Any way to tell if the original photo was on film or digital?

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by Canoneer, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. timor

    timor Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Wrong.
    DE VERE 504DS Digital Enlarger


     
  2. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I could tell the difference in look and feel of the paper and gloss (and as Gary said smell). But I don't know that you can tell for sure if the original source was film once it's been scanned/reprinted. Hard to tell I think without being able to see or handle the original, but I can't say I've been out doing much comparing beyond what I observe with my own.
     
  3. Canoneer

    Canoneer TPF Noob!

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    Tell you a little of what this is about. For 3-4 years now, I've been thinking of a story where part of the detective work involves discovering that a photo was taken on film, then "laundered" by scanning and printing to hide its origin. The photo was of a night scene, taken with a noct. A cagey old police photographer deduces the image was caught on film with expensive but old equipment, and those clues are enough for a search for hobbyists who buy film and have old fancy lenses.

    Now of course there's the Nikon AF 58mm 1.4, that may give similar results to the noct. Then there is the problem that software can imitate a pic taken by a noct. Think I'll have to get at this another way. :(
     
  4. photoguy99

    photoguy99 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There are really two different questions here.

    The first is "can I, in general, given a random image file, tell if it was shot on film?" and the answer is "yes"
    The second is "if someone skilled in the art is trying to fool me, can I tell if it was shot on film?" and the answer is "it depends on the skill level of the players"

    It may be easier to turn a film photo into a convincing "fake digital" than it is to turn a digital photo into a "fake film" but both are possible, and there are levels of skill available where it is literally impossible to tell.

    I would base your story around specific lens artifacts. There are old lenses out there that produce fairly specific distortions, flare effects, and other image artifacts. All of these could certainly be faked by someone with sufficient skill, but if you wrapped the story up with the right details, you can simply assert that the players didn't have that skill. "The plane of focus is not equidistant from the camera, indication that a large format camera was used, and the overall image characteristics are consistent with Petzval lens. The depth of field is consistent with at least a 4x5 sensor/film" which suggests some sort of field camera. All of which could be faked digitally, but probably was not which puts the detective on the right track.

    Substitute whatever technical bits you like in, of course.
     
  5. compur

    compur Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Back in the day it was fashionable in some circles to print film negatives so that the data strip along the film edges appeared in the finished print. Many still do this. The original idea (I think) is to "show off" that the print represents the entire negative as it was shot and was not cropped, etc. That is, it represents the vision and skill of the photographer at the "decisive moment" of exposure and suggests that little or no manipulation was done in the darkroom.

    Nowadays, I guess, it also "shows off" that it is a film image.
     
  6. minicoop1985

    minicoop1985 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Kids these days also use an Instagram filter thing that adds fake film data strips. It's... lame. The real deal is one thing, but faking it...
     
  7. SoulfulRecover

    SoulfulRecover TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    oddly enough smell is a pretty good way to tell. Even when its digital prints. My Epson paper has a different smell than my Red River, Moab or H&H paper.
     
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  8. timor

    timor Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    This is an effect of inkjet printing, right ? How about prints made on FB paper with the use of the apparatus I mentioned already ?Digital enlarger ? It must be different to I think as the "negative" medium is a sort of LCD ? But for all practical reasons it will smell like silver gelatine print :lol:.
     
  9. timor

    timor Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Oh... comm on. Give them break, this kids were born into digital, virtual world. Simulating, or faking, is all the fun. And if only picture making there will be no problem...
     
  10. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Intriguing idea... is there some clue that your detective in your story could discover that would indicate that the suspect in the case shoots film - but not that a particular photo was done on film? Except obviously finding a print, that would be a dead give away.

    A photo shot with an older lens may not necessarily have been done on film either - I have 50+ year old lenses I use interchangeably on my digital camera and on a film rangefinder. And to add further confusion I have a new Petzval lens.

    I love a good mystery story, this seems to be a humdinger! I say on a dark and stormy day watching Marlowe.
     
  11. timor

    timor Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I like that. Post some shots done with it sometime.
     
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  12. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Film grain has an organic shape which is much different from digital noise. So you can tell provided the original image is high enough resolution and hasn't had noise reduction applied.
     

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