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Why does it seem like cameras that use film take clearer pictures than digital cameras?

Digital Cameras Discussion

Why does it seem like cameras that use film take clearer pictures than digital cameras?

Postby frederick » Sun May 19, 2013 12:09 pm

It kind of depends on what you mean by 'clearer'. Modern high quality digital cameras are superb and there shouldn't really be any advantage to film compared with them. But most lower range digital cameras have poor lenses and small sensors making their pictures less sharp and as the sensors are small there is either a lot of noise or the picture is dark.
Basically you have to spend a lot of money for a top of the range DSLR to beat the quality of a mid range film based camera.
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Why does it seem like cameras that use film take clearer pictures than digital cameras?

Postby ardley » Sun May 19, 2013 12:11 pm

This is a good question but there are soo many variables involved that you could spend a lot of time discussing and experimenting with various cameras, lenses and films and still not really find a definitive, concrete answer.

"Clearer" is also not a proper photography term and doesn't really mean anything specific. "Sharper" might be what you meant. Even still, without taking the same photo with the same lens and scanning the negative to the same resolution and numerous other specs to aproximate a somewhat fair comparison between a film camera and a digital, your comparisons will always be biased toward whichever medium you are using that has specs for higher sharpness or resolution.

So for example, if you take a photo of a tree on a day when the sun is not out on a DSLR it will not be as sharp as the same photo with a film camera when the sun is out because the sun provides contrast and contrast results in greater appearance of sharpness.

If the DSLR has a cheap, low quality zoom lens mounted to it that is set it's maximum aperture but the film camera has a high quality prime lens mounted to it that is set to it's middle aperture, the film camera will look sharper.

If the film camera in question is a medium or large format camera and the DSLR in question is a crop-sensor model, the film camera will look sharper.

So as you can see, there are numerous factors that contribute to film vs. digital comparisons. So to me, just shoot what gives you the best results for the work you enjoy!
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Why does it seem like cameras that use film take clearer pictures than digital cameras?

Postby rolph » Sun May 19, 2013 12:13 pm

The pictures are not clearer but if they are dark or too light the photo lab will correct them before printing them quite often. When you take a picture on a digital camera you see the picture the way it was taken and if you want to make adjustments you can do it on your computer.

Pictures that are out of focus can not be corrected no matter what kind of camera you use.
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Why does it seem like cameras that use film take clearer pictures than digital cameras?

Postby swain » Sun May 19, 2013 12:34 pm

The answer about processing labs correcting photos on film may have a lot of truth in it.

You can't expect your digicam to turn out super pics without correction. It is very seldom that I send a photo to computer memory without enhancing it marginally or quite a lot. You don't need full Photoshop, there are some free downloadable softwares and others in the shops at reasonable price, maybe one already in your computer when you bought it. Also, apart from darkness corrections and colour corrections you may need to 'sharpen' the image file, but that won't help errors of focus or blurrs from camera movement.
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Why does it seem like cameras that use film take clearer pictures than digital cameras?

Postby canon » Sun May 19, 2013 12:43 pm

The answer about processing labs correcting photos on film may have a lot of truth in it.

You can't expect your digicam to turn out super pics without correction. It is very seldom that I send a photo to computer memory without enhancing it marginally or quite a lot. You don't need full Photoshop, there are some free downloadable softwares and others in the shops at reasonable price, maybe one already in your computer when you bought it. Also, apart from darkness corrections and colour corrections you may need to 'sharpen' the image file, but that won't help errors of focus or blurrs from camera movement.
Actually, I find digital much sharper. Still, I am not ready to dispose of my collection of 35mm and 120 cameras.
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Why does it seem like cameras that use film take clearer pictures than digital cameras?

Postby hallbjorn » Sun May 19, 2013 12:51 pm

It doesn't seem that way for me.


My DSLR had nearly 4 times the resolution of 35mm film.
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