Organizing PL4 on my computer to deal with both analog and digital images

I would like some advice on something I hadn’t even thought about until recently. From the beginning, I have been using PL4 and the other tools to edit DIGITAL images from one of my cameras. Then I got out my old Leica M3 and got involved in my old negatives from years ago, and scanning film. So I’ve been using PL4 for the past few weeks on 35mm negatives scanned on my new Plustek scanner.

The more I did this, the more involved I got with film, and my M3 is now off at DAG Camera getting a 60-year clean&lube, and whatever else it needs, my M2 will probably get the same, and after digging out my Nikon F2, I got interested in that, which led to my getting out my huge and heavy Nikon F4 which is as good a camera for film, as my Digital cameras are for digital.

This led to a huge amount of feedback from so many people here, especially Joanna, such that my head is now spinning as I try to make sense of it all - but my images keep getting better.

This led to my reading this article:

…and that led me to 81 replies, including the following by Dug Sitowski: "Although I carry around a primo Leica digital I still tend to go to my trusty mechanical Spotmatic or F1 for my “money shots”. With 24 exposures, film holds me to a strct line of creative and judgemental discipline as to “the decisive moment” (Bresson), composition, f-stops, shutter speed, color management, and so forth. With digital I have an unfortunate tendency to “shoot it first and fix it later” via Photoshop. I also have a closer feeling of a hands-on connection with film than electronic digital much like driving a 350 Camaro with 4-on-the-floor as opposed to an automatic. The automatic will get you to where you’re going but you’ll have a heck of a lot more fun getting there with the 4-speed. Ansel Adams made an astute observation : “I am a fly-fisherman, I don’t drop a stick of dynamite into the creek”. So, what was good enough for him and Bresson I guess is good enough for me. Nuf said.

So, my question for this thread is that it seems to make sense that I should have a “Workspace” for film, and a different “Workspace” for digital, and I’m probably better off separating the images on my computer into one area for analog, and one area for digital. Right now, they’re all bunched up together.

Does this make sense to do it that?

(I’m also trying to sort out PL4 in my mind - so much of PL4 deals with specific corrections for different cameras, and different lenses, and how to correct the RAW files to make them more accurate, and then dealing with noise. NONE of that relates to my scanned images. So the whole process is different between “film” and “digital”. Then too, as what Dug wrote, I tend to spend a lot more time and take a single image with film, and since digital is “free” I tend to take a lot more, just in case, thinking I’ll fix it in the editor.)

I’m trying very hard to avoid Photoshop and Lightroom and all the other editors that are on my computer, and do everything in PL4 (and the related DxO software that works with PL4).

…or, I can continue as I’m doing now, just create different Workspaces, and mix all my images together regardless of the source, film or digital…

First, let me say that my car has a DSG gearbox, which is normally automatic but I can shift manually if I want to, but without a clutch. Most of the time I leave it in automatic, only manually changing down to control the car on hills.

In my opinion, you can either go back to using film because the implicit “don’t want to burn too much film” factor focuses the mind on getting more things right in camera, or you can simply ignore the urge to “shoot and fix later” and do exactly the same with a digital camera that you would do with a film camera and take the time to get it right in the camera.

The Challenge

Go out with your camera and only press the shutter once between leaving home and returning.

Oh, and no looking at the back of the camera to see if the shot was good or not. The first sight you can have of the image is when you download it to your computer.

This means, in the same way that you would have to think about how you will be developing film when you adjust the exposure to change contrast, so you will have to take into account how you are going to process the digital image before you decide on your exposure settings.

This implies:

  1. that you will be working in manual mode
  2. that you will be using the camera’s built-in meter in spot mode to determine exposure
  3. you will need to decide on what aperture to use for an appropriate depth of field
  4. you will need to decide on what shutter speed is appropriate and whether you will need a tripod
    • for example, if you are shooting against the light, you will need to spot measure for the highlights and over-expose them by 1⅔ stops with the plan to recover the shadows in PhotoLab.
  5. you will need to decide on framing as best as possible
    • try planning for a “looming rock” style of photo, with something made to be prominent in the foreground. Don’t forget to use a wide lens and hyperlocal distance to ensure that the foreground subject is as sharp as the horizon.
  6. Don’t be afraid of high ISO - DeepPRIME noise reduction can easily sort that out.

And you thought that digital was easier than film? It’s all about making an image rather than just taking a photo.

Well, are you up for it? :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


The guy who wrote the article runs a film processing lab, has a vested interest in promoting film and makes all sorts of misleading claims about the advantages of film.

One that struck me particularly was the claim that

With a higher dynamic range, film is better at capturing white’s and blacks’ details and can’t be replicated with digital cameras

This is simply not true for colour transparency film. Fuji Velvia 5 has a range of barely 4-5 stops.

