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Old Dec 19, 2003, 11:59 AM   #1
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Default Drugstore photo CD question...

I took some film in to get developed and asked for a CD with the prints. The picutres came out fine, but the files on the CD don't look nearly as good as the pics I take w/ my Powershot A60...more grainy, etc.

Do all pics from film that are put on CD look like this? Or is the difference more due to the difference b/t a disposable film camera and a decent digital one?

Thanks for your answers!
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Old Dec 19, 2003, 9:26 PM   #2
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It's funny you should ask this question as I just saw a discussion on this today. I think it is on fotopic.net, but I could not find it again. Anyway, if I remember it correctly, it was saying that a photo cd from film was at a disadvantage from digital because film has grain in it so the digital copies of film may not look as good. Perhaps your pictures were a bit grainy to begin with and the CD made it more noticable. I say that because I have seen some pictures on CD from film and I did not notice any problems with them.
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Old Dec 19, 2003, 9:33 PM   #3
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I finally found what I read today on fotopic.net. Hope it helps:

Files from digital cameras tollerate somewhat more enlargement than scanned images from film because there is no film grain to a digitally captured image. However, because there is generally more detail and resolution in a film original it is possible to scan that original at a higher resolution than is possible to capture with a digital camera.
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Old Dec 20, 2003, 10:17 AM   #4
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Default Thanks!

That actually does make sense. I guess, "It looks worse, but is still better" isn't exactly something you could put in marketing materials. As long as reprints from the CD come out just as good as the originals, its all good.

Thanks again for helping a newbie!
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Old Dec 20, 2003, 10:38 AM   #5
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A film scanner accentuates grain because of the concentrated light source. 400 ASA film comes out pretty grainy when you scan it and I have seen 800 ASA film for sale in drugstores – the grain must be very bad if you scan that. But a good quality 100 ASA film will scan with limited grain showing. Older negatives tend to have higher grain for the ASA because they have improved grain characteristics over the years.

I think Photopic’s information is dated. I saw a good resolution comparison of 35mm film kept completely in the photo process and digital. They found Provia pro slide film compared to about 11Mp. The best consumer 100 ASA film was at about 6Mp which happens to also be Kodak’s estimate. That is keeping the film completely within the photo process and you lose a little when you transform it over to digital. Maybe not a lot when you do it with a drum scanner, but photos on a CD from the drugstore are certainly not from a drum scanner.

From my own experience 400 ASA film does not equate in resolution to a 5Mp shot. I have never had one scanned on a drum scanner, but I don’t think the resolution is there regardless. So the best film (not slides) equates to 6Mp if you stay in the photo process and a little less if you transfer to digital. Higher ASA film doesn’t come close in any process. If you have a 6Mp DSLR you are getting at least as good a resolution as 35mm film and if you have a pricey 11-12Mp DSLR you have resolution higher than 35mm film. And that is assuming the best quality 100 ASA film. So Photopic’s statement that “because there is generally more detail and resolution in a film original it is possible to scan that original at a higher resolution than is possible to capture with a digital camera” probably dates to lower Mp cameras. Medium and large format film cameras will get better resolution than the best digitals but I don’t think they were referring to large format.

There are different CDs also. Kodak has both Picture CDs and Photo CDs, with Photo CDs having higher resolution. There are other formats and they probably have a wide range of quality.

There is a great program that is inexpensive called Neat Image that is primarily for noise removal, but it does a great job removing grain from scanned images as well. If you are scanning 400 ASA film it is almost a necessity if you want a good large print. There is a new program called Noise Ninja that is also excellent but I have been very happy with Neat Image.
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Old Dec 20, 2003, 4:26 PM   #6
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Default Re: Drugstore photo CD question...

Originally Posted by Falfurrias
...more grainy ...
Do you mean grain seen in chemical photos (longish, random sized) or pixelation (square, often regular patern)? JPEG compression artifacts are more difficult to describe, but they tend to occur along contrasty edges.

Often the scans put on the CD are low resolution: what size are they in pixels, e.g., 480x640, 1500x2000, ...? What is the typical file size for each image, 120K, 640K, 2M, ...?

You might be seeing grain captured by the scanner, but you might be seeing something else - the same kind of artifacts you will find with digital. Since you are trying to figure out if you should get a digital camera, I'd suggest that you explore the digital artifacts - many of which are determined by the pixel count. You will get an idea of what kind of digicam produces that kind of result.
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Old Dec 20, 2003, 6:36 PM   #7
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Don't forget the camera is a big factor too. During a recent trip I took both my film and my digital cameras. The film camera, mostly as a backup just in case. I took 480 digital pictures :shock: and returned home with some pictures still left from the one and only 36 exposure film I left home with.

Anyway, I did take some pictures with both cameras, mostly to compare later. When I developed that film, the results were good enough (what I always used to get from film) until I compared the same pictures with their digital counterparts. I was not comparing print next to screen, but rather print to print - from the same Fuji Frontier mini-lab.

The film version was fuzzy compared to the same picture from my 3 MP digital camera which produced extra crisp images. Both cameras are point-and-shoot though the digital has many more controls than the film camera.

I believe that the optics of both cameras have much to do with it. The $300 digital camera must have better optics than the $80 film camera. The lens is larger in the digital, just for starters.
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