not saving time either because you’re just going to produce 55x more shots. Unless you’re happy with a couple of camera-jpegs, but now you’re spending 0 for a couple of camera-jpegs.

And so we get to the real issue with SLRs and film lenses, which is size not the price of film or even performance much less post-processing time and IQ. Still for I can walk into any drugstore and buy a disposable camera, usually with free processing and for prints. Aside from the fact that my cellphone has a camera on it, no flash but still. Size & weight takes SLRs and even 4/3rds cameras and bridge cameras out of the game, weight takes most of the very-good point & shoots like the G11 out as well. And also you get the convenience of instant-feedback in the camera, virtually-unlimited shooting and the ability to pull shots off the camera and post them on the Internet. Cheap point & shoots give photographers 99% of what they need. The rest they have to go to at least a subframe to get. So there’s this vast gap between a -0 point & shoot and a 0+ subframe depending on what you can find on eBay. But still, features are easy to find. IQ is the most elusive characteristic of all. And IQ is what really drives the photography market, because IQ is the only thing worth spending real money for. Everything else, anything else, is a simple matter of electronics and software. So what do you do, as a photographer, when you have all the features that you need? Well naturally you spend more money buying a bigger & better camera to get better IQ.

Otherwise you’d have to be happy with the IQ that you can get with budget gear.

It’s obvious that eventually you will have to settle for less than ideal IQ, or go broke buying bigger & bigger cameras. Assuming that they could even give you ideal IQ. And this is the fallacy upon which the entirety of Western society rests. And which will be its undoing. Eventually it will fail under the weight of its past successes, just as the USSR did, in wasting real resources by converting them into hypothetical benefits. Our success or failure as a species depends on our learning to not consume assets simply because we have them, even when we might actually "profit" as a result. Even when we have assets to burn, so to speak. I am not saying that we should engage in "maximum utilization of available resources". I am saying that we should not strive for the unachievable and in so doing consume everything that we really have. And to do that in striving for the achievable is not that much smarter. What we should do instead is to spend far less than everything that we have to achieve slightly less than what we can achieve with wholly-inefficient methods. In the end the only thing "real" about photography is the money that we spend on it and the money that we make from it. Size & weight, clearly, should not count as much as the cost, IQ likewise. A 0 iPhone with a 5MP camera might sound like a great pocket phone. It’s still 0, plus the cost of the cell plan, of course. It is no different with digital cameras, you’re still left to weigh the cost of shooting *rolls* of film against the cost of the camera.

Against this backdrop it is no surprise that digital point & shoots are getting smaller yet continuing to gain in MP. Now you can get 16MP point & shoots. The only way to justify the 0 price of a small digital p&s with a 1/2.5" sensor is that it has the same MP as a K subframe with a big lens and an APS-C sensor. Against this how can you really justify the cost of an expensive 18MP subframe? By the fact that it shoots at 8FPS and has LiveView? You can’t really justify it by the improved SNR vs ISO when a subframe requires lens that have to be shot at F8+ to have the same sharpness across the lens and DOF of a point & shoot at F2.8, and both of them are well into the diffraction regime, both of them are clipping highlights due to small pixels, both of them have to resort to software tricks to extend dynamic-range and reduce noise. And you’re really hating it if you’re the guy with a 12MP fullframe because now your clients have point & shoots that are "better" cameras than that big one you want to use at their function.

