Digital vs Slides vs Prints

twowetdogz

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OK. I've got a question, that might be really simple, but not sure of the answer. I've posted this in a couple places, because I'm not sure where it should go.

What is the difference IN QUALITY between:

1. Taking digital pictures and moving them to a computer
2. Using slide film and scanning desired slides to a computer for post processing
3. Using print film and having the images put directly onto a CD when they are processed (to be used for post processing)

I know actually using a digital camera is easier, with less steps, and you can actually save the RAW files from the camera. But, I am currently on a limited budget :grumpy: and still shooting a film camera. I'm trying to decide if my next purchase should be a digital camera, or if I would be better off going with a better (longer) lens first, and temporarily sticking with the film camera. I'm trying to decide which would be the better way to go for quality. (FYI - most interested in wildlife/scenics/landscapes)
 

Big Mike

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It really depends a lot on the method that the film photos are scanned, to get them onto the computer.

For example, with option #3, you often get digital files that are great for 4x6 prints and maybe just adequate for 8x10 prints. Even then, I found that the digital images were not great and had plenty of noise and dust marks. I haven't shot much film in the last 5 years or so...so I don't know if there had been much improvement. Pro labs are probably better than cheap labs for this though.

You can get fantastic digital images from scanned film...especially slide film and especially when using high end devices like a drum scanner. That's not cheap though. A dedicated film scanner might be a good option...but you may still need to spend a lot of time cleaning up the images...dust spots etc.

Besides digital cameras making it very easy to get your images onto the computer...I found that the images were a lot 'cleaner' than what I was getting with lab scanned film. Not to mention the other benefits of digital...like instant feedback and almost unlimited shooting capacity.
 

Seefutlung

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In the beginning of digital, film definately had a leg up in terms of resolution and EV range. Recently, I'd say that digital has closed that gap with the latest generation of prosumer and professional cameras where the difference between film and digital is insignificant.

Generally speaking, I think a digital image looks different than a film image, but in terms or resolution and tonal range .... film and digital are very similar.

Gary
 
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teneighty23

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As far as 35mm format film goes, i dont think any scan will be as clear or smooth as digital, but thats not why i enjoy film either. I can get film scanned at its highest resolution (equal to 25 Megapixels) and as wow as that sounds, it only shoes the films grain that much more prominently, so as resolutions go, you can get large prints from film still, but it just shows much more grain then the new digital cameras, which look silky smooth (usually). Fujifilm Superia 1600 is a good example of a strong grained photo. some examples i have, these are scanned at thier highest resolution and zoomed to 100%

this is Fujifilm fujicolor superia 1600, (B+W conversion)
00100005-Version2.jpg

this one is the same brand, Fuji but a black and white negative film.
00030001-Version2.jpg

and this one is one of the best quality films as far as contrast and clarity goes, its Fuji Velvia 50
00720001-Version2.jpg

and this last one is a digital photo from the latest Rebel XSI 12 MP, the dimentions of this photo are smaller than the film scan, coming in at 4270x2850 compared to the films 6300x4180. so its not quite a direct comparison of the grain, or noise, but its a relative comparison. you can see its noise, how little it is, is still very smooth, unless a layer of imitation grain is applied, it just wont give that same characteristic film gives just noise, which is not attractive at all IMO. digital should be kept perfect, as that is what its perfect for.
IMG_1490-Version2.jpg
 

bhop

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As others have said, it depends on your scan, but it also depends on what type of film you use. Here's 100% crop of a photo (not mine) taken with Kodak Ektar 100. Pretty smooth..

Flickr Photo Download: Leica M2 shot with Ektar 100 (100% scan size crop)

Here's one of mine with Ektar 100.. at web resolution, it looks like digital to me.


dangit.. now I want to shoot more Ektar..
 

teneighty23

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ok, yea its hard to tell without posting how big these scans really are, but the photos i have are massive, keep that in mind, it will show the grain much stronger. i will post the full resolution photo with Velvia 50:
00720001.jpg


dang once again keep in mind this is only 1600x1100, original is 6300x4100.
 

bhop

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I have yet to use Velvia, looks pretty good though, i might have to snag a roll.
 

teneighty23

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I have yet to use Velvia, looks pretty good though, i might have to snag a roll.

my most successful rolls have been with Velvia, without bracketing, i got 28 great useable exposures out of 36 on my recent trip to cuba. such great saturation, and its specialty is cool colour.
 

Garbz

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One thing to note is that film comes with a lot of non-linearities and other nuiances which makes them look like film. Digital cameras are incredibly linear and neutral. If perfect colour tones is what you are after than digital will win out. Resolution and noise, digital will win again, but if details in the highlights and shadows plus incredible latitude for exposure compensation is your thing then you still can't beat film. It's non-linear nature makes it very pleasing for catching and recording wide dynamic range especially in scenes with things like clouds.
 

emanphoto

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Since your question is about economics and quality, I'll approach it that way. You already know what the camera you want costs (I assume) so then the next question is what does a good scanner cost because the 3rd option is no good.

If you go with just a 35mm scanner it won't be too bad. I spent $500 on a used drum scanner and use it professionally. Since I can batch scan, I feel sorry (not too much really :lol:) for those shelling out big bucks for an Imacon and having to scan only one image at a time.

So if the scanner price range of $500-1000 to get your film into your comp is worth it then go that way. That way you'll have equivalent quality for the time being. Don't waste your time with consumer flatbeds for 35mm as the quality isn't there except in really high end pro models and then there goes your economics!

Here's a 100% view of a 35mm drum scan that, if viewing the entire image at this magnification, would display at 105 x 71 inches. 5200 ppi/dpi/spi...o hell whatever u call it, giving one a 111MB tif file. It was probably 50-100 ASA transparency film.
Picture2.jpg


Good luck!
 

KevinDks

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Here's one of mine with Ektar 100.. at web resolution, it looks like digital to me.

Did you scan that yourself bhop, and if so what was the scanner? I have a Nikon Coolscan V, which is pretty good, but I've only scanned slides with it and mostly Kodachrome, which isn't the easiest film to work with. Your scan looks great, good enough to make me try a few rolls of Ektar.

Kevin
 

KevinDks

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twowetdogz, here is one of my own Velvia 50 slides, scanned on the Nikon Coolscan V that I just mentioned:

2517604607_7dc7bd195b_o.jpg


This is to demonstrate what you can do with a consumer grade scanner, although it is probably at the top end of what what you'd regard as a consumer price range. You could buy a dSLR and kit lens for less money, and it sounds to me like that is what you really want to do. So, while you save for that I'd suggest the cheapest option is to use negative film and get the lab to scan it to CD, although with that kind of service you get what you pay for in terms of resolution.

Kevin
 
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twowetdogz

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Thanks for all the feedback.

I'm still not sure what I'm going to do, but I've definitely got more things to think about when I make that decision.
 

Big Mike

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Also consider what you will do in the future. For example, if you know that you will eventually get a DSLR...then why spend $500 on a film scanner and $300 on film & processing in the mean time?
 

bhop

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Did you scan that yourself bhop, and if so what was the scanner? I have a Nikon Coolscan V, which is pretty good, but I've only scanned slides with it and mostly Kodachrome, which isn't the easiest film to work with. Your scan looks great, good enough to make me try a few rolls of Ektar.

Kevin

I use an Epson 4490. Cheap, but works good enough for my needs. Around $150 these days.
 
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