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  1. #11
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    The reasoning is that a 35mm negative is simply too small to give useful highlight separation in an enlargement of any size. I think this is caused by excessive light scatter in the negative - but I could be wrong and I don't happen to have a source handy right now that explains it.
    It makes sense to me, in that the format is smaller, but the emulsion is about the same thickness. So in a larger format, the negative is approximately infinitely thin, whereas on a 35mm negative, the thickness of the emulsion might be more significant compared to the size of the image.

    Something to think about anyway
    f/22 and be there.

  2. #12
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    For me, the largest issue, by far, is the smoothness of the gradients that you can get when an image is cast across a larger section of film.

    To oversimplify things tremendously, consider film to be a checkerboard of squares that can only be pure white or pure black. In other words, consider the image formed on the film to be a 'bitmap'. You can quickly see that the density of squares per image will control how smooth the tone gradients are... how natural the image looks. If you have a density that is low, then you can get posterization, a.k.a. banding. In other words, tones can 'clump' and then the gradients don't look natural.

    Highlight and shadow transitions are generally smoother in the larger formats. N.b. I am not saying that white and black are any different in the different formats! No, the transitions are generally more detailed and smoother. Even if certain details blow out or go pure black, the transitions to those areas will be smoother. Even for very small (local) details, the gradients around those details will be smoother.

    P.S. on the subject of grain, I cooked up a very simple theory in a blog entry...
    http://www.apug.org/forums/blogs/kei...-size-all.html
    Last edited by keithwms; 06-22-2009 at 08:44 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: added P.S.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  3. #13
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Simply put - the larger the film area covering the same subject matter, you will get a smoother tonality with better local contrast from a larger negative. Unless you're after the utmost in technical quality, each camera has its advantage and disadvantage. Use a camera that suits your subject matter and how you shoot foremost. Worry about getting some really good and interesting images on film. The rest will follow with practice. Tonality from 35mm can be stunning. You just have to work at it to get your film just right for the paper you print on.

    The attached print is from 35mm Tmax 400 processed in Xtol. I don't need any smoother gradations and tonality shifts than that. But I usually don't print larger than 11x14 max; if you print much larger than that, of course the limits of the medium will make themselves reminded.

    For me a good medium format camera stands up well to 4x5 in print quality and I feel the 4x5 camera doesn't have much to offer that I can't already get in an 11x14 print.

    - Thomas

    - Thomas
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Dove Tail001.jpg  
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  4. #14
    Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    You can get superb tonality from 35 mm films, and as long as you don't over enlarge they can sit alongside images made on 120 & LF. Of course a larger format helps but eqyally 35mm is capable of superb tonality.
    Do you shoot 8x10?? I totally disagree with this statement. There is a HUGE difference.

  5. #15
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew O'Neill View Post
    Do you shoot 8x10?? I totally disagree with this statement. There is a HUGE difference.
    Yes I do shoot 10x8 and of course there's a difference, but the differences may only really become appreciable and huge once you begin enlarging over about 10x12/11/14. Lets be clear only a small minority of 35mm images have sufficient quality, and I'm most certainly not talking about all 35mm images.

    I've seen many great images made from from 35mm negative with superb tonality, particularly with APX100, which is what this thread is about, and is why I made those comments. But of course using larger formats brings additional benefits such as finer resolution detail etc.

    Tonality isn't a function of negative size although it's far easier to achieve with larger formats, it's more about technique, after all poor technique with 10x8 will still give poor tonality, and tight process control can give superb tonality with 35mm & 120.

    Of course I could show you images to demonstrate this from a number of photographers.

    Ian
    Last edited by Ian Grant; 06-23-2009 at 02:55 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: clarify

  6. #16

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    I mostly agree. But in my experience the difference in the smoothness of highlight gradation between 35mm and 120 is perceptible in an 8x10. Not obvious, mind you, but perceptible. And I have found this to be the case even for negatives that were properly exposed and developed. And, yes, I've taken the time to examine negatives produced by other, experienced photographers

    Tonality isn't a function of negative size, at least as far as sensitometry is concerned. But in my experience there's little point for me in extending development to achieve highlight separation in 35mm if the print will represent an enlargement of beyond 6x-8x (depending upon the film).

    I do most of my enlarging using a VCCE head and I have found the best balance of sharpness, grain, and gradation is achieved for me when I develop my 35mm negs a somewhat lower CI than I development my 120 negs. For the most part I do not enlarge beyond 7x-8x in 35mm.

    Others, naturally, do as they wish.
    Digital Photography is just "why-tech" not "high tech"..

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew O'Neill View Post
    Do you shoot 8x10?? I totally disagree with this statement. There is a HUGE difference.
    There's a noticeable difference in an 8x10 between a contact print and even a (marginally) enlarged 4x5 negative.

    Introducing an enlarger into the print workflow causes some image degradation; it's unavoidable.
    Digital Photography is just "why-tech" not "high tech"..

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    Simply put - the larger the film area covering the same subject matter, you will get a smoother tonality with better local contrast from a larger negative. Unless you're after the utmost in technical quality, each camera has its advantage and disadvantage. Use a camera that suits your subject matter and how you shoot foremost. Worry about getting some really good and interesting images on film. The rest will follow with practice. Tonality from 35mm can be stunning. You just have to work at it to get your film just right for the paper you print on.

    The attached print is from 35mm Tmax 400 processed in Xtol. I don't need any smoother gradations and tonality shifts than that. But I usually don't print larger than 11x14 max; if you print much larger than that, of course the limits of the medium will make themselves reminded.

    For me a good medium format camera stands up well to 4x5 in print quality and I feel the 4x5 camera doesn't have much to offer that I can't already get in an 11x14 print.

    - Thomas

    - Thomas
    That's a fantastic photo, Thomas. Technically it's great, but the image itself is very compelling.

    I agree with you regarding 4x5 vs 120. At 11x14, I feel the difference is only *barely* perceptible (and only using viewing techniques that are not indicative of appreciating the photograph, itself) between the two and hardly worth fussing about.
    Digital Photography is just "why-tech" not "high tech"..

  9. #19

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    As the negative gets smaller, all the faults of the lens, the film, and the photographer become more evident. Local contrast is not as smoothly rendered as in a larger format; grain becomes distracting; lens resolution and abberation factors become more evident; camera shake becomes more obvious.

  10. #20
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    I think this is all very true, and to highlight local contrast, which I think can be important for pleasing tonality. There are fewer grains of film handling the transition from one tone to another in a smaller format. You just cannot deny that fact and above 8x10 and maybe 11x14 enlargements this starts to become really evident, no matter how well the 35mm negative was exposed and processed. That local contrast adds impact to details.

    With that said, the difference is not large enough that I care. To me it destroys the joy of photography to analyze things like this too much, as I feel it gets in the way of creativity a little bit. I'd rather be smelling fixer...

    Quote Originally Posted by nworth View Post
    As the negative gets smaller, all the faults of the lens, the film, and the photographer become more evident. Local contrast is not as smoothly rendered as in a larger format; grain becomes distracting; lens resolution and abberation factors become more evident; camera shake becomes more obvious.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

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