Putting the resolution debate to bed

Does film or digital have better resolution? The debate has been raging since the first professional 6 MegaPixel cameras hit the market. Now with 20 or more MegaPixels, digital is still playing catchup. I personally have made 20×30 prints from less than 20MP images with great success, I’ve also been surprised at how well a 35mm negative prints at 16×20. The reason digital is so enlargeable is in its smoothening, edge sharpening, and interpolation. Most all digital cameras have a type of soft focus filter over the light capturing CCD sensor. This gets rid of some digital artifacts like moire that occur with details at the limit of the camera’s resolution. This filter smooths out some fine details the camera would have a hard time reproducing anyway. The edges however are still reasonably sharp. Film still wins the absolute resolution war, along with the ability to capture fine details. This is largely dependent on the film, camera, lens, technique while taking the picture, etc. The potential is still there none the less. This article from IStillShootFilm.org gets more into the (rather impressive) numbers and it’s a good read:

Film vs Digital: resolution