Comparison (sub)Forum?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Michel Hardy-Vallée, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    Sean,

    I don't know if you have already tried this idea, but I was wondering whether creating a forum (or a gallery) for comparison of films/devs/papers/&c would be useful. I just saw a thread on comparing HC110 to Rodinal (http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=12972) and I thought that collecting the results of people's experiments could be interesting.

    Posts would have to evaluate a single variable in controlled conditions, and should list as well all relevant data; a lot of people often ask about the difference between, say, Rodinal and D76, or between Tri-X and HP5+, so having some "canonical" images might help building a repository of relatively objective information, chemistery-wise.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I like the idea, but I have no faith in something viewed on a monitor really showing the fine subtleties involved in such comparisons. OK for many things, but not, in my humble opinion for this purpose.
     
  3. Dug

    Dug Member

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    Gnashings is right.

    The negative is the score
    The print is the performance

    The print displayed on the monitor is the performance on an 8-track
     
  4. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    Well it doesn't have to be about things that can't be shown from a print scan: simple things like grain, response to light, or accutance can be decently shown on a scan, at least for informative purpose. It does not have to be perfect to the letter, but a great deal of knowledge, especially for beginners, can be gained from a good scan. For more expert comparisons, then yes, there's nothing like a print exchange, and that already exists.

    Dug, even on an 8-track you can tell whether it's REO Speedwagon or the Bee Gees.
     
  5. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I wasn't shooting the idea down - like I said, I think its good, in theory. I just see how in depth and how nuance-laden (and sometimes subjective) the "this film looks good ONLY in this developer at this dilution, time and agitation and only when developed on the third full moon of the year by a one eyed man in the company of 12 cats - all black, while chanting specific and highly secret incantations...etc, and so on and so forth..." :smile: discussions can get.
    Jokes aside, it IS a very subtle difference that often makes the difference here, and I have yet to see an image on my computer that would allow for this. Also, I have a compaq CRT monitor I look at in a fairly dimly lit room with the contrast, colour balance and brightness adjusted God only knows how (and often not the same way twice). What monitor do you have? What are your settings? What is the light like? Just go to an electronics store that sells TV's - they usually have the same show running on dozens of sets - and look at the difference from set to set.
    You see my point?

    Oh boy... I see the "What monitor brand gives superior tonality and contrast" forum getting started somewhere...

    Leica better make a monitor...
     
  6. aj-images

    aj-images Member

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    In theory, great idea, but I also see the issue with viewing on the monitor. What if there was an actual "book" created? I am doing testing right now and would be willing to share my results. This could be like the traveling portfolio and I think it would be a great resource for beginners.
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    A while back after testing a selection of the current graded papers, I offered the leftover paper for sale in the classifieds, thinking others might want to do the same test with their negs, developer, enlarger, etc., and no one took me up on it. I ended up giving the paper to a friend as part of a trade. I would have thought this would be an ideal kind of test. I keep the test prints in a folder for future reference.
     
  8. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

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    This is a perfectly valid and good idea to let pictures demonstrate results, rather than try to use text to convey ideas and supposed merits.

    Digital technology has to be embraced and monitors need to be calibrated to the proper industry standards using the proper tools. Choosing not to do this ICC/ICM calibration lessens enjoyment of images on the web, colour and B+W alike, which is a truly world-wide 24/7 asset rather than producing a single book for the APUG community. Those that choose not to do this ought to recognise that their self-imposed limitation is denying themselves access to invaluable information. I would encourage them not to stop others using the technology for mutual benefit.

    Please let those of us who have embraced current technology and are keen to progress and learn not be deprived. Quoting Mr Adams from half a lifetime ago is irrelevant when it is almost certain that he would have been using the latest chemistry/tools/techniques available in order to maximise the quality of his images.

    Subtleties can be shown perfectly well, by choosing small sections of the scanned film, the danger will be when sharpening is applied indiscriminantly. Agreeing to set pure black by sampling the rebate for filmbase+fog but not setting the highlights to 255, 255, 255 so that we can see how the compensation effect works would be my suggestion. That is unless there is a need to show the rebate as not being black (or white is shown as a negative), this can then be annotated in the accomanying text.

    In summary - this sub-forum would not be for everybody, but could be made to work very well for those that are prepared to sign up to some technically valid guidelines, so that the digital medium of the web can be used to enhance their analogue photography.
     
  9. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    I read APUG on a PowerBook LCD screen where everything is beautiful and flicker-free, so indeed monitor may become an issue...

    I love the idea of the book. The last time I went to my photo store I was surprised to see a recent copy of the Kodak Darkroom Guide, but apparently it's not in print anymore. Perhaps APUG could take over: with the amount of stuff in here, a good editor could either create a monthly digest, or even a full-blown reference publication. Could work for the gallery too: there's enough great photography here to publish it.
     
  10. aj-images

    aj-images Member

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    when I wrote "book", I didn't actually mean book as in publishing idea, which isn't a bad idea MHV, I meant a book of actual photographs in a binder. - Jim
     
  11. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I sense that some of you guys are misunderstanding my comments, taking them as just negative, random shooting down of ideas. Nothing could be further from the truth! I, for one, would dearly love to have such a resource at hand. It would be great to just say "hmmm, this film, this developer, these times, etc - this is my result" (although it would take away some of the experimenting that I find so enjoyable - but even so, it wold be a great guideline).

