Yesterday, just for fun, I ran a little experiment and shot the same compositions with both the Bronica and the Sony a6500. Then, I tried to create the same images from the negatives and RAW files and compared them.
The results? (Un)surprising!
This is not a comparison between medium format film and a digital APS-C sensor. The sheer difference in sensor size has a lot of implications, like depth of field.
I also used the darkroom equipment I have available, including a relatively cheap Epson v550 scanner. There are better options out there to get better quality out of the negatives.
Lastly, these are two completely different system and each one has its own applications.
In this post, I compare them from my point of view and my usage of both cameras to create small, square, and black and white images.
Show me the images
Here we go. You can see which one is film and which one digital at the end of the post. Try to guess it first, though!
Medium format film shows an overall better contrast. I like how HP5 rendered the highlights. It did take some work to "fix" the brighter parts in the digital files.
When zooming in really close, digital is able to show more details, but it starts to look worse and worse. Film might not be able to show the details of that sign that is 1,000 feet away, but I'm sure it'd look better when printed big. It's smoother, more natural, a better texture.
Overall, I was relatively surprised to see how good of a job the Sony a6500 did when compared to a huge film format like 6x6.
The difference in the micro-contrast is not big, and after playing with the files for a bit in Lightroom, I was able to achieve a film-like look. I'd say pretty damn close to the negatives from the Bronica.
I'm happy with the outcome of this experiment. Both cameras are perfectly capable to produce outstanding images for the kind of work I do.
The experience of shooting the Bronica is very different from shooting the Sony, though. That's the reason why I shoot film, anyway.
1a - digital, 1b - film
2a - digital, 2b - film
3a - digital, 3b - film
4a - film, 4b - digital
5a - digital, 5b - film
6a - film, 6b - digital
7a - film, 1b - digital
8a - digital, 8b - film