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Thread: Why are all of my photos soft?

  1. #11

    Re: Why are all of my photos soft?

    Thanks very much everyone for the suggestions. They have given me things to think about, and I've been ticking them off one by one. I definitely have some things to think about and check.

    I'm pretty sure it's not technique - I focus using either a loupe on the ground glass, or a reflex magnifier on the Sinar. The tripod is also very steady, and I use a cable release.

    Under a 3x loupe, the negatives do look very sharp. However, I think I need higher magnification.

    Quote Originally Posted by jp View Post
    Epson V600 is not meant for scanning LF film; how are you scanning it despite that?
    A makeshift holder which holds the film slightly above the glass, which I move left and right for multiple passes before joining as a panorama. I've tried various distances from the glass, with no noticeable improvement. I'm beginning to think the scanner is the problem.

    Tomorrow I'll make up a backlight box with a flash, a shoebox and some polystyrene, and see if I can get better results shooting macro images of the film with my DSLR. At least with that, I know I can focus on the grain.

    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    I'd just use the Nikon. Is there something about it you don't like?
    No, and I've been using it for eight years. But there's something I really like about film. Not to mention the creative options that a view or monorail camera offer. I am kind of hoping for better resolution than the D800 though.

  2. #12
    C. D. Keth's Avatar
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    Re: Why are all of my photos soft?

    Quote Originally Posted by BertieWooster View Post
    Thanks very much everyone for the suggestions. They have given me things to think about, and I've been ticking them off one by one. I definitely have some things to think about and check.

    I'm pretty sure it's not technique - I focus using either a loupe on the ground glass, or a reflex magnifier on the Sinar. The tripod is also very steady, and I use a cable release.

    Under a 3x loupe, the negatives do look very sharp. However, I think I need higher magnification.



    A makeshift holder which holds the film slightly above the glass, which I move left and right for multiple passes before joining as a panorama. I've tried various distances from the glass, with no noticeable improvement. I'm beginning to think the scanner is the problem.

    Tomorrow I'll make up a backlight box with a flash, a shoebox and some polystyrene, and see if I can get better results shooting macro images of the film with my DSLR. At least with that, I know I can focus on the grain.



    No, and I've been using it for eight years. But there's something I really like about film. Not to mention the creative options that a view or monorail camera offer. I am kind of hoping for better resolution than the D800 though.
    If the negative looks sharp with a 3x loupe, its sharp enough for at least a 3x enlargement. Id put your energy into troubleshooting your scanning setup. It sounds like your scans are soft.


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  3. #13
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    Re: Why are all of my photos soft?

    Quote Originally Posted by BertieWooster View Post
    No, and I've been using it for eight years. But there's something I really like about film. Not to mention the creative options that a view or monorail camera offer. I am kind of hoping for better resolution than the D800 though.
    If you have a lens that will do it, try photographing a small part of your (back-lit) negative with the D800.

  4. #14

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    Re: Why are all of my photos soft?

    Have you made an actual contact print on B&W photo paper in the darkroom? Do that and see how it looks.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  5. #15

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    Re: Why are all of my photos soft?

    Or print a sharp picture from your Nikon and then scan it.

  6. #16

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    Re: Why are all of my photos soft?

    As already noted you need say if the negatives look sharp with a loupe on a light table or not. The Epson doesn't have auto focus, IIRC. So if the negatives look good on a light table, then it's the scanner not focusing on the plane of the negative carrier.

  7. #17
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Why are all of my photos soft?

    Your scanner is the weak link most probably, and if your Schneider 135mm is of the Xenar variety, that won’t be the sharpest lens anyway. Also the D800 is a fantastic camera in terms of resolution, so you’re probably overestimating what 4x5 can achieve, especially with said scanner.
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  8. #18

    Re: Why are all of my photos soft?

    Okay, I have spent the day building and testing a DSLR scanning rig. And the results are in! I'm slightly embarrassed to say that the scanner was very much at fault. I had more-or-less discounted that as the cause, for involved reasons that I won't bore you with.

    But this image compares a small crop on a sheet of film, scanner on the left, DSLR on the right. The difference is night and day.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    So, thank you all for the suggestions (some of which give me other things to think about). I won't be using that scanner ever again.

  9. #19
    C. D. Keth's Avatar
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    Re: Why are all of my photos soft?

    It may just be a matter of finding the best plane of focus for that scanner. I used to scan 4x5 negatives with an epson V700. I found the best focus was raised up above the platen. My solution was to raise my negatives up on a sheet of glass that I set up on (if I remember) 2 dimes in each corner.
    -Chris

  10. #20

    Re: Why are all of my photos soft?

    Quote Originally Posted by C. D. Keth View Post
    It may just be a matter of finding the best plane of focus for that scanner. I used to scan 4x5 negatives with an epson V700. I found the best focus was raised up above the platen. My solution was to raise my negatives up on a sheet of glass that I set up on (if I remember) 2 dimes in each corner.
    Thanks - I've tried all sorts of different distances, but it never gives a sharp result. I think perhaps there's something wrong with it.

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