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High Resolution from 35mm Film

 
 
pooua@aol.com
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      11-09-2005
I have listened to the film-vs-digital argument for years. Inasmuch as
I haven't had a chance to experiment with 35 mm film, I could only
imagine the kind of resolution I could get if I had a good-quality
system and film.

Well, this year I began buying fairly nice photographic equipment,
nicer and much more expensive than anything I have ever before owned. I
have experiemented with films ranging in ISO from 100 to 3200, and even
tried Velvia 100F (I asked my local Wolf Camera shop for Velvia film,
and that's what they had to special order to get me). My Velvia film is
still out of shop being developed, but I've scanned everything else.

I have to say, I am disappointed by the results. So far, my cheapy
little point-and-shoot Minolta Dimage G500 does as good a job--image
quality-wise--as my 35mm Canon Rebel G with a 28-135 IS zoom lens. I
have been tinkering with this stuff for most of this year, and I simply
cannot take photographs with my 35mm camera that look any better than
those on my G500. Considering that I have spent nearly 4x more on my
film setup than on my digital camera, I am really disappointed.

Add to the image quality problem the annoyance of having to scan my own
negatives and keep track of the dates of each roll and the special
processing I need for slide film, and film is just a losing proposition
for me. I've had enough; I'm going to bit the bullet and buy a good
digital SLR, probably the Canon 20D.

 
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Scott W
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      11-09-2005
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) wrote:


> Add to the image quality problem the annoyance of having to scan my own
> negatives and keep track of the dates of each roll and the special
> processing I need for slide film, and film is just a losing proposition
> for me. I've had enough; I'm going to bit the bullet and buy a good
> digital SLR, probably the Canon 20D.


Welcome to the club, there are a lot of us in it. It was about 2003
that I got into seeing how much I could get out of 35mm film, not so
much as it turns out, they is the year I gave up on film

There are those who claim they are getting great resolution from film,
but they don't tend to post photos so it is hard to know what they
are really getting.

I have two friends, both of which thought they could do better with
their 35mm film camera then I could with my digital, in both cases we
both shot the same scenes and compared the results, in both cases
neither has shoot film since.

Then I hear that get really get 35mm to work you have to use just the
right film and have a pro lab process it and then have it drum scanned,
this is not for me. I also don't like the idea of shooting ISO 50
film.

I could kind of make film work, but I had a number of problems that
made it not even close to worth it, first was the time to scan in the
photo, then there is the fact that the negatives seem to come back
with scratches, a lot of time using PhotoShop to clean up the scans.

Scott

 
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bmoag
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      11-09-2005
Well, everything has a learning curve.
It is not clear what aspect of your results from film you are disappointed
with.
Even Ansel Adams had to start somewhere after his first Kodak Brownie.
Velvia can be difficult to expose and scan properly and is not intended as a
beginner or all purpose film.
It is not clear if it is the elements of basic photography that are
problematic for you, post scan digital image processing, color management,
etc that is causing you difficulty. If you are happier with your P&S than
your SLR methinks there are some problems with your grasp of the basics, but
everyone has to start somewhere.
I suspect that if you consistently used an ISO 100-200 negative film your
results, with regard to exposure and scanning, would significantly improve.
If you understand what you are doing with the scanned image in
Photoshop/Elements you can easily make it look like it was shot on Velvia or
shot through Velveeta.
This stuff all has a learning curve. I had Photoshop for a long time before
I grasped the zen of layers, sublayers, regional image adjustment and
especially the rituals of color management.
You may find it difficult to keep track of scanned film but with digital the
problems can be even worse because once images are offloaded from the memory
card they are nothing but magnetic pulses stored on impefect media.
Once film is scanned you will not get optimal results unless you understand
how to process the image in your imaging program. Color ink jet photo
printing is expensive, frustrating and disappointing until you understand
how to use color management and have a decent, preferably non-Canon, non-HP
printer. A higher end printer from a brand that begins with an "E" would be
a good choice.
These latter issues are no different when using images shot with a digital
SLR. Added to this, IMHOP, is that the dSLR is nothing more than a very
heavy P&S unless you are going to learn how to shoot and process RAW images,
another significant learning curve. In fact, I would far rather use a film
SLR than a dSLR in jpeg mode.
Simply using a D20 is not going to make you a better photographer and may
lead you into an expensive new world of disappointing results if you do not
understand how to take reasonably satisfying pictures with the film SLR you
now own.
And get out of that Wolf camera shop and find someplace decent to hang out.


