Clifford Ross' New Camera

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doughowk

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An interesting article in NY Times about Clifford Ross' high definition large format camera. From the article:
The camera, called the R-1 (R for Ross), looks oddly rigged, like something out of Dr. Seuss, and almost like an antique viewfinder camera on legs. In fact, Mr. Ross pulls a cloth over his head and the back of his contraption when he takes a picture. But with this camera that he concocted out of 60-year-old camera parts, mirrors, a microscope and other items - none of them digital - Mr. Ross has taken photographs on 9-by-18-inch negatives that when slowly processed by hand and digitally scanned contain 100 times as much data as the average professional digital camera.
 

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If he's only getting 100x digital resolutions he should by a decent camera instead of messing round with homebuilds. Running the numbers for medium format.

100lpm= 200dpm (generous, but simple numbers)

200dpmx60mm = 12000 pixels per edge of a 120 neg

12000x12000=144mp.

so (rounding that down to allow for my initally optimistic lpm) a standard 66 MF is giving over 100MP.

If 100x digital resolutions means 400MP or even 800MP thats still pretty average.

Ian

[and thats not counting the extended dynamic range, which would count as "more information"]
 

titrisol

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I was going to post this as well, just had a chuckle at the idea of a spy carrying an LF camera capturing gigapixels.....
 

jovo

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I just finished reading this article as well. There's something odd about the notion that essentially 'old' technology is sufficiently removed from cutting edge science that it's inherent attributes are estranged from the awareness of the scientists. I guess it's all too easy to be so overly impressed with the baby steps of new technology that one loses sight of the fact that the new technology has a long way to go before it can compete with what's been around all along.
 

titrisol

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Agree, seems like he invented the wheel.
As a matter of fact one of the professors here asked me to see how to get on of those beasts....
I told him to go to the used camera shop and get a nice 8x10 they have there :wink:
 

Deckled Edge

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A trip to his website really draws the curtain back on the wizard.
http://www.cliffordross.com/index.html
From what he has posted, it's a vacuum frame back holding aerial film to a monorail camera with accurate front and rear standard registration. Apparently he eschews swing and tilt!
From what I can see, he is using color film, hand processed, then digitally manipulated in Photoshop. He produces only a few photos per year, and his subject, a mountain and a meadow, move very slowly on windless days.
Scan my 11x14 negs at 600dpi as a 32 bit color image, and I'll hand you a 1.7 GB file. So what's new?
 

mark

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We may laugh at what he has "accomplished", and I rolled my eyes too, the fact remains that I bet he sells each of the few images he makes from that thing as soon as they are available, at inflated prices because they are so "sharp". The guy is a good marketer.
 

esearing

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R1 weighs a mere 110 pounds. Sort like the 6- 20x24 Studio Polaroids out there. Yet the Wisner 20x24 Technical Field weighs only 55lbs and produces a larger negative. nearly 3x the square film inches.

with the wisner you can also can get a polaroid.

Unless he makes a 2gig digital back for the R1, I'm not impressed.
 

Jorge

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mark said:
The guy is a good marketer.

This is about what it boils down to. I have to admit that when I first read this about a year ago when he made his "splash" in the news, I was puzzeled, but given my ignorance of digital I thought I must have missed something and the significance of his "accomplishment."
I always thought that if you scan something at high enough resolution you can get as big a file for "enlargement" as you want.
Any way, I am releived I am not the only one who thought this was more hype than substance...
 

fingel

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I thought it was funny that this new crop of rocket scientists are marveling at the detail in large format photography. When I first got into large format photography a couple of years ago one of the first lenses I bought was an old Angulon from the 60's...on the back was a sticker that said "property of NASA". Apparently a surplus piece from a forgotten past.
 

jimgalli

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Tickled me that the rocket scientists that are so interested are from the company I work for. I sent them an internal memo saying hey, you've got folks "in-house" that are doing the same thing. In fact I've got a camera that can make 240 square inches of data to his measly 160. Seems like we see these stories about once a month these days. Like this guy is the only guy on earth doing this very unique and brilliant thing. I wish my daddy was rich so I could go play with my big camera every day. End of rant.
 

