Conservancy Color

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by David Lyga, May 21, 2013.

  1. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    At the Italian Market in Philadelphia this weekend I saw an exhibit of large, beautiful color prints of historic buildings and such. I enquired as to the 'capture' medium and was politely told by the man in charge that with 'conservancy color' (preservation of historic artifacts) the capture must be digital because hues were purer than with film.

    Now, my immediate thoughts were to counteract that heresy but now, pondering, I am not quite sure that he was incorrect. Is there validity to his argument? - David Lyga
     
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  2. batwister

    batwister Member

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    It depends on the capture device. Michael Wolf photographed skyscrapers with a 112MP back - not sure which.
     
  3. kevs

    kevs Member

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    It's true that digital sensors capture light using primary colours (RGB) and that colour film, negative or positive, produces colours using CMY complementaries. Whether or not that RGB setup confers more colour accuracy is debatable and would depend on lighting conditions (time of day, angle of sun, sunny or cloudy conditions etc). You'd also have to call into question the accuracy of the printer's calibration, the purity of inks, the RGB --> CMYK conversion, and if the prints were C-Types made using Lightjet printers, the reversal system still comes into play. And since everyone perceives colour slightly differently, it probably isn't possible to achieve 100% accurate colour representation anyway. The guy's talking bull$hit IMNSHO.

    Cheers,
    kevs
     
  4. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Here we go again, knock down drag out film v digital. No mistake that the OP's thread is a thinly veiled analog v digital thread....
    I always thought these film vs digital threads were not allowed as per the APUG Terms of Service.......
     
  5. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    A "long" time ago, I looked at a comparison of film and digital. The colors were different for each shot. Which was correct? I don't know. A little while back on The Online Photographer, a photograph of a "pink" car was posted. The car looked orange to me, and I looked at the photograph on four different monitor using different browsers. Still orange. One of the TOP posters wrote a note that the problem could be with the sensor rendering the color a little off, and that there's a difference between Canon and Sony sensors. DxOMark has ratings of the various sensors, and some of them are rather far from "perfect." When the Nikon D800 was compared to a Hasselblad digital camera, the Nikon showed an obvious bias towards adding a bit of red.

    I've also talked to some pros who use both film and digital, and more than once I've heard a complaint that the hues from the digital sensor weren't as good as hues on film.

    I would question the fellow in charge of the exhibit (not argue, just ask questions) to see how much he actually knew about the subject of color accuracy. Like what tests had been done, etc. The fellow could be referring to color shifts in prints over time, i.e., how well the print ages. Printing papers have been a serious problem in the past.
     
  6. Rhodes

    Rhodes Member

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    Every day!:laugh:
     
  7. jeff.blackwell

    jeff.blackwell Member

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    Color accuracy relies on so much more than capture medium. Color references help (i.e. a MacBeth Color checker), as does correcting for variables in ambient light (filters on lenses, filters on strobes, choosing the time to shoot based on color temperature). In the end, however, the person actually printing the image has as much control over the end result as the photographer, and in many cases, when printing C-type prints, the capture medium is relatively unimportant. Someone sitting at an Agfa D-lab or Fuji Frontiera can work with film or digital files equally well. In the end, if the print is the final record of the image, and not the negative, transparency or digital file, the quality of the capture would seem more important than the medium.

    By the way, I live near Philadelphia, and would have been at the Italian Market Street Festival on Sunday if the weather was better. Where is this exhibit exactly? I'd love to stop by and check it out. Besides, I need to go to DiBruno's to stock up my fridge.
     
  8. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    He was right. Get over it and quit posting inflammatory threads to get all the film cheerleaders wound up.

    This is an Analog Forum, not a We Hate Digital Forum.
     
  9. David Lyga

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    Jeff (from 28 miles south), the exhibit was at Ninth Street and Washington Avenue, then northward along Ninth. I had gone there to buy my vegetables and fruits.

    And zsas, I was not trying to foment revolution, only to ask whether or not there was a 'hue standard' that might be 'perfected' with digital images. An analogy might be LPs vs CDs: on CDs the pitch is dead accurate because the 'speed' is dead accurate. Thus, I really am not guilty of any malfeasance here. - David Lyga
     
  10. zsas

    zsas Member

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    The terms of serv are quite black and white here....

    DPUG is a better place for this line of thought
     
  11. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    In Davids Defence


    With Digital copy work the first thing that is done is a white balance followed by a grey scale neutralization.
    This gives fantastic control over colour balance and I am sure this is true advantage for colour accuracy of copied work.
    I have done both methods and prefer the digital systems for this type of work. The ability to get into each stepwedge and colour balance
    is the key.
     
  12. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Histograms and white balance add to the 'betterment' of analog and such theoretical underpinning should be INCLUDED here when such is pertinent. I think that that is a healthy balance to achieve for an 'analog' forum and, thus, prevents creation of an 'absolute' one which denies and segregates digital (any and all reference) from mankind.

