sharpest film currently on the market?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Sam Carleton, Jan 21, 2005.

  1. Sam Carleton

    Sam Carleton Guest

    Is my understanding correct that Kodak's TechPan is part of the
    past? If so, what is the sharpest, or smallest grain film out
    there these days? I took this image with a DSLR:

    I would like to make it 20x30 or larger, but the 4 MPixel image
    simply will not hold up to that type of enlargement.

    Sam Carleton, Jan 21, 2005
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  2. Still available. B&H still has some, IIRC, put the $3.49/roll
    export stuff is but a memory. I think they want $9/roll.
    If you want to do sharp then nothing competes with square inches of film.
    I would rent a 'blad or a Sinar for a weekend.
    Gustibus non est disputatum.
    No, it won't. Neither will Tech-Pan in 35mm, the largest I would go
    is 16x24" with TP, and then you shouldn't look too close.

    If you want detail, then 4x5 TMax will enlarge very nicely to 20x30.
    I have a 20x24 from 4x5 TMX print of the interior of the Bayeux cathedral
    hanging on the wall and I need to 10x loupe to really see the detail.

    You will have to drug the dog, I imagine, if you use a 4x5.
    There is a firm in NY that sells dead puppies for cute doggy shots ...

    Though, if you got 2 people to scratch the dog's belly and coo, the
    pooch might let you hold it's snout still enough to take the shot.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jan 21, 2005
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  3. Sam Carleton

    Bakhuys Guest

    Seems overkill to me :)
    135 format Ilford Pan F (still not yet discontinued I believe) gives nice
    results up to 30 x 40 cm with the naked eye. Maybe you have to switch to MF
    for really sharp and even larger pictures with Pan F. But LF?
    Bakhuys, Jan 21, 2005
  4. Sam Carleton

    Sam Carleton Guest

    Ah cool!
    Too true, too true. I already own both a 'blad and a 4x5 camera.
    Don't have the bellows for the 'blad and cannot imagine the type
    of below that would be needed for 4x5, more then what I have!
    Years ago I made a 16x20 from TP and I could not see grain with
    the naked eye.
    I don't feel the need to be able to get two inches from it and put
    a 10x lube to it and still not see grain. I just want it to look
    great from about a foot away, if it falls apart once you get that
    close, so be it.
    Hum, the wife would drug me, FOR GOOD and it is MY dog! Not to
    mention that I need to take the image and get it printed withOUT
    her knowing. We have a difference of opinion in things like art,
    she doesn't get this type of thing, at all;)
    Hum, maybe I will look into renting a bellow for my 'blad and
    seeing if one of the kids might be willing to help. But then the
    less that know I am doing this, the bigger surprise it will be for
    the wife:)


    P.S. I am still trying to figure out where I am going to hang
    this one:) hehehehe I guess it will go in my space, the finished
    Sam Carleton, Jan 21, 2005
  5. 30 x 40 cm == 12 x 16 inches
    51 x 76 cm == 20 x 30 inches

    Agreed, one can get a nice looking 11x14" print from 35mm.

    When you get to 20x30 it needs 4x5" negatives.

    A 4x5" enlarged to 20x30" has the same quality as a 35mm
    negative enlarged to 5x7" (~13x18cm).

    I have an old 36" Dagor I have always been meaning to make a 20x24
    camera for. A simple one: a 2x4 frame covered wrapped in black
    garbage bags, scale focus - that sort of design philosophy. With
    a 20x24" negative you don't have to worry about getting a large
    format enlarger, as you do with an 8x10.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jan 21, 2005
  6. Sam Carleton

    Sam Carleton Guest

    Not true, not in the least. I have a beautiful 24in x 35in (61cm
    x 89cm) print from my Hasselblad hanging over the fireplace. I
    get many compliments on it. A friend of mine took a image from a
    5.1 MPixel camera and made a 6 foot wide image from it, the
    school, who hung it 30 feet off the ground in the gym thinks it
    looks outstanding!

    Granted, if you look close at my image, you can see grain. And if
    you get within a few feet of the poster from the digital camera,
    it looks like crap, but... Neither is viewed that way!

