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Image thickness / density - help me figure out what it is


kye

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3 hours ago, KnightsFan said:

Got some examples? Because I generally don't see those typical home videos as having thick images

Of course, a lot of home weren't properly exposed and showed scenes with huge contrast range that the emulsion couldn't handle.  However, I did find some examples that have decent exposure and aren't too faded.

 

Here's one from the 1940's showing showing a fairly deep blue, red and yellow, and then showing a rich color on a car.

 

Thick greens here, and later a brief moment showing solid reds, and some rich cyan and indigo.  Unfortunately, someone added a fake gate with a big hair.

 

A lot of contrast in these shots, but the substantial warm greens and warm skin and wood shine, plus one of the later shots with a better "white balance" shows a nice, complex blue on the eldest child's clothes.

 

Here is a musical gallery of Kodachrome stills.  Much less fading here.  I'd like to see these colors duplicated in digital imaging.  Please note that Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" lyrics don't exactly refer to the emulsion!

 

OP's original question concerns getting a certain color richness that is inherent in most film stocks but absent from most digital systems.  It doesn't involve lighting, per se, although there has to be enough light to get a good exposure and there can't be to much contrast in the scene.

 

 

4 hours ago, KnightsFan said:

They're pretty close, I don't really care if there's dithering or compression adding in-between values. You can clearly see the banding, and my point it that while banding is ugly, it isn't the primary factor in thickness.

We have no idea if OP's simulated images are close to how they should actually appear, because 80%-90% of the pixels in those images fall outside of the values dictated by the simulated bit depth.  No conclusions can be drawn from those images.

 

By the way, I agree that banding is not the most crucial consideration here -- banding is just a posterization artifact to which lower bit depths are more susceptible.  I maintain that color depth is the primary element of the film "thickness" in question.

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I think the light and amount of contrast of the scene makes a huge difference to the image thickness.  When you have a good amount of contrast in your scene with areas of shadow and bright highlights,

In my opinion tonality trumps dynamic range. You can have very high dynamic range but if the tonality and colour is lacking you get the 'thin' digital low-bit-depth look. A lot of smartphones hav

1980s Kodak test image from linked article 🙂

Posted Images

@tuppMaybe we're disagreeing on what thickness is, but I'd say about 50% of the ones you linked to are what I think of as thick. The canoe one in particular looked thick, because of the sparse use of highlights and the majority of the frame being rather dark, along with a good amount of saturation.

The first link I found to be quite thin, mostly with shots of vast swathes of bright sky with few saturated shadow tones.

The kodachrome stills were the same deal. Depending on the content, some were thick and others were thin. If they were all done with the same film stock and process, then that confirms to me that it's mostly what is in the scene that dictates that look.

1 hour ago, tupp said:

We have no idea if OP's simulated images are close to how they should actually appear, because 80%-90% of the pixels in those images fall outside of the values dictated by the simulated bit depth.  No conclusions can be drawn from those images.

I think that's because they are compressed into 8 bit jpgs, so all the colors are going to be smeared towards their neighbors to make them more easily fit a curve defined by 8 bit data points, not to mention added film grain. But yeah, sort of a moot point.

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On 10/16/2020 at 1:14 AM, hyalinejim said:

Don't forget about shadow saturation! It often gets ignored in talk about highlight rolloff. The Art Adams articles kye posted above are very interesting but he's only concerned with highlight saturation behaviour.

Indeed.  Reminds me of this article:

https://www.provideocoalition.com/film-look-two/

Art Adams again.  Long story short, film desaturates both the highlights and the shadows because on negative film the shadows are the highlights!  (pretty sure that's the right-way around..)

On 10/16/2020 at 1:19 AM, Stab said:

I definitely 'know' what you mean. When I see a good image, it's obvious. But most modern mirrorless can look awful and pretty good, but never have that 'pop' that 'real' video camera's have like BlackMagics, C300's, Alexa's, Varicams, etc.

But is this the processing of the image? Or the sensor? Or both?

I think it's the processing because almost all modern mirrorless camera's take damn good photo's in raw. And when you edit them in lightroom the color 'thickness' is definitely there. But in video mode that is different. So the fact that the same sensor can look great and 'meh' at the same time, should point to the processing part. But then again, I'm sure an Arri still looks better at 50 mbps than a GH5 with 10 times the bitrate. 

So where / when is the 'secret sauce' introduced? And are manufacturers themselves aware of this? And is that the reason they will never put their top of the line color science / processing in their 'cheap' mirrorless camera's?

I definitely think it's in the processing.  I view it as that there are three factors:

1) things that simply aren't captured by a cheaper camera (eg, clipping)

2) things that are captured and can be used in post without degrading the image below a certain threshold (ie, what image standards you or your client have)

3) things that aren't captured well enough to be used in post (eg, noisy shadows beyond redemption, parts of the DR that break if pushed around too much)

Obviously if you expose your skin tones in a range that is either completely lost (eg, clipped) or aren't in an area that can be recovered without exposing too much noise or breaking the image then there's nothing you can do.

