so Jed, you like the "look" of Velvia but lose it in the printing, maybe you should print a different way, or use a different film
have you considered whether your style of photography actually needs this supposed high level of sharpness, contrast, etc?
what is your subject, what are you trying to achieve?
How much resolution and detail you need from a film depends on what you want to do with the final image. Even with the most sophisticated post processing you will not be able to reproduce the full range of a properly exposed slide in a print. When projection printing was used for color work you could see the grain pattern in the print. Your maximum resolution depended on the weakest link in the chain going from the camera and taking lens and ending up with the enlarging lens and proper alignment of the enlarger. Control of contrast and to some extent of color was more limited with projection printing but if everything was working properly you could get a lot out of a good negative or slide. Once scanning came into the picture any hope of reproducing the original grain pattern of the film was lost. To match optimal projection printing for an enlargement you need very high resolution scanning. Many people scan slides or negatives for the ease of looking at them on a monitor but still examine them with a magnifier before sending them out for printing. If you use The Slideprinter [Denver Digital Imaging] you have the choice of many different levels of scanning. You don't need all of these levels for a 4X6 or even for an 8X10 in most cases but for larger prints very high quality scanning is available.
Two weekends ago I was in Newport, RI and stayed at the Marriott. In the loby there was a photo on display (with a price tag) which was about 25X70". According to the information supplied it was shot on Velvia with an X-PAN. It was a panoramic type shot of a beach so there was a lot of water and sky but it looked pretty good. I prefer the Ektachrome films but ideally you would match the format to the size print you need. Where detail and resolution are concerned, an 11X14 or 16X20 shot on 35mm Velvia 50 will not look nearly as good as the same size prints shot on 100 speed Ektachrome in the 6X7 format. This assumes that you have good enough technique with both formats and that scanning is of good quality for both formats. I think Velvia 50 holds a little more detail than EVS but not much more. Much of the emphasis on making very large prints from small format cameras is the challenge involved. It's like catching a 100 pound fish on 8 pound test line. I'm not denying that there is a challenge. I just don't know whether it's necessary.
Leaving aside pixels and resolution for a moment, translating the look and the feel of viewing a transparency on a light table into a print has been a difficult challenge throughout the history of color photography - so don't think you're doing something wrong, or that you're not working at it hard enough.
I would try having the same slide printed as an Ilfochrome and as a drum-scanned, digital print. I personally love how beautiful a good Ilfochrome can look. While it's understandable that you can't afford to have a ton of images drum-scanned and printed, or have a ton of Ilfochromes made, perhaps if you try the best ways to do it and find your preference, at least you will find that satisfaction that you are looking for. Use your scanner for proofs, or work prints. And if you really want to go crazy, try to find the last handful of dye transfer printers in the world and have them have at it!
Thanks for the discussion - I am enjoying this, learning in the process.
First off to Keith (and everyone else) I purchased a Bronica 6x6 MF rig a while back, and it just wasn't my cup of tea, so I sold it on Ebay. Not really sure why, but I just couldn't get used to the backwards view in the WL finder (I didn't have a prism finder), and just plain didn't like it, I guess. My opinion of 6x4.5 might be different...should I track that direction? What I love about 35mm is that it is fun (this is a hobby after all), relatively light to pack, and I do enjoy hiking and walking around with my camera. Can't seem to do this so much with the bigger formats, but maybe I have not tried the right gear.
Does my subject matter need the highest resolution? I would say yes, in the sense that any landscape shot will look better the more detail is in it. I can't believe some people look at a print of a nature scene taken with a 6mp or even a 10mp DSLR and clam it is better than or equal to even 35mm Velvia. The detail is just not there; I have done the tests myself. So, that's been my quest lately - the last year or so - to get the most detailed prints I could out of 35mm film. It's been fun. I'm thinking I may be reaching the limit, though.
