Film vs Digital – Gadget Show style

When I was back in the UK one of my favourite geek-and-gadgetary shows was The Gadget Show (nothing to do with Suzi Perry’s leather boots – not much anyway!). I was reading Jao’s blog today and noticed that he had a link to it, where the Gadget Show team have undertaken a, literally, huge comparison between film and digital camera technologies. The video clip is below. The comparison was between the full-format Nikon D700 and the Nikon F5. The team tried to keep the experiment/comparison as controlled as possible using the same lenses on both cameras, shooting in identical conditions with the same pro photographer and using the same printing service. Oh and the print, wow! It took 2 days (yes two days!) to print out the 17 metre tall images, big enough to drape down the side of a building.

Here’s the video (and remember, we’re interested in the comparison between film and digital and not Suzi Perry’s leather cat suit).

Digital wins out (clearly) but, as Jao points out, I wonder whether real portrait or landscape film photographers would have been using ISO400 in this situation. I would have liked to have seen comparisons at ISO100 or even ISO50.


2 thoughts on “Film vs Digital – Gadget Show style”

  1. The Gadget Show do strange things. Often their shoot out tests are very poorly planned resulting in each item being tested (often abused) to a degree unlike others in the group test.
    With the Film vs Digital I wondered what they were not telling us about the back room stuff.

    What I’d really like to know more about is the film aspect of this test. Grainy? Colour casts? That does not sound right to me. For instance I shot some fuji 400 in 35 mm about 10 years ago and hand printed it to 16 x 11 (inches) and there was no apparent grain to speak of on the print. And the colour was great. I’m sure 10 yrs later fuji films will still be top notch and will have improved even more. But a print for a front room wouldn’t be comparable with a multistory print like the gadget show right? Well I would disagree. I think the grain they saw on the shoe in the gadget show would be easily visible with the naked eye or a loupe on a 16 x 11 (yes there was no need to print the images so big…just put them into photoshop at their highest res and use match position and mag to compare side buy side at a hi magnification – but TGS like to do things spectacularly). Colour casts also? I have no answer to that. I’m sure the pro used exactly the same lighting? Any natural light did not change? He wasn’t pushing a film to 400? Was he using Consumer or Pro? I just can’t believe film colour was so poor in this test and think something ‘not right’ must have happened behind the scenes. Maybe they even used Kodak ;p .


  2. Thanks for the comment Bri. Yes TGS do go for the spectacular (I remember an episode where they blew up mobile phones to see which model would be more shock resistant), but I guess that helps with the ratings. At least they don’t yet go to the ridiculous extremes of ‘Top Gear’…. yet.


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