Digital vs Film Resolution

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Dick, Sep 29, 2004.

  1. Dick

    Dick Guest

    In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?
     
    Dick, Sep 29, 2004
    #1
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  2. Dick

    Ken Alverson Guest

    "Dick" <LeadWinger> wrote in message
    news:...
    > In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    > equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    > yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?


    It depends who you ask and how you compare. Film grains can be very small,
    but all the grains of film are a specific color (based on their layer in the
    film) - shades of color are created by many grains of film clustering
    together. In a digital photograph, there are discrete pixels which are
    relatively large, but each pixel can take on one of many shades, based on the
    amount of light that hits it.

    You can test how thin a line each can resolve, but that test is biased toward
    film, since you can use a few small grains to represent a line, while a
    digital camera might be able to resolve more discrete shades of color in the
    same area, but not as fine a detail.

    It's kind of like comparing VHS tapes and MPEG compressed video. The nature
    of the artifacts you see when you get close and nitpick the image are
    different, so you can't really say that one bitrate of MPEG is equivalent to
    one recording speed of VHS, because the difference is subjective.

    Many people would agree that a 6.x megapixel image with low noise is roughly
    equivalent to 400 speed negative film. Both can be blown up to about the same
    size before you start to notice flaws without actually looking for them.

    Low speed slide film easily beats 6.x megapixel images, I'm not sure if anyone
    has compared slide film to the more recent 10+ megapixel cameras.

    Ken
     
    Ken Alverson, Sep 29, 2004
    #2
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  3. "Dick" <LeadWinger> wrote in message
    news:...
    > In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    > equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    > yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?


    If you're just talking resolution, then yes, 6mp sensors or more will give
    you about the resolution of film. There's more to it, though. Noise is an
    issue and to minimize noise, smaller sensors such as in the point-and-shoots
    won't give you as good a result as a dSLR, even at the same resolution
    sensor. The other issue is dynamic range. Current dSLRs will generally give
    you about as much dynamic range as slide film, maybe about 6 stops. Dynamic
    range will improve, as we see in such high-level sensors such as the Creo
    Leaf. That $15,000 sensor will give reported 12 stops of dynmamic range,
    equal or better than just about any film. So for dynamic range, which is
    important, digital is not quite there yet. Give it a couple of years, or
    wait and see what kind of DR the Fujifilm S3 dSLR will give us.

    HMc
     
    Howard McCollister, Sep 29, 2004
    #3
  4. Dick

    TRR Guest

    After the techies resolve this argument I submit the quality of your
    printer makes it all moot. Not much has been said here in that regard.

    Dick wrote:
    > In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    > equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    > yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?
     
    TRR, Sep 29, 2004
    #4
  5. Dick

    jjs Guest

    "Dick" <LeadWinger> wrote in message
    news:...
    > In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    > equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    > yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?


    First, "resolution" in terms of lpp/mm isn't everything. 35mm digital
    quality has arrived. Post-processing, in particular a carefully applied USM
    is still required to give the same 'accutance' that properly done 35mm has.
    Accutance is _not_ striclty concerned with lpp/mm metrics, no matter what
    the optical bench racers say.

    That said, probably 1% of the digital mavens can make a properly exposed and
    printed 35mm picture; that's how difficult it really is and also a measure
    of the low expectations of most contemporary photographers. So, a
    feature-endowed digital camera will often produce superior results for the
    inexperienced, less-expert 35mm photographer.

    So spend several thousand dollars on a full-size sensor digicam and be
    happy. Or not. For the vast majority of contemporary amateur photographers
    (and many so-called "pros"), the errors due to less-than-expert application
    of a high-end digital camera would almost certainly be far, far worse for
    the same picture in 35mm.

    Believe it or don't. One option is to save money by not making pictures and
    instead wasting an inordinate amount of time on Usenet arguing over edge
    boundaries, noise, "lpp/mm", etc. nonsense instead of making pictures
    instead like the rest do.

    Oh, and with that $$,$$$$ megapixel camera, you will probably want Photoshop
    so budget for that and four more disc drives: two more for your desktop
    computer (two extra spindles for source and scratch files) and one for
    storage and another for backup. And two GB or RAM. :)
     
    jjs, Sep 29, 2004
    #5
  6. Dick

    jjs Guest

    "TRR" <> wrote in message
    news:CJz6d.13182$...
    > After the techies resolve this argument I submit the quality of your
    > printer makes it all moot. Not much has been said here in that regard.


    Quality is still a moving target. Printers get better so one can reprint as
    the technology moves on. But then, digital camera technology will also move
    on.
     
    jjs, Sep 29, 2004
    #6
  7. Dick

    Alan Browne Guest

    Dick wrote:

    > In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    > equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    > yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?


