Film vs. Digital - a comparison

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by jstuedle, Nov 20, 2005.

  1. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I came across a comparison on a site recently that compares Fuji Velvia 50 ISO slide film against the Nikon D1X at 125 ISO. Some might be surprised that the Nikon D1X has an output slightly better than the slide film, and the site does a good job documenting this. See for yourself at: http://www.millhouse.nl/digital_vs_film.html For those of use shooting the "old" Nikon, this is of little surprise. But it's nice to see it so well documented.
     
  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Well, considering that the Velvia had to be scanned before it was 'compared' to the digital image the conclusions aren't too suprising.
    What is suprising is that the person doing the comparison hasn't realised that what he is really doing is comparing the digital camera to the Nikon Coolscan scanner.
    To get a true comparison you'd need to compare an actual print to the image on your monitor - and then I think you'd find the results somewhat different.
    But then the quality of the monitor image depends on the monitor...
    Looking at it properly - no fair comparison between digital and film is really possible.
     
  3. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    True, but what we see is still fairly impressive. I have printed several very large images from my D and have always been impressed. It does compare very nicely to the old Kodak Ektar 25, my old film favorite. I can honestly say I feel I give up nothing to film except a little latitude, and with proper post processing, I can compensate for that.
     
  4. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    You're not giving up much lattitude compared to slide film anyway - some may say it's the other way round. However, you're giving up far more than a 'little' lattitude compared to print film.

    If you don't want to take your images into the digital domain then no comparison will ever be good enough for you. If you do though, I can't think of a better way to compare the two. I would just say that scanning can be like taking a raw image or a jpeg depending on how much control you want.

    The grain could easily have been removed during the scanning process or in PS. The colours/dynamics could have been matched. The crops could have been sized to allow comparison on the same level.

    This type of comparison is fine in principal but unless you show what you will get after very basic processing then it's like comparing a tree to a moulded table.
     
  5. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    When I compare a D1X/Epson 2200 11X14 to a F3-Extar25/wet lab 11X14 I do see a "little loss in latitude, but otherwise very comparable print quality, grain/noise and sharpness. True, the Ektar print is 12 + years old, but it has been stored correctly. I guess I need to do current day comparisons. Anyone want to suggest a print film for a side-by-side?
     
  6. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    So why doesn't anyone try comparing digital to film by making a print on their ink jet and comparing it to a photographic print.
    It's the same principle.
    I don't think that it is possible to make any kind of fair comparison between digital and film.
    They both have their good points and they both have their bad. Any comparison to say which one is the better is totally pointless.
    It's like asking a starving man which is the better between two plates of sausage and mash.
    He'll think you are a looney and have both ;)
     
  7. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    Sorry, I was thinking of lattitude as the dynamic range captured for processing rather than the final print.

    As for print film: Fuji Reala 100 seems to be a popular choice.
     
  8. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    OK, to eliminate variables as much as possible, I would shoot both from a tripod in the same position. Would I use the same lens, a zoom and adjust for the "crop factor" of the D1X chip? How would you take into account variables in lens performance at differing focal lengths? Or would two primes of appropriate focal lengths? (I would think the same issue would be a question in the final print.) I would think both images need to be printed at the same size, 11X14 again to push the limits of both formats. Then scanned with the same scanner, same settings to eliminate that variable. Am I missing anything?
     
  9. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    You've got all the settings in digital to sort out. Colour balance would need to be matched and sharpening needs turning off.
    I think that if you did an extreme enlargement print from the neg, and then enlarge the digital to the same mag and do a print you might get a more even comparison.
    Photographing a test target would also help to make it fairer.
    I wonder if there is a difference in performance at different ambient temperatures? Film should stay pretty level between it's extremes, but due to the electronics I would think that there would be some variation in a DSLR.
     
  10. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    It depends who you're doing the test for and what's important to them.

    For me, I'd just shoot the same frame on both as I would normally and get the best image I can from both source photo's. I'd then use these for comparison.

    Comparing film to digital for me is only about how the original photo is aquired. Once it's on my PC, I'll treat both the same and I won't really care which is which.

    I think comparing traditional and inkjet printing is a different subject entirely and one which I wouldn't want to get involved with.
     
  11. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    1) WB is a non-issue. I manually set WB and exposure from black/grey/white card for anything of importance.

    2)I do have a rez-target, good idea.

    3) What would you call extreme enlargement? 11X14 under magnification? 36X54 too big? I have several 36X54's from the D up-sampled without pixelization but never attempted anything approaching that size from film.

    4) I would think the electronics in a DSLR would be at least as stable as film, what am I missing here? Film is subject to curling at the film plain, friction in the film gate, variations in the pressure plate.

    5) Another issue to consider. When shooting film, the labs equipment makes adjustments during the printing process, adjusting several variables to a preprogrammed model. Chemistry ages and temps vary within a small known range, all making small subtle changes in the final print quality. In the digital realm, the photographer is the lab, making adjustments within his/her workflow. Are there limitations to be placed on what can be done in post processing, or are we also measuring the true total final product between the two formats?

     
  12. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Like I said, trying to make a 1:1 comparison is a bit of a non-starter.
    It's like the arguments that used to abound in the 70's about which camera/lens was better and which film.
    Then as now I thought it was more a matter of personal choice. You use what you are comfortable with or what you think is best for the job in hand. As long as it does what you want and you get the shots you want anything else is just train spotting.
    Comparisons always take place at the extremes, anyway, and how often do any of us push things that far?
     

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