    My objective is to have a good looking image from a foot or two
    away. I know the Hasselblad can deliever the quality I am looking
    for and I am noping that there is some 35mm film that can get
    "close enough" because I have the 35mm equipment, I don't have the
    MF equipment!

    Sam Carleton, Jan 21, 2005
  7. TP is still available.
    Other films of interest not that far from TP in terms of sharpness/grain:
    - Ilford PanF (will probably be discontinued but still available)
    - Kodak TMax 100
    - Fuji Acros 100
    - Efke 25 (no personal experience with this one)
    None are direct replacement because of the pretty unusual spectral response
    of TP.

    Claudio Bonavolta
    Claudio Bonavolta, Jan 21, 2005
  8. As I said: "Gustibus non est disputatum."
    Above the fireplace in the living room! The image demands it.
    It would lose it's raison d'être if hung in the basement.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jan 21, 2005
  9. Tech Pan is gone, but there is still some old stock around.

    I too would go for TMax 100 or Neopan Acros, and would, as others have
    suggested, shoot a larger format - at least 120.

    Grain does funny things when you go big. 4x5 HP5 looks kinda neat when
    you print it.

    Laura Halliday VE7LDH "Que les nuages soient notre
    Grid: CN89mg pied a terre..."
    ICBM: 49 16.05 N 122 56.92 W - Hospital/Shafte
    laura halliday, Jan 21, 2005
  10. Truth is a very slippery thing.
    Okay, okay ... 6x6 can do a good job too.
    Aha! Knew it! Probably only need a 5x loupe, right?
    Well, if you crank your head up 30 degrees to see it you
    have to be 60' away. So that's like looking at a 4x6" print
    at 5 feet. That doesn't take much in resolution.

    Is 30 feet the right number? But even if it was 15 feet it would be
    like a 4x6" at 30", or at about arm's length.
    Like, if you hung it over the fireplace?
    Point taken. But I live in a house, not a gym, so my pics
    are 'in my face' all the time.
    Tech Pan is as good as it gets. If TP won't do it, it can't be
    done. Be sure to order some Technidol to go with it.

    For 4x5 I would use a reversed enlarging lens. I have done this
    with a 2D 8x10. I cut an adapter out of some foam core, removed
    the elements from shutter and stuck the two together. Rubber
    cement and some electrician's tape came in handy; Nothing
    was damaged by the experience. A 50mm lens covers a ~1.5 inch
    subject, an 80mm a ~2.5 inch subject ...
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jan 21, 2005
  11. I ran a WBOT [whole bunch o' tests] on TMX, PanF and APX25 Vs TechPan.

    Nothing else came even close to TP in resolution.

    Tech Pan's grain is like crisp hot toast when blown up to
    20x24, everything else is lumpy cold oatmeal in comparison.

    If I can find where I hid ("Tidy up, she says ...") the test prints
    I will post them. It's interesting.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jan 21, 2005
  12. Sam Carleton

    Bakhuys Guest

    Whatever the size of the negative there is always a size of enlargement
    where grain will be visible (especially with a loupe, Sam! :)). Never did
    any 4x5. But I believe for sure that a 4x5 HP4 looks pretty much the same as
    35 mm Pan F for everyting less than say 13 x 18 cm (even with a 5x loupe!)
    Bakhuys, Jan 21, 2005
  13. Sam Carleton

    Bakhuys Guest

    With Sam I mean Nicholas of course, sorry
    Bakhuys, Jan 21, 2005
  14. Sam Carleton

    PGG Guest

    I've made an 8x10 print from a 4x5 negative that showed grain. I used
    Arista.EDU ISO 400 film. Very grainy film...I probably won't buy it again.

