Comparing digital and film

FilmDigitalSmall-1

Whitelee Windfarm

I’ll start off by saying that this post is not scientific or aimed for pixel peeping, it is purely to present comparisons between my DSLR and film camera.  To make a comparison, I went to Whitelee Windfam, equipped with the  Canon 5D Mark II sporting the 50mm1.8, Canon AE-1 sporting the 50mm 1.8 and a tripod. My objective: to finish my first roll of film by undertaking some comparison shots.  The film used for this experiment was the Kodak Tri-X 400 (black and white film).  In my last blog post, I spoke about my experience of shooting film for the first time.  The idea was not really to capture any specific image, instead, to compare photographs from the same vantage point.

For each of the following comparisons, I set my exposure using the Canon 5D Mark II and transposed the same exposure to the AE-1.  Due to the analog’s film speed (ISO) being constant at 400, I set the ISO on the DSLR to the same level.

 

All images can be found at full resolution clicking on the (directing to Flickr album), be aware that the scans of the film images are at at ‘full resolution’ of 1545 x 1024 as that was the resolution processed by the developer when provided on CD.

 

Colour photo of wind turbines at Whitelee wind farm

Canon 5D Mark II with 50mm f1.8 – Settings 1/1000th, f11, ISO 400, 50mm

Black and white photo of wind turbines at Whitelee wind farm

Canon AE-1 with 50mm f1.8 – Settings 1/1000th, f11, ISO 400, 50mm

 

 

As stated, this post is less about critiquing the quality or capability of digital vs analog or the Kodak film, instead it is to allow you to compare the results of each camera when taken under the same circumstances.  As a perpetual amateur, I do not (yet) possess the skills to present an in depth analysis of the quality of the film (and processing) of the images.  However, I would that I was happy with the level of detail which I can see in the film when comparing to the digital image (which I did not expect).  When comparing the images, there is definitely an aesthetic appeal of the film – contrast and gain – which is pleasurable to view.

 

Colour photo of wind turbines at Whitelee wind farm

Canon 5D Mark II with 50mm f1.8 – Settings 1/1000th, f8, ISO 400, 50mm

Black and white photo of wind turbines at Whitelee wind farm

Canon AE-1 with 50mm f1.8 – Settings 1/1000th, f8, ISO 400, 50mm

Colour photo of wind turbines at Whitelee wind farm

Canon 5D Mark II with 50mm f1.8
- Settings 1/1000th, f5.6, ISO 400, 50mm

Black and white photo of wind turbines at Whitelee wind farm

Canon AE-1 with 50mm f1.8 -
Settings 1/1000th, f5.6, ISO 400, 50mm

Colour photo of wind turbines at Whitelee wind farm

Canon 5D Mark II with 50mm f1.8 -
Settings 1/1000th, f5.6, ISO 400, 50mm

Black and white photo of wind turbines at Whitelee wind farm

Canon AE-1 with 50mm f1.8 -
Settings 1/1000th, f5.6, ISO 400, 50mm

It is noted that the composition in the last two photos are not identical, however it can still be used to convey the sharpness and detail of the film.

I found comparing the two types of photography enjoyable and definitely see myself continuing to use both digital and analog in the future. There are certainly times where film will be preferred especially when wishing to slow down the photographic process and to achieve a specific visual aesthetic.