Help: Film vs. Digital

As I started gearing up for a trip down to Moab, I was going through my lenses and camera to clean them up for some shooting this weekend.  I found my self saying “I wonder if I should shot some film this weekend?”

Around August last year, I decided to invest in a digital camera.  My main reason was for doing photo shoots or event photography.  In these situations, it is critical that you get the image, lighting and cropping right, not to mention the large number of images that are taken.  In addtion, many of these situations require very quick turn around time that would be nearly impossible with film.  I have loved my digital camera for these reasons as well as using it as a tool to improve my photography skills, but I have found that I only use my digital now.
Sometimes I feel like something is missing in my digital photography.  It may be because I’m not talented with photoshop, or I haven’t spent much time reading about digital photography.  To be honest, I treat my digital camera like a regular camera, except I can get instant feedback. But the bottom line is that I feel there are some situations that I should still shoot film.

I want to share four images with you from two different locations and times.  Both situations have been shot with both film and digital.  The film images have been scanned in with a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000, with color settings that I feel work well, and were originally found by searching the web.  I am going to give you my opinions, but I really want your opinions of the images.  Also, if you have advice on how I can improve my digital images, I would love to hear that as well.  I am still pretty new to the digital photography, and as I mentioned before, I may not be treating it with the attention it deserves.

Digital is on the left, film on the right.


In these two images, I feel the film has a much larger range of color.  Rather than being just orange, grey and blueish, the film images has orange, red, purple and blue.  I admit the film image has an unfair advantage in the fact it was shot after the series of digital shots were taken, so the sun is lower, and the clouds have broken up a bit and are being highlighted by the setting sun.  I think for sunsets, I will try to always use film.  I think it picks up a lot more color, not only in saturation but range as well.


This comparison is tough for me.  Although I really like the sky in the film image, I feel the color of the rock is unnatural. The same thing that makes the sunset shot so beautiful, almost makes this photo seem over the top when it comes to color.  At the same time, the color of the rock was very red!

I look forward to your opinions.  I hope to come to some conclusion so I know when I really should use my film camera to get the images I want and that you really want to see.   One place that I have really enjoyed my film camera is in the shade.  I do a lot of climbing photography in the shade, and having the color adjustment (white balance) on the camera, or in Raw processing, is very useful, and allows me to create much more realistic images when shooting subjects in the shade.



~ by cruxphoto on April 12, 2007.

7 Responses to “Help: Film vs. Digital”

  1. Another aspect of digital that I have enjoyed since making my switch is that I feel I get sharper images. Because most of what I do is on the web, all my film images had to be scanned in. The scanning process seems to make the image softer and give it more noise. Keep that in mind when you make your decision. Are you doing mostly web material, and is it critical that your image is very sharp.

  2. The information you are looking for is way beyond the scope of a comment. The advice that I have to offer is that you study up on how to use Photoshop. Here’s a hint, get familliar with what the levels do (not just the auto levels) and look into colour theory (so you can figure out how to “balance colour”).

    In a nut shell there is no such thing as “reality” in phtography. All images taken with whatever type of camera, be it film or digital, are bereft of a brain to decode the information. Sound weird, it is. No photographic device will actually record what you see just like you saw it. It’s always going to be approximate and that’s why you need to learn more about Photoshop so you can correct things.

    The more you know, the easier it will be for you to control your images. Or more precisely, counteract film limitations and automatic digial “colour corrections”.

    One huge advantage of digital images over film is that there are no scratches, dust or fungus.

  3. Thanks. I’ll try to spend some time in photoshop playing with the color levels. I’ve done a lot with brightness and contrast, but it will be interesting to see what I come up with. I appreciate your input, and your comment about scratches and dust is definitely true.

  4. Here I love the film’s pics, what type of film did you use?
    I think that a good scan process is even more difficult than a bacis use of photoshop! 😉
    Good pics and very nice blog!

  5. I use Fuji Velvia 100. I have loved this film, especially when the scene is very saturated with color. Scanning can be fairly difficult, but once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty quick. Everyonce in a while there is a slide that takes a while to dial in the right setting. The Nikon scanners are really good and making it fairly easy to adjust.

  6. Fuji Velvia is a great film and nikon scanner are also fantastic.. but a bit too expensive for me!
    Maybe in the future I’ll get one for all my slides (they are just waitin’ for..) 🙂
    I use the Kodak Elite Chrome100 one of the most cheap and common slide film here in Italy.

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