How to Judge Whether or Not a Picture is Analog

14

We've all seen digital photos on Lomography.com, but here are some tips on how to differentiate between the two!

Here at the wonderful Lomography.com, people from all over the world are allowed to share their analog joy by sharing film photos that bring joy to each one of our hearts. Although Lomography is strictly for analog film photos, they’ll always be those who think they can trick the community and upload digital photos. Some of us turn the other cheek while others start shoutbox riots which can end up in the throwing around of some pretty nasty words. So whether you’re an analog activist or someone who can care less, here are a few tips on how to differentiate analog photos from digital photos.

1.] Look for consistencies.
A lot of times people will put their digital photos through effect filters to give the photos an “analog” look. These effects usually include bringing out color in the blacks of the photo, fake light leaks, and over saturation or contrast. However, if people use these effects just by using premade filters often times their photos will have consistencies in them. For example, in the slideshow below the photos are put through a digital filter to give it the “vintage” look. The effects from photo to photo are almost exactly alike. Notice how the light leaks in the top and bottom right hand corner are exactly the same. We all know that sometimes our cameras have leaks that can produce very similar light leaks from picture to picture, but very rarely will you have a camera that produces the same identical light leaks from photo to photo no matter what the light conditions are. This rule also goes for vignetting, lens flares, and other photo proprieties like color cash and saturation. Again, there is the slight chance that this can be a truly analog effect, but 9 times out of 10, the effect is somehow digitally altered.

Photos grabbed from a friend of mine’s Facebook

2.] Do a background check!
Here at Lomography, it’s encouraged to creep all over people’s photos and homes. And if you’re ever suspicious about a photo’s trustworthiness, get studied up do a background check on the photo and Lomographer! If you’re suspicious of a particular photo, take a look at the meta data supplied by the Lomographer to the right of the photo. Some people will be honest and write big warning tag in all caps that reads DIGITAL. Sometimes there’s no harm in uploading a digital shot if it’s for the purpose of an instructional blog or for some other practical use. If there is no meta data at all, this could be a cause for suspicion. That said, DO NOT think any photo without meta data is digital. Many of us are just too lazy to enter in all the little details or some of us just plain forget to do it. But if people don’t write down the meta data, you might have some right to be suspicious. Also, be warned! Some tricky uploaders will add in false meta data to represent a camera that they are trying to recreate.

3.] Does it look too good to be true?
Although it’s something your mother might have warned you about when you were a child after you told her about some kid who’s in your class who’s going to sell you an ultra rare baseball card for free, this rule applies here. If there’s ever anything in a photo that just seems too good to be true, it might be just that: a digital shot or a digitally enhanced shot! Some examples of this could be perfect vignetting or HDR effects (which are nearly impossible to create using film). Unless someone can give you a plausible reason for why these effects are near perfect, you might have a reason to be doubtful on your hands.

Photos courtesy of @zero1photo and @berndsaller

4.] When you’re really needing to know, check the EXIF information.
If you’re really super curious there is one last way to truly tell if the shot is digital or not. When you take a photo with a digital camera, many will store what is known as EXIF information. This is where the extraneous data about the settings of the camera for that particular shot is stored. This information will include shutter speed, aperture, white balance, color mode, focal length, camera model and other things. On a Windows computer, the only way to see this information is to save the photo onto your computer, right click the image file, and select proprieties. The EXIF information is located in the tab that says details. I do not own a Mac, but I’m assuming you can find this information when you command click and select “Get Info”. If the EXIF information shows a digital camera model, shutter speed, aperture, and all that other stuff, you’ve probably got a digital shot on your hand. This rule does not apply if the film has been Ghetto Scanned in which case EXIF information will be retained. Also, if a version of Photoshop or similar photo editing program is shown, don’t get suspicious, a lot Lomographers use Photoshop to scan in their photos from their flatbed. If these digital tricksters are really sneaky, they might delete the EXIF information, but many times the info will be left with the photo.
*Notice: Since I strongly do not believe strongly in downloading other people’s photos from Lomography without permission, I strongly urge Lomographers to use this tactic sparingly and only when truly necessary.

What EXIF Information looks like.

5.] Ask the photographer!
Lomography is a great community full of really nice people, and sometimes the best course of action is to confront the Lomographer directly through a public or private message. Some people might have somehow missed the memo that Lomography.com is strictly for analog photos. If they admit to the photos being digital, don’t blow your top but just respectfully reprimand them and tell them to refrain from posting digital photos. Kindness is always key!
Sadly, as long as there is going to be an online community of film photographers, there will always be a trace of doubt about digital enhancement and digital photo. It’s just the nature of the beast. Just remember to keep these tips in the back of your mind if suspicion or doubt ever creeps into your head!

written by fivedayforecast on 2011-03-19 in #gear #tipster #exif #tipster #top-tipster-techniques #film #digital #analog #judge #camera

14 Comments

  1. fivedayforecast
    fivedayforecast ·

    Ahhh!!!!! Sooooo many formatting errors. Sorry LSI. I thought your articles still allowed for textile code!

