Which provides a better presentation, film or digital? Quality can vary widely with each format, as depicted in the following chart:
Some key points are made clear:
- 35mm presentations have the widest range of quality. When done right, 35mm looks fantastic, but when done poorly, it looks terrible. This fact is one of the key arguments in support of digital. The worst digital presentation is better than the worst film presentation.
- The quality of a 35mm presentation is limited when a 2k digital intermediate is used by the filmmakers (or digital photography).
- A good 4k digital presentation rivals a good 35mm presentation.
(Note that 4k digital projectors are extremely rare. Most of the thousands of digital projectors in current use are 2k projectors. Additionally, 4k digital projectors are backwards compatible and may be projecting 2k movies to unsuspecting audiences.)
This chart only compares the quality of the projected image. Other issues, such marks on the screen, audience disruptions, and annoying commercials are not affected by the projection format.
Movie Theatre Reviews advocates the viewing 35mm (or 70MM) films at quality theatres, for the best possible presentation. For more information, read The Cons of Digital Projection .