Film vs. VSCO

What a long story it is that produced this on going test. This is just the first in a series, untill I get board of it I guess. But now that I’ve started I’m even more interested than ever before! Ok, first, I need to thank some people who inspired me on this need to understand film. First, Alan Barrington from Indie Film Lab, you are amazing, along with the rest of the crew over there! All the way in Alabama! Also, Tim Ryugo, from Kodak film. He so graciously gave me and a bunch of friends film to start us all on our own journey. And lastly, Ryan Muirhead, and Tanja Lippert, for teaching an amazing workshop about film. That I happened to take After shooting this initial roll of film. I’m sure the next will be much better! Anyhow, it was good enough to complete the experiment, and this is what I found….I exposed these photos with the exact same settings, with the same lens on both an Canon Mark 3 digital camera and an Canon Elan 7E fim camera. The film used is Kodak Porta 160. For the digital, I used VSCO Lightroom preset Kodak Portra 160.

I want you to guess on the next two sets of photos which one is film and which one is digital. The answer will come up later. Don’t cheat! And  see which one you like better…



The anwer is:

top set, L-Film, R-VSCO

Bottom set, Top- Film, Bottom-VSCO


But, theres more! Turns out Film exposes way more nicely! So for the top set : The right “VSCO” version. I had to use an exposure brush on the white dress and an overall exposure fix, -.40 and -.15 respectively. And I had to try to “fix” the tint and red. Which I could never get exactly right. Oh well, looks pretty good anyways. I felt like the VSCO version on this pic was pretty darn good. Its not thier fault that digital exposes differently.

On the bottom set, it was a totally different story though. The VSCO preset was way off, and I am certain I was using the exact same setting on both cameras. I had to make serious adjustments to tint and Blacks/shadows to get the film and digital to look similar. The adjustments were:

Highlights from -10 to -35

Black from +25 to +60

Tint from +23 to +7

Temp from 5400 to 5200

shadows from +10 to +30

What I learned, that I love film! And VSCO, at lease more than I used to. Honestly, both mediums have thier pros and cons. I think that if I were to actually shoot film for clients, I would need a camera that was as crisp as my mark3. The Elan did give me some focusing issues even though I was not using the eye focus function. Which was kind of a bummer. I will have to be more careful to pay attention to that next time. The one thing that I cannot get over, is the way that film exposes. I hate blowouts on clothes and skin. I don’t mind it on other parts of a photo, but the way the film treats skin is so much better than digital and the way it treats highlights. I was told by others already, but had to see it for myself, and now it kind of makes me sad, and it makes me want more cameras!(fancy film cameras? Polaroid for the kids?) LOL. Anyways, I feel like even this one comparrison has shown me how to use the VSCO presets to actually make my digital look like film. It will never be the same but, before I would just slap them on and if it looked good,  great, and if it didn’t then I wasn’t really sure what to do half the time. Next on the list is to Portra 400 and Tri-X  :)





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