I've never tried it - mainly because I don't often print beyond A4 and all the pennies are being saved for a D2...
I have tried the equivalent using QImagePro which can do Lanczos interpolation and the results of that are noticably better than Photoshop's Bicubic interpolation, but a 12"x18" print still can't withstand really close inspection since there's just not enough information in the original image to give the fine detail.
Genuine Fractals is a great tool to prevent pixels from becoming visible on bitmaps that are printed at sizes far beyond what their base resolution will support. Since a transit ad or exhibit graphic isn't subject to close scrutiny, the results can be quite usable.
There's no substitute for resolution, however, for many images. As you well know, landscapes with lots of fine detail need a lot of pixels per inch to hold together on a high quality print. I look forward to the time your future Nikon SLR will provide 3600 x 5400 pixels (just under 20 megapixels) so you can make 12x18 prints with the same quality as you print now.
Since Sports Illustrated is printed at no more than 150 lpi dot screen (133 is more likely), a two page spread image isn't terribly demanding. The detail shown in two pages of SI won't be anything like that you would see in a publication like National Geographic, even when you factor in the different page sizes.
I compared 8x10 and 11x17 prints from 3.3 Mbp digicam to 35mm Velvia slide + 2820 scanner, both printed out with Epson 2000, semi-glossy paper. If it’s 8x10 and daylight – they are almost identical, in low-light (sunset) digicam gives very noisy images. Using GF friend of mine was able to print it out at 11x17 size and it was very close to 35mm’s print . But if the image is noisy, it’s still noisy (GIGO). They say Nikon D1x handles noise very well, if so what’s the reason to keep conventional 35mm? Price? I spent already more than $500 on film + processing this year along. I would rather pay twice more to get 3.3-4 Mbp camera back and attach it to my F8
Interesting: I've never tried doing a comparison like that.
What was the subject in the photos? As BJ says, it's more of a problem with landscapes where every last bit of detail counts.
The problem I have with large prints (12"x18") from my D1 is the natural human reaction to examine them up close. They look really good at a proper viewing distance, but they don't stand up to the close examination. There's no pixelization - they look more like a really finely detailed watercolour.
As you've shown, Genuine Fractals creates a "grain" artifact as part of the fractal scaling method. This effectively disguises pixellation when doing oversize output of image files, but the grainy quality can be obnoxious with some images (as you point out in your sky detail). Of course, if the image is meant to be viewed at a distance, the grain isn't a big problem and it's far preferrable to obvious pixellation.
Does the Cat image detail really look good? Notice the obvious jaggies in the whiskers. To be sure, this is a 72 ppi image, not close the minimum resolution you need to keep pixels from showing up on an Epson photo printer, but I assure you that a good scan from film wouldn't show whisker jaggies at the same magnification. The other details in the image are lower in contrast and have much finer texture so the pixellation isn't as obvious.
Sorry, but I don't agree that digital is "there" when compared to 35mm. There's no substitute for real image resolution. A 2900 ppi scanner isn't getting all the detail that even an average quality film offers - 4000 ppi covers most film under average shooting conditions. Sharp images shot using fine grain film on a tripod sustain even higher resolution scans.
These aren't small resolution increments. A 4 megapixel camera provides 2240 x 1680 pixels to work with. A 2400 ppi scan provides 3400 x 2268pixels (7.7 megapixels) and a 4000 ppi scan provides 5668 x 3780 pixels (21.7 megapixels).
I'll put up a scan from a Provia F slide from my 2400 ppi Minolta scanner against a full res tiff image from my Coolpix 990 anytime. And a higher res scan will continue to hold its advantage when scaled with GF - better remains better.
The real test for someone shooting landscapes is how well fine details like leaves and branches hold up to enlargement. The acid test that most digital cameras and their lenses fail is capturing branches against a blue sky. Color fringing an poor detail are a problem with nearly all digital cameras for these kinds of images.
Yes, there are other excellent reasons to have a digital camera. I own one and use it. However, there's no contest between it and any of my 35mm cameras for enlargement potential. And since I never know when I'm going to create a shot worth a big print, I avoid using the Coolpix most of the time. The Coolpix is great for making immediate images that save time and money in my work.
My next investment in digital imaging technology will be a Coolscan 4000, not an incremental upgrade to my Coolpix. It will be a while yet before there's a digital camera that will lure me away from film for most of my shooting.
BJ, very well done analysis! Yes, you’re right, there are some jaggies in the cat’s whiskers. For my landscape photography I’m using 4x5 filed camera and couple fine Schneider’s lenses. And at that scale there is no comparison film vs. digital. But I was thinking to go digital for my “everyday” shooting, to replace conventional 35 mm. But it might be too early yet. Vic
I'm definitely lusting after a medium format camera since I envy the stunning detail that you guys with big film can capture. 4x5 may be more than I can handle logistically... but there is a nice cherry kit camera that I've had my eye on.