Go to dpreview and look at some of the samples from those old Nikon and Canon subframes and fullframes, at 1-3MP costing k-k. Do they really look all that worse, or better, on your display than shots from gear that is out now? No because once you’ve taken shots you’re only going to want to look at the good ones. Doesn’t matter what hardware you shoot with, you’re going to throw the bad shots away. So if you can get good shots with film why spend a lot of money to get them with digital, even if the digital shot *is* slightly better? Did I really need to write all this to justify shooting film instead of buying expensive digital gear? I don’t deny that digital shots can and often do look better than film shots in a lot of ways. That doesn’t mean that it makes sense to spend 50x as much on digital gear than film gear, or even to shoot digital gear *instead* of film gear. Sometimes shooting film just makes more sense, and that can be the case even when the shots don’t look as good. I fully admit that for certain shots where fine-detail is a premium, any sort of NR is a real problem that grain would also be a problem and you probably simply can’t get good shots with film, most film, under those conditions, and it’s not worth the risk of shooting film. I also know that those shots are very, very few and far between, and that most *digital* cameras also wouldn’t give good results on those scenes due to noise and diffraction. But at the opposite side of the spectrum there are times, scenes, shots when digital cameras simply can’t produce decent color and film can, and for most shots in-between both film and digital are just fine. Now take the lenses, shooting-speeds and shooting-conditions and *viewing* conditions into account and the balance tilts back towards low-resolution shots and NR. You’d have to use exceptionally good technique all the way through to maintain high-fidelity. Most of the time that simply doesn’t happen. And if you’re shooting low-grain film? It’s fine.

The key is to not use noisy, grainy cruddy film on high-resolution scenes for large displays. Putting them on Flickr says that the display will be at most 30" but usually 15"-19" for desktops, 12-15" for laptops and even smaller for PDAs and iPads. The market is shifting to smaller, lower-resolution displays. That favors film over digital. The economy is contracting, flat at best. That favors cheap digital gear if anything, certainly giving film room to operate. Not much here is really saying that you need to go out and buy an expensive fullframe, I think that everyone realizes this. But likewise there’s not much here saying that you simply shouldn’t shoot film. And the price is saying that you should, as long as you don’t take a lot of unnecessary or bad shots, don’t need shots quickly, don’t really *need* the shots at all in the first place, have some time and energy for post-processing, don’t need a lot of fine-detail and you’re somewhat "constrained", financially. And funny but that describes the "avid amateur" to a tee, having already maxed-out their credit-cards on digital gear & travel, going around taking pictures. In fact the "avid amateur" would often find themselves bored shooting digital anyway, and certainly wouldn’t mind carrying a big, bulky SLR and lens to take pictures with. It’s no bigger than their DSLR and lens anyway.

I’d say that once you can get past the grain, the slight reduction in fine-detail, the loss of the higher ISOs, the need to carry extra film in packages that are far bigger than an SDHC card and the extra time per shot required to develop, scan and clean up the dust and so-forth, that film is a win-win situation. You can still buy all your favorite fullframe lenses and they are cheaper because everyone is shifting to subframes or 4/3rds or something else. The bodies, likewise, will eventually come crashing down into your hands. All you need to do is deal with film while you lust for fullframes that you can’t afford anyway. And the lenses will likely still work fine on your favorite subframes unless you try to put screwdrive lenses on a non-drive body. And they will be faster and longer than they would be on a fullframe. The only thing that you really lose is the wide-angle, and to get that back just put the lens on an SLR.

So I for one can’t claim that one should never shoot digital, but likewise a photographer shouldn’t say that they shouldn’t ever shoot film, either. And I think that film simply grows on you because you are weighing grain, dust and fine-detail against the price, color, extra wide-angle and extra stability from shooting wide-angle. If fine-detail were all that important to you, you wouldn’t be happy looking at your shots at 4×6" on Flickr…a process which minimizes the grain. Again the Internet & modern technology make film look better. If dust were all that important to you then you wouldn’t be willing to spend time in post-processing to clean-up shots, you’d shoot camera jpegs or use NR and you wouldn’t care about fine-detail in the first place. And in the end the grain is only really important to *you* because people are not going to like your shot or not based on the grain or lack thereof. So you are left with, ironically, three similar things that all really matter a lot. The ease of getting the shot that you want, colors that stand out from the crowd if nothing else, and the amount of money you have left over after you get your shots. And unless you’re shooting tight long shots by hand in low light that says "film, film, film". The only digital camera that really beats film for all-around use is a perfect one. And the perfect camera would be free, have a great optical viewfinder, no noise, excellent color and exactly the right amount of fine-detail for the display-format. Yet be no bigger than an SLR and lens. Be honest: you hate point & shoots anyway, with their stupid LCDs, no real viewfinder, slow shutters, slow focus and tiny lenses…you might as well use a cellphone to take pictures. That’s not a *real* camera. They could have great IQ and you still want to use them because taking pictures should be an *event*, dammit! You stride up there, hoist your DSLR, grab the barrel of the lens with your manly and and give it a good twist, back and forth, steadying yourself, holding your breath and taking the shot like a marksman, or a captain taking a bearing on the stars. That’s what photography is all about, goddam it! Not holding up some wimpy little point & shoot like a Japanese tourist, barely able to see through his glasses, wearing flannel slacks and a light blue shortsleeve shirt! 🙂

