Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/07/16

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Subject: RE: [Leica] digital glass
From: "Phong" <>
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003 18:17:50 -0400


> Phong:  ...  What print size do you consider the upper limit for a
> full-frame D30 picture?

In the LUG tradition, the answer is it depends :-)
It depends on the quality of the original file, in terms
of focus, exposure, quality of light, use of tripod, subjects, etc.
In practice, prints of 8x10 (and 8x12) inches are common, 11x14
once in a while.  With my D10 (6 Mega pixel Canon DSLR), I can
often get to 13x19 (largest size on my current printer).

Hope that answers your question,

- - Phong

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of Peter Klein
> Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 5:32 PM
> To:
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: [Leica] digital glass
> Phong:  It's interesting how well your D30 does despite being "only" 3
> megapixels.  What print size do you consider the upper limit for a
> full-frame D30 picture?
> Tom:  Thanks for posting the results of your tests.  That is really
> valuable information.
> One of the main advantages of Leica lenses is how they perform
> wide-open or nearly so.  And I suspect (without being able to prove it)
> that some of the differences show up better in black and white.
> It does seem that a lot of people will tolerate a lack of resolution more
> than they will tolerate grain.  Weird.  It's well known that a little
> grain adds to the impression of sharpness.  Just as a little (audio) noise
> can make a soft voice easier to hear.
> Perhaps this is cultural and generational. People used to the Web tolerate
> color juxtapositions that were considered anathama up until recently.
> And Web photos are often jaggy and blurry. The name of the game for a lot
> of Web images is removing enough detail so that the the thing downloads at
> a tolerable speed.  So maybe people have "baselined" that look.
> I would rather have grain and detail than neither.  I have spent
> considerable time "de-noising" images with Neat Image, applying it very
> sparingly (half the recommended amount of cleanup or less)--only to find
> that I prefer a little grain to that "plastic" look.  Perhaps that's
> because I spent a good portion of my teen years looking at black-and-white
> photography from the 1930s onward. Smooth is good.  But plastic is bad.
> And I must say that I like a smooth, random grain better than digital
> noise where a repeating pattern is discernable.
> At any rate, it looks like we're dealing with some complex perceptual
> things. If 6 megapixels is indeed enough to satisfy a viewer of a 12x18
> print, then a 6 mp DSLR is all you need most of the time--for acceptable
> commercial work.  As to what truly is "better," you would have to do a lot
> more testing, taking into account that people's initial reaction may be
> good enough for marketing, but not necessarily for art.  :-)
> --Peter Klein
> Seattle, Wa
> Phong wrote:
> > Thank you for a most interesting report, though being
> > a Leica and Canon shooter, the specifics of the new Nikon
> > lens are of little more than an academic interest to me.
> > Your conclusion regarding negative film, transparency,
> > and digital parallel my own exactly.
> Tom Lianza wrote:
> >> I ran an interesting series of tests that utilized 5 camera/film
> combinations (3 leica bodies (2M, 1 R) 2 Nikon bodies, 5 different types
> of film) compared to the digital output from the D100.  I then took six
> different scenes.  The film images were scanned in an LS4000 scanner and
> then all the digital files where printed at 12X18 inches using a fuji
> frontier printer. I then asked observers to rank-weight the images.
> >> In 5 of the six tests, the digital camera (6 Mega pixel) was judged
> "better".  In one instance, the observers generally chose an image shot
> with an R6/Summilux 80 combination on a fine grain transparency film.
> One of the first observations was that whatever image quality advantage
> the leicas had on the film, was lost in the scanning-printing process. It
> appeared that grain noise was more objectional to the observers than
> resolution issues and the sharpening utilized in the digital camera images
> had very little impact on the apparent noise in the image.  Inspite of the
> low resolution of the digital camera, the fact that it required only one
> optical step allowed for less sharpening and lower noise recording than
> the film combinations. I also suspect that the fuji frontier imaging
> system also contributed to the image degredation.
> >> So what I am seeing in my work and my tests is that the output path
> (scanning-paper) is a greater limiting factor than digital resolution vs
> analog film resolution.  Examination of the film images under a loop and
> higher magnifications showed that the Leica images may have a bit of an
> edge, but there was no obvious difference.  That accounted for the obvious
> confusion in the evaluations of the reproductions after the digital image
> was removed from the test: no single camera/film combination stuck out as
> a winner.
> >>At this point in time, I feel pretty comfortable with either digital or
> analog workflows.  If I'm in a situation that requires a wide dynamic
> range capture, I use negative film.  If I'm shooting for saturation and
> sharpness, I'll use transparency film .  If I need a decent image with
> almost no hassles or in a short time period, I'll shoot with digital and I
> know that at modest reproduction sizes, it will do just fine. Now I can
> stop screwing around with all this testing and just go out and shoot....
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