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Thread: Is there any real utility to ULF?

  1. #111

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    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    > This thread is about the relevance of using ULF cameras. Someone responded that there is not and proceded to cite all kinds of resolution arguments, MTF tables, that enlarging is better and should be considered and of course the ever present digital.

    I am sorry Jorge, I did not read a post where someone mentioned "ULF - there is no relevance in its use". Can you please reference that post? I keep seeing mentioning of, ULF still has a niche, even today....but not what you are suggesting? Maybe its in a different thread?




    > Then, I cut up the 12x20 negative and the second shot is the section I cut to put on my scanner. This scan was made at 100 dpi resolution. I then scanned the same cut at 2400 dpi and cut off a part that looked the same as my negative under a 10x loupe. And this is the third picture.

    Can you please explain what these scans demonstrate as it relates to your position?




    > 1.Because you have to use small apertures you loose resolution and the resolution of the lenses used is not adequate for these formats.

    Again, I am not finding such a reference in a previous post. Can you cut n paste it for us?




    > 2. Difficulty to mantain squareness of the camera, film flatness and parallel standards. These are reasons borne out of inexperience and ignorance in the format.

    I re-read some of the previous posts, and the only reference mentioned is...... ULF can be more difficult to maintain parallelism, such as 20x24 cameras vs. 4x5 camera. A relative issue, not an absolute issue. Can you show where these posts are you refer to? We should find this ignorant individual and educate him.

  2. #112
    David Vickery
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    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    Well, The point that I am trying to make is that since there is a large variety of lenses that have been manufactured through the years that will cover ULF sizes with excellent characteristics, and with a multitude of beautifully crafted images produced for well over a hundred years by a large variety of people, using the idea that limited depth of field with longer focal length lenses, or other optical constraints, is a reason why ULF cameras have no utility is potentially misleading to people who may be considering the use of these larger formats.
    My argument is that the inherent limitations of optics are Not the criteria that should be used to determine the utility of ULF.
    Now, if I where photographing Jewelry or even Architecture for clients, then I would have a significant amount of interest in the characteristics of individual lenses and best use practices for those particular applications.
    I am not saying that optical theory is unimportant to the ULF user, I'm just trying to say that there is a lot that can be done with ULF and we shouldn't try to discourage people from getting into it.
    Sudek ambled across my mind one day and took his picture. Only he knows where it is.
    David Vickery

  3. #113

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    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    > using the idea that limited depth of field with longer focal length lenses, or other optical constraints, is a reason why ULF cameras have no utility is potentially misleading to people

    David, I agree with you 100%. I did not see any reference of posts suggesting that ULF has no utility. I really think, these discussion bring out the passion behind ones choice in formats, and people at times, sub consciously, read between the lines to justify their chosen format. The way I read it, this discussion revolved around - isolating the best possible criteria for ULF, and other formats as well, and some of the least advantageous criteria for ULF. I consider it a healthy format exchange.


    > My argument is that the inherent limitations of optics are Not the criteria that should be used to determine the utility of ULF.

    For me, I like to work backwards....first set the criteria for the desired finish print, then figure out, what tool can best accomplish this goal. Sometimes, ULF would be the best tool for the job, other times ULF would not be the best tool for the job. It might be due to the optics, long exposure times, camera shake from wind, film choice not available, etc. Lots of issues to consider when selecting the best tool....at least this is how I work. I leave all options open. I am not committed to any single format. The ol adage "Horses for Courses" certainly applies to photography.




    > I'm just trying to say that there is a lot that can be done with ULF and we shouldn't try to discourage people from getting into it.

    Fully agreed.... but at the same time, it's nice to give people all the pros n cons, and let them decide what fits their style, budget, life style, shooting technique, etc. etc.

