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Scanned 35mm film vs digital
Old 02-13-2016   #1
Carriage
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Scanned 35mm film vs digital

What's the appeal of 35mm scanned film? Is film emulation still not quite what you're after? Don't get me wrong, I do it occasionally but the times im not driven by camera specific reasons I'm usually asking myself would I not be better off doing this digitally.
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Old 02-14-2016   #2
Nathan King
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The only time a film scan has ever rivaled one of my darkroom prints was when I paid slightly over $100 to drum scan a single frame by a professional lab. Likewise, the only digital prints I've ever been totally satisfied with were when I had the digital file transferred to film using Digital Silver Imaging's LVT process and contact printed or carefully post-processed and printed to Ilford Galerie via a light jet machine. There's a guy where I live who prints digital to bartyra paper via inkjet which gets extremely close to looking like a darkroom print. If I didn't print I would shoot digital in a heartbeat. Generally speaking, film looks terrible after it has been digitized.
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Old 02-14-2016   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carriage View Post
What's the appeal of 35mm scanned film? Is film emulation still not quite what you're after? Don't get me wrong, I do it occasionally but the times im not driven by camera specific reasons I'm usually asking myself would I not be better off doing this digitally.
Simple - film, even when it's scanned, has a different look than digital, especially B&W. I've seen tons of attempts at simulating film looks in digital, and have tried a number of plug-ins myself, but none compare in the end, they're always off just enough that you can tell the difference. Some folks don't notice it, but anyone that shoots both can spot it a mile away.

That's not saying one's better or worse than the other, just different. I shoot both, and they both have their good and bad points.
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Old 04-09-2016   #4
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Of the little 35mm I shoot anymore (10 or less rolls annually), I always scan it and occasionally digitally print it. I'm far more concerned about the overall image than the things many film photographers might notice. A few years back it was different. I don't think it's much different anymore. But like the English say, horses for courses.
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Old 04-09-2016   #5
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I thought we were supposed to not discuss religious issues here?
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Fuji 400
Old 04-09-2016   #6
kena
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Fuji 400

I just seem to like the overall look of film better. My friend spinning a yarn....Fuji 400
M2 with 50mm summilux at 1.4
[/IMG]
And a similar digital capture-
Only OMD em5II w 17mm @1.8
[/IMG]
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Old 04-10-2016   #7
Nowhereman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carriage View Post
What's the appeal of 35mm scanned film? Is film emulation still not quite what you're after? Don't get me wrong, I do it occasionally but the times im not driven by camera specific reasons I'm usually asking myself would I not be better off doing this digitally.
I am considering a full return to film after ten years of digital and have started a thread titled Go back to film? Sell the M9-P/MM? Wanna talk me down?

Looking at several film and digital series of B&W images in that thread, I think that it is not all obvious which is better for the high-contrast look that I'm interested in. What is drawing me to film is the way Tri-X renders highlights in bright and harsh tropical light. However, the lack of a good and convenient scanning solution, either using a lab or doing it oneself (that has been discussed in several other threads), raises the barrier for going back to film — and makes the decision difficult.

Here is an example from the linked thread. The Tri-X picture shows the type of highlight rendering that I cannot achieve with digital. The M-Monochrom picture, which I also like, shows the darker renddering that I use with digital. You can see more along this line in the linked thread.



Tri-X @ISO 400 stand developed for 1 hour in Rodinal 1:100, gentle inversion after 30 minutes | M6 | Summiux-35 FLE

Chiang Mai



M-Monochrom | Summicron-35v4 | ISO 640

Pak Nam Pran

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Old 04-10-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kena View Post
I just seem to like the overall look of film better. My friend spinning a yarn....Fuji 400
M2 with 50mm summilux at 1.4
...
And a similar digital capture-
...
Only OMD em5II w 17mm @1.8
Are there not things available (presets?) to modify the digital image to look like the film image or are they not that good? Without trying digital made to look like film myself it seems like you're just paying for convenience (and hard copy backup).

Quote:
Here is an example from the linked thread. The Tri-X picture shows the type of highlight rendering that I cannot achieve with digital. The M-Monochrom picture, which I also like, shows the darker derndering that I have to use with digital. You can see more along this line in the linked thread.
I haven't got much experience in digital B&W but couldn't the difference be the exposure and the lighting?
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Old 04-11-2016   #9
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No doubt about it scanning is a huge pain and/or expense if you want it to look good.

I suggest you borrow a film camera or buy a cheap one. Tri-X and f8 and even the cheapest camera will be OK. Shoot a couple rolls, send them to a lab and request scans. See how you like the experience. are you happy with the results? is the price something you can deal with?

I'm telling you...you probably won't be happy with a low cost at home scanning solution...unless you don't mind a lo-fi look.
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Old 04-11-2016   #10
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I already shoot film. In black and white I do everything myself up to and including a wet print. My photos in the gallery here are scans of my prints. I enjoy doing the black and white though from a technical point of view I'm not sure I can tell if it's better or worse. Using the older cameras and getting away from the computer are two big factors in why I use film.

