Jump to content




Photo

Lack of picture sharpness in my shots

Focus

  • Please log in to reply
57 replies to this topic

#1 Simon Lucas

Simon Lucas
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 100 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 06 September 2015 - 06:41 PM

Early on I switched to a Leicina Special for my Super 8 tests and never seem to be able to get sharp images. Recently I have been running tests in  Braun Professional. It seems to me that the same thing is happening.

 

When I see other people's footage I'm jealous of the sharpness.

 

Could it be another factor like the quality of the cartridge?

 

 

I am using a Wittner refillable cartridge. In this I put short lengths of Pan-X to test development and other experiments.

 

I see these people make a very sturdy looking refillable cartridge at quite a high price. Is it worth it?

http://www.gkfilm.de/en/

 

Or do I need to check other factors, first?

 

Am I just very bad at focussing? 


  • 0




#2 Josh Gladstone

Josh Gladstone
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 309 posts
  • Editor
  • Hollywood

Posted 06 September 2015 - 07:05 PM

Could be. But that should be pretty easy to test. Just shoot a roll of some fresh Kodak film and see if it has the sharpness you're looking for. If it does, then it has to be either the cartridge or the loading or the filmstock itself. If factory fresh film doesn't solve the sharpness problem, then it's either your camera or operator error, or a problem with processing or scanning. Start eliminating possibilities.


Edited by Josh Gladstone, 06 September 2015 - 07:07 PM.

  • 0

#3 Carl Looper

Carl Looper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1367 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 07 September 2015 - 03:11 AM

Are you looking at the film in a projector (yours and others) or in digital scans (yours and others).

 

If you are comparing scans it could very well be softness in the scan rather than the camera. To get a good scan the scanner needs to have a good lens and a good definition sensor. And most importantly, a good operator of the scanner.

 

C


  • 0

#4 Anthony Schilling

Anthony Schilling
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 992 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Portland, OR

Posted 07 September 2015 - 11:34 AM

Did you set the diaperture to your eyesight on the viewfinder? If you wear glasses or don't have 20/20 vision? And make good use of the split image focus.. It's good to zoom in on the subject and focus using the split image, then zoom out to your chosen field of view. 


  • 0

#5 Tyler Purcell

Tyler Purcell
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2369 posts
  • Other
  • Los Angeles

Posted 07 September 2015 - 02:54 PM

Yea, film cameras in general can be difficult to find focus with, especially with beam splitter cameras like Super 8 one's because they don't have bright viewfinders. So it could just be a focusing issue, that's absolutely where'd I go first, especially if you don't see any gate flutter issues with the projection/scan.

In all my years of using super 8, I've never shot anything that could be considered 'sharp' or 'crisp'. Most of my stuff was soft, even when I triple checked focus. I did two huge short films when I was really young on super 8 and we used one of the high-end Elmo cameras @ 24fps (normally we shot 18) and it didn't make any difference. I also used one of the higher end Canons with the same results. I attributed those issues to the older Kodachrome cartridge backplate and most likely a dirty camera.

Today, you can buy cartridges with really good backplates, you want one that's metal and the whole assembly (gate/backplate) really needs to be clean. You may see substantially better results just testing a modern preloaded cartridge, that's what I'd do first.
  • 0

#6 Andries Molenaar

Andries Molenaar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 607 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Amsterdam

Posted 08 September 2015 - 02:49 AM

The digital webpresentation of super-8 are usually sharpened after scanning :) 

That would be hard to beat when looking at your clips through a loupe or such.

 

As far as I know the Wittner cartridge is a standard Kodak which they sell unassembled.

The Kaccema are easiest to use for testing with clips. Although the plastic locks are sensitive to breaking after all these years.

 

The Klose  GKfilm cartridge should have better transportation of the film. I am not sure the plate is any better.

 

You need to test focus by shooting from a tripod and film long distance sharplined objects.

Closer by needs a test too. Measure the distance!  Shoot at full opening.

 

Is the splitter-prism clean/clear? Run the camera open and without lens and check with a lamp shining through.

Is the lens clean/clear? No fog etcetera.