Jorge

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jimgalli said:
Tickled me that the rocket scientists that are so interested are from the company I work for. I sent them an internal memo saying hey, you've got folks "in-house" that are doing the same thing. In fact I've got a camera that can make 240 square inches of data to his measly 160. Seems like we see these stories about once a month these days. Like this guy is the only guy on earth doing this very unique and brilliant thing. I wish my daddy was rich so I could go play with my big camera every day. End of rant.
LOL...that is funny..
 

isaacc7

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More to it than meets the eye...

While you may scoff at his"puny" negs, he has gone to enormous lengths to ensure maximum sharpness. Not only does it have a vaccum back, he is using a custon designed lens, focuses by using a laser rangefinder and it results in sharpness far beyond what the typical LF shooter gets. While a larger neg will reduce grain, it will be impossible to capture the deatail this guy is. Sounds silly I know, but when you're making 21 foot panoramas with apearent sharpness of a standard 4x6 print, that's pretty impressive. Check out the gallery here:

Dead Link Removed

He also talks about the tech behind the camera there. This camera would be potentially more useful for high magnification work that is found in scientific and surveilence work than any Wisner or other typical LF camera.

Isaac
 

scootermm

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pardon me if Im ignorant of the technical aspects.... but given the reading Ive done and the knowledge I trust is true....
isnt sharpness a result of DOF? I mean technically isnt absolute sharpness on an infinitely small plane? and acceptable sharpness being the blurriness that is indistinquishable from absolute sharpness that are eye is able to discern from?

I mean perhaps he is doing something that is technically more sharp because he has the money for a vacuum back, laser focusing, etc etc blah blah blah.... but like Jimgalli stated there is already a large handful of people out there doing this and honestly he and many other people are attempting to "sell" themselves on the ticket of being the only ones practicing something thats been in use for long before any of our times.
 

isaacc7

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I think you're right, except a lens that is capable of resolving more detail will be able to give you a smaller COF. If you optimize the lens for a certain MTF at a certain reproduction ratio you will be able to capture much finer details than you would with an off the shelf lens. Once you get to a certain size detail you're capturing, film flatness becomes critical. Of course none of this would make any difference if you're making a 20x24 print, but if you look at the website, you can see the amount of detail towards the edges of the frame he is captuing. Looking at .05% of the negative is pretty impressive. I agree that this is pretty gimicky, and the pictures don't do much for me, but I can see some more important applications than pretty pictures for this trechnology. I guess if you could make a living at making 21 foot prints regularly, it might make sense...

Isaac
 

Jorge

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Isaac, sorry to rain on your parade, but the Gigapxl project and the Ross one are two different things. Apparently they are both trying to acheive the same thing, but it seems the Ross guy is the only one getting the cudos.

If you go to the Ross site, you will see the guy focusing with a dark cloth....what happened with the laser gizmo?

I am not sure that I cannot get the same results with my wobbly Korona and a vacuum holder, and careful technique. Everybody seems to skip the detail about these images are being worked on PS once the negative has been made. God only knows how much sharpening has been done after the fact.

The thing is, if you throw enough money at it, you can do most things in photography. There is a guy who will enlarge 12x20 negatives, so making a 20 foot print is certainly with in my capabilities, but each print will cost something like $1000 dollars, I would rather buy more film or a new camera and make itty bitty prints.

So really, if I had 100K to throw away, I could have Philips or Ebony make me a 20x24 camera, AWB or King design for me a vacuum holder, and Kodak make a special run of Tmx 100 and get negatives that will blow anything this guy is doing once they are scanned and will allow me to make 50 foot prints, but not only do I not have a 100K to throw away (and even if I did I would not do it) I happen to think that big does not necessarily mean better.

Couple of more things. Most people have not seen a contact print from an ULF negative. I have taken a loupe to my prints and the detail shown is broken by the paper texture and not the grain or resolution. Since I used a 4x loupe, I could easily make prints that are 7x4 feet that look like a 4x6 print. and 8x enlargement to make 16 foot prints is certainly a possibility with no loss of detail.
Second, if you visit the Ross site you will see an example where he picks a small area of his prints to show the great resolution, well, IMO some of the detail is blurry...but even being generous and overlooking this, it seems you would need to rent the astrodome to have show.. :smile:

The point of all this, is that as Jim said, it has been done before, many people are out there obtaining comparable results with cameras as big or bigger than his, and the Ross thing is mostly good marketing.

If you ask me, I am more impressed by the Gigapxl camera than the Ross one. Seems those guys really set out to do a more manageable thing.
 

isaacc7

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Not raining on any parade...

