How do you make digital look like film ????

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Hello all,

What are the basic requirements to make digital look like film ? Is there the basics or is every film type totally different ? I will explain my motivation 1. I love the look and colours of film 2. I find that digital to my eye looks very sterile with something missing ( I'm not sure what) 3. I have a Sony A6000 which gets very little use as I just don't like the thing but feel I need to get some use out of it to justify the cost instead of it being wasted hiding in the cupboard. 4. I hate spending time on the PC to get a photo right I would rather just get it right in camera but as this just doesn't seem to happen with the Sony I thought about making a preset so I can just press a button saving time in front of the PC. 5. film is getting over the top with regards to a price I am prepared to pay.
 
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Does the Sony have jpg styles that produce film-like pictures? If not maybe change to one that does, Fuji cameras for example have quite a selection of film styles. The other option is post processing on the computer, the programs often have film presets to make that quick and easy.
 
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How do you make vegan food taste just like perfectly grilled, top-quality, back bacon? Truth is, you can't, and many probably wouldn't even want to try. Some may claim it can be done, but then again, they've probably never tasted perfectly grilled, top-quality, back bacon, but they ate a packet of bacon flavour monster much once! ;)
 
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I find that digital to my eye looks very sterile with something missing
I tried lots of emulations and presets (the VSCO ones no less!) but that sterility was always present. Modern digital sensors are pretty much perfect for normal usage and give results that always look the same (to me). All the emulations I've found will take the super sharp image that the sensor/lens delivers and tweak the contrast and colours adding a bit of grain for fun. Hence it generally looks like a digital photo with film-esque processing. When I did this, it still looked bad.

Sadly, shooting film is more expensive as you say. Perhaps not to the "upgrade every Sony cycle" photographer, but to the "buy a digital camera once every 4-6 years". If you shoot Colour Plus and Kentmere 400 you can get occasional deals for sub £5/roll but with developing and scanning (assuming you want pics for digital uses) it can get closer to £10/roll. Cheap to the guy that drops £1k on the latest Sony body every year, but not so to most others. Bulk rolling and home developing can bring costs down further and to me (don't drink, don't smoke) film is an acceptable hobby price - especially since I don't need any more cameras as I'm not chasing megapickles or no-light ISO.

The problem is that 1 & 2 on your motivations list are possibly not going to be fixed with a preset. Certainly not any that I've tried. As always though, your mileage may vary. There was a guy on Facebook that was working on free presets for Lightroom but I don't have a Facebook account and it was a long time since I had a look at it. Search for "Filmbot presets". Free is worth a shot right?
 

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I've found using an Old Helios 55 om my Fuji has got me closest to a "film" look.
 
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...buy a film camera, it really does make a difference.
This is true. With a quality 6x9 rollfilm camera like a Zeiss Ikonta you'll get lower resolution, less depth of field and poorer tone seperation. You also get to tell the people with the sharp, clear digital images how they're doing it all wrong :naughty:

Niederau Austria Zeiss Mess Ikonta B9.jpg

Dragon Niederau Austria Zeiss Mess Ikonta B16.jpg
 
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This is true. With a quality 6x9 rollfilm camera like a Zeiss Ikonta you'll get lower resolution, less depth of field and poorer tone seperation.
Perhaps they should have bought an Ensign Selfix 820 and used modern film instead? :naughty:

You also get to tell the people with the sharp, clear digital images how they're doing it all wrong :naughty:
Easy... I believe it's often caused by over-sharpening and adding far too much contrast when using image processing software, possibly exacerbated by the use of an inadequate computer monitor screen. ;)
 
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digital to my eye looks very sterile with something missing ( I'm not sure what)
Mr Badger has really good thoughts and his analogy (vegan food vs. top-quality bacon) makes perfect sense. You can use various effects or grainy photo filters but they won't make your digital look like you want them to. You can't fully replace sugar with sweeteners and claim that's the same because it's not.
 
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And to be considered a proper film user and not one of those fake filmies you will have to do all the developing and printing yourself.
Getting someone else to do the dev and printing means you have no control of the two most important parts of the process.
 
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Hello all,

What are the basic requirements to make digital look like film ? Is there the basics or is every film type totally different ? I will explain my motivation 1. I love the look and colours of film 2. I find that digital to my eye looks very sterile with something missing ( I'm not sure what) 3. I have a Sony A6000 which gets very little use as I just don't like the thing but feel I need to get some use out of it to justify the cost instead of it being wasted hiding in the cupboard. 4. I hate spending time on the PC to get a photo right I would rather just get it right in camera but as this just doesn't seem to happen with the Sony I thought about making a preset so I can just press a button saving time in front of the PC. 5. film is getting over the top with regards to a price I am prepared to pay.

