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Does 16mm/S16mm look as good as old 35mm?

Matt Pacini

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I realize this is completely subjective (mostly, anyway), but given the incredible advances in film stock, and great lenses over say, the last 20+ years, do you think that 16mm and/or S16mm footage professionally lit, shot, etc., can look as good, and maybe even better, than 35mm films shot 20+ years ago?


Matt Pacini

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try comparing mtf curves..

...and when you do so you will find that yes, in some cases S-16 does outshine certain older 35mm elements. Certainly comparing old Eastmancolor 35mm shot on Mitchell cameras with Super-Baltar lenses compared to a modern Arri SR-3 advanced or Aaton using the latest stocks and modern multicoated lenses, even after going through IP/IN stages to get to a 35mm release print the S-16 can look better. And that includes analysis of the MTF curve. Of course, modern 35mm looks even better than that.

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It allso depends on what kind of filmn stock you are using.


The resolving power of filmstocks was not always going lineary

to better because in the old days when they couldn't produce small fine

grain the way they can today,they didn't make fast films so

the grain remained relativley fine. but if you compare first

400 speed film stocks from the 80's you wont get much more resolving power

than say a 100 speed film 15 or more years older.

so don't let the years fool you.


If you used 7245 today you would probably get better or similar results

than using 35mm 5254 in the early 70's


But if you used something like vision 800t in 16mm it would end up

looking worse than even 5247 in 16mm.


So it is difficult to speak generally,it is case dependent,

but yes there are some cases where you would get better images with

today's super16 than with 35mm from the old days.


I remember seeing a hi-res scann of the original negative of lawrence of arabia somewhere (65mm) and it level of detail was lower than you can expect

from todays 35mm film.

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