Kodak Tri-X 400: Real film vs. digital simulated film

Real film vs. digital simulated 35mm film (Kodak Tri-X 400 in DxO FilmPack 5)

My name is Roy Fochtman and I study media informatics at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne, Germany. I am currently conducting a research on film photography on the following topic:

„Software simulation of classical photographic materials – A comparative study on the example about the simulation of the film Kodak Tri-X 400 using DxO FilmPack 5“

If you are into (film) photography, you may understand what it means. If not, let me explain in a few sentences:
Photography is over 175 years old, and one of the most important formats in the photography is the „35mm film“ from the 1920s, which is still used today. There are several types and names of films, but I am researching the style of one special film called „Kodak Tri-X 400“, which exists since 1954. This is one of the most significants black and white films of all times, used by professional photographers, like Sebastião Salgado.

But… Now we live in year 2015, and things have changed a lot. There are digital cameras everywhere, and everybody is carrying a smartphone, digital SLR or mirrorless camera. They work with a digital sensor, which captures light and interpret it. The digital sensor (CCD/CMOS) is the replacement of the film from old cameras and has, of course, lots of advantages.

There is a difference between real film photographs, and digital photographs: film photographs have an unique texture, grain and contrast while digital photographs tend to be „perfect“. But there are photographers (like Sebastião Salgado) who currently still use a digital camera because of all the advantages, and would still like to have the „film look“. For this purpose there are several software products which simulate the style of different old films. One of this programs is „DxO FilmPack 5“, and is the one I am using to simulate the film „Kodak Tri-X 400“.

So… enough theory :)

For this study, I prepared some photographs using the Kodak Tri-X 400 film, and I also took the same photographs with a digital camera. After that I used DxO FilmPack 5 for the film simulation on the digital photographs.

So, what do you have to do?

First, you have to ask a few questions about your photography knowledge and after that, you will compare the photos I prepared and decide which one was taken using real film and which one is the simulated one.

That’s all.

With the results of this research, I want to find out, if DxO FilmPack 5 is good enough to „cheat“ our eye, so we think we are seeing a photo made using Kodak Tri-X 400 film.


Link to the survey with the photos comparision: LINK


Thank you in advance for your time, and I hope you enjoy this survey!

Roy Fochtman


Photo Comparison

Here you will find the photos for the comparison in a bigger size as in the Google Survey, and they have the same order.