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Abhinava Goswami

B&W Film Cameras Resolution

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This is a much more complicated question than it seems because all the many differences between silver halide and digital imaging come into play.

 

Looking at it one way you can say that the resolution of a film camera is equal to the resolving power of the finest-grained film you can put in it. In that sense, an ultra-fine-grain 35mm b&w negative with specialist development could be said to correspond to a digital sensor with between 50 and 200 megapixels.

 

In a more practical sense, you can ask "In general photography, how many pixels are needed to capture as much subject detail as an ordinary 35mm b&w negative?" The answer to this question is usually somewhere between 6 and 12 megapixels - e.g. cameras such as the M8 and R9+DMR.

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You refer to spatial resolution equivalence only I presume, the simple answer; it is in the range 10 to 20MP depending on film, developer, testing method, anti-moire filter (AA) on the digital, sharpening on digital, and measurement method of film, direct on film emulsion or printed/scanned introducing more variables.

 

You should also consider equivalence in noise/grain and dynamic range equivalence as well as "speed". You could look also at the response to the visible, and invisible (IR) spectrum of various films versus various sensors and their colour pattern filters, or not in the case of the Leica Monochrome and Phase One special backs.

Finally!! Posting here we presume you mean equivalence to 35mm not 120 or 5x4 etc ?

 

Such an innocent question such a potentially complex answer. If you clarified what the prompt is for you to ask you may obtain an answer better tailored to your question.

 

Bottom line, resolution is not the sole determinant of a "good" photographic image otherwise the folks with Phase One IQ backs with 80MP would be wiping the floor in all the "competitions". They don't, other factors are at work.

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John estimates slightly high - Rollei ISO 25 Ortho is rated at 300 lines per mm. It would require no more than a 78 Mpixel camera to equal that (B&W, no Bayer pattern, no AA filter, Nyquist limit) in a 24 x 36 image.

 

Realistically, 300 lines per mm is beyond the capability of most lenses for 35mm (even Leica) - anything above 80 lppm is exceptional, 150 lppm is "exotic". So while a 35mm-format camera + film may equal 78 Mpixels, the camera + film + lens is limited to about 35-36 Mpixels, regardless.

 

For the sake of argument, one might presume one needs to resolve 100 lppm without aliasing for some leeway, so would need 200 lines per mm in a sensor = 40000 pixels per mm2 x 864 mm2 = 34.56 megapixels in a 24 x 36 mm area. I.E. - a Nikon D800E.

 

200 megapixels would just be "making the rubble bounce" - not actually adding more image resolution. Unless one has access to a CIA-spy-satellite lens.

 

Now - all of that is based on a low-ISO microfilm in 35mm format. Substitute Tmax 100 and you'll get 50 Mpixels (also lens-limited to 36 Mpixels). Substitute Kodak Tri-X with a resolution of 70 lppm (end of Kodak's chart), and you get about 17 Mpixels.

 

Substitute 4x5 film and you'll get 600+ megapixels (less any lens limitations).

 

Those are all ideal upper mathematical limits - in the real world, most of the time, the actual results will be lower. A 35mm B&W microfilm negative may capture 36-78 Mpixels (depending on lens used), but once you put that image through another lens (scanner, enlarger), you'll lose something. And if you let a D800E shake, you won't get its full resolution either.

Edited by adan

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John estimates slightly high - Rollei ISO 25 Ortho is rated at 300 lines per mm.

Deliberately. Partly because I've seen a claim of 330 lpmm for the Rollei emulsion (corresponding to 94Mpx), partly because even finer-grained emulsions have been made (e.g. for microfilm, let alone holography and the Lippman process), and partly as some allowance for the fact that silver emulsions don't suffer from moiré and jaggies the way most digital sensors do.

 

But I absolutely agree that this is irrelevant to general photography, especially with hand-held cameras.

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Many thanks for all contributors here my another question is that.

 

What film suited best to leica lens such as Noctilux and Summarit & Summicron series.

 

Abhinav Goswami

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Any film for any lens, it depends on the photographer and the way he wants to render a subject together with the light conditions prevailing. But if you said one lens type favoured a particular type of film there would be so many proviso's and exclusion's that the exercise would be meaningless.

 

I can perhaps see where the question is coming from, where maybe you'd expect the Noctilux because it's wide aperture favouring a slow film to take advantage of maximum resolution and minimum grain. But unless you want only an inch or two of the subject in focus due to the very shallow DOF of a Noctilux when used wide open, you are back to needing a faster medium speed film, or even a fast film. And don't forget the maximum resolution of all the lenses is around f/4, and the Noctilux, Summicron, and Summarit all have an f/4. So trying to use a slow film with a fast aperture is a waste of time if you are after maximum resolution.

 

Steve

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What film suited best to leica lens such as Noctilux and Summarit & Summicron series.

 

Abhinav Goswami

 

That is an interesting question. I can see where you are coming from and it would appear at first sight to be possible to "match" a lens to a film for a particular look from the design stage. Much as a HIFi speaker can be designed to compliment a particular amplifier. The analogy works well because in both cases the two components are required for the desired end result.

