I'm looking for a robust (long-lasting) mirrorless camera with a price tag up to $2,000. So besides Leica and Nikon Z7, which brands should I go for if I want photos to look as close to film as possible? I've mostly read about Fujifilm, Sony and Olympus.

(I'm talking professional photography)

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    With post processing of the raw data you should be able to go for any look you want. Are you specifically looking for a camera that has built-in image processing to mimic film curves so you can just take images straight off the camera with no processing (i.e. lightroom / photoshop / etc..)? Jan 11 '19 at 18:04
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    How do you define "film look"? There's a pretty big difference between Portra 160 and Velvia, PanF+ and Delta (well, anything...but especially 3200). Just curious - have you ever shot film? Because here's the thing, anyone attempting "the film look" is simply running some post processing on a photo. Most never come close, as pleasing as their photos end up being. So, is this a camera question, or a how to post process question?
    – OnBreak.
    Jan 11 '19 at 18:51
  • Fuji certainly orients its in camera color profiles around film styles. Sony doesn't for sure. Jan 12 '19 at 1:18
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    In any case: Slide or negative film? Jan 12 '19 at 1:19
  • you will need to specify what you mean by "look as close to film as possible". That is highly subjective Jan 12 '19 at 22:37

Producing images captured with a digital camera that have a "film look" is more about post-processing the raw image data produced by the camera than it is about the camera itself. The two most important considerations are the knowledge and skill of the person doing the post-processing as well as the technical capabilities of the post processing software.

For the most part, professionals who do film simulation do so with an external photo processing applications such as Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, PhaseOne Capture One Pro, DxO PhotoLab (formerly DxO Optics Pro), etc. Although there are plenty of "presets" for such applications out there that are supposed to simulate "film looks" of one type or another, a skillful editor who understands the inner workings of how to process raw image data to make an image look a certain way can very often get a specific image taken under specific lighting conditions to look closer to their intent than using a "preset" that is made to make an image captured under one type of lighting scenario look a certain way when the image in question was captured under different lighting conditions.

Of course it all starts with the photographer who captures the image and the way the subject is lit at the time the image is captured. You can post-process all you want, but a frame captured at noon in the middle of the Sahara desert is not going to look like a tropical lagoon at sunset.

Pretty much any digital camera that allows (mostly) unprocessed image information collected by the camera's imaging sensor to be saved to a raw format is good enough to produce images with a "film" look if the raw image data is subsequently processed in a way that ends up with a final result that looks like it could have been shot on a specific type of film.

On the other hand, there are some cameras that have "built-in" film emulation automatic processing of the raw image data that produces an in-camera jpeg that is supposed to simulate a particular type of film. Although some pros may use such capabilities in such cameras at times, these types of cameras with this capability are aimed more at the amateur enthusiast market than at professional photographers producing fine art photos or commercial or lifestyle work for clients.


David Hobby, of strobist.com fame, has written a great review of the Fujifilm X100s, which has settings that simulate several classic Fujifilm films. The X100s is an older, discontinued model, but the other models in Fujifilm's X-series lineup apparently have the same film simulation modes. You can read in Fujifilm’s Film Simulation Modes and What They Are Actually Doing To Your Images about the specifics of the various modes.

One could argue that Fujifilm's simulation modes are mostly clever marketing, and that you can get similar results with any camera using Photoshop, or by combining various camera settings. Many Canon DSLRs let you create custom picture styles including settings for contrast, saturation, sharpness, and tone, and you can also add custom white balance settings. If you know specifically what makes a given film look the way it does, then that seems like a reasonable approach, but still not as simple as being able to just set the camera to "Velvia" or "Acros" and getting a particular look.

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