Above are two photos, both taken with available light in the same location at approximately the same time of day. One was taken with a Leica M4 and 35mm 2.5 VC pancake lens (a jewel of a lens, btw, and without doubt the best price to performance M mount lens in existence); the other taken with a Leica X1 and its 24mm 2.8 Elmarit, a rough 35mm field of view on the X1’s cropped sensor.
The M4 was loaded with Tri-X, rated at box speed of 400 ISO and developed in HC110 solution B. The X1 was shot in RAW and processed in Silver Efex Pro using the Tri-X emulation. Both were sharpened at output. (You can click on either photo to see a larger version).
Obviously, a comparison between two 72 dpi jpegs can only tell you so much, essentially how scanned film compares to digital files on a monitor. Scanning film brings an entire new technology into the mix, but then again so does the use of Silver Efex for digital files.
I’m a dedicated B&W film shooter. I love the look of film, its smooth tonality and its depth. In my eyes, its obvious when you look at a silver halide print versus a a digitally captured inkjet print. But I also see subtle differences in the examples above. The difference is still there when both are digitized and displayed onscreen, but judicious use of Silver Efex certainly can create a remarkably ‘film-like’ look. In the above instance, the diffuse natural light works to narrow the distance between the two as digital’s Achilles heel – blown highlights – isn’t in issue.
Can you tell which is which?
One thing to keep in mind, regarding articles about film-versus-digital resolution: They inevitably compare digital images to scanned film. Apples and oranges, really. Scanning of film is a great convenience, but it brings an entire extra technology into the loop.
One thing to keep in mind, regarding articles about film-versus-digital resolution: They inevitably compare digital images to scanned film. Apples and oranges, really. Scanning is a great convenience, but it brings an entire extra technology into the loo