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Film vs Digital

I've had some requests to characterize Film versus Digital. Here's one comparison look I shot a short while back and am just now getting the time to work up and post. Probably not the best look you could make for this since I'll admit its one dimensional in scene type. The film presentation also suffers from over exposure and probably not the best capture transfer to digital either.

As to the former callout to the exposure. I have a lot of film cameras but they mostly are all old and untested. The only ones I have new enough to have good confidence in their shutter speed accuracy are rangefinder cameras. Doesn't that sound funny .. the only film cameras I have new enough are rangefinders. And supposedly rangefinders were dead and replaced by the SLR fifty years ago. Well rangefinder aficionados are staunch and a few were still produced through the 1990's. The Voigtländer Bessa r4M and r4A rangefinders were the last to survive and were produced until a few years back. You can still find body only r4's new from old stock for around $800.

But I digress. Rangefinder cameras are particularly difficult to use for shooting close up and for macro. Generally you must have special external viewfinder attachments to shoot macro mode on a rangefinder, which I do not have. Plus, I just wanted a true direct optical view in shooting very close objects. So I looked over my available 35mm film SLR cameras and selected a very clean Praktica FX2 from the late 1950's that I'd been wanting to shoot with anyway. To the naked eye, the shutter speeds looked to work ok, so I went with it. Unfortunately in practice, what I found, which is so typical of older cameras, was at speeds above 1/125th second the shutter was dragging. 1/125th may have been closer to 1/60th. 1/250th was probably around 1/125th and 1/500th was probably slower even than 1/250th. Since this was a bright day, I was using either 1/250th or 1/500th second shutter speeds. Therefore the results are mostly overexposed by one to two stops.

So when you observe the blown out backgrounds, street and sky and wonder why they look so funky, its because they are clipped. Fortunately most of the flowers and foreground were within latitude and mostly workable. Not a perfect test for sure, but its a start. Hopefully I can get some more film up soon that's in better shape. Right now I have put one camera through the shop for check and adjustment and have two more in the shop being worked on right now. That will give me a few 35mm cameras that hopefully I can trust enough and produce some better exposed film images.

Here's the Praktica FX2 camera I used for the film shots. Love this beautiful old thing. You pop the top up and have a downward looking fresnel viewing screen for framing with the image being backwards left to right. A unique shooting experience for sure! Note, this is not the lens that was used though. What's shown here is a correct for the period and body Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 2/58mm lens. What I used was a Russian Volna 9 50mm f2.8 which is a very good macro lens.

The Digital camera used was the Sony A7RII. The film used was Kodak Portra 160 Negative.

When viewing from your computer you should see two columns with Digital on the left and Film on the right. When viewing on your mobile you will probably see images shifted into one continuous column. The images with the black frames around them are Film.


35mm Film

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These are both the same film image, however on the right I have done a quick and dirty grain removal from most of the background. It's amazing that in taking out the largest prominence of film grain how it starts looking more like the digital images. At least to me anyway.


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