As of today, January 7, 2018, I am using a digital camera (Nikon D850) with arguably one of the greatest 35mm sensors every made and yet my Leica M3 + 50/2 Dual Range + Kodak Tri-X  combination still gives me a look that digital cannot — not even after having been Photoshoped, VSCOized, Silver Efexized, or whatever-simulationized.


12 thoughts on “Film/digital.

  1. jkjod says:

    Not better or worse I’d argue, but different that’s for sure. A look I’m not sure I’ll not tire of, but the process and tangible nature of film in of itself make it very special (to me anyway).

  2. The irony is that your digital camera is larger than your film camera. Heh, heh, heh. ::cracks knuckles::

    But no, seriously, film has The Magic. But for me, colour film is the thing that cannot be matched. I believe that a monochrome sensor is, on balance, superior to b&w film. Not in every attribute, though. And I do intend to shoot b&w film anyway.

    I told Leica that they should produce monochrome versions of all of their system cameras, not just the M. If someone else does that first, Leica will be quite embarrassed. I don’t want them to drop the ball again.

    • I view B&W from film as generally aesthetically superior (specifically referring to look, not resolution, dynamic range) vs. B&W from digital.

      For colour, my preference depends on the circumstances (for example, at high ISO colour form digital is superior).

  3. John G. says:

    I have been trying to figure this out for years. My stepdad’s B&W prints just have something about the that looks wonderful to me. I can’t replicate it with digital. Maybe it’s the sensor, maybe it’s the print vs. scan, but I think it’s really the film itself.

    I’m sure it’s explainable by someone with more knowledge than I. The best I can figure out, its the randomness of the grain in film that makes it more attractive to me. It just looks more like art in my eyes…perhaps less perfect. That…and I can finally appreciate the difference (and elegance) of the B&W tones in film.

    I also like the look of the blacks in the silver gelatin paper, although I do have one picture from Tri-X that I scanned and printed on an Epson photo printer that looks very nice to me.

    Are you going to try the adapter that allows you to take a picture of your negatives on the D850?

    • Good question! I haven’t seen much on the adapter (other than reading about its existence) so I decided to go back to the tried-and-tested Plustek 8200i.

      • I once saw a comparison between a Canon DSLR and a Coolscan. The image was a b&w negative. The Canon file looked awful, which is an interesting look at how poor their sensors are. But the Coolscan file was quite good, if soft on the edge (I suspect that the negative was not mounted properly).

        It would be interesting to see film scanned with the latest sensors. Personally I don’t accept the use of a Bayer sensor to digitize film.

    • jkjod says:

      I only scan with a camera now – I have owned the Plustek (the 7600, pretty much the same as the 8200 that Peter uses) and the Pakon 135+. I now use a EM5-II in high res mode and I’ve got a rig that sets everything up so its in the exact same spot every single time. All I have to do is hit a preset button in LR and it crops, converts, etc in one swoop. Its extremely fast (the Pakon is faster and completely hands free, but lower resolution but MUCH better with color films).

      You can’t really half ass the set up though, you really need something that keeps everything in place and is the same from time to time. If you get the set up down, I feel its just as good if not better than a Plustek, only much faster and you don’t need to mess with the film carriers which are REALLY terrible, which tipped the bar for me. I would assume the 850 allows for a more detailed scan than my set up. The Plustek will give good results with pretty much no fiddling straight out of the box, the camera scan route takes some dialing in and some patience to get things going correctly.

      • jkjod says:

        Peter I’m curious how the D850 compares to the Plustek and my EM5II. If you are interested get a hold of me and send me a “scanned” file with the D850 and I’ll run it through my preset. We can compare if interested.

        • I don’t have a macro lens for the D850. And frankly, I’m not interested in scanning with the camera… more interested in using the CCD sensor on the Plustek.

          • jkjod says:

            Fair enough! I know I compared the A7 to my Plustek way back when and it’s what started me down this path of camera scanning. Nothing wrong with the Plustek though, that’s for sure.

            • At some I will experiment with the D850 adapter, if I get the chance, but I’ll still need a macro lens to do it. But I actually don’t mind the workflow with the Plustek. I guess I’m weird…

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