Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ol' Skool vs. Digital CONTEST RESULTS

First, let me thank all of you who took the time to enter. I hope you enjoyed the process, even if you didn't win.

This was a really interesting contest for me. It was very exciting to see the answers people gave and I was especially entertained by those of you who added your comments.

Only two people got all the answers right. Just seven people got only one wrong. The majority of the entrants got two or more wrong. I have to admit that these results really surprised me. At first, I thought it might be too easy when Tyler picked them all within a couple of minutes, only pausing on #3. But I chalked it up to him being a photographer and having gone to film school. But when Jaimie - who is very inexperienced when it comes to photography - was looking at the blog while I was on the phone with her and got them all right in a matter of five minutes, then proceeded to give me the exact same reasoning that Tyler gave, well...I was completely gobsmacked.

But then the entries started coming in. Two people on day 1 had just 1 wrong. The two people who got them right came a couple of days later, after I finally sent out to my mailing list. I guess it wasn't so easy after all. There was really no rhyme or reason to people's answers. Even with all the data, I can't point to why so many people had trouble figuring them out. And now I can't even figure out how to apply the data for a definitive theory, nor can I say people tend to prefer film over digital or vice versa. I'm going to give the overall response below each picture and maybe one of you brilliant people can tell me what it all means...

#1 Wavy Gravy shot at the Harmony Festival, June 2008:

1a - FILM
More people got this set right than wrong. Only one of the 7 got this one wrong.


#2 Paul Kantner shot at the Harmony Festival, June 2008:

More people got this set wrong than right.
Two of the seven 1-wrong answer people got this one wrong.

2b - FILM

#3 Damian Marley's drummer shot at the Harmony Festival, June 2008:

3a - FILM
I also thought this set would be the most difficult one because the
photos are so similar, but more people got it right than wrong.
Only one of the seven got this set wrong.


#4 Damian Marley's bass player shot at the Harmony Festival, June 2008:

Way more people got this set right than wrong,
except two out of the seven got it wrong.

4b - FILM

#5 Fish shot at BB King's NY, June 2008:

This set was only one off from being 50-50, and
only one of the seven got it wrong.

5b - FILM

Are you surprised at which were film and which were digital? The way Tyler and Jaimie came up with their answers was based on looking at the backgrounds of each photo. They said the blur was smoother on the pictures shot with film (well, I think that's what they said). Does that make sense to you?

I was hoping I would find my answer by asking the two people who got them all right how they chose their answers. So I sent them this email, not mentioning that they had them right.

Can you please tell me how you chose the answers you picked in this contest? And how you came to enter?

John was the first to respond:

I am on your mailing list and received an e-mail to enter the contest from you. I met you at the Fest for Beatles Fans about 2 years ago and bought 2 of your books.

I am an amateur photographer myself and saw various things in each of the photos that led me to choose film vs. digital. For instance, I noticed some of the blurring of the light and shadows on some photos which is more indicative of film vs. digital. Also, digital to me seems to smooth out some of the detail where film picks everything up. The ones I thought were film seemed more natural looking and had more detail. I really just stared at them for a few minutes each and made my choices.

Then Kevin wrote:

You said in your note that you saw a difference between film and digital, and preferred film, so I tried to choose the one I thought was ‘better’. That part seemed straightforward, if not exactly easy to my untrained eye, but then I noticed a pretty clear difference between the sets, one shot was always darker (or lighter) than the other, and I didn’t always think the darker (or lighter) one was better, so I was pretty sure I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and just picked the ones I liked best without thinking too much. I think I saw your note about the contest on FB. How did I do? I should add that my colleagues never listen to my opinions regarding the aesthetic quality of our books so I won’t be shocked if I got them all bass akwards.

Does that solve the question? Not really, because other people made comments on their entries that they preferred film but then picked several of the digital shots as film. And I have to be honest, after adamantly raving about the images that came up on my screen as I scanned my negatives, once I put the photos side by side with the digital I had to admit that I thought a couple of the digital looked better than the film :-(.

So, now that you know which is which, and the general proportion of the vote, can any of you solve this debate for me once and for all? What's better? Film? Or digital?

And the winners are...

The Grand Prize Winner of the framed Frank Zappa print is Kevin Becketti, because his email arrived two hours in advance of Second Place Winner, John Young, who takes home the Ringo Starr print...

And Honorable Mentions go to the seven entrants who only missed one answer:

Steve Bastien
Bill Lantz
William Schaff
Cory Tucker
John Krill
Maureen Felk
Craig Nisker

Thanks again to those who played, and thanks to anyone who chimes in with their opinion in the comments section.


Steve B said...

Firstly, thanks for the honorable mention. I thought I'd get #3 wrong, but the shot of Paul K. fooled me. I agree about the backrounds thing - the ones I thought were digital seemed more in focus overall. I guess there are a lot of variables. Were they all shot completely manual, or were the digital ones auto focus, auto exposure, etc.? I do love digital for being able to edit pictures on my computer with the software that came with the camera. I'm just starting to shoot film again, manually, so the jury is still out on that. Thanks again for the challenge :)

John Krill said...

I was one of the 'only missed one' and I can tell you that the one that gave me the most trouble was the one I missed. That was number 4.

I was looking mostly at the depth of the blacks. Digital tends to flatten out the total grey sprectrum and the blacks are the most telling. On all the ones I got correct the blacks are blacker. That's it.

On number 4 it seemed that the range of grey was the closest match in the two photos. I still think 4a is film. Oh well.

If you could get them all correct from viewing them on a computer monitor then more power to you. Much is lost once it goes out on webland.

It still was an excellant test. Enjoyed it.

Thomas Crymes said...

I think it's a moot point. Most people can't tell, and for that reason a lot of professionals will switch because it's just easier. Within a decade, film will be the domain of hobbyists, purists, and a few crazies. Film and development costs will rise (if they haven't already).

All of the pics you posted look good regardless of format. And if you have to closely study a picture to tell the difference, do you really need to be studying it at all?