How does a grainy large format photo compare to a finely grained 35mm?

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trondsi

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I am just curious. Say if you took similar photos with 4x5 and 35mm. For the 4x5 you used a grainier (probably ISO 400 or higher, I can't remember seeing 800 in large format lately) film, and for the 35mm you used, perhaps, ISO 100 or finer. Perhaps you need larger differences for them to be more comparable (50 vs 800?). How would the two photos compare? Would the formats vs grain "cancel out"?
 

btaylor

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All things being equal (print size/viewing distance/etc.) the 400 speed 4x5 photo would show no grain. When using a grain focusser when enlarging 4x5 negs I have to focus on actual objects in the photo because I can’t see the grain. I don’t think you could find a situation where film speed would “cancel out” the difference. 35mm and 4x5 are two very different animals in so many ways— each has its place, rarely is there an intersection.
 
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winger

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All things being equal (print size/viewing distance/etc.) the 400 speed 4x5 photo would show no grain. When using a grain focusser when enlarging 4x5 negs I have to focus on actual objects in the photo because I can’t see the grain. I don’t think you could find a situation where film speed would “cancel out” the difference. 35mm and 4x5 are two very different animals in so many ways— each has its place, rarely is there an intersection.

Yup - I NEED to use a grain focuser when I print 4x5 because I can't just see it that easily. 35mm is easy to focus under the enlarger, however. A better comparison might be 35mm to 120, but if your prints are 11x14, the 120 is probably still going to be less grainy. All this assumes the exposures were good and the developing good. You can change the graininess more by varying those.

What's that?
If it shows correctly, this:
https://www.adorama.com/dkfmn.html?origterm=grain+focuser&searchredirect=true
 

Dennis-B

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What's that?
When focusing an enlarger, a grain focuser is used to finalize the focus of the enlarger lens. Take a sheet of enlarging paper that's been ruined, e.g. and place the focuser on the paper, never on the easel. Use the focuser to find a feature on the paper to bring into sharp focus, and adjust the bellows focus on the enlarger until the image is in sharp focus. Use the focuser with the lens wide open, and stop down before exposing the paper. When I did black and white, I always kept a piece of photo paper taped to the bottom of the focuser.

There are a number focuser types, and the better ones cost hundreds of dollars.
 

pentaxuser

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Have a look at the reviews of Adox CMS 20 in its own developer. I think that somewhere there is an example of a 35mm frame blown-up to the same size as a comparable 4x5 sheet. It may be on Adox own website where it is claimed, I think, that it can match a 4x5 sheet. Of course if it was the seller's website then it would say that wouldn't it?:D

Even if true or as near true as to make no difference, then given the nature of this film, is this an "apples to apples" comparison?. Many would say not and only you can decide if it is comparable by your standards. What is unlikely to be disputed is that CMS 20 is a unique case and a comparison of all normal/standard 135 film puts them way behind LF in terms of grain.

In the right exposure conditions( ltd in the case of CMS 20) would a 8x10 print from a CMS 20 neg match an 8x10 print from say LF HP5+ neg to the extent that 99 out of a 100 viewers would be unable to say which was from a 135 CMS 20 and which from a LF HP5+? I don't know as I have never seen such a comparison.

Maybe someone here has done such a comparison and can say what he found

pentaxuser
 

MattKing

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To properly compare, you need to factor in the entire chain of creation - everything from the taking lens and film holder/transport through the means of presentation.
Don't forget the viewer - if you are making contact prints, the print from the 35mm negative will require good eyesight!
 

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If you want grain (and to me, grain is essential to analog photography), nothing beats 35mm. I see no point in making analog photo's without grain. Tri-X in 35mm format, developed in Rodinal.... superb!
I occasionally do medium format and 4x5" just for the fun of playing with the vintage gear but I hardly ever get interesting images from it. 90% of my portfolio was shot on 35mm and is grainy, sometimes very grainy when I do night shots on Ilford Delta 3200, developed in Rodinal.
 

Bill Burk

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I am just curious. Say if you took similar photos with 4x5 and 35mm. For the 4x5 you used a grainier (probably ISO 400 or higher, I can't remember seeing 800 in large format lately) film, and for the 35mm you used, perhaps, ISO 100 or finer. Perhaps you need larger differences for them to be more comparable (50 vs 800?). How would the two photos compare? Would the formats vs grain "cancel out"?
the 35mm image would always look grainier because the magnification is higher to match the same print size.
 

Ian Grant

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I have always found HP5+ grainier than TriX which is slightly grainier than T Max 400.
A better comparison of Adox CMS 20 might be to Rollei RPX25 or T Max 100.

