Memories of detail

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by mauro_franic, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. Today with my daughter and I finished a 120 roll of Tech Pan and seized some goofy faces for the memory box. It was a moment of realization that few photographic memories would carry forward from our time with this level of detail since most pictures are now taken with DSLRs.
    Tech Pan is obviously completely grainless to my Coolscan 9000, has plenty of detail to outresolve it many times over, and yet, with its mere 4000 dpi, the results of the scans are second to none. In the right light -as opposed to popular belief- Tech Pan has enough DR and pleasing curve to produce harmonic pictorial results.
    I only hope Kodak finds the resources to launch TMAX 25 one day. In the meantime I will continue to stockpile TP and Technidol every opportunity I get.
  2. Oh with the right developer and TP even shot at ISO 80 and a stand in Rodinal 1-200 or 300 and even modified Diafine to an E.I of 100 is great Dynamic range is there and a scanner can pull it out better than an enlarger....
    I have about 100 feet left in 35mm and you know I may just have to start selling it by the roll..... as the other 150 feet in the freezer is for retirement.
  3. Stop rubbing it.
    If I only had an 8,000 dpi scanner...
  4. Heck you don't need it as the scanner lens can not even come close to what is on that film.....
    it is one thing that Digital will never beat even if it has a Leica lens on or in it.
  5. Les, this is from the same roll. A comparison of the contrast curve of TP next to TMAX 400. I took both pictures from almost identical POV.
  6. I shot the TMAX 400 with my Mamiya 7II +80mm
    TP with my RZ + 110mm.
  7. For the sake of comparison, here's an eyeball from a casual headshot of a friend. This crop is less than 2 percent of the entire frame.
    5D Mark II
    24-105 f/4L IS lens
    ISO 200 (the base is 100)
    Handheld outdoors
    By the way, if you guys can convince Nikon to start making the Coolscan 9000 again, I still have a boatload of slides to scan.
  8. Ouch - Obviously not comparable. (is that the point?).
    On the 5D2, even with 2%, all that artifacting around the hairs and in the eye are visible, and the overall impression is fussy.
    On the film, with just 0.04% of the frame the results are without compromise.
  9. Grain? What grain?
    Great eye detail. What camera, lens and exposure/F:stop did you use to get it?
  10. Art, I used my RZ67 with the 110mm lens. F11 1/250 sec. Tech Pan 25.
  11. Dan, the Coolscan 9000 shows in stock (I just checked Amazon). So no excuse to delay scanning those slides.
  12. Well, I must admit that I have no idea what "fussy" means in visual terms.
    The point is that the discussion now has a full frame digital example to compare with the MF film example. Both photos have plenty of detail, and you could make a large, sharp, and very detailed print out of either one. And if the film had been drum scanned, it might have yielded even more detail.
    The readers can make an A/B comparison and draw their own conclusions. Judging by what I see on my monitor, I don't think we'll have to worry about the extinction of detail anytime soon, but thanks for thinking about us nevertheless. ;-)
  13. Well, I must admit that I have no idea what "fussy" means in visual terms.​
    Sorry for the harshness, but that's a problem you have to address :)
    Jokes apart, I'm absolutely sure you can get a wonderful print from your digital file. This is the important point.
    However, if we're really up to some pointless, picky comparison, I'm sorry to admit, Dan, that the dslr crop is nowhere near the OP's one. That is NOT to say that the 5D2 is inferior or anything: shooting conditions were different and thousands other variables may be involved. But still, as it is, the digital crop has a very unpleasant array of artifacts, plasticky textures and burned highlights which make the quality really not comparable.
    So let's state clearly that THIS IS NOT A TEST nor it's closely designed like one; but at the same time, let's try not to stick our heads in the sand.
    Friendly yours
  14. By the way, I think that "extinction of detail" is a secondary problem. The real, more worrying trend is the extinction of judgement.
  15. Ouch - Obviously not comparable. (is that the point?).
    The 5D2 crop looks like it was over sharpened for nit picking at actual pixel size. (It was most likely prepared for print with Dan never imagining it would be involved in an eyeball resolution test.) That said, it shows more skin surface detail and texture than the MF crop. Hairs in the MF crop are more smoothly formed.
    One must keep in mind that magnification is not equalized between the two. At equal scale the MF crop would show less grain with even smoother resolution of the hair. But, surprising as it may seem given the format differences, the 5D2 simply has more low contrast skin texture. (I'm not sure how much this has to do with lighting or other factors, so I wouldn't jump to any conclusions based on it.)
    I would expect 6x7 to out resolve 35mm digital. Never the less the 5D2 puts in a better performance than it is being credited with here. No ISO 200 35mm film ever came that close to 6x7 Tech Pan! And you would not start to see any significant advantage to a 6x7 print with this subject matter until well past 30".