Like I said, I'm not a big fan of this stuff, but I can see some applications for it. Are you sure they're not the same project, because I could have sworn the image in the New York Times article was also used in the Gigipixel gallery at one point. Oh well, maybe I got confused. No one is doubting that contact prints from ULF are amazing, but these guys are going for technical perfection, I say more power to them. Not really sure what all the negativity is about, I would have thought that having some ULF stuff in the news would be a good thing...

Isaac
 

Jorge

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isaacc7 said:
Like I said, I'm not a big fan of this stuff, but I can see some applications for it. Are you sure they're not the same project, because I could have sworn the image in the New York Times article was also used in the Gigipixel gallery at one point. Oh well, maybe I got confused. No one is doubting that contact prints from ULF are amazing, but these guys are going for technical perfection, I say more power to them. Not really sure what all the negativity is about, I would have thought that having some ULF stuff in the news would be a good thing...

Isaac
I dont think it is negativity, but becoming tired of seeing a guy hailed as the the best thing since sliced bread continuously when the fact of what he has done is really pretty irrelevant.
I dont see this as a benefit for ULF, anybody who reads this piece will think using ULF is for rich or insane people, not a good thing IMO.
If he had said, look I got me a run of the mill camera, adapted a vacuum back or holder and I was able to get this kind of images with little money, I would be impressed, as it is he makes a big deal about "building" his own camera because there was "nothing" out there good enough...give me a break!
 

Ole

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I just had a look at the picture in question - and I'm not impressed at all. Disregarding the digi-artefacts on the enlarged detail, I see no more resolution there than on my own 5x7" slides shot with a second-hand Schneider Angulon, which is not exactly reputed to be the sharpest lens ever made.

My eyesight is the limiting factor when examining those slides through a 15x loupe. So enlarging them to 5x7 feet would, at only 12x, still be sharper than my eyes can resolve. Even when my landscapes are a lot less flat than his, I can still get sharp center and corners both - with a 60's camera and a 50's lens...
 

Deckled Edge

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isaacc7 said:
.... Looking at .05% of the negative is pretty impressive. I agree that this is pretty gimicky, and the pictures don't do much for me, but I can see some more important applications than pretty pictures for this trechnology. I guess if you could make a living at making 21 foot prints regularly, it might make sense....Isaac

How about a print 11,000 ft x 14,000 feet? In the technical gallery I will print three images: one is a scan of very sharp 11x14 contact print; one is a 1200 dpi scan of 1% of the first, and the third is a crop of 1% of the second. That's .01%. The detail in the tree bark is still visible. You can't get a sense of the detail and lpm of the original from the 1st scan, but you can see things in the 3rd scan that you can't see on the print with the naked eye. This is with an 11x14 Empire State, Bergger film and my trusty 21-1/4 in. Kodak Ektanon, contact printed onto Kodak Polymax Fine Art glossy (FD). I used a Kodak Graphic film holder, not a vacuum frame, and focused with a 3 power loupe, not a microscope or laser.
 

rexp

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Not sure your math works out correctly... of course I could be wrong also. However it looks to me that 11,000 ft is pretty outrageous. According to the note with your images, the highest mag image is of 1/8" of the original. I assume you mean 1/8" on a side. This indeed gives an area that is 0.01% of the original. However, a full size print at this resolution would be about 81ft x 103ft - still a pretty stinkin' big print. This assumes 11" / 0.125" is the linear multiplier. (sorry to be picky)
 

c6h6o3

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mark said:
We may laugh at what he has "accomplished", and I rolled my eyes too, the fact remains that I bet he sells each of the few images he makes from that thing as soon as they are available, at inflated prices because they are so "sharp". The guy is a good marketer.
There's one born every minute...
 

Deckled Edge

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rexp said:
Not sure your math works out correctly... of course I could be wrong also. However it looks to me that 11,000 ft is pretty outrageous. According to the note with your images, the highest mag image is of 1/8" of the original. I assume you mean 1/8" on a side. This indeed gives an area that is 0.01% of the original. However, a full size print at this resolution would be about 81ft x 103ft - still a pretty stinkin' big print. This assumes 11" / 0.125" is the linear multiplier. (sorry to be picky)

You are right. I like your math much better. My mistake was converting a percentage AREA and then multiplying a LINEAR dimension. The multiplier is 88, not 10,000.

Thanks to you I don't have to order Polymax in 11,000 foot rolls.
 
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