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How to Get a Film Look Without Post Processing or Presets

Many digital photographers and filmmakers want their work to look like it was taken with a film camera. They do this by applying post processing or presets that give the digital images a vintage, grainy film look. This can be quite time consuming and expensive. You may not need to spend hours in front of your computer screen if you own a digital camera! In this article, we will walk through how to get the digital camera “film” effect without any post processing or presets at all!

What Is The Film Look?

Before we start, it’s a good idea to understand what the digital film look is. There are several ways digital images can take on a “film” effect:

  • The colors and contrast of the photo mimic those found in movies filmed using actual film cameras.
  • Grain or noise that resembles analog photography (noise from traditional camera sensors) is added to digital images.

What You Will Need:

A digital camera, a tripod, photos you want to capture with this effect as well as normal shots without any filters applied so we can compare them! If your digital camera has multiple picture modes such as “Vivid”, “Natural” or other presets, select either the mode which will give you the most realistic results if it’s not already set on natural or neutral mode. In addition to having these options available when shooting pictures outside your home use different lighting conditions. For example, shoot the digital camera film effect during bright daylight and without any post processing or presets at night under artificial lighting.

If you are shooting outside, select a setting that is either overcast or very sunny to lessen shadows in your photos which helps make them look more like real film shots. Next adjust your digital camera’s shutter speed until it reaches one second (the slower the better). If possible avoid taking pictures with too much contrast as well as those taken indoors because they won’t turn out looking natural…I know from experience! Try to use filters sparingly if at all when capturing digital images for this digital camera film effect tutorial.

Factors To Consider When Getting A Film Effect In Your Photos

There are several factors to consider when you want digital images that look like they were shot on actual film, which we’ll cover below.

Lighting Conditions

The most important of these is lighting conditions, so it’s crucial for digital photographers who don’t have access to a camera with presets or filters the ability to shoot in various settings and environments!

When shooting outside try not to capture digital photos where there are any shadows present because this will prevent your digital camera from getting an authentic “film” feel. If possible avoid taking pictures during times of day where the sun casts harsh shadows across faces which can make them look unrealistic if you’re going for realism…the same applies indoors as well!

Type Of Lens Used

The digital camera lens you use is incredibly important as well because a digital camera with too much contrast will leave your images looking unrealistic. If possible try to avoid using flash when taking digital pictures, and if the photo looks bad after not applying post processing or presets give it another shot! It may take several tries before getting an image that resembles one from an actual film camera…it’s worth it in my opinion! In addition to this, make sure digital cameras are held steady once they’ve been set up on a tripod. Next adjust shutter speed until there is motion blur which gives photos more of a real life feel than usual.

It may also be worth picking up a nice vintage lens from the film era, such as a prime lens, that has a wider aperture compared to other modern equivalents. Most photos were taken with lenses that only stopped up to F/1.2 to produce a shallow DOF, so anything between F/1.2 and F/4 are desirable.

Frame Size

Framing digital images is similar to digital cameras, so when taking digital shots it’s a good idea to pick the appropriate format. In addition to this, digital photographers should avoid using zoom or digital image stabilization when capturing photos for this digital camera film effect tutorial which help leave them looking unrealistic!

The larger the frame size, the shallower the depth of field is when everything else is constant. Film frames are significantly bigger than digital photos, which are known as ‘full frame’ in the digital realm. I previously addressed how shallow depth of focus affects how people perceive particular types of photographs.

The overall picture of a larger frame is better resolution and less noise. Noise was a significant issue in the early days of digital photography because of tiny sensors with low ISO performance. Things are certainly different now, though. In contrast to digital noise, film grain wasn’t that bad.

Shooting in RAW Format

It may seem like overkill but shooting in RAW helps out a lot if you’re going for realism because of its high dynamic range and ability to capture details better than other formats. If possible use JPEG instead of TIFF as long as your computer can open these files without slowing down significantly…if not shoot pictures in RAW! I know from experience that opening up huge .TIF files isn’t fun at all.

Film Emulation Filters

There are digital camera film effect filters available online if digital photographers want to shoot pictures with a digital SLR but don’t have access to either presets or options for shooting in RAW. It’s definitely worth giving the digital version of these pictures a shot because it’ll make your images look better!

Film emulations can be applied after taking digital photos, which is something that allows people to determine whether they’re going for accuracy or not based on how much post processing is done…and this applies no matter what kind of photo you take! If anything I recommend trying out black and white emulation first since there aren’t any color hues involved at all so it gives you an idea about how much time will go into editing each picture individually. However, this post is about achieving this look while in camera, not post-processing, so let’s move on.

Full Frame / Medium Format Digital Camera

To help achieve the film look, it’s recommended that you use a camera with a full or medium format frame to ensure that the outer edges aren’t creating imperfections such as distortion, vignetting, or softness.

If you don’t have a full or medium format frame, it’s recommended that you pick up a focal reducer if you have a DSLR body that uses a crop sensor. This basically helps reduce the effects of a cropped sensor in your images.

Other Film Look Tips

  • When creating an image, look for vivid colors that appear attractive in film and attempt to use them. Because light is such a crucial aspect of image appearance and most film shots have a warm, gentle tone, it’s best to capture during the 2 hours after sunrise and 2 hours before sunset when the light is warm and soothing.
  • If you can’t shoot during the day because of the sun or if it’s not possible to shoot, then use available shade for daytime shots and tungsten white balance for nighttime ones. Set the White Balance in your camera to daylight white balance if you’re shooting during the day, and Tungsten white balance if you’re shooting at night.
  • Use a reflector or other types of fill light to properly illuminate your subject and cover in the shadows.
  • Keep an eye on the histogram while shooting in manual mode to ensure you have control over the picture’s exposure.
  • Only shoot in RAW to get all of the data in the image file. Shooting at a higher ISO may cause grain accumulation in the photo without affecting the fine details.