Is Returning to Film a Boon or a Mistake....?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by kevinbriggs, May 6, 2010.

  1. Since I have been working exclusively within the digital domain during the past decade (35mm -- starting off with the Nikon D100, then moving onto the Canon 5D, and now in possession of the Canon Mark III 1Ds), I am very much unfamiliar with the film domain (medium and large format, in particular), even though I started out with film 25 years ago in a high school photography class.

    The reason I'm thinking about going back to film -- again, in the medium and large format arenas -- is because a number of the landscape photographs I have taken during the past 5-10 years are now sparking interest with regard to potential buyers. (I've recently been contacted by friends of family members in the lower 48 -- I reside just South of Anchorage, Alaska -- who would like large prints for their professional workplaces as well as their homes.)

    Yet because most of these photographs were taken with the Nikon D100 and the Canon 5D, I'm obviously unable to produce high-quality large prints because of the smaller sensors and smaller resolutions.

    I recently had a somewhat brief online conversation (on a different photo forum) with a couple of landscape photographers who use film and who emphatically declared that most high-end/professional landscape photographers still use film (with medium and/or large format cameras) and that I would be best served by returning to film as well.

    So I have the following question:

    As I have looked online for film developers, it quickly becomes apparent that most of the industry has shifted to the digital domain. Most online developers do not offer film development for 120 mm cameras such as the Hasselblad H2F. (There are exceptions, of course... but not many that I have found.)

    Therefore, the overall question I have, first and foremost, is: with most major film-developing outlets leaving the film-development world in favor of digital -- or at least seemingly this is the case -- is it a bad idea to move forward with the acquisition of a film-based medium or large format camera?
    Secondly, is it wrong to say that one cannot get really nice large prints by using some of the latest medium format (or even large format) digital cameras...?
    I do have some follow-up questions, but I will wait until I hear back from hopefully a few of you on this foremost question before I proceed with the other inquiries.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Our local Calumet has increased its stock of film, paper and chemistry in response to demand as people either return to, or discover, 'wet' photography. The Bristol (UK) Festival of Photography opens later this month and much, if not most, of the work is still film based. Many of my students are searching out old Mamiya and Rollei TLRs and getting into medium format.
     
  3. I shoot medium format film exclusively and, certainly here in the UK, I have no problems getting my colour films developed. I have a very good lab close to me that still offers a wet darkroom service and hand enlarged colour prints. Certainly, most of the work they do is digital, but there must still be a market for film photography or they wouldn't offer the services they do.
    Monochrome is not a problem to me as I have my own darkroom so I handle all that myself, and if it were ever to prove difficult to get my colour work done, I also have the ability and equipment to handle my own colour prints as well.
    For me I have no reason to go digital, especially as I love film so much. You'd probably be best fully researching just how difficult processing film would be in your area and take it from there.
    Could you not hire or borrow some medium format equipment in the meantime, just to see how you get on with it and whether it really is the way you want to go?
     
  4. Kevin, if you are in the USA, send your film to A&I in Hollywood. I walk I'm there about twice a month. It is a professional lab that up until 6 years ago even processed Kodachrome. I pick up 3 rolls of 120 today. A process and proof sheet order costs 15 bucks for 120, 30 for 1 roll of 220. They have got this process down pat. They contact print your negatives onto 11x14 size sheets of Kodak Endura. Furthermore, professional quality digitization of med format film is possible with the Nikon 9000. Get one soon if you want one. I believe a 4000 dpi scan on one of the Nikon 90000 will get you a 30x40 inch 300 dpi print off a light jet, and even larger at 200 dpi on a durst lamda - both of which A&I also uses. There is brand new Mamiya RB gear on the internet selling at 20% of what it sold for ten years ago. Finally, if you elect to print your own B&W negatives you can rest assured that Freestyle photo in Hollywood is your advocate and source for film and paper. The decision to shoot film is an artistic expression choice. Its not a choice Joe Blow consumer will make now or in the future.
     
  5. Tools are very personal choice. Maybe you could see about renting the film gear for a while before investing. Then again wonderful medium format film gear is cheaper than ever on the used market. You can also see the results from the labs, and decide if you have a good one available. There are still plenty of good labs, you just may not be able to find one locally.
    What do you mean by "very large"? So far I've printed landscapes from my 5D much larger than I ever did with my Hassleblad 500c/m or Pentax 67II, but that's probably because larger sizes have become more readily available. I used to think of 16"x20" as big. These days that's barely medium sized. I think that what you will find is that with skills and experience (especially in the processing and printing areas) you can print large very nicely from either film or digital.
     
  6. Kevin,
    Perhaps a direct conversation with a lab owner is in order. I don't think there is any question that the world of photo processing has been driven strongly to the digital realm due to market pressures from both amateur and professional shooters, and that quality enlargements can be made up to a certain point, from the highest end digital cameras. The is also no question that wet labs have gone away in droves, leaving only a core successful group in most regions of the country, seemingly only one or two in even the largest cities, (US) where once there were perhaps a half dozen or more in the big towns and even two or three in many medium sized towns.
    There is also little question that film is enjoying something of a resurgence as both Fuji and Kodak continue to respond positively to a strong core marketplace that demands the quality of film product over digital.
    My suggestion is that you talk to at least two or three owners of pro wet labs and get their take on which medium will product the finest prints in the 30x40/40x60 range. Whether those are direct projection printing from negs or transparencies, or digital prints from finely scanned negs or transparencies; see what they say about the ultimate quality compared to the finest print available in those sizes from a digital file from even the highest end Canon or Nikon.
    Yes, you can get digital backs for some medium and large format systems, but at the cost of a darned good used car for even a reconditioned back, much less the cost for new gear. Then you have to worry about battery life in the field and whatever other technical challenges might occur that simply don't exist with film in the field.
    The lab I use for my commercial work does everything from wet processing and printing up to enormous sizes, to digital work in exceptional quality. They are Allied Photocolor in St. Louis (alliedphotocolor.com) and could be one of your information resources.
    As a bit of perspective, I live near Springfield, Mo. which happens to be the home of one of the finest labs in the world for portrait and wedding work (Black River Imaging). I have worked with them since about 1976 and have been close friends with the owners (husband and wife) for that long. They are strictly a digital production professional lab. Last week, in a conversation with the wife, who is a brilliant portrait photographer and very successful studio owner, we were discussing the merits of both types of media and she strongly stated that film is still very superior in color and reproduction quality over digital. Obviously, we both agreed that most of the market is simply driven toward the convenience and technical pluses of ordering, retouching, and lack of a need for storage space, and cost of film that help make digital so attractive. Of course this also keeps in mind that in smaller sizes, digital holds together quite well.
    I shoot both, but I find that my D700, while it is fun and convenient, is totally unsatisfying compared to the delights of both the process of shooting film and the energy and excitement of holding a big transparency in one's hands and seeing those incredible colors "sing" to you. There is a wow factor that digital cannot begin to simulate.
    Good luck and welcome back to the joys of film.
     
  7. The answer may well lie in doing both rather than one or the other. Get film gear and use it where highest quality or image impact trumps convenience. Use digital where cost and convenience rule. Consider a hybrid process: film capture, but digital post and repro via scanning.
    There are still labs around though there are fewer and that can make it less convenient. Go all the way and not only setup film camera but also darkroom and processing capabilities and you don't have to worry about that.
    Quite a few people are rediscovering film - for the result and the joy. And there is a reasonable market for used film and processing gear still, which in some cases can make it actually more affordable to shoot film than digital for the same/better resolution.
     
  8. Because, like you, I was not getting what I want as far as large prints with my D700, I went back to film with a Mamiya Super 23. Sweet 6x9cm camera with good optics, interchangable backs, rangefinder or ground glass focusing and rear movements. The whole rig with five lenses and two backs cost about half of the D700 body. I process my own B&W and send the color out to H&H labs in Raytown, MO. One issue is the scanning. I use an Imacon 848, for up to 24x36 prints on an Epson 7800, but you can also send out for high res scans of your best images and use a cheaper solution, like the Epson V750,with the BetterScanning film holder, for smaller prints. 6x9cm is a wonderful format for landscape and I find I don't crop near as much as with my Bronica 6x6cm system. Be aware that "good print" means different things to different people. If you need significantly larger high quality prints, I would suggest large format.
    00WPcb-242327684.jpg
     
  9. I think you are missing the key point: swtiching gear will not change the potential quality of the pictures you previously took, and the real issue is the quality potential of your current gear (a 21 MP Canon 1Ds Mk. III).
    The 1Ds Mk. III should be able to produce excellent prints at quite large sizes. Before you make any substantial changes or spend any significant amount of money, what you need to do is take some best-practices pictures with the 1Ds Mk. III (e.g., excellent lens, sturdy tripod, mirror lock-up, self-timer or cable release, careful focusing, consideration of depth of field and diffraction), get them printed at various large sizes (say, 16x20 and 24x30 inches), and see what you think of the quality.
    Will medium format film produce substantially better quality than a 1Ds Mk. III? I suspect that for the most part, overall, especially with color images, the answer is no. With some color films you can probably get somewhat more ultimate resolution, but you are unlikely to get as good color accuracy, or as low grain / noise. Also, getting the most out of the film means a high-quality scan. That means a substantial investment in equipment and learning-curve time, or else spending signigicant money and putting up with some delay. Also, don't confuse scan resolution with DSLR resolution; pixel-for-pixel, they are just not the same. When I want a really good scan, I send the film to West Coast Imaging for a drum scan ($25 and up). If they scan 6x6 at 3800 ppi, you get over 8000 x 8000 pixels. But at that sort of scan resolution, the per-pixel resolution and detail are generally less than a DSLR's. So a typical good 70 MP scan of MF film maybe has overall resolution similar to a 35mm-style DSLR of more than 21 MP, but far less than 70 MP.
    Large format film is more or less more of the same, relative to medium format film. Resolution is higher, and grain / noise are lower. Will you see it in the print? With a really large print, I think so, but we're talking mostly subtle differences in common-size prints. Now if you want 40x50 inch prints, it makes sense.
    MF (and LF) digital no doubt can produce some amazing images, but for a lot of dollars. Full systems have started as low at $10,000 (Mamiya), but that's for just 22 MP, and the higher-end sytems can top $40,000. Yes, the lack of an anti-alias filter means that a 22 MP digital back should produce appreciably more resolution than your 1Ds Mk. III. Pentax has an interesting-sounding camera on the horizon (not sure when it is supposed to hit dealers).
     
  10. I think the camera doesn't really matter unless you have a specific need. I'm constantly in search for new gear that will make me better, but I look back at pics I took years ago with much less expensive gear and I'm totally happy with them.
    That said I shoot mostly film in the moment, for personal use. I simply enjoy it more. I like thinking more about each frame instead of just reflexively pushing the button and looking at the screen. I also mostly shoot B & W and process and print at home, so I don't need to worry about scanning. The quality doesn't matter much to me.
    I will say that I find the color of velvia 50 to be really nice. It's saturated but it looks natural.
    Have you actually tried making enlargements from your old files? I have an 11 X 16 or so from a 5MP P & S and it looks great.
     
  11. keller's custom photo lab in anchorage is still doing a great job with my 120 developing, scanning and prints.
     
  12. and stewart's photo shop downtown still has a great selection of film.
    you should just dive in, and help keep these businesses going.... get yourself a dirt cheap RB67, and just see what happens....
     
  13. A look at the market for used MF suggests healthy demand, and thus demand for film and processing (the demise of redundant or less-favored films like TX320 does not spell armageddon). As one example, the prices of a used Hasselblad 501CM with finder, back, and lens is around $1800 (used retail), still fairly expensive. For another example, it's been weeks since a Mamiya 6 was available at KEH, and prices have remained high. Last night I finally found a bargain-grade body as a backup, and jumped on it. With the Mamiya, portraits with Portra 160 have beautiful skin tone, and are razor-sharp and grainless--that's why I'm still using film.
    What I find interesting is going back just a few years when everyone jumped on the digital bandwagon for serious landscape work, and seeing the drop in quality from film--just look at any published how-to on digital landscape photography that's a few years old, even by the big names, and you'll see what I mean. Things have of course improved.
     
  14. It is not a bad idea to get a medium format camera HOWEVER, please pull out your 35mm film camera and get yourself re-acqainted with film again before investing. You have likely forgotten some of the difficulties of film (no auto whitebalance, can't change ISO, HDR is harder, doesn't hold near as much EV as a RAW file). There's plenty of services around that will develop and scan in 120/220 film professionally. However you will likely not be able to resist wanting to scan in your film, a medium format scanner (a good Nikon one like the LS-9000 or even 8000 aren't cheap even used).
    So pull out your old 35mm camera and start using it to "refresh" your memory. It may not be what you remember, if you find it inconvenient medium/large format is even less convenient and more expensive. Also the equipment is big and heavy to lug around, it puts a damper on a hiking style. I don't think there's any doubt large prints from medium/large format are better, it depends on how close you are to looking at them though.
    If you buy a used or old medium format cameras don't be too picky about ones with metering. Many came without metering, or with metering prisms that used radioactive material in them which decays over time. Don't expect much I'd say from an old medium format camera's metering. I have an RB67, I have to set my metering prism to ISO 400 to get it in the ballpark when using velvia ISO 50 film from the decay but I don't really use it. Nikons color metering system is a lot better than I am especially with snow, so I take a picture with my Nikon dSLR and review it to determine if the scene is worth taking with my medium format and if so, I use the same settings. Your Canon, you can do the same thing but just need to make a few compensations for snow. I would take pictures with your digital and if you like the results use your medium/large format also with the same settings (run a test roll through the film camera first to see if the shutter is fast/slow). Some medium formats used to take polaroid backs so you could see instant results before taking the real deal... before digital came along. I think that's doing similar. Definetely pull out your 35mm film camera and dust it off though, before you make the investment.
     
  15. When I was visting the New Orleans area last month I called up the few camera stores I know; and none carried B&W in 120 anymore; thus I mail ordered it from B&H to have it set there. Thus one should not plan on even a major city still carrying MF B&W film anymore. When I was a kid every drug store in Podunk had 120 and 620 in Verichrome; now towns with a Metro population of 1 Million look at B&W MF say Kodak tri-x or Ilford FP4 "something we can mailerorder"; ie major camera store do not carry it.
     
