Sunday, May 18, 2014

Digital Cross Process vs. Film Cross Process

Yesterday I posted about cross processing film. I knew that I'd be asked why anyone would use film to cross process when it can be easily replicated with digital. So what's the point of using film?

I was prepared for this. I captured two nearly identical photographs: one film and one digital. The film was cross processed and the digital image was faux cross processed. The results are below:
76 - Kramer's Junction, California
76 Gasoline - Kramer's Junction, California
The two images are a little different. A slightly different angle. A slightly different focal length. But similar enough for our purposes here. They have a different "look" even though they both are seemingly cross processed. The bottom image has a pronounced green/yellow cast to it, while the top image has a subtle red/orange cast to it.

Why didn't I make them look alike? Because the digital photograph was finished about a week before the film image was even developed. I could have made them look much more similar if I had waited to edit the digital image. But that's not really the point since cross processed film can look significantly different depending on many factors, including film and chemical choices. There is not necessarily a set cross processed look.

So which is better, the film image or the digital image? I have purposefully made it unclear which is which, although you've likely already guessed the correct answer. The top photograph is digital (Sigma DP2 Merrill, to be exact), while the bottom is film (FED 5c Rangefinder with Fuji Velvia 50). The digital image looks more clean, while the film image looks more grainy.

I personally like the film photograph better than the digital image. It has more character and drama. But I can certainly understand if someone likes the digital better. There is no correct answer here, just personal preference.

I like the more organic process of film. I feel like it is more artful than digital. I also like that, with film, I do not sit for hours in front of a computer screen editing images. You get the film back from the lab and in most cases it is a finished product. With all of that said, the vast majority of my photographs are captured using digital. The convenience, speed and predictability of digital makes it my go-to choice, even if the final product may be slightly less interesting.

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