Topic Author
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Digital Vs. Film - Another View

Tue Dec 25, 2001 5:22 am


On December 9th, bith myself and Paul Dopson were sat fairly close together on the approach to 9L at Heathrow, and by coincidence or otherwise we both shot pictures of British Airways 777-236 G-YMMI. Now I've finally gotten the slides processed (albeit that I haven't uploaded the image yet), herein I present both the digital and film versions of the same airplane, albeit from slightly different viewpoints. As I am still considering digital, the difference in the two photos is interesting to me, and I hope to some of the rest of you:

Digital - Paul Dopson

Kodachrome 64 - Andy Martin

So, my personal observations:

I'm amazed by the lack of grain, and the general all-round cleanliness in the appearance of the digital image. I have done pretty much nothing to enhance or otherwise change the scan of the film based image, but the difference is noticable. I am also amazed by the depth of detail in the shadow of the digital image - detail underneath the airplane, for example, that I don't believe I could even hope to pull out of the film based image.

However, I must admit that I do not particularly like the colour of the sky in the digital image - based on memory and none-biased opinion, I believe the film based image is more accurate in terms of sky colour. I also do not particularly like the almost pastel red colour of the airline logo on the digital image, nor do I think that the digital image's BA blue is anywhere near dark enough, and I also find the digital white is not particularly to my liking.

I'll admit that this is a rather simplistic comparison, but I find it none the less interesting as both pictures must have been taken within seconds of each other. I personally believe that digital has a clear edge on grain and clarity, but I prefer the colours of the film based image.

Any other observations/opinions?


PS: Paul, I hope you don't mind me using your image in this topic - should be good for you getting a few more hits, if nothing else! Big grin

There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots
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RE: Digital Vs. Film - Another View

Tue Dec 25, 2001 6:41 am

Andy, I've been comparing a source file courtesy of Gary Watt with what I can get from my scanner - like you, the first things that caught my eye were the "cleaness" of the shot and the amazing shadow detail - I certainly can't match this from a slide scan, though I may be able to with Reala.

Being really picky though, I did question whether the digital image was as sharp as I could get from a scanner - though a bit unfair to say on the basis of one image! I did note that the D30 image seemed more prone to "jagginess" than a slide scan, and I guess this is down to the difference in resolution.

On colours, I think the verdict is still out for me - I have seen shots in which the colour seems "unnatural" to my eye, and others not. Having said that, some would say K64 can produce "unnatural" reds!

I believe colour saturation is an adjustable feature (on the D30 anyway) so this may be a matter of personal choice rather than a "problem" with the camera.


Colin K. Work, Pixstel
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RE: Digital Vs. Film - Another View

Tue Dec 25, 2001 7:06 am


Something in the D30 shot doesn't look quite right to me [as a 'seasoned' D30 user].

I checked the histogram in photoshop and it's a full one so I think there's been some post-processing by Paul which has clouded the issue somewhat.

The colours look very weak to me, almost too weak for the D30, and the image seems to have [to my eye] too high a gamma which has [maybe] caused the sky to go that odd colour.

Questions for Paul would be: What White Balance settings were you using? Were you using a custom parameter set? What ISO rating were you on? What lens was in use? And finally what post-processing was done in photoshop [or whatever program you use]?

Jason Taperell - AirTeamImages
Aer Lingus
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RE: Digital Vs. Film - Another View

Tue Dec 25, 2001 8:13 am

Please correct me if Im wrong but I thought Paul had an S1

Nollaig Shona (Merry Christmas),

da Fwog
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RE: Digital Vs. Film - Another View

Tue Dec 25, 2001 8:25 am

Yup, unless Mr Dopson has borrowed a D30, then that shot was taken with his Fuji S1.

The two shots in question look so different because of the differences in contrast & saturation. To me, the K64 shot is too contrasty, while the S1 shot is not contrasty enough. Just as different films will give different results in terms of colours, contrast and grain, a similar comparison can be made between film and digital. Of course, a considerable adjustment can be made to a digital or scanned image in photoshop, so provided the originals are within a reasonable range that can be adjusted to suit the personal taste of the photographer, I don't think it really matters too much.
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RE: Digital Vs. Film - Another View

Tue Dec 25, 2001 8:54 am


I've been getting confused again.

I think, perhaps, I may have had a bit too much beer and should go to bed soon.  Big grin

Jason Taperell - AirTeamImages
Ned Kelly
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RE: Digital Vs. Film - Another View

Thu Dec 27, 2001 6:39 am

The jury has returned its verdict..

Like many on this forum I have been trying to convince my wife that we need to invest in a new camera, obviously a digital one. So after clicking on the two links above, & whilst constantly flicking between both pictures, I asked my wife what in her opinion was the best picture. She said ANDY'S, when I asked her why she replied, "the blue is much better & the white is more sharper & whiter".

Oh well, not the answer I was hoping for, I guess digital still has some way to go....
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RE: Digital Vs. Film - Another View

Thu Dec 27, 2001 5:06 pm

Maybe she just said that because she doesn't want you to drop two grand on a camera.
Topic Author
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RE: Digital Vs. Film - Another View

Thu Dec 27, 2001 6:23 pm

Interesting comments guys... As I think I said, I love the shadow detail in the digital image and I've got a suspicion that whatever I do (either with the scanned image or with an original exposure in such conditions) I'd never be able to get that much lattitude out of a Kodachrome slide - I can't speak for other films because I don't use or know them.

I also appreciate Chris' comments about the Kodachrome image being "too" contrasty. I guess I could play with the image (I haven't manipulated the image yet, I just scanned and sharpened it for the purpose of making this comparison), but in all honesty that's one of the main reasons why I buy Kodachrome - I like the punchy colours and the contrast.

I'm aware that the validity of this comparison may be questioned by us not knowing what work Paul did to his image before he uploaded it, but none the less I still find the comparison interesting. As a prospective digital user (for long term expenditure reduction as much as anything else) its made me realise that there's a lot more to making the move than to just go and buy another camera - at least with 35mm cameras I can go and buy the same film and get broadly similar results!


PS: Ned, if I've upset your apple-cart with this topic, I'm sorry! Big grin
There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots
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RE: Digital Vs. Film - Another View

Thu Dec 27, 2001 8:55 pm


The original image looks much more like yours colour wise but I find that the Screeners - Johan dont like the image to be too original, I get more rejects if I submit the shots as they were seen.

I think i just adjusted the gamma up a touch in post manipulation not sure though it was too long ago! The white balance was at the sun setting, ISO 320 and think it was with the 170-500 when im home i will check all the details.

If you want Andy i will send you the original file for you to play around with.



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