Large Print Tour Update

Started Feb 8, 2012 | Discussions thread
Craig Philips Regular Member • Posts: 220
Re: Large Print Tour Update

Here is my post on the privilege of being part of the Big Print tour undertaken by Rick Decker and Kendall Gellner.  Many thanks to them for letting us see SD1 images printed on a grand scale.  Obviously the main interest was to see how the new sensor’s images would look when enlarged to 30”x48”, and as the thread attests, the results are most impressive.  I was happy to be able to share them with about 40 photography students at Michigan State and Lansing Community College (and also show the students what SD1M files look like on a good monitor).

Given the number and variety of prints, another lesson was what kinds of images merit such grand treatment.  At this size images with significant areas which don’t add much or have inappropriately weak contrast or poor sharpness suffer seriously (a reason for all the agonizing over what lenses “are useable” on the SD1 and Merrill).  Kendall’s lovely shot of his wife in Burchart Garden (70 macro) had no such problem.  His misty Oregon coast was another of my favorites.  As others have noted Rick’s “smiley face” canyon shot and two Norwegian town images are perhaps the most impressive testaments to how sharp SD1 images enlarged to this scale can be (all three taken with the 70-200 f2.8 OS).  The one with red tiled roofs makes you feel like a voyeur as you peer into one window after another (aside: one residence implausibly appears to house an artist making novel use of his or her windows).

Simply chance? (100% crop from digital file, not from print)

For the many who have not been part of the tour I’ll attempted to convey what it’s like to view such a big print close up, using Rick’s town with harbor print and photos taken with an SD1M.  The following image shows the 48” print on a table with a 15” steel ruler.  The differently processed crop (upper left) is described below.

Full 48" print with 15" ruler

The next image, “Norway31-32nds”(25%view)” was also photographed outside, overcast.  This is a screen grab at 25% view (in Photoshop, 27” iMac); this view was chosen because it very nearly matches viewing the print at close range (I included a US nickel and US ruler (inches) for scale—when I measured the ruler on my 27” iMac screen with the actual ruler, the screen image scale was 1/32 of an inch shy of an actual inch.

My attempted to edit this photo of the print to duplicate as nearly as possible appearance of the print at close range (independent of color balance—rather, for sharpness and detail rendered) entailed the following in Photoshop:

Brightness 7, contrast 15;   then unsharp mask radius 0.2 amount 150;  then unsharp mask amount 4 radius 40.5

I think these edits provided a reasonable approximation of what this detail of the 30 x 48” print looks like close up.  The sharpening was moderate and of course did not invent detail which wasn’t there.  As one sees, it is not necessary to “back away to normal viewing distance” for the print to look very good indeed.  (I think it is correct to add that we’ve learned more about ‘best practice sharpening’ of SD1/M files since the prints were made, so perhaps some of the tour prints could have shown even more impressive sharpness.)

One participant in the print tour, Stansbca, was curious about what Rick’s photo would look like upsized to 300 dpi and printed on glossy paper.  He did the upsizing with Photozoom Pro 4.0 and printed a crop with a Canon printer [see his post above in this thread], and added the impressive result to the touring prints.  His processing reduced the size of the cropped image slightly (vs. the full 30” x 48” print), and color balance also changed. Though I much prefer the paper Rick and Kendall chose for the big prints, the glossy paper of course enhanced contrast and sharpness, yet one has to be impressed by Photozoom’s performance here.

A detail of Stanbca’s crop is pictured in the middle below, photographed with the same portion of the big print (on right) under artificial light with an SD1M; on the left is the digital file of the image which Rick has posted. (The print portions were sharpened modestly: r 0.2 a 130; I included a nickel and portion of a bank note as gages of sharpness in the photo of the two prints… and learned in the process that PS cleverly refuses to edit bank notes—good for Adobe!)

Well, we’ve all known that Foveon images are exceptional at 100% on screen, and  that they sharpen and upsize exceptionally well.  The Big Print tour has demonstrated that you can go really big with SD1 images and get prints of remarkable quality.  As I remarked to Rick and Kendall, although the elder Yamaki was widely criticized for his pricing decision, he had every reason to say “this is a remarkable camera.”

Craig Philips

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