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Old Mar 24, 2004, 8:21 AM   #1
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Default When will digital equal or surpass 35mm Film?

To all the experts out there, when do you feel digital SLRs will equal or surpass 35mm film? I realize that there is much than just megapixels that make up a good image. Keeping all things equal (optics used, etc.) when will digital equal film in terms of color accuracy and detail?

I came across an article on the net that concluded:

"From these tests, it is my opinion that digital cameras will match Fujichrome Velvi 35mm film when they reach more than about 10 megapixels. Somewhere in the 12-16 megapixels will produce color image quality comparable to 35 mm film (this is a compromise of more intensity detail and less color detail than film). Somewhat fewer megapixels, approximately 7-8 Mpixels will match 35mm film intensity detail but at below 35mm film color detail."


Anyone here agree/disagree?

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Old Mar 24, 2004, 8:27 AM   #2
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From my perspective I'm THERE with my 5MP camera. I can produce 4x6, 5x7 and 8x10 prints - show them to people along with 35mm prints - and they can't tell me which one is digital and which is 35mm when placed side by side. So either all my freinds and relations have bad eye-site (some of which previously claimed digital can't beat 35mm) or we are already there. In any case - I'm happy with digital and I'm not going back.
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Old Mar 24, 2004, 8:37 AM   #3
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Something you need to think about is that just like digicams, not all films are created equal. There are some ISO 400 films that don't provide resolution better than a 3.2 MP digicam. Fujichrome Velvia is a VERY small grained, high quality film and depending on the person doing the testing, you can get different opinions.
I have made a couple 20"X30" prints from my 10D after having shot an image in Jpeg mode. Unless you are a foot away from them, they look just fine! That is also the way a large print from standard 35mm (in most cases) would look. Think of the way a billboard would look if you were right next to it. Quality is always in the eye of the beholder.
The only way that digital is behind film (that I know of) is tonal range.
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Old Mar 24, 2004, 9:40 AM   #4
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I normally print at 16 by 20 off of the images shot with my D1x. Is is as good as 35 mm? Absolutely not. But it's in the ball park.

Looking at images shot with Canon's 1Ds, I believe it surpass's 35 mm. I think that camera is closing in (although a ways to go) on medium format.

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Old Mar 24, 2004, 9:49 AM   #5
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For the most part, I think that digital has already surpassed 35mm.

Once you get past 6mp the detail and smoothness of the shot holds up well in nearly any print up to 16 x 20.

Grain can be controlled with ISO settings and with my Digital Rebel I hardly have any noise up to 1600 ISO.

Other than the camera, the real tricks seem to be the photographers skill with Photoshop or some such program. As with film and the darkroom, digital quality can be dependent upon the computer darkroom.
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Old Mar 24, 2004, 9:58 AM   #6
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well i was wondering.....is the 1ds all that it is hyped up to be? i mean there cramming 11MP into a CCD(or CMOS?) that isn't much bigger(if at all bigger) than the 10D's ......just wondering if that is bad....lol
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Old Mar 24, 2004, 10:49 AM   #7
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The 1Ds's sensor is much bigger than the 10D's. And the density of the photosites is higher in the 10D (which can effect noise.) I don't know if the tech has advanced enough that the level of noise is better in the 10D over the 1Ds, though. (For what its worth, the photosite density is higher in the 10D than the 1D-Mark II as well, even though its higher resolution. It's because it has a physically larger sensor.)

Most say that the high end 35mm are as good or better than almost all film. Many say that its better than all film.

Many reviews have said that the 1Ds is as good as medium format. I don't know enough to say if they are right, but the pictures they showed say they are right (so did they do something funny to product those pictures... I don't know. I'd like to think not.)

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Old Mar 24, 2004, 1:02 PM   #8
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I think this is a pretty broad question... similar to "which is the best dSLR camera?"

1) Take into account that all films are not created equal to begin with in releation to density/granularity.

2) Chemical processing is no more or less effective then digitsl post-processing if both are done by trained hands.

3) Remember the glass/flash used with the camera is almost as importnant (sometimes more so) in reproducing picture quality, detail, tonal range etc.

4) A low end film SLR will yield nearly identical results to a low end dSLR for 90% of the market that buys them. A high end (F5) film body will compete closely with a high end dSLR in the current marketplace.

The rollout of digital cameras was based on the premise of convenience (in photo storage/shooting capacity, post processing tailored to suit your tastes, and in house printing). I honestly beleive if you use the same caliber of equipment from lens quality, body quality, imager size and resolution vs chemical film choice, lighting and finally printing resolution you will be hard pressed to see any difference with the naked eye and even a 2x or 4x loop.

What I do see a lot of is people comparing final image quality of low end dSLR's with average to good glass with high end film bodies on top of line film and processing facilities. Comparing a digital rebels output printed on a mid-range ink jet printer with an F5 printed on $60K Lab processing equipment is hardly a fair match up.

Apples to apples 35mm is equivalent already. Realistically digital backs for medium format cameras are also on par with one another. Look at the output of 16mp digital backs from a 645 with its film counterpart under studio conditions and youll see little difference. The main difference is that most people dont have the time, patience, of funds to really scrutinize every step of the process to do a clean comparison that includes everything from lens selection, to post processing for color rendition, effective lighting, and even paper selection for final prints.
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Old Mar 24, 2004, 1:17 PM   #9
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One after-thought:

Digital photography is new and unfortunately the majority of high caliber photographers are from the old school. They can do infinite effects in developing their film and using filters however *most* are not too adept at photoshop or other digital post-processing. Neither the experience nor the results are on even footing so their difficult to compare objectively
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Old Mar 27, 2004, 11:21 AM   #10
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My site is mostly about digiscoping, but there are some comparison shots taken with a 35mm SLR at prime focus and a nikon cp-996. I should mention that no enhancement was doen to either set of photos. The results were VERY suprising!

I plan to repeat the comparisons with more control and better film processing and scanning.


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