PDA

View Full Version : Regular v. Digital Camera



theSundanceKid
01-05-2005, 03:31 PM
I've been trying to understand the main difference in picture quality between a regular film camera and a digital camera. It seems to be centered mainly around how many megapixels the digital camera is. First question:

- How many megapixels would you need to equal the quality of a regular film camera (in other words, how many megapixels is a regular camera)?

I've heard that you may not need more than 3.2 megapixels on a digital camera if you are not printing greater than 8X10 photographs. Does that mean that up to to that size you would get regular camera quality? I am concerned about getting good quality pictures with a digital camera. My philosophy is that if you're going to put in the effort to take a picture, it should be of high quality, like a film camera. I don't want to "half-ass" it.

D70FAN
01-05-2005, 04:19 PM
I've been trying to understand the main difference in picture quality between a regular film camera and a digital camera. It seems to be centered mainly around how many megapixels the digital camera is. First question:

- How many megapixels would you need to equal the quality of a regular film camera (in other words, how many megapixels is a regular camera)?

I've heard that you may not need more than 3.2 megapixels on a digital camera if you are not printing greater than 8X10 photographs. Does that mean that up to to that size you would get regular camera quality? I am concerned about getting good quality pictures with a digital camera. My philosophy is that if you're going to put in the effort to take a picture, it should be of high quality, like a film camera. I don't want to "half-ass" it.

Theoretical equality is at about 16MP for a 35mm size sensor. The only current camera to offer this is the Canon 1Ds Mk II. For about $8K (body only) you can own one today.

If you want to go that next step to medium format there are (40mm x 60mm) digital backs (equivalent to 120 and 220 film backs) from Fuji and Phase One, with 22MP sensors, for (are you sitting down) around $25K to $30K sans camera and lens(es).

But fortunately (for us mortals) quality is relative to the size of the print and how much, or little, detail the eye can detect. As the size of the picture gets smaller the clarity/detail/quality appears to be better and vice versa. So, actually, depending on the viewing distace, even a 2MP image may look fine printed at 8 x 10, so what you heard about 3MP and 8 x 10 is essentially true. Even upon fairly close inspection it would be hard to tell 3.2MP print from 4MP or even 5MP.

The importance of a larger sensor comes into play when cropping or, of course, when printing 11 x 17 or larger. In film terms this is true for regular consumer vs. fine grain films and transparencies as well.

Hope that helps.

theSundanceKid
01-05-2005, 05:39 PM
Thank you much!