Jump to content
Wendy Sanders McDonlad

Comprehensive Blind Test? Is it really just gimmicks?

Recommended Posts

To start with, I'm only a student, and I don't mean to offend anyone but....

I read a lot of theorist talks about photography that I find it dubious, suspicious if not pretentious. Such as:

1) 35mm: of different perfs, or 65mm, 70mm have a different look
2) 50mm lens distort portrait more than 75mm, which in theory is true, but I can't tell the difference by my naked eye, can you: example here and here.
3) Image sharpness varies at different F stop for the same lens. 
4) As well as, the beat to death debate of film looks different than digital. ( I'm talking about color graded film stocks that are ready to project.) 

And I really wish someone had done some comprehensive blind test with the so-called "Professional Photographers" and show me that given the same image, they can really tell
1) which one is shot on 35/65/70
2) 50mm or 75mm or 80mm in terms of distortion
3) sharpness at different F stops
4) whether it is shot on film or digital for the same scene. 

I hope I'm not being negative, but if I honestly can not tell the difference in sharpness they are talking about. They all look exactly the same. 

[IMG] 

Neither about the discussion about which camera has what sensor, like found here: Can You Guess Which Camera Took Which Picture?
But even if you can tell the difference, tell me you didn't stare at it for long, and actively look for the minute details. In a real life situation, (especially motion pictures), how is anyone able to tell the difference really befuddles me. 

Additionally, there are things that I can tell the difference, e.g. Lens Bokeh, but I'm not sure how important it is to have a blurred background in shape of a  circle or an oval. They are just different, and only very slightly. It might be of marginal difference in terms of preference, but unless you are shooting with a projector lens wide open, and actively calling for attention like this. I don't know how is shooting with different lens of the same focal length and speed should be part of a discussion. They are all basically the same.. 


Is this theoretical talk all gimmicks that people/ organizations use to keep themselves relevant? 
Are there other people think the same or would like to defend themselves? 


Thanks for you input. Please don't come and firing at me, as I'm just trying to learn about all this... 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In terms of lens distortion, I'm talking about taking a portrait with 55, 65, 75 and crop into the same subject size. 

The facial features of the subject looks identical to me, but "they" say 55 distort the nose ect.. 

I get it if I shoot a 24mm compared to a 75mm there will be distortion if the subject is shot up close, but I really couldn't tell when it comes to over 55mm, so I find it pointless in making lens decisions based on the distortion factor. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

If you showed on image on a large theater screen shot in Suepr-8, 16mm, 35mm, and 65mm on the same stock of the same subject (let's say Vision 200T), I think most people could spot the differences. Basically it's all due to degree of enlargement. But show the same test on a 50" TV set, and stand five feet away... and I think some people will struggle a bit.  And even more so if they are watching on a 13" laptop. And even more if there is any compression added to the footage.

I agree, 16mm and 35mm are a mile away.. but 35mm vs 65mm vs 70mm. I'm not too sure. many films are shot with 35mm 65mm combo in some ways... I wonder if any eye doctor can tell which scene are shot on 35, which on 65....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

The focal length isn't the issue, the 52mm "equivalent" portrait lens in an iPhone is only 6mm! 

Distortion on a face is determined by the distance from the lens to the subject, THAT'S IT!

Not the focal length. If you don't move the camera, the distortion on a face from a 55mm to a 75mm is the same, the 75mm is just cropped tighter.

I see. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

What do you mean, 16mm and 35mm are a mile away but 35mm and 70mm aren't?  In both cases, you are talking about jumping to a format that is twice as large, the degree of enlargement is the same.

I mean there are enough grain for 16mm for me to tell it isn't 35mm... but when I watch a movie shot on 35mm for the most part, with 65mm in some scenes, I can not tell which scene are which unless they tell me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

There aren't a lot of movies made that mix 35mm and 65mm film, so which ones are you thinking of?

Haha, there are plenty I think, at least from what IMDB says. 

The Master, Dark Knight, Interstellar, ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

But which one are YOU thinking of when you say you couldn't spot the difference? How did you see these movies? in 70mm on a large screen? In an IMAX theater? Where were you sitting in the theater?

I mean, if you saw "The Dark Knight" in 15-perf 70mm IMAX, it was pretty obvious when they cut from 35mm anamorphic to IMAX footage...

I guess I missed that screening haha, 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

But which one are YOU thinking of when you say you couldn't spot the difference? How did you see these movies? in 70mm on a large screen? In an IMAX theater? Where were you sitting in the theater?

I mean, if you saw "The Dark Knight" in 15-perf 70mm IMAX, it was pretty obvious when they cut from 35mm anamorphic to IMAX footage...

When I watch any of these movies, there was never a single doubt came across that some scenes have more resolution than the others.... but then again I only watched digital projections in the movie theaters. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

I mean, if you saw "The Dark Knight" in 15-perf 70mm IMAX, it was pretty obvious when they cut from 35mm anamorphic to IMAX footage...

