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How many megapixels is a 35mm comparable to?

Posted on 2006-07-11
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How many megapixels would I need in a digital camera for it to be equiv. to a 35mm film camera?
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Question by:stev0931
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Jose Parrot earned 150 total points
ID: 17088163
Hi,

Interesting question, because the capturing methods are totally diverse.
First, lets examine the photo camera. We have several grainularity in photographic films. The higher the sensibility, the bigger the grain. A 400 ASA film has much more grain than a 100 ASA film. A typical 100 ASA color film can have a around 4000 x 3000 grains. Some can be as high as 8000 x 6000. We cannot compare directly to a digital camera because the grains are distributed in randomic dispersion and the digital camera has a perfect geometric array of sensors.

So, based on the numbers above (can vary, but are good enough for now), we have something around 12 megapel for the photographic film. (Please don't accept this number as the absolute true. It is an EQUIVALENCE).

Cinematographic film has lower resolution, because each frame is exposed for only 1/24 second and the randomcaly distributed grains never will be at same position in the frame, thus permitting less expansive films for movie production, to compensate the large footing needed.

Jose
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Assisted Solution

by:lherrou
lherrou earned 150 total points
ID: 17091220
Stev0931,

As Jose says, it's an interesting question. However, there isn't one answer. Jose has taken one approach towards providing an answer. Another approach might be lines of resolution. Fuji Velvia slide film is generally considered the top resolving film in color slide films (higher than print films). The theoretical maximum resolution of Velvia, based on maximum obtainable lines of resolution, is around 25 megapixels. Of course, any photographer will tell you that there are so many other factors which go into that in reality - camera body, lens quality, distance to subject, humidity, camera stability, etc, etc.

It's generally accepted that 8-10 megapixels are 35mm equivalent for a digital camera for most professional work. Again, your final image quality is not only going to be determined by the megapixel rating, but also by the quality of the sensor, the post-processing onboard and on download, etc. (as well as the photographic variables also discussed in relation to film).

Cheers,
LHerrou
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by:stev0931
ID: 17091229
Thanks!
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Expert Comment

by:lherrou
ID: 17102278
Hey, thanks for splitting the points! I appreciate it.
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