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A silly question about lens resolution and darkroom enlargements
Old 10-22-2017   #1
Steve M.
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A silly question about lens resolution and darkroom enlargements

I'm going to take some single and double 35mm available light portraits this coming week using T-max 400 and Tri-X 400 (good light is not assured, hence the ISO 400 film). All I have is a Canon FL 135 3.5 lens that worked well for a trial colour roll w/ 4X6 machine prints. There's also the Leica R 90 Summicron and Elmarit lenses I have been coveting online :]

I have no large prints from this Canon FL lens, but do have some big enlargements from the Leica R lenses. They are of course excellent. Still, looking at the small machine prints, I honestly don't see that much difference between them and the Leicas. Since I already have a Canon camera and the FL lens, I could shoot things tomorrow or Tuesday instead of waiting around for stuff in the post. But I have some worries......

The double portraits are going to have to be cropped due to the nature of the two people in the frame, and 11X14 looks too small for this sort of thing. So I'll probably have to go w/ 16X20 and crop it into more of a squarish rectangle (the single portraits should be fine cropped into 11X14 prints). Since I sold all of my darkroom gear when I moved to Albuquerque, these prints will have to be sent to a lab for scanning/printing or darkroom/wet printing, and things get pricey when you go from 11X14 to 16X20. The more serious issue is: Is the Canon lens capable of enough resolution to go to the 16X20 prints using 400 ISO film? I don't mind some grain, and since these are portraits they don't have to be tack sharp. However, my experience with lens resolution and big enlargements (other than w/ the Leica R stuff) is less than zero, and I'm a little spooked that I might have a disaster w/ the 16X20's?

Anyone got any ideas on this?
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Old 10-22-2017   #2
Robert Lai
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Your Canon lens will be fine. I have the same lens, though I don't use it much as I use my RF lenses all the time.
Even the Canon lenses from the rangefinder era are superb.

Want super sharp prints?
TRIPOD
TRIPOD
TRIPOD
Fine grain film such as Portra 160.

From my dim and distant darkroom days. 8x10 prints from 35mm film are great. 11x14 inch prints show a visible reduction in sharpness.

Going even bigger and cropping - sounds like a job for medium format film, or (I hate to say this) digital full frame.
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Old 10-22-2017   #3
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Unless you nail focus perfectly you're asking for disappointing results. The 135 should have plenty of resolution but a 135 is a little long for a double portrait. Why are you using 2 films? tmax is a much finer and superior film than today's TX. Tmax will have less grain and be smoother in tone.

My advice, use the 90 and only shoot Tmax. If you can use strobes and Tmax 100. Depending on how you pose your subjects use a small f stop like f8 or 11. I'd practice this with family or friends before tackling something you're not experienced at. Asking on the internet isn't a substitute for experience. And yes, use a good tripod.

Best of luck!

Edit:

Making a 35mm negative that will hold up as a 16x20 takes skill that most people don't have. Of course it depends on the standard you judge it by as to how you perceive the quality. I've been a full time professional for fifty years and I wouldn't use a 135 lens and 35mm film for this kind of job. Most likely it will look amateurish and you don't want that. As a professional you never go into a job unprepared and you know when to say no to assignments you're not photographically up to. Just by coming here and asking a predominately amateur forum indicates you're not up to the job. This isn't intended as an insult. It's advice from a seasoned pro who has seen many beginners crash and burn.
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Old 10-22-2017   #4
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A Wet Print from 35mm into a 16x20 image is asking a lot out of that tiny piece of film...and you're thinking you have to do some cropping...
The last time I had 16x20 prints made they were from 6x7 negs...using a 4x5 view camera...single portrait...
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Old 10-22-2017   #5
Steve M.
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Well, they're portraits, so again, I am not after razor sharp shots. In fact, I hate sharp portraits. That's not what it's about. Why two films? Because I am going to get one opportunity at this, and since I am not doing my own developing and printing like usual, that is out of my control. Just trying to cover all the variables w/ the lab because how they do it (along w/ their developer and paper choices) will not be as I do it.

