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Author Topic: Ansel Adams And Camera Phones - Continuation of "Why Print" Thread  (Read 2909 times)
Slobodan Blagojevic
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« on: December 07, 2012, 03:32:34 PM »
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Not sure why, but the "Why Print" thread was locked while I was composing a reply to Rhossydd, thus this new thread:

You think a camera phone is capable of matching an Ansel Adams print ?

Curious, you'd had a degree of credibility around here before that comment.

Thanks for the compliment, however outdated it might be by now Wink

Let me clarify: I said initially "most" AA shots. It is well known that AA considered "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop," thus I was not talking about his masterpieces. I've seen exhibitions of his work that mostly included 4x5s or 8x10s contact prints, with little, if any, of his signature dodging and burning. Pretty plain, mundane, mid-day mountain scenes, which, with today's technologies, are replicable even by certain camera phones. For instance, Sony ran a marketing campaign for their camera phone, shot by the same phone and printed across the whole magazine page.

So, yes, I do believe that if you used such a phone, processed it in LR and printed at the same size as most of AA prints (i.e., 4x5 and 8x10), only the most skilled photographers would be able to see the difference.

Do I have to remind you that Michael Reichmann ran a similarly unbelievable test, precisely among "the most skilled photographers," and the results were 50/50, i.e., half of them guessed right and half wrong, as a simple statistical probability would suggest anyway if they (or anyone else) randomly guessed. The test was a comparison between 13x19 prints from a Canon G10 and a digital Hasselblad.

Part of AA "magic" was in overcoming technological limitations of his time (i.e., dealing with limited contrast range of film and paper). Today we solve those problems with the technology available to us. Some of it is available in phones, like in-camera HDR. The rest is available in post processing.

I am not trying to devalue AA. I am a big fan. Its just that what was a novelty decades ago has become a commonplace today.
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petermfiore
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2012, 03:56:06 PM »
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Do I have to remind you that Michael Reichmann ran a similarly unbelievable test, precisely among "the most skilled photographers," and the results were 50/50, i.e., half of them guessed right and half wrong, as a simple statistical probability would suggest anyway if they (or anyone else) randomly guessed. The test was a comparison between 13x19 prints from a Canon G10 and a digital Hasselblad.


How very true!

Peter
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2012, 06:28:56 PM »
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I've heard this silly argument among a local group of photographers and back in Colorado springs and now in LuLa. Yes! The equipment we use to make photographs is going to change. It's been changing since I started making pictures in 1943 and the change is accelerating. But the bottom line is that no matter what equipment we use there are going to be good photographs, bad photographs, and assorted grades of photographs in between. And there are going to be good photographers, bad photographers, and assorted grades of photographers in between. The same thing will be true of poets and novelists, now writing with computers rather than quill pens, musicians, now composing for at least a few instruments never heard of in earlier times, and painters, now painting with paints and media whose quality and longevity exceeds anything available in Giotto's time.

Life is short, means of expression change, but art is long. The quality of art has nothing at all to do with its materials. The quality of art has only to do with the ability of the artist to convey a transcendental experience to his audience.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2012, 06:53:17 PM »
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...Part of AA "magic" was in overcoming technological limitations of his time...

Not much has changed in principle.
The details of the limitations facing us today are different sure, but the challenge to leverage the maximum aesthetic effect possible from current cameras, post-processing software, and printers (inks and papers)remains.

Occasionally we can also produce "magic".

Tony Jay
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2012, 03:01:07 AM »
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People seem to be just concentrating on the "Art" of Ansel Adams in this thread and are completely overlooking a very important aspect of his work.

He was one of the pioneers of the f64 group that took photography away from painterly, soft, wishy washy images of the pictorialist fashion of the time and showed that Art could be made with highly detailed, sharp photographic images.
Part of the fascination of seeing an original Adams print is the ability to look closely at the details that make up the image as well as the overall composition and tonality. It's that aspect that separates it from the mush of a phone camera image.
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Ray
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2012, 05:02:01 AM »
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People seem to be just concentrating on the "Art" of Ansel Adams in this thread and are completely overlooking a very important aspect of his work.

He was one of the pioneers of the f64 group that took photography away from painterly, soft, wishy washy images of the pictorialist fashion of the time and showed that Art could be made with highly detailed, sharp photographic images.
Part of the fascination of seeing an original Adams print is the ability to look closely at the details that make up the image as well as the overall composition and tonality. It's that aspect that separates it from the mush of a phone camera image.


Composition and tonality are separate from highly detailed and sharp. F64 does not produce particularly sharp images due to the significant effects of diffraction at that aperture. The idea behind the use of F64 with large format was to achieve better DoF and reduced vignetting. The DoF at F64 would be about the same as DoF on 35mm format at F8.

