Digital vs. 35mm comparison.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by john@wexfordpress.com, Jun 28, 2006.

  1. Guest

    I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    at a certain quality level.
    Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.

    My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?

    John Culleton
    , Jun 28, 2006
    #1
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  2. wrote:
    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes
    > pictures at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in
    > part on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?
    >
    > John Culleton


    There is no single answer to that question - perhaps a more useful answer
    could be given if you state what you do with your images: computer display
    (screen pixels?), prints (what size?) etc. What film do you use to
    provide "your" quality?

    For 8 x 10 inch prints, many people get quite satisfactory results with
    good-quality 3MP camera, and many of today's cameras are in the 5 - 10MP
    range. You may not need to go to an SLR to get equivalent quality
    results.

    David
    David J Taylor, Jun 28, 2006
    #2
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  3. k-man Guest

    Are you talking about image quality? Or, size of the print?

    For quality, megapixel level is misleading. Compare a 7 MP P&S to a
    high-end 6 MP dSLR. The dSLR will win in terms of picture quality.

    Kevin


    wrote:
    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    > at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    > on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?
    >
    > John Culleton
    k-man, Jun 28, 2006
    #3
  4. wrote:
    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes
    > pictures at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in
    > part on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?
    >
    > John Culleton


    You have to take the lens resolution into account also. The resultant
    digital image factors in a lot of different inputs, not least of which is
    image stabilisation by the camera, if available. If you are going to print
    out every image to say A4 or greater, and are prepared to work in a
    non-compressed format such as raw, then I would say about 5-6 megapixels
    would suffice, all other things being equal.

    In practice, very few would want to create 10-inch prints from every image,
    therefore the facility to do so may be used only rarely, but nevertheless
    the camera would have to be capable of such resolution and contrast,
    although with modern post-processing who knows what has been done to the
    original image.

    I personally prefer a non-SLR digital camera, with a good zoom lens, such as
    the Panasonic FZ30, but many prefer to lug around a backpack of lenses and a
    digital SLR. It's all a matter of choice, and there is plenty of that!

    DP
    Dennis Pogson, Jun 28, 2006
    #4
  5. wrote:
    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    > at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    > on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?
    >
    > John Culleton
    >


    The answer depends on the film. See:
    http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/film.vs.digital.summary1.html

    then many other articles at:
    http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail

    There are other factors too, including dynamic range (DSLRs
    have much greater dynamic range than slide or print film), and
    signal-to-noise ratios (DSLRs are much higher S/N than any film).
    Most good digital cameras are photon noise limited for their
    given quantum efficiency. You don't get better than that.
    The implication of that fact means that larger pixels collect
    more photons, so pixel size is also a factor.

    Roger
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Jun 28, 2006
    #5
  6. tomm42 Guest

    wrote:
    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    > at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    > on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?
    >
    > John Culleton


    There is no pat answer to this. Probably the best answer would be with
    an APS sensor (the sensor most DSLRs have 6 or 8 mp seems to be the
    cross over point compared to 35mm. The problem is that film reacts
    differently than a digital sensor. I belong to the group that believes
    digital is leaving film behind, other photographers don't like digital
    at all.
    I have done large format digital printing, worked extensively with 4x5
    cameras. I have seen digital images from a 6mp camera surpass even low
    end (6x4.5) medium format. a few observations (assuming APS digital
    sensor):
    1) Large format photography 6x7 and above are hard to beat, though the
    39mp mf sensors for Hasselblad are very close, at $30000, but that was
    the price of early 6mp cameras 10 years ago.
    2) digital does enlarge better, at 8x10 35mm film may have an upper
    hand but at 16x20 digital is clearly better
    3) with variable ISO settings digital cameras are a lot more
    convenient, at high ISO settings, above ISO400, digital is clearly
    better than film.
    4) digital goes to print much easier than film and at lower cost
    5) digital photography are much more than just what comes out of the
    camera, it requires knowledge of photoediting programs and asset
    (picture file) management to be used to its fullest possibilities.
    6) There isn't a digital camera nearly as simple as your FTb, and it is
    a shame Canon totally orphaned FD systems, I have 2 F1s in a case.


