Film vs. Digital…image quality.

Article Dedication

In Honor of

Max Yavno & Horst


If we are talking negative film, then the big difference between film and digital is with sharpness. Digital is much sharper than negative film if all things are equal. 35mm negative film is equal to about 3 or 4 mp with a point and shoot camera. (See link for photos at end of post.) Negative film is pretty low res imaging media compared to our state of the art and even not so state of the art digital imaging.

Digital can have a more plastic, artificial look. Film can have a more grainy, softer look due to its organic nature.  Film can have cleaner blacks in the shadows. Digital tries to make sense of shadows sometimes with noise. Just depends on the light. This is my general conclusion after using both mediums extensively.

Here is an example…


A film era dye transfer print by Jim Marshall


Selection from The Americans…60 years after Frank artist’s book by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

This is a digital photo I shot wide open, in poor light @ f1.4. It would have been sharper if closed down a stop or two.

More comparisons of film versus digital…


When I was a kid growing up in L.A. in the early 1970’s  I aspired to be a studio / commercial / fashion photog.  Like clockwork, every month I’d make cold-calls to all the photogs listed in the Yellow Pages. I would start at A and work down to Z asking them if they needed an assistant.

My favorite call was to Max Yavno. When I came round to his name I knew I was getting to the end of the list. Some of the photogs would answer the phone  ‘Studio’ or ‘Joe Proverbial Blow Photography’.  Max would answer the phone simply as…Yaaavnooo!

I think in the nearly 2 years I made phone calls I got about 3 jobs. One half-day job paid $1.60 hr. The other jobs were ‘work to learn’ as a volunteer.


De Wallen Graffiti 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr.