Digital or film look? Which one you prefer and why?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by hulk2012, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. hulk2012 macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I've consistently going back and forth from capture one pro to Lightroom and VSCO film emulators and haven't decided yet what style should I stick to. I am new in the business mostly shooting wedding, portraits and landscapes. I am using NIKON D800 and couple of G series primes. I been advised that it's pointless having 36mp camera and degrade raws through processing them via film emulators. They seem to take a lot of details out but crispiness with its 36mp is what D800 stands for isn't it? It would be no problem sticking to capture one and going for this crispy looks but boy! Ivor these film look! I'm confused. Not sure what clients want. Don't want to switch styles either. I want to become recognised by photographer with his own style. What are your experiences in terms of using film emulators like VSCO? Do you prefer these or crispy digital look coming from e.g capture one pro which I find the best raw converter in game btw?
     
  2. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

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    #2
    i can't imagine wanting to emulate film for a customer base that was born after digital cameras hit the market. Unless you are shooting at a retirement center, your customers did not grow up with expecting film looks. Retro is a very narrow market.
     
  3. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

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    So true. Why does every photographic software company in the world offer film emulation filters and presets? Digital crispness over grainy film any day of the week for me.
     
  4. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I don't think using film filters in post processing is really a style. They are also pretty cheesy!

    For your commercial work, wouldn't it be best to ask the clients what they want?

    For your personal work, experiment and try to come up with something you like, vivd, saturated colours, muted over exposure; maybe even different looks for different environments/subjects?

    Personally I like to keep post processing to a minimum.
     
  5. steveash macrumors 6502

    steveash

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    #5
    I'm rather sick of film-look pictures, they mostly seem to be used to make ordinary pictures more interesting. The clarity of digital is much like the look of larger formats that in the film days many people strived for.

    Tell that to Instagram!
     
  6. nburwell macrumors 68040

    nburwell

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    #6
    I purchased the first two releases of the VSCO film emulators. While I used them for a little bit in LR, I now don't even use them at all. I shoot city/landscape and even though I don't shoot professionally, I like my images to be crisp and the colors vivid.

    I do have the VSCO Cam app on my 5S which I use frequently to add to my Instagram stream. But I don't think I will ever use the VSCO Film emulators in LR for my DSLR work ever again.
     
  7. Wyro macrumors member

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    #7
    I really love the characteristics of film photography. I got bored with the digital "cleanliness" and shooting film has reignited my passion for photography. I can see both sides of the coin but if you want the film look... shoot film...
     
  8. MacCruiskeen macrumors 6502

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    If the degradation is visible in the final product then it is arguably not really giving you a true "film look", or you are choosing the wrong filters. In Ye Olde Days, commercial photographers typically used medium or large format cameras so that enlargements would be kept to a minimum and grain would not really be visible. One film or another might be chosen (or avoided) for a particular color palette (even in b&w--b&w films all have different spectral responses--and who would use Velvia for portraits?). Rarely would anyone choose to artificially exaggerate grain or other visible effect--at least not for standard-issue wedding or portrait photos.

    But if you want to be known for your own style, you have to figure out what that is.
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #9
    I tried an experiment. I dug out my old slide projector and some slides. It REALLY impressed a group who all are to young to remember film. film can make impressive images. No HD 1080 projector can match 35mm slide film. 1080 is only about 2 megapixels.

    But back on topic. If yo like the film-look and shoot weddings buy a Hasselblad system. Seriously. Why shoot digital then make it look like fake-film when for 1/2 the price of Nikon you can have the real thing.

    Yes the Hasselblad will completely blow away the Nikon D800 in terms of image quality. those 6x6 negative scan to about 100MP. which is reasonable because the 6x6 film "sensor" is about 4 times larger area then an FX size Nikon sensor or 35mm film. If you want the film look I'd use film, but there is no reason on Earth to use 35mm film any more, go with 120 roll film.
     
  10. hulk2012 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Are u a film shooter or u use film emulators?
     
  11. Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    Simply not true. I, too, prefer film*, but this is more romanticization than fact. 6x6 is great, but you need more light and it's expensive, and scanning at 100 MP doesn't mean it's all there. That said, it would be a cool way to differentiate yourself in a crowded market.