Remember, these will not actually be 16X20, that is just the paper sizes I will have to go with on the doubles. The singles will be closer to 11X14. Things will have to be cropped some because I don't care for full frame 35mm with double portraits. Yes, 135 is a little long, but it's what I got, and trust me, I would rather go w/ too long than too short. The couple is in their 60's, and a long lens does a wonderful job with compressing things and making noses smaller, which can be an issue w/ seniors.

Thanks Robert, I suspect you are right. It's a fine lens, but resolution will not be up to Leica R standards, which will probably not even be an issue if I nail the exposures and focus. I thought I might be over worrying things because portraits are all about the subject, interplay w/ the photographer, on the money exposure and good (great) light. And w/ large prints there's that tripod thing, which I really dislike using, but for these it's required. Large prints in 35mm need a good enlarger lens too. When I went to good glass on my enlarger, 11X14 and larger w/ 35mm using Tri-X looked good, especially if a Leica R lens was used for the shots. The T-max prints should be sharper than the Tri-X.
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Old 10-22-2017   #6
Emile de Leon
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Back in the day we had Tech pan..I could get a juicy 11x14 out of 35mm..16x20..never tried that..
Just moved to larger film for the big uns..
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Old 10-22-2017   #7
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For a 16 x 20 I would use my Hasselblad. But you know, in between 11 x 14 and 16 x 20, there is another size seldom mentioned: 14 x 17. Might that be large enough? Or maybe 11 x 14 is enough, after all?
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Old 10-22-2017   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emile de Leon View Post
Back in the day we had Tech pan..I could get a juicy 11x14 out of 35mm..16x20..never tried that..
Just moved to larger film for the big uns..
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
Well, they're portraits, so again, I am not after razor sharp shots. Why two films? Because I am going to get one opportunity at this, and since I am not doing my own developing and printing like usual, that is out of my control. Just trying to cover all the variables w/ the lab because how they do it (along w/ their developer and paper choices) will not be as I do it.

Remember, these will not actually be 16X20, that is just the paper sizes I will have to go with on the doubles. The singles will be closer to 11X14. Things will have to be cropped some because I don't care for full frame 35mm with double portraits. Yes, 135 is a little long, but it's what I got, and trust me, I would rather go w/ too long than too short.

Thanks Robert, I suspect you are on top of this. I thought I might be over worrying things because portraits are all about the subject, interplay w/ the photographer, on the money exposure and good light. And w/ large prints there's that tripod thing, which I really dislike using, but for these it's required.
If you're enlarging to 16x20 and cropping g to 11x14 it's still the same magnification as a 16x20. If you enlarge to 11x14 and crop it to a walletvprint it'll still be the same magnification and show the same flaws as an 11x14.

On very important jobs that I couldn't reshoot or would cost a fortune to do so I always shot a backup. I didn't however shoot two different types of emulsion. If i shot 4x5 as my primary format I'd shoot 120 as my backup or in some cases shoot 4x5 and hold the 2nd set of exposures back pending processing of the first series. I'd never have shot two types of B&W or color.

Id just shoot double with Tmax. Two bodies and switch between them.
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Old 10-22-2017   #9
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I think Steve means he doesn't need to enlarge all the way to 16 x 20. He plans to make the print on 16 x 20 paper, but the shot might be enlarged to something a bit smaller, like maybe 13 x 19 and then cropped to something "squarish" (as he said), so maybe 13 x 15 or so. It doesn't sound completely hopeless to me. Yes, do use a tripod, Steve.
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Old 10-22-2017   #10
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I used to have Canon FD lenses - 15, 21-35, 50, 135, and 200. They all performed well enough to print 16x20. A tripod will keep you from getting annoying jiggles in the negative. Shooting a lower grain film than trix will still have grain, but it won't be dominant. Tmax, Delta 400, XP2, or color film converted to black and white after processing the film will all have less grain. Shoot it with a digital camera, and grain will be nonexistant.

But I totally get the film aesthetic, so shoot on! XP2 will deliver images that you would be hard pressed to see grain in a 16x20. Pan-F or Delta 100 nearly so, and I find the grain you can see with the Delta films to be very pleasing.

If this is indeed a one-chance-only situation, and you NEED to make these pictures, do a practice run with the lens, camera, film, process, vendors and final product BEFORE you do the shoot for real. I know it makes it twice as expensive, but such is the cost of experience.

