Film vs. Screen vs. Print

I just wanted to share a few thoughts I’ve had over the past few days.

As many of you know, my workflow is to shoot large format film,  have it drum scanned, and then output on a lightjet printer.  This is the most consistent way to produce high quality film-based color prints.

It is an absolute treat to view a large format transparency under a loupe on a light table.  The depth, tonal range, and overall feel of the photo is amazing. This is something that all photographers should experience at least once. Be forewarned though — it is addictive!

When the film is drum scanned, much of this feeling is lost when viewed on a computer monitor. The culprit is not the scan — but rather the inability of computer monitors to show the true tonality of the image. This is why there is no discernible difference between an 8 bit file and a 16 bit file on a computer monitor. We simply can’t see the difference.

It is only when the image is printed that we can experience the full tonality, and emotional appeal of an image. Although it is very convenient to have an online portfolio, these small web-sized images convey little compared to the experience of viewing a print.

Moral of the story?  Print your images folks! Don’t keep them locked away

2 Responses to “Film vs. Screen vs. Print”

  1. robertkerner Says:

    This is a very valuable post. A lot of people don’t realize they are cheating themselves by viewing their images only on the back of their camera or only on a screen. Prints look entirely different and it’s worth the investment to get a good printer, calibrate the monitor and print often.

    • Ben Horne Says:

      The other aspect I really like about prints is that they are tangible. You can hold a print, and examine it from different angles. It adds another dimension to the photo that is lost on the computer monitor. As you mentioned, calibration is key. Without that, printing can be very frustrating for sure! Just like most things, I learned the hard way on that one.

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