[200q20v] Re: Digital Camera Recommendations - for documenting auto repairs?

Phil Rose pjrose at frontiernet.net
Wed Nov 21 13:43:39 EST 2001

At 6:57 PM -0500 11/20/01, Larry C Leung wrote:
>Also, photo film is a definite, non-changing standard (at least 35
>mm/120-220/sheet film). And, especially if you shoot slides (Kodachrome
>anyway) and B&W, the film is essentially archival, relatively hard to
>Since the digital pix market is still relatively new, what might work on
>record today MAY not work in 5 - 10 years. And HDD are volatile compared
>to photofilm. Magnetic tape even more so. And, potentially, all of the
>CD-ROM/R, RW, and DVD are still in a state of flux when considering long
>term, once in a lifetime storage. Kids are only kids once.

Storage of digital image files--if one is truly concerned about
it--needn't be a "once in a lifetime" issue. If digital image files
are archived (as they should be) on CD-ROM or DVD, these can be
rewritten periodically (say every 5 yrs?) to fresh media and/or to
the latest & greatest storage-technology. I admit that the average
digicam user might not bother with these options, but neither will
that same individual necessarily be a trustworthy "archivist" of
their 35mm negatives.

Concerning the alleged "essentially archival" nature of negatives
(who shoots Kodachrome any more?), let's be realistic and consider
the extreme fragility of negatives: They can be damaged by heat,
humidity (mildew), water-soaking, scratches, and plain ol' insidious
chemical degradation (that's right, the film-support and dyes in
kodacolor negs ain't forever, and Ektachrome slides even less
stable). But those hazards are just what may be in store for the negs
that don't get tossed away during their first few years of
existence--a routine practice of many who can't imagine the need to
keep those slippery, illegible little strips. "Hey Martha! It's time
to chuck out these shoeboxes!" After my Mother died, I took
possession of a box containing several hundred B&W and color prints,
but not a _single_ negative!

A more archivally motivated person (than my Mother was) can--in
minutes--write hundreds of digicam files onto multiple CD-ROM/DVD
copies. Even one old-fashioned CD-ROM is capable of holding hundreds
of reasonably high-resolution files at a cost of $0.25 per disk.  And
these disks are easily stored in various locations (shoeboxes
probably, but why not safe-deposit boxes?) to minimize the risk of
accidental loss. Worried about ability to read CD-ROM in 15 or 20
years? Yes, if Western civilization lies in ruin there is a real risk
of that, but barring such catastrophe I'm confident that facilities
to read and "translate" digicam files will be widely available (at
least in service centers) into the relatively distant future.

As to Taka's suggestion of scanning negs to make digital files: Let's
try to keep this (OT) thread in the context stated by the original
poster (I know I'm not doing a good job myself). He is someone who
was tired about the routine of waiting to finish a roll of film, the
trip to the store and subsequent delay while prints are being made.
So--I wonder--will life be _better_ if Peter adds hours of
negative-scanning (and the inevitable color-correction editing) to
that routine?

And the issue of image quality that Taka raises? I agree that the
_ultimate_ quality of film has not _quite_ been reached by
consumer-level digicams even at the 5 megapixel level. But keep in
mind that currently, a SLR digicam body can be had for $3K that will
use the same Nikon F-series glass that Taka believes is so superior
to run-of-mill digicam optics. Anyway, for the intended purpose
stated by Peter--to document Audi repairs and share snapshots of the
kids with friends/relatives--the ordinary 2+ megapixel digicams can,
IMHO, be _more_ than adequate. As to the alleged inability of
digicams--even 5 megapixels (!) --being able to satisfy, all I can
say is that TM is entitled to whatever standards he chooses, but I
think he is just as out-on-a-limb on this as he is when asserting the
"crappy" sound of the Bose sound system. Ultimate sound? Not by any
means, but more than adequate for the average person (with good
hearing) to fully enjoy music in a vehicle "exuding" its
engine/exhaust-rumble, wind-noise and tire drone. Sure, if one spends
significant periods of time doing hyper-critical music-listening in a
stationary automobile, I agree it would justify an improved audio
system, but similarly, one needs to indulge in the practice of
viewing 8x10 prints at extraordinary close distances (or with a
magnifier) before concluding the need to question the quality of 5
megapixel (and even 3 Mpixel) digital images at that print size.

BTW, after 30+ yrs of 35mm home-darkroom photography, I've been using
a 2 megapixel Nikon Coolpix 950 digicam exclusively for the past 2
years. My _very_ critical, nearsighted eyes are quite pleased with
the 7"x9" Epson inkjet prints that I typically make. By
extrapolation, I'd expect a good quality 5 Mp digicam to be capable
of producing files that would yield fine quality prints at 11"x14"
(for "normal viewing"). BTW, 11x14" prints--easily done with good dye
stability--using an Epson inkjet printer costing under $300. For up
to 8x10 prints, the same Epson technology can be had for $99. Forget
about dye-sub.


*  Phil & Judy Rose           Rochester, NY  *
*        mailto:pjrose at frontiernet.net       *

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