There is something about using a 4x5 camera and shooting real film that I haven't been able to let go of in this digital world. I've always assumed 4x5 film would be better than any digital that I could afford, just as I assumed traditional silver printing would always be better than inkjet printing. After years of making carbon inkjet prints alongside silver gelatin prints, I found there are times where the digital carbon inkjet print was clearly better than the silver gelatin print I made. So what about my film vs. digital question?
Today I ran an informal test with 4x5 Atomic X film vs. the Sony a7RII.
Sony a7Rii with 16-35mm Zeiss Vario-Tessar, set at 35mm f/22, 1/8 second, 100 ISO (the Sony lens is a bit wider than the 4x5.)
4x5 - Schneider Symar-S 150mm, f/22, 1/8 second, Atomic-X film shot at 100 ISO, 7.5 min in Rodinal 1:25. Scanned at 1600 dpi on Epson 2450.
(The film was unintentionally slightly under exposed since the film's actual rating doesn't seem to be 100 ISO like the company claims.)
The scan and Sony file were converted to B&W in Silver Efex with minor adjustments.
In my test, the Sony a7RII won. When viewing the files side-by-side (4x5 on the left, Sony a7RII on the right), the image from the Sony was noticeably sharper. I can't really comment on the dynamic range since the film ended up slightly underexposed, but in general I've read the Sony has a dynamic range of about 14 stops, which a B&W film is usually around 7 stops. If I wasn't comparing the images side-by-side I'd probably think the 4x5 scan was pretty sharp, but side-by-side I could see the difference.
I still love 4x5 and have a ton of film to use up, but for the bulk of my work I plan to use the a7RII. It is a great camera and produces stunning image quality.