The 35mm format has inherent imaging quality limitations to a point (and not generally below that) and it does pack a lot of contrast and tone into a small area. Most metering systems cope well with e.g. contrasty films, but it is the photographer that should be doing the metering for the camera to ensure the exposure is nailed.
My 35mm work virtually ceased when I migrated to the 400% larger 6x7 form; it's now confined to bushwalking and star trails and opportunities where spontaneity and speed are requisite. However, for 20 years I shot and produced quality framed prints solely from 35mm, always resisting the temptation (or prod!) to move up to a larger format: I was happy with what I was doing, despite some niggles deep down. The key to getting the very best is to work with very high quality lenses, understand hyperfocus and the appropriate depth of field for the scene and shoot every image as if your livelihood relies on its success. The largest Ilfochrome Classic prints I went to were 46 x 31.5cm. Above this, image quality suffers and there is then no contest with a comparison image shot on MF which can be twice to three times (or more) larger. I would caution against expecting too much from 35mm, but do put the camera to good use and get some quality prints done that will showcase the beauty of the smaller format.
Exactly, many try to turn "the craftwork", the ability to work the materials and systems, into the standard of judgement for the contest.
Originally Posted by Gerald C Koch
There is nothing wrong with being good at your craft or with competing to see who can get the least grain, most detail, best bokeh, shortest DOF, or whatever. These qualities/characteristics give the participants in the contest something to measure.
It may be fun but so what?
Did this shot http://www.flickr.com/photos/41912957@N00/3669784620 get the idea across?
This one? http://www.flickr.com/photos/41912957@N00/6752152721
Do we need more detail or less grain to have these shots "work"?
If these were printed big and viewed at a reasonable distance would they still work?
Would leaning in, to within a few inches of these, improve the aesthetic experience or our understanding of what the photo was meant to portray?
HCB's and Elliot Erwitt's works would be other good examples here.
With these we'd probably still "get it" and might even enjoy them, if they were on newsprint.
Those are good prints! And they show your point exactly :).
Originally Posted by markbarendt
In my opinion, it's all about the way the image is rendered across the frame. 35mm has a certain character that is just different than that of any other format. Because of the way the larger film area has a way of reinterpreting which focal length is normal, they aren't really comparable.
To be frank, I expect excellent quality from whichever format I'm choosing.
I was thinking about this thread on my way home. I remember seeing that Galen Rowell photo of the rainbow over a Tibetan Palace and the print was quite big. Likewise, the Don McCullin photo of the soldier throwing a grenade, some Steve McCurry portraits, and some huge Salgado prints shown outdoors in Lisbon. I think all of them came from 35mm film and were printed as wide as my shoulders. Timing, light and composition seemed to be what made them special, I didn't put my nose next to the prints to check for grain.
I agree. By sheer coincidence I bought a Nikon FM2, which is the camera Steve McCurry used to photograph Afghan Girl. Now if he can be happy with that, I must be a fool to think what I have is not good enough.
Originally Posted by perkeleellinen
That's my current thought on this topic. We'll see how the results come along. 3 new rolls of film heading into the lab today.
Originally Posted by RattyMouse
Mr RattyMouse, I'm sure there's plenty of wild eyed youngsters in China worthy of an Afghan Girl moment to flex your FM2 on, but nothing beats having a vision for the unusual and just being there, in the right place at the precisely right moment.
Nothing captures the imagination more than McCurry's shot of the girl with those searing clear eyes. I Googled it before ("Afghan Girl" and follow to NG's "A Life Revealed") and up she comes, hauntingly beautiful as the day he got the pic. There's quite an interesting background on Sharba Gullut (?spellling, the girl's name), an adult now of course with nowhere near the same emotionally-charged face as that 30 years ago. I've never quite seen anything that goes near that pic, not even in this digitally-pervasive, supercharged world. Pity about the pathetic, amateurish and plain silly parodies that splinter the serenity of the initial pic. A great pity.
I am drawn to producing very high resolution, fairly grainless color images at the moment. I have been shooting Vision3 250D movie stock and adding 10ml/L H202 to the RA4 print developer, to adjust contrast. At 8x10 print size, I am blown away by the results. No discernible grain - phenomenal dynamic range - and spot on contrast. My results are better than my results with Portra 160NC (I haven't used the latest Portra 160). My "go to" lenses are mainly Nikon manual focus, my favorite right now being the 35-135 f3.5 zoom while I get some of my fixed focal length lenses "Ai'd".
A previous commenter compared results to a 5 or 6 megapixel image. I'm not sure what that means. Kodak's spec sheet for Vison3 250D indicates resolution of 100 sine waves/mm which is likely in excess of all but the very best 35mm format lenses.
I have done some 11x14's shot on Portra - also quite grainless, but I don't think they'd hold up against medium format - because you do begin to notice the drop off in resolution due to the limited negative area.
I agree comparisons with digital are futile - the two media are quite different. Also cropped sensor images are only half the area of 35mm (or more precisely, 2/3x2/3). And each film grain can discern any color (no Bayer screen). I do think I get infinitely better results wet printing than scanning, but that may be due in part to the fact that my scanner is not the best (Nikon LS 2000)
Hi there, I use a 1937 Contax II and associated (Russian) lenses. I expect good, sharp results with subjects that fill the frame (using FP4 or Delta 100 b&W film), but detail is likely to be lacking in such as landscapes or similar views.
I have a 23cm monitor and scan negatives, I can get a good sharp picture from from 35mm. I regularly got good quality 8 x 10 images when I used to print from an enlarger. The main thing is to enjoy using the camera for the subjects it is best for, I like 35mm for close to subject shots where I need a good depth of field (can't get that with the Pentacon Six), and medium format for detail shots which need the resolution of 120 format film.
I try not to compare to my digital SLR as it is like comparing chalk with cheese really.
You should be able to get good quality 16x12's with good technique. However, perhaps you should be thinking of "atmosphere and feeling" when photographing, rather than being over concerned about technical matters. I stopped buying photo magazines as they seem more concerned with megapixels than pictures. Don't fall into this "mine's sharper than yours" trap.