 
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David J. Littleboy
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-09-2005
"Scott W" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> There are those who claim they are getting great resolution from film,
> but they don't tend to post photos so it is hard to know what they
> are really getting.


Me! Me! I get great resolution from film.

Here's a 6MP crop from a 90MP raw scan (from 6x7). (That's 1/15 of the
frame, so it's like a 0.5 MP crop from a 20D.)

http://www.pbase.com/davidjl/image/48108651/large

(Click original to see the pixels.)

> I have two friends, both of which thought they could do better with
> their 35mm film camera then I could with my digital, in both cases we
> both shot the same scenes and compared the results, in both cases
> neither has shoot film since.


ROFL. You are one evil dude, guy.

> Then I hear that get really get 35mm to work you have to use just the
> right film and have a pro lab process it and then have it drum scanned,
> this is not for me. I also don't like the idea of shooting ISO 50
> film.


I've wasted much of what photo-shooting time I've had the last year playing
with various films, only to find out that at it's best, Provia 100F is very
very good and everything else is much worse than Provia on a bad day. Shadow
detail is lousy, but it holds highlights almost as well as negative films
and is nearly noiseless out of the scanner.

David J. Littleboy
Tokyo, Japan


 
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Scott W
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      11-09-2005

bmoag wrote:
> Well, everything has a learning curve.
> It is not clear what aspect of your results from film you are disappointed
> with.
> Even Ansel Adams had to start somewhere after his first Kodak Brownie.
> Velvia can be difficult to expose and scan properly and is not intended as a
> beginner or all purpose film.
> It is not clear if it is the elements of basic photography that are
> problematic for you, post scan digital image processing, color management,
> etc that is causing you difficulty. If you are happier with your P&S than
> your SLR methinks there are some problems with your grasp of the basics, but
> everyone has to start somewhere.
> I suspect that if you consistently used an ISO 100-200 negative film your
> results, with regard to exposure and scanning, would significantly improve.
> If you understand what you are doing with the scanned image in
> Photoshop/Elements you can easily make it look like it was shot on Velvia or
> shot through Velveeta.
> This stuff all has a learning curve. I had Photoshop for a long time before
> I grasped the zen of layers, sublayers, regional image adjustment and
> especially the rituals of color management.
> You may find it difficult to keep track of scanned film but with digital the
> problems can be even worse because once images are offloaded from the memory
> card they are nothing but magnetic pulses stored on impefect media.
> Once film is scanned you will not get optimal results unless you understand
> how to process the image in your imaging program. Color ink jet photo
> printing is expensive, frustrating and disappointing until you understand
> how to use color management and have a decent, preferably non-Canon, non-HP
> printer. A higher end printer from a brand that begins with an "E" would be
> a good choice.
> These latter issues are no different when using images shot with a digital
> SLR. Added to this, IMHOP, is that the dSLR is nothing more than a very
> heavy P&S unless you are going to learn how to shoot and process RAW images,
> another significant learning curve. In fact, I would far rather use a film
> SLR than a dSLR in jpeg mode.
> Simply using a D20 is not going to make you a better photographer and may
> lead you into an expensive new world of disappointing results if you do not
> understand how to take reasonably satisfying pictures with the film SLR you
> now own.
> And get out of that Wolf camera shop and find someplace decent to hang out.


The problem I have is that I have yet to see any of these great results
from film, when I go looking this is typical of what I find.
http://www.pbase.com/rerobbins/image/22425757/original

There are not that many people who have even come close to being
disappointed with their 20D.

As for raw vs jpeg, there are cases where the raw file will save the
shot, but this is normally if the shot was a bit over exposed. Some of
the raw converters also do a good job of cleaning up CR, but this is
really not much of a problem in any event.

My own filling is that if you care about quality then you don't shot
35mm, you shoot digital or you shoot MF. If the OP really wants to
give film a chance then he would need to dump the 35mm gear and get a
MF camera.

But if 35mm works for you more power to you, but most of us are finding
that a DSLR not only produces much better looking photos but is also a
lot more fun to use.

Scott

 
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223rem
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-09-2005
David J. Littleboy wrote:
> "Scott W" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>>There are those who claim they are getting great resolution from film,
>>but they don't tend to post photos so it is hard to know what they
>>are really getting.