Large format lenses with an image circle large enough to cover 8"x10" format would probably be sharpest around F11 or F16. Diffraction at F64 would take a heavy toll on detail.

I imagine the most significant difference between 35mm film used at F8, and 8x10 plates used at F64 would be the lack of grain in large prints from the large format camera, and better tonality. Resolution from the large format at F64 would probably be better, but not as significantly better as you might expect.

To use the same shutter speed at F64 as at F8 would require an ISO 1600 film on the large format as opposed to an ISO 25 film on the 35mm format, or push-processing of a lower ISO film to achieve an ISO 1600 equivalent.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2012, 05:21:25 AM »
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Hi,

I'd suggest that we may need separate "photographs" and "prints".

We can make an excellent print from a boring image. The picture will still be boring.

Technology makes it possible to achieve many things quite easily that were hard to achieve not so many years ago.

Anyone mixing his developer from granulates lately?

Best regards
Erik


Not sure why, but the "Why Print" thread was locked while I was composing a reply to Rhossydd, thus this new thread:

Thanks for the compliment, however outdated it might be by now Wink

Let me clarify: I said initially "most" AA shots. It is well known that AA considered "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop," thus I was not talking about his masterpieces. I've seen exhibitions of his work that mostly included 4x5s or 8x10s contact prints, with little, if any, of his signature dodging and burning. Pretty plain, mundane, mid-day mountain scenes, which, with today's technologies, are replicable even by certain camera phones. For instance, Sony ran a marketing campaign for their camera phone, shot by the same phone and printed across the whole magazine page.

So, yes, I do believe that if you used such a phone, processed it in LR and printed at the same size as most of AA prints (i.e., 4x5 and 8x10), only the most skilled photographers would be able to see the difference.

Do I have to remind you that Michael Reichmann ran a similarly unbelievable test, precisely among "the most skilled photographers," and the results were 50/50, i.e., half of them guessed right and half wrong, as a simple statistical probability would suggest anyway if they (or anyone else) randomly guessed. The test was a comparison between 13x19 prints from a Canon G10 and a digital Hasselblad.

Part of AA "magic" was in overcoming technological limitations of his time (i.e., dealing with limited contrast range of film and paper). Today we solve those problems with the technology available to us. Some of it is available in phones, like in-camera HDR. The rest is available in post processing.

I am not trying to devalue AA. I am a big fan. Its just that what was a novelty decades ago has become a commonplace today.

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Ray
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2012, 08:29:34 AM »
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We can make an excellent print from a boring image. The picture will still be boring.


Erik,

I find it very difficult to make an excellent print from a boring image. For some reason I seem to completely lack incentive.  Wink
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2012, 09:30:48 AM »
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Ray,

I don't see the problem...

- Take an Xrite Color Checker Passport
- Take a picture of it in good light (sunlight or flash) using tripod and MLU
- Adjust patches to reference value
- Print with a correct profile
- Enjoy your perfect print

;-) Erik ;-)




Erik,

I find it very difficult to make an excellent print from a boring image. For some reason I seem to completely lack incentive.  Wink
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2012, 09:37:12 AM »
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Hi,

The problem with your reasoning is that a phone camera image is not necessarily mush.

Jeff Schewe has demonstrated this in several of his books. You cannot tell apart an image he made with P65+ from another he made with an iPhone 4S, provided the print is small enough.

This clearly demonstrates that phone camera images don't need to be mush.

I'd also say that a good picture taken with iPhone is probably better than worthless picture taken with my Sony Alpha 99.

Best regards
Erik




People seem to be just concentrating on the "Art" of Ansel Adams in this thread and are completely overlooking a very important aspect of his work.

He was one of the pioneers of the f64 group that took photography away from painterly, soft, wishy washy images of the pictorialist fashion of the time and showed that Art could be made with highly detailed, sharp photographic images.
Part of the fascination of seeing an original Adams print is the ability to look closely at the details that make up the image as well as the overall composition and tonality. It's that aspect that separates it from the mush of a phone camera image.
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IWC Doppel
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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2012, 12:33:14 PM »
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I do 'flitter' on this issue, with some very nice lenses for my M9-P and printing on A3 or even A4 I am not convinced I could get close with an iPhone. Then I will find one shot by a lesser camera that captures the moment superbly.

I was on a printing course this week covering B&W prints, most on the course were landscape photographers, where sharpness and large DOF are important. I find most of my pictures use selective DOF and the lens characterictics shine through in a very organic way. I personally think the is more to it than simple resolution and I wonder how the comparisons were undertaken.