For B&W film, it used to be true, but my Nikon D810 has 14.6 stops of range at 100 ISO. But that also means that I have the same range for colour images, not just B&W.

Maybe he feels he can make this claim because the comparison picture he shows on that page is a JPEG image, which is more limited than RAW file.

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It makes sense to keep shots ordered by whatever criteria necessary. I’d keep negatives in different folders than positives, be they analog or not.

Shooting analog, specially with negative film, will take you another step into a bog that you might want to explore first. Read through the whole threads, to catch the infos.


Almost forgot to answer the main question

Organisation is a very personal thing.

I keep all my images in a folder hierarchy under the ~/Pictures folder, organised by Location(or event)/Year/Month/Day.

Personally, because I have comparatively few film scans and those that I do have are 500MB files from 5" x 4" film, I keep them on a large external drive. Depending on how big and how many, you might like to put them on a separate drive, or you could add a level under Pictures for Film and move all your digital files into a Digital subfolder.

Either way, it won’t affect how PhotoLab sees them as it just uses whatever folder structure you have set up.

As to PhotoLab workspaces, just rearrange the palettes and tools to best suit the type of photos you are working on and save a workspace for each editing “domain”.

Here’s my dual screen workspace
Dual (1,9 Ko)

I will read those discussions today.

All of my images get filed away “somewhere” in my “Pictures” folder on my Mac. I used to separate them by type of camera used, but that got confusing. Then I created a new “top level” folder named “_2021 aug-dec” which shows up at the very top of my folder view (because of the underscore).

I think I will create a new top level. folder named “_2022a”. I think it would be logical to create two sub-folders inside of this folder, one for “analog” and one for “digital”. Within the “analog” folder, I guess I should break things down to a folder for “negatives”, and a separate folder for “positives-slides” in case I ever start scanning my color slides.

If sometime in the future I realize this isn’t working, and I need to change it, I’ll simply create another “top-level” folder named “_2022b”.

I don’t expect to ever start shooting color slide film, and I don’t know how much work I’ll continue to do with film. I’m enjoying it now, and I guess I need to learn what types of images work better with film - landscapes? For now, I plan to shoot only B&W film for a while.

The Challenge:

Am I up to it? Not quite.

For analog, for now, my film will be processed by the “Darkroom&Digital” shop fairly close to me. I have no plans yet to vary film speed, and correct in developing.

I have already turned off the auto-review function on my digital cameras, so no chipping, and I am forcing myself to take only ONE photo at a time, getting it right before I press the shutter release. I typically come home, having taken maybe half a dozen photos, if that.

My M3 camera has been sent off for a “clean&lube”, and whatever else my repairman thinks is needed. I was going to use my M2, but the viewfinder is too foggy - needs cleaning, and the vulcanite casing is falling off. I got out my old Nikon F2, as a simple SLR camera to use, and bought a new battery for the meter. I thought about using that camera, until I got out my old F4 Nikon (which I couldn’t remember how to use). It’s the last of Nikon’s “mechanical” film cameras - for the F5, and then F6, computers and digital displays took over. From what I read, the F4 was the best film camera Nikon ever made (but most professional users supposedly hated it, and switched to Canon.). In a way, it’s perfectly suited for me. I don’t need to turn the camera on/off, it was designed to be left on. It has a huge, bright, viewfinder, sort of like looking at a ground glass screen in a LF. I’m slowly mastering what all the knobs, switches, dials, and settings do. It has motors to load film, advance the film, rewind, and more. It leaves me free to concentrate on the PHOTO that I’m about to take. I find myself using it the way I use my Nikon Df. It’s also big, and heavy, but very quiet, and it seems to be easier to hold it stable.

I enjoyed what you did with the rock. As you suggest, I will look for images where I can use this technique. That would be much easier for me to do in India, where I have such a wide range of photogenic “scenes”. Miami Beach is very boring by comparison. Once it is cool enough for me to drive to the Florida Everglades, I think I’ll find a lot more opportunities for photographs.

Oh, and while I understand what you wrote about Deep Prime, and I agree completely, to me film grain is something entirely different, and to me, the grain >IS< the photo. I bought several rolls of Ilford 400 ASA film, so I know I will have grain in those images.

I guess I’m like a kid, starting to swim. You want me to go to the diving board, and jump in. Me, I go in a little, and start wading, and slowly go in further.

@mikemyers – a side note

Be careful what you take from articles like Film vs Digital - A Photo Comparison - TheDarkroom – and comments.
The comparison of a certain film (Velvia 50 in this case) and a digital file (JPEG) shot with a certain camera (Canon 6D, hopefully with the very same lens) is simply misleading. Then also, the autor damns Fuji’s in camera film simulation, but without proving / showing, the lead picture is just ‘click-bait’.

