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Thread: 8x10 photography and diffraction

  1. #11

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    Re: 8x10 photography and diffraction

    Attached is an image of Goldmine Falls (Massachusetts) that was originally taken back around the late 1970s with an 8x10 B&J Commercial View with a 12" f/4.5 Wollensak Velostigmat lens at probably f/45, but could have well been f/64. Super-XX developed in Edwal FG-7 1:15 with a 9% Sodium Sulfite solution is my memory serves me well. Made some silver prints back then but was never satisfied with them since they required some dodging and a lot of burning in of specific areas and all 4 borders. Back around 2015 scanned the negative and was finally able to make all the detailed dodging and burning in adjustments. Made a digital negative and printed on Platinum/Palladium paper. View at normal viewing distances the Platinum/Palladium print absolutely looks sharper than the silver print. Viewed using a quality loupe, the silver print is definitely a bit sharper. So objectively (using a low power loupe) the silver contact print is sharper. Subjectively the final exhibition Platinum/Palladium print looks to be far sharper and the tonalities far superior to the silver print. FYI: no sharpening done with PS. IMO too many people hung up on image resolution. Went back to shoot the falls twice in the 1990s with a 4x5 Sinar Norma and a modern optic used at its optimum aperture... the negatives/images were no where as good as my original shot with my 8x10, vintage lens, and probably shooting way too stopped down. Comments welcome.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Goldmine falls.jpg  

  2. #12

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    Re: 8x10 photography and diffraction

    Some years back On Landscape published a comparison of the various film formats:

    https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2011/1...ra-comparison/

    https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2011/1...rs-commentary/

    https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2014/1...vs-6x7-velvia/

    Their results are consistent with my experience. Back in the oughts I shot primarily landscape subjects with 8x10 for a number of years in search of large prints with better tonality and resolution than what I was getting with 4x5. I used a heavy tripod (multiple tripods when using long lenses); a bevy of Super Symmar XL, Sironar-S and even APO Tele Xenar lenses (which now would cost a fortune at today's prices); lens hood; faster film when possible (Provia or Velvia 100 pushed one stop; Portra 400; and TMY); a beanbag sitting on my Copal 3 shutters to dampen shutter kick; an umbrella to deflect the wind; etc. I did not use double-sided tape to improve film flatness in my film holders (I simply did not have the patience for this) and I did use tripod ball heads (at least an Arca B1, sometimes an Arca B2 when I could) for convenience rather than attaching the camera directly to the tripod legs. After severely restricting my choice of compositions due to the limited depth of field of 8x10, I did achieve a measure of technical improvement versus 4x5. But in real world conditions (wind, haze, heat convection, subject movement due to slow shutter speeds, even vehicle vibration when standing on bridges) the results were relatively disappointing compared to the extreme effort I was making. Yes, I have a handful of 8x10 shots that knock the socks off of anything I could have done with 4x5. I am staring right now at a stunning (if I may say so myself) 8x10 wall mounted enlargement of a chrome taken with a 600mm Fuji C lens. Because the subject was unusually planar I was able to get everything in focus at f/22 (versus my much more typical f/45 or smaller) and use a decently fast shutter speed. Even at a relatively small 24x30 inch print size it has incredibly high resolution and tonal detail, which would only increase if I printed larger. But for me this print was very much an exception.

    I finally concluded that my shooting 8x10 in the field amounted to chasing unicorns. Yes, maybe a few times a year I'd get a technically stunning shot, but most of the time I achieved a far more limited set of compositions with only incremental technical superiority.

    Can you restrict your choice of subjects enough to avoid 8x10's limitations, without compromising the breadth of your work?

  3. #13

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    Re: 8x10 photography and diffraction

    Thank you all for the detailed information. This is all very helpful. It seems as though I am in the ballpark, but also that I should not be afraid to stop down a bit more if the photo seems to need it. In general I do a lot of landscape work, but Iceland is pretty kind on that front since it is pretty easy to get long views where much of the interesting information is quite far away, and therefore DOF is not as large a concern. In images where things are closer, it is generally less of a problem. I have mostly been photographing non-living things at around f22, but managed one portrait so far, and I shot that at f/16. That one looked quite sharp and nice, so I am happy about that.
    Eric -- my initial first impressions of shooting 8x10 was that it seemed to work better for portraits and environmental work better. I am thinking about Alec Soth and people who work in a similar way. But then I started to think about Stephen Shore and Robert Adams (though not all is 8x10). I agree that it seems to be something that in the best case scenario can really lead to something spectacular, but in general, it does seem to be overkill. One thing I can give to it, however, is that it has made 4x5 seem SUPER convenient and easy, haha.

    P.S. Here are a few of my first shots with it.

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  4. #14

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    Re: 8x10 photography and diffraction

    Obviously these images are so tiny as to be essentially useless for anything other than "take my word for it" statements. But, what can I say?
    Edit: Well, I can add some crops.
    I believe f22
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    f16
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    And these two are a similar photo on 4x5 with a similar crop. This was scanned on the X5, while the other was on the Epson flat on the glass, so the 8x10 likely has more in it. On the other hand, the 8x10 was Delta 100 and the 4x5 Tmax 400.
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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Edit, clearly the 8x10 or 4x5 was reversed in scanning...I will have to check and see which was right...probably the 4x5. Please just ignore it for now!