Good luck!
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Old 10-23-2017   #11
David Hughes
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Hi,

I'm with the tripod, tripod, tripod bunch and I hope you've a cable release.

Anyway, people looking at them will not be holding them and peering at them the way they hold a 4x6. Huge enlargements show up lenses but only when you go over them looking hard with a magnifying glass. Stick them in a frame on a wall and all will be well, imo.

Regards, David

PS I must be getting old and senile as I think 16 x 20 is a crop because it should be 16 x 24 or else 13.333 x 20... This seems to be a minority view these days: not that there's a simple answer these days. I have to print on A4 paper and slice a bit off and pretend it's 8x12, it's all very annoying; especially when the aspect ratio of the camera doesn't match of the aspect ratio of the printer and the same company designed and made them both.
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Old 10-23-2017   #12
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16x20 is fine if you don't mind the image to be a little mushy close-up. But sharpness is a concern when you blow up to that size.
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Old 10-23-2017   #13
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... what was that typical advice I heard so often?
Eh, yeah this is how it goes:
"Big prints don't lie"

Any tiny mistake, camera shake, misfocus, subject movement, eye blink, all others you can and can't imagine will show up in big prints.
And all of these most likely have more effect degrading the technical image quality than the theoretical max. lens resolution
The most useful advice here ... tripod.
Good luck and let us know how it turned out in the prints.
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Old 10-23-2017   #14
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Every tiny flaw in film and technique will show up with that kind of enlargement, and with a 135 you will have precious little depth of field, so there will be flaws to begin with. The resolution of the lens will be the least of the potential problems. I’d suggest renting something more appropriate, for long enough to do a test run.

And why not deal with the film yourself if that is your usual? Adding another unknown won’t make this easier.
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Old 10-23-2017   #15
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Personally, I wouldn't worry about the camera lens' resolution. The limiting factor is the film choice. Large prints from either TX or TMX will be largely limited by the film's grain and its ability to resolve detail. If you're worried about sharpness then use a different, slower film.
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Leicflex SL w/ R 90 Summi and Canon FT-b w/ FL 135 3.5 Comparison Shots
Old 11-03-2017   #16
Steve M.
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Leicflex SL w/ R 90 Summi and Canon FT-b w/ FL 135 3.5 Comparison Shots

These are just scans of lab machine prints. I was using cheap Fuji 200 film to see if the cameras exposed correctly, and to ck out the IQ of the lenses. Initially I was more than happy w/ the cheapo Canon lens, but there's something about the Leica pics that are, well, different.

First is the Canon, then the Leica
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Leicaflex SL w/ R 90 Summi and Canon FT-b w 135 3.5 Comparison Shots
Old 11-03-2017   #17
Steve M.
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Leicaflex SL w/ R 90 Summi and Canon FT-b w 135 3.5 Comparison Shots

Canon lens, then Leica. These are lab prints of cheap Fuji film, and scans of the lab prints w/ minimal editing.
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Old 11-03-2017   #18
Steve M.
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They show up as awfully small, and there was probably movement of the subjects because these were candid shots at slow speeds from 1/15 to 1/60, but there's a little to go by. At first I thought the Leica was just too soft at f2-f2.8, but maybe on a tripod w/ the subject still it would look different.

There's a huge price difference between the two lenses, although the Canon FT-b and the Leicaflex cameras are very similar, but at this point I'm going to keep the Leica lens, sell the Leicaflex, and put the Summicron on a Nikon or the Canon body w/ adapters.
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Old 11-03-2017   #19
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Not a very conclusive test is it. I'm looking at the images on my phone and the first canon shot is over exposed, out of focus and probably some motion in it. Both don't appear to be scanned very well either.

Conclusion, you picked the Summicron because it's a Leica lens. How can a valid conclusion be drawn with a test like this? Nothing personal.
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Old 11-03-2017   #20
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Pretty hard to tell anything from such small pictures.

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Old 11-03-2017   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x-ray View Post
Not a very conclusive test is it. I'm looking at the images on my phone and the first canon shot is over exposed, out of focus and probably some motion in it. Both don't appear to be scanned very well either.

Conclusion, you picked the Summicron because it's a Leica lens. How can a valid conclusion be drawn with a test like this? Nothing personal.
I agree. At best this is apples and oranges. Two different focal lengths, one subject much larger in the frame than the other, but out of focus, with some motion blur.

