Below are some film frame comparisons between different home video versions of "Ghostbusters" from digital formats. Before each image is a brief introduction on what to look for between the images. The numbers in parenthesis are the timecodes for when that frame appears in the film (which might differ slightly in each version). I made a very concerted effort to get the exact frame from all versions. Currently there are comparisons between the U.S. Region 1 DVD released in 1999, the U.S. Region 1 DVD released in 2005, the U.S. Region A Blu-ray released in 2009, and the U.S. Region A Blu-ray released in 2014.
Each of the releases has their own positives and negatives; there is no "perfect copy". I split my choice between the 1999 DVD and the 2014 Blu-ray, though if I were forced to choose only one, I'd select the 2014 Blu-ray. Neither film print is perfect - the 1999 DVD is overall too dark; while most of the 2014 Blu-ray looks a bit unnaturally bright (like someone is shining a very bright light from above) though some shots are actually a bit too dark (see images below). The 2005 DVD should be avoided at all costs, as it crops some image from the sides (so does the 2009 Blu-ray), and (more importantly) has altered colors and loss of detail. The 2005 DVD also has less bonus features than the 1999 DVD and the Blu-ray releases.
All images here were losslessly digitally extracted from the video files on the discs at the original resolution of 720x480 for DVD and 1920x1080 for Blu-ray. DVD images were then resampled into the correct 16:9 aspect ratio of 852x480 (no filters were applied to the images), while the Blu-ray images were resampled down to 852x480 to match the resolution of the DVDs. As the movie is in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Sony had to add some blackness above and below the film image in order to letterbox it into a 16:9 aspect ratio. All of this blackness has, obviously, been cropped out in the images below. Finally, the images were saved into Jpeg format using as little compression as possible so as to retain as much quality as possible and minimize adding new compression artifacts.
NOTE: The U.S. Region A "Mastered in 4K" Blu-ray released in 2013 is near-identical to the 2014 Blu-ray images, so it will not be represented here separately. Also, since that release is "movie only" with no bonus features, it's not something most people will buy, so most people will not be interested in it.
Each frame has a few rollover images. The image displayed by default is from the 1999 DVD. Mouse over the captions to swap the images back and forth. Keep in mind that these are large screenshots, so viewers with slow Internet connections should expect to wait a while for images to load. Also note that there are a few comparison shots where no image from the 2005 DVD is present. These shots were done later, after I gave away my copy of the 2005 DVD.
If you'd like to get a more technical in-depth comparison review of the 1999 and 2005 DVDs, read this post by Ken Huegel. It's a MUST-READ, and explains why the 2005 DVD is inferior to the 1999 DVD. Also, further comparison images have been made by Spook Central staffer Matthew Jordan, who uploaded them to the Spook Central Facebook page, as well as to the Ghostbusters Wiki on these pages: 1999 DVD Set, 2005 DVD Set, 2009 Blu-ray, and 2013 Blu-ray.
THE 2019 BLU-RAY FROM THE 5-DISC SET USES THE SAME TRANSFER AS THE 2014 BLU-RAY, WHICH IS ALREADY INCLUDED IN THE COMPARISONS BELOW.
#1: Title Screen (0:02:31) - It's a rainy day on the college campus; notice the person on the left with the blue and white umbrella? The 1999 DVD shows it to be dark and dreary. The 2005 DVD is considerably brighter with lush green foliage, but the back of the statue has gotten a bit grainy as a result of the brightening. Although I like the brighter picture, I dislike the way the back of the statue looks. The 2009 Blu-ray looks exactly the same as the 2005 DVD, only sharper. The 2014 Blu-ray is a bit of an improvement over the other two and is, in my opinion, the best of the bunch.
#2: Shocking The Nerd (0:04:35) - Although the 1999 DVD is a bit sharper and a less grainy, the warm brown tones of the 2005 DVD are nicer. The 2009 Blu-ray shows some detail in the black areas and doesn't have the brown/red hue of the 2005 DVD, but there's lots of grain in those black areas now. The 2014 Blu-ray is considerably darker (all detail in the background on the right is lost), and there's something strange going on with the red items in the foreground on the bottom left.
#3: Get Her (0:12:03) - A great image that shows what brightening can do. On the 2005 DVD and the 2009 Blu-ray you can clearly see the library ghost's eyes. Whether that's what Ivan Reitman intended, I can't say. I would prefer the 2005 DVD, if it weren't for the background that now seems a bit too bright. The 2009 Blu-ray shows some detail in the black areas and more detail in the ghost itself. On the 2014 Blu-ray the ghost is a little paler, which I don't really care for, but her hair is distinctly white and not the same color as her body, which DOES look better. However, some detail is lost on the books on the shelf to the left of her.
