Friday, February 20, 2009

Age & Deception - Youth & Speed

Tim has been using his daily photo post to do some experimenting - see here and here. I thought, what a cool idea - learn something from all that snappin' - why not?

So, today I did my own experiment. I decided to find out what the differences are between shooting with my film camera and my digital.

I have a Canon EOS 3 that I just love. The build quality, the feel, the HUGE viewfinder, the speed of the autofocus - there's just a lot there to like. I have a Canon 40D that isn't too shabby either. It'll shoot 6 frames a second, it's got plenty of pixels, and the AF is pretty good too.

I bolted on a 50mm 1.4 to the 40D and an 85mm 1.8 to the EOS 3. (Because the 40D has a smaller sensor, the two lenses provide nearly the same field of view). I loaded Ilford 400 speed XP-2 into the film camera, natch, and set the 40D to iso 400.

One of the things I was interested in learning is which one handles high contrast better. So, the middle of the day with the sun overhead provided the test conditions. I used the sunny 16 rule when setting both cameras to f16 at 1/400th.

And the results are: I can't decide. They both have their places. I like film because I have a darkroom that is a magical place to make pictures in. I like digital because I learn right now if what I'm trying is working or not. I like film because it slows me down a little and makes me think about what I'm doing. I like digital for the convienience: wrong iso? Change it. Want color and b&w at the same time? No problem.

One caveat, the scanning done on the film was the regular garden variety 1 hour photo lab hustle it through job. To really see if there's more in the film, one would want a real scan done.

Final note: Do you like one over the other? Do you know which is which?


  1. I would say the top one is digital?
    I will get back to you later

  2. I agree, the top one is digital. It held more detail in the sky with the wispy clouds still visible. But the darks didn't go as black as the film. It held more detail in the garbage can too on the shade side. The blacks look richer in the film one to me. Cool experiment. You gonna do one in color next?

  3. Me too - top one digital. It is difficult to say which I prefer but I think I would vote film in this instance.