When shooting with a digital camera, most types allow for creating monochrome images. The camera sensor still captures the image in full-color. The only difference is the processing performed in the camera where a monochrome JPEG is created. If you capture in RAW, you'll note the RAW file is still in color when opened in your editor on your computer.
You can also use your image editor to convert the RAW to a black and white image, using one of several different filters, maybe even mimicking the use of colored filters. Below are two examples of using color filters, the first captured using film and a red 'high contrast' filter and the second is a digital conversion of a RAW capture of the same abandoned vehicle.Old Car City
Body - EOS 1v
Lens - EF 35mm f/1.4L USM
Film - Kodak Tri-X 400 with B+W 091 8x MRC Dark Red filter
Exposure - 8 seconds at f/5.6, ISO 400Old Car City on film
, on FlickrVersion 2
Body - EOS 5DIII
Lens - EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
Exposure - 1/8 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100Old Car City
This model of B+W Dark Red filter gives a surrealistic effect in landscape and architectural photography by producing a "storm-like" cloud effect or "moonlight" effect to landscapes. The filter has a factor of 8, requiring exposures to be increased by 3 stops.
The film image was processed and scanned by North Coast Photography Services of Carlsbad, California. Their high-resolution scan created a JPEG of 5035x3339-pixels, the same resolution as a 16MP digital camera. The digital image was captured as a RAW image at 5760x3840-pixels (22MP) and processed in Lightroom using LR's Red filter B&W preset. Both images have additional processing steps in LR to achieve the final results as presented.
The two images are remarkably similar with only subtle differences, where (to my eyes) the primary differences are still a bit more contrast in the film version, the film grain, and the lower resolution / details of the scanned film image. Note the comment of needing a 3-stop adjustment to the exposure when using the 8x factor B+W Dark Red filter. This makes the filter essentially a still-photography with tripod tool, see the 8-second film exposure. The digital conversion method can be applied to any image file with no special consideration to the exposure when capturing the image.
Shown below are the EXIF data from the two Flickr pages of the images above. Note the EXIF details displayed for each image, even the film version.
As discussed in prior posts in this series, I've tried multiple camera bodies for film photography. The camera I've landed on is the EOS 1v where I can seamlessly share EF lenses between a digital EOS 5DIII and the film EOS 1v. I've also tried the EOS Rebel G, a basic model from 1996 that also can use all my EF lenses from 1987 to releases of today. But, the Rebel has only 3 focus points where the EOS 1v has a 45-point AF system almost as sophisticated as the EOS 5DIII model. Around $35 from online sources, the Rebel G is a very economical way to put your L-Series lenses on a film body (any EF lens), with full autofocus functionality and IS, when provided by the lens.
An additional benefit unique to the EOS 1v is the data capture feature. Beyond the rugged build and technical sophistication of the Canon's final 1-series film camera, the 1v also captures 17 attributes of the image, such as the shooting mode, exposure mode, focal length, EC amount, shutter speed and so forth. I use a third-party tool (Meta35 from Promote Systems) to extract the data from the camera to my computer. Meta35 is a custom-tool that fits into the remote control connection on the camera with a USB connection on the other end to the target computer. Meta35 is also the software that extracts the camera data into a database where that data can then be written as EXIF data into the scanned JPEG files. Similar data-capture film bodies are supported by Meta35, such as the Nikon bodies N90 / N90 / F100, and Minolta bodies Maxxum 9 / Dynax 9 / Alpha 9.
Merging the camera data to the scanned JPEGs is a multi-step and multi-tool process. Shoot me a reply or PM is you're interested in more details.
To complete the comparison, below is the completed digital version, prior to the B&W conversion.Old Car City
, on FlickrFinal Thoughts
Although I mentioned slowing down in shooting and the variety and technical differences of the available film types, film isn't some sort of religion for me. Now that digital cameras commonly have a 24MP resolution or higher, even entry-level DSLRs exceed the resolution of most types of 35mm film. For the 35mm format vs digital full-frame, there's no objective measure where "film is better". Rather, film is just something different.
Film can be expensive, time consuming and most typically disappointing, rather than the process and results being something "magical" like you can find glowingly referenced across the Internet. I don't develop my own film nor scan it. Most of my low light or fast action work is simply a non starter for using film. To my eyes, underexposed or color shift (poor white balance) are even uglier in film than digital. Getting acceptable results from the challenge of film has a level of satisfaction, but still not "magically" better than digital. It's just something slightly different by way of a process to create interesting images.
Of the three images above, each is pleasing in it's own way. I find the digital b&w version to be the least attractive of the three. The final example below shows how Kodak Ektar responds to the reds and greens of the north Georgia forest in late October; not by underexposing, but rather, by adding 1-stop of exposure compensation for the lower light of the situation. It's not a one to one comparison to the truck above; but hopefully, this example does help to show that film does have a 'look' that is different from digital.
Body - EOS 1v
Lens - EF 35mm f/1.4L USM
Film - Kodak Ektar
Exposure - 1/15 at f/5.6, ISO 100Old Car City on film Earlier posts in the seriesComparing film to digital - part IComparing film to digital - part IIComparing film to digital - part IIIComparing film to digital - part IV
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