Thoughts on wide-field film astrophotography
Posted 28 June 2008 - 08:37 PM
I look at those same images and stars look like *BLEEP* and are full of artifacts. The image can barely be blown up to full screen without seeing more problems in the image. I admit I am comparing these images to my own work with medium format cameras and film and others that use this format that do allot better than I.
I see a loss in quality that I do not hear people talking about. For narrow field work, I see DSLR's producing very good work, I dare say better than film, but for wide field work I do not see this.
This question does not apply to wide field lenses tied to large expensive cooled CCD's. They have my respect for doing an awesome job, a better job than film. I'm strickly talking about film, namely E200 vs. DSLR's
I will confess I am partial to film for other reasons, one is that I have used film for astrophotography for almost 25 years. If I saw a major improvement in DSLR's I would make the switch, but for now I will part ways with those who have said film is dead.
I look forward to your thoughts.
Posted 28 June 2008 - 08:57 PM
These shots were done with lenses that range from 16mm up to
1000mm and I have yet to see a single digital shot with the same detail.
Some have come close using multiple exposures and many filters, but only close and after spending tens of thousands of dollars on equipment and four times the total exposure length.
This is just my opinion but many of my friends share it.
Posted 28 June 2008 - 10:20 PM
Just my 3 cents...now I'd better duck and cover!
Posted 29 June 2008 - 07:26 AM
If you go with medium, or even large format, you can get some incredible widefield vistas with beautiful pinprick stars, as has been recently demonstrated on this forum.
On the other hand, I took some h-alpha widefield shots that you could only do on digital and they were unbelievable...
My turn to duck...
Posted 29 June 2008 - 12:05 PM
Posted 30 June 2008 - 08:29 PM
Thanks again for the constructive responses.
Posted 30 June 2008 - 09:19 PM
Posted 01 July 2008 - 03:20 AM
Just a quiet photon sponge.
What a great description. That's one of my biggest enjoyments of film AP - sitting out in the dark with no computer. Just me and my guidescope's red light. Peaceful low-tech enjoyment. Like sitting around a campfire.
Posted 01 July 2008 - 07:11 PM
Posted 02 July 2008 - 10:58 PM
I am still at the film's side because I like the colour presented by films, especially for E200, though film images have less resolution than DSLR's.
Unless all the films suitable for AP become inavailable again or the situation does not allow me to bring those heavy P67 system with my trip, I will go with films for wide field AP as my first priority.
I find it is more pleasing and enjoyable to look at the slide rather than computer screen, and I think it must be very stunned to look at a 4"x5" or even a 8"x10" slide. That is one of my dream to shoot the milkyway with so large format emulsions.
My 2 cents,
Posted 03 July 2008 - 05:48 AM
Thanks for your thoughts. That was kind of what I was after. For wide field astrophotography medium format film blows away digital for color representation and resolution. Perhaps DSLR's have great resolution for other forms of photography, including prime focus astrophotography, but my main focus was on wide-field astro work. I can't find photos on the net taken with DSLR's that surpass what I and others have done with p67 (or other MF equipment) and wide angle to short telephoto lenses, ie 55mm, 75mm, 90mm, 105mm, 165mm, 200mm......
That is why I have gone down the medium format film path. The work of Thomas "Wade" Earle, Dave Kodama, and others have convinced me of films prowess. They have built a path for others to follow and I like where it goes!
I to like the looks of a transparency, but a "properly" exposed image will look a little washed out if your exposing and processing for best performance on the scanner. I expose 40 minutes at f/4 or longer and then push 2 stops. This method pulls all the detail I can out of film. Such transparencies are not very good to look at by eye however.
Posted 03 July 2008 - 12:32 PM
Film provides us with a means to this intimacy with the night sky. We capture the essence of the light. The photons which strike the film, and cause the reaction to record it's journey through time. We record what is given to us freely - the light. These are not pixels or images to be interpolated, integrated, or conjugated.
These are photographs. The essence of photography - the recording of light and shadow. We are the scribes of the light.
Posted 14 July 2008 - 08:57 PM
Posted 16 July 2008 - 08:40 AM
That film gave great results and I could get it anywhere.
Now I have to hunt for it.. But I still have some E-100
and it still works great.
Posted 19 July 2008 - 07:48 PM
I wondered if scanned film would show those same defects or if it would have been formed at the time of exposure on the DSLR chip. I was impressed by the fact that a tiny APS sized chip produced the image. Puts allot of emphasis on the optic used as well.
Posted 19 July 2008 - 08:19 PM
Similarly, in the initial scan of a film shot, scan to JPEG can create image artifacts at the beginning of the processing flow.
Bottom line, for best images, skip JPEG entirely and use a RAW or TIFF based workflow.
Posted 20 July 2008 - 06:23 AM
Thanks. That was what I had in mind. I had talked to a photofinisher at a local lab. I asked about this and he mentioned to do all processing in TIFF, but it was o.k to bring in the "final product" as JPEG.
I have some images that I want to make enlargements from and I will go down the TIFF road with. For small photos or interned posting, JPEG has served me fine.
