Question - Film Photos better IQ than Digital ?


New Member
Apr 28, 2008
Hi need advice from experienced CSers

Recently developed some digital photos. Surprising they do not look as detailed & vibrant as they were on screen.

The boss commented photos develop from film still looked much better, more "3-D". She even mentioned that one of her clients is a newspaper photographer and uses the latest Camera ( Ah Kong paying...) whenever there is a new model. Still the print outs cannot be compared with the film print outs.

Is this true ?

Have heard that in order to match Film resolution, digital have to hit 24 MP. FF cameras have managed this and it is hard to believe photos from a 5DmkII or D700 still can't match up with 'old' film cameras ??

Dream Merchant

Staff member
Jan 11, 2007
This one ... will be a never-ending debate.

It's essential to identify exactly what are the strengths and weaknesses of a given medium, and even down to the exact model/film chosen simply because of so many technical differences, even within the same medium.

I guess for individual curiosity, one could always do a rigidly controlled side-by-side with all or almost all parameters as 'similar' as possible as appropriate and within each medium's optimal margins, including processing methodologies.


Staff member
Mar 11, 2002
one comment is not fact :)

claims like this need to be tested in a controlled environment


New Member
Mar 14, 2008
with so many different films, which one is better than digital in general?

n at low ISO, there might be a few slides that have very high res,
but beyond 800?

i for one favour digital,
good films r just too difficult to shoot well.

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Senior Member
Nov 28, 2005
Have heard that in order to match Film resolution, digital have to hit 24 MP. FF cameras have managed this and it is hard to believe photos from a 5DmkII or D700 still can't match up with 'old' film cameras ??
Neither the 5dMkII nor the D700 are 24MP.

I have had the totally opposite experience. It also has a lot to do with the way the sensor filter array is designed. If the manufacturer prioritizes color separation, then it's amazing how vibrant the printouts look.

Of course, it helps to have a calibrated monitor.


New Member
Oct 12, 2009


New Member
Mar 21, 2005
either digital or film all requires a media to be shown in order to see the IQ. Film if you shoot in negs and have lousy paper, its going to be worst than a 3MP digital shoot. Slides if you use a lousy projector to project on a lousy screen, you going to get the same also. Similarly, some digital photos look crappy because of the hardware, software that present it with.

One thing you have to know about digital is that they are only better in IQ in today's term. You probably see a big drop in IQ in time to come because it will render your media pretty much obsolete in times to come. For eg. your 24MP digital photo may look ok on a 30" "LED" monitor now. 10 years later, your 50" "dunno what you will call technology" monitor will make your 24MP photo look like 1MP photo today.

For film IQ, if you still keep the original negs and slides, 10 years later if given the digital scanning/projecting/viewing technology at that time, you should get a much better IQ than a digital equivalent you've taken the same time as the film.

Not to mention a lot of digital outputs are not done with a proper PP. For films shooters, when you press the shutter button the image is more or less finalized especially if you shoot in slides. For digital outputs that image is still a WIP product. How many of us are professional level digital PP people? With negs and slides, we usually got the "pros" to do it for us which are more consistent in results unless you process your B&W yourself. For digital, not everyone will do a proper PP and even so, with our skills and equipment, how do we know have we done a proper PP or not?

Many pro digital photographers are able to produce such a good output because besides having a ton of good photographers equipment, their digital darkroom equipment and the people used for the PP are also very good. If you ever visit a gd working digital photog darkroom, you will realize most of the time, their darkroom setup can be more expensive and high tech than the camera or strobe system he is currently using.

Having said that, digital IQ have a lot of determinants which is what makes it so flexible to be used in today's context.

An drew

Senior Member
May 27, 2005
I thought this is already a foregone conclusion and people seldom discuss this much nowadays. Most film diehards have also already converted to digital. There are so many hits if you google this question and you can spend several days reading what people wrote. e.g.

Some people might still prefer film for some reason (grain, dynamic range, more 3D, nostalgia, etc) and the world is better for this diversity.

Ah Pao

Senior Member
Nov 7, 2003
It's not going to make a difference if all you are going to print is a 4R...

Even films have different characteristics; it's futile to make a sweeping statement that "film is better than digital".

The best medium is what looks most pleasing to you.


Senior Member
Jul 31, 2006
I would say film have a better DR than FF Digital, but personally it like comparing a CD and a 256kps MP3. Very few people can tell the different.

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