I've also shot a few colour rolls and apart from the E6 stuff which I have mounted to project I'm always questioning why I bothered to an extent as at the end of the day it ends up on my screen and I could just buy lightroom and VSCO presets or something similar and from what I've read I'll get similar results. The other thing is that given that printing from a colour negative is to an extent an interpretation, it's even more reason to use digital+presets.
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Old 04-11-2016   #11
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I use an X100T sometimes, but I can still tell the difference between the photos from it and my film shots. I dunno why it is to be honest... I can make it look 'close' with software like VSCO, to give it some fake grain or colors, but it's still never quite "there".
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Old 04-11-2016   #12
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Is the difference enough to think it worse for you or is it just different? What if the VSCO preset was just another similar emulsion?
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Old 04-11-2016   #13
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Part of the appeal film has for me is using film cameras. I know there are digital Leicas (out of my budget) and the Fujis are getting more film-camera-like in their feel, but classic mechanical cameras are a big reason for me.

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Old 04-11-2016   #14
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I routinely take a film/digital buddy system for outings for my own edification, and shoot similar or duplicate images often at matching settings. The film is developed in D76, scanned on a Plustek 8200, and all developed in LR. I'm not wet printing now, but will be doing so again when I retire, and though it's not hard to imagine I'll get better results from the film in that process, I'm mostly satisfied with the similarity of the results in scans/LR.

Here are some examples FWIW.


M5 28/2.8 ZM, Acros @ISO 80, f4


GR ISO 400 f13



Bronica rf645, 45/4, HP5 ISO 250, f8


GR ISO 100 f5.6




M5, 35/2 ZM, TriX @250 f8



Fuji XE1 16/1.4, ISO 250 f11 (southerly skies sorta blown)
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Old 04-11-2016   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatchetman View Post
No doubt about it scanning is a huge pain and/or expense if you want it to look good.

I suggest you borrow a film camera or buy a cheap one. Tri-X and f8 and even the cheapest camera will be OK. Shoot a couple rolls, send them to a lab and request scans. See how you like the experience. are you happy with the results? is the price something you can deal with?

I'm telling you...you probably won't be happy with a low cost at home scanning solution...unless you don't mind a lo-fi look.
1. Not true
2. Now THAT is the way to guarantee second rate unless you pay the big bucks.
3. Not true
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Old 04-12-2016   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carriage View Post
Is the difference enough to think it worse for you or is it just different? What if the VSCO preset was just another similar emulsion?
For me it's just different. I like shooting with both cameras and have some film and digital prints on my wall, they look similar when printed IMO.

Like others have said, it's more about using the cameras for me. I can't justify a digital Leica cost, so I don't know if i'd enjoy it as much as my M6, but with my Nikons, I get more enjoyment out of using my F100 vs my D300, even though with processing I can make the D300 images look similar. I think I also am kinda lazy and with film, I don't really have to process it much, once it's in the computer.. just scan and adjust levels, boom! With digital, it takes a lot more work to make the images look like I want.

That's actually one reason I prefer my fujifilm as far as digital goes, it already looks close to how I want it to when I import the file, so there's not much work to do.
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Old 04-12-2016   #17
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OK mdarnton, let us in on your cheap and easy 35mm scanning methods.
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Old 04-13-2016   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatchetman View Post
OK mdarnton, let us in on your cheap and easy 35mm scanning methods.
I'm obviously not mdarnton, but I agree with him. I use a V700, which is cheap in comparison to other dedicated film scanners and it's really easy to use with Epson software. It can be time consuming, but it's not difficult. I'm also 100% happy with the scans I get from it. I've had scans from labs within the past couple years and am usually happier with mine to be honest. I don't really consider my scans "lo-fi". Would they be better with a Coolscan 9000 or something? Probably, but the "cheap" solutions are ok for casual shooters IMO.
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Old 04-13-2016   #19
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It appears that they don't make the V700 anymore and its replacement V800 is about $650. Cheap or not, I don't know, you decide. And you admit, it is time consuming.

I thought the OP was a digital shooter curious about film. If you already have the film gear then what the hell, get a scanner and have at it.
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Old 04-14-2016   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatchetman View Post
No doubt about it scanning is a huge pain and/or expense if you want it to look good.

I suggest you borrow a film camera or buy a cheap one. Tri-X and f8 and even the cheapest camera will be OK. Shoot a couple rolls, send them to a lab and request scans. See how you like the experience. are you happy with the results? is the price something you can deal with?

I'm telling you...you probably won't be happy with a low cost at home scanning solution...unless you don't mind a lo-fi look.
Have to agree with the others that this is simply not true for the most part. Currently, I use an Epson V500 and the Epson software to scan my negs. I paid around $180 for it 4-5 years back and it's been a solid machine the whole time.

