Film vs. Digital – Side by Side documentary

Side_by_side_2012[1]For quite some time there have been fuss about so called digital revolution, in terms of image acquisition. Film is dead, there is no more real cinema, anyone can make a movie and many other claims. Recently I stumbled on a Film vs. Digital – Side by Side documentary  narrated by Keanu Reeves. A good one, it tries to show all sides, cost efficiency of digital, esthetic of film, freedom in digital and discipline of film, and much more, highly recommended!

As for my thoughts on this – film is a creative choice, even tough digital technologies are superseding film, there are areas where film gives unique features digital has yet to conquer.

One of those is highlights, film tends to nicely and softly blow out, digital doesn’t do it nicely for most part. It is ugly, especially ones that have strange artifacts around blown out areas. I have seen so far only one camera witch could compete (Zacuto made camera comparison) with film – Arri Alexa.In the same box I would put color, because it also feels much better in film, Alexa excels here as well, no wonder that they were somewhat late to the game – they released camera that performs as good as film does in the most esthetic way.

Second film superiority is somewhat specific, is resolution, if you compare just a 35mm negative, digital has superseded it in resolution, but film because not being bound to fixed pixel locations have much gather temporal resolution as grain never stays in one place, when you watch it back it feels like having more resolution, than a single frame. There is camera tough witch can do something like that – AATON Penelope Digital, tough this technology has not been adopted for masses yet. Same is with the rolling shutter, but that seams to bet fixed in many new cameras with move or an option of global shutter.

Third is discipline – film is costly, it is like running silver trough camera, and it is literary. For example on average 30.5m roll of 16mm film gives you about 2.5 minutes, such roll costs about 40 EUR, double that for developing, scanning, shipping. Now 35mm film runs out twice as fast and costs twice as much, so quadruple that. Or just take a film camera with 36 shots and now go out, take some pictures wait till they get developed, and then see how many of them where any good? Makes you think twice before you actually shoot anything.

I always suggest for anyone who want to do learn any decent photography or cinematography skills to pick up a manual film camera and learn. Not that you cant learn on DSLR, but film always brings discipline which is good for learning. Except for hipster lomography, where the only reason for film camera is that it ain’t mainstream. You don’t excel in something if you do not spend time doing it. Even the talented ones, they maybe have a head start, but it takes time to learn, it takes time to have trail and error, analysis of your mistakes and correcting your practices to have better results.

Yah, it was supposed to be a review of film 😉