audio and photography parallels??

Curious as to whether any audiophiles who also are photo hobbyists find any parallels (positive or negative) between analogue sound and traditional photography and their digital equivalents
I am a photographer, but not a great one--very amateur actually. However, my father and many colleges including Carl Zapp--on this site and a client of Rives are great photogaphers. (I hope Carl responds to this thread--it's right up his alley)

I think the parallel is right on. I take digital photographs only now. I just recently got a higher resolution camera (could it be SACD?) It's got great optics but is still amateur based--not for a pro at all. My purpose is for documenting rooms we've done and taking pictures of the kids. Digital is so convenient--just like CDs compared to vinyl. My father has a very high end digital camera--way beyond mine. But for serious work he shoots 4 x 6 plates, i.e. large format film.

Carl Zapp did some photography for Rives Audio. He did a few snap shots with digital to show us what the setup was like, but when it was time to get serious--film only.

What I do find very interesting is in these cases where film is used to capture the image it's then scanned in at high resolution and manipulated digitally before it goes to print. That is the part where the analogy falls down somewhat I think. That would be like doing an A/D conversion and then equalizing and then going back D/A. Just doesn't make sense--oh yeah, that's why we made the Rives Audio PARC analog:) (sorry--I just couldn't resist)
i'm into photography as a hobby and lately turned to all digital. i own a nice pentax sf1 autofocus 35mm film camera with multiple lenses and it is a very nice camera. the only drawback to film is that you have to get the film developed before you know you have a decent picture. i took 2 rolls of film on a trip and didn't know that the camera focused on the rain drops instead of the subject until i got them developed.

i also own a point and shot digital which is great to have to take pictures of audio gear and cars or take on hikes (small and light).

i recently purchased a professional digital camera that is fantastic. 1/16,000 shutter speed, 5 frames a second, and one of the fastest autofocusing speeds of any camera i have read about. i recently took 500+ pictures at a american lemans race and i could literally stop the action of a car at 150mph and see the cars spoked wheels like they were standing still. the only drawback is the price, over $5000 for the camera body alone.
I was actually refering to the palpability of the audio and photographic image .......i.e. conveying the true intent of the sound and vision.
I've been shooting digital SLRs for the past couple years. I recently took a b&w film class at Penn State Univ and while I hate the waiting and the tons of extra work and time that go into developing everything myself, I found my film work to be much more pleasing to me than the majority of my digital work. I was able to capture the dark moody essense of my subjects in a way I've never been able to digitally. That having been said, I still shoot digitally 95% of the time.

I wish I could draw a parallel to vinyl but I've never had a chance to spend much time with a good analog rig. I will say that I listen to CDs because they're convinient (like digital photography) but if I had the time and money I'd probably be listening to vinyl and shooting 6x6 negatives.
It is somewhat similar Tubino, and there are certainly some parralells in the two. In simplistic and basic terms it is a matter of resolving detail, nuance and accuracy in reproduction. The digital imaging technology is moving and changing at a faster rate than music I'd say. The film vs. digital debate is similar to the analogue vs. digital debate in music, in some ways. Film is still capable of more subtle nuance and a more 'fluid' tonal flow, much like a good analogue setup can do with music. With digital imaging the technology has been getting better and better at a very rapid pace to the point where with some of the better professional digital cameras and digital backs the average person and even many professionals would have a hard time telling the difference between a film image and a hi-end digital image. For professionals digital offers speed and convenience and the end of the latent image anxiety (there are other anxieties that go with digital though).

With digital, it's all a matter of zero's and ones, but not only the amount of information recorded in (megapixels or khz), but the actual technology implemented to interpret and translate that information in something the eye see's or the ear hears. In the same way just because two cameras each create a 5mp image does not mean those images will appear the same, nor will one oversampling CD player sound the same as another. In turn there are 4mp camers that create better looking images than other 8mp cameras, just as there are standard redbook players that reproduce music better than some oversampling players.

To respond to Rives question regarding film scanning; Given that film is capable of greater subtleties and nuance - the scanning technology at the high end is capable of resolving the subleties in the film image that the direct to digital professional cameras and backs cannot yield. This is not your typical $300 desktop scanner I'm referring to here but instead far more expensive scanners. These scanners may be translating an image into the same zeros and ones that the digital camera might create, but the scanning technology (at the high end) is capable of doing justice to and recording all those nuances that film has to offer that makes in marginally superior to direct-tp-digital cameras. Why the difference? Again, in simplistic terms, with the digital camera the sensitive light recording device in the camera (ccd) is fixed and limited in its size. The scanning device moves across the surface of the film or print rather slowly recorting information as it moves along and is not limited to the size of a receptor, but rather the size of the scanner bed or drum itself and the technology of the scanner. It's kind of like if a person were to step back twenty feet to view a mural there is only so much information you'd take in from that distance with finer details and nuances getting lost or interpretted by that persons wee brain. But if the same person comes close to the same mural and moves across it slowly bit by bit taking in all the finer details and nuances (the scanner) that may have been missed or interpretted differently from a distance.

