Journey to Hybrid | Film vs Digital Comparison

August 23, 2019


Journey to Hybrid | Film vs Digital Comparison

This is going to be such a fun post! I’ve found myself more and more drawn to film this year. You know, that black paper that your parents’ and grandparents’ weddings were photographed on? I go into what I love about film here, but today’s post is going to be a visual comparison of film vs digital! I’ll keep technical jargon to a minimum and focus on the aesthetics / pros and cons that a client should consider when searching for a photographer.

{For any photographers reading, the digital images were shot on a Nikon D750 with either a 50mm 1.4 or 85mm 1.8 lens. The film images were shot on a Pentax 645N with a 75mm lens, on Fuji Pro 400H film, rated at 200, and scanned by The FIND Lab. If you’re looking for film education, I highly recommend the FIND lab’s blog and Shooting Film Without Fear by Julie Paisley!}

And now, on to the fun stuff! Throughout the summer, I’ve brought my film camera to a few weddings and portrait sessions to start incorporating film into my workflow. On a few occasions, I took nearly identical images on both film and digital cameras. I wanted to be able to study my own work and figure out what it was about film that was drawing me in.

I’m so excited for you to enjoy the comparison, too! The great thing about hiring a hybrid photographer (someone that shoots both film and digital) is that you’ll get the best of both worlds! You’ll be able to enjoy the same-day sneak peeks and ability to shoot in low light situations that digital cameras are great for, while also getting those timeless, dreamy film portraits. Keep scrolling to see a few examples!

Digital on left, film on right.

You guys. Look at those BLUES in the water and sky at Megan and Evan’s engagement session! This is probably the most drastic difference you’ll see in these images – a sign that I might need to tweak my editing style for digital images shot in full sun. Film performs really well in full sun, and can retain color that digital photography will typically lose. That’s good news for wedding clients, considering that most wedding ceremonies happen outdoors in full sun!

Digital on the left, film on the right.

This detail shot of a rosebush takes my breath away. Look at those minty greens! And vibrant pinks! And that dreamy blurry background! This is what I love about film. It feels like a dream.

Digital on the left, film on the right.

The differences between these images from Emily’s senior session are more subtle. If you look closely though, you can start to see the tell tale signs of a film image on the right. The background is a little blurrier, the greens are a little more vibrant, and the whole image feels like it almost pops off the screen. The image on the left is beautiful on its own! But once you see it next to a film image, it almost looks a little flat. Film images can sometimes have a three dimensional quality which is beautiful for portraits!

Film on the left, digital on the right.

Loved this shot from Savanah and Ryan’s engagement session! Again, there’s not too much difference between the two – but doesn’t the film image look a little cleaner? Ryan’s white shirt looks a little brighter and whiter in the film image. The background falls away in a more pleasing way, and the greens have that beautiful minty quality to them. Remember, the film images haven’t even been edited – they come out of the camera looking that way!

Below is a bonus image from Savanah and Ryan. See how much dimension the film image has? Ugh, what a dream!

Film on top, digital on bottom.

This portrait from Aili and Tom’s wedding might be one of my new favorite images ever. LOOK at those skin tones! So bright and true to life! Capturing accurate skin tones can be a real struggle on digital cameras, but on film, it’s a dream. Speaking of dreams, you might also notice the slightly softer quality of the film image. It’s generally true that film images aren’t as sharp as digital images – the focusing capability is better on digital. However, some people (like me!) love that softer quality, especially for weddings and portraits.

I hope this was enjoyable! Can’t wait to keep shooting more film at my weddings and portrait sessions. If you’d like to chat about booking, click here to get in touch!

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At home near the sea. Ever-focused on beauty and the thrilling art of creation; found in the moments that matter most.

Amanda is fueled by a desire to preserve the best humanity has to offer: our love for one another. She draws her inspiration from classic literature, sprawling wildflower fields, thoughtful design and architecture, and her travels across the world, particularly Europe. 

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