 

Run parts of the same cartridge or clip in several cameras. Processing will then be the same for all. Make sure to know which part is from which camera :) 


  • 0

#7 Simon Lucas

Simon Lucas
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 100 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 08 September 2015 - 06:12 AM

Josh, Carl, Anthony, Tyler, Andries.

 

Thanks for all the suggestions, insights and comments. 

 

My thoughts on your comments.

 

1. Assessment of sharpness

I am scanning test strips on a flatbed . I have some scans of 35mm Silvermax I can share that show a nice sharpness. I'm scanning the Super 8 in exactly the same way.

 

2. Shooting a whole preloaded film.

I am putting this off. I can see it's the best way to rule out the refillable cart, but it's simply the cost. I guess I will have to!

But I have footage shot on the Nizo using a Kodak colour film cartridge from two years ago, where the shots have varying degrees of sharpness. Not sure anything is that good. I can post some frames. This footage has been scanned professionally.

 

3. Focussing

I am making use of the split screen (my favourite kind of focus aid) on the Nizo.

I have set the diopter so I can remove my glasses whilst filming... 

 

QUESTIONS:

If the diopter is set incorrectly - can that give out-of-focus results on the film plane? Or does the diopter adjustment just focus the eye on the focus screen?

 

4. A lot of my tests are done indoors with close-ups. I wonder if that is a factor...

 

I'm going away for a one week break but am going to look into this when I get back. I'm delaying shooting a new film until I know I have this issue better resolved.

 

I think I need to test both cameras with one cart, although one has to go away for repair first. Also, Andries's idea of checking both close-up and distance, and using a measuring tape will help.


  • 0

#8 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2182 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 08 September 2015 - 06:26 AM

The dioptre doesn't affect the image on the film directly, but it can affect your ability to judge sharp focus.

But it's not too difficult to tell if you have a focus problem- if focus is off, most probably something will be in focus. If it's a film-plane problem, nothing will. It's hard to advise without seeing some material.

Focus is more critical in closeups so that could have something to do with it.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 08 September 2015 - 06:27 AM.

  • 0

#9 Simon Lucas

Simon Lucas
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 100 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 08 September 2015 - 06:44 AM

The dioptre doesn't affect the image on the film directly, but it can affect your ability to judge sharp focus.

But it's not too difficult to tell if you have a focus problem- if focus is off, most probably something will be in focus. If it's a film-plane problem, nothing will. It's hard to advise without seeing some material.

Focus is more critical in closeups so that could have something to do with it.

Thanks for helping rule out diopter

 

All my tests are close-ups at the moment, as I am judging exposure and development times - a small scene with a Stouffer step chart.

 

Your comment about film-plane feels pertinent. It is true that I keep wondering why nothing feels sharp in the picture.


  • 0

#10 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3081 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 08 September 2015 - 12:48 PM

It could also be the lenses. Many Super 8 cameras had terrible lenses, although the higher-end Nizos and especially Leicina with its removable lens were supposed to be among the best. I had a Canon 1014XL-S with a lens that turned to mush when shot wide open. Is the image also hazy and lacking in contrast, or just mis-focused? Can you try a different lens on the Leicina?
  • 0

#11 Josh Gladstone

Josh Gladstone
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 309 posts
  • Editor
  • Hollywood

Posted 08 September 2015 - 12:53 PM

Shoot a landscape or something outside, and set the focus to infinity. You could also measure the distance from your subject to the film plane and use that to set the focus instead of doing it by eye. If those are sharp, then you know it's a focusing issues, probably not setting the diopter correctly. If those are not sharp, it's something else, i.e. possibly the lens, the camera, the scanning, the film, etc.


  • 0

#12 Will Montgomery

Will Montgomery
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1922 posts
  • Producer
  • Dallas, TX

Posted 08 September 2015 - 03:41 PM

In all my years of using super 8, I've never shot anything that could be considered 'sharp' or 'crisp'. Most of my stuff was soft, even when I triple checked focus. 

The only time I've really been happy with sharpness is some footage from my Beaulieu 4008 II ZM "Jubilee Edition" the black one (as apposed to dark grey) with the Angenieux f1.2 6-80...probably the sharpest lens I've ever seen on Super 8. Of course, it's still Super 8 and it can only be so sharp.

