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BIG enlargements from M8?

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Hi All. I'm new to the forum and have enjoyed reading the posts. I've been a working pro for 22 years. I am thinking of adding an M8 system to my Canon DSLRs (5D, 1DsMkII.) Here are my concerns. Your input appreciated.

 

Since a good part of my business is fine art I need to be able to make big enlargements. My most common sizes are 50X40, 40X30, and 30X20. I do my own printing in-house and am very picky (compulsive :-) ) about quality.

 

I've owned Leica RFs in the past (M4-P, CL) as a complement to medium, large format. And normally I wouldn't even consider 10MP to be adequate but I've read a lot from folks about the M8 far exceeding what one would expect and "better than a 5D" at lower ISOs. I would consider a 5D to be the minimum requirement- in fact it is only a back up body.

 

So anyone out there making big beautiful enlargements from an M8? Or am I expecting too much and should wait for an M9?

 

I should probably also mention that I do a lot of international travel and back country work and am looking to reduce the weight and bulk I carry around. In a perfect world I'd like the M8 to replace one DSLR (ideally 1DsMkII) and could probably eliminate a couple DSLR lenses too.

 

Thanks.

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but you might have a long wait & you would miss out on the joy of using the M8

this thread might help you with your questions

http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/leica-m8-forum/9022-30-x-40-inch-m8-prints.html

David Adamson is a highly regarded digital printer in Washington & gives a very positive appraisal of using the M8 for large prints ...the discussion from this thread is interesting as well

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Guest tummydoc
I've been a working pro for 22 years. ...I do my own printing in-house and am very picky (compulsive :-) ) about quality.

 

Surely someone with your qualifications would not consider making such an expensive purchase on the recommendation of strangers' opinions on a public forum, and who have a vested interest in the M8 having already purchased. IMHO the more one expects from a camera the more urgent it is to do a hands-on before buying.

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If very large prints is your concern I would consider and compare the new Canon 1Ds Mark III to an M8 on a trial basis before making a purchase. Perhaps rent both when the new Canon becomes available.

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Thank you all for the comments thus far!

 

Surely someone with your qualifications would not consider making such an expensive purchase on the recommendation of strangers' opinions on a public forum, and who have a vested interest in the M8 having already purchased. IMHO the more one expects from a camera the more urgent it is to do a hands-on before buying.

 

If very large prints is your concern I would consider and compare the new Canon 1Ds Mark III to an M8 on a trial basis before making a purchase. Perhaps rent both when the new Canon becomes available.

 

I have just assumed that I would buy at least one 1Ds MkIII as soon as it is available. However the enticement of the light weight and compactness (relative) of an M8 has been nagging at me for some time. I know that hand's on is crucial and I wouldn't spend 10 or 15K on M8 and lenses solely on forum input. That said I still take into consideration the input of those with experience in creating finely detailed large prints from the M8. I should mention that its not terribly cost effective to rent these cameras reasonably so I would just purchase and if I don't like it- sell it.

 

After reading these posts so far- what would really be helpful is if any of you have a sample file you could send me and I could examine it or try printing it. Feel free to watermark it (I can assure you I only want it for evaluation and will delete it once I check it out but if I were sending one out I'd protect it with a watermark) If you want an idea of my subject matter my web site is http://www.joelwolfson.com Of course a raw/dng would be best.

 

Thanks!

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I cannot tell you anything about M8 Vs. a DSLR of same Mpixel or about, but surely can go sure for 20x30 and maybe 30x40 ... besides these... well, the links quoted above explain well that printing large is really a serious task... when you say that print "by yourself", do you mean that you already have the right skills on LF printers, Raster processing Software and so ?

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Joel, we can share our experience so far. M8 prints are like the ones you can do with a 16MP medium format back, like the Imacon V96 or the Kodak DCS Pro. We did 20x30 and 30x40 prints without problems, just take a little (well, maybe more than a little) Alien Skin Blow Up and sharpening, retouching, etc... 40x60 for fine art is, in our opinion, out of the question.

But, if you print B&W, you can create a 11x14 negative (in pictorico paper) for contact or enlargement printing in the dark room, and that really rocks! You can go above 50 inches...

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Depends on what your standards for final image quality are. I come from Large Format and I can tell you that while I have printed M8 files to 40x60 and was impressed with the final product, it was not anywhere close to being in the same league as a drum-scanned 4x5 printed to 40x50".. Stick your nose in that large an M8 print and it looks digital, but from a farily normal 6 to 8 foot viewing distance, it's hard to tell it from a DS 4x5 print.

 

However, at 20x30, the M8 is pretty stunning, even with your nose in the print. I also shoot 5D's and for whatever reasons cannot take them beyond about 12x18 before they start to "look digital".

 

Hope that helps clarify,.

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Thank you all for your insights, comments, and passing on your experiences.

 

I will try to locate some files to evaluate and then decide if I'll pick up an M8 system for some hands on.

 

Cheers.

