What is Film Latitude?

What is it? 

Film latitude is a fancy way of saying how a film handles light to put in the most easy to understand terms. Film has what is called a wide latitude for highlights, but a narrow latitude for shadows, whereas digital cameras are the opposite. Let's look further about what I am talking about below. 

Film vs. Digital

Digital cameras love perfect light. They don't like highlights or overexposure. When using a digital camera you will find that most digital cameras do better if you underexpose and then pull up the the shadows in PS or LR. Let's take a closer look at what I am talking about. 

 See how the white and bright area is just white, it retains no detail in the sky, but the sand contains so much detail despite it being slight underexposed? That's the digital proccessor at works. 

See how the white and bright area is just white, it retains no detail in the sky, but the sand contains so much detail despite it being slight underexposed? That's the digital proccessor at works. 

Film loves overexposure. They're not many stocks of film that don't love overexposure, but to name a few that absolutely crave it: Fuji 400H, Kodak Portra 800, or the Fuji Superia line. So let's take a look at what happens when we shoot film and overexpose it. 

 This slide was overexposed, yet it handles highlights, in fact it loves them. Film loves being overexposed, but hates being underexposed, whereas digital likes being under exposed. 

This slide was overexposed, yet it handles highlights, in fact it loves them. Film loves being overexposed, but hates being underexposed, whereas digital likes being under exposed. 

It all comes down to highlight and shadow retention. 

Film retains highlight details  better than digital. 

Digital retains shadow details better film. 

So what does this have to do with me shooting film? 

Well, a lot. Film latitude will tell you it's always better to go one stop up than one stop down when you're shooting and in doubt. 

Well, that's it til next time. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.