    It was a moment of realization that few photographic memories would carry forward from our time with this level of detail since most pictures are now taken with DSLRs.
    This is a silly statement. Few photographic memories ever had any where near such detail to begin with. There aren't a lot of family scrapbooks in the world filled with prints and negatives from carefully shot, processed, and printed 6x7 Tech Pan.
    The whole detail argument is a dead horse any way unless you actually happen to need really large prints. The tonality of the Tech Pan shot is much more interesting to me. Straight B&W conversions of digital are flat and muddy by comparison, and need some work by a trained eye to match classic B&W.
  16. Hey I have some Rollei TP1.1 and some Kodak TP I will try and shoot them and see what we get... As the Rollei is still made and sold in 120 and 35mm I have some 120 that I may try in the Rolleicord tomorrow....
  17. Daniel, in this example you are comparing the 5D2 to just 35mm film (not MF). Remember the 5D2 crop is 2% of the frame and the film is just 0.4% of the frame. To compare it to the MF scan I posted you would have to upsize it from 20MP to 100MP.
    That aside, Dan's point I believe was just to present a comparison not a challenge. And his crop was probably sharpened for print.
  18. Daniel, this would be the 5D2 upsized to compare it to the MF scan:
  19. As I pointed out, what you saw in the first comparison equals comparing the 5D2 crop to the same crop of 35mm film scanned.
  20. The thread should not go that way since it makes no sense to waste time thinking that a 20MP DSLR can compare in detail to 6x7 Tech Pan. Printed or on the screen.
    The goal of the thread actually to step back and reflect of what we give up in detail in this generation when using digital. Past generations used film and kept the detail, future generations will have better digital technology. This generation was stuck in the middle.
  21. stp


    To see what the generation that is stuck in the middle is really losing, move from a little girl's eye to a photo that contains the sun, and then start talking not about detail but rather tonal transitions. It will make this discussion seem trivial.
  22. Stephen, the picture of the tree and clouds is fantastic.
  23. Not to deny an point about detail or not, but I think I like the picture better when I see the whole thing instead of just 0.4% of it...
  24. Thank you Marshall.
  25. Regarding Mauro's enlargement of my Jpeg file, I would prefer to submit a crop taken from the original raw file. The jpeg
    file that Mauro started with has nowhere near the resolution of the original file. It might take me a couple of days to get
    back to this, but I am confident that my even closer crop will look a lot better than Mauro's freakish interpretation.
  26. a couple of days to show resolution [not quality], huh? sounds about right. progress. convenience. two words i Always associate with the digital-scam-wagon! lol.
  27. Regarding Mauro's enlargement of my Jpeg file, I would prefer to submit a crop taken from the original raw file. The jpeg file that Mauro started with has nowhere near the resolution of the original file. It might take me a couple of days to get back to this, but I am confident that my even closer crop will look a lot better than Mauro's freakish interpretation.
    I was about to post on that. I hate to say this, but Mauro has a history of posting unoptimized enlargements of digital test samples. You need to start with the original RAW and produce a proper enlargement with processing optimized for such a close inspection.
    Will the 6x7 exhibit higher resolution and sharpness? Of course. Will the 5D2 sample look as nasty as in Mauro's sample? No, not even close.
  28. of course. but it won't look any less dead.
  29. Tech pan looks a bit odd to me for skin tones- is it over-emphasizing the reds? I'm not sure I'd choose it over a more normal film like Tmax or Tri-X for portraits and don't personally like grainless B&W anyway.
  30. The goal of the thread actually to step back and reflect of what we give up in detail in this generation when using digital. Past generations used film and kept the detail, future generations will have better digital technology. This generation was stuck in the middle.
    And this continues to be a ridiculous statement. The vast majority of images from the 20th century were produced using small format equipment (35mm or smaller). Out of those almost all were compromised, in terms of detail relative to a modern DSLR, either from inferior equipment, inferior emulsions, or poor photofinishing.
    This generation is far more interested in photography, and producing far more work, thanks to digital and the Internet. That work is also on average of a higher technical caliber than what we see from past generations. Past generations didn't shoot Tech Pan or Velvia 50 in 6x7. They shot 35mm, often consumer print films, and often printed at a chain store photo lab. Even uncle Bob with his 35mm slides and prime lenses would struggle to match what today's DSLRs can produce.
    DSLRs have replaced MF for some. But how do you weigh detail which will likely never see a print large enough to matter against producing more work and more memories? That's a real choice people face when choosing between the two systems for a particular job or event.
    If you want to cry that people have lost detail, cry that roll film was ever developed. If you had shot your daughter with an 8x10 view camera you would have so much more detail in that memory of her. She would have gotten bored and fallen asleep by the time you set it up, which is a good thing considering the aperture and resulting shutter speed you would need. And you would have one, maybe two photos total. But could you imagine the grain, sharpness, and detail you would see in a crop equivalent to a 300" print? You could zoom right into a single eyelash and we would all marvel at the wisdom you possess for capturing your memories on 8x10 sheet film.
