Film or Digital

Fuji GW690iii Medium Format

Do I prefer film vs digital? I don’t think I can answer that question. I like them both for different reasons. Digital is immediate. I can take a picture and correct as I  go. At the end of the shoot I can load all of the files on my computer and cull and start editing them right away. Additionally, my digital files seem to come out substantially  sharper than my film files. That’s not to say that my films images aren’t sharp. They are very sharp, but depending on the film stock that I use, they tend to have a “weight” to them. It’s like the air has a substance to them. The digital files are not only sharp, they are really clear.

Another difference, when I shoot digital I tend to chimp. The pictures that I take are shaping the final picture. I will take a picture, look at the exposure and the composition, make adjustments and shoot again. I repeat the process over and over again until, before I know it, I have two to three hundred images.

Medium Format 6×9 Fuji Provia 100

With film I tend to visualize the scene a little more. I have to take the light meter recommendation into account and figure if I want to over or under expose based off of what I am visualizing in my head. I have to take into account if the background is lighter or darker than the subject, if there are flairs or highlights or overly dynamic areas in the scene, and don’t get me started with flash. If you’ve ever wanted to doubt your intuition, try shooting a film session using flash without a TTL flash or a flash capable light meter.

35mm Fuji c200

In the end, I like both formats. I often have a film and a digital camera that I take with me wherever I go. If I’m doing a shoot, I like to take the majority of the shots with the digital kit and then take a few roles of film. When I am going through the images after the shoot there are always great images in both formats. I will probably have more keepers in digital, but that is just to the sheer numbers, because I also have way more garbage shoots in digital too. I find my percent of good shoots to bad shots is usually a lot higher in film than digital. I can attribute that to the fact that I am thinking out, planning, repositioning, checking exposure and focus multiple times before I take a shot because I won’t know if it looks good for about a week. I will say that as stupid and cliche as it sounds, film makes me a way better photographer because it is making me think through everything. I have found that I have also been developing a little better shooters intuition now that I am shooting film again because I’m not taking notes on each shot that I do so I go into a film shoot with blanket philosophies on how I am going to expose back light, vs properly light items. When I get the scans back I will see those images as whole sets either came back properly exposed or a bit off, but it is usually across the board so I know how to compensate a little better the next time I’m in that situation.

Digital Fujifilm X100F

Look at the images below, one was taken with a film Contax ST with an 85mm Zeiss lens and the other was take with a Digital Fujifilm X Pro2 with a 56mm lens. To sum it up, I say, It doesn’t matter what you shoot, just pick something that inspires you and go out and shoot.

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