 

On the other end of the spectrum I've shot with the 310xl Autofocus and that sucker is crazy soft even when "in focus". Still a fun camera though.

 

This short edit has both cameras...the sea gulls at about :30 are from the Beaulieu and anything in focus from there on out. A caveat on that camera; when you turn the speed up, the sharpness goes down fast.

 

 

Interesting to compare this wind-up 35mm Eyemo clip, shot with an Eyemax lens...basically the stock lens from the 40's. Even with a massively soft lens, it's way more sharp than the Super 8...of course the edges are super soft but the center is nice and sharp. No focus on that lens; everything past 10 feet or so is just "in focus."

 


  • 0

#13 Carl Looper

Carl Looper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1367 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 08 September 2015 - 06:10 PM

There can be quite a difference in sharpness between a scan of 35mm on a flatbed scanner and a scan of Super8.

 

There will be less pixels per image width in the scan of Super8, than that of the 35mm. When comparing the scans, you'll want to compare them at the same pixel size. For example, if the Super8 scan is 768 x 576 px, then crop an area of the 35mm scan that is also 768 x 576 px.

 

This will allow a fairer comparison between the two cameras/lenses - basically the filmstock/scanner becomes the same frame of reference in both cases, and the only difference will then be the camera/lenses.

 

Of course, for normal viewing you'll want the Super8 image the same size as the 35mm image. But if you are wanting to do comparisons here (ie. both at the same image size) you'll have to use another scanning method, so that the Super8 gets the same number of pixels as the 35 gets (or vice versa). But in this comparison Super8 will normally be softer, ie. you can expect it to be softer. But by how much? The comparison won't tell you.

 

C


Edited by Carl Looper, 08 September 2015 - 06:19 PM.

  • 0

#14 Carl Looper

Carl Looper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1367 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 08 September 2015 - 06:53 PM

The reasons for Super8 looking softer compared to 35mm are a few. Because the Super8 image area is smaller, the lens has to struggle more (so to speak) to get a comparable result. Somewhat annoyingly, for Super8, one needs lenses that are much better engineered. And film, because it's not as sensitive to light as other photosensitive material, needs far more glass to capture the amount of light it needs, with a corresponding increase in the risk of the lens not optimally focusing the light at a point. In other words, a digital sensor of the same size as Super8 doesn't need a big fat lens - it can get way with a much smaller lens and therefore an easier to engineer lens (easier to get sharp focus). Larger format film, because not requiring the same magnification during viewing will "minify" any imperfections in the lens compared to Super8. And film also has a certain thickness which will diffuse the focus a little - so the smaller the film (and therefore the larger one magnifies it during viewing) the larger will be this diffusion. This magnification also shortens the depth of field which could lead to an impression of greater softness. And grain is magnified. But grain doesn't make an image softer as such. But it makes certain details harder to see which can be interpreted as softness. But if you otherwise have a well defined edge in a scene, the grain doesn't make such an edge any softer. It just makes it grainier.

 

That all said, with modern filmstock, a good camera lens, a good scanner pipeline, and digital cleaning techniques, a surprisingly sharp result can be obtained, compared to years ago.

 

C


Edited by Carl Looper, 08 September 2015 - 07:04 PM.

  • 0

#15 Andries Molenaar

Andries Molenaar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 607 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Amsterdam

Posted 09 September 2015 - 02:38 AM

On the Leicina Special it is best to adapt the eyepiece to the eye using the lines on the switchable focusing screen. When these are sharp that is that. Then you can focus on the object in front of the camera using the ground-glass in the viewfinder.

 

When doing close up be sure to measure from the filmplane! And not from the lens or anything else.


  • 0

#16 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2182 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 09 September 2015 - 04:23 AM

. And film, because it's not as sensitive to light as other photosensitive material, needs far more glass to capture the amount of light it needs, with a corresponding increase in the risk of the lens not optimally focusing the light at a point. In other words, a digital sensor of the same size as Super8 doesn't need a big fat lens - it can get way with a much smaller lens and therefore an easier to engineer lens (easier to get sharp focus). Larger format film, because not requiring the same magnification during viewing will "minify" any imperfections in the lens compared to Super8. And film also has a certain thickness which will diffuse the focus a little - so the smaller the film (and therefore the larger one magnifies it during viewing) the larger will be this diffusion. This magnification also shortens the depth of field which could lead to an impression of greater softness.