    I would put the D800 easily on par with 120, though. And much faster in terms of ISO/low light, cheaper in the long run, and WAY faster to work with. I do prefer the "look" of 120, but sold mine and have since taken my cat pictures on digital. :)

    Still use the 4x5 when I can, though.


    *Though I also realize FF digital blows away 135 for the same sensor size.
     
  12. Wyro macrumors member

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    #12
    Film, mainly black and white 35mm Arista Premium 400. I can't wait to step it up to medium format!
     
  13. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #13
    I don't like the film 'look'...

    I like film.
     
  14. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #14
    Bad software choice then IMO. I use RPP with film curves for most of my shots and I don't lose any resolution, the curves are tonal curves measured from actual film. RPP's brightness and contrast adjustments are also modeled from film/paper in "Film-like" curve mode. Side-by-side, I generally prefer the images processed as K64 or V50 to a straight conversion.

    Paul
     
  15. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #15
    Paul - I found your post to be rather well... leaps and bounds ahead in both understanding and common sense of the use of modified image curves.
     
  16. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #16
    Then it is not really a film conversion. Film has grain. You are only applying a curve
     
  17. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #17
    You are right about needing more light. I used to use an 800 watt-second Norman power pack stone system. That was with film and a Mamiya RB67 now with a Nikon SLR I don't really need such a big light. The the "look" is much different. We are not seeing the quality we got in the past. We've given it up for faster turn around and computer based workflows.

    But it is obvious you COULD shoot an entire wedding with a $1200 Hasselblad setup and have it work out. I would nt suggest doing the entire shoot on 6x6 but just some shots.

    Yes some of the negative really do produce 100MP scans. Look at your 24mm x 36mm frame that has 36 MP the 60mm x 60mm farm is about four times larger and if it had the same sensor would work out to well over 100MP.

    The low speed film really is that good. and you need to scan it so as to record the film grain. 80MP to 100MP is reasonable.

    What is a "reasonable" scan? Say 2400 DPI. or 100 pixels per mm. That will record a 50 lines per millimeter image. If you want to record 80 line/mm you really need about 80 x 2.5 pixels per mm or 200 pixels per mm

    200 pixels/mm x 60mm is 12,000 pixels. Square that and get 144 megapixels. Which is very close to your Nikon D800 if it had a 6x6 sensor with the same resolution.

    So something between 36MP and 144MP for a 6x6 from is about right. The Hasselblad likely has a better lens than the Nikon. One of the current Digital Hasselblads can shoot a 200MP image but it cheats and takes four frames while shifting the sensor slightly

    There is no magic it is simply that Hasselblad designs their 80mm f/2.8 lens to a different price point than Nikon does. I'm sure if Nikon choose to build a $3,000 prime 50mm lens Nikon's would be as good. But Nikon is selling into a different market. Zeiss does sell Nikon mount primes for about this prices and claims "medium format-like "look".

    The thing is that these way-expensive cameras are available used now for 1/4 of their price.
     
  18. Policar, Nov 16, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013

    Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Yes, however we've given up quality before. From Technicolor to Kodachrome in Hollwyood. From 8x10 to 120 roll film as a professional standard for stills. 135 digital (and especially medium format digital) still looks great and if it didn't we'd be using something better. We'll always take cheap and good enough over better and more expensive, but good enough is a high standard in the professional world.


    Wedding photographers used to use 120 primarily. I agree it's a cool idea for the nostalgic crowd and the Instagram crowd alike, especially now with good 400 speed negative films. Though f2.8 vs f1.4 and 400 ISO vs 6400 ISO makes a huge difference inside. But, despite (or because of) the added effort, there's a real niche for this I think.


    Ok, show me an example. One. Not just a little bit of fuzzy detail that's really grain. But a real shot with 100MP of good data taken from a Hasselblad.

    I worked for a rather famous photographer who transitioned from 6x7 to a 5D Mark II and he felt digital looked better, even enlarged. Looking over his prints, I found the two formats about on par (Velvia 50 on a Pentax 67 and the 5D), but cibachromes were clearly outpaced by digital prints, which I felt biased him a bit. In my own scans (from a Nikon 9000 with glass carriers and multi-scan enabled) I've gotten prints that you could argue have 80MP of resolution, but zoomed into 100% I have to admit they are not perfectly sharp. That said, dSLRs aren't fully efficient either. Zoomed in they are not flawlessly sharp. But still no film comes close to being as sharp as the D800E's sensor per square millimeter; digital is about four times more efficient than film as a medium and thus has dramatically less noise.

