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Digital versus Velvia

Hi All,

As many of you know I have only moved to digital very recently (5DmkII Late Dec 2008) and up until then have shot mostly on Velvia50. Since I got my new camera I’ve been planning to do some side by side comparisons and finally here it is. So for your scrutineering pleasure…

Obviously you’ll draw your own conclusions from the comparisons so I think I’ll just post and enjoy discussing them with whoever comments. I believe each medium has slightly different strengths and weaknesses very interested to know what others opinions are.

The first seven examples are as is with no editing whatsoever. Resolution is in theory the same, approximately 18″×12″ at 300dpi or 5400×3600 pixels. The first Velvia shot was scanned with my $1200 Nikon Coolscan V film scanner the second shot is the same transperancy scanned with a $300,000 Linotype HELL3400 (courtesy of splitting image) the last with my 21 megapixel, Canon 5D mkII. The next four images are a detail from the shot, blowing up an area that covers approximately 1% of the image to compare resolution. The first two are from my coolscan V, with and without Digital ICE4, the third from the Linotype HELL3400 and the last from the 5D mkII. The digital was converted from RAW in PS4 with the white balance as shot, i.e. auto white balance.

Both shots were taken with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM at approximately 24mm, f/16, 0.4sec, with a circular polarizer (as I remember). Digital camera EOS 5DmkII, film camera EOS 30. Incidentally Velvia50 slide film is enormously superior to mass market print film (negative film) and this test should not be confused with this medium. Pro level neg film is a different story again.

Velvia (Scanned with a $1200 Nikon Coolscan V unedited)

Velvia (Scanned with a $300,000 Linotype HELL3400 unedited)

Digital (5D mkII unedited)

Velvia Detail (Scanned with a Coolscan V, approximately 1% of full size)

Velvia Detail no ICE (Scanned with a Coolscan V, approximately 1% of full size)

Velvia Detail (Scanned with a Linotype HELL3400, approximately 1% of full size).

Digital Detail (5DmkII, approximately 1% of full size).

Velvia (Coolscan V edited)

Velvia (Linotype HELL3400 edited)

Digital (Canon 5D mkII edited)

There’s no doubt the 21mega pixel 5DmkII wins the detail race against the Coolscan V but against the drum scan… gee its close (shame about the hair, or whatever it is). The 1% of full size test is pretty extreme and is well beyond the practical enlargement size that would normally be used. My original post did not include the drum scan samples and I’m absolutely amazed at the results this amazing bit of gear can pull from a tiny 24 × 36mm transperancy. As the guy in the lab said, “It’s simple to explain the difference to photographers because they understand what a good lens costs. Just think of the difference between your Coolscan and our Linotype as the difference between a $1200 lens and a $300,000 lens.” “Oh wow, yup that explains it”. At $44 for an 18″ × 12″ @ 300dpi scan, drum scans aren’t cheap (particularly if you do 80 in a hit like I just did for my soon to be released ‘The Prom’ book) but man the difference is amazing.

The shots were taken at Hunter Beach at Wilsons Promontory on the same rock this shot was taken from.

Looking forward to reading your comments.


Digital versus Velvia

Travis Easton

Boronia, Australia

  • Artist
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Artist's Description

A side by side comparison between digital capture (5DmkII) and film capture (Velvia50).

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