Ever lived with a piece of HiFi before understanding and concluding, something very difficult to achieve in fleeeting A-B tests. I experimented with paper recently and a-b'd 12 fine art textured matt papers. A quick glance and they all look quite similar. But with careful a-b my preferred paper came 1st or second 6 times.

A long way of saying I wish I could get images from my iPhone to match my M9, but I don't. It doesn't take a large print to show this.
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2012, 02:00:33 PM »
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A long way of saying I wish I could get images from my iPhone to match my M9, but I don't. It doesn't take a large print to show this.
Some scenes are more revealing than others. Part of my reasoning for wanting a "good" camera, is the ability to capture those difficult scenes.

Even though the image sensor itself may or may not be sufficient for certain scenes, I find that the annoying autofocus and shutter-lag (no hardware shutter button on my phone) ruins many scenes that I am convinced would be captured well by my DSLR.

-h
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RSL
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« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2012, 02:15:42 PM »
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F64 does not produce particularly sharp images due to the significant effects of diffraction at that aperture.

Not necessarily, Ray. A "normal" lens on an 11 x 14 camera is about 500mm. f/64 on a 500mm gives an aperture of about 8mm. The governing factor in blade diffraction is the size of the hole, not the f number. With an 8mm hole (which is about the focal length of some point-and-shoot lenses) you simply don't get much, if any, diffraction.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2012, 05:49:25 PM »
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Ray,

Have you  ever examined closely a high-quality 11x14" or even 8x10" contact print?
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2012, 06:08:52 PM »
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... Have you  ever examined closely a high-quality 11x14" or even 8x10" contact print?

I rest my case Wink
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Slobodan

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Rhossydd
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2012, 02:55:13 AM »
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F64..........significant effects of diffraction at that aperture. .... DoF at F64 would be about the same as DoF on....o an ISO 25 film on the 35mm format,...
Nice technical diatribe, but totally misses the point about what the f64 group were all about.
I guess you need to read some history books rather than technical manuals.
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2012, 02:57:59 AM »
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You cannot tell apart an imag......, provided the print is small enough.

This clearly demonstrates that phone camera images don't need to be mush.
Er yes, print everything so small it all looks the same.
Not quite in the spirit of Adam's quest for technical and artistic perfection.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2012, 03:10:55 AM »
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Hi,

I'm just saying that the iPhone image used in the example was not 'mush'. It is just a small image, if you enlarge it to much it will become 'mush' because it will be interpolated.

Note, I don't say that the iPhone has a similar image quality to the P65+ or the M9 just that it can produce a decent image, according to Jeff Schewe.

Oh yes, I admit! I have an iPhone 4S (it's company cell phone) but I never took a shot with it!

Best regards
Erik

Er yes, print everything so small it all looks the same.
Not quite in the spirit of Adam's quest for technical and artistic perfection.
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Isaac
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« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2012, 11:53:22 AM »
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...thus I was not talking about his masterpieces. ... Pretty plain, mundane, mid-day mountain scenes, which, with today's technologies, are replicable even by certain camera phones.

Which is to say so-so Ansel Adams photos are replicable by camera phone? :-)

I picked "Looking at Ansel Adams: The Photographs and the Man" off the local library's new book shelf yesterday, so I'm somewhat better informed than I was the day before.

Apparently -- "...he also continued to use the older, less expensive orthochromatic film that was sensitive only to blue and green light, which rendered the blue sky as white or a very light shade of gray. Compare the rich sky above Mount Clarence King with the blank white sky in a photograph of the Kearsage Pinnacles made on the same trip. For a few years Ansel used both until panchromatic film became more affordable."

Maybe that's what you saw as plain mundane.
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Ray
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« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2012, 09:35:30 PM »
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Not necessarily, Ray. A "normal" lens on an 11 x 14 camera is about 500mm. f/64 on a 500mm gives an aperture of about 8mm. The governing factor in blade diffraction is the size of the hole, not the f number. With an 8mm hole (which is about the focal length of some point-and-shoot lenses) you simply don't get much, if any, diffraction.

Yes, necessarily, Russ. The laws of diffraction cannot be defeated, although I admit there is some interesting research currently going on with regard to artificial materials designed with a negative refractive index using nanotechnology, which may eventually result in camera lenses that are just as sharp at F64 as at F8.

The actual size of the hole is certainly a governing factor in diffraction, as you mention, but it's clearly not the only governing factor. Magnification plays a huge role.

For the sake of simplicity, lets compare the full-frame 35mm format with an 8"x12" field camera that has the same aspect ratio as the 35mm format.

