Is a 3 ccd mini dv camara better picture quality than 16mm film? : LUSENET : Shooting DV Films : One Thread

I was wondering if a 3 ccd mini dv camara (i.e. the panasonic mx300)better picture quality than 16mm film? If not, then what film quality can it be compared with ? Thanks

-- Al (, December 16, 2002


no, film will always have better picture quality than video. 8mm film (not even super 8) is better than 3 chip, Because its not a generated image.

-- daniel (, December 28, 2002.

Daniel...?????????? Where have you heard, read, or seen that? The one concrete thing you can say about film over DV is presently it has a much greater latitude then DV. All the other variables in picture quality vary from format to format. For example, I would take HDCAM over 16mm any day (it still does not compete well with 35mm...yet).

I won't even comment on 8mm, but if you broadcast on anything less then a theatre screen, well lit DV can be very much on par with film (sometimes exceeding) in picture quality* and visible resolution (*see above about latitude). If you plan to broadcast theatrically, then 16mm shot with quality lens (ie-zeiss) is better then the best minidv.

If you are comparing a theatrical screening of 16mm versus digital projection, again certain variables must be taken into account. Film color deteriorates over time and use, digital does not. After about 100 runs of a 16mm film, it starts looking like crap. You can process another print but this brings up the biggest difference in considering film or DV-price and time.

To answer Al's question, I would say no, 16mm is still overall better quality picture, BUT... 1. the difference is barely noticeable in most distribution methods.

2. 16mm's "better picture quality" is not worth the added expense (in my opinion).

3. 50mbps DV (digibeta, dvcpro50) is better then 16mm (again except latitude, which by the way can be compensated for with proper lighting)

4. It will not be long before quality HD is down to prosumer prices (4-5 years) and 16mm (not to mention 8mm) will be yesterday's news.

I believe DV will someday rival 35mm in all categories, but film will never die. Just as BnW is still used today to express the filmmaker's message, "true film look" (not simulated) will be desired by some future filmmakers and audiences (Spielberg being an excellent example).

-- Rochel (, January 03, 2003.

Response to Is a 3 ccd mini dv camara better picture quality than 16mm film?"

Thanks very much for your detailed reply. Just one question: What do you mean by film has greater latitude than DV?


-- Al (, January 06, 2003.

When he says latitude I think he's talking about contrast/light range. You see, the human eye can see and process a much wider range then film or video. Contrast range is defined as the ratio of brightest reflected light that still registers detail ( not blown out ) to the darkest reflected light that registers detail. The human eye can register a contrast range of 1000:1. The original film print can register 500:1. Prints made from that - 250:1. Professional DV cameras can register up to 128:1. Prosumer like the Sony VX2000 and the XL1 can register about 64:1.

What this means is that you have to light every very close to the same brightness. It means that the shadows will have to be much brighter than you would need for film.

Check out "Lighting for Digital Video & Television" by John Jackman. It's the best book I've found on the subject.

-- Yn Pragne (, February 02, 2003.

Well everyone talks about digital being a thing of the new age and that its going to outrun the film scene in the next years to come. But personaly I say that film is the greatest medium for quality. If your planning of for example shooting a film for a festival or something of the sort you should definately stick to film, 16mm. You can see the pure quality in the picture. When I usually shoot something on DV, I notice that it kinda looks homemade and that the quality in picture is a little lacking (that's if your using it to make a movie) when I see movies like Visitor Q or the Item, I notice those things for as when I watch a movie like I stand Alone, I can see the beauty in the photography and the camera used. I like to use DV when I'm working on something very low budget and don't have much time for, and when its generally aimed for a straight to video release. Were as when I'm trying to tackle a film festival or something that I have a bigger budget for, I use 16mm. The only problem with that medium is, that its expensive to buy the film, and its very expensive to have it transfered for digital editing. And a problem I happened to come across that almost made me want to kill myself is if the 16mm camera isn't used properly on a shoot, or if the gate is dirty, my entire roll of film is finished. That's fifty bucks down the drain. So if you have the money and want to shoot something beautifully that resembles something hollywood might produce, work with film, other wise, DV is the next best thing and you might not experience certain problems you would with the 16mm. It depends what your going for, they both have there advantages and disadvantages. Thanks.

-- Kyle Wolf (, May 11, 2003.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