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I'm looking for advice from those in the know....

I'm aware those expensive high end digital cameras are capable of high resolution pictures, but how do they compare to traditional 35mm film? I imagine 35mm can be blown up massively. I'm not sure you could say how many "pixels" 35mm is, but we know it's a "lot". So can the new digital SLR cameras take higher res pictures than the old 35mm?

I'm curious to know how big the file sizes are too? I assume they are huge. My father scanned in some of his 35mm shots from negative some time back, but I never asked how big those file sizes were too. The problem with those though, is that the negative scan is only as good as the scanner used. Probably half the quality of the 35mm negative was lost in the process anyway?

Also, I have a Zi8 video camera, which I am very very happy with. It's 1080p. I'd recommend them to anyone. Unfortunately the lens cover came off, and I'm wondering if that cover was only there to protect the lens itself, or was actually some kind of wideangle lens that I should really try to replace? Any Zi8 owners out there?

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I'm not sure you could say how many "pixels" 35mm is, but we know it's a "lot".

It varies according to the type of film emulsion (mainly) and the lens used to take the photograph (to a limited extent).

With film, the resolution (i.e. how fine the emulsion grains are) is determined mainly by its speed (how long it takes to react to light hitting it). The lower the speed, the higher the resolution. The problem is that low speed films need either more light or a longer exposure to expose an image. So really low speed negative and reversal films, e.g. Fuji Velvia at ISO50, if they're exposed in strong light and for long enough, might give you a resolution of an equivalent of 150 megapixels. But ISO2,500 b/w negative film of the sort used by press photographers to shoot action pictures at sports matches (e.g. you'll get a decent image in subdued natural light, no flash, at exposures of 1/500 or less) might only be equivalent to 5 megapixels.

I'm curious to know how big the file sizes are too?

That depends on the resolution and bit depth at which you do the scan (which in turn is determined to some degree by what your scanner is and isn't capable of), and whether any compression (either lossy or lossless) is applied to the final file. Your workflow can produce a file of anything from 10k to 100mb.

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I imagine 35mm can be blown up massively.

I'm not sure that 35mm can be blown up massively. Unless it was a very slow ISO.

For anything that was going to be enlarged a lot, I always used 120 roll film. As for the digital side...........sorry can't help unsure.gif

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Thanks all. Good info.

I was curious about the real quality of modern digital cameras when compared to 35mm. It sounds like they do compare favourably these days, and are sometimes better depending on the film used.

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The CCD in a digital camera has to deal with the speed/exposure time/depth of field tradeoff, too. The more expensive the camera, the better the chip (as a general rule).

The bottom line: if you compare a £50 point-and-shoot or the camera in a mobile phone with a NIkon F100, a decent lens and a good, low-grain film, the latter will almost certainly give you the nicer picture. However, if you compare a 1980s 35mm compact camera with a Nikon D60 fitted with a decent lens and shooting a full resolution, uncompressed picture, then, all other factors being equal, the digital will probably win.

If you're into serious photography on a budget, personally I think film still makes a lot of sense. A Nikon F75 bundled with a reasonable Nikkor or Sigma 28-90mm (or thereabouts) lens can be had for £50-70 on Ebay, and rolls of bogstandard but perfectly good ISO200 film can be had from Poundsaver, that Tesco will then process and scan to a photo CD for £3 (although the scans are highly compressed and cropped JPEGs, that are only really any use for casual emailing etc.). A digital SLR camera that could give you anything approaching an equivalent in terms of versatiity and image quality would cost £300-400 at a bare minimum. And of course CCD chips (the image recording device) in a digital camera cannot be upgraded when new ones come on the market, whereas rolls of film can.

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And of course CCD chips (the image recording device) in a digital camera cannot be upgraded when new ones come on the market, whereas rolls of film can.

The "megabyte race" seems to be slowing down a bit. A lot of recent compacts have featured the same or fewer megabytes than previous models. 10-12 seems to be the optimum for compacts.

A decent modern compact (Panasonic TZ10, Canon S95, Samsung WB2000) can also do 720 or 1080 high quality video as well.

(Best viewed on Youtube itself, using the "expand screen" option or full screen at 720 resolution --- controls at the bottom --- default is 360.)

Film cameras have no equivalent to shooting in RAW. If you forget to remove your tungsten filter after shooting indoors (say at a wedding), you're in trouble.

Plus these compacts have a compactness that film compacts could only dream of, making them easier to carry around all the time.

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Steve huff has a bunch of good comparisons using mostly top end gear - same subject photographed at the same time, interesting how different the results turn out.

One of the interesting things about photography is that the picture with the best technical specs does not always make the best photograph


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Depending upon what you want to do there can be a massive advantage with digital photography simply through not being limited by the length of a roll of film (and the speed needed). I've tried taking a few shots of birds flying to or from a feeder (wanted to try to get them in flight rather than just pecking away), and would never have considered that with a film camera. (OK, the results aren't great; I've got a low-end DSLR and could also do with a faster lens than the supplied zoom, but it's good enough for me).

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