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Is it possible to talk of the "resolution" of film?


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#1 philipus

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 13:50

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This article by Ming Thein made me think about the "resolution" of film. I know this has been debated a lot on the internet over the years. Personally I'm not sure this is the right way to consider film and I am wondering if it is even possible to compare film and digital in terms of "resolution", which seems such a digital concept.

I remember reading Puts's interesting piece from a few years back comparing film with an M8, which I found interesting.

Clearly, from some form of forensic perspective, each medium has a greater or lesser ability to resolve detail and, thus, convey image information to the observer, but that is perhaps a different matter than resolution proper?

I should add that I don't mean to complain about Thein's article. It is inspiring, I find, that film is being (re-)discovered and experimented with by so many people.

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#2 jaapv

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 14:19

The old version of Erwin Puts' Compendium ( and the new one has it partly incorporated as well) has an extensive explanation about the resolution of film in relationship to lens resolution, including MTF curves for film.
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#3 pico

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 19:37

This article by Ming Thein made me think about the "resolution" of film. I know this has been debated a lot on the internet over the years. Personally I'm not sure this is the right way to consider film and I am wondering if it is even possible to compare film and digital in terms of "resolution", which seems such a digital concept.


Resolution is a hard metric which is useful when making scientific comparisons but is not meaningful in aesthetics.
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#4 thrid

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 23:13

I remember reading a paper by Kodak almost 20 years ago, where they claimed that a frame of 135 film held about 25 megapixles of information.
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#5 Michael Geschlecht

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:04

Hello Everybody,

That's what was mentioned in Leica Fotographie when they were talking about the (then) new S1.

The statement was that a full frame sensor would have to resolve 25,000,000 pixels 16 bits deep to be the equal of Kodachrome.

Type of Kodachrome not stated but most likely Kodachrome 25.

Best Regards,

Michael
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#6 adan

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:57

Regarding posts #4 and #5 - that's the point.

You have to specify WHICH film. TMax 3200, Tri-X, Ektar 100, Kodachrome 25, monochrome microfilm. There is a big difference in resolution among film types, not "a" resolution for "film" in any useful generic sense.

The idea of film resolution has been around a long, long time before "digital" was ever heard of. The popular photo magazines reviewed film "resolution" 'way back in the 1960's (and probably long before). Measured the same way as lens resolution and any other kind of photographic resolution (lines or line pairs per mm, later subsumed into the concept of MTF - contrast at various resolutions).

However, it wasn't terribly important until people started trying to use smaller and smaller pieces of film (enter Leica), and then enlarging them. 10 lppm was far more than was needed to match human vision - if you were shooting 8x10 film and making contact prints. But it looked rather weak once it was shot on a 1" strip of film and enlarged 8-10 (or more) times - suddenly it became 1 lppm.

Digital imaging (even prior to digital capture) DID re-energize awareness of film resolution, once 40-50x enlargements became commonplace (a 2700-4000 ppi scan blown up to 100% pixels on a 72 ppi monitor).

Pico, I beg to disagree: "resolution" most certainly can be a meaningful metric in aesthetics. Otherwise, one is at a loss to completely describe the differences between:

Chuck Close: File:Chuck Close 1.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Georges Seurat: File:Seurat-La Parade detail.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vincent Van Gogh: File:Van Gogh Self-Portrait with Straw Hat 1887-Metropolitan.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Larry Clark: http://art.newcity.c.../1995_51_69.jpg

David Bailey: http://25.media.tumb...fye6o1_1280.jpg

If you meant that "higher resolution" does not automatically mean "higher aesthetic value" - there, we may agree.
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#7 pico

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 06:41

Pico, I beg to disagree: "resolution" most certainly can be a meaningful metric in aesthetics. Otherwise, one is at a loss to completely describe the differences between: [...]


I am sure we can find dozens of words to better describe the 'resolution' of the images in the snip. Texture would be a good start. Handwork is another. Technique, and so-forth.

Or we can see Van Gogh as a digital version here.

Attached Files


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#8 Michael Geschlecht

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 13:30

Hello pico,

Thank you,

I prefer your version to the original.

Best Regards,

Michael




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