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Justin Hancock Jun 28, 2006 3:40 PM

I've heard from someone that digital photography can't begin to touch the high quality of traditional film photography.

I found this hard to believe given the technology that is going into the sensors within DSLRs, among other things.

What's the general concensus on this?

DBB Jun 28, 2006 3:54 PM

Justin Hancock wrote:

I've heard from someone that digital photography can't begin to touch the high quality of traditional film photography.

It's rediculous to imagine that people will ever fly. The so called "airplane" is a figment of the stupified imagination.


PS. The earth is flat.

Morag2 Jun 28, 2006 4:30 PM

LOL at DBB's post

And as for the topic, I'm not completely sure, but I believe that VERY high end digital cameras match the quality of film, but only the really expensive ones (18 Megapixels was the number I was given, it could be off).

But for standard cameras, film is better.

amazingthailand Jun 28, 2006 4:46 PM

Film is better.
Digital is better.

Depends on what you are looking at. Film has better dynamic range (well, negative film does), than digital, but digital will produce a much smoother looking image (think noise, film grain) than film will with large prints - at low ISO's.

I once read on Kodak's site that 35mm film resolution was equal to about 25 MP. They didn't state at what ISO, but I would assume 100 or so.

One thing is for certain, film will beat the small sensors in most of the p&s digicams. But that should be no surprise when you consider how small many of those sensors are compared to a 35mm negative.

On most 10MP and above dSLR's, I think digital has the edge, except for DR.

pagerboy Jun 28, 2006 5:31 PM

From that site the film is really grainy but sharp, the digital is not at all grainy but not as sharp. How would someone count the pixels on a piece of film, kinda hard to compare unless you see a photo taken with both.

Justin Hancock Jun 28, 2006 5:41 PM

Thanks for that link - definitely shows the differences.

DBB Jun 28, 2006 7:59 PM

Justin Hancock wrote:

Thanks for that link - definitely shows the differences.
No, it shows the diffference between a 6 MP, 4 year old camera and a film scan. There are numerous other reasons why this "test" is fair neither to film or digital.

If the question is, does film have a technical advantage in quality over digital, the answer would be yes. In real world terms it's almost (although not quite) meaningless.

The question that people debate now, "IS FILM DEAD?"

The answer is, not quite. There are, for a number of reasons, people who still shoot film. I have nothing against that attitude. However the overwhelming number of professional photographers have Switched to digital.

That Fact speaks for itself. I will pay Anyone a thousand dollars (in Confederate money) if they can look at the out put of film vs digital and give me a correct answer within thirty seconds. Can't be done.

Here are two images - is it film or digital?

Ok, 30, 29, 28, 27....


Morag2 Jun 28, 2006 8:21 PM

My guess is that the first one is film and the second is digital. That took me 5 seconds, give or take, the question is, was I right?

DBB Jun 29, 2006 11:35 AM

Morag2 wrote:

My guess is that the first one is film and the second is digital. That took me 5 seconds, give or take, the question is, was I right?
Why would I make an honest poll?:?

They're both digtial. And they show the DR of digital pretty well. Well I started this poll, I did intend to post a scanned image - but that would have REALLY been cheating - Because my scanner while not bad, cannot do justice to the images in such a comparison. So it would have looked like Digital is far superior to film, which of course it's not.

But my point remains. While there are some professionals who still use film - And for the forseable future film will still be used as a niche for fine art reproductions - For all intents and purposes it is now silly to ask whether Digital can match film - No it can't and that answer, positive as it may be, is also academic.


eric s Jun 29, 2006 12:09 PM

DBB has mad most of my points, but I want to expand on something:

I've heard from someone that digital photography can't begin to touch the high quality of traditional film photography.
This is absolutley and clearly wrong. Mostly because of the words "...can't begine to touch..."

Like DBB, I can produce prints that you would have no idea how I took them. Absolutely none. You could guess... you might have a "feeling" that it was one or the other, but I doubt you could articulate why. And that is what matters. That you can't tell, in your chosen medium, how it was taken. For example. If you made a 4x6 print of your kid finger painting in your yard... I think I can safely say if you do both as best you can (best printer for the digital image, pro-quality camera and the same lens as on the film body, a quality lab to print the film image) then you won't be able to tell the two images apart. Yes, you'll have to do some editing of the digital image - but the lab will have done stuff to the image to improve your film image (they don't "just print it.") The prints will be the same.

And if you used cheap film, I bet you could tell the difference between the two images if you enlarged them to something more reasonable (like 11x13".) It would take some effort, but I bet you could find it.

Really good, top quality film... the Provia 100 or Velvia 100 films are as good as the best digital "in general". Each has advantages and disadvantages in different areas. The film will have more dynamic range and be sharper out of the box. Both of those films are rather contrasty (favoried by wildlife & landscape photographer.) But you could get the same contrasy image from digital with little work. You could easily sharpen the digital image to match the sharpness of the film image. Even if you push the film one stop (shoot a 100ISO film at 200ISO) I bet the noise will be simliar (i.e. near impossible to find if exposed right.)

I want to point something else that has not come up before I end this point.
The digital camera will have an anti-aliasing filter on it. This is what reduces the sharpness of the image (it prevents artifacts due to the perfectly patterened layout of the sensors - jagged edges.) It is very easy to improve sharpeness, but more difficult to remove the jagged edges that look so bad. So a non-edited digital image will almost certainly look less sharp than film, but it is trivial to fix that.

So if the person you were talking to really meant:
Quality film beats *unedited* digital images (assuming a modern DSLR of reasonable quality) then they are right. But they are comparing apples to oranges.
that is so unfair a compairson it is a useless argument. The film gets altered when its developed. To deny those changes to the digital image is wrong.

It they meant:
Quality film beats "edited" digital images - then they are comparing apples to apples... but they are wrong. Except for the corner cases where each has an advantage, they are the same.

For example, try shooting gymnastics in a highschool gym. Now, they have absolutely horrible lighting. You'll be shooting at ISO800 or so to get the shutter speeds you need to stop the action. Digital has much less noise at iso800 than any film I know of... the "quality" films are at ISO100 for a reason! Digital will beat film hands down.

Doing a landscape with complex lighting and shadow. Exciting clouds and shadows thrown on to the landscape. I this case, film will probably be better. You'd have to do a double exposure to get the dynamic range you want... but with the moving clouds they wouldn't line up. You could fake it, blending the image using the sky from one image and the trees from another... but it would just be easier with film.

Does that help?


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