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12-14-2011, 10:13 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
It means that many (almost all?) manufacturers grossly overstate scanner resolution. My Epson V700 cannot resolve more than about 2400 dpi regardless of setting, care, or technique.
Steve
I know they do... So how can you tell that your scanner only does 2400 in spite of the setting? If you set it higher, how do you find out what the "real" resolution is? I am not scanning at that high resolution but am curious how one can evaluate this.

12-14-2011, 11:03 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alliecat Quote
I know they do... So how can you tell that your scanner only does 2400 in spite of the setting? If you set it higher, how do you find out what the "real" resolution is? I am not scanning at that high resolution but am curious how one can evaluate this.
Read one of the scanner test reviews at filmscanner.info to see their methodology for finding actual scan resolution.
12-15-2011, 07:28 AM   #18
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As with all these resolution testing, you have to use a reference that outresolves what your testing. In the tests results below I used the ISO 12233 chart (http://www.graphics.cornell.edu/~westin/misc/res-chart.html) laser printed on 11" X 17" (4X high) and shot it with the original Fuji Velvia under ideal conditions with my best lens. I then visually confirmed that the frame of film contained the detail with a 40X Carson MV-820 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0011WYMAU/nmphotonet-20. You can clearly see what the V700/V500 is not resolving - if the info is on the frame of film.

I had the V500 for a few and when I tested it, the results past 2400dpi were practically indistinguishable from the higher settings other than larger files and longer scan times.



Link to larger version -> http://www.fototime.com/33269E445D10043/orig.jpg


I also had the V700 for a few and according to my testing, it looks worthwhile to scan at least to 4800dpi. I understand that with the right holder and height adjustments, better results can be achieved.



Link to larger version -> http://www.fototime.com/11F59FA46FF9497/orig.jpg

You can clearly see the difference between the two. The V500's 2400dpi is not resolving the same detail as the V700's 2400dpi.

So using the same frame of film, I then scanned it on my Coolscan 5000 which maxes out at 4000dpi.



Link to larger version -> http://www.fototime.com/02BB797801DCA89/orig.jpg

Clearly the Coolscan's 4000dpi resolves more than the V700's 4800dpi even when using fine ICE mode.
12-25-2011, 10:00 PM   #19
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Grain (or lack thereof) is one of the advantages of digital over film. When I first switched over, one of the first things I noticed was how much cleaner my dslr images were compared to my old 35mm frames. Of course, these days people are trying to put some of that grain character back into their pictures.

Superia actually is not one of my favorite films, I always found it a little too contrasty and oversaturated. The Portra films are better scanning films, as is 400CN and XP2. Reala seems to do okay too. They all have a little bit better/finer grain than other C41 films.

02-17-2012, 05:33 PM   #20
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Since I just shot my first roll of Ektar, I'd write a little bit about my experience in this thread.
Basically, Ektar resolution and grain are, as might have been expected, miles better than Fuji Superia 200 -- though I'm not quite so sure about the colours, which I think I might prefer on the Fuji. Anyway: On some photos, the resolution is quite astonishing. Here's an example (the one that came out best):

Original (18.98MP)


100% Crop 1


100% Crop 2


What strikes me is that even though there is clearly a loss of detail and a slight kind of smudginess, if you look closely, there is plenty of detail to be found. For instance, look at the first 100% crop: You can make out the individual building blocks of the chapel if you look very closely. Similarly, the glass windows are still visibly different in the second crop. Or maybe I'm imagining it...?

Best wishes,
Martin

Last edited by noctilux; 02-17-2012 at 05:49 PM.
02-17-2012, 08:58 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by noctilux Quote
Since I just shot my first roll of Ektar, I'd write a little bit about my experience in this thread.
Basically, Ektar resolution and grain are, as might have been expected, miles better than Fuji Superia 200 -- though I'm not quite so sure about the colours, which I think I might prefer on the Fuji. Anyway: On some photos, the resolution is quite astonishing. Here's an example (the one that came out best):

Original (18.98MP)


100% Crop 1


100% Crop 2


What strikes me is that even though there is clearly a loss of detail and a slight kind of smudginess, if you look closely, there is plenty of detail to be found. For instance, look at the first 100% crop: You can make out the individual building blocks of the chapel if you look very closely. Similarly, the glass windows are still visibly different in the second crop. Or maybe I'm imagining it...?

Best wishes,
Martin

How did you do your scans? Also...tripod or hand-held?

I have found Ektar to be extremely fine-grained with high acuitance when properly exposed and scanned. Throw in under/over-exposure, poor processing, or a mini-lab scan and things go south very quickly.


