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Can You Tell The Difference Between Digital and Film?

By Joseph Cha on December 23rd 2013

Picking A Medium

There are a lot of professional photographers and filmmakers out there who still prefer film over digital. Film labs across the United States thrive on their business, and Indie Film Lab even made a documentary about it.

Joey Shanks made a stop motion comparison on digital vs film using a Canon 5D Mark II set at ISO 400 and a Canon 7E using Fuji 400H 35mm stock. In the video below Shanks challenges us to see if we can spot the difference between the stop motion shot on the Canon 5D Mark II and the stop motion shot on the Fuji 400H 35mm. Can you tell which is which?

I’m an avid film shooter and I had a hard time distinguishing what was shot on the Canon 5D Mark II and what was shot on the Fuji 400H 35mm. How did you do?

[Source: Nofilmschool]


I’m a photographer and cinematographer based in Southern California. When I don’t have a camera in my face I enjoy going to the movies and dissecting the story telling and visual aesthetics.


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  2. John C. Olsen

    This example video is unfortunately very bad one if it’s purpose is to take this subject seriously. In all shots except the one with the goo’ish stuff it was, without any doubt, surprisingly quite clear which ones where film and which ones were digital. The giveaway? As mentioned by several others already, the tonal range, they’re not even close to even bother compare. That said, with a proper setup, meetering etc. it would be a lot harder to tell the difference and a video of that would be of much more interest. Personally I still prefer the look and feel of film and traditional methods, but I no longer work with it myself like most others.

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  3. Benjamin

    I nailed every single one save the teapot because they were exposed so differently. The dead give away was always the amount of light stops it captured. Digital just doesn’t capture the same amount of range film does. Because of this the digital shots always had darker/crushed shadows and more blown out highlights.

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  4. Joe K.

    Personally I think that it was quite easy, given the differences in color. If the photographer used (or knew how to use) a color light meter and filtered the film camera to match the light, it would have been harder.

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  5. JT

    it would help if the camera operator knew how to expose each format correctly. expose for the highlights with digi, expose for the shadows with film. why is he/she wasting film underexposing like that, it doesn’t make sense xD

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  6. Aaron Grumbacher

    1 is Digital

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  7. Don urbano

    Hard to tell

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  8. josh

    Tonal range! Tonal range!! other than the teapot I guessed each scene correctly. Colors seemed more accurate with more tonal depth in the film scenes. But I will admit the last scene is tricky to guess… my bet is #1 is shot on film!

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  9. Richard Roesler

    Of all the ones with answers given i missed the tea pot, to me color was richer in the film.

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