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Luminous Landscape misinformation

Posted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 1:22 pm
by Ornello
Sent to Michael Reichmann:

Referring to this page on your site:

you make several misstatements of fact. I have corrected them (in bold)

Just as the aircraft designer simply looked at the bee's lift to weight ratio and said that they obviously can't fly, the self-professed photographic experts shoots a high resolution target and then proudly declares that film outresolves digital, and they have the shots to prove it.

Because it's true!

What's wrong with this picture? (Pun intended).

Here's what's wrong. A very fine-grain film has grain particles that are about 2 microns in size. A typical DSLR has individual pixels that are about 6 microns in size. Ergo, film should outresolve digital. Right?

Correct. Not to mention that the pixels are a group, that it takes several cells to create an image, with green, blue and red recorded in different locations.

Not so fast! Here's the catch that many testers trip over. Grain particles are binary.

Bullshit! A grain that receives more light develops to a larger size. Grains that are struck by less light darken only slightly, and the rest of the crystal is dissolved in the fixer.

An individual film grain can only be either black or not-black, on or off, exposed or not exposed. Sort of a binary device.

Again, false. See above.

A photo site (pixel), on the other hand, has a range of thousands of brightness levels, because it's an analog device. (Curious isn't it, that at this level film is binary and digital is analog?)

Nonsense. No difference.

What this means is that it takes a clump of between 30-40 grains of film to represent a full tonal range, (similar in concept to the dithering done by inkjet printers to produce continious tones), while on a sensor each individual pixel can reproduce from hundreds to thousands of tonal levels.

Again, false. See above.

So now we photograph a resolution chart, which is high resolution black and white. There's a line, or there isn't a line. This gives film an advantage because each grain can record whether or not it sees something. Ergo, high resolution film is going to measure as having higher resolution than digital.

Because it is.

But unless your idea of a good time is photographing black and white resolution charts, and instead you'd rather photograph your cat, your children, a sunset, or a flower, film's theoretical advantage simply goes away in a puff of smoke.


This is why the so-called web forum experts can convince some photographers that bumble bees can't fly... errr... I mean, film can outresolve digital.

The next time someone writes this nonsense, tell them they're wrong because of "vortex shedding".

Thought you'd like to know.

Know what? Digital images tend to look 'crisper' but have less actual detail. This is because the silver crystals are sensitive to light from all directions, 360 degrees. There is a scattering of light as it strikes the emulsion, and this is called irradiation. So, light bouncing around inside the film causes crystals to 'see' light from neighboring areas and record it, causing a slightly 'fuzzy' look. Sensor cells on a digital camera face forward and are less affected by light striking adjacent areas, but the gaps between the cells are much larger, so the detail is simply not recorded.

Re: Luminous Landscape misinformation

Posted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:30 pm
by Keith Tapscott.
What was his reply to your review of his article? Bear in mind that the article was written back in 2005.

Re: Luminous Landscape misinformation

Posted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:45 pm
by Ornello
I just sent this to him in an e-mail today. Thought you would like to see this.

Re: Luminous Landscape misinformation

Posted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:15 pm
by Ornello
This guy is a complete idiot.

Re: Luminous Landscape misinformation

Posted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:10 pm
by foolscape
A moment of perspective: We are quickly approaching something called "Peak Oil." We may have already passed it, in fact. This means that energy will become increasingly expensive to produce and use. The energy production required to produce computer chips, digital cameras, printers, and to power a billion personal computers is rapidly losing pace with demand. How many years will it take before the switch back to silver-based photography is necessitated by rising cost? I don't know. But I do know that all of traditional photography can be done with little or no electricity. None of my cameras require a battery.


Re: Luminous Landscape misinformation

Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:45 pm
by Ornello
Reichmann though is notorious for having no clue about anything. His articles are full of half-digested, misunderstood, fourth-hand nonsense.