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  1. #11

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    Wait a minute. Are we talking about edge-to-edge sharpness or are we talking about enlargement capacity? If we are talking about enlargement capacity, then, of course, larger formats have an edge. However, 35mm lenses are every bit as sharp as any other lenses, edge-to-edge. Losing apparent sharpness as you enlarge is not a function of the lens (in this case), but rather of the format size.

  2. #12

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    This is an excellent point. In fact, many 35mm lenses (if not most) are actually sharper than their corresponding medium format designs. MF benefits by virtue of the size of the MF negative (more area, more resolution).

  3. #13

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    I've found that my Leica lenses out-perform any others when looking at the negatives with a loupe. I regularly print at 16x20" from them and have excellent quality prints. There is of course much more room for error when printing at this size from a 35mm neg than a 120 or sheet film, but again and again I am surprised at just how good the prints are. I've printed 810 negs to 20x24 and had much crisper looking prints of course, but when looking at the negatives there is a clear difference.

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by FilmOnly View Post
    This is an excellent point. In fact, many 35mm lenses (if not most) are actually sharper than their corresponding medium format designs. MF benefits by virtue of the size of the MF negative (more area, more resolution).
    But is that so?

    Many MF lenses actually are sharper than many 35 mm format lenses. MF benefits by virtue of being the "more grown up" format in other respects (like more resolution per unit of area) as well as enlargeability.

  5. #15
    craigclu's Avatar
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    I shoot from 35 through 4x5 and have decent gear at the various levels and in my darkroom. Yes, you can get surprising results from well-crafted 35mm but the big difference is in the subtle tonal transitions between the formats. Each can easily have their place in your tool box.

    I don't think it's accurate to look at format advantage as a linear improvement, marching along at a direct relationship to pure size. Many other elements introduce themselves as you increase format size. The equipment increases by cubic size, requiring more and more serious support systems, especially if controlling slr mechanisms and the mechanical commotion that goes with it. Optics are generally better corrected and controllable at wider ƒ stops in smaller formats, allowing for more reasonable shutter speeds for similar depth of field. Smaller film is more easily kept flatter and in the proper plane for best edge-to-edge performance.

    A good, sharp medium or large format negative is a joy to work with and I find easier to print subtle tones (especially skin tones). They're sharper in the final product but when forced to deal with projects that only 35mm can handle, I'm usually surprised at how well the whole thing works out.

    Each increment up in quality exposes a new issue to deal with. For instance, APO enlarging lenses help squeeze what a negative has to offer but their wider apertures require absolute, perfect alignment of enlargers (all planes) to take advantage of them. Raising the bar keeps raising the bar on your total routine and protocols. After 40 years of learning and upgrading equipment, I now have only myself to blame if things don't print sharp and precise! The reality was that I was at the core of most problems before becoming excuse-proof via gear acquisition!
    Craig Schroeder

  6. #16

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    Indeed, the shortcomings are with the photographer, not the equipment.

  7. #17
    jp498's Avatar
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    A quality overkill scan, where the grain is clear in your scan, shows off 35mm sharpness issues pretty honestly.

    If the shooting technique is equally good, I've noticed color shows off lens issues much more than B&W. Digital even more so, since you can quickly zoom in and compare and jump to conclusions.

  8. #18

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    I would have to agree about color (as opposed to b&w) revealing lens issues. I find that, overall, color seems to reveal more (both positive and negative).

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