  16. Mätt Donuts , May 07, 2010; 02:01 p.m.
    It is not a bad idea to get a medium format camera HOWEVER, please pull out your 35mm film camera and get yourself re-acqainted with film again before investing. You have likely forgotten some of the difficulties of film (no auto whitebalance, can't change ISO, HDR is harder, doesn't hold near as much EV as a RAW file). There's plenty of services around that will develop and scan in 120/220 film professionally. However you will likely not be able to resist wanting to scan in your film, a medium format scanner (a good Nikon one like the LS-9000 or even 8000 aren't cheap even used).​
    A few things to clear up Matt. True, you can't change iso....true white balance can sometimes be an issue (although my lab scans have no WB issues at all)....but the primary thing to cosnider here is your comment on EV in Raw. A color or B&W negative holds MORE dynamic range and latitude than ANY current DSLR on the market.
    It is nothing out of the ordinary to pull 14-15 stops with B&W neg....and in excess of 12 stops from color neg. If you're speaking of chromes, then yes, you're correct. If it's negative materials, then no, you're mistaken.
     
  17. Don't let the lack of a local lab stop you if you really want to shoot film. I buy film from B&H online, and get my E6 processing and scanning done by a pro lab by mail order. Definitely takes longer but I'm willing to wait. That said, you should be able to get a very strong print from a 1ds III assuming it's a sharp image. With files from that rig, you should be able to get a very nice print at 20"x30" or perhaps larger. Shooting slide film for me is more about having the slide itself and not the print. Looking at the slide on the light table or projected on the wall makes me feel like I'm there seeing it again with my own eyes. It's all about "the look" for me.
     
  18. Kevin,
    Everything I can't get done locally (and I'm fortunate to have a lab down the street that does a fantastic job on 120/220 negative film) I send to Dwayne's. I find their prices reasonable (120/220 print film processed and scanned for $7 plus shipping, E6 is a bit more) and have never had any problems at all with them.
    The difficulty is getting a good scan, but if this is for huge prints that people are paying for, just get low res scans or use a flatbed scanner for your own use and shop out the good scanning and printing to a good shop.
    BTW if size and metering are going to be a problem as Matt suggests, try a TLR - a Mamiya C330 is going to feel like nothing compared to your Canon, and cost about $200 with a lens and WLF - and you don't need us to tell you about handheld meters and technique.
     
  19. I visited quite a few photo exhibitions where the images on display were in the 30X40 range. I'm guessing that most of these images were taken with a medium format, or large format camera since they were taken prior to the Mark II 1ds, or similar Digital cameras. The photographers rarely include the medium used in their captions.

    What surprised me was that these images were indistinguishable from images made with a digital camera as far as grain and resolution are concerned. One such example are the images displayed in the Arlington Cemetery club house. http://www.wherevalorrests.org/ The pictures are amazingly clear and very sharp despite their size. The color is very well balanced also.

    Last year, I attended another exhibit that displayed images taken recently by the White House Press photographers. This time I asked what medium did you guys use ? and most of them said Medium format film. These days however, there are Medium Format digital cameras that can certainly print those large sizes without any problems. You might want to look into those cameras, but the costs are a little outrageous.
     
  20. Kevin, have you tried stitching several of your 21mp 1DSIII files together? I know stitching's not for everyone, but I'm just wondering whether it's an option for you.
     
  21. stp

    stp

    I'll preface my remarks with the fact that I started with film, still use film (120), prefer film, but primarily use digital (1Ds3 and hopefully Pentax 645D). Ralph Jensen brings up a very good point: stitching. Software exists to do anything any film camera can do: you can use a digital camera to make huge prints or to have huge depth-of-field (obtained from camera systems that can tilt the lens). The "trouble" is, we're still using digital cameras like we used film cameras: one shot at a time. That misses the potential of stitching several shots together to produce a single large, highly detailed image (which is what Art Wolfe is now doing), or using software to have a grass blade inches from the lens in focus while distant trees are also in focus. It just takes a different mindset and workflow.
    Having said that, I'd still rather use a film camera, especially medium format, and get a beautiful shot without having to spend so much time in front of a damn computer. It's that aspect of the digital change that I dislike the most -- it's not the same experience that I used to enjoy.
    Film and digital can both produce remarkably detailed prints at very large sizes. With film, it depends on the camera system (size of film, ability to control lens movement if you want extensive DOF). With digital, it depends on how you use the system. Each has a distinctive workflow and therefore a different experience. We each have to decide what kind of experience we want to have when we photograph. For some, the process is as important (maybe even more so) as the product. For others, only the final product matters. Some look at a final print and see beautiful print as well as an experience; others look at a final print and see a beautiful print.
     
  22. I prefer large format for landscape. It's not just about resolution, although with sheet Ektar available from Kodak, it's hard to argue that the resolution isn't leaps and bounds above everything else for now. Tilt-shift on the LF bellows is wonderful for many types of shots you'll end up making, and you might find that your ability to take nice photos blossoms when you get proficient with the LF camera's suite of features.
    That said, it's NOT fair to say you can't get good landscape photos with digital. It's about which tool is best for what you do, and digital cameras (esp if you have a full frame camera and know how to use it and how to digitally process the photos). You can also get Tilt-shift lenses for digital if you want.
    I personally LOVE film and use it extensively for landscape and street work primarily. My biggest complaint with it is how long it takes to get results after snapping your shot, and how much of a PITA it is to scan sheets and how expensive it is to get someone else to scan them.
     
  23. Do you really like stitching? You can't see the shot in the finder, if anything is moving it messes you up and the software can get it wrong and screw up the transitions between shots. I think of it as an "in a pinch" thing, not a "plan on shooting this way for your highest quality stuff" thing. I'd much rather have one big negative.
     
  24. The comments about stitching are always interesting because in every forum everyone compares film to stitched digital. Yet no one mentions the obvious: stitched film is also excellent: This is a 4-part stitch of Crater Lake during forest fire season, taken from the summit of Mt. Scott with a Mamiya 6. You have to see it big to appreciate it.
    00WPoe-242431584.jpg
     
  25. Whereas you can stitch film, I have even done it, it is less attractive to stitch film vs. digital.
    Scanning film is already a pain IMO and so scanning a number of film shots to get one higher resolution shot is even more of a pain.
    But beyond that the OP already has good digital gear, and if the only thing missing is higher resolution then for many people stitching can give that, without all the work of using film.
    Whereas I have stitch a few film shots I have stitch well over 3,000 digital photos, something I don’t think many film shooter would ever do.
    If someone likes shooting film then MF or LF are great ways to go, but they are not the only way to get very high resolution photos.
     
  26. I have a functional Mamiya Super 23 with the 100mm 3.5 lens and two 6X7 backs. I recently checked out market value, and found it really isn't worth trying to sell. No big deal. I am keeping it a) as a cool looking antique, and b), to produce ultra sharp tripod mounted b & w posed shots, ala Pancho Villa and crew.
    My planned workflow, is to develop my own film, then scan digital myself. (Still got the nikor film tank and reel.) I'll bring in a pro lab, if and when. When will I actually do this? Rarely, to be honest. But it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to know that I can actually make a really sharp photo if I want. I may do some group photos at my familiy reunion.
    And heck, it does look kewl on the shelf!
     
  27. I use a Mamiya 7s alongside D700s, and use Leica m6s as well. For me, it pays to shoot images I know I'll want big on the medium format. Beyond resolution, there's a quality in the shadows and highlights that I appreciate in film at that size. It's nice to have a digital file and chrome of the same scene, depending on use/client. I scan with a Coolscan 9000 and 8000; if I didn't have these scanners I don't know if I'd still shoot film.
    I'm lucky to have a lab that does great E-6; if I'm not in a rush I even use Target - they send to Fuji here.
    You can get an incredible medium format system for pennies on the dollar now. The latest greatest digital camera is $2,500-$7,000, and make your current camera "obsolete." I paid $5,000 for my D2x a few years ago, I'd be lucky to get $1,000 for it now. A $300 medium format camera would blow it away.
    I know of "grandmas" who have gone back to their old film point-and-shoots because for them it's easier to drop off and get prints. Even messing with a SD card is too bothersome. Of course, cell phone digital photos are the new point-and-shoots for most.
    Digital is wonderful and has the lion's share of photography now, but the honeymoon is over, and I think more and more people are "discovering" film, which is pretty amazing stuff, too. Have fun :)
     
  28. In the Us there will likely be labs developing color films for ever. Black and white you will likely develop yourself.
    It would be a shame if your digital pictures generate interest for large prints. You wouldn't be the first one suffering this problem created by the hype and missinformation about DSLRs' ability to produce large prints like fim.
    It is never late to switch. You will take many great pictures in the future and you'll be glad you have them on film.
    If you need advice on the process and equipment required for your goals, send me and email and I will help you the best I can.
     
  29. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed input! It has been an invaluable experience to initiate this posting and to receive such remarkably helpful info from all of you.

    I wish I had the time and ability to respond to everyone individually, but alas, that's just not possible right now.

    Nevertheless, I will proceed by providing a little additional information:

    Here is my website -- www.kevinbriggsphotography.net -- I initially started out doing wedding photography and that is why the initial image/splash page represents this aspect; however I'm no longer doing weddings.

    The images in "Landscapes 7," "Landscapes 8," and "Late Summer 2008" were taken with the 1Ds Mark III. The other images are a mixture of the Nikon D100 and the Canon 5D.

    It is the images from the "Late Summer 2008" gallery that represent most of the requests for prints (as noted in my first posting).

    And yes, I haven't taken a single photograph since late 2008 -- the reason is totally work-related (financial services industry). I also haven't obviously updated my website since that time; I'm going to be remedying this whole situation this upcoming summer.

    In working with a printer during 2007-2008, I was given the same information that is posted on the following website with regard to "optimal resolution" for printing (see the "Optimal Resolutions" section towards the top of the following page):

    http://www.mpix.com/support/Help.aspx?id=3#anchor_15

    Since the 1Ds Mark III comes in at 5616 x 3744, I was informed by this printer that 12 x 18 was probably the largest size I could be looking at printing. We went ahead and printed something that was more along the lines of 16 x 20, and it just didn't look all that great, to be honest (it looked slightly pixelated, slightly dithered, if you will; he printed from the original TIFF file; this was one of the images from the "Late Summer 2008" gallery, by the way.)

    The size at which I was hoping to print was something around 20" x 30" or 24" x 36". This same printer informed me that I would need to probably switch to a medium format digital camera with a higher resolution in order to move towards those sizes. But I hear from a number of you that this is not necessarily the case.

    (And quite frankly, I just didn't have the money at the time to be able to do a number of experiments. This summer will probably be different in that regard.)

    The follow-up question that I have -- actually, I have a number of follow-up questions, but I will start with this one:

    Let's say that I acquire the Hasselblad H2F, for example. I would most definitely want to migrate any and all landscape shots into Photoshop. I am someone who doesn't like to tinker around with my shots a great deal, i.e. I don't think I go overboard by any stretch, but I do like to add some minor finishing touches on almost all of them.

    And let's also say that I just so happened to be able to afford the Nikon 9000 Coolscan ED (http://www.nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Nikon/Product/Film-Scanners/9237/Super-COOLSCAN-9000-ED.html) for medium format film/slide scanning.

    Once I have scanned the file, (1) how large (generally speaking) of a digital file are we talking about, and (2) is there any disadvantage in going from a film negative - to scanned digital image (for use with Photoshop touchup processes) - and then to print that image as opposed to simply printing directly from the film/slide negative...?

    Meaning, I have only gone through the digital process; I don't know anything about the advantages and/or disadvantages of shooting with film, scanning, working within Photoshop, and then printing (again, as opposed to simply shooting with film and printing directly from film).

    Looking forward to any and all follow-up input.

    Thanks again!
     
  30. The CS 9000 is ideal for medium format. The scan of a 6x7 frame is 580MB in size.
    For the camera, if you can carry the weight, I recommend the RZ67II. If you prefer something light to handhold, the best the the Mamiya 7II.
    You can process the file from a scan on Photoshop w/o any problems.
     
  31. If you already work slowly with a tripod and are primarily doing landscapes, then consider 4x5" film since it is essentially the traditional gold standard in landscape photography. Even a conservative 2000dpi scan of 4x5" film gives 80 megapixels. The up-front investment is not that great if you ultimately decide its not your cup of tea. In 2005, I bought a Shen Hao wood field camera for $650 and I picked up a few used lenses for another $500-600. Color film and development costs are steep-- probably $4.50 for a single exposure! I had a lot of fun with this and made a lot of nice photographs before fatherhood took away all my time for landscape (and film) photography.
    I'd still consider B&W medium format having a decent edge in quality, but a high-end dSLR gives medium-format color a run for the money (or even exceeds), thus for MF color, I see no clear benefit beyond personal preference of working with film vs. digital.
     
  32. I still shoot mostly film and just got my first DSLR. Black & white film is still wet printed but in most cases this is not so practical for color. As has been pointed out already, you will only realize the advantages of medium format and large format film if you have very high end scans made. Too many people use flatbed scanners for medium format film and then wonder why the end result doesn't look any better than what they got with 35mm film. I was sorry to see Type R printing come to an and. When you had the right slide for it, the results were excellent. Scanning and then printing digitally gave much more control over contrast and color and these are advantages. The wide digital printers allow great flexibility.
    If cost is no object then you can get a medium format camera with a digital back or a purpose built medium format size DSLR. This might give you 40 or 50 MP. If your subject is one which can be shot with the camera on a tripod then one of these models might work. If I use Ektar 100 color print film in the 6X7 format in a high quality 6X7 film camera I will be able to get a negative and then a large final print which would take a very expensive piece of digital equipment to match. If your volume is not too high and if the materials and processing remain available then this could be a less expensive way of getting large size prints. Materials and processing costs for 4X5 and up are an order of magnitude more expensive so you will need to make very large prints to justify them. Two possibilities for landscape work in the non-panorama area are the Fuji GX-680 series cameras and lenses and a 4X5 camera with a 6X9 roll film holder. The Fuji gives some movements and allows the use of small f/stops. The Fuji GX-680 equipment is much more expensve than Mamiya RB67 or RZ67 equipment. A 4X5 view camera will have more movements and will allow you to choose between 4X5 film and roll film.
     