What I am interested in is the middle part, where a properly exposed image will put the important things in the image, for example skin tones.  Anything in this range should be able to be converted into something that looks great.

Let's take skin tones - let's imagine that they're well captured but don't look amazing, but that the adjustment to make them look amazing won't break the image.  In that case, the only thing preventing the ok skin tones from looking great is the skill in knowing what transformations to make to get there.

Yes, if the skin tones are from a bad codec and there is very little hue variation (ie, plastic skin tones) then that's not something that can be recovered from, but if the hues are all there but just aren't nice, then that should be able to be made to look great.

This is where it's about skill, and why movies with professional colourists involved often look great.  OF course, ARRI has built a lot of that stuff into their colour science too, so in a sense everything shot with an ARRI camera has a first pass from some of the worlds best colour scientists, so is already that much further ahead than other offerings.

Of course, many others aren't far behind on colour science, but in the affordable cameras its rare to get the best colour science combined with a good enough sensor and codec.

On 10/16/2020 at 6:49 AM, KnightsFan said:

I've certainly been enjoying this discussion. I think that image "thickness" is 90% what is in frame and how it's lit. I think @hyalinejimis right talking about shadow saturation, because "thick" images are usually ones that have deep, rich shadows with only a few bright spots that serve to accentuate how deep the shadows are, rather than show highlight detail. Images like the ones above of the gas station, and the faces don't feel thick to me, since they have huge swathes of bright areas, whereas the pictures that @mat33 posted on page 2 have that richness. It's not a matter of reducing exposure, it's that the scene has those beautiful dark tonalities and gradations, along with some nice saturation.

That was something I had been thinking too, but thickness is present in brighter lit images too isn't it?

Maybe if I rephrase it, higher-key images taken on thin digital cameras still don't match those higher-key images taken on film.  Maybe cheap cameras are better at higher-key images than low-key images, but I'd suggest there's still a difference.

11 hours ago, tupp said:

Of course, a lot of home weren't properly exposed and showed scenes with huge contrast range that the emulsion couldn't handle.  However, I did find some examples that have decent exposure and aren't too faded.

Interesting images, and despite the age and lack of resolution and DR, there is definitely some thickness to them.

I wonder if maybe there is a contrast and saturation softness to them, not in the sense of them being low contrast or low saturation, but more that there is a softness to transitions of luma and chroma within the image?

In other news...

I've been messing with some image processing and made some test images.  Curious to hear if these appear thick or not.

image.thumb.png.02d7db2c92f547257028169eacd76564.png

image.thumb.png.3b8498435cb5c71fe65a14247cd69739.png

image.thumb.png.2d030f53e9472d9af0ad83c3a72c6360.png

image.thumb.png.4f66861b574f649dfdec9da09fbf57e6.png

They're all a bit darker, so maybe fall into the exposure range that people are thinking tends to be thicker.

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@kyeI don't think those images quite nail it. I gathered a couple pictures that fit thickness in my mind, and in addition to the rich shadows, they all have a real sense of 3D depth due to the lighting and lenses, so I think that is a factor. In the pictures you posted, there are essentially 2 layers, subject and background. Not sure what camera was used, but most digital cameras will struggle in actual low light to make strong colors, or if the camera is designed for low light (e.g., A7s2) then it has weak color filters which makes getting rich saturation essentially impossible.

 

Here's a frame from The Grandmaster which I think hits peak thickness. Dark, rich colors, a couple highlights, real depth with several layers and a nice falloff of focus that makes things a little more dreamy rather than out of focus.

Untitled.thumb.png.8c01b58587975e6753af71a1736f0048.png

And the scopes which clearly show the softness of the tones and how mostly everything falls into shadows.

grandmastersceope.thumb.jpg.15463500faee74ee9ba15b4265976fdb.jpg

 

 

For comparison, here's the scopes from the picture of the man with the orange shirt in the boat which shows definite, harsh transitions everywhere.

boatscope.thumb.jpg.bbd0bdcf3965f739459f9e391c6f1034.jpg

 

 

8 hours ago, kye said:

That was something I had been thinking too, but thickness is present in brighter lit images too isn't it?

Maybe if I rephrase it, higher-key images taken on thin digital cameras still don't match those higher-key images taken on film.  Maybe cheap cameras are better at higher-key images than low-key images, but I'd suggest there's still a difference.

Perhaps, do you have some examples? For example that bright daylight Kodak test posted earlier here

Has this scope (mostly shadow though a little brighter than the Grandmaster show, but fairly smooth transitions). And to be honest, I think the extreme color saturation particularly on bright objects makes it look less thick.

kodakscope.thumb.jpg.7f7ce32a0565a28c45671c2744cd6110.jpg

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44 minutes ago, KnightsFan said:

@kyeI don't think those images quite nail it. I gathered a couple pictures that fit thickness in my mind, and in addition to the rich shadows, they all have a real sense of 3D depth due to the lighting and lenses, so I think that is a factor. In the pictures you posted, there are essentially 2 layers, subject and background. Not sure what camera was used, but most digital cameras will struggle in actual low light to make strong colors, or if the camera is designed for low light (e.g., A7s2) then it has weak color filters which makes getting rich saturation essentially impossible.

