Why I Shoot Film Part 2

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Why I Shoot Film Part 2
3 months ago

Many posts never got a response since the original thread filled up so quickly so here's the chance to do so.

I found it interesting that after quite a while none of the pro-film posters responded to the post I made on real word dynamic range results that one would get when printing negative film back in the day so I reposted it here to see if there are any takers.

Graham, seriously, try not to take it personal criticism some people have for reasons given, by anyone, to use film. In the end I don't think anyone really cares how anyone takes their photos. I certainly don't. In the end they are just photos and in the end people are just killing some time sharing their views and opinions. None of this is worth getting upset over.

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As as far as I know the better digital cameras can match negative film for dynamic range. Besides, in a truly analog process, unless you are some master printer spending hours or days on a print in your own darkroom you are not even going to begin to get the deep dynamic range that is in a negative onto paper.

How can it be done then? By scanning the film so that it appears as it does when viewing the negative under a real loupe and by doing a bit of digital image editing after that. But by then you are way beyond being analog. So if you go pure analog you'll never really see the dynamic range that is in a negative in your prints. Below are two examples of what you would get going pure analog at an automated lab.

The first scan is what the negative looks like with the orange mask removed. Notice the detail in the lamps showing individual bulbs. The second scan is what most people would have gotten back in their print back in the film days from a truly analog automated printing process. Even a much darker print would not have preserved the detail lost in the highlights, which is what you see in the third scan. The fourth scan is the first scan edited on an iPad 4 in Photoshop Express.

Can the second one be improved with the modern hybrid digital/analog printing machines of today. Sure, but once again you are not pure analog anymore.

The point? The dynamic range of negative film is in a practical sense meaningless if you can not put in on paper in a truly analog printing process. So the argument for shooting negative film for the supposed better dynamic range doesn't hold water. Clearly my example, on a iPad and tablet app no less, shows the dynamic range advantage falls on the digital side.

What a scanned negative looks like under a real loupe, minus the orange mask. Amazing dynamic range, huh? Flat as heck though.

What your typical print would look like back in the film days from a truly analog automated lab.

The best a truly analog automated lab back in the day could have come up with, excluding color.

The first scan quickly edited on an iPad 4 in Photoshop Express. Notice how much of the dynamic range is preserved.

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