>
>
> Me! Me! I get great resolution from film.
>
> Here's a 6MP crop from a 90MP raw scan (from 6x7). (That's 1/15 of the
> frame, so it's like a 0.5 MP crop from a 20D.)
>
> http://www.pbase.com/davidjl/image/48108651/large
>
> (Click original to see the pixels.)


Wow. No fringing at all.
 
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Scott W
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      11-09-2005
David J. Littleboy wrote:
> "Scott W" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> >
> > There are those who claim they are getting great resolution from film,
> > but they don't tend to post photos so it is hard to know what they
> > are really getting.

>
> Me! Me! I get great resolution from film.
>
> Here's a 6MP crop from a 90MP raw scan (from 6x7). (That's 1/15 of the
> frame, so it's like a 0.5 MP crop from a 20D.)
>
> http://www.pbase.com/davidjl/image/48108651/large
>
> (Click original to see the pixels.)


But then this is what I have always said, if you want high resolution
out of film you have to shoot at least MF.

Scott

Scott

 
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David J. Littleboy
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-09-2005

"Scott W" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> David J. Littleboy wrote:
>> "Scott W" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> >
>> > There are those who claim they are getting great resolution from film,
>> > but they don't tend to post photos so it is hard to know what they
>> > are really getting.

>>
>> Me! Me! I get great resolution from film.
>>
>> Here's a 6MP crop from a 90MP raw scan (from 6x7). (That's 1/15 of the
>> frame, so it's like a 0.5 MP crop from a 20D.)
>>
>> http://www.pbase.com/davidjl/image/48108651/large
>>
>> (Click original to see the pixels.)

>
> But then this is what I have always said, if you want high resolution
> out of film you have to shoot at least MF.


We're on the same page there. I started out in MF, and every time I've
bought a 35mm camera, I've been aghast at what comes out. I just don't get
it...

David J. Littleboy
Tokyo, Japan


 
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David Dyer-Bennet
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-09-2005
"bmoag" <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> Well, everything has a learning curve.
> It is not clear what aspect of your results from film you are disappointed
> with.
> Even Ansel Adams had to start somewhere after his first Kodak Brownie.
> Velvia can be difficult to expose and scan properly and is not intended as a
> beginner or all purpose film.
> It is not clear if it is the elements of basic photography that are
> problematic for you, post scan digital image processing, color management,
> etc that is causing you difficulty. If you are happier with your P&S than
> your SLR methinks there are some problems with your grasp of the basics, but
> everyone has to start somewhere.


I remember back in 2000, when I got my first digital camera (an Epson
850Z, 2.1MP) after 33 years of 35mm photography, I found myself doing
nearly all my work with it, despite the various limitations of that
camera. I'd been working with scanned 35mm for at least 5 years at
that point, so digital wasn't completely new to me. You may, of
course, conclude that *I* also lack any grasp of the basics. I don't
feel that way myself, but who knows?

> I suspect that if you consistently used an ISO 100-200 negative film your
> results, with regard to exposure and scanning, would significantly improve.
> If you understand what you are doing with the scanned image in
> Photoshop/Elements you can easily make it look like it was shot on Velvia or
> shot through Velveeta.
> This stuff all has a learning curve. I had Photoshop for a long time before
> I grasped the zen of layers, sublayers, regional image adjustment and
> especially the rituals of color management.


Particularly since Photoshop didn't *have* color management for the
first some-number-of-years that I had it .

> You may find it difficult to keep track of scanned film but with digital the
> problems can be even worse because once images are offloaded from the memory
> card they are nothing but magnetic pulses stored on impefect media.


I find digital much easier to keep track of and find later, myself.

> Once film is scanned you will not get optimal results unless you understand
> how to process the image in your imaging program. Color ink jet photo
> printing is expensive, frustrating and disappointing until you understand
> how to use color management and have a decent, preferably non-Canon, non-HP
> printer. A higher end printer from a brand that begins with an "E" would be
> a good choice.


<grin>

> These latter issues are no different when using images shot with a digital
> SLR. Added to this, IMHOP, is that the dSLR is nothing more than a very
> heavy P&S unless you are going to learn how to shoot and process RAW images,
> another significant learning curve. In fact, I would far rather use a film
> SLR than a dSLR in jpeg mode.


That seems silly; unless the jpeg modes on other cameras are a lot
worse than on my Fuji S2. I resort to RAW mode for extreme situations
or really critical shots, but the vast majority of the time jpeg is
fine.