Steve
02-17-2012, 10:30 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Best performance from a 35mm negative is topic with a long history that predates digital by several decades. The highest resolution films (e.g. Kodak Technical Pan...RIP) are/were capable of out-resolving the best lenses and could support prints to 16"x20" or even a bit larger. Much depends on viewing distance, equipment, and technique. I have 11"x14" optical prints made from Panatomic-X negatives that will stand up to close examination with a loupe.

How that translates to megapixels is another question entirely, particularly if you are talking about using high resolution digital printing as the output medium. The rule of thumb I have used is a working print resolution of 300 dpi. A 10 megapixel image from my K10D can be printed to 8.6"x12.9" as a straight print. Moving up to 15 megapixel will give you about 12"x18".

A full frame scan of a 35mm negative will yield a scan 5669x3780 pixels at 4000 dpi (my Nikon 5000 ED) and should be good for 12.6"x18.9", a figure that is about the same as what one could expect for a good optical print from the same negative or a 15 megapixel digital capture. So far, so good.

Strangely enough, though, the results are not 100% comparable. All pixels are not created equal and a scan is not strictly equivalent to optical projection from the same negative or slide. What I always tell people is that a digitized image from film is a reasonable rendering and a good option for presentation on its own strengths. Ditto for optical enlargement with wet processing.

I personally prefer a traditional print, but practical considerations weigh heavy and to be honest, I have not made a wet print since I got my digital equipment.

So...back to the OPs question...How to get the best digital performance from 35mm film?
  • Good lenses
  • Good technique
  • Good film
  • Pro lab for processing (not expensive...truly!)
  • Best scanning you can afford
  • Best printing you can afford (if you want prints)
  • Best technique for the two items above
For the last three items, the drug store or other mini-lab will not do. Even their high-resolution scans are a far cry from the real thing. I used to have my processing and scans done at Costco. It was inexpensive, but I finally figured out that the scans were junk and were filled with artifact. At that point, I bit the bullet and bought the Nikon. To put it bluntly...
There is no comparison...
Repeat 20x and there is still inadequate emphasis. The detail and tonal range that can be extracted with a quality scanner rivals what can be done in a traditional optical darkroom. Truly. If you want Figital Nirvana, you pretty much have to do your own scans on equipment that is up to the job. That means a real world resolution of 2400 dpi at minimum (Epson V700/750, for example). Moving up to a Nikon or Minolta DiMage is better with recent offerings from Plustek and Pacific Image filling out the middle ground. (Check out the Pacific Image as a good option for 120.) There are also expensive options from Hasselblad.

If I get a chance, I can provide some real world 100% crops of Kodachrome, Ektar 100, Panatomix-X, and T-Max 100 that can give an idea of what can be done. Right now, it is time for bed.


Steve
I think Steve's comments are very solid. Scans from mini-labs are garbage.

I will add that there are times when it is worthwhile scanning at higher resolution than the true optical resolution of a scanner. Specifically, in my experience it is possible to exercise more control over grain and sharpening. For example, if you scan a 35mm 400 ISO black and white neg at 6400 rather than 2400 on an Epson V700, particularly with no sharpening, grain is rendered quite differently. I often do this when I'm planning a large print. On the other hand, when I want a quick and dirty scan with grain that will look much like film in a 12x18 print, I scan at 3200ppi and use medium sharpening in Epson Scan.

There are too many variables to lay out rules about scanning resolution or many other aspects of scanning andimage editing. It really comes down to a matter of experience and judgement. You need to do a lot of scanning and acquire the know-how to evaluate results intelligently. You also need to figure out what your goals are.

Getting back to the oriiginal post, the sample images are about what I'd expect to see from a minilab scan. There are noticeable problems at the grain/fine detail level. Tonal rendition and colour are mediocre at best. Proper scanning would improve the image more than a different film. Use of a sharper film combined with excellent lenses and very careful technique would produce somehat higher resolution than you see in this image. However, I could also do much better with a K20D.

In general, I'd say that we should just let film be film rather than fussing about making film look like digital or vice versa. For example, an ongoing theme in my work is urban grunge. I'm happy to work with a less than perfect lens and ISO 800 film. The imperfections, in-your-face grain, and rather nasty colour are entirely appropriate to the theme. I don't need expensive Photoshop plugins to do it.

On the other hand, when I shoot with my best lenses, use a tripod, MLU, and fine-grained film I can produce prints 3 feet across that don't look out of place hanging in a gallery with medium format work.

To be blunt, if I was starting from scratch and looking for pure quality rather than character, I wouldn't waste my time and money on 35mm film. Any digital camera equal to or better than the K20 would be a much more rational choice. For the moment medium format film offers a cost-effective alternative, provided the photographer is willing to invest in building appropriate skills. However, even that is being thrown into doubt by the Nkon D800 to name one.

