Is there a difference in dynamic range between film and digital?
The following article is an excellent comparison of the dynamic range differences of film and digital. It is a few years old, so it is a bit out of date, but the underlying theory is basically the same with modern gear. It has a lot of empirical data, and the conclusions are pretty interesting:
It should be noted that this article lacks some information about film. While digital does have good dynamic range in comparison to film in general, film does tend to edge out digital when it comes to highlights. Some empirical data is also missing due to the fact that the film images were scanned, which results in some loss of dynamic range and detail.
The comparison is not as simple as it seems on the surface. Different films have different dynamic range, so do different digital cameras. More importantly, often the limitation is not the recording media but the display media. A high quality LCD tends to have a higher dynamic range than photo paper. A traditional dark room B&W paper can have a higher dynamic range than the ink jet paper etc.
Another generalization is that the new digital sensors are generally on par with the negatives, but superior to the slide film.