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Thread: How sharp can I expect from 4X5

  1. #11
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: How sharp can I expect from 4X5

    Sharpness is an illusion created in the darkroom when printing. Selection of paper grade, focus, negative grain, enlargement ratio all come into play. Photographers make good looking prints, not 'equipment.'

  2. #12

    Re: How sharp can I expect from 4X5

    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    Sharpness is an illusion created in the darkroom when printing. Selection of paper grade, focus, negative grain, enlargement ratio all come into play. Photographers make good looking prints, not 'equipment.'
    I agree! I'm limited to making contact prints in the darkroom for now, and obviously there is more than enough detail for a 4x5 print. I still have a lot to learn technique-wise, so I am really just trying to give myself a yardstick to see how I'm doing with the equipment I have.

  3. #13
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: How sharp can I expect from 4X5

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_Arizona_01 View Post
    I know that sharpness isn't everything, but from my initial test it looks like the 4x5 sharpness is about on par with my digital crop sensor camera. With proper technique, should I be expecting 4x5 to be better than an APS-C digital?
    First, define "sharpness".

    There are many reasons to use LF. My primary reason was the separation of the film plane and the lens plane so that I could use movements to control the plane of exact focus. A secondary reason was the large increase in sensor area and how that effects the tonality in the final print. There are of course many many other reasons. People have their own priorities and therefore their own reasons for going LF.

    My advice (yes, I know you didn't ask for it) is to forget about specs and comparisons and go make photographs. The more film you "burn" and process, the better you'll get. Worry about "sharpness" when you get good enough that it matters. You'll know when that is.

    Bruce Watson

  4. #14

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    Re: How sharp can I expect from 4X5

    Print a negative of a real subject on 16x20 paper. All concerns about sharpness should be gone unless your lens or technique have a problem.

  5. #15
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: How sharp can I expect from 4X5

    I'd forget that sensors even exist. They have next to nothing to do with LF film detail.

  6. #16
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: How sharp can I expect from 4X5

    Plenty will say these are fightin' words. "Resolution" of film isn't as hyped as many would like you to believe, once an entire imaging chain is considered.

    Anyway, shoot film for other reasons than simply "sharpness." That's a mostly irrelevant metric.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  7. #17
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: How sharp can I expect from 4X5

    Indeed. I've seen many wonderful 19th Century prints of images taken with relatively primitive lenses.

  8. #18

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    Re: How sharp can I expect from 4X5

    Acutance is more of a factor... The degree of change from one area to another, and what does this appear like???

    These days, most people are getting used to a harder line between areas due to greater degrees of added "sharpening" as part of the post production of digital images, that add some hardness to the boundary areas... With different films, lenses, processes etc, we can make a different illusions with the "skeleton" of the image that overlays clouds of tonality that will trigger different responses for the viewer...

    Most think of "sharpness" as the ability to reproduce very fine detail, but this can often exceed what the eye or materials can resolve, so it's often a waste, unless the image is enlarged excessive large, so "sharpness" is confused with resolution...

    Most all lenses were made to meet or better the minimum resolution the eye can resolve on popular size prints at normal veiwing distances, and very few lenses that are "bad" unless damaged, tampered with, or misused...

    Steve K

  9. #19
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: How sharp can I expect from 4X5

    The difference is that native acutance on film can look a lot more authentic and nuanced than most digital "sharpening". PS edge sharpening reminds me more of overdone halo on unsharp film masking due to excess diffusion. I realize that it can be dialed down, but the effect is still different than acutance, which can go right down to grain structure at times.

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