Friday, February 23, 2007

Film vs Digital Capture --- The great debate

I am amazed at the number of photographers who erroneously lead the public into believing that film capture is better than digital capture. Granted, years ago that may have been true but not any longer.

I read a great article by Don Emmerich, a very knowledgeable (techy) guy who is the technical editor for Professional Photographer magazine and is a very talented photographer to boot.

Here's couple of key paragraphs from Don's article, dispelling the myth that film capture is superior to digital capture:

"Film and digital sensors both absorb filtered light and create a response. Both processes are analog. The sensor signal is digitized only later in the A/D converter.

Resolution is not determined by dye molecules in the film but rather by the size of the crystalline grains of those molecules. A typical grain size for 100 iso film is 8 microns, which is the typical size for a CCD or CMOS element. Thus, the resolving abilities of both film and digital capture are roughly the same.

The color gamut (visual range) of a CCD or CMOS chip is wider than that of film. Statements like "film can capture every single color that exists in nature" are simply false, especially given that color is not a natural attribute but the way our brains register the light of differing wavelengths."

The real issue, and what is much more important, is the talent of the person operating the camera. You could give a monkey a new digital camera, set him loose at a wedding with 10 gig's of storage, and he's bound to come back with at least some "good" shots.

It simply doesn't matter whether it's film or digital any more.

So when you hear someone going on about how much better film capture is compared to digital, remind yourself of this article. There really isn't a difference. The only "pro-photographers" that I have found who say differently are those who are afraid to change or simply don't know any better.

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