#4: You Earned This (0:13:08) - This image is one of the best examples of why the 2005 DVD sucks. Let's start with the Crunch candy bar. You can clearly read the label on the 1999 DVD, but not so on the 2005 DVD. Even worse that than is the pavement to the left. It's finely detailed on the 1999 DVD, but is turned into an overexposed white blob on the 2005 DVD. The 2009 Blu-ray is pretty much on par with the 2005 DVD, but the pavement isn't as overexposed. It still lacks the detail found on the 1999 DVD. The 2014 Blu-ray adds some more detail back to the pavement and fixes the weird reddish shadows in Ray's jacket present in the 2009 Blu-ray.
#5: A Demilitarized Zone (0:15:46) - Yes, the 2005 DVD not only makes the green traffic light greener, but the firehouse as well! Also notice the lack of detail in the "Building For Sale" and "Hook & Ladder 8" signs on the 2005 DVD. The 2009 Blu-ray is pretty much on par with the 2005 DVD (but sharper), though the building is even greener! You can see this best when you look at the side of the adjacent building, in the alley between that building and the firehouse. The 2014 Blu-ray has better overall color (the buildings aren't green anymore) and has more shadow detail than the previous Blu-ray release, making it the clear winner of the bunch.
#6: We're Ready To Believe You (0:18:36) - See that black area to the left of the television, just under the leaves? On the 1999 DVD you can make out some detail there, including the arm of the table. On the 2005 DVD and the 2009 Blu-ray it's just one big black area. The front panel on the television is a little browner on the 2005 DVD, but the image on the television is softer. The 2009 Blu-ray shows the interference on the television display, which the 1999 DVD barely shows, and the 2005 DVD omits entirely. The 2014 Blu-ray restores the detail on the left side of the frame (under the leaves), making it the clear choice of the bunch.
#7: Successful Test (0:32:01) - This is an example of how a lot of the 2009 & 2014 Blu-ray image looks too "sanitized" (for lack of a better word) and unnatural. Sure the 1999 DVD is a little dark, but, to me, it looks more realistic and honest to the original film. The 2014 Blu-ray is an improvement on the previous Blu-ray, but I still think the 1999 DVD looks a bit better.
#8: The Ugly Little Spud (0:34:06) - On the 2005 DVD Slimer is a little lighter, but the door on the right has a nice warn brown to it, even though some of the wood grain detail is lost. That missing wood grain is restored on the 2009 Blu-ray, but all of the detail on Slimer is lost. His eyebrows and the folds on the right (his left) of his body are completely missing on the 2009 Blu-ray. The 2014 Blu-ray is not quite as good as the 1999 DVD, but better than the other previous releases.
#9: It's Looking At Me (0:34:07) - This is possibly the only instance on the newer releases where the colors were apparently altered with completely positive results. As Slimer is coming towards Peter, the screen gets greener. You can see that very clearly on the newer releases, whereas the 1999 DVD doesn't appear to have any green at all (there might be some under Peter's left eye, I can't tell). Whether that's what Ivan Reitman intended, I can't say. On the 2014 Blu-ray, is appears that Peter has a purple bruise on her forehead, and the colorist made a definite decision to darken the whole scene. Not sure why, but now you lose a bit of the shadows. It was definitely intentional, though.
#10: He Slimed Me (0:34:19) - On the 2005 DVD and 2009 Blu-ray the slime puddle even greener, which would be a good thing, were it not for the fact that the entire image is green, including Peter's face! Oh, and it's grainer too - even more so on the 2009 Blu-ray. On the 2014 Blu-ray, the colorist made a definite decision to darken the whole scene. Not sure why, but now you lose a bit of the shadows. It was definitely intentional, though.
