Not the film look

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
DrBormental
DrBormental Regular Member • Posts: 265
What's not to like?
2

Barry Twycross wrote:

There's a lot of talk about the "film look", but it was never something I liked. I had no choice using film, so now when I'm scanning my old film, I'm using all the post processing I can to "fix" the film.

Modern film emulsions are extremely accurate, with subtle pleasing tints, and when scanned and color-inverted properly, require very little post-processing. Here's Ektar 100, for example. DSLR-scanned, hand-inverted. And here's Fuji 400H Pro , inverted with Negmaster known for its neutral approach. Portra 160 - same thing, zero post-processing after an inversion. On B&W front, here's HP5+ and again - it looks quite "digital" in its appearance, i.e. nobody ever asks if these are analog. If you think this is limited to pro-level films, here's a boring shot on Superia 400 from Wallmart, it's not too different from a typical iPhone photo.

I can go on and on. Every emulsion I have tried looks drop-dead gorgeous and doesn't require major surgery to look great. In other words, a color negative is not a final image. It requires competent scanning or printing, and that is a separate issue.

What you're referring to as "film look" is - I suspect - a combination of other factors. None of them have anything to do with film itself. For example:

  • Historical perspective. Old emulsions weren't as good, and probably faded a bit over time.
  • Cheap "dry" same-day mini-labs of the 90s and god-awful prints they produced.
  • Modern automatic film scanning by Noritsu/Frontier scanners with auto-color / auto-level "enhancements".
  • Poor scanning at home using flatbeds with so-so Silverfast skills.
  • Any other variation of poor scanning or poor printing

All of the above is on display in various film communities, like on /r/analog. I don't even know what needs to go wrong to make Ektar look like this. But no, modern color film does not look this way.

What *is* different is slight variations in color balance, saturation and grain. Also, film tends to handle highlights very differently from digital: film has a shoulder vs a straight line, as evidenced in photos like this when highlights roll up all the way to the sun.

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