Nikon D800E vs 6×9 medium format film (part II)

This is the second part of my Nikon D800E comparison to 6×9 medium format film.

(Nikon D800E, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8)

(Fuji GSW690iii, Kodak Portra 160 Professional)

On this example, I favor the film version for it’s overall look. Better tones and color, and most important, great highlight and shadows recovery. The digital file took quite a tweak in Photoshop to achieve a better tonality, even with that, it was difficult to save the highlights (an underexposure compensation while on the scene would help), while the Fuji film just needed an auto levels and a little bit selective burn in highlights (in which there was plenty of info to recover, film is really superb when trying to save highlights).

If we look at zoom crop, there the D800E has once again the clear advantage in resolution as you can see below.

(Nikon D800E, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8)

(Fuji GSW690iii, Kodak Portra 160 Professional)

Of course, at this crop we are talking about a very large print, so If I wanted to print one of the two images at about 40 inches wide, I would prefer the film version.

The fact of course remains, that in terms of absolute resolution the D800E is a winner.

(c)2012 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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4 Responses to Nikon D800E vs 6×9 medium format film (part II)

  1. Hi Konstantinos,

    thank you very much for your comparison of the D800E versus the Fuji GSW 690III.

    Considering the images with the water mill, I’d prefer the film image: much more detail in the shadows, and I prefer the look and soul of film.

    Though the ease of digital (I don’t have any digital camera) is appealing, IMHO it is always worth the time to have slide film developed and to scan and print it.

    But I don’t live on the ‘fast lane’, maybe the discussion film vs. digital incorporates a bit of life style and appreciation of values in your life as well.

    Keep up the good work, and I really hope to see more from you.

    Kind regards,


    • kbesios says:

      Thank you Jen for your comment

      Despite having the D800E, I am still not quitting on film. The smooth transition from highlights to shadows, the great color and of course the ability to shoot MF lenses appeal to me more than digital.
      And of course, it’s the whole process of shooting film that I really love. Looking at a 6×9 or 6×17 transparency on the lightbox is really wonderful , and I hope they continue to make films for lots of years so that I continue to enjoy it.

  2. ralf_b says:

    Hi Konstantinos,

    I own the GSW and the GW 690 and do my scanning with a coolscan 9000 too.
    Besides doing some darkroom printing from time to time I do most of my work hybrid.

    I found out, that the output of the scanner is not that perfect, but the 9000 file gives a lot of room for improvement. If one compare a digital picture from a D800 and a digital picture from your coolscan it is crucial how to “develop” your picture in your electronic darkroom. That is why I mostly try to improve my workflow in terms of sharpening and tonal contrast, a job, that your electronic camera does internal. By this I found out, that this combination of USM and tonal contrast applied properly can bring up much more details to see. Since I do not own a D800 I have no direct comparison, but I feel a good C-41 Negative scan is able to deliver a lot more than a D800 file.
    I do sharpening in Nikon 4 (for me the best algorithm in for scans) and tonal contrast settings in Nik Color EFX.

    • kbesios says:

      Scanning is a painstaking and ever learning procedure, and although my recent scans are better than the ones a couple of years ago, there is still much room for improvement.
      Unfortunately, my free time is very scarce lately, and that affects my scanning process. I will try sharpening with Nikon Scan and tonal contrast with Color EFEX and see the results, thanks for the advice !

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