First Digital Camera that is better than Film PDF
Written by Popular Photography   


Can a digital camera really outclass color film?


According to tests done by Popular Photography, Canon's new 16.7 megapixel EOS 1Ds Mark II took better pictures than a regular SLR camera (Canon's EOS 3) shooting high-quality ISO 100 film.


Interesting, as a few years ago Popular Photography predicted that digital cameras would have to reach at least 24 to 30 megapixels before they'd compete against film cameras in quality. But that stance seems to have changed, as they are now claiming the better color and lower noise of the EOS 1Ds Mark II gives digital cameras the winning edge.




Let's Back it Up


Popular Photography has always maintained the image quality of any photographic system -- whether film, digital or otherwise -- can't be determined by testing resolution alone. That's because there are other important aspects, such as:


• Color accuracy


• Noise level (grain)


• Highlight and shadow detail (dynamic range)


• Contrast



Additionally, camera sensors have pixels arrayed in two separate dimensions, horizontal and vertical, meaning it takes four times as many pixels to double the resolution of a digital camera (saving all other aspects such as noise, lens quality and focus accuracy are equal).


Camera Test


With that in mind, Popular Photography compared the resolution, color accuracy and noise ratings of EOS 1Ds Mark II images to those of ISO 100 film shot two years prior. After an uproar in reader feedback, researchers re-evaluated film resolution, using a new roll of Kodak Gold 100 loaded in a Canon EOS 3 SLR and found:


• The Gold 100 film captured 3,000 lines in all directions when shot using the test lab's daylight-balanced HMI lights.


• Using daylight-balanced Elinchrom 1200S flash units, film delivered 2,700 lines in all directions.


• These results compared to 2,400 lines captured by the older ISO 100 film and to the EOS 1Ds Mark II's 2760 Vertical x 2810 Horizontal x 2220 Diagonal lines.



So, while ISO 100 color negative film may capture slightly more detail than the 1Ds Mark II under ideal lighting conditions, with a great lens, and on a supersteady tripod, for its better color and lower noise, the "Color Image Quality" award goes to Canon's digital SLR, hands down.


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