1. Shoot film then.
2. --------"--------
3. Sell it then and release some funds rather than wasting space with it in the cupboard.
4. Shoot film then but be prepared for the waiting and the shots/colours that may still disappoint you.
5. Use the funds from 3..
 
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You’re right that digital looks sterile in most cases. I think of it a too ‘literal’ - it’s hard to put your finger on exactly the feeling. With landscapes I use colour grading to reduce this feeling. But then adding grain to digital images feels inauthentic. I went through a phase of shooting film for this reason - each shot felt special. Now I’m shooting fuji digital and using their film simulations. Which aren’t perfect for reasons discussed. Their B&W simulation is quite nice. Film is special because it’s film so I think you bite the bullet and shoot film or accept the relative sterility of digital. Digital images which have gone too far in trying to look analogue really jarr with me - like going to a themed bar with wood-effect plastic cladding and fake exotic artefacts :p And there’s more to shooting film than the final images -the whole process is a joy.
 
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4. I hate spending time on the PC to get a photo right I would rather just get it right in camera but as this just doesn't seem to happen with the Sony I thought about making a preset so I can just press a button saving time in front of the PC.
You can't get digital to look like film without processing. Time at the PC processing digital images is the same as time in a darkroom processing film. Look at it that way. So as others have said, Fujifilm cameras have lots of film simulation modes built in that try to mimic the look of various film stocks. You can buy Lightroom presets and profiles. Something like RNI All Films 5 has an absolute multitude of film simulations built in.

But you need to shoot in Raw, get some software like Lightroom or Capture One, and spend a lot of time sat at a PC after your shoot processing your shots to get them to look like film. There isn't really a shortcut
 
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Film is special because it’s film...
Film is a special nuisance :naughty:

Having to get to the end of the roll, making up chemistry, waiting for it to dry, putting it in an enlarger, washing prints... :banghead:

After 50 years of that, nice, sharp digital came as a blessed relief :LOL:
 
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Film is a special nuisance :naughty:

Having to get to the end of the roll, making up chemistry, waiting for it to dry, putting it in an enlarger, washing prints... :banghead:

After 50 years of that, nice, sharp digital came as a blessed relief :LOL:
For day to day stuff digital is very convenient and can give excellent results. However, modern film can also give excellent results, particularly if scanned properly or professionally wet printed, and it has that certain look to it that you don't get with digital. Its horses for courses, some want a fast race horse, some want to enjoy a gentle hack in the countryside, but done right both can bring enjoyment to the end user.

For those who maintain that you get lower resolution and poorer tone separation, perhaps they ought to try modern film, a good quality medium format camera and a half decent scanner. This was taken on Ilford XP2 120 roll film using a 1950 Ensign Selfix 820 folding camera (hand held) and scanned on an Epson V600 home flatbed scanner - so not really cutting-edge pro stuff is it? Click on the image to view large in Flickr and wait for it to fully load (bearing in mind the image file was downsized to less than 5mb to upload to Flickr). Enough detail there for you Andrew? ;)

 
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Enough detail there for you Andrew?
It doesn't look especially sharp to me on the screen but I'll bet it comes up nicely on a 15x12. That's the thing about film versus digital, in my opinion: getting the two technologies to play nice is difficult and if detail and apparent sharpness are important to you a certain amount of hoop jumping seems inevitable.

In my experience, copying negatives with a camera gives the least bad results. Of course, everyone's mileage varies. This shot was made on FP4 in a Canon F1 through an 85mm lens, then "scanned" with a Canon 5D via a Rodenstock enlarging lens...

Vicar in Straw Hat Canon F1 Ilford Film 1996-13_ 21.jpg

Another shot on FP4, this time in a Nikon FM2 through a 50mm f1.4. Same "scanning" method...

Nikon FM2n 1996 08-01.jpg
 
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It doesn't look especially sharp to me on the screen but I'll bet it comes up nicely on a 15x12.
Ah, now you're talking about sharpness, which I think can be one of the most over-rated subjects when it comes to photography. Some of the best photos ever taken aren't sharp by today's standards but that doesn't diminish their worth or appeal.