  4. #114

    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    I am sorry Jorge, I did not read a post where someone mentioned "ULF - there is no relevance in its use". Can you please reference that post? I keep seeing mentioning of, ULF still has a niche, even today....but not what you are suggesting? Maybe its in a different thread?
    Here is you, of course I am sure that now you are going to claim you were mis understood... typical of those who use digital

    OTOH, if you the end goal is the final print, and you are not stuck on contact printing, or anti digital (scanning and printing) then, the ULF case is weakened tremendously, or almost dismissed
    However, it was not till the 60's (guessing here) that films resolution grew to the point where ULF did not make sense. Of course now, with todays film trumping 1960 film, ULF makes even less sense. (assuming a sharp print is the desired goal)
    There is probably one exception to this, and that is an image that is captured on ULF which is shot at infinity, or the subject is near flat, allowing the user to not stop down to such ridiculously high f stops to achieve even shallow DOF. Outside of this one exception, its DOF and the require aperture diffraction that prevents bigger from always being better.
    Can you please explain what these scans demonstrate as it relates to your position?


    My post is very clear.

    ULF can be more difficult to maintain parallelism,
    You are the only one having this problem. If any camera should have had problems with parallelism it was my Korona, yet it delivered perfect pictures.

  5. #115
    Still Developing
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    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Vickery View Post
    Well, The point that I am trying to make is that since there is a large variety of lenses that have been manufactured through the years that will cover ULF sizes with excellent characteristics, and with a multitude of beautifully crafted images produced for well over a hundred years by a large variety of people, using the idea that limited depth of field with longer focal length lenses, or other optical constraints, is a reason why ULF cameras have no utility is potentially misleading to people who may be considering the use of these larger formats.
    My argument is that the inherent limitations of optics are Not the criteria that should be used to determine the utility of ULF.
    Now, if I where photographing Jewelry or even Architecture for clients, then I would have a significant amount of interest in the characteristics of individual lenses and best use practices for those particular applications.
    I am not saying that optical theory is unimportant to the ULF user, I'm just trying to say that there is a lot that can be done with ULF and we shouldn't try to discourage people from getting into it.
    I personally am far from discouraged but it's good to know that the increase in resolution isn't linear, far from it. I get approx a maximum of 600dpi or 8 line pairs per pmm on Jorges picture - although he says there is more - wheras on a 4x5 negative I would expect to scan at 3300 dpi (some would say 4000) which would give
    43 line pairs per mm. This means that when I enlarge to 16x20 then I would get 11 line pairs per mm..

    Now this is all theoretical and given a good print or enlargement you still have over 400dpi on the final result which is way more than you can see...

    Any difference that you can see on a print such as this is nothing to do with resolution/MTF etc and everything to do with the operator of the camera, unique quality of lenses etc...

    For me, I would use ULF if I wanted to experience the process (which would be great). Whether experiencing the process is to do with utility is another matter... If I wanted higher resolutions than this I could scan and stitch medium format digital but the fact of the matter is that most people use the formats they do because the results are good enough for them and they enjoy the process..

    I'm probably going to stick with 4x5 and may use 8x10 - I will probably play with a large format at some point just to see what it's like and I'd love to see some contact printed results from ULF...

    The original poster wanted to know if there is something unique about the results from ULF that can't be acheived by other means (e.g. 4x5 or 8x10) .. unless someone can show me some other evidence (a comparison of real prints / negs or some maths that helps me understand the relevant problems) then this thread leads me to believe that somewhere between 4x5 and 8x10 is the most 'utilitarian' format - I've also discovered that a lot of people love ULF --- some possibly a little bit too much...

    Tim

  6. #116

    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    I get approx a maximum of 600dpi or 8 line pairs per pmm on Jorges picture - although he says there is more
    Tim I purposely did not sharpen the image so that I would not be accused of cheating. I would be glad to send you a portion of the negative so you can verify that it is a lot sharper than the scan. I could post a sharpened scan if you want, I am sure it would increase the l/mm.

    Bear in mind that this kind of magnification would result in a print that is 10x16 feet. My purpose of posting these prints was to show that someone can quote all the resolution, MTF tables, parallelism and squareness problems they want. In the end it comes down to results.

  7. #117

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    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    Quote Originally Posted by timparkin View Post

    The original poster wanted to know if there is something unique about the results from ULF that can't be acheived by other means (e.g. 4x5 or 8x10) .. unless someone can show me some other evidence (a comparison of real prints / negs or some maths that helps me understand the relevant problems) then this thread leads me to believe that somewhere between 4x5 and 8x10 is the most 'utilitarian' format - I've also discovered that a lot of people love ULF --- some possibly a little bit too much...

