Important Difference Between Film & Digital


What NOT to expect from Digital!

Fuji X-E1 with its 18-55mm lens

Fuji X-E1 with its 18-55mm lens

Recently I had a series of conversations here with a reader who wanted to pick up a Fuji X-E1 camera and have it deliver Velvia results out of the camera.  This conversation did not start well, but moved into meaningful dialog very fast.  I thought that I would share my thoughts as I gave them to him with you as it is important to understand what a digital camera can really deliver…

As a new convert to digital from film you need to understand one MAJOR difference between the two. Images generated from film are/were dependent upon the film emulsion, exposure, chemistry and glass quality/coatings for colors, saturation and white temperature which in combination gave each film its own distinctive look.

Now, along comes digital, where the only real move into the film Look/Feel is with a built in simulation or the proper selection of White Balance and the filters/coatings on the sensor plus the lens glass and its coatings. Some digitals give a more saturated look, some less. Some pump up the reds to the point of problems.

The Fuji’s typically give a more saturated image with a slight bluish feel. But, knowing photographers with experience who understand these issues and the capability of shooting in RAW understand that ALL of the films/sensor character is really defined in post processing! Looking for a Velvia look and feel out of the camera is foolishness and very short sited. You take your pictures, making sure that the WB is correct for the scene and day, you shoot in RAW, you get your exposure correct  then when you get home you do your color/saturation/tint adjustments in the RAW conversion. Then in Photoshop you do your real work where you can move your image into the film looks as you like with simple adjustments like, saturation, levels, color shifts and so on. With the addition of the NIK filter set you then get total control over these adjustments in an easy and fast way.

If you are looking for Fuji (or any camera) to give you a film look right out of the camera then you should just quit now before you have a nervous break down.

My Fuji’s are an incredible tool. But they are just tools, the creative work happens on the computer in post processing. I have used dozens of cameras from simple point and shoots, micro 4/3s, fuji X systems, Canon’s, Leica’s, Nikons and many many others including lots of film systems including (and still in use) a very nice 4×5. NONE of the digitals will give an accurate film simulation, period. Don’t look to  them for that or simply stay with film.

Go out and try different cameras yourself. When with friends try a memory card in their camera. Take the images home and work them over on the computer. Make your own decision and move forward.

My own decision path was simple…

  1. I dumped ALL of my canon system including top pro line bodies and $30,000 in L glass due to medical problems where I lost 80% use of both arms and hands. The DSLR’s are simply too heavy for me to use now!  What was I to do?
  2. I experimented with ALL of the various Micro 4/3 systems. Kept a GH2 as an Infrared system and the OMD as a high speed replacement for my Canon 1DSMK3 and lenses in order to chase birds and other wildlife.
  3. I tried and decided against the Leica system because of lack of longer lenses and lens expense. I could easily spend another $30,000 on the needed lenses and still not have the range I desired.
  4. I Tried the Fuji X100, Cool, nice small camera with great images, but no interchangeable lenses, bummer
  5. I found out that Fuji came out with the X Pro 1, rushed out and got one with EVERY Fuji lens plus 3 Voightlander M mount lenses for the Leica. Fell in love with the camera/lenses and the images generated. But it had no electronic shutter release so it would not work with my lightning trigger and water drop system. Bummer
  6. I found out that Fuji introduced the X-E1 with this functionality built in. Purchased it and have been happy ever since. The Fuji E-X1 is an amazing system for landscapes, long exposures (REALLY GOOD), water drops and lightning photography. Does it look like velvia when that is enabled? Not really, a little close BUT WHO CARES!!!! I can make it look like ANY FILM TYPE in post processing! It creates amazing low noise images at high ISO’s but I rarely use high ISO’s. It is light, easy to use and has GREAT lenses. I love the Leica and Voightlander lenses when used with the Fuji M to X adapter with its corrections built in!

You can read about ALL of these things here on the blog. You can ask questions on the various forums on the net but they are generally filled with camera lover/haters/bashers rather than people who are trying to learn and improve with their equipment (even though they are there but due to the noise of the others are just un-heard!).

Good luck in your search. Please keep in touch and let me know how it goes as you progress!

OK, you get one Fuji X System  image!

Stormy Seas at the dock.  Voigtlander Heliar Ultra Wide-Angle 12mm f/5.6 Lens. Notice the focus from about 3 inches to infinity.

Stormy Seas at the dock. Voigtlander Heliar Ultra Wide-Angle 12mm f/5.6 Lens. Notice the focus from about 3 inches to infinity.

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20 comments on “Important Difference Between Film & Digital

  1. Pingback: Important Difference Between Film & Digital | Mark Hilliard Atelier’s Blog | ELLIOT PAUL STERN

  2. So sharp & clean it hurts my eyes! EVERY time you capture the Stormy Seas it seems better than the previous image!! Very, very nice! and the beat goes on…

  3. As always an informative blog. If you go to fujirumors.com there is a post by Brian Kraft who is one of the first to test the new Fuji X100s with the X trans sensor. If you click on his post and view his pictures it is uncanny how his pictures have the true film look to them. Like you state it is all done in post processing.

  4. Mark, you are absolutily right. I fully agree. This is also for me the right way of working. Regards, Peter

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