Grainy goodness

by Terence

I never thought that I’d like shooting film after having started out with the convenience of digital, but it really is a magical feeling to see photos onscreen after scanning the negatives. I’m always surprised when I get back the negatives and see photos that I don’t recall shooting, or else photos that I was sure would turn out crappy, but somehow turn out better than expected.

I just wish I had a better and faster scanner. Scanning takes ages and I inevitably end up forcing myself to stay awake in between scans. And the scan quality is passable, but not perfect. I have a feeling that the colours and grain in the negatives will look a lot better in print than what I’ve managed to scan.

The dynamic range of black and white film is simply awesome. I find that it is (almost) impossible to blow out the highlights if your exposure roughly in the ballpark.

Before I started shooting film again, I thought that RAW on the 5D roughly approximated the exposure latitude of film, but I now see that black and white film still has a significant edge. I love the image quality and flexibility with RAW on the 5D, but it really can’t compare with that of film yet. I also really love the smooth tonality of film. The difference is not so apparent onscreen, but I can see a difference when I’m tweaking the histograms. If Leica sold a full-frame digital rangefinder, I’d be all over it with my next paycheck. That being said, it doesn’t mean that I’m abandoning digital. I think each medium has it’s place, and I appreciate digital for the clean high ISO performance and convenience of image development and management. You can’t have ’em all, and at the moment, it’s a tradeoff one has to make.

She doesn't know it's a fake camera.
In this shot, I was trying ISO3200 film, and the results are super grainy and noisy. It’s an interesting effect, but I actually don’t like this much grain in the shot. I’m not sure if it’s the film, development or my scanner that is responsible for the harshness of the grain, but I don’t think Ilford Delta 3200 is going to make my list of favourite film anytime soon. Currently my favourite black and white negative film is still Kodak T-Max 400.

I used ISO 400 film on this one, so I’m not sure why this one looks so grainy, but I am pretty sure it is a combination of bad exposure and the scan quality. But somehow I like the composition of this shot, and this was one of the shots where the result surprised me. With the rangefinder, the framelines are only approximations, and you never really know what you’re going to get if you frame something right at the edge.

Clare opening Christmas presents with grandma. Another thing about film is the ability to see photos side by side on the negatives. I sometimes find interesting combinations of photos lined up side by side.