Causes of Variations in Sharpness? Lighting, Film choice, etc?
Hi there, I have experienced this problem for a bit now, and although I have some ideas about what is causing it, I'd like to hear some feedback.
Here are two scans I took recently:
The first shot with Portra 160nc on an overcast day, and the second with Superia 200 within first 45 minutes of sunlight on a slightly cloudy day.
To me there's a lack of sharpness in the second image. Could this be due to the lighting? I know overcast will give me more even lighting, and could make the image sharper. Can anyone attest to this? Or otherwise give me some advice on light conditions and their effect on image sharpness?
Or, could it be due to the fact that it was shot on consumer film and not pro? Although I've gotten plenty of sharp shots with Superia...
Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
The second one is noticeably less sharp. I don't think it's the film. Is the whole roll similarly unsharp? Lighting can accentuate details, and diffuse light will decrease contrast in the scene. Both these could affect the appearance of sharpness. Are these scans from 35mm? By the way, the pictures are of Montreal, right?
Was the second shot hand-held? I ask, because camera movement could have been at least part of the problem.
I've also had problems from time to time with unsharp scans.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
Pasto, second was montreal, first is where I live, Kitchener.
Both were shot at shutter speeds of at least 1/125.
I do suspect that it might be an issue with the scanner at work, i wanted to see if anyone had any other ideas though.
what camera are you using? what f-stop did u shoot at?
to me the second one looks out of focus.
125th of a second is not necessarily 'enough' when shooting medium format.
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Both were shot with contax g1, at least f5.6.
The guy wires and framing details on the cranes in the background look sharp enough.
It may be the scanner. Flatbed scanners especially can be hard to focus. Sometimes you need pricey aftermarket film holders to get a sharp scan.
Did you can get the negatives printed? Are the prints sharp?
I would suggest a scanning or digital post processing (sharpening or noise reduction) difference. www.hybridphoto.com might be able to help you more.
Difference in lens, aperture, focus or camera steadiness are also possible causes. Film may also have a slight effect, but Superia 200 should be quite sharp.
It's probably a sum of many aspects.
Impression of sharpness comes from two parameters: resolution and contrast. Resolution is influenced by lens quality, diffraction, camera movement and of course you can bump into the film grain. Contrast comes in two kinds: macro- and microcontrast, the difference being the distance over which reflectance in the print varies. Macrocontrast is determined by lighting and reflectance of the subject and diminished by veiling glare. Microcontrast is determined by film qualities, the Sabbatier effect, lens qualities, and sharpening algorithms in scanner software and further on in the workflow.
So, pick a variable.
BTW, one could still do an unsharp mask in the darkroom to boost microcontrast. Does anyone here do it and what are the experiences?