    But no, your generation chose convenience over quality with roll film. Let us take a moment of silence for what you've lost.
  31. Daniel,
    I only performed bi-cubic upsampling in Photoshop to match the sized of the comparison. That is all. That is the best I can do without the raw file. Dan will do better from the RAW.
    I am not sure why you imply that I purposely (or not) created an upsambling that is suboptimal. That is not the case.
    I take no offense since I am not defensive, I'm just confused why you think that information is intentionally distorted.
  32. Ian Cook, I'm confident that I can prepare a lovely file for you in a matter of minutes. I just don't have access to that file
    where I am today.

    Mauro, there is no offense of defense either. I think we're all well aware that jpeg files are compressed and therefore are not a good starting point for further manipulation. I would rather start with the original.

    Further, you processed the jpeg fioe in Photoshop, but the original file was processed in Lightroom. Although both programs come from the same company their sharpening algorithms are not compatible. For the next example, I shall do everything in Photoshop in order to be compatible with your workflow.
  33. This is one of the silliest threads I've seen for a long time. Probably why I don't bother coming in here often.
    So the film vs digital threads have become so desperate that we are comparing crops from a jpeg off a 864 sq mm sensor at 200 iso, to a crop from a 3920 sq mm neg at 25 iso, and moaning about the lack of detail in the digital image! Get real.
    Same size digital bests film in almost every practical area, resolution included. That is a fact. There are very compelling reasons to use film if you want to. Digital is not "better" than film, it is different.
    Now here are three images, top is from a ff digital, or 24x36. Second image is a 2% crop, nothing has been done to either image, no sharpening, re sampling, nothing. Third image I believe represents .004% of the full image, this has had auto resample and auto levels done, no sharpening. This crop equates to a massive print, truly massive. Show me people making 6 foot x 9 foot prints of their kids and I'll show you somebody who might benefit from a MF film kit over a "ff" digital kit. Though they would almost certainly be better off with a Pentax 645 digital.
    As I said, there are very good reasons for using film, but don't bemoan the lack of detail in digital imagery as one of them.
  34. Sorry, posted the tif by accident, here, hopefully, is the jpeg! Doh!
  35. Actually your unenlarged first post was already freakishly plasticky as pointed out.
    I think you're confusing who is who. I did not shoot or post the 5D2 sample. "Plastic" is often used to describe digital files that lack detail. As pointed out, the 5D2 actually exhibits more skinsurface texture than the 6x7 crop. (Again I'll say that this is odd. 6x7 should exhibit greater high and low contrast detail.)
    In the thread "It all comes down to the print" (search for "35mm Velvia - 18MP DSLR") you submitted raw scans in comparison to your highly optimized digital output. It was Mauro who processed the raw scan which showed it resolving more then your further optimized digital file.
    I forget who ended up with the best 35mm crop. We were both working towards the goal of optimum crops from both mediums. The 35mm Velvia scan did not resolve more detail than the digital RAW file. The high contrast details had a smoother rendition, but no additional high contrast detail was actually resolved. The digital RAW file held its edge on low contrast detail. As I recall it took a lot more work, at least for me, to get the 35mm scan to par than the 7D RAW file.
  36. No Les, like I said the third image had auto levels done, the shot was taken with a CTO on the flash, the auto bit has messed with the unbalanced white balance.
  37. Scott,
    This is not a competition of MF against DSLR. Earlier on when DSLRs were introduced people thought that DSLRs surpassed 35mm film and even MF film - most people know better now.
    The differences in detail between MF and DSLRs are very clear at the sizes I print the most 16x20 and 24x30. The difference in tonality is evident at 11x14 or larger.
    There is no need for 6 ft x 9 ft prints to show the difference. Not sure why but I see this comment often.
    *** This particular thread is about detail captured and preserved - not scanned or printed. Many people have given up MF film over the last 10 years in exchange for DSLRs ranging between 3MP and 20MP. Detail was lost.
  38. I am not sure why you imply that I purposely (or not) created an upsambling that is suboptimal. That is not the case.
    Mauro, I don't think you do it on purpose. But I have seen you make knee jerk enlargements of samples provided by others, like in this thread, that were clearly sub optimal.
    I take no offense since I am not defensive, I'm just confused why you think that information is intentionally distorted.
    It can't be anything other than distorted because it's a compressed JPEG upload from a file sharpened for print. Let Dan do his best with the RAW file, or get the RAW file from him. I'm sure 6x7 Tech Pan will still exhibit greater resolution and less grain. But if we're going to do these silly comparisons lets at least do them right.