On the other hand, if it's really that obvious as you said, than I consider it a failure, since the story didn't call for that attention on the format. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve Yedlin, ASC talks about the myth of a different optical look from format to format: http://www.yedlin.net/NerdyFilmTechStuff/MatchLensBlur.html

He also talks about how, given post production technology today, any camera can match any camera: https://www.yedlin.net/DisplayPrepDemo/index.html

Here's another from Yedlin on resolution: https://www.yedlin.net/ResDemo/index.html

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Wendy Sanders McDonlad said:

but 35mm vs 65mm vs 70mm. I'm not too sure. many films are shot with 35mm 65mm combo in some ways

Very few are actually shoot with 35mm and 65mm. In fact, before "The Master" in 2012, I'm unaware of anyone who did it to the magnitude they did it. 65mm was mostly speciality use only, maybe they'd blow through a few thousand feet on a feature, but "The Master" changed all of that. They started shooting on 65mm and once they saw the rushes, they figured out a way to shoot a bulk of the film on 65mm. The BluRay gives the movie zero justice. On the big screen, projected on 70mm, the 35mm scenes look like 16mm, they're very noisy and don't have much depth of field. I find it funny that the 35mm shots, also appear to have less color for some reason, maybe due to the optical blow up and timing differences. When the 65mm shots pop up, the resolution bump is jaw dropping. The shallower depth of field Wally was going after with the 65mm stuff, also makes it stick out. He was using a lot of wider lenses, which is what makes that format sing. 

Christopher Nolan is the only other guy to mix 35mm and 65mm to the level of "The Master", that I'm aware of. Only, Nolan mixed 15 perf IMAX 65mm vs standard 5 perf 65mm like "The Master". So there is a pretty big difference between the very grainy/soft 35mm shots and the ultra crisp and beautiful 15 perf 65mm shots, on the big screen. It's not very noticeable in the 35mm prints, but once Nolan started making 5 perf 70mm prints of his movies, the 35mm shots stuck out like a sore thumb. "Interstellar" was the only movie that was released on 35mm, 5 perf 70mm and 15 perf 70mm IMAX to struggle with these problems. With "Dunkirk" the issues were solved and the entire movie was shot on 65mm, both 5 perf for sync sound scenes and 15 perf for everything else. Rumor has it, there are only 7 minutes of 5 perf material in the final movie. The 5 perf 70mm prints look outstanding however, the 15 perf prints are so-so because of the round about way they needed to print the 5 perf material onto 15 perf. 

So all-in-all the movies that mix 35mm and 65mm in more than just a few brief moments are; 

The Master 5 perf 65mm and 3 perf 35mm 
Dark Knight 15 perf 65mm and 4 perf 35mm anamorphic 
Dark Knight Rises 15 perf 65mm and 4 perf 35mm anamorphic. 
Interstellar 15 perf 65mm and 4 perf 35mm anamorphic. 

Here are the films that used 35mm and IMAX for special "IMAX" releases, where only a few moments were in 65mm; 

Star Trek In to Darkness, Star Wars Episode VII and VIII, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Transformers: Revenge of the fallen, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, First Man. 

"Sunset Song" mixed 5 perf 70mm with Alexa digital, though never really got a US theatrical release. 

So no, not very many movies at all. There were A LOT of movies projected on 15 perf 70mm IMAX which were shot on 35mm and digital, but in terms of having actual 65mm cameras on set, very few. Actually there are FAR more films shot ENTIRELY on 5 perf 70mm or 15 perf 70mm than "mixed" formats. The mixed world is pretty small in the grand scheme of things. 

 

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Wendy Sanders McDonlad said:

I read a lot of theorist talks about photography that I find it dubious, suspicious if not pretentious. Such as:

1) 35mm: of different perfs, or 65mm, 70mm have a different look
2) 50mm lens distort portrait more than 75mm, which in theory is true, but I can't tell the difference by my naked eye, can you: example here and here.
3) Image sharpness varies at different F stop for the same lens. 
4) As well as, the beat to death debate of film looks different than digital. ( I'm talking about color graded film stocks that are ready to project.) 
 

1. If you have the opportunity, go see a real 70mm film print of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ or ‘2001’ at an art-house theater (if we ever get back to normalcy and such theaters survive, a big if). If you compare it to a typical 35mm film print, you will see much smaller grain and a sharper brighter image. This was very clear when ‘The Dark Knight’ was released in the IMAX film format - the IMAX 15-perf 65mm shoot portions (without VFX) were contact printed from the original negative and projected 80’ high, and it was incredibly immersive. The 35mm anamorphic portions were printed letterboxed onto the same IMAX print and were quite soft and muddy looking in comparison. 

