Ektar vs Alpha 900/Velvia revisited: new scans

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Marco B, Jan 15, 2009.

  1. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Hi all,

    I know a lot of you visited my website to read the Kodak Ektar 100 test with Ektar competing against Velvia 100, Portra 160VC, TMax 100 and the Sony Alpha 900.

    Now the first published Imacon 646 scans were sub-optimal :sad:, due to a badly calibrated "backup" scanner that served as temporary replacement for an Imacon Flextight 848 that was being overhauled and serviced...

    The good news: the 848 was back and I have made new scans. Since I had much better results in terms of contrast and color, I now have spent even more time examining and fine-tuning the scan results. The difference is therefor significant and well worth revisiting! For example, the Ektar 100 scans had a reddish cast all over, while the Velvia 100 scans were more greenish. Now Velvia is close to neutral and Ektar also better.

    In addition, all films now easily hit the 40 lp/mm resolution mark (the highest resolution pattern that was available on the used testchart) with contrast left for resolving higher resolutions. The "backup" 646 wasn't capable of showing this.

    I have updated all of the images to reflect the new scans.

    I have also added a whole new section showing per-colorchannel (Red, Green, Blue) scan performance. I learned something new on the way that may be of interest to you all.

    Have fun re-reading:

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

    Don't forget to hit F5 to refresh your browser cache to view the new images... :wink:

    Marco
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2009
  2. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    Thanks for the update! It really illustrates to me why so many slide shooters went right over to digital happily. Nice scanner too. Whoa.

    I think I liked the Tmax shots the best - haha.
     
  3. Marcust101

    Marcust101 Member

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    Marco,

    this was my first reading, I missed the first edition, you are to be commended for such detailed work and effort. It demonstrates the remarkable improvement in digital capture over the last few years and leads to thinking of where digital capture will be in another few years.

    It is interesting that simply leaning back from the monitor to about 4 feet made the images appear very similar, viewing distance is still a great leveller.

    Well done

    thanks

    Marcus
     
  4. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Glad to hear you both appreciated the effort, it was a lot of hard work (but also a good learning experience for myself). And yes, the scanning results of all films, and especially Velvia, are surprisingly similar to the Alpha 900 at an actual print size of 60x90 cm!

    When is the last time we all printed at such a huge size?!

    Marco
     
  5. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Gaaf Marco!
     
  6. domaz

    domaz Member

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    I think digital (and to a lesser extent 35mm film) has basically reached diffraction limits. It's doubtful they can get much better quality without making the sensors bigger. That kind of puts the Digital SLR maker in a corner since the two big names don't and have never made Medium Format or larger glass. Technology can improve but there are always natural limits on optics.
     
  7. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Domaz, actually your statement " the two big names don't and have never made Medium Format or larger glass" is incorrect. Nikon is/was a very reputable large format lensmaker, and same goes for Fuji. There are also rumours that Nikon is readying a new "MX" medium format to go up against the comparable Leica that was recently announced. It's true that Canon has no MF/LF basis.

    At any rate, it's probably true that all the digital cameramakers have to go medium format now; there is no other room for growth in 35mm, apart from piling on more and more gadgetry. My own prediction is that there will be a ~36x36 format out of these companies before long.
     
  8. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Nikon also supplied medium format Bronica lenses over the years (since '59?) and made the lenses for the Plaubel Makina folders of the 1980's. So they've made lenses for the full range of formats, including enlarging lenses, for decades.

    Lee
     
  9. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Marko;

    Very impressive results. Good work.

    I have one comment on your analysis at the end, of the reversal and negative systems.

    You must remember that color negative is purposely built to have a contrast of 0.6 - 0.7 which is taken advantage of when scanned or printed by being turned into a positive image of about 1.5 - 1.7. A reversal film is built to have a contrast range of 1.5 - 1.7 to start with. In the end, they have the same approximate final visual result, but the color reversal has less latitued and less color correction.

    In conventional printing, color reversal suffers from having a toe and shoulder which can be compensated for electronically by scanning, but color negative has no toe or shoulder and therefore does not suffer in the transition to either analog or digital copying.

    PE
     
  10. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    Leica has announced a medium format camera?? I don't remember seeing anything about that here.
     
  11. frdrx

    frdrx Member

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    Sorry to say, it will not be analogue.
     
  12. Nitai108

    Nitai108 Member

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    Really great work!
     
  13. A90

    A90 Member

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    Good work Marco, i've learned a lot from you comparisation. Impressive !!
     
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  15. wogster

    wogster Member

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    The problem is that it's much more difficult to do, the sensor is going to cost at least twice the cost of a similar level 35mm sized sensor, plus they need to design a camera in a format they are not familiar with, nearly every part is a bigger size and different dimension then what they are used to working with..... Another point is that the size of the market is limited, which makes it expensive, I would expect a Canon or Nikon 36x36 DSLR to be about the same price is a Hassy and the Hassy can still be used as a film camera with a different back.
     
