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Old March 3rd, 2006, 02:21 PM   #1
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Film Resolution

I know lots of people say it's hard to quantify the resolution of 35mm film given that it's composed of grains and not pixels but surely there is a resolution that gets printed when film is scanned digitally, when animation is done, when compositing is done, there surely must be a resolution frame size on the computer, so what it is? How many pixels is comparable to that? How many pixels are they working with on effects shots? How long before digital closes that gap? we HD people deal with 1920 x 1080, so what's 35mm film like?
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 03:06 PM   #2
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A 35mm print is regarded as having a horizontal resolution of 2k, very similar to HD. However, 35mm negative has a resolution of 4k, high end special Fx houses scan at this resolution to make their effects match seamlessly into the live action footage. Although most productions will just use 2k for their special effects and digital intermediates.

Dalsa makes a 4k digital camera with the intention of matching the quality of 35mm negative.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 04:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale
A 35mm print is regarded as having a horizontal resolution of 2k, very similar to HD. However, 35mm negative has a resolution of 4k
I know this is the commonly held belief and I don't doubt that there's probably a lot of scientific evidence to suggest or prove it, but I have an Olympus E-1 DSLR that I shoot RAW at 2608x1950 and I almost always get results that to my eye seem superior to what I got with 35mm film for 30 years. Now, the latitude isn't there and in low light the noise isn't as pleasing as film grain, but by and large I'd rather see a photo taken with my E-1 than the same photo taken with my OM-4T. That's about a 2.5K image, in this parlance. I can't imagine anyone being too disappointed in having to work at that resolution if they had a nice sensor that could capture it.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 06:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Jackson
I know this is the commonly held belief and I don't doubt that there's probably a lot of scientific evidence to suggest or prove it, but I have an Olympus E-1 DSLR that I shoot RAW at 2608x1950 and I almost always get results that to my eye seem superior to what I got with 35mm film for 30 years. Now, the latitude isn't there and in low light the noise isn't as pleasing as film grain, but by and large I'd rather see a photo taken with my E-1 than the same photo taken with my OM-4T. That's about a 2.5K image, in this parlance. I can't imagine anyone being too disappointed in having to work at that resolution if they had a nice sensor that could capture it.
I was referring to 35mm motion picture film, rather than 35mm stills. Latitude is film's big advantage over current video cameras, together with it's unique look. The e-cinema digital cameras from Arri and Dalsa can both output RAW, but the data rates from the latter are huge. Both cameras use single sensors that are the same size as the 35 mm motion picture frame.

The amount of resolution you require depends on how large you want to blow up your image.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 06:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale
I was referring to 35mm motion picture film, rather than 35mm stills. Latitude is film's big advantage over current video cameras, together with it's unique look. The e-cinema digital cameras from Arri and Dalsa can both output RAW, but the data rates from the latter are huge. Both cameras use single sensors that are the same size as the 35 mm motion picture frame.
I understand that the thread was in reference to motion picture film rather than stills, but I think the evolution of the digital still camera is going to end up being repeated in digital cinematography. Right now it takes a very expensive sensor to shoot at the rates necessary for motion picture capture without heating up, and as you say, the data rates are all but impossible to manage. So most of us are using alternatives that compress the data as much as possible. The DVCPROHD and D-9HD codecs rely on interpolated resolution and up the line there are tradeoffs being made until you get to uncompressed HD, which is usually a tethered solution with massive data arrays.

Before too long, though, data storage will improve in speed and capacity. My comment was just in examining the quality of a 2.5K imager that I have some experience in using. If I could shoot video of that quality I think I'd be happy. Now, I haven't seen output from my E-1 projected, but I have seen what large prints look like from both my E-1 and 35mm films I've shot and if that's any indication (and I'm going to assume it is) then I don't think it's going to take nearly as much resolution as film allegedly is capable of to make a very good replacement for film.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 07:02 PM   #6
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Moved here from the HD100 board (the topic is not specific to the HD100).
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 07:23 PM   #7
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quick quesiton

when transfering film to digital (such as 35mm film) to edit it. Is it edited in HD or full 35mm resolution? And if it is downconverted for post editing, then how is it transfer back to film without the loss of quality?
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 08:32 PM   #8
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If you are transferring film to video to do your edit, you can get a low-quality telecine done and then edit in any format you like - you could edit it DV if you wanted (Robert Rodriguez's first film was cut on 3/4 inch umatic machines). But if you ever want to go to film print you would eventually need to take your edit decision list and get a proper high definition telecine and Hd on-line edit, or an old fashioned neg-cut. Its possible to do everything in a fully digital environment but this is still very expensive, especially printing back to film at the end. Bring on the digital projector in all cinemas I say.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 08:38 PM   #9
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I don't know what the term "latitude" means when referring to cameras. Is it synonymous with dynamic range?
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 08:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Jackson
I know this is the commonly held belief and I don't doubt that there's probably a lot of scientific evidence to suggest or prove it, but I have an Olympus E-1 DSLR that I shoot RAW at 2608x1950 and I almost always get results that to my eye seem superior to what I got with 35mm film for 30 years. Now, the latitude isn't there and in low light the noise isn't as pleasing as film grain, but by and large I'd rather see a photo taken with my E-1 than the same photo taken with my OM-4T. That's about a 2.5K image, in this parlance. I can't imagine anyone being too disappointed in having to work at that resolution if they had a nice sensor that could capture it.
I think 35 mm film still has more resolution than that by a good margin, especially the fine grain slide films like Kodachrome 25. The evolution is more than just film, it's lenses too. Factor in that when you shot film with your OM-4T you had to wait until the whole roll was used up before you knew what you had. With digital you have instant preview, throw out the bad instantly, everything you keep is likely good so you're comparing a higher percentage of good shots with digital to a lower % with film.

