Are They Just Basically A Faded Color Palette?
Personally for me, one of the funniest things I hear from photographers is about how fabulous film was and still is. Before even beginning this debate, let's first look at some key facts about film photography.

In both image capture an printing, there actually is some extremely different aspects as to how the image and print is made. About the only common factor in film and digital photography is the the light rays enter the lens and exit the lens the same. And if you related the sensor in a digital camera to the film inside the camera that's about as far as the common factors go.

As for B&W Negative Film: The silver halide crystals that were struck by light have been rearranged. Later, when the film is placed in a developer solution, the light-struck silver halide crystals react chemically with the developer to form black grains of silver which remain in the film. After the developer is removed and the film is rinsed, a chemical fixer is added. The fixer removes the crystals which were not exposed to light.

With Color Negative Film: Instead of just one layer of emulsion, color film has several layers, each emulsion layer recording a different color. The top emulsion layer is sensitive to blue light. Underneath that layer is a filter coating which stops the blue light from penetrating deeper with the lower layers being green-sensitive and red-sensitive.

Color Reversal Film: Most commonly called "slide film", transparency film or "chromes" ( a name referring to Kodachrome, Ektachrome, Fuji-chrome, Agfachrome and so forth) is similar in it has layers of dyes that react to light, but the resulting image in a positive image and ready for projection on the wall to view or to have prints made.

When printing film it is sort of like a reverse process of the capture whereas a light source is passed through the negative and projected onto a pieces of light sensitive paper then developed in chemicals to bring out the affected silver crystals or dyes as in the negative developing process.

They key thing to note is that the "look of film" happens with the print, since the negative is colors in reverse and is a clear piece of plastic the light will shine through. Its not until you have the print and the light rays bounce back to your eyes that you see the qualities of the image/print.

Digital Camera Sensor is more like Reversal Film...
There is a slight similarity in the process of a digital image capture as in where it captures colors, but not in layers of dyes but in small little squares known as pixels. The resulting image you get from a capture is a positive image and the prints made are from a positive image.

It is this little squares process that makes the whole idea of a digital image looking like film quite impossible. As with film, the transition of color shades is not perfectly defined in perfect tiny squares all the same size.
I would try to show you how the color transitions are in a negative, but it is actually impossible since when the image is scanned into a digital image for use on a computer or ink-jet printing, you lose the way the light was actually captured on the film. It is turned into a flat image of assorted tiny squares (pixels) with each one having a distinct color value. It is no longer layers of dyes with different densities or silver crystals of various odd shapes.

When you combine the fact the the image is made from tiny squares of color and the resulting print is very fine dots of cyan, magenta, yellow and black overlapping each other to create the effect of a continuous pallet of color.

There again, it is impossible to even scan the print and show the dots on the computer screen, as the image is once again a bunch of tiny little squares. But at this magnification you can kind of get an idea of it begin just patterns of overlapping dots. Just as in the CMYK process of commercial printing.

Anyhow... lets put the fact that it is impossible to get the look of film and just proceed with playing with some of the "digital" tools available to make it seem like a film image.

DxO Film Pack
In this first example as I try to keep from laughing, we can see that pretty much my original title of this posting is about all it is...
Just a different color palette. Created from a stand alone program called DxO Film Pack, it ends up really just being something you could make from some color adjustments in Photoshop since the actual image structure is unchanged.
There is no need to show a large version of these examples because the overall sharpness and image structure is the same. And for all intended purposes you could not really think it is a film image more than it would just be a poor job of processing in Photoshop.

Not Really a Comparison Possible
In making & printing digital monochrome images as compared to traditional film & chemical based negatives and prints. Not only is the film "negative" filled with "dots & shapes" of different sizes, but a digital negative is filled with equally square "dots". Since the image is a reflection of light rays bouncing off the print, the method in which both types of print was made is vastly different.

As well as can be said for the "printing process" of those two vastly different ways of capturing photographs. With film you have light being shined through the negative, onto light sensitive paper and then chemically developed to remove the unexposed silver/dyes.

And with the digital print typically going to be ink sprayed onto the paper as with common ink-jet printers. It can also be printed using dye-sublimation and conventional chemical processing units after being converted to expose the digital file to the photo paper.

There is just an inherent slight bit of softness in a film image that digital can not replicate unless you blur the image intentionally. Since the pixels are all of uniform size, it produces a definite "sharp" line between lights & darks. But in most film images, there will be a more oddly configured transition between colors and is not confined to sizes filled fill uniform tiny "image boxes" known as pixels in digital images.

But What Is Possible
You can alter the color balance and tints to appear similar to the looks of different film types. But the soft glowing look of film images printed with light sensitive photo paper, is a look that digital cameras can not record the image the same way that film will. Thus meaning that technically you "can" add film effects, but in a manor representing the color cast and balance of film. The actual softness cant be achieved since the digital image must fit into perfect uniform sized tiny squares.

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