    What I was trying to say, however, was that people mostly know what combo gives you what general look - the subtleties that come into play after that are what I think would be next to impossible to convey accurately on a computer screen. And there is nothing that "proper calibration" can do for you: every CRT, every LCD or plasma or any other type of screen is a) slightly different (but very noticeably) right out of the box, due to materials, methods of manufacture, etc. ... abd b) those little knobs and buttons that adjust your screen are not there to make it "properly calibrated" but to allow you to find a comfortable viewing parameter for yourparticular tastes.
    The monitor I use is fairly high-end, with all the doo-dads and techno gadgets available, but the case is not about which monitor is better (although, granted, some are just bad and some are just better). For example, I know that may of my friends say my monitors (not just this one, but at work and all my previous ones) tire their eyes because they are "too bright". I go to their houses and can't stand their monitors (which are often even more pricey and high end than mine) because they seem dim...

    The point is, use whatever resource youhave at hand, and any help will be very appreciated by many, myself included... but a print on a computer screen? No, it will for the forseeable future be no where near good enough (why do youthink digital photos look so good to most people? they never see them printed!)
     
  12. Dug

    Dug Member

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    I would be happy to adopt any technology that would accurately portray differences in materials in the same way as actually looking at them. I find it interesting to even read printed material (books) that compare materials/techniques and not really get a grasp of what they are talking about until I produce or see an actual print.

    Light humor with a dose of sarcasm concerning Ansel Adams probably doesn't help, but if you read "The Print" and "The Negative", he oft indicates his concern that his book reproductions did not accurately portray the subtle differences he was trying to convey. I find that monitors vary a lot in how they display photos. Maybe even more than carefully published books....
     
  13. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

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    Firstly it seems that there is not going to be that much support for this idea, which I feel is a shame for APUG.

    Monitor calibration devices such as the Gretag-McBeth Eye, Colorvision Spyder etc are used by the industry and will adjust monitor to required luminance, colour temperature and gamma values. They need to be used at least every month as the monitor drifts. Selecting an old ICC profile in Colorsync ( or windows equivalent) will show how much the monitor varies. The difference these dangling devices make to the appearance of a monitor is significant, even if one thinks that they had done a good job with non-device methods such as Adobe Gamma. Monitor deviation is non-linear and really needs the sophistication of these devices and software. This is part of what I mean by embracing technology. The Colour Management knowledge base and associated industry is enormous, a small degree of understanding is needed in order to view images properly on computers. It brings everyone up to a series of benchmarks.

    Subtle differences can be viewed properly on monitors - differences of 1% are possible, but as when comparing all things, it perhaps helps to have a bench-mark which I suggest could be one's own neg scans which have been submitted to the internet resource. Possessing a far wider dynamic range than the printed page, I would suggest that is makes more sense to view scans of negs on your own digital lightbox.

    Like it or not, things have moved on since Ansel Adams, Weston et al. There has been progress in many areas and sadly a lot of the fine papers etc are no longer available. Think of all the good work that current and recent innovators have done with developers, printing techniques and how they are prepared to freely share this knowledge, to save others their pitfalls but to share in their successes.

    The internet is a fantastic resource, for learning in particular, which has helped my photography enormously. Through this I have been able to able to read and see pictures made from a tremendous range of cameras, techniques and chemistry. A far, far greater range of subject matter than ever reaches the printed page. That which I like, I seek further info, that which I don't I can leave - but still I have been enriched by the knowledge.I also use other resources, such as workshops and buying and avidly reading printed photographic books. Inevitably, these do include those two books (and others) of AA's which you mention. Slight irreverence is not ignorance.

    Publishers seek profits and thus it is most likely that the number of new non-digital titles will wane. I therefore suggest that the only non-digital readily accessible real alternative is the internet and that by becoming technology enabled, progress and enjoyment can continue, possibly more than by ever before.
     
  14. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Again, I think Mr. Bradford is reading more negativity and nay-saying into my opinions than I intend - since I intended none. Any resource is a great idea, as learning new things and perfecting one's skills through sharing knowledge and ideas is one of the best parts of photography as a hobby or even proffession. Therefore, any such resource has my vote! I am just pointing out the difficulties of making this particular idea work for the average APUG member, who (although it may be presumptious on my behalf) I don't think has the resources to devote to having a ultra-calibrated monitor. Not to mention the fact that monitors vary like all visual devices do, be they CRT or LCD or plasma or some other, unknown to me technology. Take the example of the TV's at the store - they all have a slightly different look, even in their default settings. So, to sum it up - throw it against the wall and see if it sticks, but lets just throw these ideasout there, so that those more capable than I know I am can find a way to make them work.

    Peter.
     
  15. argus

    argus Member

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    What should be wrong with that as long as you can notice the differences between the proposed images?

    G
     
  16. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

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    Peter

    I wasn't trying to decry your input and appreciate your willingness to try. I was trying to illuminate and say that if by choosing not to calibrate, then it is exactly like you state in a TV store, or worse! For those who do choose to use one of these monitor calibrators, then they should all look identical or would certainly be extremely close.

    It is for individual members to decide whether or not they want this degree of fidelity and whether it justifies the expenditure. In the UK a device can cost less than £100, but are more typically around £200. I expect US prices are dollar equivalent. The more expensive packages enable profiling of scanners and ouput devices. The former is more relevant than the latter on APUG.

    The non-linearity is an issue and thus scanner (using IT8 or equivalent) as well as monitor ought best be calibrated so that accurate representation of tonal range can be demonstrated. I accept that this might sound overkill, but am suggesting something approaching a visual representation of the output from a densitometer can be achieved. It is in the interests of contributing parties for the community to obtain maximum benefit that they perform mutual calibration. The ICC/ICM is the internationally agreed standard by which to achieve this.

    Even so for those who do not subscribe to Colour Management, they can still look and learn by comparison, but need to accept that there would be a higher degree of risk and imprecision by taking this course.

    It would not be a small undertaking and would need a higher level of genuine interest than the idea is currently attracting. But we can wait and watch to see how it develops. A virtual development with inspection - without Sean's Dark S(l)ide Star Wars costume. A disadvantage in my son's opinion.