  5. #15

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    Re: 8x10 photography and diffraction

    Print image qualities to justify going to a larger film format is not "sharpness" or Resolution. In the case of B&W prints it is much about tonality and zero visible grain in the print. John Wimberly would have some of his B&W prints on display at KSP in Palo Alto. The framed prints were accessible enough to allow very close up ( inches away) inspection of his prints. He was known for using 4x5 for his prints during this time, the film grain was clearly apparent close up on 16x20 prints. Much the same applied to John Sexton and a number of other famed B&W folks prints that are available for viewing at the Photo galleries in Carmel and Monterey area. Compared to 8x10 negative to 16x20 B&W prints from Ansel Adams and others using film formats larger than 4x5, there is zero visible grain in these prints and the overall tonality is better in subtle-special ways. While some of this can be attributed to personal style, the larger film negative does make a difference.

    Another prime consideration for using a larger sheet of film is to completely eliminate the concern for visible grain due to developers & film. This can provide a total freedom to use any film and developer combination with zero worries about visible film grain and focus on the other deeper qualities zero visible film grain in the print with magical contrast and tonal rendition in the print. To achieve this means making contact prints or making enlargements no more than 4x and zero cropping.

    Film format choice depends on the subject matter in many ways and is often a set of trade offs that are not "linear". That is four times larger film is not four times better image.

    These technical aspects of the print can be easily discounted by the overall effect emotional of the print, yet these subtle zero grain with their magical tonality adds
    special factor making prints like them just a bit more magical.


    Bernice

  6. #16
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: 8x10 photography and diffraction

    Nearly everything that Ansel and numerous others did in 8x10 several decades back was VERY grainy and unsharp in comparison with what can be done today if one knows the ropes and has precise equipment. I routinely print modern 6x7cm negatives sharper than he could do using the 8x10 film, holders, and lenses of his era. But if you compared even the modest sized 20x24 color prints I've made over the past couple of weeks from 6x9, 4x5, and 8x10 film, even if the distinction in grain and detail is almost nil, the 8X10 work stands out just as much superior to the 4X5 examples as 4x5 does compared to 6x7, qualitatively. Of course, the are many other factors involved, such as subject matter that might influence what constitutes a "favorite" print.

  7. #17

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    Re: 8x10 photography and diffraction

    Quote Originally Posted by StuartR View Post
    I should not be afraid to stop down a bit more if the photo seems to need it.

    Diffraction limit at f/22 is 71 lp/mm. Meaning of this is that diffraction at f/22 makes the contrast fall to zero at 71 lp/mm, but at f/22 we should remember that contrast is also damaged at 35 lp/mm...

    https://kenrockwell.com/tech/diffraction.htm


    IMHO in many situations it's not easy to balance aperture for an optimal result, but an smaller (than optimal) aperture also solves other problems like focus inaccuracy, alignment imperfections and flaws in the film flatness.


    --------------


    Also we should remember how great is 5x7 format:

    > much easier to field than 8x10, a nice GG

    > 5x7 enlargers are not aircraft carrier sized like 8x10 ones

    > still having a lot of (more affordable) choices for the glass

    > easier to scan for top notch quality, a cheap scanner at 5x7 delivers as good scans than a drum at 4x5-4000dpi, so 5x7 is cheaper. If we are to drum scan 8x10 at 2000dpi because of 4000dpi scanning cost and file size then...

    > Not many film choices but we can split 8x10 sheets



    but... 8x10 is 8x10...

  8. #18

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    Re: 8x10 photography and diffraction

    Thank you all. I do realize that not everything is about resolution. Frankly, renting a Phase One IQ150 or even a GFX 100 would be a more practical way to achieve massive, grainless prints. I am pretty well aware of the trade-offs involved, I just wanted a bit of advice on the best practices regarding apertures since, as some of you have indicated, it is not solely about diffraction. I am using a Chamonix with Chamonix and Toyo holders, not an Arca Swiss or Sinar studio monorail with vacuum backs, so there is certainly a bit more slop in my setup than I might like (not to demean the Chamonix, it is beautiful!), so the idea of shooting at f/16 to maximize lens sharpness may be less relevant than shooting at f/45 to minimize alignment and film sag. These are the questions I am trying to answer. My first 8x10 shots did not really blow me over. A few subsequent ones have. So I know that it is possible with my setup, I just need to dial in the best way to do it. I do think 8x10 will be more of a camera for ideal conditions, rather than one for constant use. For me it seems to come into its own in portraiture or rather flat landscapes (assuming I want the whole landscape in focus!). I will stick to 4x5 and 6x7 for the more dynamic and three dimensional compositions.
    Pere -- 5x7 is indeed a good deal more practical in some ways. For one, I can scan it on my X5, which would be great. But...I do not have a 5x7 camera or enlarger, and I do not want to cut down 8x10 film. Managing dust and handling for 8x10 is bad enough...at the moment, it is 4x5 or 8x10.

  9. #19

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    Re: 8x10 photography and diffraction

    Quote Originally Posted by StuartR View Post
    Managing dust
    If you see dust, let me recommend something:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    An HEPA class air purifier is an smart solution, just start it in a clean room some 10min in advance before loading holders, drying negatives, scanning, darkroom printing or manipulating negatives. It removes very small particles (see wiki HEPA) in the air so it's used by people with allergies.

    I use a Honeywell 16200, but any other HEPA purifier for home should work great.

  10. #20
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 photography and diffraction

    I shoot 6x7cm medium format landscapes with a Mamiya RB67. What diffraction limitation are there and what settings would you recommend?

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