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Danielle Defayette

Film Fun Friday | Medium Format vs. Digital Film Photography

Medium Format vs. Digital Film Photography

Welcome to the first edition of my new series, Film Fun Fridays! I really wanted to start a discussion on my blog about film photography – not only its awesome qualities, but also its limitations and its differences to digital. One thing I love to do is to compare my film photography versus digital results. Usually these images are shot on different focal lengths, but it still gives me a good idea of how the two mediums handle light, shadows, and reflections differently. By comparing them side by side, I get a better understanding of how I need to shoot my film differently, when I should use digital instead of film, and also how I can better edit my digital images to match the look of film!

Sometimes Film Fridays will have side by side comparisons like we have today. Sometimes I’ll be discussing film photography formats, film camera bodies, getting started with film, the hidden costs of film, and any other topics that come up with shooting film. I am no expert on shooting film – I am a relative newbie, in fact! But I wanted to force myself to learn more about it, and so I’ll pretty much just be attempting to answer my own questions on this blog!

First up, we have Bailey & Tyler’s sunset engagement session in Bristol, Virginia. For this session, I shot on my Canon 5D Mark IV and my medium format Pentax 645N. As for film, I chose Fuji400H because it’s pretty much my all time favorite film. And a big ol’ thank you to The FIND Lab for processing the film images for me!

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IN ALL OF THESE COMPARISONS, FILM IS ON THE LEFT. DIGITAL ON THE RIGHT (FILM FIRST)

If you haven’t analyzed much film before, a few things to look at:

  • The tones and hues of the greens, pinks, and reds
  • The color of the highlights on their skin
  • The depth of the shadows
  • The detail retained/loss in highlights
  • The texture/grain of the image

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These are some of the biggest and most noticeable differences between film photography and digital. In the images below, you can see the shadows have more depth to them in the film image than in the digital. You can also see the pink on her shirt is a bit different and the skin tones are somehow more natural in appearance. I had had these images side by side while I was editing and I still had difficulty matching up the colors perfectly!

That is another struggle with film: you have to wait to get your film scans back. Usually I am done editing my digital files before I even get my film scans back. So that means by the time I do get my film scans back, I don’t want to RE edit my digital to match what my film looks like.

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I was shocked by the comparison below. My digital edit looks pale and flat in comparison to the film!

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In all of the above shots, I really love my film photography more than my digital. I love the warmth on their skin. I can see that I was trying to warm up the skin tones in my digital images but in doing so ended up just making them look more magenta rather than the vibrant look that film is able to achieve.

If you’re looking for more information on film photography, make sure to check out my Intro to Film Photography post! 

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