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|| News Item: Posted 2006-03-02

Is Film Dead?
'I enjoy having instant access to my images … weak link in this, in my opinion, is the glass.'

By Robert Seale, The Sporting News

Photo by Robert Seale / Sporting News

Photo by Robert Seale / Sporting News

NFL superstar Edgerrin James photographed wiith a Canon EOS1D MkII.
(Editor's note: With the advancements in digital technology the days of a news photographer heading out to cover an event with a "pocketful of Tri-X and a Nikkormat with a 24mm lens" are over. Or are they? The Sports Shooter Newsletter asked four photographers to address the question on whether film is still viable in this day and age of gig-a-bytes, pixels and Photoshop.)

Is Film dead? I don't know that film will ever be dead … think about it: Over the years we've said this about every innovation in photography, yet there are still large format view cameras, etc. Robb Kendrick just did an entire project on cowboys using the tintype process. There will always be dabbling in the old technology for nostalgia and for art's sake.

I will say, though, that I have not picked up my Hasselblads in 7 months. I've shot every portrait I've done in that time with a Ds Mk II, first, by renting them for shoots, and finally - with my own camera, having plunked down over 7,000 dollars for one body.

The resolution is phenomenal. Near 50 meg files ( the resolution we used to scan our Hasselblad chromes...) and unbelievable control over exposure and tonality using the raw files. I enjoy having instant access to my images.

The last Hasselblad image I shot, took three trips to the lab to get a decent drum scan that I could work with. With digital, I don't have to rely on a scanner operator who may or may not have made any scans in the last three months.

The weak link in this, in my opinion, is the glass. I love my Canon cameras … I'm disappointed with my zoom lenses. I've been through three of the 24-70's before I found one that was usable. The wide zoom has way too much edge distortion.

I miss my Hasselblad lenses immensely. I would love to see Canon come out with a line of "premium lenses". No auto-focus, no zoom, just a really nice razor sharp fixed focal length lens in a few focal lengths (maybe in a heavy duty metal housing?... since my plastic 24mm-70mm zoom seems to fall apart all the time) to give us something that rivals the sharpness we Hasselblad/Mamiya/4x5 users were accustomed to.

I'm experimenting now with the tilt shifts - not to correct buildings, or to make wacky view camera effects, but using them normally, in the hope that they might provide some level of sharpness.

I'll still take my M-6 on vacation.

(Robert Seale is a staff photographer with the Sporting News.)

Related Links:
Seale's member page

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