"Jim McKee" <jiminstarkvillewebtv.net> wrote in message
A film-based camera produces images on negatives or slides. This image can> Hi everyone - does anyone know the actual technical details of the
> difference between a photo made directly by a digital camera and one
> which instead is scanned from a color print? Along the same lines, I was
> confused today when I read an article about a new digital camera which,
> however, has an OPTICAL zoom so that much crisper-than-digital results
> are obtained. My question - then how is it a digital camera?
be converted to digital in 3 ways:
1: Just scan the print, on a regular flatbed scanner, to make a digital
2: A better way, scan the negative on a negative scanner, which has a much
higher d.p.i. rating than does a flatbed scanner. The negative holds more
information than does the print, so a negative scanner, while more
expensive, will yield a better result.
3: Have the negatives scanned by your photofinisher when they are developed.
This is the best time, because there is no dust or dirt on the
newly-processed film. I routinely have Kodak make a "Picture CD" ($7.99
extra) when they process my film. The images can be printed as big as 8x10
and still be of acceptable quality. And I do not have to buy my own film
scanner or spend a couple of hours scanning the negs myself.
Downside is that you can make metter scans (more d.p.i.) if you do the job
yourself, but that requires that you invest several hundred dollars in a
scanner (and the related computer equipment to which to connect it), and
that you learn how to scan. See [url]www.scantips.com[/url] for an online tutorial.
The film-to-digital route is probable the best way to get good digital
images, as long as you can live without the instant gratification of seeing
the image within moments of taking it.
1: By using film, you can continue using your present lenses. If you have
a lot of them, as I do, you will be able to take photos in many more
situations than can a digital. I am thinking primarily about a wider focal
range. As an example, my digital camera covers a 38-86 mm range. My film
camera has lenses at 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 55mm, 135mm and 200mm and 400mm, PLUS
I have a teleconverter that can double the focal length of any of my lenses.
That means I can go as high as 800mm with my film camera. In addition, my
Pentax prime lenses have MUCH better quality than any digital lens has.
Better flare control, less distortion, sharper, brighter images.
2: There is no digital camera on the market today that has sufficient
megapixels to equal the amount of information captured on a 35mm negative.
I know that you may find this hard to swallow, but you are sacrificing
quality by going digital. The kid next door, who has his grandfather's
Minolta SRT 101 or Pentax Spotmatic from 30 years ago, WILL produce better
results than you will, with your $1,000.00 Sony with the Carl Zeiss zoom
3: If you take photos on film, and store the negatives, you can always
re-scan them if the technology improves in the future. By contrast, a
digital camera's image file cannot be re-done down the road--you are limited
to whatever information was originally captured).
With regard to your question about optical zoom, you need to understand the
difference between OPTICAL ZOOM (good) and DIGITAL ZOOM (crap):
1: Optical zoom means that your camera has a zoom lens. When you zoom in on
a subject, the image is magnified by the camera's lens before it is
projected into your camera's chip to be recorded. That is the only TRUE
2: Digital zoom is where the camera crops out the outer edges of the
picture, and expands the center section. You could do the same thing
yourself in any image editing software. The trouble is, you are throwing
away a good chunk of the pixels in the photograph, and you are spreading the
remaining pixels out. The price you pay for this is severe reduction in
3: Many cameras offer a combination of digital AND optical zoom, and the
camera manufacturer states the "Total Zoom" in their specs. Don't be fooled
by this. The only real zoom, that does not result in decreased resolution,
is OPTICAL zoom. A typical consumer digital camera has between 2x and 3x
optical zoom. My camera, for example, has 2.3x optical zoom. That means
that my lens has an equivalent focal length of 38-86mm--not so good, but ok
for most typical snapshots.
As you can probably tell, I am not crazy about digital. It costs a lot, its
quality is restricted, its focal length is nowhere near what I have for my
film cameras, the cameras eat up batteries, there is no choice in lenses
(what comes with the camera is what you get), They can break more easily
than my Pentax all-metal camera bodies, and, just about every year, the
technology is improved, making last year's camera like yesterday's
newspaper. There is no resale valus after 5 years.
My Ricoh RDC-5000, which I bought in December 1999, cost me $700, not
counting extra batteries, charger, and memory chips ($69.00 for 16 meg chips
back then). It is 2.3 megapixel--the biggest available at that time. It
makes excellent 5x7s and nice, but not perfect, 8x10s. I have to tweak
every single shot in my editing software, to correct the color balance,
adjust brightness and contrast, and sharpen the edges. I am my own
darkroom. It takes HOURS of work to get the images the way I want, assuming
that I shot 50 photos in a single session.
I have them printed by Kodak, on real photo paper, at a cost of $.99 per
5x7. Plus shipping. Very expensive.
Contrast that with my film camera: At my wholesale club, I can buy 8 rolls
of Kodak Gold 200 color print film for $16.00. That's 6 rolls of 24
exposures, and 2 rolls of 36 exposures--8 rolls in all.
I can get KODAK film processing there at a cost of $3.89 for film developing
and 24 5x7 prints. For $2.00 more, I can get a second set of 24 5x7 prints.
AND, I only had to drop off the film, and pick it up the next day. Kodak
did all the work, developing, color-correcting, printing. I did not have to
spend hours at my computer, being my own darkroom technician.
Digital is great when all you want is the occasional snapshot of the kids at
the pool, or home inventory images, where you don't intend to print them,
but just want to keep them stored on a CD in your safe deposit box, in case
you sustain a future loss. They're great if you want to email photos of the
family back to the relatives in distant places. They're great if you need
FAST images, such as news photography, or insurance claims adjustor
doentary photography, etc.
If you are a low-volume shooter, digital is excellent, because you don't
have to wait weeks or months to use up a roll of film before you get to see
If you want to take intimate photos of your wife or girlfriend, digital has
obvious advantages. You can do your own "photo processing."
But, if you are looking for maximum quality, film is the way to go. My own
solution is to have both film and digital cameras, and to use whichever one
is best suited to whatever my need is at the time. When I bought my digital
camera, I thought I could chuck my film gear. It took me a whole year
before I came to the realization that, despite digital's advantages, it was
NOT going to be able to replace my film cameras for EVERYTHING. That is
why, when I read those never-ending threads in newsgroups about "Film vs.
Digital," I am turned off. It is not a case of "either-or," but rather a
question of "which one best suits my needs for right now?"
To have a look at some of the things that the digital camera salesman
neglects to tell you, see this link:
There is no doubt in my mind that many people just assume that digital is
going to kill off film, and they buy digital equipment thinking that it is
the only way to go. That may or may not be true, depending upon one's
I hope that I've been able to clear up some of your questions on this issue.