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Thread: Film vs. Digital

  1. #1

    Film vs. Digital

    I shoot conventional silver film and will continue to do so. I am toying with the idea of adding some digital in the future. A good friend that is pretty savy tells me that in comparing digital to film, the likely ratio is a camera which shoots digital at 15 or more mega pixels.... is equal to high quality Ektachrome. I'd like to hear some thoughts on this, WITHOUT a snow-job in ultra-tech.
    Just plain common language please, as I am just a plain common man...and not impressed with cyber-geeks! Thanks in advance.

    Richard, in Denver..... where we have record high temps. It's in the 70's.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Film vs. Digital

    If you don't want to hear "ultra-tech" answers than don't ask "ultra-tech" questions. There are many basic books and tutorials on digital photography. If you really want to learn about it, you should start there. Or just ignore the whole thing, buy a good camera, and find out for yourself what works.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  3. #3

    Film vs. Digital

    If I was going on an expedition to Antarctica or just bound and determined to shoot Yellowstone by snowmobile in the dead of winter .... I'd go out and buy myself a EOS 5D as I have some pretty good EOS lenses. But I'm not that adventuresome so I will stick with my 645 MF and 4 x 5 LF because it's fun. I have an EOS 10D and I took it to Israel cause I needed convenience due to traveling with the wife. I should have shot 35mm film and scanned because what I came home with are just some very nice snapshots. Next time I go I'm taking the Contax 645. Digital shooting is too easy. You end up chimping and then you have to spend days in photoshop. Then you still end up with a computer full of shots you should just throw away anyway. You wish you had the keepers on transparency. My film and transparency archive fits in two notebooks and I can puruse it in a couple hours anytime I want to. My Israel shots do make a nice slideshow on my Mac for wallpaper though.

  4. #4
    Jack Flesher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Los Altos, CA

    Film vs. Digital

    Oh my... I can feel the heat already! LOL

    IMO only! These are rough equivalents, though I derived them by making careful comparisons of the files at the pixel level AND comparisons of prints:

    It takes about 6MP of digital to equal a drum-scanned 35mm chrome;

    It takes about 10MP to equal drum-scanned 645 and 16MP to equal drum-scanned 6x7;

    It takes about 50MP to equal drum-scanned 4x5.

    However, I have yet to see digital anything that is as good as traditional silver when the output is a B&W print. Though admittedly, proper conversions of high-rez color digital files when printed on the latest inkjet printers look very good and are getting better every day.
    Jack Flesher

  5. #5

    Film vs. Digital

    Now now Bill. Guys like me can give a non techy answer to ANY question. We have no choice. ;-} (ok ok we do have 'a choice' but what fun is that?)

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Robin Hoods Bay / Yorkshire Dales

    Film vs. Digital

    I grapple with this myself at the moment. I am committed to 5X4 but increasingly find that I use a D2X for all sorts of reasons (mainly flexibility and weight). Up to 20X16 and there is almost no practical difference - I have compared several 5X4 scanned on Imacon Flextight with a D2X file printed to 20X16 and 30X20. 30X20 is better on film for detail but struggle with tonal range and getting as clean colours - film gives a bit of grit to the printed image giving richer texture to objects. If I apply LF discipline and compositional rules, pick good light and am lucky with the place then I get results that I am happy with much more easily, quickly and cheaply from the D2X. I often get pictures with the D2X that I wouldnt get with LF because I wouldnt have the camera (about 70%) or I missed the light. Files from the D2X are easier to share, manipulate and print than from scanned film. But...... the 5X4 chrome on the lightbox is better than any screen or print and will never be surpassed IMO (except by 10x8!).

    I agree completely with the sentiment that I wish I had my best digital files on 5x4. I suggest that a D2X/5D/D200/1DS is a good partner to 5x4 and quite addictive.



  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Film vs. Digital

    its really very simple.

    First you need to know how big your final output needs to be. As an example we'll say 20x16inches. Next you need to decide how many pixels/dots per inch you want to print at. We'll say 300ppi which equals a tad under 6lp/mm because each pixel equals one line of a line pair(approximately but it gets a billy wooly beacause of dot size and print bleeding so its not an exact science).

    so its simple to say that a 20inch wide print needs 20x300 = 6000 pixels width and 16inch high print needs 16x300 = 4800 pixels.

    then you can say that you need a camera sensor of 6000 x 4800 pixels for 20x16 print at 300ppi(fairly common print res for digital). Thats a 27 megapixel camera. I don't think canon makes one of those.

    But who says 300dpi is required? Who says you can't digitally upsize and get "good enough" resulting quality. Maybe you don't want final output that big. Does a scanner which generates more noise than a digital camera give such good output even though the scan res is higher? The list of if buts and maybes goes on and on. Just like analogue. Its full of subjectivity.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2005

    Film vs. Digital


    at what temperature do the camera batteries stop working?

  9. #9

    Film vs. Digital


    Have you seen your digital files, or scans on a 23 or 30" Apple Cinema Display ... or better? To me these monitors rival even the light table as they are nearly as luminous and you don't have to squint through a monocular lupe. I'd love to see my slides projected on a good glass bead screen but that may never happen.

  10. #10

    Film vs. Digital


    Beats me. Ain't gettin me out in that weather. I read however that such intrepid photogs keep one battery in their inside vest pocket and keep switching. What do ya'll do with film in such deep freeze conditions? Quickloads must be fun when it's below zero.

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