    There is much to learn from both that will help each 'capture' become more understandable. - David Lyga
     
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  13. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Another glaring misdemeanor : Lightjet printers use RGB lasers, not CMY.... But I've got the best of both worlds : optical enlargers RGB.
     
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  15. batwister

    batwister Member

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    David, I reckon even if the pictures had been made on film to begin with, they still would have ended up as digital prints. Certainly with architectural work, shooting large format for the movements and then scanning for precise colour control seems to be a no brainer. The most sensible option is using large format cameras with digital backs. On a practical level, optical prints for this type of work wouldn't make sense. Can't imagine you'd find many purist architectural photographers seeing as it's a commissioned job, rather than a fine art. When he insisted the capture "must be digital" I suspect it's less to do with 'accuracy', but control of colour. This type of work depends upon precison, not painterly subtle hues.
     
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  16. Gim

    Gim Subscriber

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    Oh bull shit. This is just another thread to talk about digital. I don't believe that is what APUG is about and not why I'm here.
     
  17. Photo Engineer

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    Color purity in analog is based on chemistry. Color negative films are the best capture medium and color prints from them by any means (including scans and digital prints). Digital systems capture color reasonably well and have software to fix any problems. The real problem comes in grain and sharpness. Digital fails.

    As far as image stability, analog films last for years while digital storage is rather fugitive. Analog prints are quite stable, and the prediction now is for Endura and CA prints to last for up to 200 years depending on storage. Digital prints are an unknown quantity at this time due to a number of issues. So, one cannot say.

    PE
     
  18. David Lyga

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    "Color negative films are the best capture medium ..."

    Coming from PE, this is rather confirming and even amazing. He is saying that chemistry is better than digital, at least in a theoretical sense; and that assertion is very uplifting for analog.

    And, yes, batwister, 'control' is the underpinning of digital's 'legitimacy' especially with conservancy that must be 'hue true'. - David Lyga
     
  19. DREW WILEY

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    Ron - as you should know, "predictions" of print life based upon brief accelerated-aging torture tests are basically shoot-from-the-hip extrapolations based upon calculators with a great big BS Coefficient buttons. The best of the chromogenics, CAII, is by Fuji's own estimation
    expected to have significant yellowing due to residual couplers within fifty years. That doesn't stop me from printing it. I certainly won't be
    around another fifty years to find out, anyway. Let's just say the consensus is, that chromogenic prints have indeed dramatically improved
    in recent years. But in terms of initial capture and color accuracy, I'd say we've lost the most accurate chrome films, namely tungsten films
    and Astia, which were the best under controlled copy conditions. With the current neg films, I'm finding Ektar to actually be more accurate
    than Portra 160 in terms of hues and shadow accuracy, though at a disadvantage in terms of latitude. Always something new to learn, it
    seems.
     
  20. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Batwister - what on earth makes you think optical prints cannot be every bit as precise and controlled as digital ones? Just because the
    current nerd generation can't function apart from an IV-drip of high-fructose corn syrup doesn't mean it can't be done, and be done even better! In terms of production schedules and certain kinds of architectural and forensic photography, digital in the high-end sense has some real advantages, but no absolute quality advantage. Sloppy work is sloppy work regardless. Sitting on one's butt punching buttons won't
    change that. One still has to learn the tools intelligently, regardless of what those tools are in the first place.
     
  21. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Drew;

    I have had the opportunity to take the ICIS short course in image stability in 2006 and also to talk at length with Henry Wilhelm about the very questions you mention above. I have also been through the Image Permanence lab at RIT with Henry. Here are some of my thoughts.

    1. Are you measuring dark or light stability?.
    2. What is the temperature and humidity you will keep the images stored at?
    3. What pollutants are present in the air?
    4. What is your altitude and latitude?

    I have seen direct comparisons of Kodak, Fuji, Agfa and Konica products side by side and I observe some interesting discrepancies. Fuji measures their light keeping at 500 fc (they win under these conditions) and Kodak tests at 200 fc (they win at these conditions). AFAIK, EK solved the yellowing problem back in the 60s. No material can stand up to UV or to some air pollutants such as SO2.

    BUT, in comparisons with digital image stability, even prints, the chromogenic products win hands down. Added to the mix is image spread in inkjet prints. They dyes are low molecular weight and even though they are supposed to be anchored, they wander. This fact is hard to find on Wilhelm's web page, but it is (or was) there for all to see. And, of course there is the problem of magnetic image deterioration! None of that in film.

    As for color accuracy and latitude, noting is better than the Eastman Color Negative films in both daylight and tungsten. But we cannot easily use it as this family is an MP film.

