Comparison of Digital and Film Photography

A lot of discussions continue on how good digital photography is. I've recently started using a Canon A70 camera in addition to my old 35mm Minolta equipment. I also have a Minolta Dimage Dual Slide Scanner. I've tried to make a general comparison of capability here.

Below are two photos taken at the same time, one with the A70, the other with a Minolta X-570 with a 28-85 Minolta MD Zoom Lens. To match the photos, the original A70 image was cropped to 1811 by 1339 pixels, resulting in a 2.4 Megapixel image (originally 2048 x 1536 - 3.1MP). The film image (Kodak Gold 200) was scanned on the Dimage film scanner, then cropped to 3593 x 2572 pixels, 9.2MP (from the original 4032 x 2688 - 10.8MP). For this page, each has been reduced to approximately 550 pixels wide and 400 pixels high, using Photoshop Elements and best quality (bicubic) resizing.

Digital Photo

35mm Film Photo

Display on a computer isn't the same as a print, but if you are viewing this on a 17" monitor at "1000 line" resolution (1024 x 768) these images should be approximately the size of a 5 x 7 inch print. Within the limitations of the 80 dot per inch resolution of the monitor, these photos will look quite similar. There are some qualitative differences. You may note that the digital photo is a little higher in contrast. Digital photos seem to be more like color slides than color negatives in response. I have purposely not done any optimization for these images, but the film based image has more potential for modification due to the larger inherent contrast range.

Of course, there are other differences. The effective ASA for the digital camera in this case is ASA 50. Less optimum condition would require a higher ASA and less quality in the photo. And the digital camera does not have the flexibility of interchangeable lenses. But overall, for these small images, the digital seems to be equivalent to the film camera.


Next: Enlargement Examples


Back to Photo Page