Digital Versus Analog Cameras: Who Wins Shooting At 300 Megapixels?

Image: Linhof

Recently, photographer Markus Hofstaetter had the job of capturing a beautiful shot of a hotrod for its owner. OK, but what makes this particular task special? The image had to be 300 megapixels large. While some might have balked at the request, Hofstaetter saw it as an opportunity to pit his digital and analog cameras against each other. Which one came out on top? That depends.

Healthy competition between new and old technologies wasn't the only motivating factor; Hofstaetter wanted to give himself as many options as possible and decided on a two-pronged approach: a stitched, digital panorama using his Canon 5D Mark III and 100mm macro lens and a full-frame photo with his Linhof Master Technika (pictured above). Neither are cheap devices -- at least $2500 for the Canon and around $10,000 for the Linhof.

The Linhof was able to manage the task with a single photo. The Canon, on the other hand, needed 24 shots to compose the final, 300 megapixel image.

Unfortunately, I can't post the results here, but Hofstaetter has the photos available on his blog. There's also an article on PetaPixel featuring cropped close-ups so you can see the difference in noise and detail.

To my eye, the digital composition is the better of the two, but the film version isn't that much worse and required significantly less effort to create, both in the field and post-production. And for $10,000, you'd certainly expect that.

As to the winner? If you value your time (and have the cash), analog appears to the way to go. For everyone else, digital can get the job done.

[Markus Hofstaetter, via PetaPixel]



    With the Linhof available with a quality lens for about $2,500 . It is a much better proposition.

    I am not a photo wiz but i reckon zoomed out the analogue picture looks more natural, the digital looks sharper and cleaner but old school looks better.

    let me haul out my 8x10 Calumet, 20 inch Bauch & Lomb and the 10" tech pan and let's play !

    Fact is large and medium formats were always where the quality lay, then there were the 'convenient' formats.. 35mm, PJ's they even went half frame. Consumers loved the disk cameras and 110's and all were fine at their job - digital is just the current, most convenient format which caused the natural demise of 35mm. As the 35mm camera makers dropped like flies, large format camera companies have seen a boom, with manufacturer numbers doubling.

    An old Bourke & James press camera for a couple of hundred saves a load off the price of a Linhoff with the same movements, drop bed AND the bonus inbuilt rotating back and with the saved dosh there's plenty of exceptional quality second hand lenses to invest in. Add the old grey Gitzo and a Miller fluid head and you're playing with the big boys :)

    I visited the customer and took some pictures of the final product on his wall.
    Have a look here, if you wanna see how it looks like:

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