Is there better? Sure, but I bought it mostly as a test when I was just getting back into film and wasn't happy with the commercial scans I was getting. I'll likely upgrade this winter, but for now the results have been excellent. More than the machine, HOW you scan is the real determiner as to the quality you can get. My scans now are much, much better than when I started because I've worked out all the little kinks for the most part. Is it more work? Sure, but nothing terrible. I scan while I'm editing pics or surfing the web, etc. and a 24 shot roll takes maybe an hour at best. Edit the keepers in PS over another hour or so and that's that.

Slower than digital, sure, but I'm not in a rush typically anyway plus I have my D3 and 70D for when I need speed. A few recent examples (forgive the watermark):



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Old 04-14-2016   #21
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Eric, those photos have an almost 3D pop to them. Can you provide more details (film, lens, scanner, post)?

Like at least one other here, I also have the V700. It's terrific for the scans I do (I don't feel the need to scan everything) and I'd guess the time to scan a roll of negs is not a lot longer than going into the lab, mixing up the chemicals, exposing a couple proof sheets, developing and drying them. Then you have to go and pick what you want to enlarge. With the scanner, once they're in, you're good to go to run through whatever program you use to create a larger digital image and print it off if desired.

As I said earlier in this thread, I do like shooting film but mostly so I can use my old cameras not because there's anything magical about it other than enjoying the tradition and having the physical results in the form of negatives. I like negatives.
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Old 04-15-2016   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSG123 View Post
Eric, those photos have an almost 3D pop to them. Can you provide more details (film, lens, scanner, post)?
Sure thing. They were taken with a Nikon F4s w/ Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 AF-D on Ilford XP2 Super. Don't remember the exposure details, but it was at box speed (400), 200mm, maybe f/4 or so and suitable shutter speed.

Developed at home in XTOL 1:1 for 10 mins @ 68F. Yup, you can develop XP2 as std. B&W, but it's somewhat sub-par. I had the film laying around and had to use it up, and didn't feel like mailing it out for proper processing, so DIY. 10 mins gave pretty thin negs, and later tries eventually ended up somewhere around 25 mins or so if I recall. I had to wing it b/c there was no data anywhere for XTOL; there is for D76 though, and it gives much better results.

Anyway, scanned on an Epson V500 using the stock Epson software. I turn off all of the auto-correct options and auto-exposure as well. No dust reduction either, but I do leave the stock sharpening setting. Scan to 48-bit color 16-bit .tif @ 4800 dpi, then pp in LR to adjust tone, etc. to get it to look like what I want. Do the final dust removal in PS5.1 for the keepers.
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Eric, great pictures
Old 04-16-2016   #23
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Eric, great pictures

They certainly prop up the film side very well.
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Old 04-16-2016   #24
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I don't think there's any shortage of good equipment out there at reasonable prices. For large format I currently use an HP G4050. I think it cost me around $150 on sale. I haven't shot much 35mm in the last year or two, but I threw a couple of negs on it a few weeks ago, and it did a great job, very close to what I was getting by camera scanning with my Nikon D300 (which was "cheap" because I already needed and had it for other uses). It's certainly good enough considering that in the last 50 years I've only made one single 16x20 print, otherwise 11x14 and under, and for that it's fine. The disconnect for many people is that they work honing their skills in the darkroom for 20 years, and then when they can't replicate the results of that 20 years of learning in 20 minutes on the computer, they complain that digital is no good. :-(

The other issue is when new filmers send their stuff out to a mass-production lab that's using equipment that's "commercial" mass-market quality as measured in 2004, but maybe not as good as any current office scanner that does film. Then they figure if the results from the lab is bad, the whole concept of film to digital is bad. I tried a couple of recommended labs of the Ken Rockwell type, and was massively unimpressed; they're about as good as the mini-labs of yore, because that's exactly what they are, and that's hardly professional quality. So again, don't judge film by mass processing.

Anyway, the reasons I still shoot film are many. I prefer the small size and high tactile quality of my old film equipment, and appreciate that I've been able to build complete Nikon and Leica kits for pennies compared to what things cost new in 1990. I like the way film looks; I prefer the way the old lenses render, I like the gigantic dynamic range of film that digital cameras still don't match, though my new D7200 is pretty good ( range which has been made manifest by digital scanning in a way that never could be done easily enough in the darkroom).
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Old 07-13-2016   #25
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I have very little experience with digital. The few times I borrowed my buddy's Canon 5D Mark II body and L lenses, I was quite satisfied with the results. Other than that, all of my snaps are shot on film and scanned by the lab. The film results have been very good. I'm in no hurry to adopt digital or to abandon film. I have noticed that when I burn B/W film with the proper filter on the lens, that I get an image that I really like. I'll have to convert a couple of digital snaps to B/W, to see if I can duplicate the results from the B/W film. And the few slides that I have had drum scanned, look awesome!

Kodak 400UC film


35mm Velvia 50, Drum scanned.


35mm Ilford Delta. Polarizing and orange filter.


Ilford XP-2 (35mm) with orange filter.
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