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  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiku View Post
    How can you "upgrade" to a Rodagon if you do not know if the optics are of higher quality than the Minolta? Kiku
    The Rodagon seems, generally, to be more expensive. I bought the Rokkor from the same dealer who has a Rodagon f/5.6 listed at twice the price.
    Would I be paying for the name/build quality? The fact that this lens is simply more popular?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian C View Post
    I’m not sure what you mean by “decentering”. I suppose that it might refer to the lens being assembled with an off-center element.
    Yes, that's what I was referring too. I'm not talking massive uniformity issues, but right up close, the bottom area of my prints are noticeably less sharp. To another viewer, who knows, and maybe I'm being too finicky.
    I'm pretty sure this is down to slight alignment issues though, with which I'm still battling.

    The sharpest area of the print (where I've focused) is what I'm concerned with here however.
    Like I say, compared with high quality book reproductions of other medium format images (namely, Fay Godwin and Robert Adams - both Hasselblad shooters) the sharpest areas of my prints don't have the same definition. I can't imagine what the original prints are like in that case.

  2. #12

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    Batwister, when you evaluate the sharpness you perceive in your prints, do you have other reference points besides the high quality book reproductions you mention?

  3. #13

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    No, but I think I'd certainly do well to acquire some prints.

  4. #14
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    Some of your issues may stem from the alignment or misalignment of your enlarger....lens / negative carrier etc....

  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    No, but I think I'd certainly do well to acquire some prints.
    I agree - because you will likely be disappointed in their sharpness compared to the versions in high quality books. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but I've spoken about this in various threads.

    Don't get me wrong - I'm not suggesting you should stop looking for ways to improve and maximize print resolution (alignment, lenses, glass carriers etc). On the contrary, I'm obsessive about that stuff. But be careful comparing prints to those ultra-sharp, silvery, crystal-clear, jewels-like reproductions we see in fine books. It's not that they actually have more resolution than the original prints (which is obviously impossible), rather that there is something in that reproduction process that seems to enhance micro-contrast and the impression of edge sharpness.

    Michael

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    I agree - because you will likely be disappointed in their sharpness compared to the versions in high quality books. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but I've spoken about this in various threads.
    I would assume this has something to do with the downscaling of those reproductions? i.e. diffraction for instance would certainly appear diminished (same concept as reducing the resolution of a blurry digital image, which will then appear sharper in its smaller size). But what about images reproduced 1:1, like those in Michael Kenna's books? Surely what I see here is more faithful and any flaws are amplified? This is getting into the risky territory of perception, but I may well be mistaking sharpness for acutance. I can understand that acutance and edge sharpness might be augmented in reproduction, where level of detail falls down. This makes comparisons confusing.

    I only have the cheaper retrospective book of Michael Kenna's (Images of the Seventh Day), in which the larger images are 1:1 (about 8") and certainly compared with these, my prints generally appear to have more depth of detail, but perhaps not the acutance. He shoots higher speed film, which will of course have something to do with this too, as the grain makes edges appear sharper. There's also the fact that most of my images are made on overcast days where diffused light means textured areas of a scene appear softer than they would in direct light, but I only compare my prints with images made in similar flat lighting.

    I'll have to take a section of a print to a gallery and compare it with the images on the walls.

  7. #17
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    On the subject of "sharpness", if you haven't already done so, I would strongly recommend reviewing the appropriate sections of Ctein: "Post Exposure"

    http://ctein.com/booksmpl.htm

    For that matter, there are a whole bunch of other sections of that excellent resource you might want to read.
    Matt

    “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

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    I would assume this has something to do with the downscaling of those reproductions? i.e. diffraction for instance would certainly appear diminished (same concept as reducing the resolution of a blurry digital image, which will then appear sharper in its smaller size). But what about images reproduced 1:1, like those in Michael Kenna's books? Surely what I see here is more faithful and any flaws are amplified? This is getting into the risky territory of perception, but I may well be mistaking sharpness for acutance. I can understand that acutance and edge sharpness might be augmented in reproduction, where level of detail falls down. This makes comparisons confusing.

    I only have the cheaper retrospective book of Michael Kenna's (Images of the Seventh Day), in which the larger images are 1:1 (about 8") and certainly compared with these, my prints generally appear to have more depth of detail, but perhaps not the acutance. He shoots higher speed film, which will of course have something to do with this too, as the grain makes edges appear sharper. There's also the fact that most of my images are made on overcast days where diffused light means textured areas of a scene appear softer than they would in direct light, but I only compare my prints with images made in similar flat lighting.

    I'll have to take a section of a print to a gallery and compare it with the images on the walls.
    You got it right, perceived sharpness is a tricky thing. Resolution is only one of the components. There's also edge acutance, contrast/micro-contrast and graininess. And of course the size of the original negative. High quality reproductions often appear to me to have enhanced micro-contrast, a kind of subtle unsharp mask effect. I'm no expert on the process, but it seems to me somewhere in those laser scan duotone or tritone processes you end up with that. Not an overt effect, but just enough to give a heightened impression of sharpness. It seems to me to have less to do with the reproduction ratio, as I have always seen the same thing even in fairly large reproductions such as those on some Ansel Adams posters, etc.

    Anyhow I guess this was getting into a whole other complicated topic. Just thought it was worth throwing out there as something else to keep in mind because I remember when I finally saw original prints by Ansel, Weston, Sexton etc, as beautiful as they were, even contact prints did not have quite the crystal clarity I knew from the books.

    All that aside I think you're on the right track in trying to identify and address the various variables (negative stage, lens and baseboard alignment, negative flatness, lens quality, vibration, focusing). Here are two more to keep in mind (although #2 is only if you're really nuts - like me): 1) Possibility of focus shift when stopping your particular lens down. 2) Quality of the carrier glass, particularly below the negative.

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattKing View Post
    On the subject of "sharpness", if you haven't already done so, I would strongly recommend reviewing the appropriate sections of Ctein: "Post Exposure"
    Thanks very much for the link, Matt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    Anyhow I guess this was getting into a whole other complicated topic. Just thought it was worth throwing out there as something else to keep in mind because I remember when I finally saw original prints by Ansel, Weston, Sexton etc, as beautiful as they were, even contact prints did not have quite the crystal clarity I knew from the books.
    John Sexton's Recollections really is somethig to behold, so I can certainly believe this is true.

  10. #20

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    That's a pretty good example. I have that book, and I also have a dozen original prints by him, a few of which are in that particular book. The real prints are just incredible of course, but yeah those reproductions in the book (and his other books) have that extra crisp silvery look you only find in books.

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