Monday, 19 November 2007

Large format and small output

The picture I posted yesterday was from a scan of a 4x5" transparency. In rendering it for the web several things have happened: it appears darker, it appears softer (less sharp) and it appears lacking in detail. I did put effort into trying to avoid these things when shrinking it.

Therein lies the danger of comparing formats - each is suited to a different form & size of output, making comparisons difficult. The original of that image has a lot of fine detail (the whole point of it) and looks great in large size (I originally scanned to 55cm wide for a 60cm print). It has a full range of tonality with nice separation across the frame. There is no way I can really get this across on the web.

In the other direction, digital output seems to work really well on the web, especially from smaller formats. Trouble is, try and print any bigger than 12" from a single frame and all the advantages disappear -detail is lost and pictures start to look over sharpened unless one takes a great amount of care. I'm preferring my DSLR output printed to 8-10" to really capture the detail. Not too dissimilar to how I'd print 35mm film.

Seeing these differences, I think the larger formats are far from dead.

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