 

 

 There's no relationship between the size of the lens, sensitivity and sharpness, emulsion thickness and depth of field. A digital sensor of the same size as Super-8 would need a lens of exactly the same focal length and dimensions.

The OP can't change the fundamental characteristics of his material or equipment, so please don't confuse him.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 09 September 2015 - 04:26 AM.

  • 0

#17 Simon Lucas

Simon Lucas
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 100 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 09 September 2015 - 05:09 AM

There can be quite a difference in sharpness between a scan of 35mm on a flatbed scanner and a scan of Super8.

 

There will be less pixels per image width in the scan of Super8, than that of the 35mm. When comparing the scans, you'll want to compare them at the same pixel size. For example, if the Super8 scan is 768 x 576 px, then crop an area of the 35mm scan that is also 768 x 576 px.

 

This will allow a fairer comparison between the two cameras/lenses - basically the filmstock/scanner becomes the same frame of reference in both cases, and the only difference will then be the camera/lenses.

 

Of course, for normal viewing you'll want the Super8 image the same size as the 35mm image. But if you are wanting to do comparisons here (ie. both at the same image size) you'll have to use another scanning method, so that the Super8 gets the same number of pixels as the 35 gets (or vice versa). But in this comparison Super8 will normally be softer, ie. you can expect it to be softer. But by how much? The comparison won't tell you.

 

C

 

Carl, thanks for out input. I'm scanning at the same resolution and not blowing them to match their output size.  At 4800dpi, a scanned frame of 35mm is approx 6800 pixels across , the equivalent super 8 is approx 1065 pixels

 

I'm very clear on this. It's not about resolving power of the input materials or the digital resolution of the output materials, it's about lack of focus in the image.


  • 0

#18 Simon Lucas

Simon Lucas
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 100 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 09 September 2015 - 05:10 AM

Sorry - lots of new replies, but I can't look at them as I'm going on holiday. Will look when I get back. Thanks. 


  • 0

#19 Will Montgomery

Will Montgomery
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1922 posts
  • Producer
  • Dallas, TX

Posted 09 September 2015 - 10:37 AM

The reasons for Super8 looking softer compared to 35mm are a few.

Of course. Just making a casual, unscientific observation having actually done it...good Super 8 camera to crappy 35mm camera. Two cameras that happen to be roughly the same size although one is only 1 minute of film and the other is 3:30.

 

I'm very clear on this. It's not about resolving power of the input materials or the digital resolution of the output materials, it's about lack of focus in the image.

That's especially clear on my older Super 8 and regular 8 family films from the 40's though the 70's...Focus was never a major priority. The medium is fairly capable of sharpness but you really have to nail focus in Super 8 much more than 16 or 35...part of what I was trying to show with the comparison above. The Eyemax lens on the Eyemo doesn't even have a focus but it appears sharper because of all the things Carl explained...while the Super 8 with one of the best lenses possible and every effort I could make at focusing only just holds its own.


  • 0

#20 Carl Looper

Carl Looper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1367 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 09 September 2015 - 04:07 PM

 

 There's no relationship between the size of the lens, sensitivity and sharpness, emulsion thickness and depth of field. A digital sensor of the same size as Super-8 would need a lens of exactly the same focal length and dimensions.

The OP can't change the fundamental characteristics of his material or equipment, so please don't confuse him.

 

By "size" of the lens was not meant it's focal length, but the diameter of the lens. The larger the diameter the more light it can gather. A digital sensor (in a smart phone for example) can get away with a tiny diameter lens, because the sensor doesn't need as much light.

 

C


  • 0



CineLab

Glidecam

Zylight

Pro 8mm

CineTape

Rig Wheels Passport

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

rebotnix Technologies

The Slider

Aerial Filmworks

Abel Cine

Visual Products

Technodolly

Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Willys Widgets

Aerial Filmworks

Visual Products

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Zylight

Tai Audio

Rig Wheels Passport

Glidecam

Pro 8mm

CineLab

Abel Cine

rebotnix Technologies

Willys Widgets

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Ritter Battery

Technodolly

The Slider