I know this is far from being one of the best photos ever taken, but I think it illustrates the point, having something of an ethereal feel to it because of its lack of sharpness. It was taken hand held on a 1924 Brownie box camera on Kodak Ektachrome slide film in about 1979 by a very young me. Now try and get that look straight from a digital camera and standard lens. Messing about with old cameras and film can be great fun. :)

 
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Some of the best photos ever taken aren't sharp by today's standards but that doesn't diminish their worth or appeal.
Indeed, the classic being Capa's D-Day pictures, which tell the story despite being extremely blurred. Then there's Bert Hardy's Box Brownie picture of the two girls on Blackpool's sea front.

The important thing is to tell your story and sometimes you need the image to be bitingly sharp and othertimes you don't. two examples...

This relies on sharpness to work..

SusieKirstenandTommo.jpg

...but this doesn't...

Kirsten and Perdita Rolleiflex.jpg
 
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Film is a special nuisance :naughty:

Having to get to the end of the roll, making up chemistry, waiting for it to dry, putting it in an enlarger, washing prints... :banghead:

After 50 years of that, nice, sharp digital came as a blessed relief :LOL:
Reminds me of my dad’s response when we said we were getting loose leaf tea - ‘I spent 30 years faffing around with that. Tea bags were a blessing’. To be honest though, you don’t need to mess about with dev’ing - you can send the roll off and get the scanned images emailed back. And the whole getting to the end of the roll things, that’s part of the charm! Seeing photos you don’t remember taking, making an effort to shoot because you want to get the roll dev’d.
 

Nod

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Capa's PUBLISHED D-Day pictures would probably never have seen the light of day had all his other rolls survived.
 
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I think of it a too ‘literal’
I think your description is bang on Tom, I ended up in a discussion at work about digital cameras v film and also high definition TV was mentioned ,A description some one gave was that some of the images from modern cameras and on TV look more real than reality which makes them look totally false. I understood exactly what he was saying although it sort of makes no sense !

I have a number of film cameras ( About 20 I think) with quite a range of types but I must admit I've never used a TLR ( I should get a TLR! )

I will have to look at what the Sony is worth when I finally find it ( all my belongings bar a few are locked up in storage at the moment)
 
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I think your description is bang on Tom, I ended up in a discussion at work about digital cameras v film and also high definition TV was mentioned ,A description some one gave was that some of the images from modern cameras and on TV look more real than reality which makes them look totally false. I understood exactly what he was saying although it sort of makes no sense !

I have a number of film cameras ( About 20 I think) with quite a range of types but I must admit I've never used a TLR ( I should get a TLR! )

I will have to look at what the Sony is worth when I finally find it ( all my belongings bar a few are locked up in storage at the moment)
Yeah. It’s really hard to put your finger on. Like when they filmed the hobbit at 48 FPS and it looked awful - more like eastenders than Hollywood. Re photograph, people want memories to be better than experiences. ‘The moment’ is rarely that magical but often memories are. People want memories (and by extension photographs) to be greater than the moment itself.
 
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Yeah. It’s really hard to put your finger on. Like when they filmed the hobbit at 48 FPS and it looked awful - more like eastenders than Hollywood. Re photograph, people want memories to be better than experiences. ‘The moment’ is rarely that magical but often memories are. People want memories (and by extension photographs) to be greater than the moment itself.
If you wanted to look it up this is caused by motion interpolation, commonly known as soap opera effect. It’s meant to make footage seem more lifelike but to a lot of people (myself included) it just looks weird. My Samsung TV came with it enabled at first but thankfully I managed to disable it for better viewing :D It looks good if the video is filmed in a manner that shows it off, my example being The Grand Tour in 4K looks brilliant with it turned on; however things like movies look horrendous with it turned on. I don’t know what manner it needs to be filmed in to look good however :LOL:

In response to the original question, it’s something I’ve tried with looooads of presets in lightroom but none of them are completely amazing. Sometimes you’ll get a shot that looks like the supposed film but then the next will be way off. As it happens some of my favourite presets are based off “film” presets but I’m under no illusions that they’re an accurate representation of the actual film.
 
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Perhaps they should have bought an Ensign Selfix 820 and used modern film instead? :naughty:



Easy... I believe it's often caused by over-sharpening and adding far too much contrast when using image processing software, possibly exacerbated by the use of an inadequate computer monitor screen. ;)
I was going to say either get a Fuji x100 original or and turn sharpening and clarity down.I never really get this sharp as a tack idea.
 