Aside from this there is no information about shutter speed, aperature or ISO. No one can tell much from teeny, tiny example images instead of uncropped and unresized originals.

Obviously one image is blurrier than the other. How did that happen? I've gotten sharper images out of a new $25 Fujian CCTV lens, so I doubt the Canon is the problem. This is yet another example that outlines just how important technique is. I think what we're actually seeing here is the halo effect in action.
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Old 11-03-2017   #22
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Back in your first posting on this issue
I said that if you want sharp images, you need
TRIPOD
TRIPOD
TRIPOD.

A Zenit with its lens on a tripod will beat your handheld Leicaflex with Summicron anyday when you're shooting at 1/15 second or slower.
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Old 11-03-2017   #23
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Hi Steve

The RFF has very little capacity for direct image upload.
If you want to demonstrate this comparison larger images are a must.
Upload the images to one of the free hosting sites (flickr etc..).
Then you can upload an image link to a larger version.
Even if you upload to the rff gallery you can get a larger image online and then, link it here to the forum. (the gallery and forum are separate entities).
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Old 11-03-2017   #24
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I'm really steady but there's no way I could get sharp images handheld at 1/15 with a 90 or 135.
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Old 11-03-2017   #25
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I can get good shots 25%-50% of the time at real slow speeds w/ a telly.....the hard part is getting the victim, oops, I mean the subject to sit still on a candid shot!

I agree, not conclusive from the little shots here (the scans look much bigger on the monitor here), but after photopucket did what they did I will not be in a hurry to do any more online photo hosting. Doesn't make any sense for me anyway, as all I do is wet print.

Funny how people go on about sharpness, and these are portrait type shots. The last thing I want in a portrait is a sharp shot. I want good IQ and good bokeh. And from that stand point, the Canon lens is excellent. The Leica has something else going for it though. Softer for sure, but something makes the shots really nice. We'll see how it works out between the two lenses w/ large wet prints of Tri-X and T-max.
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Old 11-03-2017   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
Funny how people go on about sharpness, and these are portrait type shots. The last thing I want in a portrait is a sharp shot. I want good IQ and good bokeh. And from that stand point, the Canon lens is excellent. The Leica has something else going for it though. Softer for sure, but something makes the shots really nice. We'll see how it works out between the two lenses w/ large wet prints of Tri-X and T-max.
Sharpness isn't really the issue in the images you posted. The photo from the Canon simply isn't in focus, aside from this, the subject is clearly moving enough to cause motion blur. If you were forced to use a long lens for these photos, a faster lens or higher ISO (film or setting) is a must.

Any quality lens requires adequate technique to exploit its advantages, otherwise any bargain-bin lens will do.
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Old 11-03-2017   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
I can get good shots 25%-50% of the time at real slow speeds w/ a telly.....

Funny how people go on about sharpness, and these are portrait type shots. The last thing I want in a portrait is a sharp shot. I want good IQ and good bokeh. And from that stand point, the Canon lens is excellent. The Leica has something else going for it though. Softer for sure, but something makes the shots really nice. We'll see how it works out between the two lenses w/ large wet prints of Tri-X and T-max.
Disclaimer: I'm not at all trying to be rude with you, just honest.

But I've been a full time commercial photographer for 50 years and I've learned a lot and heard a lot of, well let's say BS. You must seriously consider these samples to be good work, yes or no? If you do that explains some of your other statements. You don't know good work from bad. Everyone has to start at the beginning knowing nothing. We're not born with this knowledge. I've seen, especially beginners, try to impress me with their camera, knowledge and experience. It doesn't work.

I'll agree that sharpness isn't everything but there's a balance of exposure, color and sharpness that goes into making an excellent portrait and you've missed it in every way. I would have been ashamed to show these to anyone.

Again only trying to be honest.
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Old 11-03-2017   #28
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These are nothing more than "record" photos of people.

All beginners think cameras when they should be thinking lighting. Study portrait lighting.

When you can create a portrait, then think cameras.

T Max 400 is far superior. In its day XXX was OK. I used to manipulate with 2 bath developer and sometimes water bath. Also had Microdol X. Plus x was still superior.

Screwing around with different films and developer will lead you nowhere. Pick one.
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