  39. Dan, the comparison is welcomed but not needed since no one argues the point.
    Think about the time were you replaced MF film for a DSLR for most of the shooting. What was that DSLR? Was detail lost?
  40. Scott - your sample puts in a better performance than I would have expected. While the 6x7 scan clearly shows smoother rendition of detail, that's quite the shot across the bow from a 35mm sensor. I think you've made the point that unless you're looking for very large prints, you're not missing anything with FF digital.
    Show me people making 6 foot x 9 foot prints of their kids and I'll show you somebody who might benefit from a MF film kit over a "ff" digital kit. Though they would almost certainly be better off with a Pentax 645 digital.
    The only people who push into the realm of extreme print sizes which are critically reviewed at close range are landscape photographers shooting LF, MF digital, or stitching DSLR shots like mad. Families aren't missing anything by moving to digital. They're most likely gaining compared to what they would have been shooting before digital.
  41. Think about the time were you replaced MF film for a DSLR for most of the shooting. What was that DSLR? Was detail lost?
    They're different tools with different strengths. What photographs might I miss using MF rather than a DSLR? I'm limited on capacity, lens choices, and working speed with a MF body. Is it worth getting more detail per shot but missing shots? That all depends. Am I waiting 20 minutes for the perfect light on a landscape? I'll take the time to use a larger format or stitch the DSLR. Am I shooting a surfing competition? I think it's obvious MF isn't even in the running there. (And I could write several paragraphs on the improvements in IQ brought to surfing photography by DSLRs. It's quite obvious when comparing today's digital shots to yesterday's 35mm shots, even the most recent film work from the 1990's or early 2000's which benefited from digital post processing before the magazine run.)
    Horses for courses my Tech Pan hoarding friend.
  42. Scott, that is a great shot from a DSLR. But when comparing to MF film, detail is obviously lost.
    Whether you would print at 16x20 or larger to see the difference on paper does not change the fact that detail is lost. No need to argue, this is just a reflection.
  43. Daniel, I did not modified Scott's crop.
    The differences in detail are not marginal.
  44. These make awesome comparisons since I noticed even the umbrellas are on the same position.
  45. I think both the film & the digital look good. The only problem with the digital is that the technology is constantly going out of date, so in a year or two, your 2K investment becomes a paper weight. Not so with the film camera. And the film cameras are cheaper.
  46. Mauro,
    It seems like your position has changed slightly. When I compare my "FF" DSLR prints to my 135 Velvia/Provia prints there is no competition. The DSLR really does embarrass the film, please understand that is a fact, not an emotional opinion. I earn a reasonable portion of my mortgage money from large print sales, at 20"x30" my digital prints are "better", with more detail, than my beloved Cibachromes. I did not buy a DSLR to use for critical work until they came out with a 21mp ff sensor. At that point it was time to move. I still have, and use, 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7 and 6x9 film backs, but with the ease of stitching and the quality I can get from 17mm TS-E lenses and the like, this will probably be their last year. My FF digital camera can not produce the quality my larger MF gear can. If you can see tonality differences in 11"x14" prints then you are doing something wrong in post.
    Your point seemed to be that today's digital shooters are missing out on detail. I said, in a roundabout way, compare like with like and they are not, the high mp dslr's, size for size, deliver more detail than film. Compare a FF digital crop to the same sized crop from a 135 film shot at the same iso and you will have the truth too. Take casual, walk around, shots with a medium format camera with enough light to shoot 25iso film and sure, you'll get more detail than the casual shooter with a DSLR. But how many of those DSLR shooter would have ever used MF gear? Most would have been using 135 sized cameras and smaller. How many 110 cameras were sold compared to MF when they were in competition?
  47. Mauro,
    Of course your MF image has more detail, it is from a MUCH larger area!
    J Marrs,
    For my $2,000 I can take tens of thousands of images for the cost of a couple of TB storage ($150). My Velvia cost me at least $1 per image, not including subsequent storage costs. In two years my FF DSLR will still be able to take images exactly the same as today, I have no need to upgrade.
  48. You are correct.
    The casual user that use to shoot film from a convenience store and now has $2,000+ in digital gear has really improved his/her detail capture.
    Those who moved from 35mm films like TMAX, Velvia with L lenses to 3MP-20MP DSLRs have not. Through their journey of upgrading DSLRs they have left behind a lot of detail, and if they are at 20MP now they are comparable.
    Those who move from MF to DSLRs obviously more so.
  49. Scott,
    I am glad to hear you didn't move critical work to digital until 21MPs. You are one of the few who had the knowledge to manage that.
    You quote "When I compare my "FF" DSLR prints to my 135 Velvia/Provia prints there is no competition. The DSLR really does embarrass the film". Can you post an example? My results on Velvia are pixel sharp...
