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Ektar 100 versus Alpha 900, Velvia 100, Portra 160VC and TMax 100


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Hi all,

 

I thought I would drop here my contribution in the continuing evaluation of the new Ektar 100 film. Please note I

am not a professional tester, but I have done my utter best to be consistent and thorough. Do note also that some

of the scanned images are completely unsharpened, so essentially "RAW" type, so don't bother me too much with

comments about softness! I have made clear remarks whenever an image is sharpened or not.

 

I made scans on an Imacon 646 and put the Ektar 100 film up against Velvia 100, Portra 160VC, TMax 100 and

last-but-not-least against the pixel monster Alpha 900!

 

Have fun: (follow line Ektar 100):

 

http://www.boeringa.demon.nl/menu_technic.htm

 

Regards,

 

Marco

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Thanks for all your work, Marco. Amazing how Sony has relatively quickly moved into the photography business in a big way. Who would have thought 10 years ago that they would be competing against Nikon and Canon. I just sent out some exposed Ektar to be developed. I don't have access to an Imacon 646, but I look forward to scanning it on my Nikon 9000. Looks like a great color reversal film.
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A test like this was done at DPReview….maybe it was you Marco….I can’t remember. It was not well received by some as showing that humble 35mm was so, so close to a 24mp DSLR gored the sacred cow of some. After all, the 3mp D30 was proclaimed by some to beat 35mm film at even 10x15……something I noticed was blindly incorrect when testing my D30 with my old Imacon 343.

 

I prefer 4x5 to 35mm for reasons obvious. But your test was well conducted and interesting to read. Amazing what results can be obtained by someone who knows how to scan film.

 

Best regards.

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"Amazing how Sony has relatively quickly moved into the photography business in a big way. Who would have thought 10 years ago that they would be competing against Nikon and Canon."

 

Sony introduced the first CCD camera in 1981 (Mavica). They made the first commercially available solid state image sensor...they were the first company in the business of electronic cameras. They've been in the "photography business" from the very beginning. They've been making solid state video cameras from about 1982. They just never addressed the dSLR market. They've probably made far more solid state imaging devices than Canon and Nikon combined if you count the millions of video cameras they've made.

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Steve....thanks for the info about Sony. I know they were in video cameras, etc. But still, I wouldn't have thought 10 years ago that they would be competing against such well established, old-line camera makers such as Nikon and Canon. But...it all makes sense when one considers that much of the "value" in todays DSLR is the electronics, an area where Sony has deep expertise.
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Thank you Marco, I just downloaded the images and it looks that you set up the chart to close to the camera for a

usable resolution comparison (all the shots seem to outresolve the chart). It maybe late and I may be missing a

detail you explained in your setup.

 

Anyhow, in my test of 35mm Ektar a and Tmax (Xtol 60/40) I get the following lines per picture height:

 

Ektar: 3700 lpph (using coolscan)

 

TMX: 5300 lpph (under microscope, coolscan showed 3900 which is its max true resolution)

 

 

Can you please tell us what is your assessment of the A900 true resolution in lpph?

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All your film scans show visible grains while Alpha900 at the max resolution has none. I am no expert but my immediate impression from looking at your comparison scans is no matter how fine grain films are they are no match to digital cameras that have no grains. However, I just printed a couple of 6x7 400VC images in 8x10 size. I see no grain on these prints. 400VC is known to be not a fine grain film. But practically it is grainless in moderate enlargements. I can imagine it will remain fairly fine grain in 13x15 or even at 16x20 blowing up from a 6x7 neg. Of course blowing up from a 35 mm neg is a different story.

 

My point is the grains in your comparison scans caught my eyes immediately. It immediately caused my mind to drift away from focusing on the resolution comparison. In my opinion these films and the Alpha900 are all very high resolution so the comparison of resolution among them are not very meaningful. Rather, dynamic range, colors, highlight and shadow performances are where the comparison will be more meaningful. Just my opinion. Correct me if I am wrong. Thank you for your effort.

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Tin, there is no right or wrong and every time someone undertakes the effort to post a test it benefits everyone.

 

That said, I agree with you, digital cameras in the 25 megapixel range will have comparable detail to sharp 100 iso film. Both comfortably producing fine detailed 16x20 prints. Then dynamic range, color relationship (not color balance that can be corrected), etc, become more ever so the distinguishing factor.

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Hi all,

 

As the OP, I though it time to chime in again. However, with one big warning: I am not going to fulfil any or all

of your wishes and answer to all of your questions. Why? Well, for one reason, and that is:

 

Whatever I would do / say / comment, there will ALWAYS be someone disagreeing / saying "you should have done this

or that". It will NEVER satisfy everyone.