You won’t see much of a difference on Blu-Ray and streaming, as the resolution, bit-rate, and bit-depth of the image isn’t high enough to appreciate the quality. Also, the degree of magnification is much smaller, as most people are watching on computer screens and TVs, not projected 50’ wide. Also, many movies these days, even those shot on film, are finished in 2K resolution due to heavy VFX demands. So they are not using the full quality of the camera original. 

I feel bad for younger people and students just getting into filmmaking who didn’t get to experience these things. While on the one hand, high quality cameras, post production software, and computers are now much cheaper and more widely available, I think there is less great work to look up to and admire these days.

I don’t want to be all doom and gloom, as there are a number of current streaming shows and films that I admire for their scope and thoughtful cinematography, ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ among them. I’m not just saying that because David shot it. It doesn’t look like anything else on screen because the look comes organically from an original story, and that’s a good thing.

2. This is just a fact of perspective, lens to subject distance changes the relative distance of a subject’s features - at 3’, the distance from a person’s nose to ears is proportionally larger than it is from 6’. That’s why the nose looks larger and the ears further back at 3’ and more flattened at 6.’ To achieve a similar framing between a wide lens and normal lens, you would move the wide lens closer since it has a wider field of view. Hence the different perspective. If you left the camera at 6’ with both lenses, the perspective would remain the same. The subject would just be smaller in the frame with the wider lens. But if you cropped the wider image to the same image size as the normal lens, the images would look more or less the same, not accounting for any differences in lens distortion, sharpness, and contrast. 

Everything else is a matter of degree - 50mm to 75mm is a more subtle difference than 24mm and 50mm. But if you train your eye, eventually you will be able to see the difference. It also matters what camera format you are shooting, since larger formats have a wider field of view and require longer focal lengths. A 50mm is a wide angle on a medium format 6x6 camera, a normal lens on 24x36 35mm full frame, a moderate telephoto lens on Super 35, and a telephoto lens on Super 16.

3. Again, just a fact of optics and the physics of light. Sharpness in lenses is the ability to reproduce high contrast line pairs in the center and in the corners of an image where the light rays converge at the plane of focus. This is quantifiable in a measurement called Modulated Transfer Function (MTF). There are published MTF curves for most lenses. Of course, there is also variation in individual lenses since many (most?) are assembled by hand and no lens is perfect. 

Very few lenses reach optimal sharpness wide open because lens design requires trade-off between size/weight, speed, performance, and cost. We want lenses to be relatively fast and small enough to hold comfortably, so performance will drop. A lens with a f/5.6 or f/8 max aperture would be decently sharp wide open, but nobody wants that. An 80lbs lens would be fast and perform well wide open, but nobody wants that either. There is a sweet spot where the attributes we want are balanced.

4. This is fairly easy to test for yourself, as there are many used affordable 35mm still cameras available on ebay. Why not try out a few rolls alongside a modern digital camera and see what you think then? ‘Better’ is in the eye of the beholder, but it certain is different.

Edited by Satsuki Murashige
Typo, clarity
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll also point out that the resolving power of the final output display (ie theatre screen, TV, phone, etc) and the distance from that screen is an inherent relationship you can't discount. If most indies will only be viewed on a TV screen, then why shoot in IMAX?

This chart below shows the relationship between resolution benefit and distance to screen:

https://www.rgb.com/display-size-resolution-and-ideal-viewing-distance

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Very few are actually shoot with 35mm and 65mm.

Yes, but before Nolan, etc. there were a few notable exceptions -- Bertolucci's "Little Buddha" (1993) for one, Douglas Trumbull's "Brainstorm" (1983) for another. Both made the effort to create separate printing masters in 65mm and 35mm so that the 70mm print showed the 65mm footage at the highest quality. Nolan does the same thing.

Another recent film with a more dramatic jump in quality was "First Man", which was 2-perf 35mm except with 15-perf 65mm used for Armstrong's walk on the Moon sequence.

Of course, the opening of "This is Cinerama" (1952) famously opens with b&w 35mm Academy before the curtains open up for the three projection Cinerama format. And that in turn is a callback to the Polyvision sequence in Abel Gance's "Napoleon" (1927).

These are all examples of where the jump in quality for the larger format scenes was intentional.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, AJ Young said:

I'll also point out that the resolving power of the final output display (ie theatre screen, TV, phone, etc) and the distance from that screen is an inherent relationship you can't discount. If most indies will only be viewed on a TV screen, then why shoot in IMAX?

This chart below shows the relationship between resolution benefit and distance to screen:

https://www.rgb.com/display-size-resolution-and-ideal-viewing-distance

I am not a scientist nor a highly experienced artist, but does sentence one above actually relate to sentence two? 