  16. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I have to tenously disagree a bit, Paul, though bear in mind that I'm not an industry insider and am merely shooting from the hip like everyone else! Here is my prediction. The SLR concept will be abandoned entirely, in favour of a more rangefindery design with electronic view finder and aux finder. I know, I know, it's gonna suck, yadda yadda... whatever, it will happen IMHO. Once you set aside the mirror box, the design becomes much easier. Many existing lenses can cover slightly larger-than-full-frame and overall this will provide the cameramakers with an opportunity to hawk a whole new batch of lenses. The sensor cost is not as much an issue as it once was, that trail has been blazed and there are fab facilities that can do it now for reasonable cost.

    Just based on ZD pricing etc. my guess is that these new offerings will come in far below the current MF digital options- circa $10k or so.

    ...and I'll still be very happily shooting film on my mamiya 6es :wink:
     
  17. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Nikon hasn't made LF lenses for years now and I beleive the same is true for Fuji (though I maybe incorrect.)

    I would be curious to know where you have heard your rumors about the a Nikon "MX". Leica's new MF camera is going to have a very limited market and that just isn't Nikon's style of marketing and manufacturing, but time will tell.
     
  18. donbga

    donbga Member

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    The problem with legacy lenses used on DSLRs is that they create a lot of flare and are probably not always optimized for the pitch of the digital light receptors reducing resolution. So contrast is lost and resolution suffers.

    From my own tests I have found that some Zuiko lenses work very well on Canon bodies and generally Nikkor lenses do not. Both can have noticible blue fringing with some lenses that are very sharp otherwise, but some of the older medium grade Canons perform poorly as well (bad CA).
     
  19. DBP

    DBP Member

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    It's a digicam, therefore not covered here. And it is only medium format by digital standards - 30x45mm, which is roughly the size of half frame vest pocket (i.e. 16 on 127).
     
  20. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I tested "full frame" lenses on DX cameras and never saw any evidence of flare or stray light issues. The whole DX lens thing is/was marketing bullshit IMHO. In the years that I had a DX digital toy, I possessed one and only one DX lens... which I quickly sold! I (and others) saw zero evidence of loss of resolution or contrast when using full frame lenses on DX. Mind you, I have only fast primes like the 50/1.2 and 105/1.8, so I am in fact talking about lenses that are more prone to flare in the first place. Frankly the only comments I did see on those issues were straight out of advertising for reduced-format lenses, and people do tend to parrot those statements so much that people start to believe them. If I had seen those issues then I would've simply made baffles for myself for a few cents rather than buy DX lenses.

    And as for Oly, well they made it sound like there would be a big gain in compactness with their 2x crop sensor, but it isn't so. Their cameras are not appreciably smaller than DX or full frame... and they're still huge compared to, for example, a 35mm film RF like an XA. I had a d40x that was about the same size as the smallest olys and it had better noise performance.

    Anyway, enough about this digital point. This was a very nice piece of work that Marco did, thanks again for that!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2009
  21. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Oh, about the rumours of MX, I predicted years ago that this would have to happen because the dslr makers would hit a brick wall of optical physics. As I recall, from a simple calculation it was clear that ~25mp would be the brick wall, and then it'd just be a matter of trying to max out signal/noise by building full frame foveon sensors ($$$). Then about a half year ago rumours started to crop up (on the official rumours site and elsewhere; that is where the term "MX" appeared, allegedly from a "spy" photo showing that Nikon plans to go beyond full frame.. who knows...). And this happened in the context of the leica announcement, so now it has a lot of people going hmm. Anyway I don't live my life by rumours, and am not in any way claiming inside info, I am merely (re)stating the fact that once you get to the diffraction limit, you have to think beyond 35mm full frame... or kiss market growth goodbye. Some people will think it's cool to make full frame movies but that's not enough of a growth sector.

    Apologies for the digichat! I will henceforth maintain my silence on this issue :wink:
     
  22. wogster

    wogster Member

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    I think we are getting OT for this group, but don't forget that 36x36 mm is DOUBLE the diagonal dimension of 35mm, it's a different shape, but it is double the size. I think you will find a lot of newer lenses are just barely 35mm coverage. I just bought an 80-200 for an APS-C sized sensor, where one of the reviews said it was fine for that size, but not good for 35mm, even though designed for 35mm.

    Your probably right about the viewfinder, within reason, although it's going to be tough to sell a $10,000 camera with only a live view type display, to high end photographers who are used to optical viewers. Especially when digital MF backs are getting cheaper, which is a trend that will probably continue. 5 Years ago a 20MP back was $40,000, now it's about $12,000, plus there is the flexibility of using film, and the flexibility that you can upgrade the back later on, and continue to use the same camera.

    Do you honestly expect that Hassy and Mamiya will sit on their hands and let Nikon and Canon take their market away, I don't think so.
     
  23. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Here what's different about the folks who'd have use for such a thing: they'd primarily be shooting tethered or wirelessly to a big screen, to see output roughly as it will print, in almost real time. Moreover, the electronic VF I imagine would have way more functionality than today's 35mm slr VFs, e.g. touch focusing and live histogramming etc. Now, these are all things that 99% of us would say "psha who cares" and I agree, but I am just saying, I think it is the inevitable step for digital. The mirror box has to go.

