6x7 @ 12800 vs 35mm @ 3200
Im trying to determine the ultimate handheld night camera combination in this thread.
and have some questions in my last post regarding medium format which I hope you could correct/confirm for me.
Now heres the interesting question. If we fix the enlargement size to 8x10.. how much can we push a 6x7 negative for it to still achieve the same resolution as the 35mm negative? Lets say its two stops since theres 4 times as much film. Im also asumming that a 80mm lens on MF will still only require 1/50 since its the normal lens for MF and so movement has the same angular resolution effect. Someone please answer this.
My first reaction to this would be- can you even push 3200 to 12800 and still have a decent looking image (not considering the grain)? I don't shoot a lot of highspeed film, and I don't push a lot of film, so I am not totally sure what the results would look like. But if the grain and image quality is the same/similar, then I would say 6x7 simply because I find it much easier to print from 6x7 negs compared to 35mm.
Film area counts for a lot and in that comparison, I suspect 6x7 will do better, but I don't really believe that there is a film that will give you an honest 12800 with anything like normal contrast (though a low contrast combo might be what you want for certain kinds of night photography), compensating developers and all. The "3200" speed films are in general 800 speed films.
I've pushed Tri-X 400 (6x6) to 12800, once for a model shoot (in a setting where grit and tons of grain were very appropriate) and once for a still life. Loved it. I lucked out, particularly on the model shoot, because development was done by total best guess. Contrast and sharpness were good.
I've never tried pushing 3200 to 12800, but I suspect it would do pretty well -- if shot in very flat light.
I didn't mean to suggest that one can't get an aesthetically pleasing print from an underexposed negative, but that one is fooling oneself if one believes that one is really getting a film speed of 12800 measured as a Zone I density of 0.1 over base fog.
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If Delta 3200 is really a 800-1000 film.. what is Fuji Neopan 1600? Is this a true 1600 film?
Heres a quote from the Ilford product review page. Down the bottom is a copy of a review from shutterbug for Delta 3200.
In sharpness and tonality, it is recognizably a Delta film. If you make an 8x10 inch print from a 6x7cm Delta 3200 negative (at EI 3200), and an 8x10 inch print from a 35mm Delta 100 negative (at EI 100), the grain in the two pictures looks surprisingly similar. Of course, one is only about a 4x enlargement, and the other is around 7x, but the family resemblance is clear.
Push the film further, to EI 6400, and you can see the difference in the grain, but magically the tonality doesn't change, and the sharpness doesn't suffer. At photokina, I found out why. There are no fewer than four different emulsions in Delta 3200. This allows Ilford to control the highlights, mid-tones and shadows separately. The curve gets steeper, but it retains the classic flattened S-shape of a pictorial emulsion, without going up in a steep, straight line like most ultra-pushed films.
You can push it even further, out to EI 12,500. The first time we tried rating it that fast (I say "we" because my husband Roger Hicks and I were working together), we shot some cars in the car park at Dover docks. Although the choice of subject may seem a bit eccentric, it is useful because you can get an excellent indication of sharpness and resolution from number plates (English for license plates -- if you're being really pedantic, "registration marks"). When we got the negatives on the light box, we found we could actually read the number plate on one of the cars. On the negative these numbers are less than 1/32 of an inch high.
One thing is clear though.. this is one area where film is still clearly better than digital. Want to imagine what a ISO 6400 shot underexposed a stop and then boosted in the raw conversion would look like? Yuck.
Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
This was the whole point of my thread in the rangefinder forum. What is THE best combination for night-time handheld photography. If your destination print in 8x10, MF seems to have the option to burn some of its quality to achieve faster shutter speeds.
The Mamiya 645 w/80mm f/1.9 seems like it could be a killer combo with pushed film. As I asked in the first post, whats the hand-holdabililty like? Do I neeed 1/80 for a 80mm lens in MF? Do the larger mirrors cause too much camera shake? Would the mirror lockup help with this? What is the DOF on a 80mm f/1.9 similar to in MF?
There are a lot of important things discussed in that review like grain and resolution and overall tonality and "family resemblances," but film speed expressed as an EI is a fairly specific thing measured in terms of shadow detail. One question you can ask is "can I get a good picture by underexposing two or three stops in low light and increasing development to improve highlight and midtone separation?", and another question is "can I get an EI of 12800 with such and such a film?" Depending on your tastes, I would say "yes" to the first question, and in general "no" to the second.
There are no free lunches, and low-light is always going to involve some sort of compromise. Indeed, a bigger format means less DOF wide open. An SLR rather than a rangefinder or TLR will give you more mirror slap. Mirror lock reduces vibration, but why use an SLR with a normal lens if you're going to use mirror lock? Everything is sharper on a tripod, but a tripod can be an impediment to getting the shot. A longer exposure gives better tonality at the expense of camera and subject movement.
As a general rule, the increase in film area with 6x6 or larger over 35mm will beat the grain penalty that comes with having to use a faster film to compensate for slower lenses and less DOF.
A tripod is out, this is for photos of kids (who wont stay completely still) and friends at dinner parties etc. Thanks for your reply.
I've done a lot of experimenting with really low light with fast lenses and fast film. I have a Hasselblad with a 110mm f/2 lens (I bought this after trying the Mamiya 80/1.9 and the Norita 80/2) and have used lots of Delta 3200 in 120. I've also shot lots of D3200, Tmax 3200 and Fuji 1600 in 35mm (Fuji 1600 is definately slower than the others, but much finer grain and I think it looks the best but won't use it faster than 800).
I find that, in general, I get much better results with 35mm in really low light. It's easy to find f/1.4 lenses in 35mm and even faster lenses are available. You can get fast rangefinder lenses in 35mm that help a lot with slow speed handholdability. Although writing this always seems to spark controversy, depth of field seems much less at f/2 in medium format than at f/1.4 in 35mm. Precise focusing in medium format also seems harder to me, but that may just be me.
Of the 3 fast B&W films, I much prefer the look of Fuji 1600 as long as you don't need to shoot faster than 800 (it has a very short toe and loses shadow and even midtones if you try to push it). I also like Tmax 3200 better than Delta (these choices favor 35mm since Delta is the only choice in 120). I find Delta to have flat highlights and look muddy when the other films sparkle, but I know other people who prefer Delta to the other films. After trying many developers, I get the best looking negatives from all three films in Tmax developer. This is especially true for Delta and the Tmax developer increases the highlight contrast and keeps the Delta muddyness at a minimum. Tmax developer also gives equal or better film speed to any of the others I've tried. I find all the films to look pretty good up to some speed, then kind of fall apart because of lack of shadow/midtone details. Going to a bigger negative helps with grain, but doesn't really increase the usable speed.
I know I'm probably writing blasphemy on this site, but I've actually gotten the best handheld low light results of my life recently using a Digital SLR. I have a Minolta 7D with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. ISO 1600 looks like 400 speed film, 3200 is better than any 3200 film I've used. 3200 is the speed limit, but I've never been satisfied with anything except very special cases trying to push film faster than 3200 anyway. The built-in anti shake allows slower shutter speeds than any rangefinder. The shorter normal lens gives better depth of field, and the Minolta 35/1.4 lens is the best 1.4 lens I've ever used (and always a bit too wide for my taste in 35mm). I much prefer looking at B&W prints I make in the darkroom to anything I've seen from a computer printer and I much prefer using a nice medium format camera with B&W film in general, but I still find the digital SLR to have a strong advantage in low light and find it replacing my 35mm which was only really used for snapshots and low light anyway.