  33. A 9000 is a true 4000 PPI scanner. Say you shoot 6x7, that's a 56x70mm frame which is 2.2"x2.75" is non-Communist units, so your scan would be 8800x11000 pixels. Which is a lot. Shoot something like Velvia or Ektar that can support that much resolution and you'll be getting freakin' incredible large prints - I wouldn't hesitate to print at 60"x48" (though for huge sizes like that, a pro lab scan is worth it).
    But I don't buy into 12x18 being the maximum print size from your DSLR. For hanging on a wall, you can print those files at 24x36. It's 156 PPI at that size, and it's viewed from a couple steps back, and it will look very good.
     
  34. If you already work slowly with a tripod and are primarily doing landscapes, then consider 4x5" film since it is essentially the traditional gold standard in landscape photography.​
    Hi Mike,
    What makes 4x5 the gold standard as opposed to 6x7...?
    Just wondering.
    Thanks!
     
  35. 4 x 5 inches is a heck of a lot larger than 6x7cm. It in turn is light and portable compared to 8x10 inch negatives, but...
     
  36. If you already work slowly with a tripod and are primarily doing landscapes, then consider 4x5" film since it is essentially the traditional gold standard in landscape photography.​
    ... and where/how would I get it scanned, since the Nikon 9000 (for instance) doesn't accommodate 4x5 (or at least not from the specs I've read thus far).
    Thanks!
     
  37. If you already work slowly with a tripod and are primarily doing landscapes, then consider 4x5" film since it is essentially the traditional gold standard in landscape photography.​
    Any recommendations on specific 4x5 camera bodies/manufacturers...?
     
  38. Kevin: As a traditional darkroom printer for decades, I would advise that the real revolution in modern imaging is not digital cameras, it's digital printing. There are many that will disagree, but the absolute control over the image plane in Photoshop, the repeatability, the speed of production and the beautiful quality make it my approach of choice. Archival ink sets and a gorgeous array of fine art papers add to the advantages along with working in daylight without the hands in chemicals. When you pull that first print from a scanned large or medium format neg, you'll know what I'm talking about. Prints that look stunning from across the room AND twelve inches away.
    00WPuS-242495584.jpg
     
  39. stp

    stp

    I used to use large format, but the process was a bit too slow for me (that's a very personal determination), and scanning on a flatbed scanner was a bottleneck in terms of throwing away so much of the detail that's present in a 4x5 transparency. Sending that transparency to a lab for scanning was (for me) prohibitively expensive. That's why I settled on medium format that I could scan on a Nikon 8000, and from that I can get beautiful scans and 36x48 prints (by a pro lab). However, I can also very easily get at least 20x30 prints (again by a pro lab) from the same digital camera you have -- a 1Ds3. True, I send them a 20x30 file at around 180-200 ppi (I can't remember the exact numbers), but their printers do the necessary uprezzing to produce the smooth 20x30 print. While I could also do the bicubic interpolation to get the 20x30 @ 300ppi, their printers do a better job of uprezzing than I can in photoshop.
    If money were no object, I'd get a $40k digital camera (which will depreciate rapidly) and get my own digital shots that will print very large. But for me money is an object, so I'm content to get nearly the same (some may say better) with my medium format scans. I don't find scanning to be a PITA, but that's yet another personal determination. In the end, I find that scanning film (especially 6x7) will give me the ability to produce very large and exceptionally nice prints, just as I would want to do with a $40k digital camera. If I were doing landscapes and didn't mind the slower workflow (but wanted exceptionally quality in large prints), I'd do large format and scan on an Imacon scanner (I think I could make it pay over time by not getting scans from a lab). However, I can still do very, very well with a 1Ds3, especially if I employ digital techniques that involve the combining of multiple shots (I do landscapes, so that's a very viable alternative for me in most situations). All of these alternatives are based on very different workflows, and you've got to enjoy the workflow to enjoy photography. Fortunately (although this is also part of the problem and the reason for your questions), you have choices. Perhaps the most prudent way to proceed is to start cheap (and/or with what you currently have) and go from there -- see if you can get those prints that you want.
     
  40. 8x10 is four times the size of 4x5.
    4x5 is four times the size of 6x7cm.
    6x7cm is four times the size of 35mm.
     
  41. 8x10 is four times the size of 4x5.
    4x5 is four times the size of 6x7cm.
    6x7cm is four times the size of 35mm.​
    Thanks Robert! Very helpful!
     
  42. However, I can also very easily get at least 20x30 prints (again by a pro lab) from the same digital camera you have -- a 1Ds3.​
    Thanks Stephen,
    This does give me some hope.
     
  43. A 9000 is a true 4000 PPI scanner. Say you shoot 6x7, that's a 56x70mm frame which is 2.2"x2.75" is non-Communist units, so your scan would be 8800x11000 pixels. Which is a lot.​
    Thanks Andrew! This info really helps alot!
     
  44. Hello Kevin,
    I myself am a big proponent of shooting film but I insist on developing the film and making the prints myself. I work predominantly with black and white film and print on fiber based papers because I love the process and I love the results. Resolution has been the main topic of discussion on this thread. As a landscape photographer, you would have great creative freedom with the movements offered by a large format camera. The movements of lens and film plane will give you perspective control over your images which may be a more important reason to start shooting film than resolution alone. There is a learning curve but I think it is well worth the effort.
    Best of luck.
    Arda
     
  45. Louis says "As a traditional darkroom printer for decades, I would advise that the real revolution in modern imaging is not digital cameras, it's digital printing"
    Louis I don't have the long term dark room experience you have and I still enjoy making wet prints but have to agree with you on the quality of digital printing especially hybrid scanned film, B&W digital printing. I'm shooting a lot of 35mm Tri-x and Delta 100 with my M6 and am blown away with how sharp my digital prints are using this combo. Bigger formats only get better.
     
  46. And now for a follow-up question I have always wanted to ask with respect to medium or large format film photography, but was too apprehensive about doing so because it might sound quite... well, ignorant. But here goes:

    If I was fortunate enough to have the money to acquire a medium or large format film-based camera, but didn't have enough money for a digital back, is it possible that I could take along my Canon 1Ds Mark III and use it as a form of pseudo-digital back device...?

    In other words, would the settings I've established with the 1Ds Mark III -- assuming I've got a separate tripod set up for the 1Ds Mark III and a separate tripod set up for the medium or large format camera -- be "transferable" over to the medium or large format film camera? (Meaning, I would use the same ISO, shutter speed, f/stop, etc.)

    My initial assumption is that this is probably not doable, simply because of the different dynamic ranges of 35mm as opposed to medium or large format...?

    Thanks again!
     
  47. Now that the Nikon LS9000 is so hard to come by, approaching impossible for a new one, I'd like to see Fuji come out with a dedicated film scanner with wet mount adapter, capable of scanning MF and LF film. It would certainly be in their interest if they want to encourage more film sales.
     
  48. Let's say that I acquire the Hasselblad H2F, for example.​
    From what I've seen of your gallery, most of the images would be quite amenable to digital compositing. A digital MF back makes sense if the scene is so dynamic that it can be shot only with a single exposure. A digital stitch can otherwise provide high quality files of essentially unbounded resolution (not to mention being much more affordable as well.)
    Go to gigapan to see what people have been doing with composites. The Gigapan Epic Pro is worth looking into. The robotics makes recording the tiles very much the easier than with a manual pano head.
    I've been using a gigapan with a Canon digital compact since the beta program years ago. In workflow "feel", it's a lot more like working with LF film gear than anything normally associated with digital capture.


    And let's also say that I just so happened to be able to afford the Nikon 9000 Coolscan ED ... for medium format film/slide scanning.​
    I have a couple of Nikon scanners, and a 9000 among them. The Nikon is capable of extracting essentially everything there is on the film. With medium speed (100ISO) color film, technically excellent 16x20 prints from 6x7 format 120 roll film is easy. Larger print sizes than this starts to require more and more sophisticated post processing. Ultimately, a 10X enlargement is about the limit of what I find generally acceptable.


    Once I have scanned the file, (1) how large (generally speaking) of a digital file are we talking about,​
    A Nikon scan of 6x7 theoretically yields about 80MP. Keep in mind, however, that pixel for pixel the film scan tends to be of lower quality than a digital imager - noisier and of less fidelity. The exceptions (among generally available pictorial films) are B&W emulsions like Acros or 100 TMAX.
    and (2) is there any disadvantage in going from a film negative ... and then to print that image as opposed to simply printing directly from the film/slide negative...?​
    Nope.
     
  49. is it possible that I could take along my Canon 1Ds Mark III and use it as a form of pseudo-digital back device...?​
    Here's a two part answer:
    1. Look at the Camera Fusion. This is a stitching jig that adapts a DSLR body to the back of a LF camera.
    2. Yes, it is perfectly reasonable to use a digital camera as a light meter (but I wouldn't bother with lugging a DSLR around.) I use a Canon A720 digital compact with the CHDK firmware. I have the digicam zoom lens keyed, via software, to cover the same FOV as my set of RB-67 lenses. It is a fast to use and accurate metering solution. Don't worry about dynamic range differences; it takes but a mindful evaluation of a few film rolls to know how to compensate.
     
  50. Kevin,
    A 20MP DSLR can print up to 16x20 with decent quality but beyond that the quality of the output is not acceptable to me. Other people's threshold may be more forgiving. A scan of MF can print up to 30x40 with astonishing quality.
    4x5 is an option but the problem is scanning. A flatbed scanner has limitations in color, noise, dynamic range and sharpness that go beyond just the limitation of 2000+ true dpi. A Coolscan 9000 for medium format on the other hand does not have any of those limitations.
    I also own several digital printers including an Epson 7880, an as others mentioned, produces consistently excellent results (enough to switch to it from wet printing).
    The best system you can buy today is a 6x7 with a Coolscan 9000. 4x5 is an option if you are willing to send your work out.
     
  51. The best system you can buy today is a 6x7 with a Coolscan 9000. 4x5 is an option if you are willing to send your work out.​
    Thanks Mauro!
     
  52. i think the answer for you is simple...you shoot landscape, so you need a large format camera. no need for a lab to get involved in the process really.
     
  53. As I am only shooting film, 35mm and MF, I cannot compare image quality with top-rated digital gear. But to my feeling, colour slides are amazing good for large prints. Unfortunately laboraties for developing slides have mostly been disappeared in my area (Catalunya, Spain). So I decided to process E6 by myself as well: picked a JOBO processor and a 3-bath processing kit from Fuji. Actually, it turned out it is very easy to process slides and I cannot distingish the quality from the laboratories I received my slides in the past. In case you will change to film, it is worth to consider processing by yourself, apart that it is fun as well.
     
  54. I don't know I never left film, I'm still trying after more than fifty years trying to understand the wonders of film photography.
     
  55. If you are working with color I would stay with digital and move up to a MF camera for large size prints or drum scan MF/LF negatives. There are many more creative possibilities in terms of media in the final output through a high quality inkjet printer.
    Personaly I believe that for whatever system that print output should not be just focused on inkjets "or just one way to print stuff"; but include all alternative processes on various medias using inkjets to get there (via digital negative for example) for creative work. Hence mixing traditional darkroom with digital post process and printing. But I'm running of topic here...
     
  56. I wouldn't do 4x5 unless you're feeling very committed to that. The equipment is larger and less like the SLRs you're used to (there's a learning curve in things like focusing) and the film comes in single-frame sheets instead of rolls which must be handled individually. Now the payoff for that is fantastic capabilities (not just resolution but tilt-shifting the lens, composing on a huge 4x5" ground glass, etc) but medium format really is a good compromise.
    For metering, you can use a camera that has a meter along with your MF camera (I used to carry my XD11 in my RZ67 bag) but a handheld meter has its advantages. I carry a Minolta Auto Meter IIIF now and do a sort of incident metering zone-like system (take a reading in the sun, in the shade, pointed up, pointed at the camera, depending on what's in the scene).
     
  57. stp

    stp

    Kevin, to answer your most recent question, the simple answer is "yes." However, most folks will find that carrying a 1Ds3 to act as a sophisticated light meter will be a major PITA. My advice would be to get a good light meter and learn how to use it. Your use of a digital camera as a light meter is just a crutch and a stopgap measure for not learning how to use a much smaller, more manageable, and equally accurate piece of equipment
    You once asked about which large format cameras might be good ones to look at. You're going to get a very wide range of comments on that question. Some will say to start simple and cheap until you know whether you like the format. Personally, I didn't follow that advice, because I wanted a camera that would work exceptionally well and give me the best insight into the use of a large format camera. I would suggest to look for a good used camera of the make that you want (IF you ever decide to go that route). My piece of advice here is that I really learned to appreciate asymmetric movements; they just made tilts so much faster and easier. True, large format photographers have been using their cameras for decades without this feature, but I really like it. Others have made the same kind of comment: they didn't understand the need and cost for such a feature, but most who got it wouldn't do without it. I chose the Ebony system and had six lenses (most bought used but in perfect condition). I eventually found the workflow to be too slow for my liking, and I especially didn't have a good way to make a scan except to send it to a lab at a fairly high cost. I could get the same detail, probably more, from a medium format scanned on a Nikon 8000 than I could from a large format scanned on a flatbed. I gave up on large format, but not without misgivings -- I sometimes still miss the potential it had. If I were to get back into it, I'd be looking for a non-folding Ebony with asymmetric movements. That's unlikely, however. The pending Pentax 645D looks very interesting. It's a camera I've been waiting for for 6 years, I have the lenses, and I'll probably get one. 40mp for ~$10k is not bad (if the reviews show it to be a good camera). At the same time, I'll keep my film cameras.
    BTW, Nikon 9000 scanners can still be had. I could have purchased two over the last month at about #2100 each. I put my name on the some lists only because I doubt that I'd stay in film if I didn't have a Nikon scanner, and my Nikon 8000 is one of the very first that was produced. I need a Nikon scanner so badly that I thought of getting a backup. But I don't have money to throw around, I want to get a Pentax 645D when it becomes available in the US, I'd like to get a 1D4 (after trying to shoot a bike race with my 1Ds3 and my desire to shoot birds in flight), I'm retired without the big bucks income, so I have to be much more discerning in my purchases. I've got a working Nikon 8000 scanner, so I haven't jumped on the 9000. But they are available, and they're snatched up fast when they come in.
     