Lastly, we are moving in August, and I have had to dismantle my darkroom, so I am stuck with some form of digital printing for now. I don't believe I will be able to find a place that will let me have a darkroom up soon, so I'm thinking my days in that form of printing are over at least for a while.
So...the Minolta 5400 seems to be about the best dedicated film scanner I can have in my price range. An Imacon is honestly not much better, and way over priced. Drum scanning is indeed an option, but only for a very select few of my shots, I am sure.
What's interesting is that Rob pointed out I should get better scans of negatives - unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. I have two 20x30" prints hanging in my office that were printed from E100GX and Velvia 35mm slides - perfect technique, etc - everything just came together and those two prints look amazingly good at that size. One was scanned in with the 5400 and one was don the traditional interneg way by a top notch lab here in town (i.e. $$)
...but I have never had a print of a negative look so good as the prints from my slides, not even at smaller sizes like 12x18 which I have done quite often from my slides.
Thanks for all the information so far, and keep throwing tips at me...I'm listening and learning.
Let me suggest taking a long hard look at the MF rangefinders, e.g. the fixed lens Fujis and the Mamiya 6/6MF/7/7ii. As hiking cams it is very, very hard to beat these.... in any format.
Originally Posted by Jedidiah Smith
Indeed MF SLRs can be rather bulky; with possible exception of the pentaxes and a few others, they just don't feel as mobile as a 35mm. But having said that, there is a tremendous variety of MF gear out there, and it is all quite affordable now, so... enjoy trying a lot of different kit.
I do not mean to imply that 35mm isn't right for you- perhaps it is, and it can be optimal for many things. But if scanning at home is a big part of your workflow, then jumping even to 645 will immediately yield a lot of benefits. Of all the things to scan, in any format, 35mm velvia is the hardest...
Last edited by keithwms; 05-28-2008 at 09:53 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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well one last tip.
5 lp/mm is 10 lines per mm * 25.4 = 254. It is no coincidence that some of the highend laser printers print at this resolution, some dursts for example.
However, that leaves little room for error and it is claimed, although I have no personal eveidence, that when printing to an inkjet, using a mutiple of the print head nozzle count gives some print advantage. I don't know whether that is in terms of speed for the rasterising process or for actual print quality improvement. For epsons that is a mutiple of 180 or 360. So using 360ppi, you would actually be aiming at 7lp/mm.
And if you can afford a quality dedicated RIP, then you will see a marked improvement in print quality once you get your head around the software.
but I digress, this is going way off topic...
Rob - did I do my math right? I came out with a min. of 105.8 lp/mm for a 20x30 print from 35mm film. That would be utilizing the entire frame, of course.
Keith, I will certainly look into MF again, then. Perhaps my first judgement based on the old Bronica was not a good one! :-)
yes that's correct assuming a target 5 lp/mm and scanning at 5400. Actually slightly under 5400 but I would scan at scanner native resolution so that scanner firmware doesn't do any interpolation.
Remember that document print resolution should be 254 ppi but note my previous post which suggests that 7 lp/mm or rather 360 ppi may be optimal for an epson printer. What it should be for other makes I don't know. If you are using epson, then you can try both 254 and 360 and see if there is a difference. It would be very subtle.
And as you see, your theoretical resolution limit is only 66% of the films resolution and that's before you lose more through scanner lens quality, step motor limitations, ccd limitations, scanner lens alignment, scanner focus etc.
Jed, I made some of my favorite 24" X 30" type R color prints from 645 Velvia transparencies shot with my Fujica GS 645 Professional (Rangefinder Folder) with the 75mm f3.4 EBC Fujinon S lens.
Originally Posted by Jedidiah Smith
Recently, using my Fuji GW690 III (Rangefinder camera with 90mm f3.5 EBC Fujinon lens), I shot a 6cm X 9cm Joshua Tree NP landscape on Fuji 160S color neg film. A and I Labs of Los Angeles scanned the neg, printed it (24" X 36") and mounted it for me.
Everything is analog - even digital :D