Digital?Posted: May 29, 2015
Yes, this is still the Shot on Film blog, but in addition to shooting old film cameras, I do shoot modern digital cameras. No reason not to enjoy both. I recently bought a Fuji X-T1, and I know that a big part of why I fell in love with it the first time I saw one was because the design of it is so much more like a classic film SLR than any other digital camera I had ever seen. The shape, design and feel of it, the shutter speed dial, the ISO dial, the aperture ring on the lens (that’s one thing I wish they’d gone a step farther on — putting actual aperture markings on the lens). Once the camera is set up the way I like to shoot, there’s little reason to ever push buttons or look at menus on the LCD. I can just leave the LCD off and use the viewfinder and feel almost like I’m shooting film, except that the electronic viewfinder (EVF) shows me approximately what the actual exposure is going to look like (nice feature, I admit).
I shot some photos early one morning this week, and when looking at them in Lightroom a couple images struck me as looking like film photos. Film has a unique look and I feel like I can usually tell when a photo was shot on film. I follow a number of photographers on Tumblr, and as I scroll through the images almost nightly, I usually notice photos that I think were shot on film, and more often than not I’m correct. Of course, digital images can be edited to look more like film, such as by using the popular VSCO film packs in Lightroom.
These images shown here are the two that jumped out at me for some reason as I looked through my images today. To me they look like they were shot with my Mamiya 645 on Ektar film. Maybe it’s the rich brown tones that Ektar renders so nicely, maybe it’s the little bit of extra contrast that I added in Lightroom, maybe it’s the Fuji Provia camera profile that was applied when I imported to Lightroom. I think it’s probably all of those, but also one other thing — I started shooting very early in the morning, before sunrise, and to work in the low light I cranked the ISO of the digital sensor up to 3200. Shooting at high ISO results in digital noise in the images, and with previous digital SLRs that I’ve used (Canon 40D, most recently), the digital noise was really unappealing – these multi-colored spots that just looked unnatural. What I notice about these images from the Fuji is that when I zoom way in, the noise looks to me almost like film grain! Perhaps that’s why I thought this looked like a high-res scan of medium-format film.
Here’s a screenshot where I’m zoomed in at 1:1 on screen. Click it to view full size:
And zoomed in more. Click to view full size:
Don’t worry, I’ll be back with more film photos. I haven’t gone completely to the dark side!