  50. Mauro,
    I have never scanned my slides, all my film prints have been wet prints, or out house auto printing scans and slides lent for scanning for magazines etc (I own the slide but the magazine pays for, and owns, the scan). I don't have any digitised film images. I always thought it missed the point! I watched the progress of scanners and decided to skip it completely. I do have very similar images printed out to the same size shot from the same place with the same lens, but at different times, from 135 Velvia and FF DSLR's, the digital captured prints really are better at the sizes I have, 20"x30" and 24"x36".
    Sorry I can't be more helpful.
    Take care, Scott.
  51. Scott, to Daniel's point on conversion to B&W, can you convert the crop of the eye to B&W and post it for comparison to the shot made with film?
    This is what I get but I am no expert.
  52. Why can't I stop reading this soap opera? All the bickering and now people getting along.....
    Someone called it a stupid thread. I find it a great thread. Maybe because i am stupid who knows but I do believe a lot of air has been exhaled into this. :)
  53. Thank you anyway Scott. If you have some slides you are dear of I can scan them for you with my Coolscan.
  54. LOL Larry. The main problem still is that we are all very limited on our inventory of Tech Pan and Technidol.
  55. Larry,
    I called it a stupid thread because people were being stupid. BUT, I liked the thread and so posted something people could really get their teeth into, it seems to have worked. It is funny, we all get so used to what we work with and are familiar with, we don't look too far out of the box sometimes. I seem to be unusual in that I have, and use, MF film and high quality FF DSLR's, I don't "love" either of them. I don't "need" more quality than my dslr can give me often enough to justify a MF digital setup.
    I'd be happy to, what do you specifically see as needing help in the digital image? I'll have a play :).
  56. Well I have both send me a mail and we will talk. I also have the recipe to make Technidol.
  57. Larry, you are just teasing.
    Scott, I'm fine with digital. The offer for scanning is honest - just let me know.
  58. Mauro,
    Here is quick go. Don't forget this is from a much smaller area than the MF crop.
  59. No I am not....... I got some in 2 old bulk loaders and the developer I got when an old photo store went Out of business. foil packs...... I have been known to tease but not when it comes to this.
  60. Wow that didn't resize well!
  61. Larry are you selling Technidol? ... You got a buyer. These are the packs that make 8oz each correct?
  62. email me and yes I have some. Let us take this off the thread...... I can share some.
  63. Scott, how many times is this upsized (linearly)?
  64. Mauro,
    The crop is from a sensor area just under 2.3mm X 1.5mm, or just under 3.45mm square. Less than 1/250 of the sensors real estate, or 0.4%, sorry I got the decimal place in the wrong column earlier!
    On my monitor it replicates at 230mm X 153mm, for 35,190mm square, an effective 10,200 times area enlargement, or a 100 times linear enlargement. So were you to print it out at this resolution you would be looking at a 3.6m X 2.4m print, or 142 inch X 94 inch, 12 feet X 8 feet.
    I upsampled from 360 X 240 pixels to 700 x 467 (I think) so linear upsample of less than 2. With this resolution and no upsample you could print to 6 feet X 4 feet. With vastly improved resolution and no upsample you can print to 36" X 24", which strangely enough is my largest standard print size.
    Hope this helps, Scott.
    P.S. I might just take you up on a couple of slide scans next time i'm in the USA.
  65. That TP is amazing stuff. I shot some 35mm rolls a number of years ago and developed it a very dilute rodinal. Prints were just excelent so sharp and grainless. I mainly shot APX100 or TriX at that time.
  66. Scott, my crop is under 0.4% of the frame.
  67. Stuart, TP is not only amazing by judging my humble 4,000 dpi scan. Detail on the negative extends far beyond what the scanner captures.
  68. Scott, B&W conversions are difficult from digital because the data lost from the Bayer and AA filters cannot be recovered (that is in addition to the sensor's limitations).
    Here the crops represent a similar proportion of the entire frame, but as you pointed out, it is a much larger area in absolute terms.
  69. Those eye shots are impressive. I got into B&W film too late to experience Tech Pan. On a side note that Tmax 400 is not looking so bad in comparison considering the small crop used.
  70. Michael, TMAX 400 is absolutely great. Although the grain structure is materially larger than TMAX 100, it is almost as high resolving and equally as sharp.
  71. Mauro, I never replaced my MF camera with a digital camera. I used them side by side. Sometimes MF was better.
    Sometimes digital was better. Performance depends on lighting and other conditions since the two technologies render
    images differently.

    When I replaced my MF film camera it was with the 4x5 film camera that I still shoot regularly. No detail has ever been
    lost. Nor have I ever lost a shot that film would have missed but digital could have captured easily, as is sometimes the

    I'll post my revised example this evening.
  72. Scott, B&W conversions are difficult from digital because the data lost from the Bayer and AA filters cannot be recovered (that is in addition to the sensor's limitations).
