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  1. #1

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    Edge-to-edge Sharpness in 35mm

    In the last couple of years, I have been using my equipment more frequently, taking more photographs. Yesterday, I was reviewing some of my 4"x6" prints. With the prices of better quality medium and large format film gear being so low, I decided to examine my prints in terms of shaprness. I constantly hear of the inferiority of the "small" 35mm negative, and am tempted by the promise of absolute or "edge-to-edge" sharpness. After having taken a fair selection of photographs in 35mm, I am surprised by my findings.

    Most of the numerous shots I examined showed very good to excellent overall sharpness. There were a number, that to me at least, were amazingly sharp--edge-to-edge. For example, some shots I had taken of trains are simply "reach-out-and-touch-it" sharp. These shots were taken hand-held, and my subject was moving. I believe I used a Nikkor NPK 50/2 at 1/250 or 1/500 at either F/8 or f/11. I used Kodak Ektar 100 film. In any case, most lenses (35mm or otherwise) will perform better when stopped down (as mine was), but the fact that the shots were hand-held and of an object in motion increased my surprise. I was also fairly close to the subject. I welcome any comments or opinions, especially if you have observed similar (or dissimilar?) results.
    Last edited by FilmOnly; 04-06-2010 at 07:53 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    I agree that 35mm works well in the 4x6" size. I have been printing my 35mm at about 4x6" on an 8x10 sheet. These images seem to hold up well when compared to my Large Format bigger prints.

  3. #3
    Rol_Lei Nut's Avatar
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    As a minimum I expect 35mm, shot with good equipment and technique, to be extremely sharp at 4x6' (and also quite a bit larger).
    M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa

  4. #4
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Sharpness is certainly not something I lack from my 35mm negatives. What seems to be lacking compared to larger formats is more in the realm of tonal gradation where one shade of a particular color fades into another shade. Or in abrupt tonal shifts, like a sharp line between shadow and a bright surface, where the border between the two becomes less crisp with higher magnification.

    The above doesn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying 16x20" prints from 35mm, which can be beautiful if done right.

    Keep shooting. Keep smiling. Have fun.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #5
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    IMO, that's where 35mm is best at home. It makes very good 4x6 prints. At sizes above 5x7, the medium format differences start to become more apparent.
    f/22 and be there.

  6. #6

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    I'm afraid, looking at 4x6 print is not a good way to judge sharpness. Just about anything can produce sharp looking image on that size. In fact, one of the tricks for using slightly out of focus image IS to print smaller.... For 35mm, you would probably need to enlarge to 8x10 to better see focus problems at corners. Or, you can get a lope and see negatives under magnification.

    I use a 10x to 40x stereo microscope for this purpose (yes, an overkill! but I already have it) but you could use 8x lope as well.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  7. #7

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    I appreciate the feedback. Indeed, a larger print would tell more of the story. I plan on doing 8x12 prints of the nicer ones. After seeing many small and large prints, I am all but certain that these will print well at 8x12 (or perhaps larger).

  8. #8
    jbbooks's Avatar
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    You are not going to see much difference with paper sizes smaller than 11x14 with a 35mm camera that has a decent lens. Using a film with less grain will allow enlarging more, with a quality lens, but 16x20 is about the limit for 35mm--at least for me.

  9. #9
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    I used to think all my 35mm slides were sharp until the first time I saw them projected on a 6 ft screen, then I started to take a lot more care.
    Last edited by benjiboy; 04-07-2010 at 11:49 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Ben

  10. #10
    fotch's Avatar
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    When you do your own darkroom work, you are more likely to make more 8x10 prints. Then, the difference of choice of film choice, film size, shutter speed, focusing, tripod, all become more apparent.

    Color itself seems like it can mask some of these details compared to B&W sometimes.

    JMHO
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

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