    There is no one-to-one way to compare. Digital has the unique advantage of
    noise only affecting the dynamic, but not the x,y dimension of the image. On
    film, noise appears in dynamic as well as x,y. Further, the digital imaging
    device is almost perfectly flat. Film rarely is, so the image formed at the
    digital imaging plane is free of this minor error as well.

    Were a 1:1 comparison made and depending on how you computed it, the equivalence
    would occur up in the 15 Mpix / full frame range. However, for most printed
    images up to 8x12, 6 Mpix cameras do a marvelous job. Even at twice that size,
    if carefully printed, and seen at the appropriate viewing distants, the results
    are very acceptable ... and at that point, you're reaching the limits of
    acceptable prints from very good 35mm film shots.

    As gets pointed out from time to time, looking at digital images (whether from a
    DSLR or a scanned neg/pos) leads one to think that the image is not all that
    great. Printing a good quality image on even a basic inkjet printer of recent
    vintage makes these images shine.

    But! You can't project any digital image with the fine detail and impact of a
    well done Velvia.

    Cheers,
    Alan

    --
    -- rec.photo.equipment.35mm user resource:
    -- http://www.aliasimages.com/rpe35mmur.htm
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.--
     
    Alan Browne, Sep 29, 2004
    #7
  8. "Dick" <LeadWinger> wrote in message
    news:...
    > In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    > equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    > yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?


    According to Kodak, a digicam with 12 Mp matches the resolution of 35 mm
    film. Film resolution is limited by light scattering within the emulsion
    layer.
     
    Marvin Margoshes, Sep 29, 2004
    #8
  9. Marvin Margoshes wrote:
    > "Dick" <LeadWinger> wrote in message
    > news:...
    >> In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    >> equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we
    >> there yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?

    >
    > According to Kodak, a digicam with 12 Mp matches the resolution of 35
    > mm film. Film resolution is limited by light scattering within the
    > emulsion layer.


    Complicated by the fact that the MTF curves and noise characteristics are
    rather different. Sampled data systems need an anti-aliasing filter which
    cuts off before half the sampling frequency, resulting in an MTF curve
    which is flatter but having a more sudden cut-off than non-sampled analog
    systems.

    "Matches" is rather subjective word here!

    Cheers,
    David
     
    David J Taylor, Sep 29, 2004
    #9
  10. Dick

    Böwzér Guest

    "Howard McCollister" <> wrote in message
    news:415ac69d$0$89088$...
    >
    > "Dick" <LeadWinger> wrote in message
    > news:...
    >> In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    >> equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    >> yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?

    >
    > If you're just talking resolution, then yes, 6mp sensors or more will give
    > you about the resolution of film.


    This is, in the very least, debateable. 6MP cameras will not provide
    anywhere near the detail contained in a high quality chrome. The issue is
    getting that detail off the chrome and into a scan.


    >There's more to it, though. Noise is an
    > issue and to minimize noise, smaller sensors such as in the
    > point-and-shoots
    > won't give you as good a result as a dSLR, even at the same resolution
    > sensor. The other issue is dynamic range. Current dSLRs will generally
    > give
    > you about as much dynamic range as slide film, maybe about 6 stops.
    > Dynamic
    > range will improve, as we see in such high-level sensors such as the Creo
    > Leaf. That $15,000 sensor will give reported 12 stops of dynmamic range,
    > equal or better than just about any film. So for dynamic range, which is
    > important, digital is not quite there yet. Give it a couple of years, or
    > wait and see what kind of DR the Fujifilm S3 dSLR will give us.
    >
    > HMc
    >
    >
    >
     
    Böwzér, Sep 29, 2004
    #10
  11. Dick <LeadWinger> writes:

    > In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    > equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    > yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?


    I guess this will sound harsh, but it's rather a pointless question. For
    some uses, film works better; for other uses, digital works better. I think
    the quality of digital imagery is at the level where resolution is probably
    no longer the issue for general consumers. The question is, what's your
    need?

    If you want big prints, for example, like those available from good quality
    film and good quality film cameras, maybe you need a full-size DSLR that
    costs in the mid to high four figures. But you'll also need a good
    Macintosh computer and high end software to deal with the files. Oh, and a
    bigger disk, a couple of firewire drives, more RAM, maybe a local area
    network and another Mac or two. Without knowing what your need is, who can
    tell?

    Someone has mentioned that in a database for slides, you don't need good
    quality scans, just thumbnails. I'll report that I have my slides indexed
    in a database without any imagery at all. Just text, and it works fine for
    me. I started before home scanning was possible, and I've never seen the
    need to have thumbs of the slides. I use iView MediaPro for my digital
    images, and it generates thumbnails, so I see the advantage, but I'm not
    about to have my slides scanned, no matter how poorly. :-> It's just not
    cost effective. Uh, for me. For others, it clearly is. Not my need,
    though.
    --
    Philip Stripling | email to the replyto address is presumed
    Legal Assistance on the Web | spam and read later. email to philip@
    http://www.PhilipStripling.com/ | my domain is read daily.
     
