Digital to Match film…

  • Posted: 17 February 2002 09:11 AM

    According to a number of experts the latest development from Foveon will allow digital cameras to match the quality of 35mm film. 

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/11/technology/11FOVE.html

    very interesting. 

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  • Posted: 12 February 2002 09:23 AM #1

    It is interesting, and that story, in one form or another, has been on my desk a dozen times this week.

    I would mention, though, that when you get into *really* big enlargements, 35mm film is comparable to a 75 megapixel image, not 7 as is implied in the article.  The Fovion chips may meet or exceed the quality of 35mm film in some respects, like color, but the technology is still a few years off from truly besting 35mm.  Medium format and up are even further off.

    On the bright side, it is pretty widely accepted that CMOS technology is cheaper than CCD technology, so this sort of advance in CMOS technology leads to better cameras for less money.

         
  • Posted: 12 February 2002 09:47 AM #2

    Pixels to film is much more complicated than just a number, but I just ran across an explanation that puts the number closer to 20 megapixels. 

    It is here:

    http://pic.templetons.com/brad/photo/pixels.html

    Still looking for the 75 megapixel reference.

         
  • Posted: 12 February 2002 10:00 AM #3

    The thing that people often overlook is the fact that every major shift in image media occurred because of convenience.

    8x10 to 4x5
    4x5 to rollfilm (medium formats)
    rollfilm to cartrige based 35mm
    35mm to digital.

    Each began with a degredation in quality but overcame it in terms of popularity. And none of them have completely disappeared.
    Funny…

    -Dan

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  • Posted: 12 February 2002 11:25 AM #4

    The new Foveon technology is *not* CMOS. 

    Hmmm.

    How many times can one person correct himself in the same thread?

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: pagefault on 2002-02-12 15:26 ]</font>

         
  • Posted: 12 February 2002 11:32 AM #5

    this is definitely not CMOS.  This is very different and avoids the bayer pattern issues entirely.  I’m not so sure about 75MP.  Do you need to image each grain of film perfectly or does a single grain count as a single pixel when you are trying to compare the two?  seems like it is really very complicated, but unless you are doing very large blowups (>>8x10) then digital resolution is good enough, however…

    another thing holding back digital cameras is the dynamic range. sure they can equal or better the resolution, but a grain of film records a MUCH larger range of brightness values than just 0-255 (from my understanding). This can change with 10-12bit cameras, but it’s not changing real fast, the push is for more pixels rather than better quality pixels. just like those damned meaningless MHz.

    Additionally, the art of photography sometimes relies on the grain/texture. If you blow up a good 35mm slide yes you can see the grain, but this is often considered a good thing due to the resulting texture. Anybody know of a good photoshop/gimp filter to add grain?

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  • Posted: 12 February 2002 11:52 AM #6

    On 2002-02-12 15:32, EDGar wrote:
    this is definitely not CMOS.

    Nope.

    I’m not so sure about 75MP.  Do you need to image each grain of film perfectly or does a single grain count as a single pixel when you are trying to compare the two? 

    That might be where it came from.  Further research this afternoon leads me to believe that it was an early statement a year or two ago, by someone with a vested interest in seeing digital slow down (film company?)

    seems like it is really very complicated, but unless you are doing very large blowups (>>8x10) then digital resolution is good enough, however…

    Yep.  2 megapixels is fine for 4x6 and 4-5 megapixels may be ‘better’ than 35mm film for 4x6 and possibly even 8x10.

    Other variables are the state of the chemistry when the film is processed, the quality of the lens when the image is projected onto the paper and other nitpicky things, which reduce the ‘resolution’ of film.

    another thing holding back digital cameras is the dynamic range. sure they can equal or better the resolution, but a grain of film records a MUCH larger range of brightness values than just 0-255 (from my understanding). This can change with 10-12bit cameras, but it’s not changing real fast, the push is for more pixels rather than better quality pixels. just like those damned meaningless MHz.

     

    Yep again.  That is what I think the Foveon article was hinting at, or it might have come right out and said it; I haven’t had a chance to sit down and really digest it.  I think they are saying that the new technology from Foveon has as good a range as 35mm, or better.  Not necessarily resolution.

    Additionally, the art of photography sometimes relies on the grain/texture. If you blow up a good 35mm slide yes you can see the grain, but this is often considered a good thing due to the resulting texture.

     

    I have used grainy film and then aggressively cropped and enlarged the image to accentuate the grain many times.  I would not be inclined to do the same with pixels.  I have seen some filters that do some sort of random dithering, or something or other, to simulate grain.  I wonder though, as digital gets more popular, will pixelated images be as artistically acceptable as grainy photographs.

         
  • Posted: 12 February 2002 12:30 PM #7

    Don’t forget that the shape of grain was becoming important to film in the last ten years. Like with Kodak’s Tmax-series B&W. (triangular shaped)
    I believe that somebody may, if resoultion gets hyper small, attempt to imitate grain shape to get that look. But I’ve yet to see a filter to imitate it.

