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Jeff Rage Oct 14, 2003 9:20 PM

Film vs. Digital cameras
I am looking for a good comparison of film vs. digital cameras. Does anybody know of any sites that covered this?


Mike_PEAT Oct 14, 2003 11:40 PM

Might help to know what type of comparison you're looking for, the mega pixel equivalent to film, controls between the different camera formats, or what?

slipe Oct 15, 2003 12:28 AM

I read a good pixel comparison but unfortunately didnít link it. It was very professionally done. Their conclusion was that if you keep film completely in the photographic process the best consumer ASA100 film is about equivalent to 6Mp. There is a Fuji pro film that is in the 10Mp range. You lose a little converting to digital even with the best film scanner.

From my own experience converting to digital with a film scanner, 400ASA film isnít as good as 5Mp digital. 100 ASA film and slides are close, but I donít have a pro level film scanner. I donít think the ASA 400 can be improved with a better scanner but the fine film definitely can.

DOF is larger on the digitals. A DLSR has less DOF than a prosumer digital, but not as small as 35mm. So it is very hard to blur the background in many situations.

Exposure latitude is greater with film. A DLSR has sufficient exposure latitude but not as good as film. The prosumer cameras are lacking in that and also have higher noise. It is hard to get both the highlights and shadow detail right with a prosumer camera.

But there are advantages to the better prosumer digitals. Due to the small CCD you can have a better zoom ratio and maximum aperture in a smaller camera. At a lower price as well. The tradeoff is noise and shadow detail. You can just look at a photo and know it was taken with a DLSR rather than a digital with a small sensor. A good DLSR is as good as 35mm IMO.

eric s Oct 15, 2003 8:54 AM

I basically agree with all that slipe said. I wanted to expand on a point.

Dynamic range in film is the biggest difference. The best digitals get between 4-4.5 stops of light/shadow detail. Good print film can match that and slide film gets 5 (or maybe a little more.) I don't know what the best print and slide can do.

From all I've read, I would have said that Provia ISO 50 (or do they only make ISO 100 now? Most of the 50's are going away.) is the best film, but now we're getting into things like contrast and color reproduction and gambit along with dynamic range.

The only way to match the dynamic range of film is to take multiple pictures at different exposures and blend/merge them together. It can be done very well and look great, but most people don't want to spend the time/effort doing it. Save that for the Pros selling their work.


Jeff Rage Oct 15, 2003 3:24 PM

I have a friend who is really into photography and uses a film camera. She was considering getting a digital camera, but was not sure. I tried to go over the differences. I was jsut wondering if anyone ever saw a good comparision somewhere on the net?

Mike_PEAT Oct 15, 2003 3:57 PM

Depends how serious your friend is about film photography. One of the biggest problems used to be longevity of prints (from a printer) but these days you can have your digital pictures printed on standard photo paper (just like film) at Walmart and camera shops.

I have to say the biggest advantage of digital is the lack of expenses after the equipment is paid a year I shot over 2000 pictures and only printed the ones I wanted (probably about 50, the rest I keep on CDR if I ever want to print).

Another big advantage is being able to see instantly in the camera to see if the scene was captured the way you wanted it to...if not you can take another picture (rather than waiting until a film is developed).

As well, you can get a lot more pictures on a a party I shot over 100 pictures without having to think about changing the memory card or worrying about the batteries...with 36 exposure film I would have had to stop and change the film 3 times.

Also, with the lack of expenses you can experiment and learn a lot more...I once took 80 pictures of a subject from different angles and different settings until I got one I liked. I may have always used manual cameras (an SLR for 20 years, and an Agfa Isollette as a child), but I learned more about photography with digital since I could experiement without worrying about film costs...I haven't shot with film since, and I don't think I'll ever use film again.

Downsides, you have to take the place of the darkroom technician, although many pictures can be directly printed, there are some you will want to touch up, sharpen (common problem), colours might not be true, and you have to play that role.

Besides that, I can't think of a true negative that would be a reason for someone to stick with film.

gibsonpd3620 Oct 15, 2003 4:07 PM

When I first started using my 35mm camera, I went to local dark room to edit my pictures. The only editing that we had available to us was for black and white. I love to see the photos come to life as I worked my way through the chemical process. This is the reason that I love digital photography that I can see the photos come to life instantly. I still can do touch ups with my editing software and present a better photo, or at least better to my eyes.

koruvs Oct 15, 2003 6:19 PM

I use both. However, if I had the money up front I'd buy a top-end DSLR body ...D2H :wink:

Right now I use the best of both worlds, a film SLR and a digital darkroom.

I use a F80, get the film developed (no prints), scan in the negatives with my Epson 2450 at about 300dpi, pick the print worthy ones @ 4x6, scan them in at 600 to 1200dpi (depending on sizing/cropping), do some adjusting in PS7 if needed, print them out on my S9000 and take them to the guy/gal at the local Fuji shop which uses a $80,000 machine and watch them faint :lol: I had the first few rolls printed by a few different labs and most had way too much contrast.

Jeff Rage Oct 15, 2003 6:53 PM

It would seem that the main advantage of a film camera is the resolution.

Do they have zoom lenses available for digitals that are comparable to what's available for film cameras?

Mike_PEAT Oct 15, 2003 7:18 PM

It depends on what class of camera you can get digital cameras that exceede consumer films, but then you're getting close to or above a 5 figure amount.

As for lenses, you can get dSLR cameras that use interchangeable lenses.

I suggest if your friend has internet access that SHE come here and ask the questions! It's no use walking in the dark without having her input what she wants! We have no knowledge about her ability or what she uses now, and without that it's no use making blind suggestions.

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