Hope that made some sense!


I don't think the parallel is as close to audio. A digital picture is not recreated by a "sample" of the image - it captures it whole, similar to film. Whereas the film image is created by a chemical reaction stimulated by light onto a finite number of crystals, a digital image is formed by the wavelength of light acting on a finite number of pixels. And, the final product for digital is a color printer - which is where the parallel to film processing ends. Or maybe not - the 10 grand printers do a great job imitating film prints but the off the shelf 200 dollar ones do not. But it may just be a matter of time - after all, photography has a bigger mass market than high end audio.

I, too, consider myself an avid amateur. I could spend hours in a B&H looking at the Canon L Series lenses the way I look at gear in an audio store.
Perhaps our friends at Audiogon recognize this parallel as well. Maybe that's why there is this internet site called Photogon... If you haven't already, check it out.
Marco: I know the scanners are very high res. Even a 35 mm produces 100 megabyte file sizes. It's kind of like doing mastering in the digital domain with 24 bit 384 kHz sample rate. It's much easier to master in the digital domain, both photographically and in audio. However, unless you get up to the very high sample rates (Ray Kimber believes at 384 kHz you can't tell from analog) you do lose something. In film, I'm not a professional, so I don't really know how high the resolution and bit depth need to be in order not to lose anything. It would seem if you were at 1/3 the grain size of the film for scanning, but I don't know about bit depth. My original comment was really more of a philosophical one--but you do bring up a good point.
I'm attending Brooks Institute of Photography for my MS. I use multiple
format cameras. Nikon F5, Nikon D1X (digital) and a Horseman LXC 4x5. I
also shoot underwater photography. Digital is still in its infancy and
improving at a rapid rate. However, it has it limitations especially in capturing
very bright objects such as sunsets. It does not hold detail in very bright
subjects. Many student use digital camera in undersea photography and when
they expose for ambient light and there's part of the sun in the image, the
sun is always blown out.

I find the analogy of digital vs. analog in audiophile components true in
photography, as well. As digital images have that "sterile, or digital edge" to
them and lack the "warmth" or realism that film still has. However, with digital
photography's technology rapidly improving, it may be just a matter of time.
But didn't they say that about digital music?

Additionally, image manipulating software such as PhotoShop, allows the
digital photographer to rely on manipulating the image to achieve the disired
effect. Shooting film makes the photographer more sensitive to the subject,
scene and composition of the image. Quicker isn't also superior.

Rives- Bit depth is fairly simple to understand. Imagine a photograph as a 3-D chessboard with each square representing a single pixel (just for the sake of simple explanation). A color is represented as a combination of zeroes and ones (just like all other digital information). The more bits of information (the more ones and zeroes), the more colors that can be represented, and the greater the nuance/subtlety between shades/tones/colors. So on our three dimensional chessboard the bit depth is simply how many layers of zeroes and ones, beneath each square, that are used to represent a single square (pixel) of color. The greater the bid depth, the more colors that can be represented, and the greater the nuance and subtlety which can pe achieved.

An inexpensive scanner will not create as nearly as detailed and, to use an audio term which may be a good paralell, 'liquid' an image as a high-end scanner capable of greater bit-depth and optical resolution.

To clarify something which I'm not sure you are necessarily understanding judging from what you said in your post; a 35mm may as easily produce a 100mb file as it may a 5mb file, depending on how you scan it. Just as with the sample rate in digital audio domain, there is a point where your eye may no longer distinguish further detail at a given viewing distance from an image, and where scanning to a higher resolution may have little, if any effect at improving an image (again, for a given size and viewing distance). If I a recall from my college days, the measurement of the size of the dot/pixel/film grain at which your eye visually blends into a smooth detail is called the "circle of confusion". You can create a 100mb file from a 35mm slide with an inexpensive scanner and it will not render the nuances or details in shadows and highlights that a more expensive scanner which is capable of greater bit depth is able to with the same slide and the same 100mb file size.

I think Marco covered it all pretty well. As a photographer who is in the process of making the change to digital, I think it's interesting to note that when I need to make a critical judgement of an image, I always prefer to look at in "analog" form- i.e a print or a transparency.
Digital backs are improving by leaps and bounds, and although the price is still absurd - about the cost of a new pair of Lamm ML-2's, the quality is narrowing the gap considerably.
Marco: I know what bit depth is--what I meant was, what bit depth do you need in photography in order to go analog to digital and back to analog and not perceive any difference. In audio, 24 bit (PCM) is probably beyond the noise floor of any A/D so to go beyond that doesn't make sense. Most people say the ceiling is about 21 bits, maybe 22 bits, so digitize to 24 and know those last 2 bits are noise, but feel comfortable that we have captured all that we realistically can. In photography there must be a similar "ceiling"--I just don't know what that is.
Carl's remarks remind me of DLP, LCD, and D-ILA projectors of about 3 years ago. Blacks were struggling, but getting better, and the price was falling as well. Today, well CRT still has the best blacks, but the gap has narrowed.