    The commonly held belief that Bayer filters cause a loss of detail relative to color film has been obliterated by observation. If Bayer did this then film would have higher low contrast and color detail than digital. This is clearly not the case when comparing within the same format. At 12 MP DSLRs start to resolve more low contrast and color detail (see the D2x sample at Les Sarile's site). At 18 MP and greater DSLRs exhibit considerably more low contrast and color detail, the very detail Bayer should destroy in theory. DSLRs resolve very close to their Nyquist limit pretty much regardless of brand or model. A careful comparison against Foveon sensors shows a small loss of detail, but clearly Bayer is much more efficient and effective that many people estimate from theory alone.
    Relative to B&W film Bayer is not throwing away information, it is preserving information that B&W film by nature throws away. Try applying a yellow or deep red filter to a B&W film image after the shot.
    AA filters cause a loss of sharpness more than anything else, which can be restored in post. I'm unconvinced there's any real loss of detail having looked at images produced by a DSLR with its AA filter removed, but I can't confirm or deny that without having one to test against a resolution target.
    No, the reason why B&W conversions from digital can be challenging has nothing to do with resolution, Bayer, or AA filters, and everything to do with tonality. Years were spent perfecting the tonal curve of B&W film, and years of study and information are available on development which photographers can use to customize this curve in the lab. A straight conversion of a digital color image is typically flat and muddy by comparison. It takes some work, and some experience with classic B&W, to mimic the tonal response of classic B&W films.
    A lot of the digital B&W work I see does not have that classic look regardless of how it stands on its own. (It may be excellent work, but the tonality still betrays it as different.) It is certainly possible to mimic that tonal response however. The best advice I can give on this point is to spend some time shooting both digital and B&W side by side, scene by scene. Every where you go take two SLRs, and everything you shoot, shoot both. As you develop and print the B&W (ideally yourself in a darkroom) develop and print the digital files to match the B&W. You'll get a solid feel for the differences between them, and how to get the digital to mimic the B&W tonality. Also, I think Silver Efex Pro is easier to use in this respect than the tools built into PS.
    The upside with digital is that once you have the eye and technique needed to mimic the look, you can consistently get that look from any scene. My experience with B&W film is that it either looks great or looks terrible depending on how well the film and development is matched to the scene. Digital RAW gives you a pretty neutral capture of a scene regardless of the tonality in the scene. But then you have a host of tools in the RAW converter and in PS (levels, Shadows & Highlights, LCE, curves, etc.) with which to reshape the image curve to match the scene. You also can apply color filtration after the shot, a notable advantage in my book. You don't have to take notes and manage this before seeing the image on film, something Zone system adherents are religious about but which isn't always practical with roll film. You can just do it with image in hand.
  73. I tried that once Daniel I didn't spend to much time on but here some of the images.
    It was an interesting experiment though..
    There are differences between the images but I was quite happy with the digital conversions.
  74. Daniel,
    I agree. On average, I see more terrible B&W film work than good. Unfortunately, many people don't expose correctly for the shadows and compensate for highlights to suit scans. Thus, what we end up with is a combination of poor exposure, poor processing, and then poor scanning getting the worst of the worst.....blocked up shadows, clipped highlights and acentuated grain.
    I used a mountain of TP when I used to hypersensitize it for astronomical photography. I started using it for some pictoral work but never really enjoyed the tonality of it. I prefered the look of Ilford FP4 and HP5.....TP looked stark in Technidol. I love the lack of grain in 6x7, but prefered the look of HP5.
    Which brings me to my last point. I thought, back then, that I would like to have as little grain as possible in print. What I found was that with a 6x7 neg, even with FP4, there was minimal grain in a 24x30. In fact, when I look at scans from those old negs, I actually prefer them with that little bit of adds a bit of texture to the final image, giving the appearance of even greater detail. Therin lay my issue....while TP had more real detail in print, the FP4 looked like it had as much because of this fine texture.
    Now, most of us add a bit of noise to images in prep for print. Adding this noise to a 5D2 image during B&W conversion in Silver Efex showed me that there was little more in the scans from my RB67 than the 16x20....and sometimes even 20x30. A bit of noise in the B&W really makes it appear more detailed.
    I used a Pentax k20D a lot in Death Valley last year. I've made some 24x36 prints on HM Photorag 308 that were processed in Silver Efex. These looked superb.....despite the poor showing at 100% on screen.
    While I love film for a lot of work, sometimes it doesn't matter. For this shot of clay in the dunes, at 24x36, I can see grains of sand with no problem. Processed in Silver Efex with the HP5 look if I recall. I reduced the grain somewhat to match what a 6x7 HP5 scan would look like.
  75. Mauro,
    Given that your crop represents an area of film equal to 15.7mm sq and mine is from a sensor area of 3.45mm sq I think it is pretty amazing that the digital is anywhere near the MF film.
