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  1. #1

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    Size of Film Grain?

    I'm not quite sure where to put a thread like this, so I might have it in the wrong forum.... :\



    Over the years, people have asked me why I shoot film. I give all the usual answers like "I like working with film and working in the darkroom" and "I think analog prints look better than digital prints, assuming the analog prints are done well."

    One thing I wish I could argue is the resolution argument. I should be able to figure out how big a pixel is fairly easily. Is there any documentation that a particular film (say Tri-x or FP4+ or whatever) has a certain sized grain? If I find the size of grain, I guess I could make a comparison of the 'possible resolution' of a film vs a digital sensor. I know the camera lens, enlarging lens, tripod stability, and such affect resolution, but at least I'd be able to give an answer to the inevitable question "is film better than digital?" with terms of resolution.

    the reason I look for something like this is people dont seem to accept the answer "I like film better." They seem to want an objective answer. At least I'd be able to compare film resolution to digital resolution in a way most people can understand, even if the film grain vs pixel isnt a perfect analogy.


    OK, what I'm getting at is "is there any documentation of the size of film grain of a particular film?" I know film grains between films of the same iso ratings wont be exactly the same size , but shouldnt there be a document saying "Ilford FP4+ film is X size" and "Kodak TMZ is Y size"? I'm horrible at google searching, so I've probably looked right over the thing I'm looking for without even realizing it...

    BTW, I'm not trying to start a film VS digital debate. Those things actually piss the hell out of me (kinda like the rival sports team crap I have to deal with all the time in Lawrence county, Alabama). I'm looking for real technical info on film grain size. I can figure out pixel size for a particular digicam myself or find it in a more appropriate place.

    Braces for shitstorm....
    "I have captured the light and arrested its flight! The sun itself shall draw my pictures!"

    -Louis Daguerre, 1839-

  2. #2
    tomalophicon's Avatar
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    Just punch 'em in the face and yell: 'how do you like them grains?'.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomalophicon View Post
    Just punch 'em in the face and yell: 'how do you like them grains?'.

    better yet, save my knuckles some pain and hit them with my K1000
    "I have captured the light and arrested its flight! The sun itself shall draw my pictures!"

    -Louis Daguerre, 1839-

  4. #4
    tomalophicon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Existing Light View Post
    better yet, save my knuckles some pain and hit them with my K1000

  5. #5
    Kevin Caulfield's Avatar
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    From previous discussions here and elsewhere ... Ball park, for a 100 ISO film, MF, 6 x 6 or so, you have a resolution of maybe anything from about 20 to 50 MP.

  6. #6
    clayne's Avatar
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    Pixels and grain are not the same beasts. Grain is not necessarily binary.
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by clayne View Post
    Pixels and grain are not the same beasts. Grain is not necessarily binary.
    I know. But they should be similar enough in terms of resolution that I can make a reasonable analogy like "your Nikon Dwhateves has W pixels, which means they're X big in measurement while the grains of PlusX are Y big in measurement, which means there's about Z grains in a 35mm negative." That wont be a perfect example because grains arent in a flat grid but suspended in an emulsion, but comparing pixel size to grain size should give a reasonable comparison.

    That can at least be as objective of an answer as you can give one of those people that want to know about film vs digital in reguards to resolution. I think it beats "I like film better because it's got a look that digital cant replicate." I mean, I believe that's true, but it's still subjective.

    I feel this thread disentegrating very soon :\
    "I have captured the light and arrested its flight! The sun itself shall draw my pictures!"

    -Louis Daguerre, 1839-

  8. #8

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    Seems the film grain thing was a bit more complex than I realized. I found this pdf that explains film particle and grain size. This might have to do until I can find technical publications of a particular film

    http://cool.conservation-us.org/cool...lution_v24.pdf
    "I have captured the light and arrested its flight! The sun itself shall draw my pictures!"

    -Louis Daguerre, 1839-

  9. #9

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    When making comparisons with sensor chips, one should also take into account the Bayer-filter and the fact that a pixel is not sensitive to all three RGB-primaries. On a x-megaPixel camera, little more than a third of the pixels are green sensitive, little less than one third is blue and red sensitive, respectively. The full-color x-megaPixel image is generated through interpolation. The effective resolution is thus less than x mega pixel. Also, If I have understood things correctly, the MTF of a sensor chip has a much more steep cut-off, while a film degrades more gracefully beyond the MTF cut-off. This, I think, influence how the media respond to (too-)fine details.

  10. #10

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    Ah come on, instead of dancing around the measurements with resolution comparrisons n chip sensors, how about just giving a size in microns or whatever the average single grain measures for both conventional film n T-grain films?

    Perhaps this would be better posted in the Silver Gelatin Based Emulsion Making & Coating area where the real scientists live?

    .
    Anyone can make a Digital print, but only a photographer can make a photograph.

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