Strobes and Film VS. Strobes and Digital

The lag-time between shooting and seeing results that we film photographers endure is so hard, especially when you are learning something new!!

When I first started with strobes I would practice with my digital camera to see if I was getting it right.  I wanted the feedback right away!

Here is what I learned.

Digital and film react to light very differently.

When I meter my film for strobes, I meter just like I would if working with window light.  For me, that means metering for the shadows (especially with color film).

This doesn't work with a digital camera.

If you shoot your digital camera at the exact settings and ISO that you are shooting your film camera at, your digital image will look totally blown out!

Both of these images were shot at ISO 400, metered for the shadows, at 2.8 1/60th.  The image on the left was shot with a Canon 5D Mark ll and the photo on the right was shot with a Contax 645 and Fuji 400h (processed and scan by Richard Photo Lab) 

Both of these images were shot at ISO 400, metered for the shadows, at 2.8 1/60th.  The image on the left was shot with a Canon 5D Mark ll and the photo on the right was shot with a Contax 645 and Fuji 400h (processed and scan by Richard Photo Lab) 

Why?

Because, when working with strobes, there is about a three stop difference between the highlights and the shadows. Film, as we know, has a tremendous latitude, and looks great when over exposed.  Digital sensors do not.

Try this instead..

If you want to test your lights with your digital camera before trying it with film, meter for your highlights.  And with both mediums, make sure the power on your strobe is turned down low to create a soft, natural-light looking image.

What to learn more about shooting film with strobes?

Registration is now open for my lighting workshop!  Follow this link to read all about it!