indie film lab

Side by Side Comparison - Digital and Film

I never had a problem taking good pictures with digital photography. Beginning to use film was more of an experiment. I read that it slows you down (and it does) and I wanted to use it to help build my storytelling skills (and it was a new challenge, I like challenges.) So far, with film, I’m finding that most of the work is done up front, while shooting and very little has to be done on my end in post processing. I know purists would say that I’m cheating by using a lab to do my developing and scanning but I don’t care. I would rather be shooting than developing and scanning and editing, any day. These scans were done by Indie Film Lab, I've been most impressed with their service.

Kodak Portra 160 shot on Mamiya RZ67 with 110mm. Silver reflector to camera left.

Also with RZ and 110mm on Portra 160. No reflector, metered for shadows at ISO100.

I thought it would be an interesting experiment to bring my film set up to a digital shoot and fire off some shots toward the end to compare my results. Before I started shooting film, I was searching for this kind of stuff and couldn't find much, so here you go! The results are interesting to say the least. I can’t say I like one more than the other, they are just different. On one hand, the film looks more real, dynamic and engaged with the subject, while the digital knocks you out of your chair with detail and punch. Well, that could be Susan’s beauty knocking you out of your chair but back to the comparison.

Canon 6D, 70-200mm F/2.8L @ 150mm and F/5. Without using a reflector, it's extremely hard to keep details in the highlights. Silver reflector to camera left. Very small adjustments in Adobe Lightroom. 

6D, 70-200mm again with same settings and about 30-45 minutes of retouching and fiddling in Adobe Photoshop CC. The white balance was set to cloudy (6000k) on these, hence the warm tone.

What do you like better? I think it comes down to personal preference and taste, as you can see, they are completely different images (I know they weren't literally taken side by side, it's kind of hard to experiment during client work, but at least the conditions were similar enough to get a decent comparison.) Another interesting thing to note is the keeper ratio. It is WAY higher when using film. Digital spoils you with the capacity to shoot something without thinking, snap snap snap snap, check check check check. Some serious bad habits come out of that. I saw on Matt Day’s instagram feed that he taped the back of one of his digital cameras with gaffers tape, that’s a great idea. I think I’m going to give that a try.

(Edit: This article is not meant to compare technical or quality differences, simply look and feel between the two capture mediums. Happy shooting!)