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I have recently got back some my M8 image prints that were done for me by my local pro studio. They upscaled them using Epson RIP software and printed them at 60cm x 90cm on a big Epson roll feed printer (sorry don't know the model but it uses external ink bottles and prints up to 90cm wide). I supplied them with 60MB 16 bit TIFF files converted from DNG with C1 3.7.7. I was blown away by the quality and detail. I know some of this may be due to the quality of the RIP software but it exceeded all my expectations. The owner of the studio was also very surprised and said that they were noticeably crisper than those he gets from his Nikon D2X. He is getting a D3, so it will be interesting to compare with that. He felt they were very close to what he gets from MF film, drum scanned. I am not sure they are that good but it was very comforting to hear something like that from a professional.

 

Wilson

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Joel:

 

I will be more than happy to provide you with some files from the M8 for you to try.

 

I have done 30x40 prints from the Canon 1DMarkII N (8 mp) that were absolutely astonishing... If they were good enough to get Awards of Excellence accolades in the 16x20 WPPI print competition I am assuming that the same print from the M8 will also be great. Of course, for next year's WPPI print competition I will enter all M8 prints...

 

I am also getting ready to send the NJ folks some prints and will include some 30x40s as well.

 

Take care,

 

Riccis

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I am doing a show here in Shanghai in December, and for the first time will be mixing M8 derived prints with medium format prints taken with my Rolleiflex.

At 30x40, the M8 prints sing.

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Guys -

 

I've been following Davids' earlier threads on large prints. Is "ressing-up" in PS (through increase in image size) the same as "ressing-up" through an add-on software? Would anyone recommend a decent print workflow - through the final printing stage for the M8?

 

Thanks

Sharookh

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Guys -

 

I've been following Davids' earlier threads on large prints. Is "ressing-up" in PS (through increase in image size) the same as "ressing-up" through an add-on software? Would anyone recommend a decent print workflow - through the final printing stage for the M8?

 

Thanks

Sharookh

 

When I had my big prints done, I asked the pro did he want the M8 file in its native TIFF 16 bit size or rezzed up to 60cm x 90cm x 300 dpi (please excuse my mixing units) in CS3. He said whereas CS3 was not bad rezzing up, the Epson RIP software was better. There is also a new version of Genuine Fractals, v.5 I think, which is getting good write ups. CS3 seems just fine upscaling M8 images to A3+ (5795 x 3898 pixels), which is the biggest printer I have in house. If I want bigger prints than this, I will allow the printing shop to do the upscaling, so I have no need of Genuine Fractals. If you don't have a large format printer in house, this might be the most sensible and economic route. Print shops don't usually charge you extra for upscaling, as a decent pro photo shop is using RIP software anyway for their printers and it is either done automatically, as you select the paper size or with just a couple of keystrokes.

 

Wilson

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I have found Alien Skin's plug-in, Blow Up, to be a noticeable improvement over CS2, and just fine for my purposes.

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Guys -

 

I've been following Davids' earlier threads on large prints. Is "ressing-up" in PS (through increase in image size) the same as "ressing-up" through an add-on software? Would anyone recommend a decent print workflow - through the final printing stage for the M8?

 

Thanks

Sharookh

 

Sharookh, Hi!

I guess one way to go is to open the DNG file in Camera Raw V4.x (you can tweak in LR, but I would suggest to finally open the image in PS CS3, with the same settings if you want) and use 16-bit ProPhoto RGB. Let Camera Raw increase the file size, but use round multiples, like 200% or 400%. Just make sure you do enough capture sharpening with the adequate settings.

Manipulate your tonal controls in PS CS3. DO NOT RESCALE TO ANY DPI SETTING. Just make sure, without resampling, to give your picture the final size. Resolution should fall somewhere between 180 and 240 dpi. IT DOES NOT MATER IF IT SHOWS WEIRD VALUES LIKE 199.2344 LEAVE IT LIKE THAT.

Now get ready for Output sharpening. You must do it somehow aggresively, and make sure you add some photo grain or little noise (Yes, it helps take away the plastic look you get when you enlarge). DO NOT TRUST YOUR SCREEN, EVEN IF CALIBRATED. At those sizes, the difference between print and screen are huge. Print, let dry, evaluate under good lightning conditions, and iterate the final steps.

When looking in screen, use 25% zoom size to better approximate what the print would look like.

Good luck, it takes a lot of effort to produce a good print, but the M8 can do it

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I agree. My 16MP DCS Pro back & Contax 645 kit are gathering dust. 30x40 is no problem at all. Now maybe when the P45+ backs come way down in price....

 

Joel, we can share our experience so far. M8 prints are like the ones you can do with a 16MP medium format back, like the Imacon V96 or the Kodak DCS Pro. We did 20x30 and 30x40 prints without problems, just take a little (well, maybe more than a little) Alien Skin Blow Up and sharpening, retouching, etc... 40x60 for fine art is, in our opinion, out of the question.

But, if you print B&W, you can create a 11x14 negative (in pictorico paper) for contact or enlargement printing in the dark room, and that really rocks! You can go above 50 inches...

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