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If you wanted to look it up this is caused by motion interpolation, commonly known as soap opera effect. It’s meant to make footage seem more lifelike but to a lot of people (myself included) it just looks weird. My Samsung TV came with it enabled at first but thankfully I managed to disable it for better viewing :D It looks good if the video is filmed in a manner that shows it off, my example being The Grand Tour in 4K looks brilliant with it turned on; however things like movies look horrendous with it turned on. I don’t know what manner it needs to be filmed in to look good however :LOL:

In response to the original question, it’s something I’ve tried with looooads of presets in lightroom but none of them are completely amazing. Sometimes you’ll get a shot that looks like the supposed film but then the next will be way off. As it happens some of my favourite presets are based off “film” presets but I’m under no illusions that they’re an accurate representation of the actual film.
One of the aspects of film simulations that I’ve not really heard people talk about (not that it hasn’t been discussed just that I haven’t heard it) is the difference on colour profile when an image is underexposed vs normal vs over. I think some simulations try to mimic something like overexposed portra as it’s a popular look but I’ve got some lovely images that are underexposed (unintentionally) and have sort of muddy green shadows, which I don’t think are desirable but in the situation look really good. I’ll try and dig out some images of what I mean.
 
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One of the aspects of film simulations that I’ve not really heard people talk about (not that it hasn’t been discussed just that I haven’t heard it) is the difference on colour profile when an image is underexposed vs normal vs over. I think some simulations try to mimic something like overexposed portra as it’s a popular look but I’ve got some lovely images that are underexposed (unintentionally) and have sort of muddy green shadows, which I don’t think are desirable but in the situation look really good. I’ll try and dig out some images of what I mean.
I believe these were Fuji superia xtra 400
3D0A166B-6392-493F-AD53-F2F2F3AF61C4.jpeg F9EFC9EE-CD19-4FB7-A808-B0FC17FF05FB.jpeg 06264A6A-6755-4DA7-BF3A-51CA39968E0E.jpeg
 
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When film was all we had, those would have come back from the printer with little labels on explaining how important it was to expose properly. The subject is charming, however.
That sounds like great customer service :) I’ve never had that with a film lab and plenty of my shots were poorly exposed!

back when film was all there was, people didn’t use film because they wanted the ‘film look’ - there wasn’t my other option! Now, when people are paying per shot to shoot film, they (we) want something that is different from the thousands of free images we can make with digital. Hence the grainy, muddy shadows :) maybe it’s different for those who never stopped shooting film.
 
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I ended up using medium format gear, because 35mm image quality was inadequate - I'd print my own pictures, both mono and colour too. Now if I shoot film the pictures look like my pictures, and not greatly different to digital images I mostly produce - it's just another medium for expression really.

I've never got the "it's so bad it's good” thing. Gaz Morton who used to post here did some beautiful work that happened to use film, but he also shot super 8 movies, and they were just horrible to my eyes, yet he loved them. It's important we give each other space, and that can be difficult for something we're feel strongly about.
 
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I believe these were Fuji superia xtra 400
To my eyes Fuji Superia 400 has a slight magenta cast to it, so it's not one of my favourites. I much preferred their Pro 400H but that's sadly been discontinued now, but I do have 5 rolls of 120 in my freezer! :) Another one from that 1950 Ensign Selfix 820, on 400H and no sign of a magenta cast there.

 
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To my eyes Fuji Superia 400 has a slight magenta cast to it, so it's not one of my favourites. I much preferred their Pro 400H but that's sadly been discontinued now, but I do have 5 rolls of 120 in my freezer! :) Another one from that 1950 Ensign Selfix 820, on 400H and no sign of a magenta cast there.

I switched from Fuji superia to Kodak gold due to the unfavourable rendering of skin tones in certain situation - saturated reds/oranges making people look flushed! Kodak gold is nearly as nice a portra in my opinion
 
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I switched from Fuji superia to Kodak gold due to the unfavourable rendering of skin tones in certain situation - saturated reds/oranges making people look flushed! Kodak gold is nearly as nice a portra in my opinion
I fully agree about Gold 200, it's my go to 'every day' 35mm colour print film, with Ektar 100 being used for scenes (not people shots) on sunny high days and holidays, much in the same way that I'd have used Kodachrome 64 when it was available. I love the saturation and slightly warm look to Gold 200 and it's quite reasonably priced if you shop around and buy multipacks from the right place.
 
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