  58. My advice to Kevin would be this:
    * Do not sell your working (as opposed to old/no longer used) digital equipment to finance film equipment. The mediums and work flows are different and I think you would sorely miss the digital side.
    * If you print larger than 24", then you will see an improvement using MF or LF, assuming proper scanning, or using digital stitching. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
    * Film is another tool that can add to what you're able to accomplish in terms of look and style. It's worth exploring, especially at today's prices. However, unless money is no object for you, I would recommend holding off on the film scanner until you know just how much film you will shoot, process, and print. Find a lab which can provide quality scans to you and start with that. You may never reach a volume that justifies the price of a CoolScan or Imacon as opposed to paying someone else with a CoolScan or Imacon to scan those special frames. (You don't tend to shoot nearly as much film in the first place, and you have to ask yourself what percentage of your shoots, film or digital, are actually offered for sale at large print sizes.)
    * Give stitching a try ASAP. It costs you nothing to try. A simple 3 frame stitch with your camera will give you better quality than a MF 6x7 scan. (Example: if you have a horizontal scene, shoot three vertical frames side by side with the camera on a tripod.) That's a very simple stitch to shoot and process and can be done without special software in Photoshop CS3 or higher. For certain focal lengths and scenes you still want a pano head (http://gregwired.com/pano/Pano.htm).
     
  59. Why choose one or the other? Why not both?
    I'm mostly a wildlife and nature photographer who has run the gamut from shooting only Kodachrome for magazine submissions to Ilfochrome printing from transparencies in my own lab to hybrid printing from scanned slides, to DSLR to expanding the print size with 645 and 4x5 for gallery prints.
    Each format is different, each has it's strengths and their weaknesses-- and that goes for digital, too. I don't see myself shooting much tele work of wildlife with film, or trying to beat large format with a MF chip still smaller than a 645 that costs more than my car just to match what can be done on a $2 sheet of film.
    The "pro" landscape photographers heralding their digital switch from medium or large formats are likely hawking some camera brand or another, selling workshops to amateurs, or else their work involves high volumes and quick turnaround for editorial or commercial clients.
    For landscapes in Alaska, I'd suggest that the tremendous subject brightness range, long distances from the electrical grid, and need to pack gear into wilderness areas all suggest film still has an important place, particularly negative film. Too, the occasional landscape sale of a large print doesn't warrant a $25-$50K investment in digital, which will rapidly become obsolete and be a poor investment unless you're doing big volumes of shooting and have the sales to back it up it just doesn't make a lot of senser right now.
    For no more than 10% of the outlay, one could have a very competent LF system (though outsourcing of drum scans might still be necessary). Or, Pick up and RB67 or a Pentax 645N for under $500, go shoot some Ektar to see if you like the results.
     
  60. Kevin,
    Secondly, is it wrong to say that one cannot get really nice large prints by using some of the latest medium format (or even large format) digital cameras...?​
    First off, I'm not a landscape photographer. Second, I'm not a digital processing expert. I've learned enough to satisfy my needs.
    I believe you can get very, very nice large prints from a decent dSLR. This photo is of a large print I made to put on my office wall in one of my IT client's server room. We had just installed an HP DesignJet 130nr loaded with plain old CAD roll paper. I used my Nikon D300 with 17-55 2.8 lens, mounted to a cheap antique aluminum tube tripod. I use Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 to upsize and tweak. The print is 24 x 36.
    Seated at my desk with the wall 36" away, I think it is a really decent print. My workflow for this print was: take my camera and tripod out the back door of the office. Compose and take the picture. Bring the camera back in the server room and copy the RAW file to my laptop. Upsize and tweak using my $40 PSP X2 software. Print to the DesignJet. Hang the print from some pins I stuck into the wall.
    There is a lot of room for improvement once the picture was recorded by the camera. I could have messed around with levels and shadows. I could have printed to photo paper if I'd had some available. Framing it would definitely help.
    But, paying attention to details and using a quality printer and paper, you should be able to get really nice large prints with your existing Canon.
    If I'd have used my Mamiya C330f I'd be lucky if I got the film developed within a couple months of taking the picture.

    00WQA6-242655584.JPG
     
  61. Am I the only one who thinks the pictures on Kevin's web site, although very pretty, have no resemblance to reality? I have never seen landscape look like that.
     
  62. You can make many compromises if they don't interfere with your personal satisfaction but it is different when you are trying to sell a print.
    The HP 130 produces great prints (brighter than most pigment printers) but have to be laminated before selling or they will smear. It also does not accept general gallery media. Additionally, the D300 will look good from 3 feet away or farther but if your picture is nice (as yours is) people will tend to come close to enjoy and inspect.
    In the end though, to honestly look at selling your prints at those sizes you need to shoot film, scan with a Coolscan or better, and print on a pigment printer on the paper chosen by the customer.
     
  63. Do not sell your working (as opposed to old/no longer used) digital equipment to finance film equipment. The mediums and work flows are different and I think you would sorely miss the digital side.​
    Hi Daniel,

    No, I would never sell the current equipment I have -- the Canon 1Ds Mark III and Canon 5D (I sold the Nikon D100 a while back); I would only be adding to this camera body and other Canon lenses.

    I very much agree with you on this point.

    Best,
    Kevin
     
  64. Am I the only one who thinks the pictures on Kevin's web site, although very pretty, have no resemblance to reality? I have never seen landscape look like that.​
    Hi Brian,

    Believe me, no offense taken. =)

    I have heard such comments more times than I can even begin to count.

    My response...?: You have to come to Alaska and shoot during the summertime (especially the evenings) in order to get the colors in the sky I'm able to reproduce.

    Furthermore, I have been asked at least 100 separate times (at least!) what I did in Photoshop to color the water blue within many of the photographs.

    The answer of course is that I did absolutely nothing -- this is glacial water. It is blue (or blue-green, depending upon location within Alaska) naturally. The first time I set foot in Alaska (1980) I could not get over how blue the water really was. It totally blew me away!

    I'm shooting throughout the Kenai Peninsula and just South of Anchorage most of the time. And generally, I'm only able to get these colors in the evening hours of the Summers (which are the "white nights" as they have been referred to in North American and Russian parlance). I do use one or two filters the vast majority of the time, nothing special; but they are able to amplify the colors coming through the Alaskan evenings remarkably.

    Best,
    Kevin
     
  65. For my hobby the digital gives me control that film does not offer. I have a 12 mega pixil camera , shoot raw and open as tiff in PS. Selected pictures I sent to MPIX and the prints are stunning. Regards, ifti
     
  66. Iftikhar, what "control" does your digicam give you that you cannot acheive with film? For me, it is quite the opposite...I can use my high res (16 bit!) scans in PS or LR, or I can print them optically to produce one of a kind hand made prints. I can't do that with my D3.
     
  67. My opinion for what its worth is shoot 4x5 film if you really want the best IQ. 8x10 is even better but the equipment is ridiculously big and heavy.
    I had a 4x5 super graphic folder and it was really nice and not too heavy and tough. The Aluminum shell camera, not the wood one. Perfect to throw in a pack. Put a cambo back on it and add a cambo viewer with readyloads and a readyload holder and you have a nice setup.
    If 4x5 is too cumbersome my next choice would be a Mamiya 7 or if you want a 2/3 format a Fuji 690 GW/GSW.
    Although a Mamiya 23 is mentioned above, the one I had was just not that sharp, at least not at the super super sharp level I wanted. There are a few MF cameras that are worthy of 4000 dpi scans, although at that level you will be resolving more grain than scanning 4x5 at 2000 dpi. Rollei, Mamiya 6 and 7, Hassy, Fuji 670, 680, 690 and a few others.
    E100G is really nice, just learn how to develop it.
    Its not that difficult. Although more time consuming, when its dry its ready to scan.
    If you are selling work, then I would also buy a scanner for more control.
    For 4x5 you are pretty much stuck with a Drum scanner or an Imacon. IMO forget Epson scanners for professional level work.
    That said E100G drum scanned at 2000 dpi is really nice. Very clean. That would give you about 72mp Equiv. I have very rarely found it beneficial to go beyond 2000 dpi for large format.
    2000 dpi scan, Printing at 204 dpi on a lightjet (4lp/mm in print) you could enlarge about 10X.
    For MF I would get a Nikon 9000 and a glass carrier and wet scan.
    Here is a link to some of my 4x5 drum scans. This is E100S film. The last 3 are 4x5 drum scans.
    http://www.pbase.com/tammons/blue_ridge
    All that said if you do decide to shoot some 4x5 your fist drum scans will blow you away.
    Its really bulky equipment though. I think the handiest, lightest and sharpest MF cameras I have used have been the Mamiya 7 and the Fuji 690 cameras.
    For digital a 24mp Sony might work. You could Print on a lightjet at about 20x30 with minor interpolation. A Pentax 645D would be a good option too.
     
  68. it

    it

    For hobby, it's fine to buy into film.
    For professional use, it's nuts.
     
  69. You may want to take a look at the new Pentax 645 digital body which some people have in their hands now for testing. As for me I still have my color and black and white darkroom in my house. Still have frig full of film and color paper. I do like still shooting with film, digital has made it easy for new shooters who know nothing about developing and printing. One day it will be a lost science..My Two cents worth.
     
  70. For another example, it's been weeks since a Mamiya 6 was available at KEH, and prices have remained high. Last night I finally found a bargain-grade body as a backup, and jumped on it.​
    So you're the one who took that one from under my nose! I went back to look at the bodies after perusing the newly-arrived lenses and the bargain-grade body was gone, the same day it arrived. Not that I was likely to have bought it this time around. Seriously, I've been deliberating getting a Mamiya 6 as a lightweight, compact way to get medium format with multiple lenses while hiking, but that purchase probably won't happen for quite a while. What I need more than another camera right now is more free time to go out and actually shoot. It's been a busy year so far.
    All I can suggest to the OP is that you can try out MF film with a basic system and see how you like it, in the field, in IQ, and in terms of overall workflow. If it doesn't work for you then you can sell the system for about what you bought it for, assuming you bought it on that auction site or otherwise cheaply. If you do like using MF film then you can upgrade your system as needed over time. A lot of these kinds of decisions come down to personal preference.
     
  71. I'm in Southern Cal and there's several places developing MF, slide film etc. I don't think you've looked very hard. Also Adorama does MF, don't know about B& H. Here we have Samy's camera, color and they send their b/w out for development to Image Control which I think can develop any format b/w, there's also IA in L.A., Swan photo (expensive), Pro Photo, etc, etc. So I really can't tell if you are trying to talk yourself into or out of using film? I've been shooting MF along with digital for a while now and have no problem with getting my stuff developed with people I trust. I am pretty upset though that Fuji has decided to limit a lot of their print film, that does hurt, especially the 800.
     
  72. I'm assuming products like these are not of sufficient quality to help with my present situation....?
     
  73. Kevin asked:
    "I'm assuming products like [Genuine Fractals software] are not of sufficient quality to help with my present situation....?"​
    Hi Kevin, there's no magic bullet or free lunch when upsizing digital photo files; you're essentially guessing at information that wasn't in the original capture. (If the uprezzing programs were miraculous, a lot fewer people would be shooting medium- and large-format film!)
    In the detailed comparisons that I've seen, GF doesn't do appreciably better than bicubic uprezzing in PS ("A lot of the time Photoshop's Bicubic produced the best results of all, most especially when the photographs contained fine and subtle texture and detail," as your distant foliage shots have). So if you're not thrilled about what you're getting with enlargements in PS you won't see much or any improvement with GF.
    (For those who missed them, here are Part I and Part II of Ctein's Part III upsizing comparison linked above.)
    Ian wrote:
    "For hobby, it's fine to buy into film.
    "For professional use, it's nuts."​
    If your job is to deliver a lot of photos under a deadline, that's certainly true.

    But if you're a fine-art photographer selling prints (whether small black-and-white prints or huge color prints), it's not true. Large-format film is preferred over digital by many photographers and many print buyers.
     
  74. Kevin Briggs , May 09, 2010; 05:47 a.m.
    I'm assuming products like these are not of sufficient quality to help with my present situation
    Computer Interpolation no matter what you use can not create detail. Hopefully you can hang onto edge sharpness so that will print better huge, but you still wont have the detail you want at say a 20" view distance.
    You really want to print at a native rez, IE like on a lightjet at 204 dpi (4lp/mm in print). If you do interpolate up use only a small amount like maybe like 25% max.
    I dont think I saw int he thread,
    How big do you really want to enlarge ??​
     
  75. You have likely forgotten some of the difficulties of film (no auto whitebalance, can't change ISO, HDR is harder, doesn't hold near as much EV as a RAW file).​
    HDR is not necessary with film. It handles the dynamic range with just one exposure. What do you mean by holding as much EV? EV is a numerical system relating to a combination of shutter speed and aperture.
     
  76. Mätt Donuts wrote,
    "You have likely forgotten some of the difficulties of film (no auto whitebalance, can't change ISO, HDR is harder, doesn't hold near as much EV as a RAW file)."​
    Steve, you forgot to add that changing ISO with each new exposure isn't particularly difficult when shooting sheet film!
     
  77. Kevin, this is the system I propose for you:
    - Mamiya RZ67 II with 50mm ULD, 110mm, and 180mm lenses. Get two backs to switch from Velvia to TMAX.
    - Coolscan 9000 with glass holder.
    ~ If you want to add a system for light travel add a Mamiya 7II with 80mm lens.
     
