prints and megapixel help

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by weston, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. weston

    weston TPF Noob!

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    I am new to photography and am pondering weather to go digital or not. I am an abstract painter and work on large canvases. I have read that digital prints cannot be large and that film is the only way to produce quality black and white prints at 4x6 ft or so.

    I have also read a 25 megapixel camera will produce close to the same quality as 35mm film. I need any and all input. Thank you.

    Weston
     
  2. battletone

    battletone TPF Noob!

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    If this is something that will be viewed close up, and not just from a distance, I have a feeling you might require a medium format (if not large format). But I would like to hear others opinions as well if someone is versed in this.
     
  3. flea77

    flea77 TPF Noob!

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    You have heard some truth! A 21.1MP camera can pretty much do what a 35mm film camera can do, for the most part (assuming we are taking B&W and not color where digital really lacks). I recently did some serious math and here is what I came up with:

    Ilford Delta 100 film has a LP/MM (Lines Per mm) resolution of 160, that translates out to 3840x5443 pixels, very close to the 3744x5616 21.1MP of the Canon 1Ds MIII. This of course assumes no loss through the glass, filters, a perfect exposure, and a rock solid tripod getting the absolutely best image possible, which never happens.

    Following that math, the maximum dot-for-dot enlargement possible is about 12x18 inches on a 300dpi printer (most common). Medium format (lets assume 6x6) can deliver 8504x8504, or a maximum enlargement of about 28x28 inches. Stepping up to 4x5 will get you in the neighborhood of 48x60 inches. These all assume dot-for-dot, no enlargement, point blank viewing distances.

    Now different films have different resolutions, Ilford Delta 100 being up at the top, Ecktachrome 100 at about 135lp/mm to give you an idea of range. So to easily answer your question, if you want big, film rules without question.

    Allan
     
  4. weston

    weston TPF Noob!

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    Thanks, I have been in a few photography classes and I remember the struggles with film processing and paper development. That's why I wanted to go digital, but I do want large prints. I just wanted so info before getting a sony A850. I wont print 6 feet, but maybe 4 and a half or so. Managing paper that size in a darkroom would be a nightmare I would think.
     
  5. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    The key is that when you make a print that's 2' in width, or perhaps 20' in width, the necessary resolution drops. You can easily get away with 150dpi if the image is going to be viewed from far away. And if it's viewed from REALLY far away, you could go all the way down to 70dpi or 50dpi. It's all in relation to viewing distance.

    That and print medium. High-quality glossy prints at 6x4 should be around 300dpi. But newsprint is around a mere 150dpi for the same size, and monitors (Internet) 72ppi.
     
  6. weston

    weston TPF Noob!

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    So, I guess I need to know the largest print I can make with a 25 mp camera...and not lose quality from a foot away.
     
  7. flea77

    flea77 TPF Noob!

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    That would be 12x18 with no loss, or 20x24 and still have a reasonable image. For four to four and a half feet I would go medium format. Especially if you are talking B&W. You can develop your own film, scan it in yourself, then email it to your lab for printing. Or of course, print it yourself if you like, or lastly, send the negatives to an optical printing house.

    Allan
     
  8. weston

    weston TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the great help. I guess I need to look into 35mm and building a dark room and forget about digital.
     
  9. lbridges

    lbridges TPF Noob!

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    I think maybe you misinterpreted what they told you. If you want that big if prints, looked at from a foot away you will have to go to at least medium format (think Hasselblad - they make a 50 megapixel back if you have deep pockets), or larger (like 4x5 view camera). 35mm film simply isn't going to cut it with 4ft X 5 ft prints from one foot viewing distance.

    BTW, the printer to produce digital at that size will be about $10K (as an example look for an Epson 11XXX series, 64" width IIRC). It's about $6K if you could live with 44" wide prints.
     
  10. weston

    weston TPF Noob!

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    now im really confused. i remember my photography teacher flipping an enlarger back and projecting to a wall. it was a bessler with a 35mm negative plate. maybe i am thinking too big, but surely i could produce a clean image at around 2 foot by 4 foot with a 35mm? i hope. i need nothing larger than that. if i can do that with a 25 mp digital, that would be great, if not ill study up on building a darkroom.
     
  11. flea77

    flea77 TPF Noob!

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    I think lbridges confused you. If you want to print that large on inkjet, then you need to spend $10,000. If you want to do it in a darkroom, yes, you can flip the enlarger and shine it on a wall, or on the floor, for a LOT less money. Alternately you can send it in and have it printed for a very reasonable fee. Also, medium format you do not need to spend that much, a nice little Yashica 124G will provide just as good negatives as a Hassy as long as you do not need to swap lenses. If you do, try a Mamiya or Bronica.

    Now to back up a little. 35mm or a 25mp camera will provide you with comparable images (actually, if you are shooting B&W although the resolution will be comparable, the 35mm will provide you with nice grain that the digital will not) and you can enlarge either one of those up to maybe 20x24 and see no image degradation at 12 inches (once again, that is strictly B&W as color has a much smaller LP/MM rating). Any larger than that and you will have to go at least medium format.

    Medium format shares a lot with 35mm as far as enlargers, scanners, tanks, etc. If you step up to large format (4x5 at least) you gain massive resolution (if I remember correctly, something equivalent to a 590MP digital camera) but it requires more expensive enlargers, scanners, tanks, etc. Of course you gain much more than just resolution with large format, but that is for a different thread.

    From what you have said so far, I would recommend a RB67 or similar camera shooting Ilford Delta 100 pro (subject dependent of course) in 120 size. This would minimize your cost in all areas and provide an excellent image. Heck, for what a 25mp digital BODY ONLY costs you could get the entire medium format setup, darkroom included, and have enough money left over for a nice vacation! :)

    Allan
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2009
  12. weston

    weston TPF Noob!

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    I'm off to research this, thanks to all, and I will return soon!
     

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