Film VS Digital: An Experiment

I'm participating in a 100 days of summer on FILM challenge. (I'm shooting all personal sessions on film, unless I need them fast for an assignment or loop. But I'm trying to plan ahead so everything is film!) I've never shot film with a film SLR before this summer, and I wanted to try. It's been glorious, and I will post about why I wanted to try it out, my very first film shoot, and why I got hooked pretty soon here. But for now, I wanted to post the results of a little film vs. digital experiment I've been doing so I can link for my Instagram peeps! 

Is the time you save doing film vs digital worth the expense of the film? Are the digital shots SO much better than film shots? Do I end up with just WAY more from a digital session? And is that a good or a bad thing? Let's explore. 

I wanted to do a classic summer watermelon shoot in just a few minutes in my backyard. Nothing fancy. I had both a film and digital camera on me and alternated taking photos every few shots with each camera. I stayed out for about 5-10 minutes (the time it took my girls to devour their watermelon). The time I spent SHOOTING is no different for either, and will not be considered in results. I'm also trying not to pay attention to the actual poses/facial expressions as much, although that does play a role, as I had more to choose from on digital. But you know what I mean. If I'd ONLY been shooting with one, I may have caught what I got on the other, etc.


DIGITAL (Canon 1DX with 135mm lens)
Shots taken: 120
Keepers/edited: 37
Unique shots/postable: 9
Time spent culling/editing: 2-3 hours.

FILM (Canon Elan, 80mm lens, Fuji Superia 800 rated 400)
Shots taken: 16
Throw-aways: 0
Unique shots/postable: 9
Time spent culling/editing: 5 minutes
Money spent on film/lab: Around $25


DIGITAL collage

300 dpi collage.jpg

FILM collage

300 dpi film collage.jpg

I used consumer brand, super cheap Fuji Superia 800 stock for this shoot, and if I'd spent a few more dollars on some pro film, I may have gotten even better color. (I think this still turned out great.) Of course there is money in the digital too (HUGE equipment and software costs compared to film), and there's time spent driving the film to the lab, and I really can't get some shots with film that I can with digital + editing, etc, so this isn't an exact science, but you can see that I ended up with the same exact number of shots, and I really like them about equally, so in this case, I have to decide if I like 3 hours of my life or $25 of my money better. 

For summertime family documentary sessions, it's really a no-brainer. I've just loved the discipline, challenge, patience, excitement, and results of the film, I've had more time to spend with my family, and I have more willing models in the end. Is there a chance I'll offer film sessions to clients? Maybe in the future. But for now I'll keep shooting digital there. I see a need and a desire for both digital and film in my life, but I think I'm definitely going to do more of my family on film all year, and I think I'm going to love it. 

Cami Turpin1 Comment