Who wants to be that guy? Not you!!!!
Or even a fat tourist from Milwaukee, straining her shorts and t-shirt, with varicose veins popping out in her legs!

So who has a DSLR and a big superzoom or fast lens for that reason? 🙂
just so they look like a real photographer…
so when another guy walks up to you with his Nikon D200 or D300 and a 24-70 VR, out taking shots of the sunset over the lake, what do you say to him as he looks over your gear, and spies your Tamron 19-35 and old Minolta 500si, looking like a film camera if nothing else, jet-black with curved contours, no dials, a few buttons and a mere postage-stamp of an LCD on top…clearly a camera that hasn’t been made in the past 10 years?

Try "I shoot film, because I like the way that it looks better than digital".
And see what he says then.

Digital is all about money and MP, maybe you can toss Nikons at their Canons or Sonys and hope they don’t riposte with "my other camera is a Panasonic" or Pentax.

With film there’s no question that it’s about IQ.
No one in their right mind shoots film for anything other than fun and better color. Even an expensive fullframe will save them money in the long run, even a cheap subframe gives better fine-detail. With film there is no doubt that you are serious about two things: saving money up front and getting better color. And if you are shooting an SLR in 2011 then either you really know your shit, you are one cheap-ass motherfucker, or you are as crazy as a jaybird. If not all three. But either way they know that you are serious about photography because you have either had that film SLR for years or you just went out and bought a film camera in 2011, in a world chock-full of digital gear, up and down the price-performance range. And sometimes, you know, that’s what it takes. You have to walk out on that yardarm, or be just another guy on the boat. If you buy a D700 or A850 you might as well sit at home and look at online photo-sharing sites all day. These guys have already taken better shots with a D700 than I ever will. So you can either join the crowd and attempt to race to the head of the pack and stay there, or just try a different path, maybe one that has been trod to death already but at least the reminders of that aren’t constantly in your face. Meanwhile you can use other, newer technology now to do things that the old photographers couldn’t do when they were laying down the footsteps that you now walk in. Maybe one of them will see your shots and say "…hey I’ve got that shot on some old Agfa KookyColor film!" Maybe someone will race out and shoot it with a D3X just to compare to yours. Who the hell knows.

But if you shoot it with a 5DMk2?
It’ll just be another sucky Canon digital shot with sucky digital color, that some goob spent $3k to shoot. Similarly for an A850, even for a D3X. And you know what will happen if you shoot it with a subframe or p&s: it’ll look worse but not cost as much to take.

Of course…you still have to buy one don’t you. Just to have one.
And to "test" it 🙂

So why not "test" film?
But the lenses that you’d want to use on a fullframe that you will inevitably get regardless of everything that I’ve said here, and "test" them with film, while of course "testing" the film. You can then buy your fullframe and show yourself just how much better the shots are, prove just how much money it’s worth. Why not?

Posted by touristguy87 on 2011-01-18 07:26:24

Tagged: , Lake Artemesia Trails, College Park Md. USA Canon 5D Tamron 28-300VC ISO250 Bibble 4.1


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