Sharpness from lens or developing?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by /dev/null, Nov 17, 2011.

  1. /dev/null

    /dev/null Member

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    Does developing influence sharpness of an image or the amount of constrast? Just some background info, I know it is still very difficult to determine the difference, but maybe someone can shine a thought on this.

    Option:

    1. - Bronica SQA - 40mm lens loaded with TMAX100 and developed in HC-110, dilution B (1/31), 6 min and fix 2:30 min in Amaloco Fixer.
    2. - Bronica SQA - 80mm lens PS/B lens loaded with TMAX400 and developed in HC-110, dilution B (1/31), 5:30 min and fix 4:30 min in TMAX Fixer.

    Now, I have been shooting about 8 rolls of option 1 from nature, negatives did not have lots of contrast and were sharp, but not really tack sharp, shot with Mirror Up, cable release and tripod, f8 - f11 etc. (checked everything so has nothing to do with motion of camera the unsharpness, I mean, negatives are sharp, but not very tack sharp).

    Option 2, I have done some street portraits, handheld and high shutter speeds, f2.8, f5.6

    Does the fix give an image more sharpness/contrast? The negatives from option 2 are so extremely tack sharp and absolutely no lack of contrast compared to option 1. Or could a lens make such a huge difference, or a combination?
     
  2. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    Is it possible that the 100 revealed the limits of the lens more than the 400? I could see that resulting in a perceivable difference between the two.
     
  3. /dev/null

    /dev/null Member

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    Brian, what do you mean with 'revealing limits of lens'? With the 400 I had people in the foreground and the background unsharp, whereas with the 100 I did nature and had mostly on the 'infinity' option: focus manually with both. A few images on the TMAX 100 ((option 1) I also did with some trees in the foreground, so manual focus and not set fully to infinity.
     
  4. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    So, with the street photography you were using a fairly wide aperture?
    What about the 'nature' stuff? Were you using a small aperture to get a big depth of field?
    Could this be the effect of diffraction if you are comparing, say, f22 with f5.6 or something similar?
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Which component(s) of "sharpness" seem to be lacking:
    1) resolution;
    2) accutance; or
    3) contrast (both micro and macro)?

    Items 2) and 3) tend to have the most effect on perceived "sharpness" whereas item 1) tends to be what is most easily measured objectively.

    A 40mm lens and a 80mm lens (on a medium format SLR) tend to involve vary different design challenges (distortions, aberrations, field curvature, etc.), so I would be surprised to see the two lenses achieve similar results for the components that work together to create a perception of "sharpness".

    And if you are doing your tests on different films, at different subject distances, and using different apertures, I don't think you can reliably reach any definitive conclusions about relative "sharpness".

    It is good, however that you have been experimenting and paying close attention to your results.

    Oh, and you needn't worry. Providing that you fix your films fully, the fixer will have no effect on "sharpness".
     
  6. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Fixer doesn't affect sharpness.

    My guess is that your 40mm lens (retrofocus) is softer than the 80mm (much simpler design), and it's also possible that you developed the two different films to different contrast indices, which will affect the apparent sharpness. You need to have just one variable in your test if you want to come to any conclusions.
     
  7. trapd

    trapd Member

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    I never managed to achieve the tack sharp look you describe from my Mamiya 645 wide angles compared to the standard lens and the same was true of my friends Bronica Outfit. My current Hasselblad outfit with 50mm CFE Distagon is much closer in performance to the 80mm planar.

    Steve
     
  8. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Contrast is mostly influenced by the developer time. Sharpness is mostly the lens and technique. The developer and developer technique has some influence on perceived sharpness, but you need a technically sharp neg to begin with. I am pretty sure that the 80 stopped down a stop or so will be sharper than the 40 at any stop. 40 is pretty wide and not that easy to design optically. In medium format with small prints, I sometimes find that a little grain enhances the appearance of contrast (see Barry Thorton's book). That might have something to do with it also. The other thing may simply be your lighting situations. If your street work is done at mid-day and the landscape with clouds or earlier in the day or the subjects just have less contrast, there would be a contrast difference in the prints.
     
  9. /dev/null

    /dev/null Member

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    I think this is where the problem lies, comparing results I have from the past. The 40mm technically unable to have the sharpness the 80mm has. So my question is answered, I know now that the fix will not influence my sharpness. Will do some othere tests soon under special lighting conditions in a studio. Will test both lenses, including a portrait lens I have.

    Thanks for all the replies.
     
  10. /dev/null

    /dev/null Member

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    Some additional info on my tests, NOW with the Bronica ETRS Zenza 40mm and Mamiya 645 Secor C 40mm. I shot some rolls of Tri-X 400 in HC-110 dilution B and I got similar results. Results as in, they were all, more or less, same sharpness as with my Bronica SQ-A 40mm.

    Maybe not the best comparison for a 100% test, but I'm pretty sure now the difference in sharpness is the difference in lens/design for a wide angle and, like Mark Fisher stated, I will never get the sharpness at any f-stop like the sharpness the 80mm gives me.

    So, thanks all.

    Anyways, the good news is, thanks to APUG members I finally get black and white results!! Whereas in the past I messed up developing and got all very dull and gray images with blown-outs, I have much better, contrasty true and pure black and white negatives now! Changed my whole workflow, and paying close attention to what developer and fixer I use, the timing, dilution, agitation and what not and I am reproducing results now, as I put all my data on my little HTC phone app called Dark Room Developer :smile:
     
  11. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    My experience with the Bronica lenses, although limited to those for the S2A, is that they are very sharp. I agree that the 80 is no doubt sharper than the 40, however. With street photography, the subject and the composition are usually much more important than sharpness. Hand held images usually suffer anyway, especially if exposed at less than 1/250.