    I've wisened up and now use Tmax 100. There is _no_ grain visible in any
    print I've made.
    PGG, Jan 22, 2005
  15. Sam Carleton

    jjs Guest

    You should try the 4x5 before making such a judgement.
    jjs, Jan 22, 2005
  16. Sam Carleton

    Tom Phillips Guest

    "Sharpness" is a rather vague undefinable photo term.
    Acutance (edge sharpness) is likely more appropritate,
    and combined with a fine grained film with high
    resolving power can produce very "sharp" detailed
    images. Lot's of variables though, including the
    developer, camera/lens/tripod MTF, and the subject.
    Also format (negative size), meaning the larger the
    format the better the detail, and your image is highly

    Technical Pan is the finest grained, highest resolving
    film ever made. Nothing can match it, especially if
    you shoot 35mm. Certainly no digital camera, regardless
    of pixel resolution (I saw a 6MP image output to 16x20
    yesterday; it was very unsharp.) But it's also a very
    slow film and requires a POTA developer. A t-grain film
    like T-Max or Delta has high resolving abilities, medium
    speed, and depending on the variables you can obtain
    pretty sharp images. With large format I develop TMX in
    Rodinal (for high acutance.) But rodinal also tends to
    increase granularity, so if shooting smaller format I'd
    probably use microdol-X (finer grain.)
    Tom Phillips, Jan 22, 2005
  17. Sam Carleton

    Tom Phillips Guest

    it really depends on the subject and other variables.
    Viewing distance is also a factor.
    Which is why I stick to 4x5 (convenience.) However, I've
    seen 35mm enlarged to that size and is of good quality.
    Again, it depends on many factors.
    Tom Phillips, Jan 22, 2005
  18. Sam Carleton

    Bakhuys Guest

    Probably that would be better, but what about my statement?

    A 13 x 18 cm print requires approx. 6 times enlargement from a 35 mm
    negative. With 50 lines/mm on the negative, which is not unrealistic with
    excellent optics and Pan F, it is still more than 8 lines /mm on print
    which is all you need: it compares to the resolution of the human eye! Whats
    the resolution of photographic paper? Not much more. A loupe maybe still
    shows some differences, oké, you're right about that. But it's hard to
    believe it makes any visible difference at that small size. Did you compare?
    Bakhuys, Jan 22, 2005
  19. Once the discontinuation of TP became evident, I ran my own tests on same
    subjects to try to find a substitute (all 35mm):
    - TP in Technidol using Kodak's "shaker" agitation
    - PanF in XTol 1+1
    - TMX in XTol 1+1
    - Acros in XTol 1+1
    The last three processed by rotation. Developers/dilutions were not chosen
    to desperately obtain the finest grain possible but because they are what I
    use commonly.
    Partial prints were made at 16.5x magnification (complete prints would have
    been 16x24").
    There was a clear difference in favor of TP (both grain and resolution) but
    I wouldn't say it was so enormous.
    Anyway, like always with films, personal taste is the final judge.
    Not to mention lens quality and shooting conditions are essential when going
    low-speed/high-resolution films.

    I didn't find a real and complete substitute for TP but found acceptable
    replacements in terms of sharpness and grain.
    If I bought several TP rolls (well, bulk rolls, 45m for TP ...) and put them
    in the freezer, this is not only for resolution/grain characteristics but
    also, and perhaps more, because its special spectral response that gives a
    particular "glow" to the skin.

    Actually, Sam seems to work in 35mm, so unless he buys another equipment (MF
    or LF), he has to go with it.
    He doesn't seem to look at the prints with a loupe either.
    So, I see mainly two options for him:
    - He can do what many have already done: buy TP before it's gone completely.
    - But, I would suggest he tries also other low-speed films, he may find one
    that fits his needs.
    It's just a matter of magnification, I'm pretty sure you can see "lumpy cold
    oatmeal" TP grain if you push it over its limits ...
    I've thrown away my test prints but. if needed. I can reprint and scan them.
    Claudio Bonavolta
    Claudio Bonavolta, Jan 22, 2005
  20. Sam Carleton

    jjs Guest

    That's a fair enough question and to answer it we would have to post
    examples. Maybe _I_ should try Pan F! At the risk of damaging my first
    argument which I cannot prove without examples, I submit that some pictures
    achieve better acutance with grainer film. Acutance is not all about lp/mm.
    jjs, Jan 22, 2005
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