  78. Personally I think it is a realization of the obvious (to some of us at least).........that film still reigns supreme.
     
  79. How big do you want to print ??
     
  80. Personally I think it is a realization of the obvious (to some of us at least).........that film still reigns supreme.
    Film is cheap to scale to larger sizes, which means it's cheaper to make larger prints from single frame shots. Digital is cheaper and easier to stitch, which means those who want really big prints tend to turn to that solution rather than spending the cost of a car on a digital MF system.
    Does that mean film "still reigns supreme"? I wouldn't go that far. You couldn't pry my Canon 7D from my hands and leave me with only 35mm. The 7D has superior resolution, fine detail, color, and tonality, to say nothing of ISO, yet it has a chip smaller than 35mm film. You have to jump to MF, and print larger than 24" on demanding subject matter, to beat it. That a small format camera can compete at all with medium format systems up to that print size says a lot about about digital sensors and their capabilities. If it didn't cost so darn much to make a sensor in, say, 645 size, I think film would be in very serious trouble in the application we're talking about (large landscape prints for critical buyers).
    And we're not done. It's a good bet the next 1Ds will be around 35 MP. Technology marches on.
     
  81. I should add that whether I choose to use digital or film generally has nothing what so ever to do with resolution or print size, despite the degree to which that is debated online. If I need resolution and big prints, a 3 frame stitch gives me all I need.
    No, I if I shoot film (35mm or MF) it's for the visual characteristics or look. I don't consider one superior to the other here, but they are different, and therefore I maintain an ability to shoot both. The various looks are far more interesting to me than resolution. I choose digital or film, then if I need big prints I make sure the film is MF or the digital is stitched. But big prints do not drive the choice of medium. That can be accomplished easily either way.
     
  82. Steve, you forgot to add that changing ISO with each new exposure isn't particularly difficult when shooting sheet film!
    NOTHING is easy about large format photography. Film holders are bulky, and carrying 4 or 5 holders takes some planning (and big pockets). Imagine multiplying that by three or four types of film. Then there's the challenge of keeping track of which is which (the little white write-in panels get pretty smudged and worn after a few years).
    If you don't know what you plan to shoot BEFORE you even leave home, large format is probably not the medium of choice ;-) We call that "visualization".
     
  83. Kevin,
    Re using a digital as a light meter, I've been using a compact digital camera along with my MF gear partially to assist with determining exposure, and also to view things in black and white through the digital LCD. I enjoy that. (I hardly print digital images. I'm a recreational photographer and I find working in a darkroom relaxing, even meditative.)
    The digital can be helpful in very low light when the spot meter is useless. The readings are not necessarily comparable, however, especially with different types of film and length of exposure. For general daylight, I use a Pentax spot meter, especially in bright conditions.
    Although operating two cameras is distracting, and can be misleading, having the compact digital along can be useful as a note-taker and visual diary, and certainly as a way to share images.
     
  84. Scanning 4x5/MF negatives for an inkjet print is now more of a cost saving solution for good quality prints. I would think it is slightly better quality than a full frame DSLR. TECHNICALLY SPEAKING.
    For huge superb quality inkjet prints (COLOR) it is inferior to the latest medium format digital backs now available. TECHNICALLY SPEAKING.
    Drum scanning 8x10> negatives is still a whole different league.TECHNICALLY SPEAKING.
    Then again I think that the most relevant piece of equipment after a certain camera sensor/negative size is the actual paper, printer and ink combination in use. ON PAPER.
     
  85. I use 4x5's, several medium format cameras, film Leicas, film Nikons and a Nikon D-300.
    Getting affordable scans that get the most out of 4x5 color is impossible. So while a 4x5 original has more information than a digital original, without $150 scans it won't do you any good. So I use the 4x5's just for B&W.
    Medium format is easier to scan... either with a Nikon scanner (which I don't have) or with a good "Develop and Scan" processor (which is surely the way to start since it is quite affordable). Check out http://www.northcoastphoto.com/ Medium format negative film can give you quality at least as good as digital. Medium format transparency film can be awfully fussy since it has much less range, and often gets difficult when using longer exposures (reciprocity failure). Its really easy to get blown out highlights or dead black shadows with trannies. So if you will be scanning I definately recommend negative film. I only print to 13x19 but I don't find that MF negative film really beats my digital work from the D-300. And your digital camera should be better than mine.
    In the end then, I find that you use fim cameras because its fun, and because the results can be wonderful... but not because the results are superior to those a good digital can deliver. If I were shooting to sell my work to any but the most demanding professional clients I'd shoot digital... where I could be sure I had the shot I wanted then and there.
    But hey, half the fun is experimenting and deciding for yourself. So why not buy a used MF camera (RB 67, Rolleiflex, Mamiya Press etc) and shoot a couple of rolls and send them out for develop and scan. Use your Canon to do the metering and to be able to shoot side by side for later comparisons. Then you'll know what feels right to you. The wonderful thing about used MF gear these days is if you don't like it you can easily sell it for what you paid for it. Both Ebay and Craigslist have lots of medium format gear. Plenty of great MF cameras are available for under $400, so its just not that big an investment. Most landscape shooters would prefer 6x7 or 6x9 to the smaller sizes.
     
  86. The D100 isn't going to give you big prints, but the 5D is highly respected among landscape photographers. Did you use a solid tripod? Mirror lockup? Quality lenses? Did you focus carefully? If so, you (or your lab) can blow those 5D images up to a respectable size. (20 x 30 perhaps? Maybe larger?)
    Working with film is excellent for developing your skill and discipline as a photographer, but it can get expensive and it's not as flexible as digital capture.
    Have you ever used a view camera? I've been shooting 4x5 for about four years and it's not always easy to get good results with the thing. If you want a new appreciation for the word "frustration," try focusing on dimly lit flowers before dawn with a wide-angle lens (e.g. 90 mm) with a loupe in one hand and a flashlight in the other, holding your breath so you won't fog the ground glass, all the while racing to get your movements right before the sun peeks over the horizon. I wouldn't trade my film experience for anything, but I'm pragmatic. I shoot simultaneously with a DSLR because I'll always get more keepers from digital capture. And the quality of today's better DSLR's is very credible.
     
  87. Reading through this thread I saw only one reference to image quality on the OP's website. I took a look myself and saw some beautiful compositions but many (to my eye) were spoiled by overly harsh contrast and exaggerated colours, not to mention unpleasantly blown highlights in quite a few cases. Contrast and colour may be a matter of taste, but noticeable areas of blown highlights seem to me a technical limitation of the equipment used.
    Of the many thousands of film images I shot in Antarctica during the 80s, mostly transparencies, I'm hard pressed to find cases of seriously blown highlights, except where there was an exposure error or I was shooting straight into the sun or its reflection off water. Like Alaska, Antarctica has no shortage of sunlit ice and extreme image contrast. If transparency film could do this for me, I'd suggest that today's colour negative film will give you an even greater improvement in dynamic range for your Alaskan images.
     
  88. Thanks again to everyone who's contributed to this discussion -- I've learned a great deal and I'm very appreciative!
     
  89. The "trouble" is, we're still using digital cameras like we used film cameras: one shot at a time. That misses the potential of stitching several shots together to produce a single large, highly detailed image (which is what Art Wolfe is now doing), or using software to have a grass blade inches from the lens in focus while distant trees are also in focus. It just takes a different mindset and workflow.​
    Hi Stephen,
    Just wondering how you heard about Art Wolfe's stitching projects/techniques...? In other words, just confirming that this is indeed the technique he's employing.
    Thanks!
     
  90. On stitching and resolution:
    I've seen very sharp 30- and 40-inch prints from Canon cameras. These were single shot images of moving animals, flying birds, etc. There's no chance to stitch when your frame contains action.
    Stitching is not a panacea. By twisting the camera around you get a bunch of images taken at different angles. The computer has to put all of those angles into a single plane and also has to deal with vignetting on each frame; sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't.
    Further, when you make panoramas with a telephoto lens it looks different than shooting the same scene with a wide-angle lens. It's not necessarily BAD, but the relationship of near to far object is completely different. In other words, stitching isn't a way of creating the same shot with more resolution. It creates a different composition altogether, one with more compression and less of a wide-angle look.
     
  91. In case you need another opinion, you can try medium format without spending a lot of money.
    Try a postwar 6x9 folding MF camera. The choice ones would be the Zeiss Ikonta, the Agfa Record, or the Voigtlander Bessa I. See the eBay seller certo6. He cleans and refurbishes them. You can have something quite nice for under $150.
    The best news is when you want to upgrade or if decide you don't like it, you'll be able to sell it for at or near the purchase price. It's not like the heavy depreciation of digital.
     
  92. Am I the only one who thinks the pictures on Kevin's web site, although very pretty, have no resemblance to reality? I have never seen landscape look like that.​
    i looked at his site. i have lived in anchorage for 38 years. he isn't faking or exaggerating anything.
    people who haven't been here always want to know about snow, cold, ice. but this place is really about the fantastic qualities of daylight and sky -- incredible range, constantly quickly changing/fleeting.
     
  93. Hello Kevin, please browse this website http://www.wild-landscape.com/, where you can find the answer to your question.
    I personally use Mamiya RB67 ProS for landscapes, which is excellent camera, but quite heavy for all day hiking :)
    I love MF transparency (Velvia, Kodak Ektachrome E100 SW,GX), but I think that near future in MF is digital.
     
  94. is it wrong to say that one cannot get really nice large prints by using some of the latest medium format (or even large format) digital cameras...?​
    I'm not certain that I understand the wording of your question (due to multiple negatives), but medium format digital cameras produce amazingly detailed prints. The problem is that the camera can costs as much as a BMW. It's not something that you'll want to carry through a bad neighborhood, for instance.
    Large format digital systems are usually scanning backs. These are not practical for outdoor shooting, because if anything moves during the exposure it will result in a strangely distorted shape in the final image. If you want to photograph a still life of products (or fruit) they'll work spectacularly.
     
  95. Dan, I can understand with MF, but I see no reason whatever why anyone would even want/need a digital large format camera.
     
  96. Kevin,
    For me no sensor image at least in the relatively affordable digital medium format or the high pixel count full frame Nikons and Canons can be compared to a medium format transparency or B&W negative scanned at 4000 dpi and printed let' s say on an EPSON 7900 or equivalent on a prime baryta paper.
    I am doing all the work myself, but there are professional labs that are producing excellent results as well.
    Dimitris V. Georgopoulos
    Athens, Greece.
     
  97. I've been a film photographer and wet darkroom guy for 40 years. I'm still a film guy, but have switched to digital for printing. I don't shoot 35mm--haven't for years. But I don't think even the highest-end sensors in 35mm DSLR's will compare with the results I get from scanning my 6X4.5, 6X6, or 6X7 negs, either color or b&w.
    It's not only the size issue; project yourself 40 years down the line from now. How many of your digital images will still be 1)around or 2)accessible with whatever software/hardware is available then? And how many RAID drives or whatever succeeds them in mass storage will you need to house them if they're still accessible. I can always go back to a wet darkroom should I choose--that technology has been stable for 150 years. 40 years from now, you'll still have the film. I recently re-printed some color negs I shot about 35 years ago to replace some C prints that faded (today's C prints last much longer), and the negs were still in great shape. That's why I stick with shooting film, even if digital printing is as good as anything I could do in my darkroom--though not as much fun. I print on an Epson Pro 3800 which will do up to 11X17 sheets which is big enough for me anytime.
    If you're shooting B&W, develop your own film, which you don't even need a proper darkroom to do--it's easy, cheap, and boring. If you're shooting color, there are still decent photo processors around--I've even stooped to going to Target or CV on occasion with color print film (though not with E-6) and have had very suitable results.
    Larry
     
  98. a boon! a boon! a boon! especially with an old Nikon or Leica!
     
  99. Excerpt of post by Larry Kalajainen
    "It's not only the size issue; project yourself 40 years down the line from now. How many of your digital images will still be 1)around or 2)accessible with whatever software/hardware is available then? And how many RAID drives or whatever succeeds them in mass storage will you need to house them if they're still accessible. I can always go back to a wet darkroom should I choose--that technology has been stable for 150 years. 40 years from now, you'll still have the film."
    I've brought a similiar question up on other forums. I have family negatives that were shot by my grandparents back around the early 1900's. I have a hard time believing hard drives or other media might be passed down through generations of families to save cherished memories and history. Where a "shoebox" full of negatives will persevere, a hard drive inherited by family members just may not be recognized as something of value to be saved. My father in law passed last year and his son was looking to dispose of the computer his father had owned without much regard to what was on it. I took it and found years of family images on it that would otherwise have been gone forever. His father's earlier "shoebox" of film photos and negatives did however survive. The moment may be captured with digital today and we can look at it tomorrow, but don't expect our grandchildren to ever see it.
     
  100. "I recently had a somewhat brief online conversation (on a different photo forum) with a couple of landscape photographers who use film and who emphatically declared that most high-end/professional landscape photographers still use film "
    If this is your only reason for looking at film cameras, A bit more research may be in order before you invest money. Some people in web fora are very good at saying things like that without any basis in fact at all. Maybe a couple of people they know use film, and there's always an element of wishful thinking in comments like that. I have to say, film users often try to talk up their preferred medium.
    Before you look at particular cameras, investigate further. Do professional landscapers really use film cameras? A "somewhat brief" online chat with people you don't know is a rather unsatisfactory reason for investing in a new format.
    Cheers
    Alan
     
  101. Horsefeathers! Film has been used for stunning prints of landscapes for a hundred years, and will likely be around and used for landscapes for at least another century. It's an amazingly advanced technology in it's own right. Battery free, huge dynamic range, couple of bucks or less for a 4x5 sheet.
     
  102. I have to say, film users often try to talk up their preferred medium.​
    Not like digital users then!
     
  103. To the guy pulling the portrait off the, um..., glorified Xerox machine: Let's be clear - that is not a photograph. One can call it a print.
     
