Film Vs Digital- a comparison

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GeraldW Veteran Member • Posts: 7,750
Film Vs Digital- a comparison
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I am actually going to compare the 1990's to the present; but for perspective, I got my first 35 mm camera in 1955 when I was 17.  I had a darkroom for a while in the 50's; but switched to slides in the late 50's.

I got to thinking about my equipment in the 90's and how that compares with where I am today in digital.

So, in the 90's I was using Nikon and/or Pentax mount SLR's, and a couple of Olympus 35 mm AF point and shoot cameras.

Nikon FE2 or N80 and Pentax Super A (the black European version of the Super Program), and a Ricoh XR-P.

My lenses were the Vivitar Series 1 28-105 f/2.8-3.8 for the manual focus cameras, and a AF Nikkor 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 for the N80.  I also had a 50 mm and a 35 f/2 in both mounts, and a 100 mm macro for the Nikons.  For longer lenses, I used a Pentax 70-210 f/4 with a 1.5x multiplier, and Tamron 80-210 f/3.8-4 with interchangeable mounts.  I also had an AF Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6 for the N80, and a 1.4x AF multiplier.

My point and shoot cameras were both Olympus, a pocketable Stylus Epic 35 f/2.8, and a larger infinity 3500 which covered 35-120 mm f/4.5-8.4, and which had a unique through-the-finder metering system, and included spot metering.

By the mid 90's, I was using ISO 400 print film from either Fuji or Kodak.  Even though the chemistry was supposed to be the same, I did seem to get better results using a processor who was using Fuji chemistry and paper for Fuji film, and Kodak chemistry and paper for Kodak film.  Earlier on, I had started with ISO 100 print film; but by the mid 90's, the intense competition between Fuji and Kodak had lead to very good results from ISO 400.  At least as good as the ISO 100 film from the mid 80's.  Popular Photography actually tested that.  I also carried a roll or two of 12 exposure ISO 800 for low light situations.

A quick comment on film.  It's often referred to as analog; but I maintain it's not.  The emulsion contains myriads of tiny dots of colored photo sensitive material.  It's random; but it's discrete sites, so there is a graininess to it.  True analog would be continuous without grain.  Digital sensors are also discrete; but ordered rather than random.

My current digital equipment no longer has a DSLR in the mix.  My best cameras are the Panasonic FZ1000 and the Canon G7X Mk II.  Both use 1", 20 MP sensors.  Since my largest prints are borderless 8.5" x 11", the greatest resolution I need is around 8 MP, and that's based on the most stringent criteria of 300 PPI.  225 PPI is more realistic and is the highest resolution needed for about 95% of the population, and results in 4 MP for 8.5" x 11" prints, so I have a good deal of latitude for cropping.

Anyway, those criteria allow me to use my FZ1000 set to it's 10MP EX setting and takes the 25-400 mm f/2.8-4 to 35-560 mm, still at f/2.8-4, and still with very good image quality.  If you compare that to the lenses on my film SLR's, the focal length range is about the same; but the digital lens is 1 stop faster at the long end.  The G7X II has a similar set up using its Digital Multiplier of 1.6x (8MP) and gives me 38-160 mm, still at f/1.8-2.8.  Compared to my two film P&S cameras, the G7X II has a wider range of focal lengths with much larger (faster) apertures.  In both cameras, the extended range is set to a C setting on the mode dial so I don't have to go back to the menus.  Plus, of course, the digital cameras allow me to use higher ISO, and even ISO 1600 is useful.

I also have a group of compact digital cameras with 1/2.33" sensors with 10 or 12 MP sensors.  The small sensor does limit the usable ISO for medium and larger prints; but they all do a pretty good 4" x 6" at ISO 1600, and they all do a good looking 8.5" x 11" at ISO 400.  They are a Canon S90, 28-105 mm f/2-4.9; a Canon ELPH 330HS, 24-240 mm f/3.0-6.8; a Canon SX260HS, 25-500 mm f/3.5-6.8; and a Panasonic FZ200, 25-600 f/2.8.

The f/6.8 aperture seems really slow; but my Olympus 3500 was f/8.4 at 120 mm!

Do I miss shooting film?  Not really; but I do still have warm nostalgic feelings about the gear I mentioned above.  I had a lot of other cameras; but those stood apart from the others.   Since I mostly used consumer grade print film, the resolution was only equivalent to maybe 10 MP at best.  Claims of much higher equivalent MP for film are based on very fine grain films which I did not shoot.

At it's present state, digital gives me instant review of my shots, IS, and correction of chromatic aberration.  I do my post processing in daylight, and can pause when ever I want.  I also have a lot less to carry.  On most cruises we took, I'd have 40-50 rolls of 35 mm film in my carry on bag as well as the SLR and lenses, and at least one P&S.

Most of my images are shot on travel.  I also do family portraits and group shots, and family gatherings and I have a thing about getting flower shots.

I hope at least a few people found this interesting and/or informative.

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Jerry

 GeraldW's gear list:GeraldW's gear list
Canon PowerShot S90 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 +2 more
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