    -Dan

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  • Posted: 12 February 2002 01:56 PM #8

    On 2002-02-12 15:32, EDGar wrote:
    I’m not so sure about 75MP.  Do you need to image each grain of film perfectly or does a single grain count as a single pixel when you are trying to compare the two?

    More digging looks like it might have been an attempt to estimate the scan resolution required to capture all of the data, colors, range from black to white, etc, when scanning a 35mm frame.

    The more you dig, the more you find ‘experts’ with a different explanation of film to digital comparisons.

     

         
  • Posted: 12 February 2002 02:46 PM #9

    yes, the term experts has to be taken with a fairly small grain of salt, especially web “experts”. 

    I think pixelated images are already considered kind of artsy, but it’s commonly used poorly (IMHO). 

    edit :
    Also the type of film/developing plays a major role in just how many “pixels” you get out of a 35mm slide, eg Fuji Velvia vs Kodak consumer stuff.  ISO settings, quality of the exposure, etc. 

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: EDGar on 2002-02-12 18:48 ]</font>

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  • Posted: 12 February 2002 03:47 PM #10

    On 2002-02-12 18:46, EDGar wrote:
    yes, the term experts has to be taken with a fairly small grain of salt, especially web “experts”. 

    I think pixelated images are already considered kind of artsy, but it’s commonly used poorly (IMHO). 

    edit :
    Also the type of film/developing plays a major role in just how many “pixels” you get out of a 35mm slide, eg Fuji Velvia vs Kodak consumer stuff.  ISO settings, quality of the exposure, etc. 

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: EDGar on 2002-02-12 18:48 ]</font>

    Yep.

    The numbers cited were for excellent film, excellent exposure, excellent lens, etc.

    I imagine the point and shoot cameras with plastic lenses reduce the ‘resolution’ of 35mm as well.

    The ‘experts’ I cite are in trade rags though.  They really are supposed to be experts.  They just don’t seem to have a consistent message.

         
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    Posted: 13 February 2002 07:02 AM #11

    Reading this thread is a poignant reminder of just how great our forums are.  Thanks EDGar, Photodan, and pagafault, and keep on discussing. 

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  • Posted: 13 February 2002 11:56 AM #12

    On 2002-02-12 18:46, EDGar wrote:


    Also the type of film/developing plays a major role in just how many “pixels” you get out of a 35mm slide, eg Fuji Velvia vs Kodak consumer stuff.  ISO settings, quality of the exposure, etc. 

    Not only that, but in certain specialized areas (like astrophotography), doing things to film like hypersensitizing will bring the exposure time way down. Normally, this is no big deal, but when you have a twenty-minute exposure, and can record 10 or 20 times the photons, ...

    I do know that research-grade astronomy detectors surpass chemical detectors like film, but Lord, they are not cheap, and I, for one, do not want to lug around a big dewer of liquid nitrogen all over the place. (“The first rule of consumerism is never by anything you can’t make your kids carry.” - Bill Bryson) However, in time, these types of detectors will be in our price range.

    Unless, of course, something better comes along first.

     

     

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  • Posted: 13 February 2002 01:12 PM #13

    On 2002-02-13 15:56, tbone1 wrote:

    Not only that, but in certain specialized areas (like astrophotography), doing things to film like hypersensitizing will bring the exposure time way down. Normally, this is no big deal, but when you have a twenty-minute exposure, and can record 10 or 20 times the photons, ...

    I haven’t ever done any astrophotography, although it always kind of interested me.  I would think a 20 min exposure time would produce blurred images as the stars moved across the sky.  No?

         
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    Posted: 13 February 2002 03:21 PM #14

    There are some higher resolution photos in Foveon’s press room that are pretty impressive. The fine hairs on the cat picture and the pattern of the felt for the pool table show zero color artifacts in the detail.

    Who is this Sigma company that’s coming out with the first camera to use this chip? Sounds like their primary focus is on lenses.

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  • Posted: 13 February 2002 06:23 PM #15

    On 2002-02-13 17:12, pagefault wrote:

    images as the stars moved across the sky.  No?

    yes and no.  If all you do is put it on a tripod then they blur (or you get a nice star swirl if you wait long enough).  Astronomy type will mount the camera on a mechanized stage that tracks the stars.  Pretty cool really. 

    Once you start talking about science equipment you are in a whole different ballpark though.  I work in remote sensing.  (I study satellite data.)  If you think about it, in many ways Landsat is just a gloriphied digital camera.  But its angular Instantaneous Field Of View is on the order of 0.05 milliradians so that it can resolve a 60m line pair from 700km away, with a noise level that is around one digital count, and extremely well calibrated spectral bands… it also costs hundreds of millions of dollars.  There are other commercial satellites that wil resolve a ~1m line pair! and who knows what the military’s got. 

     

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