  104. The film versus digital thing became a non-issue for me after my very first gig with my first digital camera. The gig was a bridal portrait, which I planned to shoot with my standard rig at the time, a Pentax 6x7. I didn’t yet know or trust my shiny new Canon 10D, but thought I would make a few shots with it just for comparison purposes.
    The 10D files showed promise, even though only from a six-megapixel camera, so I had 16x20 prints made, one from a 10D jpeg and the other, of the same pose, printed from a professionally scanned NPH negative. I showed the resulting prints to a number of my fellow commercial photographers and several of the art directors I work with. Only one could tell which was which, and I later learned it was because the digital file had more depth of field.
    Some of you guys say you can tell the difference between film and digital. Maybe you can, but I can tell you that a bunch of experienced professional photographers and art directors in my city couldn’t. And neither can I, except that digital usually looks better.
    I will concede one thing, though. Even though digital is better in almost every way, film was more fun. Or maybe I’m just waxing nostalgic.
     
  105. I showed the resulting prints to a number of my fellow commercial photographers and several of the art directors I work with. Only one could tell which was which, and I later learned it was because the digital file had more depth of field. Some of you guys say you can tell the difference between film and digital. Maybe you can, but I can tell you that a bunch of experienced professional photographers and art directors in my city couldn’t.​
    Hi Dave,
    This is indeed a remarkable piece of information -- thanks!
     
  106. You're welcome, Kevin. But nothing beats personal experience, so try it for yourself.
     
  107. I did have yet another follow-up question, one that pertains to printing again (since I have so very little experience in this area):

    As I have had the opportunity to peruse some of my most requested works (requested from family members and friends wanting prints) within Photoshop, I have noticed that the PPI settings on each of the 1Ds Mark III shots is 240. (This PPI setting is arrived at without any cropping or manipulation to these photographs whatsoever (as far as their size is concerned).)

    Yet I have also read that most professional photographers print at 300 PPI, with some going just a little bit less for some works.

    My question (and again, please forgive my ignorance -- this is just something I've never really investigated and never really paid attention to as a result of always working with/presenting my photos exclusively online rather than through prints): what exactly determines the PPI settings (at least as they are appearing within Photoshop)? The camera itself...?

    It was my understanding that -- based upon such calculators as this one - that based upon the resolution of the 1Ds Mark III, the PPI would be set in relation to how large I was actually making print, i.e. the larger the print, the less the PPI; and conversely, the smaller the print, the greater the PPI...?

    Or am I incorrect here...?

    Again, every time I take a shot with the 1Ds Mark III, I drop it into Photoshop and I am informed that the PPI is 240.

    Thanks again for all input! I have thoroughly enjoyed this ongoing discussion.
     
  108. The PPI from the camera really has no meaning.
    If you resize the photo to the intended print size, with re-sampling off, you will see what the ppi in the print will be. So as you increase the print size you will see the PPI decrease. Or you can set the ppi to 300, again without re-sampling, and see how large of a print you can make at that resolution.
    Also note that if you are shooting raw, and I hope you are, then it is the raw converter that is setting the 240 ppi, and most raw converters allow you to set the ppi to whatever you want.
     
  109. Kevin,
    Screen resolution and print resolution are 2 separate specifications. Screen size (thus web size) is measured in pixels. Printer resolution is measured in dpi (dots per inch).
    00WU1T-244895584.jpg
     
  110. Also note that if you are shooting raw, and I hope you are, then it is the raw converter that is setting the 240 ppi, and most raw converters allow you to set the ppi to whatever you want.​
    Yes, I am shooting in RAW mode. Thanks for this further info!
     
  111. Dave, there is something seriously wrong with the scans you're getting if you can't tell the difference between a 6mp DSLR and a 6x7 neg. I use a Mamiya RB67, and with film scanned on my humble Epson V700, the film destroys my old canon 10D. The flatbed outdoes my old 40D and my Pentax K20D....a 15mp sensor. It wasn't until I started comparing my 7D to the flatbed that the resolution was about the same. The neg easily holds more DR, but in terms of resolving power, the 10D looks like soft mush compared to a MF scan...even on a flatbed. When I get scans from the local Imacon 848, the difference even grows wider.
    If your Pentax 67 can't beat a 10D....it's time to review either technique, or find a lab that knows how to scan. I don't mean to be harsh....but claiming people can't tell the difference bewteen a 10D and 6x7 film either means the participants are blind, or the scans are horrible garbage!
     
  112. "If your Pentax 67 can't beat a 10D....it's time to review either technique, or find a lab that knows how to scan. I don't mean to be harsh....but claiming people can't tell the difference bewteen a 10D and 6x7 film either means the participants are blind, or the scans are horrible garbage!"
    Indeed!
    With all respect, stories like Dave Jenkins' do not border on the ridiculous, they are way, way beyond that.
     
  113. Dave Luttmann , May 18, 2010; 06:26 p.m.If your Pentax 67 can't beat a 10D....it's time to review either technique, or find a lab that knows how to scan. I don't mean to be harsh....but claiming people can't tell the difference bewteen a 10D and 6x7 film either means the participants are blind, or the scans are horrible garbage!​
    Or people are looking at the print for things other then what the maximum detail in it is. I have noticed that when most people view a large print then don't tend to view it closely. I made a number of 12x18 inch prints, some from a single exposure from my old F828 and some form stitched images that has many times the resolution. To my eye the prints made from the stitched images were far sharper, but most people simply did not view them close enough to be able to tell any difference.
    And the bigger then print the less likely that people will view it close. I have made a number of 20x30 inch prints that have come from 54 MP stitched images, but in most cases people view far enough back that an 6 mp would have been enough.
    But also note that Dave talked about the MF having a narrower DOF, which means he was taking a real portrait with the lens opened up enough to limit the DOF, not stopped down to get max resolution off of some flat high contrast test target. I don't know aht f/number he was shooting at but it seems this could limit the detail in the 6x7 image.
     
  114. Dave Jenkins said:
    "The gig was a bridal portrait, which I planned to shoot with my standard rig at the time, a Pentax 6x7. I didn’t yet know or trust my shiny new Canon 10D, but thought I would make a few shots with it just for comparison purposes...The 10D files showed promise, even though only from a six-megapixel camera, so I had 16x20 prints made, one from a 10D jpeg and the other, of the same pose, printed from a professionally scanned NPH negative."
    Whatever the subjective result, Dave's comparison doesn't address the OP's question on any number of points. Foremost is that the OP is shooting landscape, he's already got a 12MP digital and knows the limitations to large prints. He's also doing this in AK where the subject brightness ratio get's pretty extreme with glaciers and snow.
    As far as ditching film for a wedding photographer, I can almost see why he'd rationalize ditching film at the earliest opportunity but for the dynamic range issue of brides & grooms in June at noon. Black tux and white lace didn't work well with early sensors like the 10D. One can easily imagine a medium speed color negative film saving the day here, compared to an early CCD sensor.
    As to the 16x20 from a 6x7 scan not looking any better? Possibly, but the scenario he describes could hardly be conclusive, particularly since it involved an outsourced scan using a discontinued film, Fujicolor NPH (a 400 ISO neg emulsion that hardly anyone would ever use for landscape, let alone huge landscape prints from scans). From what I recall of the Fuji neg films, with a certain pixel-pitch CCD scan (~2000 dpi) the grain tended to alias badly, didn't it?
     
  115. Pan my post if you like, guys, but I saw what I saw. I've been a full-time working commercial photographer for 32 years (My web site is at www.davidbjenkins.com.). The neg scan was done by NorthLight Imaging of Chattanooga, an excellent pro lab. One of the commercial photographers who saw my prints was an RZ67 shooter who immediately told me he was going to cancel his plans to travel to Europe and instead use the money to buy a digital camera.
     
  116. Well Dave, I've got scans from a humble Epson V700 the spank the 10D. Therefore, either the viewers are blind, or your lab's scans blow. I'm sorry, but if you're going to try and convince people (I've been shooting professionally for 20 years and I'm not blind) that a 128dpi print can match a 6x7 film scan at from a pro lab.....I'd say you'd better not brag about your eyesight. I've got prints from both that show individual grass blades from the RB....and green mush from the 10D....easily viewable from 2 feet on a 16x20.
    Sorry....not buying it for a moment.
     
  117. "One of the commercial photographers who saw my prints was an RZ67 shooter who immediately told me he was going to cancel his plans to travel to Europe and instead use the money to buy a digital camera."​
    But what would he take pictures of with his new digital camera if he had just blown his travel budget?
     
  118. Dave Luttmann , May 20, 2010; 02:40 a.m.
    Well Dave, I've got scans from a humble Epson V700 the spank the 10D. Therefore, either the viewers are blind, or your lab's scans blow. I'm sorry, but if you're going to try and convince people (I've been shooting professionally for 20 years and I'm not blind) that a 128dpi print can match a 6x7 film scan at from a pro lab.....I'd say you'd better not brag about your eyesight. I've got prints from both that show individual grass blades from the RB....and green mush from the 10D....easily viewable from 2 feet on a 16x20.​
    I have to question your being able to see a large difference at 2 feet. A 16x20 inch print from a 10D when viewed at 2 feet will give pixels spaced at 1/3 milliradian which is right at the limit of what someone with 20/20 vision can see. If the image from the 10D is sharp then it has about all the resolution you would need for a 16x20 inch print viewed at 2 feet.
    This would be the same apparent resolution as viewing a 300ppi print at 10 inches, which again is right at about the limit of what a person can see.
    I have to think you were viewing the 16x20 inch print a lot closer then 2 feet.
     
  119. For me no sensor image at least in the relatively affordable digital medium format or the high pixel count full frame Nikons and Canons can be compared to a medium format transparency or B&W negative scanned at 4000 dpi and printed let' s say on an EPSON 7900 or equivalent on a prime baryta paper.​
    Isn't the "and printed let' s say on an EPSON 7900 or equivalent on a prime baryta paper" bit completely redundant? What's stopping you from also printing a digital camera's image "on an EPSON 7900 or equivalent on a prime baryta paper"?
     
  120. Anyway, to the OP. It's easy to polarize these debates by setting the gear under question as complete opposites to each other. In the blue corner, we have a Canikon digital-only battery-eating-monster FF DSLR with compact, large-DOF lenses. In the red corner, an antique mechanical medium format film-only camera with bulky, selective-DOF lenses. Brothers, please, I beseech you - can we find no common ground?
    Ah, but...what if the blue corner had a Mamiya/Contax/Hasselblad 645 digital-backed battery-eating monster with nice lenses, and the red corner had...the exact same camera, the exact same lenses, the exact same behaviour...and the only difference is that we've now mounted a film back?
    And peace shall reign!
     
  121. Let's be clear - that is not a photograph​
    Thank you, Andre, for setting everyone straight. My images captured on film from my vintage film cameras are indeed photographs in the truest meaning of the word. The output from these negatives is called, as it always has been, a print. That's why the title "Pulling a Print..."
     
  122. Okay, help me understand something about one of the highlighted aspects of the Nikon 9000 Coolscan -- at least as it relates to going to a film-based 6 x 7 cm setup:

    According to the "Tech Specs" section of the Nikon website, the Nikon 9000 Coolscan has an "Optical resolution: Up to 4,000 pixels per inch."

    Yet according to this webpage, a 6 x 7 cm scanned image consists of 8964 x 11,016 pixels, which according to this webpage (bottom) would produce a print size of 2.24" x 2.75" if printed at 4000 ppi.

    So my question is: why is Nikon advertising 4000 ppi when, seemingly, it would never be advantageous to print at such a resolution...?

    Or do I obviously have a something wrong here in my understanding of the whole situation...?
     
  123. So my question is: why is Nikon advertising 4000 ppi when, seemingly, it would never be advantageous to print at such a resolution...?​
    You wouldn't.
    The resolving limit of unaided human vision is around 300ppi on print - this is with your nose almost right up against the paper. In the limit, printing at above 300ppi isn't particularly worthwhile because you wouldn't be able to see the additional detail anyways.
    However, what this does mean is the opportunity to enlarge. A 4000dpi scan of 6x7 can be enlarged about 10x and still give more than 300ppi on the paper; a 10x enlargement is a 20in by 30in print.
     
  124. However, what this does mean is the opportunity to enlarge. A 4000dpi scan of 6x7 can be enlarged about 10x and still give more than 300ppi on the paper; a 10x enlargement is a 20in by 30in print.​
    Thanks for the info, Robert.
     
  125. Kevin, your current and previous Canon and Nikon DSLRs have been capturing images at around 3000 - 4000 ppi. If you printed them at that capture resolution, they would be no bigger than postage stamps. It's exactly the same with scanned film.
    Capture ppi = [print dpi] x [print enlargement factor]
    E.g. 4000 ppi = [300 dpi] x [13.3x]
    What makes MF and LF film so rich in (potential) detail is that if (and that's THE BIG, endlessly contested IF) it can compete with digital on the amount of real detail it can capture within those 4000 ppi, it then wins because it has a lot more "i"s (inches) - a lot more multiples of 4000 p.
    The degree to which THE BIG IF is true can be established by testing different films and different digital sensors under the same conditions - this is why I brought up the great advantage of modern 645-format SLRs which take both film and digital backs. [So too do some 6x6 and 6x7 SLRs, but the increasingly large film formats make it more a test of lens quality].
    Tests like this seem to indicate that digital is at about a 1.5x linear advantage to film - e.g. a 37x37mm digital back compares well to 56x56mm [6x6] film in typical usage. I'll probably get flamed for daring to propagate such a value, because there are people occupying positions which are way off to either side of the shaky consensus: some would say that digital is easily twice as good (2.0x) and some would say film is every bit as good (1.0x)...and no-one can agree on what "typical usage" is either! But I favour attempts to bring some scientific method to the issue and looking at it dispassionately rather than idealogically.
     
  126. Ray,
    You will indeed get flamed, but not just for propagating that factor, but for blatantly failing to recognize the fact that film is not even "every bit as good", but much, much better. ;-)
    (It really is even after having been scanned).
    Do bring in some scientific method to the issue, and find out yourself.
     