    Tim
    Let me say first that although I love ULF I am not tied at the belly button to it. I have a 12.1 mp digital camera, a great MF outfit (Mamiya 711) and 5X7 is probably my favorite format. I can think of circumstances where any one of these camera might be the most utilitarian, if I understand the term as it is being used.

    However, the answer to the original poster's question is definitely yes in that there are some results that can be obtained with ULF that can not be obtained with smaller sheet film formats. That would be the case if you want to make very large prints and are photographing scenes that can take full advantage of the ULF format and the lenses that we typically use with it.

    An example. You want to make a 48" X 80" and the subject is one that allows you to use a high quality lens at the optimum aperture with an 8x20" camera. Such a scene might be one with most of the subject at a distance of 100' to infinity, as we often see in the west, or one that has all of the subject on the same plane so that depth of field is not an issue. If you were to expose such a subject at f/16 or f/22 with a high resolution film you would have on film somewhere between 60-80 lppm of resolution all over the negative. A 4X magnification of this negative, which involves doubling the negative size only twice, would leave you with between 15-20 lppm of real resolution, beyond the threshold of human resolution at 10 inches viewing distance.

    Shoot the same scene with a 4X5. Assume you can get 80-100 lppm of resolution by exposing at f/8 or f/11 (and I don't think you can can much more because of the limitation of film and most 4X5 lenses. In order to make a print 80" on the long dimension you would need to double the size of the negative four times, which would take you down to 5-7 lppm.

    I think this is a very reasonable example of the advantage of ULF in a specific condition.

    Sandy King

  8. #118

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    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    Yes David, I agree with you also. For some of the nature photography work I do in 4X5 I would rather use 11X14 or 16X20 - in a heartbeat if I were younger. In situations where I can contain the composition in or near a single plane and where the intent and desire is to accentuate the textural nuances within the image I'd jump at the chance of using a ULF format. This not to mention the advantage of making brilliant contact prints and eliminating those pesky optical enlarging lenses. I do use pretty hard (collimated) enlarging setups but there is some kind of an intangible edge that a first rate contact print has that grabs me and makes my heart beat faster.

    Maybe I have this feel that a great negative is directly connected to the original scene in some mystical way and the conversion to a print is some sort of sacred metamorphosis that needs to be accomplished in the most direct way possible to preserve the integrity of the original scene.

    Nate Potter

  9. #119
    Still Developing
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    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Potter View Post

    Maybe I have this feel that a great negative is directly connected to the original scene in some mystical way and the conversion to a print is some sort of sacred metamorphosis that needs to be accomplished in the most direct way possible to preserve the integrity of the original scene.

    Nate Potter
    I think you've hit on something important their... I personally think that an enlarged 4x5 (optically) is inferior to a very good scanned and lightjetted 4x5.. The enlargements I have seen have had 'ringing' around hard edges..

    So if you want to stick with an analogue process, want resolution, are happy to work with less depth of field, can get good sharp lenses that cover the area then I think ULF not only has utility but is unique in what it can achieve...

    Does this sound right?

    Tim

  10. #120

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    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    > then this thread leads me to believe that somewhere between 4x5 and 8x10 is the most 'utilitarian' format -

    Tim, a very accurate statement.....



    > I've also discovered that a lot of people love ULF --- some possibly a little bit too much

    Tim, also a very accurate statement :-) Your on fire today!


    Jorge, your quotes are accurate, thank you. And they all support my position then, and my position now.... Although ULF has lost much of its utility vs. its' heydays, it still has niche applications today, even after years of advancements in film, digital sensors and lenses.


    > typical of those who use digital


    yes, guilty as charged Jorge... as mentioned, I do take family snapshots with a tiny digicam. But after this thread, I plan to carry a handheld 16x20 for those candid moments.




    > My purpose of posting this prints was to show that someone can quote all the resolution, MTF tables, parallelism and squareness problems they want. In the end it comes down to results.


    Jorge, we are on the same page again.... if one executes a test properly, it should match the MTF data, 1/R computation very closely. I have confirmed this many times. I would suggest shooting some test targets, so we have something objective too look at.....it will provide a better illustration of your assertions.

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