Posted 20 July 2008 - 07:02 AM
Posted 27 July 2008 - 03:53 PM
Data, and larger version available here. The Canon 1Ds used, now positively ancient, has already been superceded at least by two newer generations, hence lower noise, higher pixel density, etc. Unfortunately, currently most widefield DSLR astroimages are more compromised by lens quality (applies to film too!), rather than sensor quality. Actually, film is much more tolerant of poor lenses than DSLRs. The tails coming out of bright stars from astigmatism and coma show up much less on film, because of the nonlinear sensitivity, than in DSLRs. I agree that there is a lot to be said for large format film widefields, subtle tonality and gradation, etc. But getting large prints from 35mm format film ain't one of them, IMHO of course. There is also a lot to be said of the simplicity at the taking stage, no PC or huge batteries, etc. For this very reason I have now simplified my portable astroimaging enormously, comparable to taking film widefields, but I can shoot both widefields and at a long enough focal length to frame M31 nicely with a DSLR, and be able to deliver decent A3 sized prints quite routinely. Yes, all I need is a tiny, unguided mount, a DSLR and a camera lens, togther with a timer/programmer cable release. Here's how I do it. So, film guys, you CAN have the simplicity of film and use a DSLR. Are the results superior? Of course it's in the eye of the operator. It is technically far easier with DSLRs, enabling larger prints, from less than ideal sites. But film does look different and if that particular look appeals strongly enough to outweigh the DSLR advantages, then one should stick to film The LOOK of the final product in the taste of the beholder should be the determinant. It's akin to choice in painting using water colors or acrylics. The fact that any DSLR becomes positively ancient within 3 years is of course a major annoyance, at least psychologically, even though the newer versions do not invalidate the competence of the 3-year old model. One may still deprived in not using the newest and best. But, hey, that should not apply to film guys, should it?
Posted 27 July 2008 - 08:58 PM
As far as the "unconverted preaching to the unconverted", this is not strange at all. My point was to validate what film is doing these days since it seems "everyone" has made the switch to digital. Furthermore it seems that all we here is the sung praises of DSLR's.
You are completely correct that film requires dark skies. It is unfortunate that most astrophotographers don't have easy access to pristine skies. I do. So I am outside the norm on that point.
Your photo is impressive. Your DSLR capability to shoot that large segment of the Milky Way is wonderful. Looking at the image with the provided link leaves me scratching my head however. The contrast is way too high (at least on my monitor). Others viewing this post, please correct me if you see otherwise.
Can your DSLR do this? This is at 165mm focal length. About a fourth of the resolution of the original 1200 DPI scan. Pentax 67 E200 pushed +2 stops.
Keep in mind this is low on my southern horizon, but it was a good night.
My original complaint still stands. The star images in your shots look like tiny popcorn, not spilled salt on black velvet.
Posted 28 July 2008 - 03:43 AM
Thankfully I have some really dark skies 3 hours away. The only problem is trying to find time to get there.
Posted 28 July 2008 - 06:00 PM
Oh, and BTW I do like sitting round the campfire just the fire, some cold beverages and maybe a transistor radio, no Ipods please.
Posted 30 July 2008 - 08:57 AM
I noticed this nice post today. I'd like to reply you now, not a bite, though.
I like both film and DSLR, though I have experienced astrophotography with DSLR for mere two years, less than a tenth of you. Many pictures with film by Wei-Hao Wang are my favorite in this field. I respect them.
Both advantage and disadvantage of film are based on color photo film itself. Many emulsion layers are on cellulose triacetate film base. Manufacturing of color photo film is difficult, and there have been only five companies, those succeeded at least once, Agfa, Kodak, Konica, Polaroid, and Fuji. There are only two companies now, and they are making financial loss in production of photo film recently.
Color photo film has more than ten layers including emulsion, separator, and surfactant. Each emulsion contains many grades of crystal size of silver nitrate, specific coupler, and pigment. Quality of production differs lot by lot as you know. Small difference may be recovered by processing, mainly with developing time, but there obviously exists residual unevenness in lots, some are very nice and others not.
Silver nitrate photo system has a fatal disadvantage in astrophotography, reciprocity law failure.
Results of film vs DSLR are dependent on format and lens. Precise lens and bigger format are favorable. Shape of stars is mainly dependent on lens, and many lenses are not so precise as you know.
I present here some results of my struggle with DSLR and other equipment. Please watch them in full size. Thank you.
full size here (8.7MB):
northern Cygnus widefield with EOS 5D-AP by IDAS and Leica APO elmarit R 180mmF2.8 at full open aperture.
Exposure: 20 times 8 minutes, 4 times 2 minutes, 4 times 1 minute, and a 9 seconds at ISO 800.
full size here (6.8MB):
Sagittarius star cloud with EOS 5D-AP by IDAS and EF85mmF1.2 at F2.8, 2 times 4 minutes exposure at ISO 1600.
I'm sorry, if annotation annoyed you. Some parts are saturated due to over exposure.
Posted 30 July 2008 - 12:08 PM
Simply wonderful work! I must say this is not what I am used to seeing from DSLR's. The 5D is indeed a fine camera. Your skills are top notch as well. I would love to continue seeing your images in the future. Again Great work.
I am well aware of films limitations and all the pitfalls that go with it. My main critic is the unatural looking stars DSLR's produce when examined closely. Your images have a lesser degree of this problem. Your images do not appear to be typical of DSLR's, they surpass the usual images I have seen on the web.
Bottom line, keep up the great work and one day when I can afford a 5D I may be trying to duplicate your work.
Posted 30 July 2008 - 06:16 PM
My avatar is actually a small version of a poster-sized print used in an exhibition:
A larger version of the Sag Milky Way may be found here. I was testing the suitability of my 100mm macro lens for astro Interesting that we are so used to see the Lagoon red in film images, that I did not realise that, for human vision, it should be blue! unless we deliberately boost sensitivity to H-alpha way beyond human vision. Just peruse this gallery, which was taken with a non-modified DSLR from the early days.