Film vs. Digital – monochrome shootout

English: Eikoh Hosea discussing Japanese photo...

English: Eikoh Hosea discussing Japanese photography in his studio in Tokyo, 1989, photograph by Sally Larsen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After lugging around a classic 1kg+ film camera with me last weekend, and carefully exposing 37 frames of Tri-X film (see my previous post), I started trying to recreate that beautifully contrasty and grainy Eikoh Hosoe look with a more portable camera.

The problem is, digital cameras tend to produce very clean and well behaved color image files – not the look I was intending to get.

Luckily, the Ricoh GR provides an easy solution. Its high-contrast B&W setting gave me exactly what I was looking for.

Daido Moriyama, who was heavily influenced by Hosoe, is reportedly the inspiration for this feature, and he presumedly guided the designers and engineers at Ricoh when they implemented it.

The Olympus E-M5 can’t reproduce the same look with in-camera raw conversion (see this previous post on OOC JPEG tools), but just a few tweaks with the level tool in Aperture, a little contrast enhancement, and maybe a touch of vignetting, and I was able to get pretty close.

Let me know what you think. Do you like the original, real film grain from my previous post, or do you see proof that digital is not only able to equal it, but now surpasses film as a medium for B&W photography? Inquiring minds want to know.

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3 thoughts on “Film vs. Digital – monochrome shootout

  1. Pingback: L’art Japonais #31: Eikoh Hosoe | Blog d'un cochon aviateur au nom étrange

  2. I like to shoot film too once in a while, is getting really expensive; and yes, as well as you I love the look of the TriX (which is more expensive to develop cause color I steel able to develop it at Wallgreens) … Anyway.
    I am a Ricoh shooter too, both digital and film. My digital one is the Ricoh GRD IV (which I bought twice, lol, but that is another story), and one thing I couldn’t agree more with you, the black and white that comes out of the Ricohs (at least my GRD IV, don’t have the GR, yet) is stunningly good.
    I am a big fan of Moriyama too. Professionally I shoot with a D700. For personal stuff, family vacations, street, or whatever that I want to shoot out of my work I tried a number of cameras, compact, micro 4/3, high end, low end, no end … Two things I got out of all this trial.
    One, there is no compact camera out there that can match the portability, ergonomics and ease of use of a Ricoh GR series camera.
    Two, even though bw film has something that no camera can match, the Ricoh GR series are by far the cameras that are the closest to that film feeling. Any other camera out there just don’t get it right. I am talking of course to OOC images. Fuji, even though is not close to that film look alike, has a very nice bw images OOC and with a very little tweaking they can get very nice results. But Ricoh is just apart. An I’m not talking about the High Contrast Mode, just the normal BW.
    If I have to choose in between shooting TriX or a Ricoh in BW … I love the TriX, the fact that you slow down while shooting … fuck!, even the noise of the automatic winder in the Rico GR1 is music to my ears but … economically speaking just doesn’t make sense anymore to me. So I will go with a GRD (I assume the GR is as good) any day.

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