    So for your consideration, here is a 15.7mm sq crop from the digital sensor. This now levels the playing field, we are comparing like for like. High end FF digital SLR sensor at 100iso and Tech Pan at 25iso.
    I have done no processing to this crop, it is downsized slightly and converted in Save to Web and Devices but all with auto settings. No sharpening.
  76. Thank you Scott. If you can, post it at 100% without resizing.
    We can compare it to the same area (i.e. FF digital vs 35mm film).
  77. Daniel, current B&W films are panchromatic -sensitive to all colors of light. Whereas each pixel of a digital camera is sensitive to a single color.
    If you use a color filter with a film camera then yes, that difference is gone.
    It is true that the response of B&W films to different wavelengths has been tailored over years and years to excel in their application. I agree this is a big component of why it is difficult to replicate with a digital conversion.
  78. Marketing is very powerful. Look at the release of today's 46MP foveon camera:
    Now under the same marketing technique, you would say the Coolscan 9000 is not 4,000dpi but 12,000 dpi. Would you?
    Now from your 7D, you take a red pixel, a green pixel and a blue pixel... How do you produce three full RGB pixels? You can't.
  79. Mauro,
    I'll post anything you would like. But what is it about the latest one you are not comfortable with? It is a crop from the same area as the film, both have been resampled to fit the 700px wide format, I don't think either is hurt more than the other that way. Either the scan, or the dslr image need to be resampled to match each other as they have different dpi/ppi figures.
    Funnily enough I just saw that announcement here. For me, none of this is about how I get there, it is what I end up with. When digital matched my film quality and smashed the cost per image equation there was no justification for shooting film. I don't care about the number of pixels or the grain and developer combination's, I care about the images. I wet developed B&W for years, I can replicate, to my satisfaction, any effect/mood/look on a computer far easier and cheaper (and environmentally friendlier!) than I could in the darkroom. I loved my time in the darkroom, but technology has moved on. My very low volume MF film images do still realise higher ultimate IQ than my "FF" digital, if you do all the things necessary to realise that potential. But the occasions when I need that additional IQ are very rare.
    Interesting thread, thanks all, Scott.
  80. Scott, that is fine. Coincidentally my scanner produces 21MP from a 35mm frame. One-to-one relationship to a 20MP camera. Neither one has to be resampled.
    It is interesting since people always want to see organic comparisons (instead of maps or resolution charts).
    Daniel, did you eve develop the Velvia from the trip you took?
  81. Mauro,
    Here is a square crop at 1:1 for pixels. It is 700x700 pixels so from my camera (a Canon 1Ds MkIII) it represents 20.25mm sq of sensor area.
    As normal I did nothing to it, opened in PS4 as 16bit ProPhoto spaced image, cropped to 700 pixel square and saved for web and devices at 75% quality. So it ends up being a 180kb, 8bit, sRGB, jpeg.
    EXIF data is 1/200 sec at f4, 100iso, manual flash at 1/4 power. Lens was the much maligned (though I really like it) 50mm f1.4.
    Hope this helps future threads too. Scott.
  82. Here are a few more treatments of my original eye photo, this time processed in Photoshop.
    First, let's get some math out of the way. The size of the eye in the frame is significant. If the eyes in my frame are a larger part of the entire photo, for example, then my photo might appear to have more detail. I don't have Mauro's scan, so I can't compare the size of the eyes in his photo versus my own, but I'll offer size information for my crop and the full frame. Perhaps Mauro can do the same so we can get some idea as to whether the eyes are larger in one photo or another.
    Sorry, Mauro, but I don't believe your claim that your crop is .04 percent of your entire photo (it's probably more like 4 percent), but you can verify this by presenting data and calculations similar to the ones below.
    The whole frame is 5,616 by 3,744 pixels.
    The crop below is 584 by 419 pixels.
    584 times 419 = 244,696 pixels
    5616 times 3744 = 21,026,304 pixels
    244,696 / 21,026,304 = 0.0116
    Therefore, the crop is 1.16 percent of the entire frame. Conversely, the entire frame is made up of 86 segments each the size of this small crop. That's quite a bit of detail, IMHO.
    Here is the original 584 x 419 pixel crop processed in Photoshop with no sharpening. I can see clearly pores in the skin, individual specs of eye makeup, and very fine strands of hair throughout the image.
  83. Next, I used Photoshop's Bicubic function to upsize the crop to 700 pixels on the long side (the largest size that I can upload here). This is the unsharpened version.
    Note that it does not have the freakish distortion of Mauro's attempt to upsize the JPEG file that I posted on Sunday. Everything is very smooth.
