Emulation – Film Is Still King

Please click on the audio play button below to listen to a 3 minute discussion why digital emulation “proves” that film is still king!

13 thoughts on “Emulation – Film Is Still King

  1. I would add on your title, and summarize as: “Film and skill are still king and queen”.
    I’ve shot thousands of digital photos on my Nikon D40, but my dad stills nails every single shot much better than I do,
    My dad shoots Kodak film on a Nikon FM2 for 30 years.
    I’ve shot my D40 for 4 years.

  2. Great post.

    I was viewing prints this week and I asked the photographer “what is the texture in the middle of the image?”
    “It’s a film grain effect I added” he replied.

    The “effect” was so intense it made a smooth paper look like it had a rough finish. Worse, it had only been applied only in selected areas of the image.

    Editing tools that emulate film are very powerful, and sadly they are rarely used gently.

  3. I have wondered about this as well. You know people will talk about which software emulates film the best. Silver effects pro, DXO, etc, etc. I just do not understand why people just don’t shoot the real thing and save a ton of time away from the computer. I am not that old, graduated high school in 94, and I feel film just has that magical quality to it. Yes I have a Dslr and would not shoot everything in my life on film. But for work that will define me photographically speaking, you bet your butt there is going to be some real film in the camera! For me it is not good enough if someone asks me, why is part of the photo like that? And my response is oh isn’t that a cool computer trick I did to create that! The image probably has no soul to it so they resort to computer tricks to try and sell an image.

  4. Frankly the whole situation is hilarious! I’ve tried, tried & tried to use digital cameras to get the workflow/output I’ve wanted for YEARS now and what do I end up using as my preferred system? Two M6’s. A Leica M6 and a Mamiya 6 and I am in dreamland using those.

    Now, when I use my digital gear which consists of a Fuji X-Pro 1 & Ricoh GR I pretty much HATE working with them compared to the film gear and my results don’t even come close to my scanned film efforts.

    It is just so laughable that we are “X” amount of years into the so-called digital revolution but even now in 2013 we still strive for the look of film because …. frankly ….. it is just SO MUCH better than anything digital has offered thus far.

  5. Great post Stephen. Thanks. After 6 years on the dark side, I have been shooting film again for 3 years. I’m finally home. While I am in lock step with the Figital revolution, can I ask a question – just to play devil’s advocate? We are all in agreement of the advantages of analog capture, but what about output? Isn’t there a subtlety to analog print too? Or it just doesn’t fit with your vision for your own work?

    1. I find the digital output and paper options perfectly matches my needs BUT I am running a test now to showcase on FR looking at a gelatin silver print next to a digital inkjet print both from a film scan of the same file…. I hope in a week.

  6. Amen, brother. I totally agree. Although I think many people use Instagram because they have an iPhone on with the free program available. I think Hipstagram is better, but now that they merged, it’s a moot issue.

    Film is still king for that, uh, film look. LOL! Yeah, I am from the film era. Many people are from the digital era now though and they are trying to be different by switching to film. I find that hilarious as film is what I’ve always known. But I’m happy that people are keeping that film spark alive. I love digital but quite frankly, it’s too easy and too smooth. I like the uncertainty of film, and the rough edginess, but not the expense of it. The only things that I don’t like about film, the expense and the lack of good processing centers that are reasonable.

  7. I think the look and feel of film has never really been questioned, but I think the decline in people using film comes down to the fact that humans have always (religious and cultural beliefs aside) preferred convenience; and film, as great as it looks, is just not convenient for most people. So the “best” of both worlds is to marry the convenience of digital with the aesthetics of film (rarely works, but that doesn’t seem to be a deterrent).

    There are obvious exceptions and some persons prefer quality over instant gratification. The silver lining is that if even 10% of these photographers realize that actually shooting film is better than emulation (and a lot easier than most think), we will be in a great place in terms of supporting film manufacturers in the future.

    Thanks for reopening the site!

  8. My perspective is from a different industry, animation. I was a traditional animator in a previous life. The new kid in town was computer animation. Most of us traditional animators saw this is just a new type of pencil. The industry didn’t. They saw it as a game changer. It wasn’t. It took at least 10-20 years, depending on who you talked to, for computer animation to come into it’s own. Thank you Pixar.

    The first problem was artist vs scientist. I consider myself luck as I can play in either of those arenas. Most can’t, and that is okay. However, the early computer animation was very much populated by coders, and people that could use the tools well. A good deal of them had no artistic skills.

    Early on, when I tried to jump it, they would ask: “do you have experience in XXX?” Some cheeky HR recruiters would ask for 10 years of experience in some software package, when it wasn’t even around for three or four. The emphasis was how well you could use: Flash, SoftImage, Maya…etc. Unfortunate.

    You could tell in the awkward movement, no overlapping action, and definitely no squash and stretch. The solution was applying real physics to a fake work…the result was really fake. It’s hard to describe, but there is something with the apparant size of the camera shot vs the size of the screen that makes natural movement in an animated scene look weird. You NEED exaggeration, and it takes an artist to make that look right.

    A few people I stumbled across in my years, were good at both. They were the ones that succeeded in the industry. The bottom line is that you can teach an artist how to use scientific software, but it is harder to teach a scientist how to be artistic.

    It is evident in discussions such as this when you look at: people that can make a bad photo look mediocre in photoshop, people that measurebate or pixel peep, and those that abuse the privelege of owning a digital camera. Nothing replaces the basic artistic vision.

  9. It happens so often. People looking for a certain way to emulate a look when the easiest way is right in front of them.

    The “Hanging in the shower to dry” filter is the best one I use.

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