 

The problem is that a lens design will be the same, unless reformulated, for its life; that could be easily 60+ years. There is no film emulsion that is constant over that period. Tri-X may have the same name but the actual emulsion has evolved over time and sometimes changes are made by the makers but not announced as such where the "performance" is unaffected (in their opinion).

 

If we go back to the earlier discussions you will note slow, usually, high resolution films with specific developers designed to match and extract as much spacial resolution as possible. The results, whilst meeting the intended design target, are frequently not pictorially elegant, they were not designed to do that.

 

You have not stated if you are performing your own development, and/or printing/scanning. If you are, you have a range of developers to try, these can profoundly affect the "look" of the chosen film/lens combination. The development can also be tailored to give best results when scanning or "wet" printing. Again when "wet" printing the light source of the enlarger will influence the standard to which you develop your negative to achieve the desired end result. Another variable is the light. The combination, the final result, of all these variables will also change depending on where you shoot. A photographer in different circumstances cannot just "lift" all the variables established by another and replicate the "look".The quality of the light in the open plains of the American West cf Robert Adams will produce differing end results than the light found in say Manchester UK. You will frequently note reference to the light "quality" found say in Venice.

 

 

It must be clear that from my far from comprehensive summary that again your seemingly straightforward question has no easy answer.

 

Once again I plead for more information, what are you trying do?

 

If we had the magic key/bullet we would share it; but in the world of film B/W, whilst you can find guides and pointers from others work, there is no substitute, or short cut, to finding, by experiment, what will work for you. Your "style" your equipment your workflow is personal which is why, despite or probably because of, the utter predictability of digital photography many of us find endless solace in the B/W film world.

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My scanned images from TMax100 developed in D76 1:1 show far more detail than I could ever print with a V35 or Focomat IC with the latest and greatest Leica Lenses.

 

I recently had occasion to need a print from a wall hanger so there was a direct comparison easily made.

 

The scan was from a Konica Minolta 5400 at maximum resolution. File was 70 MB and it made a 30 or 40 inch wide print easily at 240 ppi, my normal resolution for a Lambda laser printer.

 

That and some other experiences tell me that well scanned film and digital files are equal to 16 x, after that digital pulls ahead.

 

Understand scanning is a relatively skilled procedure, then do noise reduction and some image sharpening. Neg needs to be flat. Every detail must be done correctly. Some curve has to be added to make it look like film. Otherwise it is a linear flat digi file.

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As already mentioned up-thread, there is a lot that comes into play. I'm strictly analog but it's hard to beat letting the plotter handle a really large sheet of paper when that's called for. My problem then is that now I have a digital image, even if it came from an analog source. That's important to me when someone is purchasing.

 

I'm always surprised at the number of digi-toting folks who ask me how many megapixels I get with 'that old camera' I'm carrying (an M3). I just tell them '20 unless I'm using a specialty film, then it's around 50'. Shuts them up right quick. The entire balance of the process that's beyond the marketing-speak 'MEGAPIXELS' is lost on them. They fork out thousands so they can look at 5x7s on their iPods or the occasional 8x10 inch print.

 

If film cameras have lost any fight it's one not of image quality but of convenience, not to the DSLR but to the phone, where one may take a snap and in a few seconds send it to someone on the other side of the world. I'm too smart to argue against that.

 

s-a

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I'm always surprised at the number of digi-toting folks who ask me how many megapixels I get with 'that old camera' I'm carrying [...]

 

I had my 1950 Super Ikonta 6x9 at work and a student asked me if film was still available (120 roll film) and I said, "Yes" and then he asked if batteries were available. When I replied that it required no batteries he was incredulous. I said, "You know, it works like a watch" and he stared at his digital watch, still puzzled then said, "You mean it works on solar power?"

 

The old Generation Gap ... times two!

 

I finally said, "Yes. Solar power."

Edited by pico

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I finally said, "Yes. Solar power."

 

Actually - correct! Sun warms soil and powers photosynthesis for plants and plankton, which power Pico (consumed directly as food or indirectly through the larger food chain), whose finger muscles burn the food energy and wind the film and cock the shutter clockwork in the Ikonta.

 

 

Virtually everything on Earth is ultimately powered by the thermonuclear furnace of our sun or other stars, even "human-created" nuclear power (from radioactive elements formed by solar/stellar fusion) and geothermal power (from radioactive decay within the Earth).

 

I think tidal power (from direct gravitational interactions of earth, moon, sun) is the only energy that doesn't involve a nuclear component. And of course gravitational compression and heating is the igniting power for the stellar fusion furnaces themselves.

 

Back to our regularly-scheduled programming....

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Andy, that was the point of my reply. It served to remind the student that he was a student.

--

Pico - a solar creation

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John estimates slightly high - Rollei ISO 25 Ortho is rated at 300 lines per mm. It would require no more than a 78 Mpixel camera to equal that (B&W, no Bayer pattern, no AA filter, Nyquist limit) in a 24 x 36 image.