And regarding sentence two, I've always been lead to believe that the worst the "resolving power," of the originating medium is (say Regular 8 film or cassette tape, cheap lens, etc.)  then the more benefit derives from better "up-chain resolution," (hi-res film transfers, 15 ips tape tranfers, film blow-ups, sharp projector lenses). And vice-versa.

I guess digital technologies are supposed to lessen or mitigate that "resolving power," factor.

  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, allow me to clarify. What I meant is the viewer's distance from the screen and that screen's size. That distance determines how much resolution you need for displaying the image. There's no magic number, but at a certain screen size, it's visually imperceptible to see the difference between a film shot 480p and 16k.

Yedlin covers this in those links I shared above. 🙂 It's a good 2 hour watch, but well worth it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to later view the links, but this viewing distance/screen size business is very suspect to me. I get that the farther away one is the smaller the screen seems to be, and that on a 60 foot diagonal screen at a viewing distance of a couple of miles the artist might as well project a single pixel because it would be equivalent to one-trillion pixels, but still this is suspect to me. I will view the links later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Bertolucci's "Little Buddha" (1993) for one, Douglas Trumbull's "Brainstorm" (1983) for another.

Good catch, I think there are probably even more films that have little snippets on 70mm than my list, but those two are for sure good ones. If memory serves me, both of those have only a very small amount of 5 perf 65mm in them, maybe 10 minutes or so. Can you remember any others off the top of your head? I did a bit of research, but came up sorta empty handed unfortunately. I wish AC would metadata tag their articles and allow people to pay for searching for things like camera's and lenses. It would be a great asset to have a database that catalogs those things and has the stories to go along with them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's more than 10 minutes of 65mm in "Little Buddha", all flashbacks with Keanu Reeves as Buddha was shot in 65mm.

I can't remember much more than those, there have been VFX-heavy movies where shots ended up being shot on larger formats that ended up hardly having any effects work done to them, "The Patriot" for example, or "Contact", both used 65mm and VistaVision for vfx and a few shots were cut in that were just straight reductions to 35mm, I remember a morning shot in "The Patriot" that was clearly shot in 65mm using Super Panavision lenses. Same goes for "Mission to Mars", I remember Stephen Burum saying that he shot a lot of the movie in VistaVision when possible.

Now the other direction, there have been movies to mix 16mm and 35mm, "City of God" and "The Constant Gardener" for example.

One other movie worth mentioning: "Tron" (1982), the "real world" scenes at the head and tail were shot in 65mm, the electronic world was shot in VistaVision with a lot of visual effects work done to them, so lots of duping. But the real world scenes were straight 65mm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, charles pappas said:

I would like to later view the links, but this viewing distance/screen size business is very suspect to me. I get that the farther away one is the smaller the screen seems to be, and that on a 60 foot diagonal screen at a viewing distance of a couple of miles the artist might as well project a single pixel because it would be equivalent to one-trillion pixels, but still this is suspect to me. I will view the links later.

Ask a photographer who shoots for billboards what ppi they print at. I think you’ll be surprised how low resolution they are, relative to the size. Viewing distance makes a huge difference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Now the other direction, there have been movies to mix 16mm and 35mm, "City of God" and "The Constant Gardener" for example.

Yea exactly and of course digital mixed with film. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, charles pappas said:

I would like to later view the links, but this viewing distance/screen size business is very suspect to me. I get that the farther away one is the smaller the screen seems to be, and that on a 60 foot diagonal screen at a viewing distance of a couple of miles the artist might as well project a single pixel because it would be equivalent to one-trillion pixels, but still this is suspect to me. I will view the links later.

Why would it be suspect? It's the original, and still to this day, business model of IMAX: screens so large that they extend beyond your peripherals. Because those screens are so massive, they needed a format to ensure the proper resolution and thus IMAX cameras were created.

Distance from the screen and the size of the screen are major factors that need to be taken into consideration when selecting your capture format. It's why TV shows don't shoot on 70mm; what's the point?! 🙂

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Wendy, great idea to test the variables. F stop does matter with sharpness, but usually more so wide open and under magnification.

I test all my lenses wide open to see how they perform. But this may not be that big an issue with moviemaking cause light can be added most of the time. With candid work you take the light you got and make the best of it. 

Here is an example of a 35mm lens wide open at f1.4. Some of my lenses are crappy wide open, so don't use for low light shoots.

https://danielteolijr.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/the-lucky-chops-little-dicky/

Good luck!

 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



  • Visual Products



    Broadcast Solutions Inc



    Metropolis Post



    Abel Cine



    Just Cinema Gear



    New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment



    FJS International



    The Original Slider



    G-Force Grips



    Tai Audio



    Rig Wheels Passport



    Ritter Battery



    Wooden Camera



    Gamma Ray Digital Inc



    Paralinx LLC



    Serious Gear



    Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS



    Glidecam



    CineLab


    Cinematography Books and Gear
×
×
  • Create New...