Drum scan resolution is unsurpassed for sharpness and contrast range. Seeing is believing! Here are some actual UNRETOUCHED drum scan clips. Note that they have not been altered in exposure, saturation, sharpening, or sizing: they are clips that I've taken directly from an actual drum scanned 4x5 transparency (Velvia 100F). Below the clips is a large (1200 pixels in height) illustration of the entire 4x5, with the red box indicating the area seen in the 2000 dpi clip.
Like any scanned or digital image, a raw drum scan will always appear a bit soft, requiring proper sharpening for the final result. Remember that these clips are UNSHARPENED (the full-size image has been sharpened for web viewing), but the minute detail that has been captured can easily be seen even in this unsharpened form.
The clip above is from an unretouched 2000 dpi scan. The original transparency is extremely sharp and detailed; note that individual leaves and blades of grass are clearly visible in the scan, even though these trees were about 1/3 mile from my camera position. (A 450mm lens was used in 4x5 format.) If your monitor is set at a resolution of 1024x768, you are viewing this clip as it would appear in a print of about 8x10 FEET in size!
Even higher resolution. This clip is an unretouched sample at 4000 dpi. At this resolution, the clip is comparable to what you would see in a print of about 16 x 21 FEET in size...and remember that it hasn't been sharpened for printing.
Frost-covered trees, Lake of the Clouds, Porcupine Mountains State Park, Michigan
Here is the full image, sized to 1200 pixels along the long side. It has been sharpened for web viewing. The red box encloses the area shown above in the 2000 dpi clip. With this scan, I can create large, incredibly detailed prints: my 4000 dpi scan will print at about 45 x 56 inches (at 360 dpi) with no interpolation. (Side note: be aware that the trees in the above image are coated in thick frost, which accounts for their pastel appearance; the image is not washed out!)