    To lomographers: try to look past it!

  2. disasterarea
    disasterarea ·

    Personally I don't try to worry about this kind of thing. If someone wants to upload a digital image to Lomography they're only fooling themselves because they're personally missing all the things that make film fun and unique to use...like the unpredicatable-ness of the camera's and how you never know what you're going to get until it comes back from the lab.

    But despite all these checks, anyone who uses film regularly can instantly spot a digital print from analogue. This is because film has a unique look that no matter how much time you spend in post-processing you just can't recreate. And this is in the subtlety of the colours, the slight softness of the edges, the smooth gradients, and the grain.

    ...It's hard to explain but you just know :)

  3. disasterarea
    disasterarea ·

    To conclude...
    Lomography is more than light leaks, whacked-out colours, and unconventional framing.

    (although they are part of the fun)

  4. mochilis
    mochilis ·

    So useful!! My eyes are still not used to catching fake analogue pics but I'll try and use these tips you gave us... not for pointing and getting angry with "digital lomographers", in my case, just to know and stop wondering how did they get those beautiful colours or vigneting.
    Thanks!!

  5. lakandula
    lakandula ·

    Informative read. Thanks for sharing.

  6. stouf
    stouf ·

    Interesting ! And it reminds me of our little debate of 4 months ago... (www.lomography.com/magazine/lifestyle/2010/11/12/who-needs-…)

  7. mikahsupageek
    mikahsupageek ·

    great article Ty !

  8. natalieerachel
    natalieerachel ·

    I still have some troubles finding differences between analogue and digital sometimes. Except for that zero1photo guy....that's pretty obvious.
    Good thing I got all of my digital ones off, haha I had A LOT when I first joined because I didn't have any analogue cameras :(

  9. lucide
    lucide ·

    Good article!
    'Analog activists' made me laugh a little :).

  10. eringreif
    eringreif ·

    Haha I love this article so much. I like to edit my digital photos to give them an analog look sometimes but when I put them on Flickr I tag them with "FAUX FILM" and I would never upload them on my Lomography page. And it's nowhere near as fun as film anyway.

  11. geltona
    geltona ·

    "hmmmmm... makes me suspicious" :)

  12. superkulisap
    superkulisap ·

    nice article

  13. berndsaller
    berndsaller ·

    nice - my pic above is a horizon-shot on film ... negative scanned and hdr-like filtered ... if you give your film to a photo-store to get some prints from it .. isnt there a man at the machine who makes it sharp, clean and colors it so, how he likes the picture? = analog ...

  14. fivedayforecast
    fivedayforecast ·

    Well I mean none the less it is still a digital filter. So it's digital manipulation of an anolog photo. Whig is fine sometimes. We all edit a photo every now and then.

More Interesting Articles

  • So here’s what we’ve been working on: an all new lomography.com

    written by recurving on 2015-02-03 in #world #news
    So here’s what we’ve been working on: an all new lomography.com

    For the last year we've been working on the next version of Lomography. We based our work on the feedback you’ve given us over the years and we wanted to share it as early as possible with you and can’t wait to hear what you think. Just one warning first: it is still in development and things can break. All the photos, comments, likes, homes and everything else were transferred as of October 16th, 2014. So anything you do on next.lomography.com won't be reflected on www.lomography.com and vice versa. Once we are done with testing, everything you did here will be deleted again. So this is a big playground for you to explore.

    216
  • Photographers On Why They Shoot Film (Part I)

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-04-11 in #people #lifestyle
    Photographers On Why They Shoot Film (Part I)

    On this day and age when many are incorporating digital gear into their workflows, whether fully or partly, there still are photographers who remain rooted to their analog roots and continue to shoot with film cameras. In commemoration of Film Photography Day happening tomorrow, we have scoured through our past interviews to highlight the reasons these photographers choose to still shoot film.

    2
  • Take a Look at the Five Stylish Years of the Diana Mini

    written by shhquiet on 2014-08-18 in #news
    Take a Look at the Five Stylish Years of the Diana Mini

    The Diana Mini is turning five years old this month! Through the years we have seen this sweet and petite 35mm camera transform from a classic analogue beauty to a blinged-out snapshooter and everything else in between. Remember the Love Letters edition? How about the Premier Cru? To refresh your memory here's a gallery of all the Diana Mini styles we've released in the past five years. Which among these limited edition Clones is your favorite?

    1
  • Shop News

    Fuji Instax Wide 300

    Fuji Instax Wide 300

    Shoot wider and bigger with this new instax camera that has film format twice the size of the instax mini films!

  • Inspiring Pinhole Photography Reads for World Pinhole Photography Day!

    written by plasticpopsicle on 2014-04-27 in #lifestyle
    Inspiring Pinhole Photography Reads for World Pinhole Photography Day!

