Thursday, February 4, 2016


Ever since digital photography virtually replaced film, there has been the question of which is better.  Have digital sensors really replaced film or does film still have an advantage over digital? 

Essentially there are two diverging opinions.  On one side there are those who steadfastly claim that film is still superior, that digital is not capable to match the look of film.  Of course on the other side to this equation are the ones that don’t subscribe to that kind of thinking.  Here the claim is that at this day and age it doesn’t make a difference.

There are a number of pros and cons on either side.  But ultimately, it is the resulting images which must be the deciding factor.  After all, that is what photography is all about – pictures.

Is it really possible to see if a picture is taken with film or digitally?  Is there really a visible difference?

To get some input on this I am posting a variety of both film and digital images and I am asking the readers to evaluate them and then decide, if possible, which were taken with film and which are digital images.

The results of this survey will be posted at a later date.


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Nr. 10

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  1. I don't think it's possible to determine whether film or digital delivers better quality based on small pictures shown on a computer screen. Computer screens are small, and they do not have sufficient resolution to show much of any difference between the two media. I will make two comments on the issue, though. One is that evidently fine grained films can produce photographs of about 50 - 60 megapixels, which is considerably more than just about any full frame digital camera currently provides. Indeed, one scientifically minded individual posted an article recently in which it was stated that film can deliver photos that are equivalent to about 180 megapixels. Not even medium format digital cameras provide that. My second comment is this. Try projecting film transparencies side by side with digital transparencies on a large wall sized screen and see which pictures are better. I have yet to see anything digital that comes remotely close to the quality of results that film provides.

    1. 50 megapixels on a full frame of 24mm x 36mm would be the equivalent of 250 lpm (lines per millimeter). Currently there are no films with that high a resolution, It was the case when Agfapan APX 25 and similar films were still available. This was shown by Joseph A. Schantz, Assistant Head of Research and Development Department at the Navel Photographic Center in Washington, DC. This would require lenses with at least that high a resolution. However, it is a fact that at best 2/3 of the total lens resolution will be shown by film due to a variety of losses that naturally occur. Subsequently, a total resolution of almost 400 lpm would be necessary to show 250 lpm on film. There are virtually no lenses commonly available that render such high resolution. A high resolution 35mm camera system (see utilized special films from Kodak and Agfa which had a resolution of up to 600 lpm which is the equivalent of just over 300 megapixels on a full frame. However, neither those films or any lenses which have that performance level are currently available.