    Tom
    tomm42, Jun 28, 2006
    #6
  7. Ron Hunter Guest

    wrote:
    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    > at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    > on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?
    >
    > John Culleton
    >

    That depends. Are we talking about 4x6 prints, slides, or 24x36
    posters? Just about any digital camera of 1.3 mp or more will produce a
    4x6 print that will equal a 35 mm film camera output. If you are
    talking slides, the 35 mm will do better than any current consumer
    digital. For posters of 24x36, you will probably have trouble
    distinguishing between a 8 mp and 35 mm film. In the final analysis
    only you can make this judgment.
    Ron Hunter, Jun 28, 2006
    #7
  8. Don Stauffer Guest

    wrote:
    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    > at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    > on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?
    >
    > John Culleton
    >

    What film do you normally shoot in the 35? The film is the sensor and
    there is a great variation in resolution between various films. Going
    from something like Pan-X to an ASA 1600 color print film is a big
    difference.

    If you are used to shooting slow but sharp black and white you may need
    more pixels than if you regularly shot high speed color print.
    Don Stauffer, Jun 28, 2006
    #8
  9. Bill Hilton Guest


    > wrote:
    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    > at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    > on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?
    >
    > John Culleton


    I don't disagree with what the other posters wrote, but to give you a
    simple, straight-forward answer ... eight megapixels (or more) from a
    good 1.6x - 1.3x sized sensor will get you close enough to 35 mm
    quality that you will likely never want to shoot 35 mm film again.

    Bill
    Bill Hilton, Jun 28, 2006
    #9
  10. On 28/6/06 12:49, in article
    ,
    "" <> wrote:

    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    > at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    > on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?
    >
    > John Culleton
    >


    A basic 6 mb slr will give you good quality up to about A4 - same as 35mm.

    Borrow one for the day and find out.
    teflon nonstick, Jun 28, 2006
    #10
  11. writes:

    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    > at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    > on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?


    Check out one of the previous 17 discussions via google groups. Then
    check out
    <http://clarkvision.com/imagedetail/film.vs.digital.summary1.html>.
    --
    David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
    RKBA: <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
    Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/> <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
    Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>
    David Dyer-Bennet, Jun 28, 2006
    #11
  12. wrote:
    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    > at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    > on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?
    >
    > John Culleton


    John,

    Not to put too fine a point on it....

    A rather mediocre 35mm camera/film combination will resolve about 40
    lines/mm. To put this in pixel terms means that each pixel would be
    about 0.001 inches on a side. This being the case, a 35mm negative would
    be about 1000 by 1500 pixels, resulting in a file about 1.5 Mb in size
    for each color. As I see it since there are three primary colors to
    include (red, green, blue), then the file size would be about 4.5 Mb.
    This would be for an adequate but not superior 35mm image.

    An outstanding 35mm lens, with very high resolution film, at best
    aperture can resolve nearly 120 lines/mm. Using the same logic as
    outlined above, the equivalent digital file would be 9 times as big, or
    about 40Mb.

    So, as I see it, depending on the particulars, a digital image of say 5
    to 40Mb could be equivalent to a 35mm negative.

    HTH,
    EJ in NJ
    Ernie Willson, Jun 29, 2006
    #12
  13. Ernie Willson <> writes:

    >A rather mediocre 35mm camera/film combination will resolve about 40
    >lines/mm. To put this in pixel terms means that each pixel would be
    >about 0.001 inches on a side. This being the case, a 35mm negative would
    >be about 1000 by 1500 pixels, resulting in a file about 1.5 Mb in size
    >for each color. As I see it since there are three primary colors to
    >include (red, green, blue), then the file size would be about 4.5 Mb.
    >This would be for an adequate but not superior 35mm image.


    You're losing a factor of 2 in there. Lens and film resolution is
    conventionally specified in line *pairs* per mm, and it takes at least
    two pixels to resolve a line pair. So, for a crude approximation,
    assume 40 lp/mm means 80 pixels/mm. A full 36x24 mm frame at that
    resolution is then 2880 x 1920 pixels, or about 5.5 megapixels. At 24
    bits/pixel, that's 16.6 MB/frame uncompressed.

