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Thread: I have found the bottom

  1. #1
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    I have found the bottom

    ...and it's slightly disappointing.

    I just got into 4x5 recently. I thought it was infinitely, phenomenally resolving and high-resolution. Until yesterday when I printed a big enlargement. I shot a 4x5 HP5 negative of my work building. I shot it handheld at f/11, 1/100 with my Angulon and speed graphic. I did not focus with a loupe, but I focused wide open and then stopped down.

    It looked very nice at 8x10, but I put a 75mm lens on the enlarger and printed the center of the negative onto a sheet of 8x10 paper with the head all the way up. My calculations show that this is equivalent to a crop from about a 50x40 print. I observed several things

    --It didn't look sharp anymore
    --It wasn't because of grain
    --it didn't look motion blurred

    Previously, with other formats it always seemed like resolving small details was about having fine grain. Now, even at this enlargement size, the image is blurred far more than the grain is obtrusive. In other words, grain has ceased to be a problem, and now it appears to be optical limitations. The fine grain reveals very smoothly the blurry detail. To my eyes, this looks terrible, because I mean, my smaller format cameras can at least resolve down to grain level; the only time I ever see grainless blurring is in a pinhole camera or an OOF shot. I need to remind myself that 50x40 is really big, but it was a new experience seeing this kind of blurring that is coming from the lens and not the film. Also, this kind of blurriness looks far better to the eyes than pixelization. I just kind of expected to be able to read the 4-inch 'handicap' sign on the door about 75 yards away. But when I zoomed in, I found that my resolution went away far before the image got grainy.

    I suppose were I 'worried' about it, I would

    --get a better lens
    --use a different aperture
    --make sure to focus better
    --use a colored filter

  2. #2

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    Re: I have found the bottom

    Oh, it would have def'nitly come out better with a Petzval/Super Angulon/Dagor/wide angle/telephoto/ piece of expensive glass.

    Pfft. What kinda BS is this? You wanna sharper picture? Bring a tripod. And focus.

  3. #3

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    Re: I have found the bottom

    Handheld, 1/100, unfocussed: I would be shocked if it was not that soft!

  4. #4

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    Re: I have found the bottom

    Use a tripod and use a loupe. Make a full sized print and then stand back and look at it from a normal viewing distance.

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    Re: I have found the bottom

    Oh, it would have def'nitly come out better with a Petzval/Super Angulon/Dagor/wide angle/telephoto/ piece of expensive glass.

    Pfft. What kinda BS is this? You wanna sharper picture? Bring a tripod. And focus.
    Not BS, just regular ignorance. You seem to think that a different lens would not improve my results. You seem to think that other factors are more important. This is what I'm trying to find out, but you could have said so without the impolite tone.

    When I look at the picture, I don't see any directional blurring/astigmatism. I would expect motion blur to not be perfectly even in all directions, so I figured that motion blur was not a significant factor in my resolution. My subject was also at nearly infinity (100 yards) and I shot an aperture significantly smaller than the one I used to verify focus, so I figured focus was not a significant factor in my resolution. I could be wrong about any of this, which is why I post on forums like this. I know I'm ignorant; I don't need to be told so.

  6. #6

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    Re: I have found the bottom

    BetterSense, I may have overstepped polite response, sorry. But you really haven't given your optical system a fair shake (as it were) if you haven't bolted it down to a tripod and spent serious effort in getting a good shot. Until then, a $500 lens won't look much different than a $50 lens, except to your pocketbook.

    I often shoot handheld during the day, with lots of sun to back me up, when I'm using my 4x5 like a press camera. But, if I'm going for clarity and sharp detail, I lock it onto a stand, and use a loupe to focus. Whatever glass you've got on the front of your camera will yield better results if you give it a firm foundation to work with.

  7. #7

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    Re: I have found the bottom

    Try it again with the camera on a tripod and a higher resolution film, such as Delta 100, TMX, or Acros, and see if that gets you closer to what you expect. Also be sure to stop the lens down to an optimal f/stop. Then of course we can all chat about what film developer you should use...

  8. #8
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    Re: I have found the bottom

    Try it again with the camera on a tripod and a higher resolution film, such as Delta 100, TMX, or Acros, and see if that gets you closer to what you expect.
    That's another new thing...for me, higher resolution always meant finer grain. Now I have a situation where grain is insignificant, but certain films could still be sharper. That's new to me. I understand that films have different MTFs. I've been using HP5 because in low-contrast situations it pushes very well and I need a fastish film for hand-held photography; I would also like to only have 1 film for logistical reasons. It used to be cheaper, but now that it costs the same as TMY maybe I should switch.


    Also be sure to stop the lens down to an optimal f/stop
    What is that for 4x5? In 35mm, anything smaller than f/11 has noticeable effects on sharpness. I haven't noticed even the smallest apertures effecting sharpness with 4x5, but then I had to blow my print up giant before I noticed any unsharpness at all.

    see if that gets you closer to what you expect
    I guess I should reevaluate what I expect. I have literally never viewed very-large (24+inches) silver prints to know what they look like, and I don't plan to make them any time soon. So resolution is already beyond my practical expectations, but psychologically, I expected the image to be sharp down to the grain level of the negative and that may just not be true in large format.

  9. #9

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    Re: I have found the bottom

    Before pissing judgement, try it again with a tripod, focus with a loupe, and use a more suitable lens than an Angulon (it was designed in the 1930s for coverage, not for sharpness), and an excellent enlarger lens (which IMO is most often the source of apparent poor enlargments).
    (PS, the Freudian slip was intentional.)
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  10. #10
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: I have found the bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    ... I have literally never viewed very-large (24+inches) silver prints to know what they look like, and I don't plan to make them any time soon. So resolution is already beyond my practical expectations, but psychologically, I expected the image to be sharp down to the grain level of the negative and that may just not be true in large format.
    It can be true, under the right circumstances.

    Remember that shooting hand-held at 1/100 sec with a 90mm lens is likely to give about the same motion blut on film regardless of camera size - 35mm or 4x5". Since the 4x5" film needs less enlargement to get the same size print as negative shot with a corresponding focal length on 35mm, the 4x5" will seem sharper.

    Using a good tripod can give sharpness down to grain level even with antique lenses on 8x10" film - a good 240mm Aplanat from around 1900 resolved high-contrast details on 8x10" film; a 2" white filling in a window is visible in a shot taken from 4 miles distance. The film grain was the limitation there...

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