Resolution Difference: Film vs Digital

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Rekd, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. Rekd

    Rekd TPF Noob!

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    A while back I heard that film resolution was miles ahead of anything digital, in it's ability to make large prints.

    If I took a top of the line 35mm film camera and a top of the line digital camera with the same quality lens, which would give the biggest, better quality print size?
     
  2. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    If you are only talking resolution then digital images from higher quality sensors from 10-12 Megapixels and up give equal or better resolution than film. There are major differences in 'look' between film grain and digital images.

    However good PPing and good printing will produce marvelous prints from digital images that match anything from film.

    There is also a difference in dynamic range - film can be greater - but that can also be managed easily in digital.

    To sum: this isn't really a technology discussion anymore. It is now a choice of what you want your image to look like and how you want to shoot that determines film or digital.
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Film actually has amazing resolution capabilities, and so do good digital sensors shot with a good lens on a tripod-mounted camera with good technique.

    Home

    M9, part 8B

    One of the largest single limitations is the technique of the photographer: accurate focus, mirror lock-up, and a good tripod, and overall technique like a smooth, vibration-free shutter release. The newer, higher-MP cameras like the 18 to 24 MP d-slrs have shown that shot discipline is needed to actually translate the capabilities of a high-MP count sensor to the image files; with slightly off focusing, or a crummy tripod, or a poorly-chosen lens, or a lens aperture that is too small and causes diffraction--any of those problems and the new high MP count cameras turn in image files that are nowhere near the upper limit--of either film, or digital.
     
  4. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    With film, the camera doesn't matter (as far as resolution), the film matters.

    Not all films have the same resolving power.

    Films like Rollei Ortho 25 can resolve more than 300 lines per mm... If you think of a line as 2 pixels (one black, one white), I'm pretty sure that's over 100MP... Even if a line was only 1 pixel - 50MP+ is still pretty good.


    BTW...

    Why is this in "Off Topic Chat"? This is certainly 'on' topic...
     
  5. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    ^
    +1

    I remember shooting Tech Pan, from a 35mm frame one could make an enlargement equaling (same size photo) of a 4x5 negative. The problems with Tech Pan: 1) it was discontinued five years ago; 2) finicky at development. But results were spectacular when shot at ISO of 8.

    More...
     
  6. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    The main method of comparing the performance of different films is to compare their Modulation Transfer Functions (and if you don't know what an MTF is and you claim to know about film, well shame on you. Google it).
    It is possible to measure digital performance in a similar manner and so a meaningful way of comparing the performance of film and digital is possible.
    Personally I can't see the point. It's like asking an artist to compare a pencil with a pen: they do a similar job in a similar way but have different qualities, strengths and weaknesses.
    But if such exercises really are of interest to you then start with these links:
    Digital cameras vs. film, part 1
    Imatest - Sharpness
     
  7. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    Hertz is right. Don't get lured into looking at equipment and resolution as the point of photography or you'll end up as a pixel-peeper who takes pictures only in order to prove the technical capability of the equipment set. This is liking eating well only so you'll have great bowel movements.

    Decide what you want to take pictures of and how you want the pictures to look and then get equipment that will do that the way you like.
     
  8. Rekd

    Rekd TPF Noob!

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    Very good answers. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to explain the differences. I learned a lot.

    So the differences in style and use aside, is it safe to say that up until a couple of years ago film was better for making large prints than digital, and that even today under the right conditions film will allow you larger prints?
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Why son concerned about print size?

    You can take a photo from 35mm film or a 6MP digital camera and blow it up to the size of a billboard....and it will look just fine (as long as you view it from the appropriate viewing distance).
     
  10. duncanp

    duncanp TPF Noob!

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    hmm i'd like to see a scan back vs a 4x5 plate camera comparison why is it that when people talk about how far mediums can go more often than not they're talking about them in their smallest forms?
     
  11. Rekd

    Rekd TPF Noob!

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    Strictly curiosity. I was discussing the advances of digital cameras with a friend and he brought up the premise that film could print much larger than digital and still look good.

    I'm not planning on going back to film any time soon, I was just wondering. :mrgreen:
     
  12. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    There are so many assumptions he is making here that really don't mean anything, it is just wise not to argue with him about it. Smile, walk away and maybe look for a large rock.
     

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