Compared to digital captures, is film photography in fine art typically characterized as being bright or having high exposure by nature?

By exposure, I don't mean chemical processes applied to film negatives, but am conceptually proxying the exposure effect found in image editing software. And by film look, think Hasselbad and Velvia. By nature, does the film photograph-look (for day-time photographs) have a reputation for appearing to be brightly exposed or no?

The reason for the question is that another characteristic of film photographs is "soft colors" (low saturation), which seems to lend to the quality of such photographs appearing to have high exposure because of the soft, bright aesthetics of film photography, even though they might really not.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I think you've got your terminology confused here, but i'm struggling to decipher your precise meaning. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 24, 2022 at 8:18
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ i'm so confused \$\endgroup\$
    – srb633
    Commented Jul 24, 2022 at 9:46

2 Answers 2


To be honest, I didn't even manage to read through to the end of the question, because it seems to be based on so many strange assumptions.

What does Hasselblad have to do with exposure specifically?

Take a look at this Fujifilm brochure from 2006 on their film range:

Near the end of the brochure, there are a couple of graphs which I'll include here...

Fujifilm reversal film comparison

Fujifilm negative film comparison

You can see that there are (were) a range of films available, offering different saturation and contrast characteristics at different ISOs. Of course it's not possible to characterise all film photography as resulting in "high exposure" (whatever that is), soft colours or low saturation.

I suspect you are really asking something entirely different.


Short answer is no... film is not characterized by "high exposure" (high key), nor by soft color. In particular, Velvia slide film is known for particularly saturated/bold colors.

There really is no singular characteristic of "film photography." Just as with digital, the initial exposure chosen, and the processing applied afterwards will generate a large variety of results. The only difference is that the "initial exposure" also included the variable of which film was used... and to some extent that is also duplicated with digital (e.g. which brand camera, which picture profile/style, etc).

Your question is based upon conclusions that do not have enough fact behind them...


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