I’m sure you’ve seen many photographers trying to emulate the “film look” in their digital photos. There are different techniques to achieve it, but you’ll often hear that the “film look” is a lie and only actual film can give you this effect. Photographers Jay P. Morgan and Kenneth Merrill have decided to do a little test and compare some film and digital images side-by-side. Can the “film look” be successfully replicated in digital photos? Or you can see the differences straight away?
Recently, I was tasked with shooting a hotrod. It was exciting from the beginning, because these kinds of cars are pretty rare here. The owner also wanted his dog sitting on the fender. When you hear that (from a photographer’s point of view), it does not sound that difficult to do. But the picture also has to be huge – 100 megapixel are too few.
Three times of that is the minimum requirement for the print. A digital medium format camera gives you 100 Megapixel, maximum 200 in one shot. These are not that easy to rent and they are very expensive too.
My solution was to do a stitched panorama digitally with Canon 5D mkIII, Canon 100mm Macro and the Nodal ninja. Additionally, I shot with my large format camera, a Linhof Mastertechnika with a Kodak Portra 160 VC sheet film.
It’s the debate that just won’t go away. Whether photography or cinema, film vs digital is a constant source of both controversy and amusement. In this video from Cooke Optics, we hear some insights from a different perspective. Heavyweight DPs such as Phil Meheux (Casino Royale), Sean Bobbitt (12 Years a Slave), John Mathieson (X-Men: First Class) and many others offer their insights.
While some of their opinions are of a technical nature, a lot of it boils down to personal preference and workflow. Some prefer the look and character of film. Others prefer the efficiency of shooting digitally.