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Thread: Best B&W film/developer for scanning (that's not bad for optical prints either!)?

  1. #41

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    Re: Best B&W film/developer for scanning (that's not bad for optical prints either!)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    Not quite. The scanner creates a deterministic image from a stochastic image. It's not a straight up conversion. There's some blurring and averaging taking place, but at a very low level. If done well, below the level at which image detail information is recorded on the film. If that's the case, then for all practical purposes a scanner does what you say.

    The major difference to me is that the digital capture is a first generation copy. A film capture is also a first generation copy. When you scan the film, you are making a second generation copy. The big question though is "does it matter?" As far as I can see, it doesn't, not even when making 10-12x enlargements.

    The problem in comparing digital capture to scanned film is that, like most such comparisons, it's an apples to oranges comparison. Both methods have their own strengths and their own weaknesses. So what matters to me may not matter to you, and vice versa. I'm more interested in the images than I am in the technology of the capture. But that's just me.
    Thank you for your patience, Bruce. I'm more interested in images, too, but comparing apples and oranges becomes important when one has a choice between the two. Until recently, I did not, and any interest in such a comparison was purely theoretical, but now it's a practical issue due careful consideration. I appreciate your experienced perspective.

  2. #42
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    Re: Best B&W film/developer for scanning (that's not bad for optical prints either!)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay DeFehr View Post
    Thank you for your patience, Bruce. I'm more interested in images, too, but comparing apples and oranges becomes important when one has a choice between the two. Until recently, I did not, and any interest in such a comparison was purely theoretical, but now it's a practical issue due careful consideration. I appreciate your experienced perspective.
    There are many more ways to look at the problem, some of which may (or may not) generate some more (better?) understanding.

    One is to consider how many film grains it takes to record the smallest amount of actual image information. In order for film to work at all, it has to take a lot of film grains to successfully describe a "unit" of image information. Because if it doesn't, photography has to look like a Seurat painting. So there is a many->one relationship between film grains and image detail, yes?

    This in turn implies that there is some resolution that can be used in scanning said film, that will capture all the image detail, but will not capture much, if any, grain detail. Some middle ground as it were. In fact, there seems to be many scanner operators that believe that scanning above around 2400-3200 ppi becomes meaningless because it doesn't capture any more image detail. All it does is capture more grain detail (aka noise). There seems to be some elements of truth to this "school" of scanning.

    I say "some elements of truth" because if nothing else, this seems to offer an explanation of why scanning works at all, and why it works so bloody well -- why the scanned copy (second generation) can be such an excellent representation of the film (first generation copy) that it is, for all intents and purposes, an exact copy. What you loose when you scan is some film grain data, but you lose very little of the actual image information (note the distinction between the concepts of data and information). And this is why it doesn't matter that a scanner can't image the film grain itself.

    Bruce Watson

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