Thursday, August 8, 2013

D800 Vs Linhof - 35mm Digital Vs 5x4 LargeFormat Film

Well this is funny, comparing film to digital in this year is a huge paradox that one can argue and even write a dissertation or thesis.

So here it comes to this Nikon D800 Vs 5x4 LargeFormat.
Ok before I start, let me tell you that the images are Photoshoped and yes I've added some noise in D800 (will tell you why soon).


So Nikon D800 is a 36Mp beast of DSLR camera and if used properly it will give amazing images. However, all that pixels do come with a drawback, which in this case exposure of the images shot in studio has to be spot on. I've noticed this only on grey backdrop, when I lit only a part of the backdrop I or lit it poorly(rare) so In D800 I see some posterisation forming on grey backdrops when the backdrop is 2 - 3 stops of  darker areas, however I don't notice it at one stop darker or 4 stops darker areas. Strange. . .

Another drawback of D800 was its resolution and very high image quality, I wouldn't say it is a weakness, but I shoot fashion/beauty so sometimes I see so much detail I don't want to see which takes more time postproduction.

So I add a bit of monochrome noise in post production to eliminate the threshold and make the skin bith more smooth with out making it look like plastic or Simpsons colour.

Linhof 5x4

LargeFormat Linhof is something else compared to D800 or any 35mmDSLR. However 5x4 film compared to D800 is different. Film that size collects huge amount of information and I can see a lot more details than 36mp image coming from tiny little 35mm sensor.

It is obviously noticeable that film has more details from shadows and blacks than the d800. Also its obvious that I used the tilt and shift function of the camera.

The drawback of the film in largeformat is that large format cameras needs more light to get the right depth of field, f/5.6 might be somewhere near middle in 35mm but in large format its is very shallow f/16 should be something more in middle for the largeformat, thus I used Portra 400 film, which arguably have more grain than Portra 160 which In use in medium format.
I do like the grain from film.

Film does slow down the workflow so I only use it when I can take my time during the production and postproduction of the shoot.

Here is a screen recording of me opening these two images on photoshop. There is no voice over or any recorded sound. Watch in highest resolution.

Conclusion: Make your own :) 
I'd use both cameras.

P.s. I hand processed the Large Format 5x4 film in Tetnal C-41 Dip and Dunk Tanks. 


  1. Hi,
    I have both cameras so a very interesting comparison.
    Which lenses did you use.

  2. I was thinking of a Speed Graphic or another 4X5. Thank you for sharing.