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Posted on March 26th, 2012, by

Digital Picture Quality vs Film Picture Quality

With the recent developments in the world today, technology has increasingly advanced to such an amazing extent and the advancement in the multimedia industry is of great interest and forms the basis of this write up. It is the drastic change from the then only present film pictures to the most recently advanced digital pictures that we will consider. Our main purpose is to stipulate the advances and advantages that the digital picture quality has over the film picture quality and to also mention the differences and similarities in these two forms of picture qualities in the multimedia industry.

In the art of differentiating the digital picture quality and the film picture quality, we start by some introductions of certain necessary terms, definitions and explanations of all the terms that need to be understood before this concepts are well appreciated and comprehended. When we hear the word Picture what comes into our minds? If one is not well informed, he or she might be misled to take pictures as meaning only photographs. Picture can be defined as a visual representation of an object or a scene or a person or an abstraction produced on a surface. With this definition in mind, one can start to think about movies and videos and to consider whether in deed they are related to the word picture. The answer of course is yes, because movies and videos are series of images projected so rapidly that the eye integrates them. Another concept to throw more light on is the concept of analog. Analog is known as a continuous stream of information transmission. As human beings, we perceive our world in an analog manner because everything we see or hear is a continuous transmission of information to our senses. This continuous stream’ is the basic phrase for the explanation and definition of analog. In our further discussions, noteworthy is the fact that a film picture is synonymous with analog pictures as analog is the principle of function of this film pictures and we will use this interchangeably as our discussion proceeds. On the other hand, digital information however can be defined as those information stored by the use of ones and zeros. Computers for instance, are digital machines as they can only read information as on or off- one or zero (1 or 0). This is also referred to as the binary system of computing.

This could seem simplistic but it is capable of representing incredible amounts of data. Some other examples includes; the handy flash drives, CDs, DVDs and digital cameras which can be used to store and playback high-quality sound and video even though they consist of ones and zeros.

We are going to further our discussion of explaining the differences between digital picture quality and film picture quality by considering the two aspects of pictures which includes the photographic images and the videos.

Higher video quality is seen in the productions from digital devices. This is due to the presence of clear and high quality of sounds. The pictures produced are distinctively and beautifully clear. There is also the presence of high quality sounds and even a higher capacity of these sounds. Such picture qualities are as such that one can easily spot even a pin amongst the images present. On the other hand, considering the analog devices and their productions, they are quite good but certainly inferior in quality to the digital productions. The distinction lies majorly on the distinct clearness and beauties of these pictures which are clearly considered inferior to that of the digital counterpart. The sound quality of the analog device productions are inferior in quality and capacity compared to that of the digital devices.

When considering the comparison of the images produced by the digital devices to that of the analog devices, it is a very clear situation. Just like the picture quality is higher in case of the videos produced by each of them, the image quality produced by digital devices is also higher than that of the analog devices. Narrowing down our discussion to the functions of the digital and film cameras we further elaborate on their principles of operation. Wilson  said that the modern, film-based single lens reflex (SLR) camera is a complex of electronics, mechanics, and ultra-high-precision optics. The major part of its operation is concerned with winding-on and rewinding the film in the camera illustrated here, a motor performs this function as well as controlling the mirror action. As you would expect, autofocus cameras require a further layer of complicated integration between the electronics, optics, and mechanics. (Wilson, 2010). According to Belton we see that while a digital camera having no less complication in its mechanical and optical construction, its electronics are far more powerful than what could be found in film-based model. (Belton, 2002) A good advantage is that one doesn’t have to transport the film. In such a way, the design for a static photo sensor is far easier than the design for a moving strip of film. But however, here also almost all other film-based camera operations are necessary.

Further discussion on the distinguishing factors centered on the image structure, color encoding, color reproduction image amplification and image quality will now be made. Rockwell stated that the image structure in film camera is by silver grains or dye clouds of varying size distributed in a random pattern. (Rockwell, 2006). While the image structure in digital camera is by same-sized pixel organized in a regular grid, or raster array. The color encoding by the film camera is that color in the scene are separated by different layers, such as blue-, green-, and red-sensitive layers. While that of the digital camera is that colors in the scene are separated by a special Bayer different patterns, such as pattern of blue, red and green filters. In the film camera, the color reproduction image amplification is by dye clouds of cyan, magenta, and yellow and then the development is by a chemical method. In the case of digital camera, this is interpolated from color filter array and then the development is by electronic and digital processes. The image quality in film camera depends on the film speed, grain structure and processing regime while that of the digital camera depends on sensor resolution and interpolation methods and even compression when this is applied.


In conclusion, looking at the cleanliness, dust on the image plane is a constant issue for photographers. Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLRs) are especially prone to dust problems because the sensor remains in place, where a film advances through the camera for each exposure. Debris in the in form of dust may scratch the film. Also as film cameras age, they can develop burs in their rollers. With a DSLR, dust is difficult to avoid but is easy to rectify by the use of a computer with image editing software. Compact digital cameras are fitted with fixed lenses; dust is therefore excluded from the imaging area. Therefore the comparison of Picture image quality to that of digital relies more on value statement and depends on the main expectancy of each of their usage.

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