    Show me a 35mm film (slide or negative) that is close to as sharp as the best D800E shots and isn't polluted completely with grain. Just one. And I will be quiet. By your logic you should have plenty.

    And while the Hasselblad lenses are nice, they are not much better than what's currently available for dSLRs. A perfect 6x6 shot might have a slight advantage over a perfect D800E shot I'll grant you. But that means a perfect exposure with perfect focus at an ideal aperture scanned perfectly, sharpened perfectly, despotted, newton's rings painted out, etc. I love how film looks (I prefer it to digital), but I can't say the effort is worth it for a professional UNLESS your market is for "on film" nostalgia prints or you are a fine arts photographer.

    Fwiw, I shoot 4x5 and only use digital for snapshots. For hobbyists who really enjoy the process, I think film is the coolest and all virtually all serious "fine art" photography is 8x10 or rarely 4x5. But I can't recommend it to a professional unless his or her entire sales pitch is "shot on film" or he is chasing the elusive fine art market.
     
  19. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #19
    In many cases- film grain is only visible at certain enlargements- For instance, when I shot RVP50 at 5x7, printing an 8x10 or even 11x14 Ilfochrome wouldn't show any grain in the print unless it was underexposed, and you'd have to get out a magnifying glass with 645. RVP100 in 35mm had an RMS of 8- very difficult to see grain there until you get to about a 40x enlargement, so it depends on the level of emulation desired and what one is attempting to emulate (note, the OP used "emulation," not "conversion."

    In any case, my sensor produces noise which is very grain-like- in fact many people equate the luminance noise from Nikon sensors to film grain in terms of distribution and overall look. So, depending on what ISO I shoot at, I can have very good film emulation by applying tonal curves to something shot at even base ISO, but if I wanted grain-like images, I'd just up the ISO a couple of stops.

    Obviously though, if the issue is a loss of sharpness which isn't desired, then the only real option is to get the palette, tonality and contrast of film or film/paper combinations, not to simulate grain, which will have different characteristics depending on the film choice and the simulation of which will decrease the overall sharpness of the image.

    Almost everything I shot in 35mm, 645, 6x6, 6x7, 4x5 and 5x7 was fine-grained enough that printed at 8x10 for the small negatives and 11x14 for the larger ones, even with your nose up to the print you'd be hard-pressed to see grain other than with HP5 Plus shot in 35mm and not developed in PMK, enlarged up the wazoo and under-exposed a stop or two. I certainly never had to go looking for a finer-grained film for >95% of my shooting. (My vision is 20/20 at best.)

    Without going to extreme enlargements or looking under a microscope, I really couldn't see grain in prints with my staples.

    RVP50 shot at EI80, RDPIII 100 shot at EI 160, Delta 100 shot at EI100 and HP5+ shot at EI400 were my staples, with the occasional 120/220 roll of E100VS or Portra 160- the positives developed in the Kodak 6-bath E-6 kit (almost always with a one stop push[1]) then enlarged onto Ilforchrome material and the B&Ws developed with PMK and generally printed on Ilford Multigrade IV. 5x7's were contact printed- everything else went on an enlarger (my enlargers were 6x7cm and 4x5" so I couldn't enlarge the 5x7 RVP50.) The Portra was all lab-developed roll and sheet. Notice that I routinely souped my positives longer in the first developer to get a higher speed and still didn't have grain visibility issues.

    I did shoot some Delta 3200 at it's base (EI1000) a few times, and there you could see grain in the prints- but I'm not sure why anyone would want to emulate THAT look on a regular basis but it's trivial to do in Photoshop without any special software, but you're going to lose sharpness just like you would if you shot the film.

    Paul
    [1] Yes, I intentionally added extra saturation/contrast for Disneychrome- sue me.
     