    Video measures in lines/mm, and it seems that digital camera
    review sites have adopted the same terminology. But the optics and
    film world uses line *pairs* or cycles (which are roughly equivalent).
    One line is half a line pair or half a cycle.

    >An outstanding 35mm lens, with very high resolution film, at best
    >aperture can resolve nearly 120 lines/mm. Using the same logic as
    >outlined above, the equivalent digital file would be 9 times as big, or
    >about 40Mb.


    >So, as I see it, depending on the particulars, a digital image of say 5
    >to 40Mb could be equivalent to a 35mm negative.


    Now multiply all those numbers by 4 to get a more correct answer.

    Dave
    Dave Martindale, Jun 29, 2006
    #13
  14. "Ernie Willson" <> wrote:
    > wrote:
    >> I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    >> at a certain quality level.
    >> Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    >> on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >>
    >> My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    >> precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?

    >
    > Not to put too fine a point on it....
    >
    > A rather mediocre 35mm camera/film combination will resolve about 40
    > lines/mm. To put this in pixel terms means that each pixel would be about
    > 0.001 inches on a side. This being the case, a 35mm negative would be
    > about 1000 by 1500 pixels, resulting in a file about 1.5 Mb in size for
    > each color. As I see it since there are three primary colors to include
    > (red, green, blue), then the file size would be about 4.5 Mb. This would
    > be for an adequate but not superior 35mm image.
    >
    > An outstanding 35mm lens, with very high resolution film, at best aperture
    > can resolve nearly 120 lines/mm. Using the same logic as outlined above,
    > the equivalent digital file would be 9 times as big, or about 40Mb.


    Logic doesn't work here; you have to actually look at the prints.

    Digital is somewhat different from film in that extreme enlargements don't
    show the ugly blotches of the grain (or dye clouds), so people tend to be
    happier with insanely unreasonable enlargements from digital.

    Also, if you take a picture that you like (and it doesn't have major
    technical flaws), the larger you print it, the better it looks, and this
    effect is stronger with digital than film.

    But if you look closely at prints and compare technologies, you'll find the
    following.

    It turns out that the best films make very nice 7x enlargements, and rather
    poor 13x enlargements, whatever technology you use to make those
    enlargements. (Assuming a quality lens at a sensible f stop.)

    If you look at the best 8x10 or A4 prints from 35mm, they're gorgeous. But
    if you look at the best 12x18 prints from 35mm, they leave a lot to be
    desired _assuming you compare them to medium format prints_.

    If you look at the best 8x10 or A4 prints from 8MP digital, they're
    gorgeous. But if you look at the best 12x18 prints from 8MP digital, they
    leave a bit to be desired (assuming you compare them to either medium format
    prints or 12.7MP prints).

    Basically, 8MP digital acts very much like 35mm film, except that grain
    noise is less of a problem. 12.7MP digital acts much more like medium
    format. (Which is why my medium format equipment hasn't been used since my
    5D arrived.)

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Jun 29, 2006
    #14
  15. " There is no single answer to that question".
    " Are you talking about image quality? Or, size of the print?"
    " You have to take the lens resolution into account".
    " There are other factors too".
    " There is no pat answer to this".
    " That depends".
    " What film do you normally shoot in the 35?".
    " Check out one of the previous 17 discussions".
    " Not to put too fine a point on it...."
    " You're losing a factor of 2 in there".

    Does anyone here actually USE a camera, or just talk about it? After wading
    through all this crap, the original poster probably thinks he needs a degree
    just to pick one up! Poor bloke just wants to take pictures. Remember those?
    teflon nonstick, Jun 29, 2006
    #15
  16. fishfry Guest

    In article <>,
    wrote:

    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    > at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    > on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?
    >


    Your FTb from 1975 will blow the socks off any digital you can buy for
    any amount of money. Such is the current state of the art. Plus, you can
    go to photo swap meets and load up on great FD lenses for hardly any
    money.
    fishfry, Jun 29, 2006
    #16
  17. ColinD Guest

    wrote:
    >
    > I have a very old Canon Ftb SLR with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It takes pictures
    > at a certain quality level.
    > Digital cameras have lesser or greater quality of picture based in part
    > on the number of meagpixels used for each frame.
    >
    > My question is this: What megapixel level do I need for equivalent
    > precision in a digital camera to replace my film camera?
    >
    > John Culleton


    Put the card back into the camera and view the images there. The
    display should tell you how many shots there are on the card, and let
    you view them.

