Film and Digital Side by Side

July 28, 2015

It is no secret that I adore film. I try explaining it to people and I usually get way too excited…waving my hands around….explaining that it is soft, romantic, creamy, airy, buttery….and everyone sort of looks at me like, “whaaaa??”

Well, here I go again. But this time, I’m going to give you a little more insight into how I edit my digital images to look similar to my film scans. As film has become more popular with photographers, companies have developed presets (similar to filters on Instagram) that digital photographers can put on their files to have them look like film. There are a handful that do this, but I think Mastin Labs is superior. You can purchase different presets based on what type of film you’re trying to emulate. For this workshop, I shot Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200, so I used the Portra 400 preset. I didn’t sit and try to match my film/digital files perfectly, I just edited the preset with three clicks (preset, exposure, and white balance) and moved on, so you’ll see that a handful of these aren’t as perfect as they could have been. So now that I can imitate film so easily….why would I shoot film?

Film slows me down to really create an image perfectly – every shot costs about $2 so I need to be really intentional about every photo. I still think the colors in film are better than a preset on a digital camera. The bokeh (the out of focus blur in the background – notice the circles of light/sun in some of the photos towards the end) with my film camera makes my heart flutter. Film doesn’t pick up color casts that affect skin tones (from grass or brightly colored shirts) as much as digital does. It is timeless. And there is nothing better than getting the email that your film scans are ready to download. As much as I hate the anticipation…I also love it.

So, my friends, that is a little insight into my workflow and why I shoot film. Below, you’ll see some side by sides (digital on left, film on the right), as well as three triptychs where you can see what my image looked like straight out of the camera, with the preset applied, and my film image (on the right).

Let me know what you think! Can you tell a difference? Want to see more? Check out this blog post with more side by sides!

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Also, a huge thank you to all of the vendors at the Kayla Barker workshop! I will blog more about the workshop later, but a shout out to Kayla Barker, Stefanie Miles, Bows and Arrows, Patricia of My Beauty Corner, and Tatyana Merenyuk!