It's a few decades since I first experimented with 35mm copy films and I later tried Technical Pan 35mm but used iit more in 5x4 for copyng work). The downside to all these films is their tonality compared to regular films. I also tested EFKE Kb14 (14 was the DIN Tungsten speed, later renamed Kb 25 the ASA Tungsten speed) this was capable of very high quality results as long as not over-exposed, I use at 50EI in DAylight, the huge downside was the very soft poorly hardened emulsion in the 1970s. That hardening was later improved and it was significantly better by the late 1980s, I still have some 5x4 and 3 boxes of 10x8 left

By far the best slow films I've used were Agfa AP25 and then APX25 and I used them in 120 in a 6x9 back with my Wista 45DX and the quality was comparable to the AP100/APX100 5x4 negatives when printed over 10x8.

For all the talk of formats good processing technique and the right match of developer to film can make a huge difference to overall quality and graininess. Tight temperature control is also a key factor. I posted before about the 2 rolld of 120Tmax 400 negatives a friend shot with his RB67 and the excessive graininess compared to the fine grain of my 35mm Tmax400, all processed in the same developer, the only difference was he'd not measured and adjusted stop bath, fixer, and wash temperatures.

There's no miracle films but we do have some good choices and they are all far better than when I first shot film in the 1960s.

Ian
 
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trondsi

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You might enjoy looking at some of these pictures where I compared 4x5 and Minox side by side...

I don’t really believe that they are the same, I wanted to be humorous and play a little gag.

The images are real examples of how different formats compare.

One thing I really believe is that fine grain 35mm, when everything comes together... can compare favorably with 4x5.

https://www.photrio.com/forum/threads/i-just-dont-get-the-35mm-vs-bigger-format-thing.123922/page-19

Interesting thread, although unlike the OP I absolutely do see the difference in detail between the formats. (But then, I often shoot slide film so my way of viewing things may be different from the OP)
I have never tried Minox. Looks like it could be fun. The smallest format I have is from my Stereo Realist camera, and I have noticed that it can be hard to scan.
 

removed account4

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I am just curious. Say if you took similar photos with 4x5 and 35mm. For the 4x5 you used a grainier (probably ISO 400 or higher, I can't remember seeing 800 in large format lately) film, and for the 35mm you used, perhaps, ISO 100 or finer. Perhaps you need larger differences for them to be more comparable (50 vs 800?). How would the two photos compare? Would the formats vs grain "cancel out"?

hi trondsi
some folks suggest if you have great shooting technique you can make a 35mm frame look pretty good
and likewise if you have terrible shooting technique you can make a 4x5 sheet look pretty bad
i think all things being equal they are different species ... and no matter how one
wants to make one look like another you can come close but there will always be differences
when i was in an iron lung i had my butler jeeves work with me to make my 35mm frames be absolutely grainless when
enlarged to astounding sizes ( at the time it was 30x40 inches ) he worked with me previously to make my 11x14 sheet film negatives
be absolutely as grainy as possible so they would look likea 35mm camera or a 110 camera took the pix ..
while i was able to obtain a variety of secret developer formulas
but still you could always tell they were from different negative sources .. i gave up ... jeeves is butlering somewhere else now that i am not in an iron lung anymore ...
 
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Ian Grant

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I seem to remember when I was younger that new films came out to be faster with less grain. No one wanted grain. Like resolution and dynamic range (DR) in digital cameras, everyone seem to want more and better. So now we're going full circle.


There is a misconception by young people that grain and other artefacts are a hallmark of film photography, this is a myth from the Lomography movement. I've been having this discussion with two graduates who are both film fanatics but not prolific due to coast - paying over the odds for Lomo stuff :D

Off course there's a creative use of grain, I've used it a quite a few times to great effect, however for my personal work these days I want minimal grain even shooting HP5 and I get it with 5x4 hand-held or with a tripod.

The last grainy film I used was HP4 which wasn't available for very long, HP5 was a huge improvement.

Ian
 

Ron789

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There is a misconception by young people that grain and other artefacts are a hallmark of film photography,

Ian, thanks for calling me young at the age of 60 and after > 40 years of photography: I embrace grain and those other artefacts. I don't do Lomography (yet?) but I see amazing images created by Lomo stuff.
 

Ian Grant

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Ian, thanks for calling me young at the age of 60 and after > 40 years of photography: I embrace grain and those other artefacts. I don't do Lomography (yet?) but I see amazing images created by Lomo stuff.

Ron, I think the attitude some young film photographers have is quite different, they seem to think using film is unpredictable and a bit random in the results, they don't realise that with experience shooting film is very predictable and controlled. Of course many soon realise the truth about control and experience which us when they can produce consistent good work.