  20. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #20
    Well I have worked with Technical Pan film with soft developers and the film is sharper than some of the best lenses for 35mm cameras. The Tech Pan 120 is amazingly sharp. The catch is, understanding the developers and how to print to get a curve that is usable. (B/W) Film. Typical ASA at the time - 12, 25 and 50.
     
  21. Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    Fair enough. It's also no longer being made, black and white, very slow, and still grainy, as well as being extremely difficult to shoot and process.

    Fwiw, Velvia's MTF curves match or surpass a 20MP sensor in theory, but the grain, not softness, keeps it from being an option for "huge" enlargements. With digital, sharpness and pixellation are what get in the way of huge enlargements, with film it's grain. This, not the sharpness advantage (which digital does have) is why you see full frame digital enlargements that are so much bigger than anyone would dare print a 135 blow up from film.
     
  22. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #22
    You're kidding, right? Tech Pan had an grain size of 3 microns! That works out to about 8,467 ppi in terms of digital resolution[1] The limit of a Mark 1 eyeball is around 100 microns. That means to be visible you'd have to enlarge 33 times- to contrast it, a 20x24" print is a 21.17x enlargement for 35mm, 12.24x for 645 and 9.24 from 6x7. Heck, the pixels on my D3x are 5.9 microns - almost twice as large as a grain of Tech Pan.

    It could also be reliably shot anywhere from EI 16-200[2]. I'm not sure how it was "difficult to shoot" either- pick your EI and fire away in my experience. I developed a few rolls in Photographer's Formulary's TD-3 and didn't find it difficult at all[3].

    It is however, both black and white and no longer being made.

    [1] http://cool.conservation-us.org/coo...e/2009-10-vitale-filmgrain_resolution_v24.pdf
    [2] http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/p255/p255.pdf
    [3]http://stores.photoformulary.com/images/store_version1/01-0065.pdf
     
  23. Policar, Nov 17, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2013

    Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Fair enough, but film of any size looks grainier than digital, since film is essentially composed of "one bit" particles, whereas film has 14-bit pixels that are that much smoother in terms of tonality. Film is "built" of grain, whereas digital has noise superimposed over it, at least aesthetically. I haven't used tech pan so "difficult to shoot" is just what I was warned against when choosing TMAX instead. If I'm wrong there I'm wrong.

    It's still black and white and no longer being made, though. And still (perceptually) grainier than digital.
     
  24. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #24
    That's still an oversimplification- and not really accurate when discussing Tech Pan- as I stated, each sensel on my D3x is 5.9 microns- each grain in tech pan is an average of 3 microns- if you think you're going to see grain at all in a properly exposed Tech Pan image that's not enlarged over 33x, you're simply mistaken. You're more likely to see read noise from a digital sensor and you're DEFINITELY going to see the individual pixels from the sensor more quickly- even a high-resolution DX body like the D7000 has a pixel size of 4.78 microns, still much larger relatively speaking than a single grain of Tech Pan- so you're going to see pixelation before grain enlarging the two from a similar size to a similar size making the digital appear more "grainy." Obviously, an APS-C sensor is going to lose to 35mm film if the enlargements take into account the smaller starting image size until the RMS of the grain is ~2.5x[1] the size of each sensel. That is to say that a 4x5" print from an APS-C sensor is going to show pixelation around the same time as RDP50 in 35mm or a print 2x the size from medium format.

    All of this doesn't even take into account the fact that film grain is (a) randomly distributed and (b) non-uniform in size, which will make the film look sharper all other things being equal. That's often true even when the RMS is larger than the sensel size.

    None of this takes into account the fact that you can simply shoot larger film and enlarge less for many subjects. RDP50 in 5x7 film is an absolutely amazing sight, it always made me want a 8x10 field camera. For static subjects, of course a scanning back is a fair counter-argument- these days I'd probably do that for non-moving subjects because of the convenience factors alone.

    Paul
    [1] Depending on your APS-C sensor size, the actual range is 1.3x to 1.7x and varies by manufacturer and model.
     
  25. Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    Velvia 50 has been discontinued in sizes larger than 120, though....

    I would agree that APS-C digital scales up about as far as the finest grained 35mm film scanned extremely well, and FF digital is comparable to somewhere between 645 and 6x7.

    What are we arguing again?
     

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