  84. Here is the upsized crop (700 pixels) with a modest amount of the Smart Sharpen filter applied. Lots of detail is visible. It is at least comparable and possibly slightly superior to the film scan. Again, we don't know the pixel dimensions of the eyes in Mauro's film scan, so a size differential could explain the increased detail if it indeed works out that way. If it turns out the my photo's eyes were SMALLER than Mauro's, then the detail in the digital capture is even more impressive.
    Keep in mind that these shots were handheld on a sidewalk in mid-afternoon on a clear day. No tripod, flash, reflectors, or artificial lighting of any kind was used. The exposure was 1/250 @ f/5.6, ISO 200. This shot would not have been possible with a 6x7 camera loaded with ISO 25 file.
  85. Both examples look great (Scott's and Dan's). Thank you for posting.
    I might have cropped minimally when I scanned but the size of a full scan with my Coolscan is 11,016 x 8,964 pixels.
  86. Wow! That's a BIG scan! Lots of data!
  87. There is the full frame image of Mauro's scan at the begining of this thread.
  88. Working on Mauro's first, multiple image, by my calculations, his tightest eye crop is very close to 1% of the full image area, +/- 5%. More than 20x the 0.04 figure he thought the crop represented. I got my first figures wrong by a similar magnitude though!
    I did that calculation by cropping the full frame out of the montage, for an image 686 X 550 pixels, then the eye crop out of that is approximately 69 X 55 pixels.
    The full image is 377,300 pixels
    The eye crop is 3,795 pixels
    377,300 / 3,795 = 99.4, or fractionally over 1%.
    I only point this out in the hope that we can really put some inaccuracies and fallacies to bed in this thread.
  89. By using a simple ruler to measure Mauro's crops on the screen, I think his first crop is about 1/8 of the original image. His second crop is about 1/24 of the first crop. Therefore, cumulatively the last crop would be 1/192 of the original pic, that is about 0.5%.
    I think the original 0.04% crop comment may be an unintentional mistake and Mauro did correct it to the 0.4% in a later post (page 2). I think Mauro's comment that comparing his 0.4% (or 0.5%) crop to a 2% crop from FF digital is similar to comparing a 35mm film scan to FF digital is reasonable because the crop difference is similar to the size difference between 67 and 35mm.
    Mauro, thanks for the posting so those of us who still use film knows how much detail we can pull out of film. Currently I am still using 35mm a lot and sometimes I have problems with sharpness issue, this post shows me that the problem may likely lie within my overall workflow, instead of the film.
  90. >> 377,300 / 3,795 = 99.4, or fractionally over 1%.

    Given that the isolated eye crop that I posted on page 9 is about 1.1 percent of the entire frame, the eyes represent about
    the same area of each frame. These examples represent a reasonable comparison of the two formats. Both show plenty
    of detail. Use what you prefer and have no regrets.
  91. Use what you prefer and have no regrets.​
    That about sums it up Dan. I won't argue that in terms of absolute detail, the 6x7 film will have much more real detail than the 5D2. That said, what I have found is that on normal large prints, 16x20, 24x30 for doesn't make any real difference.
  92. One can definitely make excellent prints from the 5D2 and 1DsIII.
  93. Same for other films...
    Although TMAX 100 and TP 25 capture more detail with less grain than TMAX 400, 24x30 prints from TMAX 400 are full of detail and grainless as well.
  94. I'm a Velvia 100 fan, myself, but I might try some Tech Pan given these examples. It looks really creamy!
  95. B&W is always Pan F for me, in 135 and 120. It's very fine grain and contrast are my idea of what a B&W film should do.
  96. "It looks really creamy!"
    It does. Remember I was using a softbox and and a white umbrella fairly close, but yes - super smooth.
  97. I'm still got about 2 dozen rolls of TP in 120 format. Saving them for something....maybe a project in the Carmanah Valley or something. An 8000ppi Aztek scan from Lenny would be pretty spectacular!
  98. Of course in the days of film most photos were taken with 35mm not MF, and today most photos are not taken with DSLRs but rather P&S digital or cell phone.
    Having said that the photo does have a lot of detail in it, but for capturing memories is that level of detail needed? I mean to even start making good use of that level of detail you would need to make a print at least 20x30 inches and then view it from no more then 12 inches. I know a lot of people who really like photos of their kids but I don't know many that feel the need for photos that large that can be viewed that close.
    I suspect that when future generation view those photos they are not going notice that great detail but rather the lack of color, but that is just my opinion because I like color.
  99. Dave, I only have a dozen left - not fair.
  100. I wouldn't be comfortable with large prints of peoples eyes on the wall in my home, sorry.
  101. Dave, it doesn't go "in" your goes outside to wrap your home.
  102. Or on the billboard on your front lawn.

    The eyes have it!
  103. In all honesty, even just 16x20 and 24x30 prints from 6x7 look gorgeous when there is enough detail to to exhaust the printer's practical resolution of 360dpi.

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