Ian
 

alentine

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How does a grainy large format photo compare to a finely grained 35mm?
Ok, I missed my post due to bad connection. Tried to answer directly to the above quistion with real field examples and calculations.
Will try to summarize what I can recall.
For grain, the only example that can produce finer grain from 35mm film compared to LF, is CMS20.
LF film should be a grainy film like tri x or HP5 or equivalent for comparison, otherwise LF film can sometimes show finer grain.
Based my conclusion on the grain size of other films like Tmax400 and Velvia:
http://www2.optics.rochester.edu/workgroups/cml/opt307/spr04/jidong/
Tmax400 grain size= 2-3 micrometer
Velvia50 grain size= 0.8 micrometer
So, safe assumptions(as far as I understand) of grain size of 3.5 micrometer has been assumed for tri x/HP5 film, and 0.5 micrometer for CMS20.
Considered also, enlarging factor(of 3.76 times) between the 2 format sizes, obtained by dividing diagonal of 5x4 film by the diagonal of 35mm film to compensate for aspect ratios differences.
For fair comparison, 35mm CMS20 film should be enlarged 3.76 times(to make a print equivalent to 5x4), to be compared with 5x4 tri x/hp5 film.
At 5x4 print from 35mm CMS20 film, the grain size will not exceed 1.9micrometer(0.5x3.76), compared with 3.5micrometer for 5x4 tri x/hp5 film.
The CMS 35mm film, can be enlarged 7.5 times, before it shows grain size equal to the grain size of 5x4 tri x/hp5 film.
So, as a conclusion(for grain and for related films and formats), 35mm CMS20 will continue to show finer grain at any print size, compared with 5x4 tri x/hp5 film.
If I proved the obvious, I'm sorry, but it was not obvious for me before finding specific knowledge about grain size of different films(link above).
.
But, a query like that above, usually assume sharpness also implied within!
To answer this, I assumed 2 systems, one for each format, using the same films above.
A decent LF 5x4 system composed of ordinary lens that can resolve 92lppmm and 5x4 tri x/HP5 film, that also can resolve 92lppmm only. This system is not what the best quality LF can provide, also it's NOT the worst.
Another SUPER optical system, that composed of a highly corrected lens that can resolve 300lppmm, and 35mm CMS20 film, that is capable of resolving 400lppmm, for pictorial purposes. CMS20 is claimed to resolve up to 800lppmm, but I do not think for usual photography purposes. More, decent 35mm film lenses, will resolve just a little above 100lppmm:
http://www.takinami.com/yoshihiko/photo/lens_test/pentax_normal.html
I do not think these resolving power numbers from 35mm SUPER system, are what we can actually achieve in reality. Exaggerated for comparison purposes only.
Put the same format factor above, here, 3.76 times.
We need also this equation:
1/Rs^2 = (1/Rf^2) + (1/Rl^2)
Rs: System Resolution. Rf: Film Resolution. Rl: Lens Resolution. ^2: Square.
Appendix, page7:
https://diglloyd.com/articles/Under...er-res-chart/SleicherResChartInstructions.pdf
The LF system can resolve 65lppmm, which within the expectations(but not the best) from ordinary LF system.
The 35mm SUPER system, can resolve 240lppmm, only.
Please repeat the calculations.
Making 5x4 print from the 35mm SUPER system(enlarged 3.76 times) for fair comparison, the print will only retain 64lppmm, which is equal to what a modest LF system can achieve.
At this point, I can say: Any LF lens/film system, can out resolve the best that could be achieved from 35mm CMS20 with the best available lenses, for pictorial purposes.
I know, this is very obvious.
But, what about CMS20 in medium format, with the best available in reality lenses, compared to LF?
I think, this is the question that need to be tested for, not only theoretical calculations and even before knowing how much pictorial character could be retained in CMS20 Medium Format Film.
Hope my assumptions and calculations will not disappoint anybody.
Thanks for reading and indeed for interpretation.
Best.
 

faberryman

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For the same emulsion at the same magnification, the grain will be the same. The advantage of LF is that you don't have to enlarge (magnify) as much to get the same size image, hence the less apparent the grain. I have made some really beautiful 2"x3" prints from 35mm. I get the same beauty in 8x10 prints from 4x5 negatives.
 
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DREW WILEY

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Apples to apples, a very coarse grained sheet of 8X10 film is going to produce a far sharper more detailed image than any 35mm film. The same can be said about 8x10 vs MF film. It's still Godzilla vs Bambi. With 4x5, its more like a mere Velociraptor versus Bambi. But one chooses large format for other reasons. Not being obsessed about grain means one can choose a film based upon additional parameters such as tonality, contrast, speed etc. Extremely fine-grained films are not particularly versatile. Sheet film is also associated with view camera controls, another major advantage. But one needs to be more attentive to film flatness issues and slower, more deliberate usage than small cameras. Each system has its particular benefits. Spending five minutes looking at actual prints (if competently done) settles such questions ten thousand times faster than sitting around with a calculator.
 

Nodda Duma

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To reinforce what Drew says, it’s misleading to simply compare grain size as that is only one of a multitude of factors affecting the final result. You get closer to a good answer with MTF, but that concept is so misunderstood/misused outside of optical engineering that in the end it’s best to simply compare prints (both the “proof in the pudding” and a full scientific analysis of the imaging system will agree, but eyeballing prints is faster).

Cheers,
Jason
 
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