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Film vs Digital - Dynamic Range


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This is continuation of an up-to-date comparison of digital vs film as of November 2008. In the previous issue I

compared how even the small 35mm format film outresolves all digital SLRs in the market (all low speed film:

color slide, negative B&W and negative color).


In this issue I compare how negative film has a wider dynamic range than digital SLRs.


For clarification I included the information of the setup directly on the pictures:



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I'm not an expert on dynamic range testing but the logic behind your test is about the best i've ever seen....very interesting. I began with Digital with no professional film experience and, if this is true, there is in fact quite a difference i must say. What i did notice on-screen when viewing your samples is that the digital versions seem to be much more contrasty, which wouild impair the Dynamic Range somewhat verses your scan set at a low contrast setting. Cool comparison.
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Thanks for the test. Anything besides constructive criticism or questions asked indicates that one is afraid of not knowing/understanding something. Those who are confident in themselves either believe that they know the truth (but admit that they could be wrong in face of contradictory evidence) or they want to learn. You never use one source for you information (my God Almighty, imagine the poor souls that would listen only to Ken Rockwell and no one else?), and the more tests the better...even if there are some flaws. Flaws found with testing can be fixed prior to the next round of testing. I appreciate other people's work because then I do not have to do it. : )
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Isn't it more about your digital workflow or film scans? I've seen some pretty poor examples of film work because of poor scan quality. And I've seen some pretty blocked up digital work, too. But I've also seen amazing quality from both. These tests usually go where people push them.
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I say thank you for this test. But I too have understood this for some time. I feel that consumer buys digital because of not understanding film. Film has been cloaked in mysticism and ignorance for too long. Professional buys digital for different reasons than consumer. There costs can be amortised over time and needs for turn around with to client are higher.


We did not have good access to film scanners in the past. I think we still do not. It is true that Nikon make most excellent scanner but still use is not simple and much learning is required. This could be made to be easier and more automated, but there is not as much profit for Nikon when compared to selling many D40, D60, D80 ...


The film companies do not make enough money by this but camera company do and so we move to digital.


so the good question is: is digital better?


I have both for different occasion

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geez...how do you <i>overexpose</i> Ektar 100 anyway? I still haven't done that. My biggest problem is

underexposure. That film seems to want all the light it can get. It will give beautiful colors with a different look that

I've never seen before...but it wants a lot of light and definitely seems to prefer overexposure. I feel like I couldn't

really overexpose that film unless I opened up the camera! :)

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Couple of thoughts:<p>


What iso did you use on the 40D? ISO will affect the DR.<p>


For whatever reason, DPP doesn't make the full use of the sensor's linear data. For a better comparison you could

use lightroom/acr, but for the best, use DCRAW and output linearly.<p>


I'm not sure of your methodolgy, but I presume you determined the lower limit of the film/sensor based on being able

to see something in the shadows? A better test would be something with detail (say some text or whatever). This is

likely to give you a better judge of <i>usable</i> dynamic range.

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Look you guys, with your film VS dig. there is obviously things that film can do better than dig and things dig does better than film like less cost and I can see what I get when I take the picture and of coarse photoshop. What about dig HDR? I have a 40D and I am not a pro photog, although I would like to be one day. I really think film is not worth it for me right now or anyone starting in Photography as the cost can get expensive. Now that I have been doing dig for a min I want to get into film cause of the look.

I don't Know Just thought I would throw that out ... Now you can rip me apart


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Very nice...about what I would expect on the highlight end of things, but the shadow end was interesting - I'd never really thought of film picking up more in the shadows like that, I guess.


Any chance of doing something like this with a middle of the road slide film, such as E100G or Provia (not too saturated / contrasty and not too dull)? I'm curious hows much "usable" latitude you could pull out, and how it compares to the digital and Ektar100.




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