    Phil Stripling, Sep 29, 2004
    #11
  12. Böwzér wrote:
    >
    > This is, in the very least, debateable. 6MP cameras will not provide
    > anywhere near the detail contained in a high quality chrome. The issue is
    > getting that detail off the chrome and into a scan.
    >


    That would be the issue IF a scanned image was your final product.
    However most people are looking for prints. You don't need to scan a slide
    to get a print.

    Note: I am not trying to suggest that one is better than the other, only
    saying I don't think the ability to create a image file is the real goal and
    should not be the measure.


    --
    Joseph E. Meehan

    26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
     
    Joseph Meehan, Sep 29, 2004
    #12
  13. Dick wrote:
    > In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    > equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    > yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?


    Apples and oranges. They are different. Digital has reached the point
    that is it better in some ways and not as good in others.

    If you want to look at just resolution try comparing a really good lens
    on a 35 film camera using TechPan film. and compare that to a digital outfit
    of equal cost. Digital can't come close to the resolution. However that is
    far from the whole picture. Also note that Kodak in no longer making
    TechPan.

    --
    Joseph E. Meehan

    26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
     
    Joseph Meehan, Sep 29, 2004
    #13
  14. Dick

    David Chien Guest

    Dick wrote:

    > In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    > equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    > yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?


    Kodak digital film scientist in Photonics magazine stated earlier
    that consumer films had about 25MP worth of data in them (not including
    special films like TechPan which will go even higher).

    About 5000x4000+ resolution will get you there.

    Very high quality lenses will have 90+lp/mm of resolution in them.

    BetterLight.com and PhaseOne.com both have digital cameras that go
    past 100MP because 'normal' consumer digicams and dSLRs don't have the
    resolution needed to replace MF/LF cameras in professional graphics and
    ad work.

    Canon just released their 16MP dSLR because their former model wasn't
    good enough.
     
    David Chien, Sep 29, 2004
    #14
  15. Dick

    Dick Guest

    Thanks everyone for the insights. My needs are much more modest.
    Lets say all I want are really good 5 X 7 prints. For the baseline,
    let's say I take my trusty Canon AE-1 using a Canon FD 50mm 1:1.4 lens
    and take some pictures with it using Kodak Gold 200 film. Then I take
    the film to Costco or similar for the prints.

    Now what digital mp would I need to make similar quality prints? I
    could take the media to Costco, or I could print it out on my Canon
    i860 printer. I am looking at cameras like the Sony DSC -W1 and P100.
    Maybe the Canon S500. I realize they are not SLR's. Do I need to
    look further up the mp scale?

    Dick

    On Wed, 29 Sep 2004 16:55:51 GMT, "Joseph Meehan"
    <> wrote:

    >Dick wrote:
    >> In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    >> equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    >> yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?

    >
    > Apples and oranges. They are different. Digital has reached the point
    >that is it better in some ways and not as good in others.
    >
    > If you want to look at just resolution try comparing a really good lens
    >on a 35 film camera using TechPan film. and compare that to a digital outfit
    >of equal cost. Digital can't come close to the resolution. However that is
    >far from the whole picture. Also note that Kodak in no longer making
    >TechPan.
     
    Dick, Sep 29, 2004
    #15
  16. "Dick" <LeadWinger> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Thanks everyone for the insights. My needs are much more modest.
    > Lets say all I want are really good 5 X 7 prints. For the baseline,
    > let's say I take my trusty Canon AE-1 using a Canon FD 50mm 1:1.4 lens
    > and take some pictures with it using Kodak Gold 200 film. Then I take
    > the film to Costco or similar for the prints.
    >
    > Now what digital mp would I need to make similar quality prints? I
    > could take the media to Costco, or I could print it out on my Canon
    > i860 printer. I am looking at cameras like the Sony DSC -W1 and P100.
    > Maybe the Canon S500. I realize they are not SLR's. Do I need to
    > look further up the mp scale?
    >


    I use a Nikon D2H and I routinely get 8x10s printed from Ofoto with
    exceptional results. Any digital SLR with 4 MP or better is going to give
    you excellent 5x7s.

    But it's not just megapixels that are going to give you film-quality
    results. The camera has to have a good lens, good AF, and a sensor that
    keeps noise from ruining the pictures. You simply are not going to get
    film-replacement quality from a small-sensor point-and-shoot such as you
    mention above.

    HMc
     
    Howard McCollister, Sep 29, 2004
    #16
  17. Howard McCollister wrote:

    >>

    >
    > I use a Nikon D2H and I routinely get 8x10s printed from Ofoto with
    > exceptional results. Any digital SLR with 4 MP or better is going to give
    > you excellent 5x7s.
    >


    3-4 MP should do it.


