Digital & 35 mm Film - Black and White

At the end of last year I decided to reacquaint myself with 35mm film, with the intention of focusing on black and white film.

The Cluff Family 48 B.jpg
Cluff Family 15 35mm.jpg

The bulk of images delivered from my maternity, newborn and family sessions have been digital.

At times I took some film as a creative challenge and a bit of a bonus for my clients.

Angie Maternity 47 B.jpg
Angie Maternity 2 35mm.jpg

I’ve chosen to look at some of the images from client galleries to check out the differences between digital and film, specifically in terms of black and white photography.

Angie Maternity 51 B.jpg
Angie Maternity 20 35mm.jpg

Photos on the left (top on mobile devices) are digital

Photos on the right (bottom on mobile devices) are 35mm film

Harvey Family 94 B.jpg
Harveys Film 14 A.jpg

Digital gear

Canon 5DmkIII with a Canon 50mm 1.2L lens.

Film gear

Canon 1V with a Canon 50mm 1.4 lens.

b&w film mostly Kodak Trix400 with the occasional roll of Ilford Delta 400.

Harvey Family 63 B.jpg
Harveys+Film+38+A.jpg
Harvey Family 58 B.jpg
Harveys+Film+37+A.jpg

Although I’m pretty confident shooting digital, I feel like I have lots still to learn with film.

You’ll notice my film photos are not technically accurate and keep in mind they have not been edited in post production.

Whereas digital photos have been edited - I’ve applied my b&w settings, perhaps adjusted exposure, shadows etc…you get the point.

Sheppard Maternity 55 B.jpg
Sheppard Maternity 35mm 08 A.jpg
Sheppard+Maternity+59+B.jpg
Sheppard Maternity 35mm 23 A.jpg

One of the biggest challenges has been hybrid shooting….making sure I am using my digital and film cameras at the right moments during a session.

The way I’ve approached using both mediums has evolved and I think I’m definitely keen to keep using both, as they both offer their advantages.

Elijah+Sheppard+58+B.jpg
Elijah Newborn - Film 1.jpg

Some digital advantages

Reliable, my camera has two card slots, less likely data will be lost

Changing film speed/iso on a whim therefore better in low light

Flexible, I have full control how I deliver b&w images

Faster turnaround

Some film advantages

Stay with me…its wabi-sabi - perfectly imperfect

Knowing light has hit the film emulsion to capture a tangible piece of time as art

The grain, I don’t add to my digital photos but love it

It offers us the opportunity to all slow down

Clara St 10 B.jpg
Clara Street 10 35mm.jpg

For the purpose of this post, comparing digital and film side by side is tough. Perhaps it’s due to that fleeting moment where an expression or hand gesture is just right, becoming less about the medium and more about the content.

Sometimes I totally prefer digital, other times I love film that much I want to only shoot b&w 35mm.

Clara St 53 B.jpg
Clara Street 42 35mm.jpg

But, there’s no right or wrong, it’s purely subjective and both mediums have their place.

KR+Jewellers+78+B.jpg
KR Jewellers17 35mm.jpg

Thanks for making it this far.

All I know is film photography has always and continues to offer a feeling that is hard to put into words, and as an art form, feeling is everything.

kym renay