I don't want this to be a film vs. digital type of debate and which one is better, blah blah blah...I don't care since I use both, though my heart will always love film better even if one day I see digital being better...then my heart will be sad
What I want is to see if this may be something interesting for discussion since for me, it isn't exactly all new stuff, but it is definitely striking some important issues and also ?????? marks...so the knowledgeables around here should certainly have a say in this one.
Before I get into this one, I wanted to ask why we do not have a scanner/digital camera guideline where a person that is interested in getting scannera type A can know the output expected of these film sizes will give a result equal to about the sensor/output of digital camera type whatever. In other words, say an Epson V750 can scan 4X5 film as well as a Canon 5D/MKII can produce prints up to X size...then there should be a chart/guide made that shows on one side, film scanners, and on the other side, digital camera equivalents in terms of digital output, not the print quality...only the digital output quality. I know this would take a lot of effort and it would likely not be precise, but it would at least be a guideline of some sort. In other words, I'd surely love to know, when scanner shopping or not, if I can make X sized prints with a flatbed, or if I have to buy a pro-level drum scanner OR if I need to send the film into Lenny and have him run it off the Aztek (such as 35mm film).
Now onto the discussion and the specific points Rockwell makes, links to these readings (along with Erwin Puts Leica M7 vs. M8 comparison), etc.
Here is Rockwell's writing about film vs digital "files" and "prints". He makes a clear distinction about how things look on the screen vs. how things look on the print. If the link is not working properly, let me know and I'll figure out a better one...just scroll the site and find the page that shows the Contax 645 shot w/21mm Distagon and you'll find the reading I am referencing.
Now a quote from him and one that I find argumentative:
"The supremacy of film's resolution is so obvious to me that I've never gotten around to comparing it properly, which requires looking at the film as optically printed, as Puts did.
Every other comparison, including my own, has been comparing digital capture to scans of film. Scanning film loses most of its resolution, and gives digital the unfair advantage of being compared in its native format: digits.
If you compare pictures (prints) instead of digital files, film pulls way ahead of digital capture."
1) I know we have had the optical vs. digital prints debate many times, but here even Rockwell is stating that optical is superior to digitizing aka-hybrid the film. If this is true, then why would I send off one of my favorite shots with 35mm film to Lenny to have it digitized when my Howtek 4500 can produce a file size larger than Rockwell's scans that he receives from the lab he uses? I know Hutton sent off, or at least he said he was going to send off the superb 35mm b/w shot of the house to Lenny because neither his Minolta or Howtek could get the resolution off the film like the Aztek could.
Is Rockwell wrong in saying, "scanning film loses most of its resolution"? OR, is Rockwell not scanning the film with a proper scanning device or operator?
2) Is Rockwell "and" Puts correct about the optical path producing the most resolution when it comes to getting the film onto the paper-print?
3) Lastly, a very critical statement is made that threw me off about digital files/output.
"If you compare pictures (prints) instead of digital files, film pulls way ahead of digital capture."
This has to be the most perplexed statement to interpret because he is both 1) Arguing one of the two primary things that digital shooters declare when declaring the death of smaller film formats=The TONS of online articles/comparisons of film and digital "files", proving the grain issues of film and also the lack of resolution by comparison...duh...too easy of a comparison and 2) The statement is greatly generalized as if anyone can take even a 35mm piece of film, put it on a cheap flatbed, and make a print that is WAY ahead of the print from the digital camera.
Though Rockwell is quite out in space somewhere, he does raise some interesting subject material I feel is good for discussion and with hope, not a big thread of film, digital, whatever bashing...
Erwin Puts comparo of the Leica M7/M8 prints: