Hello everyone, I could not resist to add my own very brief comparison to the many which exist meanwhile. I had the Canon 1DMkII, the Canon 20D, the Nikon D2X, D70s, the Konica/Minolta, the Fuji S3 and compared them (a couple of shots) with film - 35mm and medium format - here you find it, you just need to browse to the relevant page on my website at http://www.gnyman.com
Interesting,.......but, as you were shooting in raw, there is the post processing, and would sharpening, etc. have altered these images??? The reading I havbe done indicates to me that Nikon raw is a little softer than Canon, which looking at these images seems true. Well, just to get the flames going, film seems weak.
Yes, I am was surprised about the "weakness" of the 35mm film results compared to digital. As you can see, it is the film grain with placed the 35mm shots behind the top digital performers. But if you switch to medium format, then the coin turns over - of course in comparison to these cameras only. If you take a 22MPx pro back then the whole scenario changes again. The only format which is still unbeaten and unchallanged is the real large format - I do quite a lot of 5x7inch format photography as this format is more suitable for my landscape photography and there is no digital camera or digital back which can challange a 5x7 slide. But yes, I was pretty surprised about the 35mm film results compared to Nikon D2X and also the Canon 20D.
You are quite correct to question these findings for the reason you cited. The post processing of digital camera raw files can make a very significant difference based on the software used and the skill of the user doing the post-processing. It can make a great difference.
However, considering processing, reducing the resolution plus applying the necessary compression to put samples on the web produces results that are at best misleading, and which tell you little of significant value. It is little better if not worse than in the old days (the early 70's when I first began writing regularly for photo magazines), when NY magazine staffers hung their heads out their office windows and test shot the building across the street, and then published comparison results in their magazines. After color separation, halftoning and offset printing on a high speed press, there was no real value in the comparison.
Your rather negative comment tells me that you maybe do not want to see what you can see and this is what one could call biased. Even if you do not believe it, all files have been treated in the same way because I do not have any preference for any brand of digital cameras and I do not get paid by anyone and I am not sponsored by anyone either.
I agree that postprocessing, compressing etc alters the output, but in relation, the relative quality of the images remains more or less the same and that was the primary target - to show how under the same treatment and with the same way of processing, the results are quite different, depending on which camera was used.
Objectivity is something which is a requirement and even if results are not as wanted/desired/expected, they need to be presented unaltered.
Unfortunately, I get the impression that some articles about the available digital cameras, which are published in well known photographic journals, that these articles are often not written in a completely objective manner - sometimes it appears even, that the author did not have the equipment that well tested him/herself either - but probably that is called agressive and active marketing, we in Europe call it different.
All I said was that the limitations of the media does not provide a level of reproduction that tells anyone anything significant. It's no better than driving exotic high-performance sports cars on city streets in normal traffic, which will not tell you much if anything about what the full performance capabilties of the cars are.
I am not disparaging what you say just that web reproduction cannot display anything of the potential capabilities of any high performance digital camera. The web can barely accommodate the capabilities of the most economical point and shoot cameras being sold currently.
Make the comparison on the basis of a set of 16x20 inch prints one from each camera and the best possible scans of 35mm film all reproduced with an Epson Pro 4000 printer, and then you have some basis for comparison.
I have no real bias towards any one or another brand or model digital camera, and that is based on images I've seen, large high quality samples of what they can produce used by competent professionals, as well as my own experience with many makes and models. All the popular DSLR models these days are closely competitive and competent. But at the same time I am not so self-righteously arrogant to claim I can be absolutely objective. I write about one product at a time, and then describe what I was able to do with it, and hope possibly if I can make it work others will be able to also. To me its not about who wins or looses at a shootout at the OK Corral.
I find this all very interesting. I have never found good respresentive images on web site. The only thing I know is when using a good 35mm camera and prime lens with medium speed slide film, the results in producing larger print would compare or surpass any digatl camera I have seen. The thing here is that is just with my eyes and what I like prints to look like. I have looked at many test sites and images on the web, but always feel I have to base my conculsion on the imformation at hand instead of the images. Monte Johnson.
