Long Exposure in Black and White – Digital vs Film

Film vs. digital or digital vs. film is still a popular subject of photographic debate. On a whim, I picked up a used Nikon FE and started playing with shooting film. Armed with my Nikon 50mm/2.8D lens and assortment of different film, I started playing the role of retro-hipster and jumping around local locations trying to figure/re-discover this film “thing”.

As usual, this led to some interesting results and discoveries about the difference in output that film exposures deliver when compared to digital. Nothing wrong with digital detectors and the high quality of crisp images they produce, but there is definitely a difference between the image above, taken with Kodak BW400CN film using an old Nikon FE camera, and a similar scene from just down the river taken using Nikon D7000 detector.  Below image is all-digital Nikon D7000 produced one (Film exposure with Nikon 50mm/2.8 D lens, Digital exposure with Sigma 17-50mm/2.8 DC EX HSM lens).




As people tend to say, there is no accounting for taste, but to my surprise, a frivolous experiment with an old film camera is starting to turn into an alternative visual approach. The best description I can come up with is to describe film’s tonality as having more “sharp softness” than a digitally acquired image of same style. Triggering exploration and yet another layer of fun. Most important of all, adds motivation for shooting more, experimenting and having more fun.

And fun is what it all should be about. More to follow…


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