#11: Start Bringing Him Down (0:37:17) - The irrefutable proof that the 2005 DVD was altered and is NOT what Ivan Reitman intended for the film to look like. On the 1999 DVD the streams are orange and Slimer is green, just as Ivan intended. On the 2005 DVD, the streams that come into contact with Slimer are now mysteriously green as well! If you mouseover between the images back and forth, you can clearly see that Sony just layered a big green blob over the area of the image where Slimer is, regardless of what else was in that area with him. The 2009 Blu-ray is interesting as it also appears altered, but not in the same way as the 2005 DVD. Comparing it to the 1999 DVD shows that the streams have now become yellow with a large hot pink halo around them. That simply does not look right. What's even more interesting is that the skylight in the ceiling now has pink light coming from it as well. I don't think it's a coincidence that the new light source is the same color as the stream's new halo. And the chandeliers are now pink as well! This may be proof that the 2009 Blu-ray has had some unnatural color alteration done to it as well. The 2014 Blu-ray restores the shot to its grandeur, looking the best since the 1999 DVD.
#12: Ghost Fever Grips New York (0:40:04) - The 2005 DVD not only blows out Prometheus' hair to an overexposed white blob, but look at the film grain now exposed in the background. The 2009 Blu-ray is exactly the same as the 2005 DVD. The 2014 Blu-ray is an improvement: Prometheus' hair isn't blown out anymore and the gold Christmas lights really pop out now, too.
#13: Look Both Ways (0:54:05) - On the 2009 Blu-ray you can clearly see a box around the Terror Dog, showing where the stop-motion puppet was optically inserted into the film frame. If you look carefully, you can also see it in the 1999 DVD image, but it's not as clearly visible. Although some might attribute this to the higher resolution of the 2009 Blu-ray - and perhaps that's partially true - I don't think the box would be quite as visible if the picture wasn't brighted up like it was. Both the 2009 and 2014 Blu-ray crop out a lot of the frame on the sides, though the the matte is much less noticeable in the 2014 Blu-ray because it's the darkest of them all.
#14: Temple Of Gozer (1:25:21) - Why did Sony have to ruin a perfectly good film like this? On the 2005 DVD the inside of the temple is one big overexposed white blob with no detail at all! Oh, and the building been turned green, too. The 2009 Blu-ray is an improvement over the 2005 DVD, but the building is still green and much detail on the steps and fog in the temple area is still lost. The 2014 Blu-ray not only improves upon the previous two releases, it even improves upon the 1999 DVD! The details inside the temple are no longer blown out, the building isn't purple (1999 DVD) or green (2005 DVD & 2009 Blu-ray) anymore, there's now an arch visible at the top, and there's even more detail in the clouds inside. If I had to find a fault, it's that the sides of the frame are darker - but I'll accept that for all of the other improvements.
#15: Are You A God (1:26:48) - The 2005 DVD shows more overexposed white blob garbage. How the hell does a hack "remastering" job like this pass quality control? The 2009 Blu-ray isn't much better, and the dogs have turned blue! This shot does show how the 1999 DVD isn't perfect either, as it's WAY too dark - though it does show the most detail in the bottom portion of the frame. The 2014 Blu-ray is PERFECT! It's brighter than the 1999 DVD, but not too bright, and isn't overexposed like the previous two releases.
#16: Stay Puft Streetwalker (1:31:05) - Look right in the middle of the picture, at the black void down the street to the immediate left of Stay Puft. On the 1999 DVD it appears to be virtually dark and endless. Now flip over to the 2009 Blu-ray image. You can see this horrible light-red area that outlines a few invisible buildings at the bottom, and is undoubtedly the result of the optical inclusion of the Stay Puft footage into the New York street footage. You would actually have to zoom in VERY closely on the 1999 DVD shot to barely see the same light-red area. Again, I don't attribute this to the higher resolution of the 2009 Blu-ray, but rather to the brightening/altering of the picture. For further proof, look at the apartment building on the left. It's brown on the 1999 DVD and green on the 2009 Blu-ray. On the 2014 Blu-ray the light-red area is barely noticable, making it an improvement over the previous Blu-ray, and it even looks a little better than the 1999 DVD, too. I will note that the car behind the taxi on the left side has gone from blue to blue-green, for some reason.
#17: Crossing The Streams (01:34:16) - The 2005 DVD changes time and space by having the sun come out even though it's the middle of the night! Much detail is lost in the crossed streams, but at least the brighter picture means you can now see the detail in the stone faces flanking the doors. The 2009 Blu-ray looks exactly the same as the 2005 DVD, only sharper. The 2014 Blu-ray isn't over-exposed like the previous two releases, and you can see detail in the proton packs, but it's way too bright and WAY WAY too blue! Also, the point where the proton streams go into the temple looks *really* different; the bright light is now all fog. The 2014 Blu-ray shot doesn't look right at all. I think the 1999 DVD is still the best of the bunch.