I shoot 35mm almost every day because I enjoy the process and have the skills to get what I want. I do, however, have the luxury of 18 years' experience scanning for publications and major exhibits. Most of my personal exhibit work is on medium format film.

So, to the OP, I say have fun with your SV. Learn as much about scanning as suits your wishes. Or just go with the flow and be playful with whatever ugly results the minilab gives you. It's really up to you!
02-18-2012, 05:14 AM   #23
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Sorry, I was belying the title of the thread with my latest image post -- what I did was clearly nowhere near the optimum. The image is a minilab scan; handheld, no tripod; maybe not perfectly exposed as I have not properly checked the old light meter I am using. The reason I posted them anyway was that I was pleased with the results. I didn't think the crops were all that bad, given that the scanning resolution is 19MP, a lot more than the expected 6-8MP for 35mm. But it's good to know that it's nowhere near what can be achieved, if I interpret your response correctly, Steve!

@John Poirier: Thanks for your comment. The reason for why I shoot film is simple, and it has nothing to do with resolution: It lets me focus on composition. So far, the results obtained with film have matched what I saw through the viewfinder much more closely than any digital photos -- without fiddling with the right metering and wrestling with the dynamic range. Often, I took what I thought was a promising picture in digital only to fight with the raw converter for a long time, having taken fifteen differently-exposed shots, and ending up with an unsatisfying image. With film, I feel the quality of my photographs is determined by my artistic skill (or lack thereof) rather than the technical skill.

At the same time, it would be nice to make the most of the 35mm for digital scans. Thanks everyone for the opinions -- I'll think about saving up for a better scanner!

Best wishes,
Martin

02-18-2012, 11:15 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by noctilux Quote
The reason I posted them anyway was that I was pleased with the results. I didn't think the crops were all that bad, given that the scanning resolution is 19MP, a lot more than the expected 6-8MP for 35mm. But it's good to know that it's nowhere near what can be achieved, if I interpret your response correctly, Steve!
You are correct! I was responding to your comment regarding smudginess. The crops are not bad, but Ektar is capable of much, much more.

As for quality vs. art vs. style vs. whatever...pure quality is not often the final determinant in regards to tools or medium. I shoot 35mm film because the gear and process addresses a different creative facet. Also, because it is fun. I am also able to extract reasonable quality to rival or surpass my K10D when I need it. I shoot larger format film for quality that would break my piggy bank if I were to attempt it with digital.


Steve
02-20-2012, 05:51 AM   #25
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It's said that you need at least 25MP to equal a good 35mm film.
02-20-2012, 12:00 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
Read one of the scanner test reviews at filmscanner.info to see their methodology for finding actual scan resolution.
It's been a while since I've looked at their review of the V700. Seems to me I was left wondering about its thoroughness because there was no mention of adjusting film carrier heights.
There were also one or two clangers in comments about Epson Scan sofware that I found dubious. Much of their approach to testing appears to be sound, but to me there were some big holes in that particular review.

An example of a review that I found useful is this:
EPSON V700 review

My results over the last 5 years or so are in line with this review.

John

Last edited by John Poirier; 02-20-2012 at 12:07 PM.
02-21-2012, 10:51 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
It's been a while since I've looked at their review of the V700. Seems to me I was left wondering about its thoroughness because there was no mention of adjusting film carrier heights.
There were also one or two clangers in comments about Epson Scan sofware that I found dubious. Much of their approach to testing appears to be sound, but to me there were some big holes in that particular review.

An example of a review that I found useful is this:
EPSON V700 review

My results over the last 5 years or so are in line with this review.

John
I read both reviews before purchase of my V700. I believe both are valid, though I would disagree with the hint that the V700 will resolve 4000 dpi with a little adjustment of the film holder. The most import things about the photo-i review is that it highlights the necessity of having the film holder at the correct height and that it demonstrates that the V700 does a very credible job of digitizing 35mm and larger negatives.


Steve
02-21-2012, 11:20 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I read both reviews before purchase of my V700. I believe both are valid, though I would disagree with the hint that the V700 will resolve 4000 dpi with a little adjustment of the film holder. The most import things about the photo-i review is that it highlights the necessity of having the film holder at the correct height and that it demonstrates that the V700 does a very credible job of digitizing 35mm and larger negatives.


Steve

Exactly. I don't buy 4000 dpi either, but the V700 is a very good unit. As usual your comments have a solid base in reality.

I do get tired sometimes of people dissing the V700 when they don't know what they're doing. Doesn't afffect me directly. I know what it can do. The results are hanging on gallery walls. It's not fair, though, to people who are put off a product that could benefit their work by ignorant nay-sayers.

John
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