  127. I'll probably get flamed for daring to propagate such a value, because there are people occupying positions which are way off to either side of the shaky consensus: some would say that digital is easily twice as good (2.0x) and some would say film is every bit as good (1.0x)​
    You could be right. I tend to think it's around 1:1 now as the laws of physics are constraining both mediums. Whichever figure is correct, I don't think either medium will get much better now other than in terms of increasing area. Easy with film but there are plenty of manufacturing challenges with digital sensors.
     
  128. So my question is: why is Nikon advertising 4000 ppi when, seemingly, it would never be advantageous to print at such a resolution...?​
    It's quite simple. When Nikon says 4000ppi, they mean 4000 points per inch on the film. So for argument's sake if you scanned a 1'' x 1" piece of film you'd end up with a 4000 x 4000 pixel digital file. If you printed that file at 300dpi, your print would be 4000/300 x 4000/300 or 13.3" x 13.3".
     
  129. "You could be right. I tend to think it's around 1:1 now as the laws of physics are constraining both mediums. Whichever figure is correct, I don't think either medium will get much better now other than in terms of increasing area. Easy with film but there are plenty of manufacturing challenges with digital sensors."
    Indeed.
    One thing, of course, is that the size advantage has always been, and still is, on the film side.
    Another thing is that not the laws of physics are what are limiting digital (nor film).
    That small sensor may boast 4000 'pixels' per inch.
    But what that doesn't say is that there is a Bayer (or similar pattern) filter, reducing the true resolution to half that.
    What it also doesn't say is that there is a soft focus filter in front of that Bayer pattern and the sensor that is reducing resolution even further.
    Sensor's pixel density figures are not the thing to base comparisons on.
    Or if you do, you perhaps should also take unsharp masking, interpolation, and other tricks that can also be performed on scanned film, into consideration.
    In short: comparisons of film and digital on the net have still a long way to go before they even begin to find a way in which like can be compared to like.
    It's such a great muddle that we have gone from "digital can't deliver what 35 mm film does" a few years ago to "digital easily outperforms large format film" today, without any basis for such a change in view in advances in technology or in fact.
     
  130. Scott, If someone needs to post a sign beside their images dictating how close you are permitted to get, then the quality is an issue. And no, the difference was easily visible at 2 feet. More so in close at about 18".
    The 10D is by no means a match for 6x7 film at that size. Nothing I have seen for the better part of a decade has changed that.
     
  131. FWIW, Bayer filtering doesn't apply to scanned film, which is what the prior few posts were discussing. Don't confuse an anti-aliasing filter with a Bayer filter. One is an optical low-pass filter (AA) and the other is a software filter. Save for the Foveon sensor, one-shot capture sensor arrays all use Bayer or another color interpolation scheme. But this Bayer filtering argument no longer holds much water because even with it we have been at the point for some time now where the resolving power of digital sensors is equal to or better than film at a 1:1 basis (particularly once film has been scanned, and those second generation losses are factored in). Too, not all digital arrays have optical AA filters (Leica, Pentax the new 645D, and most MF backs don't have them).
    The remaining resolution advantage to film is derived from it being easy to scale up in size, cheaply. When sensors can be made at LF sheet film sizes with the similar pixel density and quality control as is commonplace with today's DSLR-sized sensors , the argument will be settled. (There may still be compelling reasons to use film even then, such as cost, working style, and tradition, but ultimate resolution will not be one of the more compelling reasons. I'll like be among those using both film and digital past that point.)
     
  132. Kevin, this page illustrates the relationship between scanning various negative sizes at different resolutions and then printing them out at 300dpi.
    Read the text and not just the colored squares if the relationship isn't clear, but it's pretty straightforward. For example, a 6000x9000-pixel image would print at 20x30" at 300dpi (because 6000/300 = 20 and 9000/300 = 30). I'll not get into ppi/dpi/spi distinctions here; they're not super-important for this discussion.
    The Nikon 9000 can scan film in one pass up to 56mm x 83.5mm, I believe (that's considered "6x9" for many camera manufacturers). A drum scan - as this place specializes in - can usually pull more information out of a piece of film and can scan larger film in one pass.
    There also are places that can do Nikon 9000 scans quite affordably for you: as one example, this company charges $8 for 4000dpi scans of 120 film up to 6x9. (I've never used them and cannot address quality etc.)
     
  133. Kevin, you have received a lot of good and interesting responses. I hope I'm not repeating anything previously said, but what historically has made 4x5 the "standard" for landscape photography is not just the size of the film but also the camera movements that can allow the subject to be altered. Most important is front tilt, for adjusting the plane of sharpness, and front rise, to allow foreground trees to be straight. Yes, some of these adjustments can be made in photoshop but, in my opinion, doing them in camera gives a much better result. For DSLRs and especially Canon, the TS lenses are simply fantastic. If you can afford a larger sensor digital back, then there are several medium format cameras which have movements (Fuji GX680, Linhof Technika, Mamiya RZ67 with adapter) and offer the versatility of film plus digital capture. Scanning 4x5 film is readily done, but requires some effort. I picked up a used Polaroid Sprintscan 45 and modified the film carrier for wet (liquid) mounted scans. Check out ScanScience and BetterScan for more info (I'm not affiliated with either). My total investment was under $200 and I get very good quality scans from 4x5 and 6x7. Large Format Photography website has a page devoted to scanner comparisons that shows how close you can get to a drum scanner with the less expensive alternatives. I agree with the previous posters that both film and digital have their place depending on the subject matter. I use Canon 5D MkII, Leica M8, Linhof 6x7, 4x5 and a 5x7 pinhole camera. Having options is a good thing. Good Luck. Rick.
     
  134. Ivan,
    No, digital sensors, with their Bayer (or other) colour filters, and anti aliassing filters, are still well behind film. Even well behind scanned film, by a factor of (give and take) 4.
    Pixel density on sensors now equals scan resolution of the better scanners. Per inch, so the bigger film still has a clear advantage.
    But (and this is important to remember) that is without taking the Bayer pattern and soft focus filters into account.
    Do that, and even 35 mm scanned film will have a clear advantage over full frame 35 mm digital.

    Now don't scan film, but print it optically, and the gap widens.

    Re that "laws of physics" thing: neither film not digital are limited by the laws of physics.
    Yes, increading pit density on sensors is running into problems. But those problems are still far from being caused by limits nature sets. There is still room for improvement.
    Same goes for film, by the way.
     
  135. Dave Luttmann , May 21, 2010; 08:52 a.m.
    Scott, If someone needs to post a sign beside their images dictating how close you are permitted to get, then the quality is an issue. And no, the difference was easily visible at 2 feet. More so in close at about 18".
    The 10D is by no means a match for 6x7 film at that size. Nothing I have seen for the better part of a decade has changed that.​
    So I set up a test of two prints, one at 125ppi and the other at 720ppi, both of them sized to 4x6 inches so I could fit both on the same piece of paper.
    Here are the links to the photos
    125ppi photo
    720ppi photo
    When viewed at 24 inches I can't tell any differrenace between the two.
    At 18 inches with a lot of careful looking I can just begin to see a difference, but it is so small that there would really be nothing to choose between the two.
    At 12 inches the 720ppi print is clearly sharper but not to the point that the 125 look horrible.
    At 10 inches the 125ppi print is looking pretty soft.
    As it happens I like very high resolution photos and mine tend to have far more resolution then what a 6x7 camera could get achieve. But when it comes to others looking at prints most of the time this extra resolution is simply a waste, people just don't look close enough at large prints for the higher resolution at add impact. What makes a large print look sharp is not the detail so much but other factors, such as lighting, contrast and content.
    I have made fair number of 12x18 inch prints straight from an 8MP camera and also from stitched images that have 20Mp of super clean sharp pixels, nobody but me notices the difference.
    In a lot of ways I wish resolution mattered more in a print, I have a large collection of images that run between 100 and 200mp, but in the end I have to admit that the resolution adds very little over the same photo at 8MP or even 6MP.
     
  136. For DSLRs and especially Canon, the TS lenses are simply fantastic.​
    Hi Rick,
    Do you own one...? Or does anyone else responding to this OP have any experience with Canon's new tilt-shift lenses...?

    I must admit, I've been thinking very hard about possibly heading in this direction with my current 1Ds Mark III set up.
     
  137. Kevin, I have the new 24mm TS/E II. It is a phenomenal lens, and I understand the 17mm is also (I haven't used the 17).
    But unless you're going to use it for stitching, a TS lens doesn't really do anything to resolve your initial dilemma about printing larger.
    You're simply going to need more pixels if you want to print big, whether you get them [1] from stitching several of your 1DsIII exposures together, [2] from a higher-resolution sensor (like the Pentax 645D), or [3] from shooting onto a good-sized piece of film (MF or larger) that you then scan.
    Those are your three basic options.
     
  138. But unless you're going to use it for stitching, a TS lens doesn't really do anything to resolve your initial dilemma about printing larger.​
    Yes, I'm definitely leaning towards stitching.....
    On this note, any recommendations ongoing towards ptgui, CS5, or some other piece of software for the most effective stitching experience...?

    (I'm presently using Photoshop CS3... maybe I already mentioned that in a previous post...)

    Thanks again for all input!
     
  139. I use PTGui for stitching and find it gives me great control over the whole process. One of the good things about stitching is it gives you the same control for perspective that a LF camera with movements does. For example in this photo the vertical lines are not converging, like they would be if this was taken with a normal camera pointing up.

    [​IMG]
    For a larger view click here
    But as much as I like very high resolution photos I think you should take the time to print some of your nicer photos large and see what people think, say 20x30 inches, which cost around $10 at many places.
    I think you may be surprised at both how good the prints look and how people don't seem to view large prints closely.
     
  140. But as much as I like very high resolution photos I think you should take the time to print some of your nicer photos large and see what people think, say 20x30 inches, which cost around $10 at many places.​
    Hi Scott,

    Just a few days ago I went ahead and sent off an order for one of the prints to Mpix, printed at 16 x 24" (this was at just less than 240 PPI).

    I must admit that I was thrilled with the results. I have shown them to family members and friends alike and they are all raving about the results.

    So I may go for 20" x 30" on the next test print, but I'm sure this will place the PPI well below 200.
     
  141. I think what you will find with a 20x30 inch print is that people just don't get that close to it.

    I use to be of the opinion that prints show all have at least 300ppi, but as I have watch people viewing larger prints I realize that this is way over kill for large prints. Even a good 12MP image is going to make a great looking 20x30 inch print, for that matter even a 6MP image will be good enough to hang on a wall. Sure a 6MP is going to look soft if you view it from a foot or less, but that is not how most people like to view prints.

    As photographers it is easy to get too wrapped up about resolution and not enough about the content of the photo.
     
  142. Scott...there is a big difference between a native 6mp file...and a 6mp file from a downsampled higher rez file. I've got shots between the 10D and 5D2...no problem telling the difference at 16x24 from 2 feet.
    I agree with the content issue. That said, I don't agree with the viewing distance. In galleries, people start from a larger distance...then they move themselves closer to immerse themselves in the detail. The 6 or 12 mp sensor at 20x30 will simply not have any fine detail.
     
  143. If you want to improve your photographic vision, then stick with digital. Print size isn't everything - in fact it's nothing, as you can see from examining the tiny pictures here on Photo.net. Those that are great pictures remain great pictures; and those that aren't wouldn't be any better if they were shot on 20x24 film and blown up to the size of a house.
    Digital gives you the great advantage of nearly instant feedback on whether you've captured a great image or a mediocre one. It also gives you a second chance if the exposure, lighting or camera position aren't quite right. With film there's an inevitable delay and the interruption and complication of yet another process to contend with. Just because something is more complex or more difficult to achieve doesn't necessarily make the end result any better.
    Of course, if you're happy with the composition and visual impact of every picture you take at the moment, then you might want to consider the extra complexity that using film will add. But until that happy day, then I'd just push the boundaries of what you can do with digital and what digital can do for you. I think you'll find that those boundaries are quite expansive.
     
  144. As a footnote to the above. If your printer can't get a decent 20x16 from a 21Mp file, then change your printer! I'm getting A3 sized prints (11x16) from a 12Mp D700, at a quality that puts most wet-darkroom prints from MF film to shame. I can see no sign of pixelation at this size, and the colour quality and overall "cleanliness" of the prints is superior to all but the most meticulously produced film shots.
    Another example: I was in a restaurant the other day, and was impressed by some large sized prints (about 20x30 inches) hanging on the walls. I approached to have a closer look and the quality completely fell apart when viewed close up - fuzzy and obviously taken with an amateur camera. However, once I stepped back to normal viewing distance they regained their power to captivate, simply because they were great pictures, and I found myself able to easily forgive their lack of real technical quality. Whether they were shot on digital or film I really didn't care.
     
  145. Dave Luttmann , May 21, 2010; 10:39 p.m.
    Scott...there is a big difference between a native 6mp file...and a 6mp file from a downsampled higher rez file. I've got shots between the 10D and 5D2...no problem telling the difference at 16x24 from 2 feet.
    Could you post these shots?, or at least enough of each for a test print?
    At 10 inches 300ppi is about the limit of what people can see, a photo from a 10D printed at 300ppi (6.7 x 10 inchs) is going to look about as sharp as it gets, when view from 10 inches. Now back up to 24 inches, scaling the image size up and we get a 16 x 24 inch print.
    Is it posible that your 10D photos are soft at the pixel level?
     
  146. Scott, here is a test sheet you can print to evaluate the prints at different sizes:
    http://www.photo.net/film-and-processing-forum/00WErk
    Let us know what you conclude.
     
  147. Thanks again for all of the wonderful responses on this forum! They are truly appreciated.

    Okay, setting aside the questions surrounding printing (i.e. print size), I did have the following image-sensor and optics question as it pertains to the difference between the sensors and optics in a digital camera versus the optics in a digital scanner:

    Is there any difference… or perhaps to state it more clearly, is there an advantage one way or the other… with regard to the two separate processes involved in the film-based landscape-photography world versus the digital-camera-based landscape-photography realm as it pertains to the image sensor and the optics involved?