    In celebration of World Pinhole Photography Day today, we've decided to make a compilation of all the amazing pinhole-related stuff we've seen, written, and read here in the Lomography website through the years. We're sure many of you will be out to take pinhole snaps throughout the day in celebration of the occasion, but in case you're itching for some more inspiring reads on pinhole photography, you might as well read on and check out our compilation!

  • Take to the streets! Arresting street photography with the new Russar+ Lens

    written by cheeo on 2014-05-17 in #lifestyle
    Take to the streets! Arresting street photography with the new Russar+ Lens

    Street photography is home to many experiences. But this series of photos zones in on the strong lines of buildings and everything in between as seen through the ultra-wide Russar+ Lens.

  • Street Photography Tips: Use Your Horizon Camera

    written by jillytanrad on 2014-05-13 in #gear #tipster
    Street Photography Tips: Use Your Horizon Camera

    The Horizon Kompakt and Perfekt may be a bit bulkier than your usual compact cameras, but aside from taking photos of beautiful landscapes, they can also be your partners in taking pictures on the streets. Here are a few tips to get you started.

    2
  • Shop News

    Special Apertures for Petzval

    Special Apertures for Petzval

    Want to be more creative and level up your bokeh shots? A wide selection of special apertures for Petzval are here to blend with your artistic side and give your Petzval images some analog twists!

  • My Lomo’Instant Quick Tips

    written by tomas_bates on 2014-11-12 in #gear #tipster
    My Lomo’Instant Quick Tips

    I backed the Kickstarter project for the Lomo’Instant earlier this year and was thrilled to receive it last week. I love how the camera naturally encourages you to experiment with its different features, whether it’s through flashing your multiple exposures with different colors or trying different creative techniques after your shots has been ejected. Here are a few tips from what I’ve discovered from playing with the camera so far (and a couple of tips I want to try out in future)!

  • How to Make Special Aperture Plates for Your Petzval Lens, Halloween Edition

    written by jillytanrad on 2014-10-29 in #gear #tipster
    How to Make Special Aperture Plates for Your Petzval Lens, Halloween Edition

    Halloween fever is in full swing. Everything ghostly, scary or freakishly extraordinary are either on display or being spoken of in hushed voices through spine-chilling tales. Apart from wearing the scariest costumes and taking photos of of your petrifying selves, why not amplify the Halloween spirit a notch higher by using Halloween-themed aperture plates with the New Petzval Lens? Here's a quick tipster that'll teach you how to make special aperture plates and make the most out of them this Halloween!

  • February Workshops and Events

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-01-20 in #events
    February Workshops and Events

    February is here and the daffodils are out! We've got a great selection of workshops lined up this month. Learn how to get amazing shots with the Lubitel, transfer your favourite image onto a bag with our Lumi Paint workshop and join our Valentine's LC-A + workshop. We've also got a great exhibition from photographer Chris Pollard and you're all invited to the opening night. Read on for all the details.

  • Shop News

    LCA-120 Film Bundle

    LCA-120 Film Bundle

    Shoot more with LC-A 120 without breaking your budget! The Phoblographer Editor’s Choice Award Winner now comes with a 120 format film at 15% off!

  • Lomo’Instant Quick Shots: Hannah Brown

    written by hannah_brown on 2014-10-28 in #gear #tipster
    Lomo’Instant Quick Shots: Hannah Brown

    There are so many exciting things you can do with the Lomo'instant camera it's hard to know where to start! We've been giving this lovable Lomo camera the full test drive so that you can experience the full potential of this camera in an instant! Here are some top tips on shooting graffiti and doubles with Hannah Brown.

  • Lomo’Instant Quick Shots: Adriana Brioso

    written by hannah_brown on 2014-12-09 in #gear #tipster
    Lomo’Instant Quick Shots: Adriana Brioso

    There are so many exciting things you can do with the Lomo'instant camera, it's hard to know where to start. We've been giving this lovable Lomo camera the full test drive so that you can experience the full potential of this camera in an instant! Here are some top tips on shooting graffiti and doubles with our UK intern Adriana Brioso.

  • I am a Mad Analogue Scientist: New Experiments with 35mm Films and Chemicals

    written by blackfairy on 2014-08-07 in #gear #tipster
    I am a Mad Analogue Scientist: New Experiments with 35mm Films and Chemicals

    Unfortunately, it happens sometimes that your resulting pictures are not what you expected - the image doesn't look that good, the colors are bland, and the subject is banal. Indeed, it couldn't be picture of the year! Herein I propose a second chance for your pictures by modifying your 35mm negatives. Just pick up some ideas from here, experiment, and scan your negatives with the Lomography Smartphone Scanner. Anything is possible: burning, scratching, putting on hydrochloric acid, balsamic vinegar, nail polish, bleach, or raspberry juice... use your imagination and write down your new film soup recipe! You can find a sample of the effects in this article.

    13