The thing I'm having to adjust to with a digital TTL SLR is that I can't preview like with an electronic viewfinder to see what the exposure will look like before the shot is taken. I never thought that to be a problem with a 35mm SLR but with a cheap digital camera using the LCD screen, I could move the frame around to see the exposure I wanted, then press the shutter halfway to lock it there before I recompose.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 08:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale
I was referring to 35mm motion picture film, rather than 35mm stills. Latitude is film's big advantage over current video cameras, together with it's unique look. The e-cinema digital cameras from Arri and Dalsa can both output RAW, but the data rates from the latter are huge. Both cameras use single sensors that are the same size as the 35 mm motion picture frame.

The amount of resolution you require depends on how large you want to blow up your image.

Believe me when I say the image captured by the Dalsa 4k is unlike any I've ever seen on screen. Kind of like when you heard a CD for the first time. It's sharp and grainless, but has the smooth look of film.

Data storage methods and pipelines are only going up expotentially in speed and down in price, we'll see more RAW images being captured in the near future.

I think for theaters to stay competitive with the home theater market, large format 4K or 8K is going to have to be the draw over just watching it in HD at home.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 08:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Roper
I think 35 mm film still has more resolution than that by a good margin, especially the fine grain slide films like Kodachrome 25. The evolution is more than just film, it's lenses too. Factor in that when you shot film with your OM-4T you had to wait until the whole roll was used up before you knew what you had. With digital you have instant preview, throw out the bad instantly, everything you keep is likely good so you're comparing a higher percentage of good shots with digital to a lower % with film.

The thing I'm having to adjust to with a digital TTL SLR is that I can't preview like with an electronic viewfinder to see what the exposure will look like before the shot is taken. I never thought that to be a problem with a 35mm SLR but with a cheap digital camera using the LCD screen, I could move the frame around to see the exposure I wanted, then press the shutter halfway to lock it there before I recompose.
These are good points. In a best possible case scenario I imagine 35mm would win out over my little DSLR. I used to shoot Pan-X a lot and it was capable of pretty amazing sharpness. Most of the time, though, and especially considering the average color negative, I'd say that my little E-1 delivers a higher quality image. Certainly the hit-/miss ratio of instant feedback comes into play. With 35mm a shot in difficult light was an educated guess. With digital you can see your mistakes immediately and compensate for them.

As far as live preview on a DSLR goes, Olympus has out a model called the E-330 that offers live preview and now Panasonic is going to be coming out with their own version of the E-330 called the Lumix DMC-L1 that also has a Leica-licensed lens with image stabilization. You might take a look at those. I'm probably going to grab the Panasonic when it becomes available.
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Old March 4th, 2006, 01:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Jackson
These are good points. In a best possible case scenario I imagine 35mm would win out over my little DSLR. I used to shoot Pan-X a lot and it was capable of pretty amazing sharpness. Most of the time, though, and especially considering the average color negative, I'd say that my little E-1 delivers a higher quality image. Certainly the hit-/miss ratio of instant feedback comes into play. With 35mm a shot in difficult light was an educated guess. With digital you can see your mistakes immediately and compensate for them.

As far as live preview on a DSLR goes, Olympus has out a model called the E-330 that offers live preview and now Panasonic is going to be coming out with their own version of the E-330 called the Lumix DMC-L1 that also has a Leica-licensed lens with image stabilization. You might take a look at those. I'm probably going to grab the Panasonic when it becomes available.
Pan-X...there you go!
It's too late for me on your cam recommendations. I picked up a Canon EOS 350D Rebel XT with a 17-85 image stabilization lens. It's not bad, but no panacea if your subject is moving. Mirror lock-up would have been all it needs to preview the shot on the LCD. I could have had the Nikon D200 for just a few dollars more, awesome cam but a little big for what I wanted. I think the cam that would have been best for me just came out, the Sony DSC-R1 with the same 10mega pixel CMOS sensor they sell to Nikon for the D2S. It reported has an unmatched Zeiss lens and a reasonable price. The Canon I got may be the equal in some respects, but it's overpriced in my opinion, although it didn't stop me maybe it should have.
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Old March 4th, 2006, 02:33 AM   #14
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When digital cameras came first came on the scene it was speculated that it would take about 9 megapixel resolution to rival 35mm film, but when we hit 5-6 megapixels a lot of photographers started switching from film to digital, and when we hit 11-12 megapixels some of them even put away their medium-format film cameras. For really large prints or maximum latitude film still has an advantage, but digital is cleaner and easier to work with and easier to archive, so it's pretty much inevitable that film is on its way out. Once movie theaters go digital there will be little reason to shoot film for any project with a finite budget, and even a $3K Sony FX1 records a decent HD image for the price.
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Old March 4th, 2006, 10:26 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John McGinley
Believe me when I say the image captured by the Dalsa 4k is unlike any I've ever seen on screen. Kind of like when you heard a CD for the first time. It's sharp and grainless, but has the smooth look of film.

Data storage methods and pipelines are only going up expotentially in speed and down in price, we'll see more RAW images being captured in the near future.

I think for theaters to stay competitive with the home theater market, large format 4K or 8K is going to have to be the draw over just watching it in HD at home.
I agree, it's still early days and I think film's replacement as a theatrical medium lies here rather than with the video based formats. Currently it's pushing the technical boundaries and there are issues like archiving to be dealt with, but RAW seems the way to go.
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