Digital is a lot of fun for grab shots and the Coolpix is good for sneaking up on my cats
I've just been reading http://www.nikond1.net/ on the subject of generating large prints from the D1x. One contributor has had prints made at 33"x50" (!) and (hardly surprisingly) can see edge pixelization, but reckons that at 24"x30" things should be OK, and that this is way beyond what you could do with film without the grain becoming apparent. Maybe so, but I bet that print would look very much like my D1 prints do at 12"x18".
I don't know about you guys, but I can never get a scan, no matter how good the film, to look as good as a well exposed NEF. It's not from lack of trying either. I think my scanner image count is 10,000 images scanned.
One of the biggest bonuses of shooting digital, has to be not having to scan. Scanning Bites.
Thanks for posting those - it's interesting to see some actual results.
The cat's a good choice - lots of fine detail in that fur! The thing I notice the most is not so much the jaggies in the whiskers as more of a moire effect in the fur, particularly in the area below the eye - although that's pretty typical of digital when the detail approaches the resolution of the CCD.
I'm surprised by the amount of noise visible in the sunset shot - it's almost like a pointilist painting!
Moire is a jpeg artifact, TIFF is clean, but jaggies are there, almost invisible on the print though.. But sky, well, that was my main disappointment. Might be DC4800 has it limitations. Anyway, thank you Alan for the link and for the spoiled long weeken I’ve downloaded that .nef file and Bibble trial version, and I'm going to run it through GF. I’m also planning to rent D1 for couple days and make some test shooting. Still want to beat 8x10 barrier! Vic
On rare occasions I've noticed a very slight moire in D1 photos - typically showing up in hair and certain types of fabrics, but you've really got to look closely to see it.
Vic - I've been playing with that D1x NEF too, and it looks mighty impressive....
If you're going to give a D1 a go then make sure you try RAW/NEF mode since the colour and amount of detail are superior to the JPEG or TIFF modes. Also give QImagePro (http://www.ddisoftware.com/qimage/) a try: it's interface isn't as good as Bibble's, but you may prefer the output - I certainly do.
You'll probably find you need to fiddle with the settings of both programs to get things looking just how you want. When you use the defaults Bibble may look a bit dark in the shadows, while QImage is a touch under saturated for my taste.
If you end up getting a D1x then you'll definitely be going past 8"x10" - and I'll be green with envy!
Unfortunately I didn’t get D1x for rent. But I played with *.nef file for a while. Easily prints out at 11x 14 with great results. The whites are great, but still some minor concern about shadows (hard to say with only one file). I didn’t find any moiré or jaggies. Alan, I like Qimage over Bibble (and it’s less hardware consuming and more stable, at least with my PC). I used it to convert nef to tiff format. Wondering, is there any way to upgrade D1 CCD to D1x?
Unfortunately, Nikon have said that there is no possibility of upgrading the D1's CCD because all the associated electronics would have to change too. Annoying, that, because the camera itself is a truly lovely bit of kit.
I'm happy with the results I've had at 12"x18" - it's just that they don't stand up very well to the natural human reaction to inspect them up close. There's no pixelization, they're just not as sharp as you might wish for.
One thing I have noticed is that the subject makes quite a difference to the overall perception of the print: a finely detailed landscape will look a bit 'soft', whereas a closeup of, say, some flowers will look much better.
I was very interested in BJ's comments about enlargements from film on this thread: https://www.nikonians.org/dcforum/DCForumID21/46.html#. I wouldn't expect the D1's output to look as good simply because the film can hold a lot more information, but on the other hand there'd be no film grain to worry about - the D1 is capable of producing very smooth images. Ultimately it's hard for me to say just how good these prints are since I've never tried to produce an equivalent print from a high quality scan from film.
If you'd like to have a go with a D1 NEF then let me know and I'll upload a suitable one for you to try.
I don't consider Genuine Fractals a substitute for real image resolution. I've used it and all it does is allow you to scale an image without showing visible pixellation. It actually degrades image quality from the original, but if you need to make an oversize print that you view from waaaay back, it works just fine.
It all depends on what your presentation is and how closely the print will be scrutinized. I don't consider 35mm adequate for a finely detailed 16x20 print. If you've seen stunning large prints made with medium and large format you know what I mean. On the other hand, you can make a bus-sized enlargement of a 3.3 megapixel image with fractal enlargement and it will look okay... as long as you're standing across the street and the bus is moving.
The advantages of digital prints including Lightjet on Crystal Archive are certainly open to those of us who still primarily shoot film. At 4000 ppi for my new desktop scanner I've got a boatload more resolution to work with than the D1X provides with an investment of only $1000. My files will scale up with Genuine Fractals too and you can get closer to the bus without seeing a blur.
The Outback Digital article loses credibility when it puts up 500 x 328 pixel bitmaps to "show" how nice 16 x 20 inch prints look. This is just plain silly. There really isn't any way to demonstrate the quality of these prints on the web short of drum scanning a significant chunk of it and putting up megabytes for download.
All that said, I look forward to my first digital SLR when the price is right. It would fit nicely in a niche with my 35mm bodies. A few years down the road, I expect that I'll get away from shooting film... at least 35mm film.