The standard lens for 35mm is closer to 45mm than 50mm, so lets compare a 45mm lens at F8 (on 35mm format) with the equivalent standard lens on an 8"x12" large format, which would be 360mm.

The physical size of the aperture on a 45mm lens at F8 is given by a very simple formula that everyone should be able to understand. You simply divide the focal length by the f/stop number. For example, 45/8=5.625. The diameter of the aperture at F8 is 5.625mm.

Let's apply that formula to our standard 360mm lens on the 8x12 format used at F64. 360/64=5.625. What a surprise! The aperture is the same size as that on a standard lens on 35mm at F8. That means that the Airy Disk will be the same size at the exit pupil of both lenses.

However, let's consider what happens to that Airy disk when it reaches the film surface. The 360mm large-format lens magnifies the Airy Disks, just as it magnifies everything else in the scene to fill the larger area of film. It magnifies it 8x more than the 35mm standard lens.

Theoretically, if we were to exclude factors such as film grain, and imagine we had perfect lenses that were truly diffraction limited at the F/stops used, then an 8"x12" format used at F64 would have no resolution advantage over 35mm format using the equivalent standard lens at F8.

However, in practice, because we don't have 35mm lenses that are so good that they are completely diffraction limited at F8, the large format at F64 will have a slight resolution advantage. In other words, the image from the 35mm lens will contain some of the usual lens aberrations in addition to the effects of diffraction at F8, whereas the Large Format lens at F64 will be much closer to being truly diffraction limited.

Theoretically again, if a lens is completely diffraction limited at a particular F/stop, then doubling that F/stop number will result in a halving of resolution in the projected image. F16 will produce half the resolution of F8. F32 will produce 1/4th the resolution of F8, and F64 will produce 1/8th the resolution of the lens used at F8.

However, since a large format 8"x12" is 8x the size of 35mm format along each dimension (or 64x the area), the resolution of the projected image from the 360mm lens in terms of line-widths per picture height, should be the same as the image from the 45mm lens at F8. But I emphasise that I'm referring to the projected image, not the recorded image, just in case you get all hot under the collar.

The resolution of the recorded image in the case of film will also be influenced by the properties of the type of film used, the fineness of the grain and so on. For static subjects where long exposures are possible, the large format will have a clear advantage with less noticeable grain.

It would be interesting to see a comparison of the 35mm format used with a very fine-grain ISO 25 film at F8, and the large 10x12 format used with a grainy ISO 1600 film required for the same shutter speed at F64.

Now, as we should all know, one of the major features of the digital camera is its lack of grain. The large format film camera thus loses one of its main advantages which it had over the smaller film format, when it's compared with a small digital camera.

It may still retain some advantages in respect of resolution and dynamic range. However the resolution advantage of the larger format falls off rapidly if one equalizes DoF by using F64, and the dynamic range advantage is only apparent if the scene being photographed is very contrasty.

What frequently tends to be a problem when comparisons are made between large and small formats, such as Michael's comparison between the Canon G10 P&S and the Phase P45+ MFDB, is the dilemma of equalizing all the variable parameters, such as shutter speed and DoF.

The larger format generally has an advantage in respect of shallowness of DoF, and the smaller format the advantage of a more extensive DoF at any particular F/stop.

If one attempts to equalize a shallow DoF in the comparison, the smaller format may not be able to do the job. The maximum aperture may simply not be wide enough. If one decides to compare images with an extensive DoF, the larger format may well be up to the job, especially if the lens stops down to F64, but the resolution fall-off due to diffraction, and the image degradation due to use of a high ISO to maintain equal shutter speed, just might result in the smaller format producing the better image.

An interesting point that arose from Michael's G10/P45 comparison ,which was not followed up as far as I know, was the DoF issue which became the clue when the A3+ prints from both cameras were examined. One of the prints had a noticeably shallower DoF and that, it would be reasonable to assume, would likely be the print from the P45.

The G10 was used at F3.5 and the P45+ at F11. Both images at A3+ size appeared to have the same resolution in the main area of focus. A quick calculation comparing sensor sizes reveals that the P45 should have been used at F22 to achieved the same DoF as the G10 at F3.5.

I can't help wondering what the outcome of the comparison would have been if F22 had been used with the P45 MFDB, instead of F11.  The resolution at F22 would clearly be worse, but would that fall-off in resolution be noticeable on an A3+ size print? Probably not, in which case the two prints would have been indistinguishable. But just maybe, the G10 print might have shown a very slight resolution edge, only discernible by the expert photographers examining the prints, in which case they would have incorrecly assumed that the print with the barely noticeable resolution edge was from the P45.  Grin

Well, I hope you've all enjoyed my brief introduction to a few photographic technical issues.  Grin
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