    Colin D.

    --
    Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com
    ColinD, Jun 29, 2006
    #17
  18. teflon nonstick wrote:
    > " There is no single answer to that question".
    > " Are you talking about image quality? Or, size of the print?"
    > " You have to take the lens resolution into account".
    > " There are other factors too".
    > " There is no pat answer to this".
    > " That depends".
    > " What film do you normally shoot in the 35?".
    > " Check out one of the previous 17 discussions".
    > " Not to put too fine a point on it...."
    > " You're losing a factor of 2 in there".
    >
    > Does anyone here actually USE a camera, or just talk about it? After
    > wading through all this crap, the original poster probably thinks he
    > needs a degree just to pick one up! Poor bloke just wants to take
    > pictures. Remember those?


    So, if you want a simple answer /any/ of today's quality cameras are the
    equal of 35mm. It's just that some are more equal than others!

    David
    David J Taylor, Jun 29, 2006
    #18
  19. David J Taylor <-this-bit.nor-this-part.uk> wrote:
    : teflon nonstick wrote:
    : > " There is no single answer to that question".
    : > " Are you talking about image quality? Or, size of the print?"
    : > " You have to take the lens resolution into account".
    : > " There are other factors too".
    : > " There is no pat answer to this".
    : > " That depends".
    : > " What film do you normally shoot in the 35?".
    : > " Check out one of the previous 17 discussions".
    : > " Not to put too fine a point on it...."
    : > " You're losing a factor of 2 in there".
    : >
    : > Does anyone here actually USE a camera, or just talk about it? After
    : > wading through all this crap, the original poster probably thinks he
    : > needs a degree just to pick one up! Poor bloke just wants to take
    : > pictures. Remember those?

    : So, if you want a simple answer /any/ of today's quality cameras are the
    : equal of 35mm. It's just that some are more equal than others!

    Ok, here's a simple answer. Yes. (Now which question I am answering is up
    to you.) :)

    One thing that people frequently forget in the "film vs digital" debate is
    that even with "film" there are many factors that go into the "quality" of
    the finished product. Putting aside the factors of skill and
    appropriateness of the equipment to the subject (which is roughly
    equivalent across the film/digital divide), we have to decide what we are
    comparing. If we compare a 35mm film image made with 1600 ISO film to a
    3mp digital image the digital will come out far ahead. If we are looking
    at a projected image with 35mm ISO 64 slide film to a 10mp digital image
    displayed at the same size, film will probably win.

    In film the ISO and grain size are intimately linked. In Digital, grain
    (resolution) is not effected by ISO. But noise in the image may be a
    rough equivalent problem. So in some situations and depending on the
    particular products being compared, and what specific indicators are
    being used to judge "best", which is best can vary. There is no hard and
    fast, final definate winner in all categories. Maybe some day. But as
    digital equipment and processes are getting better all the time the time
    when digital may always win is getting closer all the time.

    For many of us here (this IS a digital photography group afterall), for
    our particular used and tastes, digital is at least satisfactory if not
    "the best in this situation". Of course if you ask in a film-centric group
    you may find a higher percentage of people with an opposing opinion. :)

    Randy

    ==========
    Randy Berbaum
    Champaign, IL
    Randy Berbaum, Jun 29, 2006
    #19
  20. Bigguy Guest


    >
    > Your FTb from 1975 will blow the socks off any digital you can buy for
    > any amount of money.


    In what respects?

    A seriously dubious claim! ;-)

    My trusty + loved F3s sit gathering dust and all my work is now digital...
    can't say I've noticed any deteriation in print quality - rather the
    opposite.

    Have you actually used many DSLRs lately?

    Guy
    Bigguy, Jun 29, 2006
    #20
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