When did razor sharp images.....

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Montana, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    become popular? Just some thoughts I have had as of late. My little sister bought me a whole pile of old photography books. Some were old college books, some were portrait shooting tips, but most were just books of photography from TIME and similar sources. Most of these books date from the 70's and 80's, so the images are from that era or well before. As I turned every page, the images were fantastic, but I noticed that if a person posted one of these images on a forum for example.....it would be torn apart. I mean the images look fantastic composition and subject wise but they were not the razor sharp images that you see online and in print these days.

    So, although these images were technically great and the TIME books were chaulked full of some images from the most respected photographers, why do we argue so much over what company has the sharpest lenses, or "I cannot wait for a mkII edition of this lens because its not sharp enough." Why do we lust for ultra sharp images if that is only a small fraction of a photograph?

    Is it a technology thing? HD television, video, better print capabilities have us "trained" to expect ultra-sharp images?

    Just curious.......as I have only been shooting for a few short years now. Anyone that has been in the hobby/profession long enough to see a change in this?
     
  2. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    I never shot film other than when I was a youngster shooting 110 film developed at Pamida. LOL Surely film isn't that much softer....is it?
     
  3. lvcrtrs

    lvcrtrs TPF Noob!

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    For me, it's just a preference. I used to say I like them to jump off the page and cut up my eyeballs (actually that's a quote I stole). But, as time goes on, just knowing I can get sharp pics many times if I want to makes me relax and start to enjoy backing it down a bit. Truely I'm finding that many times softer is more pleasing. I look at all the film pics on the walls that I have loved through the years and they are not tack sharp yet I don't take them down and replace them with newer photos. So, maybe for many it's just preference, maybe for others it's just 'cause they can, maybe for some they just haven't reached the place where they appreciate anything else.
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You forget that you are amungst nutters - addicts and those who should be locked up when you post on a photography forum ;)

    Amateurs in any area of interest are often far more demanding than professionals and even more so than the average public when it comes to quality as seen in the end production of the hobby. Be it fine coin collections; model boats; photography or anything amateurs are the sort who will find problems even when there are no problems ;)


    Also one has to accept that the pace of technology has advanced in both printing and in image capture. Those old images might only be softer because that was the limit of the mass production printing machines of the day and that a finer, highquality single print of one of those images might be dead sharp.
    Further remember that digial images as seen on the computer are sharpened before you see them
    eg: compare this
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4006/4329917049_3397258cf6_b.jpg

    to this:
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4006/4329917049_8d2dc77172_o.jpg

    The first image is the resized (and sharpened) version from flickr and its a pleasing level of sharpness - now look at the second, the unoriginal unresized version.

    Thus "internet" level sharp is a whole new meaning as images are around 1/3 or small than their original size and sharpened once if not two or three times.
     
  5. Joves

    Joves No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well film had grain which would give great definition or not. It is like noise at 800+ and hearing how noisy the images are. Apparently they never shot with shot with fast film.
     
  6. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    There was a time when people purposely softened images... like the old B&W days in Hollywood.

    Who knows, but I fall into that category that prefers razor sharp focus in most cases. I want to see very detail... probably because as technology improves our demands increase.
     
  7. PackingMyBags

    PackingMyBags TPF Noob!

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    This cant be a serious question.
     
  8. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    This is the feeling I got after reading and looking at a lot of the books. Most of the photos not only gave credit to the photographer, but also list the camera and lens used. And many of these lenses are sought after today by those manual focus "alternative lens" users. So they are capable of very sharp images.

    Still wanting to here from some older film users here..........
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    It started when digital capture became widely available and "good". In the 1980's, a larger image was an 8x10, often made by cropping an inch off of each end of a 35mm negative's native aspect ratio of 8x12 inches. Not many people except hard-core darkroom workers made 11x14 prints in the 1980s-1990s, except for serious landscape shooters and professionals. Many enthusiasts shot and projected color slides; those look great without needing any printing.

    Beginning with, in my opinion, the Canon 10D's excellent 6MP image quality, the quality of ASA 100 35mm color negative and color slide film was surpassed; a friend and I who have been shooing for a reasonably long time (1973, 1979 starts) looked at the output from his new 10D shot under studio flash illumination. Since 1987 he had been a professional freelance nature photographer who shot Canon and used a lot of Fuji E-6 slide film. When he brought his 10D over, and he and I shot a couple of lengthy studio sessions with it, our first look at the ISO 100 JPEG image quality blew us away. He was ecstatic with the detail the camera produced; I still recall him zooming in on the eyebrow detail on his young son; all the way down to individual hairs, with basically zero objectionable noise or grain.

    Once the EPSON 1280 print became a staple, amateurs and professionals alike were cranking out reasonably large prints at home. Inkjet printing with the 1270 and 1280 EPSON models was amazingly good--no enlarger alignment issues, no enlarger lens issues. Inkjet printing delivers a higher level of quality and consistency than almost any enlarger setup because enlarging lenses are not as good at the edges as they are at the center,and enlarger alignment is critical, and it is not a long-term given.

    Earlier d-slr cameras produced images that "looked digital",and printers were on the whole not as capable as the EPSON 1270 and 1280 models. So, I guess it must have been around 2003 when the sharpness craze really took off--the combination of widely-available 6MP d-slr bodies and GOOD semi-large format printing made an 8x10 look puny compared to a large EPSON inkjet print. As d-slrs developed higher-resolution sensors and computer monitors grew larger and larger and larger prints became "accessible" without arms and a leg prices, larger images became the norm. And so did increased computer sharpening of images. AND, lenses became *better*. As in higher-resolution, flatter field, and just "better", with less chromatic aberration, lower flare, just "better". Nikon's 14-24 AF-S zoom is better than almost any 35mm prime lens from 14 to 24mm--better resolution, higher contrastm,and lower flare than even Nikon,Zeiss, and Canon prime lenses that cost over $1000 each--from a ZOOM lens!

    The same thing happened with the Corvette: it no longer has a 250 HP engine...it's now what? 600 HP? Lenses of the late 50's are no match, in most cases, for lenses of the 2010s. Printed images of the 70s and 80s was done on a 240 to 360 dpi halftone screen,so the Life books are not as high-rez as even a modern home inkjet printout. Everything today is.well......
     
  10. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    Yes overread, this is true. But most of these images were taken by some of the best photographers of that era......so they should have been their own worst critic as well, and strived for the best.
     
  11. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    Rather than quote your post Derrel, I will just say thanks. I was hoping some seasoned film shooters would chime in. Thanks for the info.
     
  12. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    Depending on the era, AF might not have existed yet, or it may have, but it wasn't practical to have. So alot of photojournalism may have had oof pictures. but film is not soft. lower speed slide films are very sharp, and the larger the format, the more detail you got.


    Absolutle sharpness i don't think has ever been a craze, the people looking for that have always existed. Take ansel adams for example, he pretty much never shot anything smaller than 4x5 for his serious work, and you can't tell me that his pictures are soft.

    I'm guessing you've never seen a tintype or daguerreotype, you want sharp, THAT'S sharp.
     

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