    Meaning, if you are using the new Mamiya 7 II film-based camera (6 x 7 cm, 55 x 69.5mm), for example, you of course establish the image on film and then (if you are working within Photoshop or some other photo manipulating software) you are utilizing a scanner (let's say the Nikon Coolscan 9000) and its image sensor and digital optics to take that film-based image and convert it to a computerized, pixelated form.

    Or conversely, if you are using the new Leica S2 digital camera, you would be relying upon the built-in image sensor (part of the body) and optics (associated with the lenses themselves).

    But both processes rely upon image sensors and associated optics (or at least somewhat common forms of technology and processes, from what I understand).

    However, with the Leica S2 scenario, one is using an image sensor and associated optics to take the image directly from "reality," as it were. It is a "direct from the scene" sort of situation, in my mind.

    With regard to scanning, you are first shooting the scene onto a piece of film, and then you are utilizing the image sensor and optics associated with the scanner to create the computerized/pixelated image.

    My point being: there have been several individuals who have contributed to this forum who are advocating film (and I deeply appreciate their input here!). They are noting that the overall results produced with film are better when compared with a digital camera's image sensor and optics. And yet, if I'm utilizing a scanner to drop the film-based image into Photoshop, I still need to go through a very similar image-sensor and associated optics process, am I not? (Meaning, something very similar to what you would originally get "on the scene" if you were utilizing a digital camera's image sensor and optics.)

    So with respect to the pixel-for-pixel quality, as it were, what's the advantage in using a scanner's hardware versus a digital camera's hardware to computerized/pixelate the image...?

    Yes, I do realize the aspect of the differences in overall image size and the total number of pixels; but within each specific inch of the image sensor's data-gathering capability versus the scanner's, is there a difference...?

    Or am I thinking about this whole situation/scenario incorrectly...?
    Again, I'm not thinking about the subject of the overall size of the file, the print size, etc. Rather, I'm getting back to the heart of the matter between shooting originally with film or shooting originally with a digital camera's image sensor.

    Thanks again!
     
  148. You are thinking correctly.
    And yes, there is a difference.
    It already starts during capture. (Forgetting about the size advantage film has for now)
    Not hindered by Bayer and anti-aliasing (a fancy name for soft focus) filters, there is lots more captured by film then there is by a digital sensor.
    All that extra info can be retrieved by the scanner, which is not hindered by those filters, not by restrictions set to sensor size.
    But what the sensor didn't see, is lost forever.
    Dynamic range? Film (negative) is no slouch in that department.
    A scanner can be tweaked much more, and much more effectively than a camera's sensor.
    Film and scanning have disadvantages too.
    It takes a lot of time.
    And film has that thingy called grain, which is faithfully captured by the scanner, and which makes a digitally captured image look cleaner.
     
  149. Hi Kevin, if I read your latest question correctly, you're asking "Isn't digital more of a direct-to-file process than film (which has to be scanned, effectively requiring the photographer to work with a 'second-generation' image), and thus digital would be superior?"
    To my mind (I can't speak for others), you're right in the sense that in a digital vs. film faceoff when the recording surface area and ISO are equal, most (but by no means all) photographers in 2010 would opt for the digital image.
    In other words, if it's a choice between a 21mp, 24x36mm sensor and a 24x36mm piece of film, both shot at, for example, ISO 200, the resulting digital file will generally be judged superior. Same with a 30x45mm digital sensor vs. a 30x45mm piece of film. (Erwin Puts captured a tiny bit more on ISO25 b&w 35mm film than a Leica M9 sensor, but in practical use most photographers aren't going to shoot that film.)
    But most of those in this thread who are suggesting "film" are not claiming an even-for-even advantage for film. They're saying that a 6x7 or larger piece of film, well scanned, can often best a smaller (e.g., 24x36-sensor) digital image, just as a sheet film image can often best a (smaller) medium-format digital image.
    Thus for single-image capture (no stitching), especially with regard to convenience, a medium-format digital camera might be seen as optimal. If you can swing the cost of medium-format digital, there's a lot to be said for it (luminous-landscape.com and getdpi.com probably have more discussions of the $25,000-and-up MF digital options than anywhere else).
    But the price of medium-format digital is pretty steep, and not very many non-pros can afford it. Therefore a lot of photographers who can't spend more than the price of a new car on a MF digital camera choose instead to shoot medium- or large-format film, which has a much lower entry price (think "hundreds of dollars" instead of "tens of thousands"), and then they do high-resolution scans of only their best film images (not of all of them).
     
  150. Thanks Q.G. and Ralph for the info!
     
  151. A few things need to be put straight though.
    Comparisons of digital to film are almost without fail performed by blowing up the digital file to where you just can't see the individual pictures, and then enlarging the film image to match the size of the subject.
    I.e. comparisons are always made of digital at its limit to film, without ever wondering if film may be strecthed way beyond that before it reaches its limit. And it can.
    But if, say, an 5x7" printed from 35 mm full frame digital looks as good as a 5x7" printed from 35 mm film, that apparently means that 35 mm full frame digital is as good as 35 mm film. Period.
    Which is, of course, a nonsensical way of thinking.
    So yes, Ralph, there is an "even-for-even advantage" for film. But it would appear that noone of the let's-compare-my-digital-to-that-old-fashioned-film camp ever bothers to investigate it.
    Another thing: high quality digital is not cheap, no.
    But that is not why many people use film. Many people still using film do so because they like what film has to offer over digital.
    Like it so much that they are willing to put up with the messy fluids bit, willing to put up - when going down the hybrid road - with the lengthy scan process.
     
  152. In the above: "to where you just can't see the individual pictures" should of course read "to where you just can't see the individual pixels"
     
  153. Q.G. de Bakker [​IMG][​IMG], May 23, 2010; 06:31 a.m.
    A few things need to be put straight though.
    Comparisons of digital to film are almost without fail performed by blowing up the digital file to where you just can't see the individual pictures, and then enlarging the film image to match the size of the subject.
    I.e. comparisons are always made of digital at its limit to film, without ever wondering if film may be strecthed way beyond that before it reaches its limit. And it can.​
    The fact is that digital can go to just about any resolution you might want. I am a resolution junky, I like high-resolution photos. I am also fairly near nearsighted, so I have a bad habit of viewing print with my glasses off and my noise right in the print. What as this is find for small prints, say 8x12 inches, for larger prints viewing the close you loose the total image. In watching other view large print what is see is them going close enough to comfortable see the whole image at once, i.e. you make the print twice as large and normal people will view it from twice as far away.
    As an example of very high resolution is the photo below, it is the same number of pixels as if you scanned a 6x7 MF frame at 4000ppi
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/36939621@N06/4632302358/sizes/o/
    It did not cost much to take and it only took 3 minutes to take the photos that it is stitched from. That photo has far more resolution then every be needed in any print. You could print that at 6 x 5 feet, stand 12 foot away and it would still look very sharp. But who is going to stand 1 foot away from a print that large?
    When I argue that super high resolutions are not needed for large prints it is not because high resolution is hard to achieve with digital, it is that the resolution is simply not needed.
    BTW one problem going after super high resolution with either film or digital is you end up with a smaller depth of field. Whereas this is fine for some photos others suffer from it. I have been backing off my resolution, not because getting the high resolution is hard, it's not, but because I like more DOF over the ultimate in resolution.
     
  154. Film is great stuff, and I'm shooting as much of it than ever. Just not buying for a moment Q.G.s argument that it's 4X better in resolution than digital sensors at a 1:1 basis. Millions of professionals would scoff at digital if this were so. In actuality, the majority have abandoned 35mm film en masse (I count myself among them).
    Those professionals continuing to use film in larger formats, are largely doing so because it scales up far, far less expensively at ultra-high resolutions. Or because one-shot sensors are not available beyond 645 in size, yet. Or they’re simply continuing to use it for other reasons like film’s great latitude and dynamic range. Or they’re using it to achieve a particular look, or find it simple and uncomplicated, etc.
    Oft overlooked in these discussions is that while film can indeed record amazing amounts of resolution, the subject gets complicated beyond the point of capture because to do anything with a film image capture typically requires another step. So, unless viewing a slide directly on a lightbox, or making Polaroids or tin-types or Daguerreotypes which are direct and the original image themselves, there will be additional system losses due to optical degradation.
    Transmissive light must pass through processed film (diffusion) either to print it traditionally or for the image to be converted from analog to digital with scanning. (Yes, even with drum scanning, there are transmissive optical losses). By the time the image is put to use, it is at minimum a second generation image. Digital captures when copied aren't subject to these generational losses.
    I also have an inkling where the 4X number might be coming from. To not add additional system losses when scanning original film, over-sampling is necessary. Nyquist Theorum posits that a 2X over-sampling in a linear dimension is required to capture the native resolution. Assuming this is true, to match resolution between a digital capture and film, a 4X larger file is created for the scanned film image. Same resolution.
     
  155. Scot,
    The stitching thing is of course neither here nor there. You can stitch film, and scanned film too. So there's no point of bringing that up.
    Ivan,
    No: professionals have embraced digital when all it could do was produce wax faced portraits, and the like, i.e. there was and is a strong attraction for professionals that has nothing to do with image quality.
    Professionals who value quality above all, or have clients that value quality, still use film in large numbers. (They are also the ones that did very little with miniature format and the small prints that could sustain).
    And no: that 4x thingy has nothing to do with what you think. That is, not in the way you think.
    It's quite simple. Sensor technology is at a point where pixel density on sensors happens to be the same as scan density. So on a 1:1 comparison you would be forgiven to think there is equality.
    But only for a brief moment: Bayer patters and soft focus filters employed in digital cameras limit what the sensor gets to see. A factor 4, compared to what could have been if such devices weren't necessary, is a conservative estimate of the degradation caused.
    You can forget about that Nyquist nonsense when scanning film is concerned. You're not overlaying a pattern with another pattern. The pixel density of the scan sensor gets used to the full.
     
  156. Bayer patters and soft focus filters employed in digital cameras limit what the sensor gets to see.​
    Hi Q.G.,
    It was noted to me a couple of years ago that there were a select few number of digital camera manufacturers (I believe Leica was one of them) that did not have anti-aliasing and other automatic filtering mechanisms within their digital sensors; Bayer patters may have been another one of these aspects that were not included as well.

    The individual who noted this was a longtime professional wedding photographer, one who used Leica equipment primarily. He said he chose the R system specifically for this reason.

    Do you know if this is true...?
    I went ahead and downloaded the tech spec sheet on the new S2, but I cannot see any information regarding these aspects (maybe I'm blind).
     
  157. Kevin,
    The only other way of capturing colour would be the Carver Mead/Foveon trick, of putting the three wells below each other, instead of in a pattern next to each other.
    Else, a Bayer pattern (or similar device) is needed, and thus used.
    A few, more expensive digital devices do not have anti-aliasing filters, yes.
    The Leica S2 has no anti-aliasing filter (it uses software in post-processing to do what would be necessary). The Kodak sensor has a Bayer pattern.
     
  158. The anti-aliasing filter is necessary to stop the sensor from getting moiré artefacts in the image when high frequency data in the image gets higher than the frequency (pixel-pitch) of the sensor.
    The filter effectively blocks any high - low contrast patterns close to the pixel pitch of the sensor at the expense of some crispnes in the image.
     
  159. What has been only lightly touched on in this thread is the look of film vs. digital prints, and left uncontroverted is whether "normal people" go up to a large print or are content to view it from afar, whether film or digital. Normal? Who's that?
    Granted, Photonet may consist largely of more or less well-adjusted, regular folks; but whether "our" own habits as photographers will differ widely from a presumed "normal" mode of enjoying photographic images is questionable in my own observations. And what about the customers' viewing habits, people who are not just casually interested? And not only on first viewing, but later on if they feel like immersing themselves in the image more deeply, as they would after paying for a print. Speaking only of myself, I know that I first look at an image from wherever I may first encounter it whether from close up or afar, and if it's interesting, go in for a closer view or viewings later on. This is most especially true in the case of large prints, because viewing it close up helps to "enter" the space being represented on the flat surface of the print. I'm not referring to technicalities of resolution, but to what it looks like subjectively. Sharpness is important, but I don't feel that is necessarily all there may be to it.
    More having to do with the look of the print, and maybe more to the point of the subject of the film vs. digital print: do inkjet printers render blacks with the saturation of photographic paper, in continuous tone? I don't know if the best of them do, so I'm interested in what opinions there are on that, and whether it may be considered a decisive factor for those who like Kevin may wish to explore film photography.
     
  160. Follow-up question regarding interpolation:
    From a few of the reviews I have read concerning Genuine Fractals 6 and Qimage (among others), it appears that some of the more recent interpolation programs are becoming extraordinarily good at enlarging digital images.
    Here are my 2 follow-up questions:
    Given that most of the reviews of Genuine Fractals focus upon smaller digital files being enlarged by 5 or even 10 times, I'm wondering if there is a difference in the overall quality of the enlarged image when it is enlarged by only 50% - 100%?
    Meaning, if I'm shooting with the 1Ds Mark III and I'm already able to print at 16" x 24" at around 230 PPI, if I want to print at 20" x 30" (and yet increase the resolution to maybe 250 PPI) -- because this enlargement is only in the range of about 50% (I haven't gotten out my calculator, so I'm just going on a mental image right now), is the enlargement (using Genuine Fractals or Photoshop or Qimage) going to be much less "problematic" as opposed to trying to enlarge something by 500% or 1000%...?
    I hope that makes sense.
    Does anyone know if Photoshop CS5 has improved their underlying algorithm associated with enlarging (or even reducing) photo sizes? Meaning, because I'm upgrading to CS5 next week, I'm wondering if there is something new in CS5 in relation to a better underlying algorithm for producing enlarged digital files...?
    Thanks in advance for any and all responses!
     
  161. The problem with interpolation is that it is making up data.
    No algorithm can do that and produce convincing images beyond an enlargment factor of about 2.
    The result will be the same as those we had when the top pixel count number was about 2 or 3 MP, yet people already wanted to use such digital machines for magazine page size images: a lack of detail made everything look like it was made of plastic.
    In short: if you want to have 'large' images that still look good, get a camera that produces such large images, and don't put your hopes in post-processing.
     

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