    PE
     
  22. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Wilhelm did two useful things. He studied how existing materials aged, and he discovered how accelerated aging tests can be used to predict
    what might happen in a similar accelerated aging test! This might or might not extrapolate into real world conditions. Chromogenic prints,
    dye transfer, Cibachromes, etc at least have a precedent of watching them for awhile. Inkjet has so many variables that it's hard to know
    what will happen. A lot of the so-called pigments in them are composed lakes of ordinary dyes. Aardenburg has solved some of the shortcomings in Wilhelm's methodology. But as far as I'm concerned, there's no substitute for sheer time under real world display or storage
    conditions. And in that respect, I've found my personal conclusions quite at odds with Wilhelm's extrapolations at time. And that's what they
    largely are -extrapolations of short-term results under extreme conditions. I also have extreme skepticism of how well bonded inks will be
    to all kinds of potential paper substrates without the protection of a gelatin overcoat. I had a very interesting conversation a week ago with
    someone who is way ahead of the curve in studying these issues and is basically a hired gun for developing very advanced printing methods,
    and he outlined several important variables which neither Wilhelm or Aardenburg have looked at yet. Like me, he is aware of the need to
    develop true nanopigment process colors, but there are several big enviro and techno hurdles still in the way. But if it ever does happen, inkjet as we know it will become extinct. But I'd be content just to find more time to print the wonderful neg films and chromogenic materials we currently have. I have zero incentive to print color digitally. It would be a step backwards as far as I'm concerned.
     
  23. Photo Engineer

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    Drew, please consider these facts:

    1. Kodachrome tests from 1936, held at room temperature in normal slide keeping conditions compare well in fade condition to this run at high temperature and to exposure to flashes of light (simulating projection).

    2. Ektacolor prints from 1935, held under normal keeping in albums or hung on walls compare well with the accelerated tests run on them.

    3. Ditto for Dye Transfer prints.

    4. Ditto for Cibachrome prints.

    I could go on and include Agfachrome films and paper and Fuji film and paper. Why?

    5. I have run these tests over and over and over for years.

    I recommend that you get a copy of the ICIS short course textbook ($80 IIRC). It was written by Jon Kapecki, a fellow APUG member AAMOF and instructor of the course. It contains some excellent plots of this type of data and shows the interesting effect called "reciprocity". Yes, this effect takes place in dye fade. It means that it is not the same under strong conditions as it is under weak conditions (light, heat, humidity). It also shows how you can plot both weak and strong over many years and come up with a mathematical method of representing thee conditions and thus you can make a very good approximation of image stability.

    As for a gelatin overcoat, it does nothing unless it is very thick. It also should contain free radical chain stoppers, organic solvents with high glass transition temperature and a UV absorber. Otherwise, the gel overcoat is useless.

    PE
     
  24. batwister

    batwister Member

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    It's really nothing to do with subjective definitions of 'quality'. This is the bias in the thread (and forum) that needs to be pointed out, in order to have a realistic sense of the spheres digital and traditional work occupy today. Hopefully, so we can stop having the 'vs' arguments.

    It's about the standards currently in place, informed by the most efficient means of making images. Darkroom work is emphasised as a 'craft' today (frequently by APUG members) for a good reason - the best (or, for arguments sake, 'most precise') traditional printers in the world were replaced by machines some time ago, which has given modern traditional photography its 'pioneer country' appeal. Commissioned work requires efficiency and by-the-numbers precision, not the time consuming 'personal expression' we attribute to purely traditional work. This is why John Sexton's photography, revered for it's clarity of rendering, is considered artful in its traditional media, despite the fact that the same 'clarity' of results could be achieved with a digital Hasselblad straight out of the camera. It only remains poignant photography once the media - and great lengths taken to reach the print - are understood, at which point we have great admiration for this master printer. His work is timely I feel because it sits on that controversial 'photography is craft/photography is images' line. The point of the architectural work David saw exhibited, I'm guessing, wasn't to emphasise the fine craft of photography, but the subject - which requires a transparency in methodology and technique that traditional work has always refused to afford the viewer. This is why film is mostly favoured by art photographers today; because the material gives important emphasis to the art object. The work David saw is about clearly illustrating the subject matter and its aesthetics, not the aesthetics of photography. Architectural photography is only about photography in the eyes of photographers. Same with the photography in holiday brochures, but strangely, we don't see many arguments about colour accuracy when it comes to sun-kissed Greek beaches. We just want to go to them, which is the purpose this kind of photography serves.
     
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  25. Truzi

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    The person in charge who said digital was used because the hues were more pure than film may have simply been repeating what he heard (either directly about the display, or about film v. digital in general), regardless of any object or subjective truth (and I'm avoiding pointing out that he apparently didn't define "pure," which may make a difference in the debate).

    In other words, just because someone says something, it doesn't mean it is true or untrue. People hear things, people say things.
     
  26. ambaker

    ambaker Subscriber

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    They say there are two sides to every story...

    In this case I think there must be at least three, and I am in the small third party.

    I don't care which is most accurate. My preferences are, in ascending order...

    3. The one that renders it the way I see it.
    2. The one that renders it the way I remember seeing it.
    1. The one that renders it the way I wished I could have seen it.

    So far, film wins on all three counts.

    Archival stability...

    Barely care...

    By all the statistical probabilities I will be dead in 40 years, or much less. Less than 20 is more likely. Anything longer than that is overkill. I doubt that there is anything I have done that needs to be preserved for the ages. How many Mayan grocery lists would we really need? Not everything has to last forever....


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