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Film vs Digital: A Fashion Photography Shootout

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Photographers Anita Sadowska and Alex Hutchinson recently did a “film versus digital” comparison through a fashion photography shootout. They photographed the same subject with Sadowska using a digital Canon 5D Mark IV DSLR and Hutchinson using an analog medium-format Pentax 67.

Hutchinson started with a black and white film, opting for clothing with textured patterns to compliment the monochrome look. To ensure he’s getting the right readings (and because film is so expensive) Hutchinson uses a light meter and a digital camera to ensure everything is set properly.

“If I feel like I’ve got the shot, then I only take 4 or 5 shots,” says Hutchinson. That’s in great contrast to someone who might be using digital, for example.

Film
Film

Sadowska says that the “main difference is that [she] can take as many images as needed.” Being able to review images on the camera what’s a big difference too, allowing her to cover all the bases.

“I feel that film slows you down,” says Sadowska. “But looking through thousands of images when I get home is just a pain.”

Digital
Digital

Hutchinson then started shooting color Portrait 400 film, slightly underexposing the shot to ensure that the highlights aren’t blown.

Film
Film

For the next stage of the challenge, Sadowska covered her camera’s LCD so she couldn’t review the images (putting her on equal footing with Hutchinson). She also restricted herself to just manual focus and allowed herself only 10 shots.

Digital
Digital

Hutchinson opted for a monochrome shot again against the black backdrop, underexposing slightly compared to what the light meter tells him.

Film
Film

For her final 5 shots, Sadowska switches the pose to backlight the shot and get “some variety.”

Digital
Digital

Finally, Hutchinson concludes the shoot with a backlit shot against the window as well.

Film
Film

“I do love shooting on film,” says Hutchinson. “But of course not being able to see the images on the back does make you nervous.”

“I feel nowadays a lot of clients want to see the images on the back of the camera instantly,” says Sadowska. “The last part of the challenge where I didn’t know what I was doing made me so aware of everything.

“That’s great and puts you outside of your comfort zone, making you think about the shot [a lot more].”


Watch the full 17-minute shootout video above to see how the photo shoot unfolded.

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