 

However, to give a more brought idea of how I see this test:

 

First of, I am not a professional tester. This is the first time ever I tested films and a digital camera in

such a manner and went so deep. Am I satisfied with how it went? Well, partly. Did things go wrong: no, not

dramatically, but I have had issues like the unfortunate coincidence of when you most need it, the Imacon 848 not

being available and having to make do with a lesser problematic scanner. Would I do things differently a second

time: Yes, probably, the test setup would require some adjustment / additions. But all in all, I think it went

pretty sound.

 

Do I think that any of the issues I encountered render the test results completely useless? No, not at all, and

that's the reason I posted here and on APUG to share it with all of you, as I still think many things are to be

learned from it.

 

In the end, well, I think I have given enough information and background for you yourself to evaluate it's

value... I have given more background and insight than most professional testers / websites / photo magazines

ever do, for example giving you excess to the full high resolutions scans directly.

 

To respond to some remarks:

 

- QUOTE1: "I am no expert but my immediate impression from looking at your comparison scans is no matter how fine

grain films are they are no match to digital cameras that have no grains."

 

You missed one crucial point about film and it's usage: film users generally WANT a film to have grain. We don't

mind seeing it, nor scanning it. I never intended to obliterate grain from the scans (as is more or less possible

in drum scanning or using smoothing functions in PS).

 

As one former active, but now unfortunately deceased member (Flotsam) of the APUG (The Analog Photography Users

Group) so simply and eloquently said it:

 

"That is called grain. It is supposed to be there."

 

- QOUTE2: "Thank you Marco, I just downloaded the images and it looks that you set up the chart to close to the

camera for a usable resolution comparison (all the shots seem to outresolve the chart)."

 

I only partly really agree with this remark. Yes, in hindsight it would have been better to use a test chart with

higher resolution test patterns. However, as I noticed after doing all the scans and processing the files, that

would also require a higher resolution offset printing process, as the test chart's dot screen pattern already is

on the brink of being revealed.

 

HOWEVER: that last fact in itself is a HUGE!!!! COMPLIMENT to all of the films and the Alpha 900 in particular in

their high capacity for fine detail / high resolution capture. Just imagine, this chart is 60x90(!) cm (2x3 feet

for you Americans and Brits, well, disregarding the differences in shoe sizes ;-) ). If you don't have any

feeling of how big that really is, draw it out on your desktop, and amaze yourself of how much detail must be

captured to get to that point!

 

- QUOUTE3: "We are very interested to see what the true resolution of the A900 is horizontally and vertically."

 

Well, as I said in the test, the theoretical max resolution is about 84 lp/mm based on the sensors size and pixel

count. Now I have proven that the Alpha 900 and also Velvia 100 resolve the 40 lp/mm line pattern with ease, with

enough contrast left for the Alpha 900 shot to resolve considerably more. So if you want my "BEST GUESS", than I

would say, as I already stated in the test, that the Alpha 900 in reality comes pretty darn close to reaching

it's full 84 lp/mm, at least with high contrast black / white transitions. It's not a huge jump from the 40 to 84

lp/mm, but it DOES require even two pixels directly next to each other to be able to distinguish themselves.

Looking at the absolute cleanness of this test image line pattern in the Alpha 900, I am personally convinced the

Alpha 900 will reach it's theoretical maximum with an appropriate line source in a test chart.

 

Just look at this image, also on page 2 of the test results, once again (Alpha 900, 40 lp/mm line pattern at 800%

viewing in Photoshop):

 

 

Marco<div>00RgjG-94715584.jpg.67d4978ebc7318257eeef6e06db6677e.jpg</div>

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"It's not a huge jump from the 40 to 84 lp/mm, but it DOES require even two pixels directly next to each other to be able to distinguish themselves."

 

No offense Marco, I really appreciate your responses, 40lp/mm is just 5 megapixels. Big difference between 5 and 24 megapixels.

 

Your test is good but can't be used for resolution comparison. You must be measuring/doing something incorrectly.

 

The resolution of the film in your test is not an issue, we understand what the films can do, I posted the results I got myself for people to have as reference.

 

But***

 

1) Could you just shoot a picture of the chart with the A900 farther away and post it - It is a simple digital snapshot. We can do the true resolution calculation ourselves.

 

2) Could you also set up a subject with lighting measuring f64 with the meter with the sphere out and directed to the camera, and shoot it at f8? This is to compare to the Ektar's dynamic range test I posted.

 

Thank you again for all the contributions.

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