    Actually, I think Nikon and Canon must go up against Hassie and Mamiya etc. very aggressively, and they have the capital to do so (money made mostly from low end cameras). In fact it'd not shock me if they buy those companies outright or at least partner with them on lenses.

    Again, it's all about market growth. if N&C aren't thinking this way, then how will they grow? They can't. And they are not stupid, they've known it'd come to this. It's the end of the (silly) megapixel race.
     
  24. Distagon

    Distagon Member

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    Marco, nice work, but you have one big flaw in your test:
    Your test chart is only 40 lp/mm, that is a very low resolution. Even with a Tri-X you can resolve 55-60 lp/mm (with coarse grain of course).

    I have tested the Alpha 900 at its physical resolution limit: A bit more than 80 lp/mm is possible with the best prime lenses. Above that, you get Aliasing artefacts, which is looking quite terrible.

    But with modern films I achieved higher resolution numbers.
    For example, I got 100 Lp/mm with colour negative film (object contrast 1:16).
    That is equivalent to 35 megapixels.
    With colour slide I achieved 120 Lp/mm. With TMX 130 Lp/mm.
    And with Kodak Imagelink, Spur Orthopan UR, Rollei ATP and Ortho 25 I achieved 150 - 180 Lp/mm. That is in the 75 - 100 megapixel range.
    With the right films and very good prime lenses you get higher resolution with film.
    With digital you get "clearer" images, lack of grain. But not higher resolution.
    But to see the difference and the advantage of film concerning resolution you have to use better test charts with resolution figures of 80 - 200 Lp/mm.
    Or you have to increase the distance between test chart and camera and the calculate then resolution by formula.
    You will find further information about this (if you are interested) on the Zeiss website (camera lens news and the MTF article of Dr. Nasse).

    And if you want to see the greatest advantage of film compared to digital technique, then compare slide projection with the most expensive beamers. The beamer has no chance at all. Not in resolution (film is 5x higher) and not in colour brillance. Projected on the screen, 2x3m big, film shows incredible power with modern slide films (if you have a good projector lens like Leica Super Colorplan or Docter MC-B).
    I have lots of Portraits, even projected on a big screen I can see every hair of the eye-brows if am only 10 cm away from the screen. With the beamer you see only big pixels.
    We are missing a lot if we use only computer monitors to look at pictures in this digital era.
     
  25. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Distagon, might you perchance have some high-megapixel images that one can view? I'd be interested in your results with the 35mm ATP.

    Regarding grain, when shooting static subjects, it should be fairly straightforward to multisample, i.e., shoot the same thing a few times and average out a lot of the grain. Multisampling is useful for digital (in which case it's usually done to expand the dynamic range); why not consider it for film as well. I'm guessing that simply by stacking negs in an enlarger (with careful registry) it should be possible to get grainless enlargements from 35mm well past 24 inches or more. Of course, via drum scanning, this approach might be easier.
     
  26. Distagon

    Distagon Member

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    Hello Keith,

    yes, of course I have some high-megapixel images, but not on the internet, only as prints and slides....:wink:.
    The problem is, that I don't have a drum scanner (Heidelberg e.g.). Even the new Imacon X5 has a resolution limit of 150-160 Lp/mm. For 160-180 Lp/mm you need a real drum scanner if you want a digital file.

    But mostly I don't want/need a digital file, because......and here comes the good news:
    Take your enlarger, put a very good enlarging lens on it, like Rodenstock Apo-Rodagon or Schneider Apo-Componon, and make classic prints in your darkroom. These excellent lenses can transfer these extremely high resolution figures to photopaper, without any problems.
    It's no problem at all to make high resolution, very sharp and grainless prints in big formats in the darkroom. You have to use very good prime lenses at your camera, films like Kodak Imagelink, Rollei ATP, Spur Orthopan UR, Spur DSX 64/32, Rollei Ortho 25, and a very good enlarging lens.

    And, with films like TMX or Acros 100 and all 100 and 400 ASA slide films you can get higher resolution figures compared to 24 Mp digital sensors.

    Another possibility: Slide projection with an excellent projection lens. I projected some Orthopan UR and Rollei ATP pictures (180 Lp/mm) on screen, and the 180 Lp/mm were completely transferred onto the screen. Incredible, and really amazing! I used a Leica Super Colorplan P2 and a Docter Optics 2,4/90 MC-B (for Kindermann Projectors).

    By the way, I can highly recommend the articles about film resolution on the Zeiss website: Camera Lens News No. 17, 19, 20 and 24. In No. 24 you will see an image of 250 Lp/mm resolution with Kodak Imagelink film (the Camera Lens News is both in English and German available on the homepage).
    And in the last issue there is an excellent article about interpreting MTF diagrammes, written by Dr. Nasse, chief optic designer for camera lenses at Zeiss. He explaines that film resolution ist still higher compared to digital sensors, especially with BW film.