It seemed odd, because if one uses the same emulsion in 35 mm. film, scanning a slide or colour negative at only 750 pixels per inch would be a disaster, showing only a small fraction of the information in the original.
Tim Parker and friends have taken on the daunting task of doing a repeat and extension of this comparison, adding 4X5 film, and the older P45 back (?39 megapixels vs. 80 for the newest), as well as Canon 5D2 (of great interest to me) and the Sony 900.
The results of the studio shots showed a huge advantage to the 8X10 film, and even to 4X5 and the Mamiya 7. A shot out in the wild however tended to even things out. Despite very windy conditions, they continued to show a huge resolution advantage to the 8X10 transparency film, but when it came to looking at the darker areas of the image, a whole other story came out.
You must click on the image above to see it at proper size. As you can see, the amount of detail in the IQ180 on the right is huge, however if one is honest, there is over sharpening and in the areas of the left that are adequately exposed and standing still, there is a lot of detail.
This example above was deliberately selected to show the film results at their worst - in shadowed areas and dealing with more wind than most of us are willing to put up with.
Again, click to see at original size - and the sharpening is the same as in the shadow image. There is a tremendous amount of information in the distant trees and buildings and bridges beyond that is simply gone in the digital image.
A different image of the skyline shows more detail in the film image no matter what sharpening is applied to the digital image, though with a huge amount of sharpening (6 pixels worth) you can see at least some of what the film saw, but that amount of sharpening destroys the rest of the image).
Bottom line is under ideal circumstances, optimal stop, no wind, rock steady tripod and great lenses, 8X10 still very nicely remains King Of The Hill.
Under real circumstances, it isn't nearly as clear - more of a matter of losing on the straightaways and winning on the corners. This would explain Hans Strand's comment that since switching to a Hasselblad 50 MP camera, he has seen a significant increase in quality of his images - real images in real situations.
For those who carefully select their situations, use a massive tripod and a low contrast lighting situation, and who then use careful unsharp masking in their printing, 8X10 is still capable of the ultimate in quality in 2011. This explains why people like Christopher Burkett are still willing to lug around his 15 lb. Calumet view camera. For those who climb active volcanoes, or fly over river deltas or climb into caves, like Hans, he is simply more successful with digital.
The original Tim Parkin study is available free at On Landscape and I encourage you to read it carefully, and possibly play with the images there for yourself. Although this online magazine leans towards British Landscape Photography, I note the inclusion of more international work since its inception and I'm going to subscribe.