To me the big difference is the ability to go from 12mm to 300mm
easily, use extension tubes, etc.

> Simply using a D20 is not going to make you a better photographer and may
> lead you into an expensive new world of disappointing results if you do not
> understand how to take reasonably satisfying pictures with the film SLR you
> now own.


Getting the Fuji S2 sure made me a better photographer.

> And get out of that Wolf camera shop and find someplace decent to hang out.


Always a good plan.
--
David Dyer-Bennet, <(E-Mail Removed)>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com/> <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/> <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>
 
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Fred Williams
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-09-2005
On $DATE , (E-Mail Removed) wrote:

> I have listened to the film-vs-digital argument for years.
> Inasmuch as I haven't had a chance to experiment with 35 mm film,
> I could only imagine the kind of resolution I could get if I had
> a good-quality system and film.
>
> Well, this year I began buying fairly nice photographic
> equipment, nicer and much more expensive than anything I have
> ever before owned. I have experiemented with films ranging in ISO
> from 100 to 3200, and even tried Velvia 100F (I asked my local
> Wolf Camera shop for Velvia film, and that's what they had to
> special order to get me). My Velvia film is still out of shop
> being developed, but I've scanned everything else.
>
> I have to say, I am disappointed by the results. So far, my
> cheapy little point-and-shoot Minolta Dimage G500 does as good a
> job--image quality-wise--as my 35mm Canon Rebel G with a 28-135
> IS zoom lens. I have been tinkering with this stuff for most of
> this year, and I simply cannot take photographs with my 35mm
> camera that look any better than those on my G500. Considering
> that I have spent nearly 4x more on my film setup than on my
> digital camera, I am really disappointed.
>
> Add to the image quality problem the annoyance of having to scan
> my own negatives and keep track of the dates of each roll and the
> special processing I need for slide film, and film is just a
> losing proposition for me. I've had enough; I'm going to bit the
> bullet and buy a good digital SLR, probably the Canon 20D.


I have just switched to digital, (well, aside from a little
640x480 Penn Cam), and I'm really looking forward to the
convenience. Still a 35 mm colour negative should be roughly the
equivalent of 20 Mega Pixels if it was skillfully taken, well
focused, etc. You loose some of that if you're just using a home
scanner and especially if you're scanning the 35mm negative...
you'll loose a lot. I've got a slide copier for me scanner and
sometimes copy old slides to preserve them, but it's a real battle
to get proper detail and you can forget about dynamic range. If
you wanted to get fancy, scan the slide twice if your scanner
allows for darkening or brightening the scan results. Then you
might combine the two a la Fuji S3 to get some dynamic range, but
it's a real pain when you could be doing something more
productive.
I was able to get some reasonable results going from film to
digital by taking a well made, sharp 4x6 print and scanning it at
300 dpi. I know it's supposed top be too high a resolution for
that print, I was very pleased with the results. I could zoom
right in on portions of the result and see several shots contained
in the one photo. It's sort of like exploring. (These were
scenic, nature shots, which I love to take). However I would be
fooling myself if I didn't believe there was considerable loss in
the process.
Yes, the detail *is* there in the negative, assuming the negative
was well produced, but the difficulty is getting it printed.
Every step in the process has it's losses. Even in the image
editor, (whichever you use), if you rotate the image one degree,
you will loose something in that operation. (Rotate 90 degrees and
you may be OK).
My old optics professor used to explain to us that the best images
in the world are made from *one* optical surface, (a telescope
mirror), because each surface on a lens has it's own distortion.
Similarly, each operation on an image, which in essence, lenses
do, introduces it's own losses. So in a way you were right to
skip the print step in scanning the negatives instead, but unless
you have a rather unusual scanner I am pretty sure it cannot match
the detail of the negative you were scanning. Translating an
analog image from film to a digital image and then comparing them
to pure digital images, (although the reality you photographed was
analog to start with, OK), will not be a fair comparison. You'd
need a dark room and an enlarger with optical qualities at least
as good as your camera, and produce a print large enough to do
justice to the detail available in the film. Then compare. You'd
see the difference in your results, but it might not be a huge
difference. Film *is* fast becoming an art form, if it's not
already there.
The advantage of digital capture, storage and processing is that
it puts the quality technology in the hands of the common person.
I'd say right now the bottleneck is in the printing process, but
who knows where we'll be in ten years.


--
Regards,
Fred.
(Please remove FFFf from my email address to reply, if by email)
 
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