It is very difficult to make a good and fair comparison which can be either printed in a journal or viewed on the web. Most journals have a very limited printing quality (cost..) and the web is very limiting regarding resolution, color depth and other interesting aspects of an image.
I have done what you wrote with sevaral film based cameras and a lot of digital cameras and despite that I am still a very much film oriented person, the quality getting with current digital SLR's is very impressive. The details, I have shown on my website, which caused that harsh criticism by David Brooks (..at best misleading..), are real and not manipulated at all.
What limits the perceived quality of film images is im my opinion primarily the presence of visible grain which disturbes quite a lot as soon as one looks at fine details. The DSLR noise at low speed settings is compared to the grain almost not recognizable and does not disturb much at all.
Limiting regarding overall image quality are also the design concept of the digital sensor (cell size, fill factor, cell geometry, sensor type, microlenses or no microlenses, electronics etc), and quality limitation of many less expensive camera lenses (resolution, distortion, flatness of field, color aberration, astigmatism, coma etc). If on the other hand, you take a more or less grainless film like the "Gigabit Film" (B&W), a top of the line lens and shoot 35mm, you would be surprised how much you can get on a 35mm image, but that is of course B&W only and the value of such a comparison would be questionable. And also the very personal and subjective impression determines if you rate one camera better than the other and this is something which can barely be quantified.
For me it does not matter about testing results as much as it does individual preference in cameras. I use medium format and shoot very little digital. Because I enjoy 16+20 prints I feel the results from my camera give me the prints I want. I have seen tests with digital that rival medium format in enlargement test in sharpness, but when it came to shadow detail what I have seen the medium format produces nicer results. For me sometimes I like the grain that film produces. I am not opposed to using digtial for larger prints, but at this time I do not have the kind of digital camera to produce good results above 8+10 prints. A time may come when I see that happening for me. Until then for my personal satisfaction my camera works for the results I want. There are so many facters involved in digital and film testing. My skills using the same camera may not be as experinced as the another so for I cannot base my results on other test, but I can use the imformation of testers to help me decide which one will work for me. Monte Johnson.
I would agree your valuation of what is displayed on the web is seen with appropriate and healthy skepticism. The internet does provide a wealth of information including images, but it is not capable of providing anything close to the experience of seeing large, fine photographic print images in a gallery or museum.
However, I have the feeling from your remarks you have yet to actually see what is possible in print quality from today's 6-8MPX digital SLR cameras. With careful processing of the raw files these cameras can produce, I am obtaining print image qualities that are very competitive with high resolution scans of 35mm chromes printed in the same way, with a top-of-the-line 13 inch inkjet photo printer, like the Epson R1800.
Instead of just writing in Shutterbug and providing images that are reproduced small on the pages of the magazine, I often wish it were econmically and physically possible some original prints I made myself could be included with the magazine. In some ways that would be much more convincing and encouraging for those who read the magazine.
Your are correct. I have not seen the print quality from a 6-8 meg camera. No one around here except for a young photographer I know prints anything of any size with digital cameras. Some I have seen at 11+14 are pretty good, but have never viewed anything larger than that. It would be nice to see a good quality print 16+20 from a 6 meg camera. I have no real argument against digital, I just do not see good quality results around here. Many people who have SLR Canon or Nikon Cameras are snapshooter printing off 4+6 on a cheap photo printer. That does not show me much in the way of quality or detail. This is a area of what I call Walmart photographers. Not to say Walmart does not have a good system with their printer, but most just want the quality that offers point and shoot and do not care anout anything beyound that. I guess if not for these people digital would not have grown like it has. All I can say is Iowa and California are worlds apart in the photo world. I too wish the physical results could be display so I could really judge in my own mind the quality at hand. After I posted this I did think about the 16+20 prints in our mall shot with digital. I will say some I do consider some to be pretty nice, but only a few BW prints impressed me, Most of the color prints seem to be dull. Monte Johnson.