    --
    Joseph E. Meehan

    26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
     
    Joseph Meehan, Sep 29, 2004
    #17
  18. Dick

    Ken Alverson Guest

    "Joseph Meehan" <> wrote in message
    news:coE6d.136173$...
    > Howard McCollister wrote:
    >
    >> I use a Nikon D2H and I routinely get 8x10s printed from Ofoto with
    >> exceptional results. Any digital SLR with 4 MP or better is going to give
    >> you excellent 5x7s.
    >>

    >
    > 3-4 MP should do it.


    Keep in mind that you may decide you want to crop your original shot. Having
    more than 3-4 MP will allow you to do that and still get an excellent 5x7
    final print. If you have just enough resolution to make a good 5x7 print and
    then you crop it, it'll start to show.

    Ken
     
    Ken Alverson, Sep 29, 2004
    #18
  19. Dick

    Ken Alverson Guest

    "Dick" <LeadWinger> wrote in message
    news:...
    >
    > Now what digital mp would I need to make similar quality prints? I
    > could take the media to Costco, or I could print it out on my Canon
    > i860 printer. I am looking at cameras like the Sony DSC -W1 and P100.
    > Maybe the Canon S500. I realize they are not SLR's. Do I need to
    > look further up the mp scale?


    As others have said, you can get good 5x7 prints out of 3-4 megapixels.
    However, with the non SLR digicams, you are working with very small sensors,
    so noise is a concern, especially at ISO ratings of higher than 100. My Canon
    10D (digital SLR) has less noise at ISO 400 than a lot of compact digicams
    have at ISO 100. I have even printed an ISO 800 shot at 11x17 with pretty
    good results. I wouldn't want to try that with a camera as small as the S500.

    Not to knock the S500 - I want one as my snapshot camera - but be aware that
    resolution is not the only factor.

    Ken
     
    Ken Alverson, Sep 29, 2004
    #19
  20. Böwzér wrote:
    > "Howard McCollister" <> wrote in message
    > news:415ac69d$0$89088$...
    >
    >>"Dick" <LeadWinger> wrote in message
    >>news:...
    >>
    >>>In the early days of digital photography, it was said that something
    >>>equivalent to 35mm file was some time out in the future. Are we there
    >>>yet? What digital resolution would be equivalent to 35mm film?

    >>
    >>If you're just talking resolution, then yes, 6mp sensors or more will give
    >>you about the resolution of film.

    >
    >
    > This is, in the very least, debateable. 6MP cameras will not provide
    > anywhere near the detail contained in a high quality chrome. The issue is
    > getting that detail off the chrome and into a scan.


    When people say is film better than digital and then simply conclude
    yes or no just illustrates their lack of knowledge of film
    characteristics. Every film has a different resolution.
    ISO 100 speed color 35mm films approximately match 6-megapixel
    DSLR bayer sensor digital cameras in terms of spatial information.
    Slow speed film like 35mm Fujichrome Velvia are about 16 megapixel equivalent.
    ISO 1600 film, like Provia 1600 rates only 3 megapixels equivalent.
    Here is a summary of film versus digital:
    http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/film.vs.digital.summary1.html

    Here are more details, including equations and more film formats:
    http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/film.vs.digital.1.html

    And then if you are still interested, here are tests of scanning
    (consumer scanners to drum scans) where some of the data for the above
    conclusions came from:
    http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/scandetail.html



    >>There's more to it, though. Noise is an
    >>issue and to minimize noise, smaller sensors such as in the
    >>point-and-shoots
    >>won't give you as good a result as a dSLR, even at the same resolution
    >>sensor. The other issue is dynamic range. Current dSLRs will generally
    >>give
    >>you about as much dynamic range as slide film, maybe about 6 stops.


    This is incorrect. For example, the Canon 10D tests at about 11 stops:
    http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/dynamicrange

    Electronic sensors have a much higher signal to noise than film,
    and have excellent dynamic range. The problem is clipping the
    highlights. If you expose correctly that is not a problem, but
    light meters do not always get it right.

    >>Dynamic
    >>range will improve, as we see in such high-level sensors such as the Creo
    >>Leaf. That $15,000 sensor will give reported 12 stops of dynmamic range,
    >>equal or better than just about any film. So for dynamic range, which is
    >>important, digital is not quite there yet. Give it a couple of years, or
    >>wait and see what kind of DR the Fujifilm S3 dSLR will give us.
    >>

    The current crop of high end models by Canon, and perhaps even the 20D are
    close to being limited by the 12-bit digitization of the camera.
    To get beyond 11 bits, they will need to move to 14-bit systems
    (or higher).

    Roger Clark
    Photos, other digital info at: http://www.clarkvision.com
     
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Sep 29, 2004
    #20
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