 

Realistically, 300 lines per mm is beyond the capability of most lenses for 35mm (even Leica) - anything above 80 lppm is exceptional, 150 lppm is "exotic". So while a 35mm-format camera + film may equal 78 Mpixels, the camera + film + lens is limited to about 35-36 Mpixels, regardless.

 

For the sake of argument, one might presume one needs to resolve 100 lppm without aliasing for some leeway, so would need 200 lines per mm in a sensor = 40000 pixels per mm2 x 864 mm2 = 34.56 megapixels in a 24 x 36 mm area. I.E. - a Nikon D800E.

 

200 megapixels would just be "making the rubble bounce" - not actually adding more image resolution. Unless one has access to a CIA-spy-satellite lens.

 

Now - all of that is based on a low-ISO microfilm in 35mm format. Substitute Tmax 100 and you'll get 50 Mpixels (also lens-limited to 36 Mpixels). Substitute Kodak Tri-X with a resolution of 70 lppm (end of Kodak's chart), and you get about 17 Mpixels.

 

Substitute 4x5 film and you'll get 600+ megapixels (less any lens limitations).

 

Those are all ideal upper mathematical limits - in the real world, most of the time, the actual results will be lower. A 35mm B&W microfilm negative may capture 36-78 Mpixels (depending on lens used), but once you put that image through another lens (scanner, enlarger), you'll lose something. And if you let a D800E shake, you won't get its full resolution either.

 

It is always fun to kick the dirt on film resolution from time to time.

 

Anyway, thanks for the informative post. Last weekend I shot TMax on M2 and self developed in DD-X (1+4). This gives me a practical data point on resolution that I expect to get. It so happens that I had shot the same picture earlier this year using M240 with same lens (40 Summicron-C) therefore I have a reference.

 

In summary, it seems to me that I am getting slightly less than M240's resolution and probably equal to M9's. I don't have M9 shot, I am guessing.

 

Here are the pictures:

 

No Crop (M240)

 

No Crop (M2, TMax100)

 

Crop comparison. This crop is 1:20 size. Means for A1 size (30in wide) print, this crop will be approximately 1.5in wide. Plenty of resolution if you ask me.

 

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It is not as easy as on digital cameras. To bring it on the screen in close to real film resolution you need more than average scanner.

Printed under enlarger, I couid see lack of resolution on 11x16, this is where MF starts to be ahead.

If resolution is prime consern I would not bother with film.

It is bw rendering where no Monochrome could do it as naturally as bw film.

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focus doesn't look perfect..and which scanner did you use at what resolution ?

It is always fun to kick the dirt on film resolution from time to time.



Anyway, thanks for the informative post. Last weekend I shot TMax on M2 and self developed in DD-X (1+4). This gives me a practical data point on resolution that I expect to get. It so happens that I had shot the same picture earlier this year using M240 with same lens (40 Summicron-C) therefore I have a reference.

In summary, it seems to me that I am getting slightly less than M240's resolution and probably equal to M9's. I don't have M9 shot, I am guessing.

Here are the pictures:

No Crop (M240)

exp_sm-20180310morning_hike-1002343.jpg

 

No Crop (M2, TMax100)

exp_sm-20180916TMax100_testshots-115-HIRES.jpg

 

Crop comparison. This crop is 1:20 size. Means for A1 size (30in wide) print, this crop will be approximately 1.5in wide. Plenty of resolution if you ask me.

exp_sm-20180916TMax100_testshots-115-HIRES-comp.jpg

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focus doesn't look perfect..and which scanner did you use at what resolution ?

 

It was not a deliberate test as such. It so happened that I had two shots (many months apart) from same lens. Both hand held and focused with RF (on different cameras, M240 and M2 respectively). The film looks little blurry because of extreme crop (1:20 of full frame).

 

In any case, this comparison tells me that for my kind of usage (I hardly print bigger than A3), M2+TMax100 in causal shooting combined with self dev (DD-X 1+4) and self scan (Plustek 8200, 7200dpi) is more than sufficient.

 

Therefore my current conclusion is that for practical shooting

M2+Tri-X400 >> Good A4 (and maybe A3) size print

M2+TriX100 >> Good A3 (and maybe A2) size print.

 

 

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It is not as easy as on digital cameras. To bring it on the screen in close to real film resolution you need more than average scanner.

Printed under enlarger, I couid see lack of resolution on 11x16, this is where MF starts to be ahead.

If resolution is prime consern I would not bother with film.

It is bw rendering where no Monochrome could do it as naturally as bw film.

 

I can see that. However, most of the resolution debate is by amateurs like me who are using scanner and not doing dark room printing.

 

I agree with BW film rendering of tonality. It is more complex to get the same from BW conversion from my M240.

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Need to add in the question of the enlarger lens and the flatness of the negative in the negative holder. Also what paper and what paper surface if you are “analogue pixel peeping”.

Edited by Pyrogallol

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