It is well known, that the rendition is different (same as with different films). You can try that yourself with a colour chart, applying the rendition of “Velvia 50” and “Canon 6D” etc. to virtual copies to compare them easily.

Following the author’s link Pushing and Pulling Film - A Complete Guide from The Darkroom about how to overcome (some) limits with pushing and pulling film – and also getting strange colours (not to talk about grain) demystifies a bit of the ‘glory’. The “Film is the golden standard of photography” statement is pure nostalgia.

At any time, I prefer the controlled (and stainfree !) digital darkroom to different emulsions, variing
developing processes and hoping for the result.

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Wolfgang, I found the comments more interesting than the article.

Then there was the part about with digital it’s like spray and pray, and with film it’s more controlled, finding the best way to take a shot and taking one photo. Ha - for me, that went out the window this morning.

I was walking to the food store, with my Nikon F4 SLR, loaded with black&white film, and I almost stumbled over a large iguana. I took some careful photos, but I didn’t know if my timing was fast enough to get what I wanted. Meanwhile the Iguana ignored me, even as I got closer. I was thinking to myself, this is just like digital, I’m taking all these photos, hoping to get one good one - but the iguana kept letting me get still closer, and I was never sure if I got the right “expression” on its face, preferably mouth wide open as it was munching on some delicious green grass. Eventually I got one step too close, and the iguana scampered off.

To tell you the truth, it didn’t matter that the camera was film or digital. What did matter was the huge bright viewfinder, and a very quiet shutter action. I won’t know until next Monday if I got what I hoped to get.

What also was quickly obvious was that shooting the iguana was much easier with the Nikon D4 than my rangefinder Leica cameras. I’m pretty sure what I captured, but the relatively small viewfinder of the Leica didn’t show me all that much detail, and the autofocus on the F4 seemed much more sensitive.

I’m beginning to think that the biggest difference between analog and digital is how quickly I get to see the results.

I dunno… I’ll find out more after I get the results scanned into my computer.

…and I wonder how Joanna’s rock trick might work, making my iguana into a huge dinosaur?!?

It’s like printing on rubber and stretching…and a good way into getting photos that are not just documentation.

Depending on shooting angle, the stretched iguana might look wrong, because our brains can only take so much. But that’s okay.

Well, I’ll try it first with a rock. Yeah, a stretched and twisted iguana might not look too real!

Besides, I’d have to hold the camera MUCH lower. Not sure if an iguana would let me approach, with me crawling on my tummy!

…it might mistake you for food…

whether analog or digital, it’s the photographer who decides how and what he/she wants to capture
– and what camera to use.

(The last time I took photos with my F4 was in 2006.)

It doesn’t usually work that way for me. I usually get involved in shooting one camera for anything/everything I do, and learn how to adjust it and adapt it to what I want to capture. Sometimes I totally screw up and bring a very inappropriate camera. For my better cameras though, they mostly do the same thing - except Nikon is more suited for “sports” and “action” and my Leica is more suited to capture the mood.

I grew up with ONE camera at any given time. Box camera, Contax II, Nikon SP, Leica, Nikon F, Nikon F2, Nikon D1h, Nikon D2x, NIkon D3, Nikon D750, Nikon Df. At some point I started using “pocket cameras” in India for street photography, because they were small and light.

My choice right now is Nikon D750 or Df, Fuji X100f, Canon G7X-Pro-MkII, and various other cameras that came and went. I think I (incorrectly) picked a camera based on where I was going, rather than what I was going to photograph, although sometimes I did what you suggest.

During all this time I was constantly learning, and when a new model of a camera did more of what I needed than my previous camera, I replaced it. This mostly came to a halt when I quit working as a photographer, and mostly retired - Spending another $5,000 every year wasn’t practical, although I did buy a Leica M10 to use instead of my old M8.2.

Back to your post, for unknown reasons I decided I wanted to shoot film late last year. For film, it didn’t seem to matter so much what camera I used, although some cameras made it easier than others, such as moving from range-finder to SLR, and manual-focus lenses to auto-focus. Better metering too.

Right now, I think that my mind is considering that film images have a different “look” than digital images. As old as it is, my Nikon F4 can do a lot of the work for me, although I can always over-ride it. The F4 is as helpful in ensuring a technically correct image as a new D7 or whatever they’re up to. But that’s just the technicalities. I agree with you that it is ME that needs to envision the image I want to capture, and then guide the camera to get what I want.

Gee, too much rambling on and on… but everything you all are teaching me about PL4 has given me better tools to display want I want to display, with most of the errors, mistakes, and bugs eliminated. I doubt I’ll ever post an image here that Joanna won’t improve, but I know I’m getting better.