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Thread: New Member Lots of Questions

  1. #1

    New Member Lots of Questions


    I am a new member. The information that I have read in this forum has been helpful. I have a few questions.

    I have been photographing landscapes with a 4x5 Sinar F and Rodenstock Sironar 150 N. I have used a Bogen 3021 tridod with Manfrotto Pan Tilt Head. I shoot color negative 160 NC, TMax 100, and Fuji Astia. I scan with a Imacon scanner at the suggested maximum resolution. I print with 2 Epson 9600s, one dedicated to NK7 and the other to color. My paper of choice are Hahnemule photo rag. The prints are enlarged to 28 x 36 inches.

    The images impress most people. But, I find them a little too soft.

    I have recently changed everything. My camera is now a Linhof TK, not the s. I bought it used and it appears to have never been used. My tripod is now a Gitzo 1415 and my head is a Foba superball with a quick release plate (8" Kirk). I have also added a Schneider Symmar 5.6 180 MC from about 1982. Everything is used except for the tripod. So, I think I have addressed stability issues. One last note, I usually, not always, make pictures early in the morning and shoot between 16 and 32 from 1 to 30 seconds. I am very careful of the wind. I am still testing this equipment.

    So, here is my question, finally. What will make my images sharper. Should I invest in better lenses. I am thinking of purchasing a Rodenstock Sironar-S. Will it make any difference at the size I print?

    Thanks for reading this far.

    Spencer Ladd

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Humboldt County, CA

    Re: New Member Lots of Questions

    Hello and welcome!

    As a photographer well-grounded in the last century (or two), I will take the total off-the-wall guess that your lack of sharpness might be more of a software (computer/scanner/printer) issue than a hardware (camera/lens/tripod) issue...or perhaps a viewing distance issue? (that is, is the print really not sharp at the normal viewing distance for a print of that size? Can one expect contact-print sharpness when one puts one's nose up to a 28"x36"print?)

    As you see, I am way out of my league here!


  3. #3

    Re: New Member Lots of Questions

    If you took an 8x or 10x loupe, and viewed one of your Fuji Astia transparencies on a light table, does that also look a bit soft? If it does not, then my suggestion to you is that the softness you find is being introduced at the scanning or printing stage. You can check your scans a bit on a monitor by zooming in 800% or greater magnification, and check the details. However, that is not necessarily the best way to do that, though you can compare the scan results to what you saw through the loupe.


    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio

  4. #4

    Re: New Member Lots of Questions


    You could be correct. I am still building my digital skills and knowledge. Everything looks sharp from viewing distance. But, people do walk up to the images. I do. I expect them to be sharp up close.


  5. #5
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Rio Rancho, NM

    Re: New Member Lots of Questions

    FWIW, I'm leaning in the same direction as Vaughn. While the Sironar-S will likely be a bit sharper than your old-ish Symmar, as would be a current APO Symmar, whether that additional measure of sharpness would show up in a 7x enlargement may be questionable.

    There are numerous members here who are better versed on scanning and digital work flow than I, but that's where I'd explore before buying a replacement "magic-bullet" lens.

  6. #6

    Re: New Member Lots of Questions


    They look sharp with an 8x Peak lupe. I am researching the best lupe for precise review of my film. I have not found a lupe that has convienced me it is my chromes or negatives.

    Any suggestions?


  7. #7

    Re: New Member Lots of Questions


    I am going to try all variables before I buy an expensive lens. But, I do not know where to start looking. I need to research image sharpness with scans and digital prints.


  8. #8
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002

    Re: New Member Lots of Questions

    The rest of the regulars here will be getting tired of this bu now, but...

    and which is a small crop from the full 5x7" slide in the first picture.

    The lens was a 1960's Schneider Angulon 165mm, on 13x18cm EPP. It's still sharp all over on a 40x56" print.

    In other words I don't believe a newer lens wouls necessarily be better

  9. #9

    Re: New Member Lots of Questions

    Hello Spencer,

    Oddly enough, probably one of the best loupes I have is an old manual focus Nikon 50mm lens. However, the dedicated Schneider loupes are quite good.

    I use a TOYO 3.6x loupe for focusing on the ground glass. While that could work on a light table, it would be better to use a stronger loupe. You can also get an 8x loupe for ground glass usage, which would eliminate another possible issue. I do think that at the apertures you are using, you don't really need a stronger loupe for focusing. I have a tendency to shoot wide open (f5.6), or often at f8.0 and f11.0, so DOF is probably more of a possible issue for me, though my images print quite sharp.

    My guess is that your scanning, post processing, and printing are where you are getting softness issues. Where I think that would be the most influence is in your printer, since all inkjet systems have a higher dot gain than commercial presses (other than newsprint). You can control dot gain a little with different papers, and that might be something easy to try without selling off gear, and avoiding buying new gear. After some paper testing, then I think attack the post processing workflow to try some variations of sharpening, perhaps even individual channels rather than the entire image file. The last thing I would think would be a problem would be your Imacon, so if nothing else works, then try something different in your scanning. One way to test the limits of your scanning would be to have a good lab do a high end Creo/Scitex scan, or a drum scan, and compare that to what you can do with your Imacon. My guess is that at your magnifications of final prints, you will not see much difference in scanning, other than maybe colour differences.


    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
    Last edited by Gordon Moat; 24-Jan-2007 at 13:05. Reason: spelling

  10. #10

    Re: New Member Lots of Questions

    Hi Ole,

    Beautiful image. Looks sharp on screen. But, I can't tell too much from a computer. I do trust it is not the lens that is my problem. Thanks for the input.


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