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Help define the difference between film and digital

Discussion in 'Film Forum' started by lowlight_junkie, Mar 29, 2007.

  1. lowlight_junkie


    Nov 28, 2005
    Ok after the recent (somewhat heated) debate in the other thread can you help me out by defining exactly what you think the digital sensor loses that film retains?
    Now before I go any further I would like to point out I am not challenging opinions, I am trying to produce the best "film like" image I can from my DSLR.
    I would love to hear opinions on where you think the magic lies, is it:

    Noise pattern, contrast, dust specs, scratches, dynamic range etc?

    Anyone have any ideas on how i could best emulate a film image using only my camera and no PP?
    I'd love if everyone could add there input, hopefully with a bit of trial and error we can try and produce a good interperatation and come up with a way of capturing some of the magic that only film can produce.
    Instead of a bickering thread, please lets keep it constructive in the true NC way!
    I have a day free today so I am willing to try different settings and post the results, if members could then add whats missing maybe we could work on the final results.
  2. lowlight_junkie


    Nov 28, 2005
    Also could anyone supply me with a scanned hi iso film image of a bare wall or something? I am thinking of adding the image as an overlayed layer on a low iso digi image to see if the noise and feel can be replicated that way.
  3. dont care

    Try all types of cameras and tell me.
    As far as I`m concerned , ideas are more important than technical apparatus:wink:
    Nikon, Schmikon! Canon, schmomanon!
    Speak eloquentley with your thotson!:Love:
  4. lowlight_junkie


    Nov 28, 2005
    Thanks Doug
  5. I think this is too much of a "vs" way of approaching it.

    The way I see it film is as much about process, the physical form it takes and the gear used to shoot it as it is about the nature of a film image.

    I say print some digital images as negative transparencies and see what you get when you print them on an optical enlarger in a darkroom. That might be interesting.
  6. I think it's an impossible task - apart from anything, which film? HP5? Pan-F?

    The best way to approach it is to produce an image whose finish matches the vision in your head - all other considerations are secondary...
  7. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    What's the difference between painting and photography

    I was in class last night for a 'work in progress critique'. One of my classmates brought 7 canvases with paintings on them. He had taken photos of people and projected them with an overhead projector onto the canvas, and then painted in the projected image.

    It didn't really matter how he made the original photos, there was no trace of the original medium in the paintings, only the image.
  8. TechPan


    Oct 5, 2006
    Los Angeles
    There is a lot more to film then just the technical side. As others have mentioned...it's the feel of the camera, the mechanics..the feeling that you are creating something and just not recording it. While you can do some duplicating of film with digital and PP, when put side to side film stands out. I have done side by side tests in this forum and others and with friends and family. Film wins out 85% of the time. I say..why duplicate something when you have access to the original.

    Other then that...give Alien Skin Exposure plug-in for PS a try. It has color and B&W profiles for films such as Tri-X, Kodachrome etc. Also does grain for those films if I am not mistaken.

    For me digital is like having sex with a rubber doll, when you have access to a real woman.
  9. The single idea of emulating says a lot about how film is good in the first place. But to me, "emulating" is enough to just not use digital for that purpose.

    In order to emulate film, shoot film.
  10. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Can digital be emulated with film?
  11. Chris, Great question. The single answer that comes to my mind is that only an idiot would want that instead of simply shooting a digital camera.
  12. :biggrin:
  13. Keep in mind that shooting or presenting black and white digital work is not necessarily an attempt to emulate film.
  14. Couldn't have put it better Dave. Works both ways, eh?! :wink:
  15. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    I've been called worse, but the idea is that can one medium emulate another, or is the emulation merely another expression of the (real) medium. Hence my painting story above and this seemingly ridiculous question. My answer would be "Of course you can emulate digital with film, just as well as you can emulate film with digital. In both cases the result would still be in the true creating medium.

    That's perfect Dave. Digital photography and film photography are two different media. The equipment used is similar and the results are similar, but they are not the same. I believe that an emulation will never be an equivalent.

    Perhaps the question would be better stated 'Is there merit in digital emulation of film.' The answer then would lie in the hands of the individual photographer to determine if emulation techniques would further the effect of the image.
  16. lowlight_junkie


    Nov 28, 2005

    Or someone who could not afford a decent digital camera and was stuck with film maybe?
  17. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    If one shoots a lot, the cost differential disappears quickly. Remember that digital frames have a negligible cost (camera depreciation) while film frames start at about a nickel and go up from there.
  18. C'mon now Ned, that's like saying there are no redeeming qualities to digital. There's a certain smoothness to digital that I like (a quality I liked when I shot medium format and 4x5 film). I do prefer the tactileness of film. I do prefer the greater dynamic range and tonality of film. I do prefer the nice modeling that the grain in film imparts. Perhaps I somehow find the best of both worlds in shooting chromagenic black and white film. That being said it's my choice whether ...

    I shoot on digital -


    Or I shoot on film -


    :biggrin: Ray
  19. Woooh! I need to clarify: I said only an idiot would want to have a film that emulates a digital capture. Of course, the reasons are many. Here are a few:

    Because scanning a film makes it a digital file and from there, all the digital manipulations are possible.
    Because it's easier to simply shoot straight digital instead of shooting with a film that looks like digital.
    Because there would be no purpose, really.
    ... And so on...

    I wasn't calling any particular person an idiot (Nobody, in fact) and I expressed my thought on the "Film emulates digital" topic. Not "digital emulates film". I hope this clarifies things...

  20. Couldn't we just call it "capturing an image" and be friends again?

    I can't stand these "vs" discussion anymore......
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