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  1. #1

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    What are your quality expectations?

    Just curious, what are your quality expectations shooting 35mm film? Do you print? If yes, how large? Do you compare your 35mm output to a digital camera and expect a certain level of quality?

    I just bought a 35mm film camera and want to make sure I do not judge it too harshly so want to hear from others and their expectations.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I'm shooting only three 35mm cameras. One is a Leica IIIc made in 1942 using 40s vintage lenses, another is an Ansco Memo made in 1929, and the final one is a Kodak Brownie No. 00 made c.1918. My expectations are the images will look very period correct for these cameras.


    Kent in SD

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    My expectation is, being able to make clean and clear 8x10 prints. Otherwise, I see no point in carrying one and shooting with it. I can do that with a decent point&shoot.

    If it is an SLR, I expect more. I've made very VERY decent 11x14s and quite acceptable 16x20s. With an SLR, I'd expect flawless 8x10 and decent 11x14.

    Please note, decent and flawless are quite subjective and they are subject to MY interpretations. No, I don't compare with digital results. Measurement and impression of "quality" is quite different.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by tkamiya View Post
    My expectation is, being able to make clean and clear 8x10 prints. Otherwise, I see no point in carrying one and shooting with it. I can do that with a decent point&shoot.

    If it is an SLR, I expect more. I've made very VERY decent 11x14s and quite acceptable 16x20s. With an SLR, I'd expect flawless 8x10 and decent 11x14.

    Please note, decent and flawless are quite subjective and they are subject to MY interpretations. No, I don't compare with digital results. Measurement and impression of "quality" is quite different.
    Thank you for your reply. That's very helpful.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    I'm shooting only three 35mm cameras. One is a Leica IIIc made in 1942 using 40s vintage lenses, another is an Ansco Memo made in 1929, and the final one is a Kodak Brownie No. 00 made c.1918. My expectations are the images will look very period correct for these cameras.


    Kent in SD

    Very interesting. I guess I should expect an '80s look since I have a Nikon FM2.

  6. #6

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    In my earlier thread I pointed to Steve MC Curry offering 40x60'' prints from 35mm slides. There you go.

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    Quality expectations: I use Nikkor lenses, and for the most part only good/great ones. The lens is a major contributor to quality, along with handling technique. I expect to make a sharp, essentially grain free 12x16 inch print from T-grain ISO 100 films like Acros or TMax 100, and sharp prints with minor grain from TMax 400 or FP4+. With HP5+ and TriX the grain will be visible, but it is usually pleasing and not obtrusive. Grain aversion is highly personal, so one should test that for oneself before forming an opinion. Anything from 8x10 and lower, I simply don't worry about it. I must qualify something here: My expectations are based on prints. I cannot get the same quality, perceived or real, from a scan of the same negative. It is just as if the grain becomes more mushy, or the "edge" gets taken off an image during scanning. That is of course also due to my desktop scanning equipment, but that is the reality I have to live with.

    While a direct comparison like tkamiya has pointed out is not always easy, I think most photographers in the print selling business sooner or later make that comparison and settle on one or the other. Of course, it is usually the larger formats that are being considered. My own view is to enjoy film media for their uniqueness and for the opportunity to do darkroom printing, which has its own character and possibilities. As an image-making process, analogue photography is different for not involving computers. That is something I personally like a great deal. So while one can compare the cold hard print from each alternative, at the end of the day, other factors like the process are also important to some of us, and quality is by far not the only one.

    35 mm gives one a few possibilities that are difficult to achieve with larger formats. The longer focal lengths and relatively narrow perspectives available create obvious possibilities for nature and sport photography, amongst others. The high magnification ratio makes it possible to use grain to achieve certain effects. This can be enhanced by film choice and developing methods and chemistry. The Pickford's books "Miracle Rivers" and "Forever Africa" are a marvelous example of this. For sheer ease of use, and wide range of lenses and system accessories available, 35 mm systems are indispensable for many photographers. I adore my MF cameras, and use them at every opportunity I can. But I always have a 35 mm film body packed with a few lenses when going somewhere. Photographing kids and family, knowing an 8x10 print is as large as I want to go, the 35 mm is perfect. The cross-over compatibility with my digital system is also a major advantage.

  8. #8

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    Thanks Dorff. Very helpful.

  9. #9

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    I often shoot 35mm because I like the look of the grain, and I wet print my photos up to 11x14. My film of choice is Plus X, now gone, but I have a couple bricks on ice. When it is gone I will switch to something else. I have used Tri X too, but like the smaller grain. My developer of choice is D76, with Rodinal following closely behind when I want more grain. I have tried scanning my negatives but I never get that "wet" print look. I like 35mm because the photos looks like they were taken with a film camera, not like one would get with a DSLR. My cameras of choice are my Leica M6 and Rollei 35.

  10. #10

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    Notwithstanding aesthetics and purely on technical merit, results will be influenced by film, lens, technique and subject matter. Clearly one of the most easily distinguishable characteristics is latitude where most all C41 and B&W have latitude to spare. When it comes to actual detail resolved, 35mm film has the info but many are challenged in extracting it.

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