Film is the Real Raw format →

January 08, 2015 |

Another gem by Ken Rockwell. It’s been one of those days:

If you want more or less resolution, you’re screwed with a raw file, because you no longer have access to the original image to sample at a different resolution. You can go down in resolution, but you can’t go up.

Most digital shooters are wary of this, knowing that whatever they shoot today in digital may or may not be good enough to sell to tomorrow’s market. Got raw files shot in 2002 on your then state-of-the-art $5,000 Nikon D1H? Enjoy going back to your 2.7 megapixel files! You may as well delete them now.

This may sound silly now that we have 24 megapixel (and up) cameras, but at the rate displays keep getting denser and denser, it wouldn’t surprise me if 20 years from now a 24 megapixel image looked just as silly as a 2.7 megapixel image today.

There’s also the matter of the future readability of current digital RAW files:

Film is the original raw, and holds far more information than any digital file from a camera sensor. Film records the original living, breathing, natural image in tangible form forever. Film images last forever, versus memory cards and hard drives which we rarely are able to read after more than 10 years. Quick: can you read 3-½" floppies or play a VHS tape, right now? Probably not, but you always can look at film.

20 years from now we can re-scan our film and get 2029-level image quality.

Add all these things together, and suddenly film becomes not only an elegant form of photography for a more civilized age, it becomes a more practical one as well.