My images were all GH5, with the second one using the SLR Magic 8mm f4, and the others using the Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95.  I don't think that anyone would suggest the GH5 was designed for low light, and the boat image is actually significantly brighter than it was in real life.  The floodlights in the background were the only lighting and we were perhaps 75-100m offshore, so the actual light levels were very low.  I was gobsmacked at how good the images turned out considering the situation, but they're definitely not the controlled lighting situation that they're being compared to.

The scopes are very interesting and the idea that the good ones transition smoothly is fascinating, and is very different to the GH5 images.

44 minutes ago, KnightsFan said:

Here's a frame from The Grandmaster which I think hits peak thickness. Dark, rich colors, a couple highlights, real depth with several layers and a nice falloff of focus that makes things a little more dreamy rather than out of focus.

Untitled.thumb.png.8c01b58587975e6753af71a1736f0048.png

And the scopes which clearly show the softness of the tones and how mostly everything falls into shadows.

grandmastersceope.thumb.jpg.15463500faee74ee9ba15b4265976fdb.jpg

 

That is a spectacular image, and looks pretty thick to me!

It clearly has some diffusion applied (I'd say heavily) and I wonder how much that plays into the thickness of the image.  Diffusion is very common in controlled shooting.

Just for some experimentation sake, I wonder if adding Glow helps us thicken things up a bit?

Original image posted above:

image.thumb.png.4f66861b574f649dfdec9da09fbf57e6.png

With a heap of Glow applied (to accentuate the effect):

image.png.2ac99366d9df59894e7234b42a77b009.png

Thicker?  It makes is look like there was fog on the water 🙂

I can't match the brightness of the comparison image though, as in most well-lit and low-key narrative scenes the skin tones are amongst the brightest objects in frame, whereas that's not how my scene was lit.

44 minutes ago, KnightsFan said:

Perhaps, do you have some examples? For example that bright daylight Kodak test posted earlier here

Has this scope (mostly shadow though a little brighter than the Grandmaster show, but fairly smooth transitions). And to be honest, I think the extreme color saturation particularly on bright objects makes it look less thick.

No examples offhand, just more anecdotal impressions I guess.

I must agree that the bright punchy colours in that image don't look the best.  The colours in these two also don't look the best to me either.

927950468_Kodak5213testchartsnormalised.thumb.jpg.430ccde617715fbf6c682276be574f58.jpg2078019453_Kodak5219testchartsnormalised_1.4.1.thumb.jpg.54889548dc507b7e2567bae94f493363.jpg

I've been watching a lot of TV lately and the skin tones that I'm really liking seem to have a very strong look, but I'm yet to find what that maps out to in concrete terms.  I suspect that the hues are very well controlled between the yellow and pink ends of the spectrum without either going too far, and the saturation also seems to be very well controlled with lots of skin area being quite saturated but the saturation being limited, in that it goes quickly up to a certain point but doesn't go much beyond that.

The skintones I'm used to dealing with in my own footage are all over the place in terms of often having areas too far towards yellow and also too pink, and with far too much saturation, but if you pull the saturation back on all the skin then when the most saturated areas come under control the rest of the tones are completely washed out.

I am focusing a lot on skin tones, but that's one half of the very common teal/orange look, so the scene will be skin tones, maybe some warmer colours, and then the rest will be mostly cool in temp.

I've been taking screen grabs whenever I see a nice shot and plan on pulling a bunch of them into Resolve and studying the scopes to see if I can see what is going on, and if I can learn from that.

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22 minutes ago, kye said:

 

I've been taking screen grabs whenever I see a nice shot and plan on pulling a bunch of them into Resolve and studying the scopes to see if I can see what is going on, and if I can learn from that.

In the same vein, this might be a useful resource for you.

https://film-grab.com

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31 minutes ago, kye said:

Thicker?  It makes is look like there was fog on the water 🙂

I can't match the brightness of the comparison image though, as in most well-lit and low-key narrative scenes the skin tones are amongst the brightest objects in frame, whereas that's not how my scene was lit.

Yes, I think the glow helps a lot to soften those highlights and make them dreamier rather than sharp and pointy and make it more 3D in this instance where the highlights are in the extreme background (like you said, almost like mist between subject and background).

I agree, the relation between the subject and the other colors is critical and you can't really change that with different sensors or color correction. That's why I say it's mainly about what's in the scene. Furthermore, if your objects in frame don't have subtle variation you can't really add that in. The soft diffuse light comign from the side in the Grandmaster really allows every texture to have a smooth gradation from light to dark, whereas your subject in the boat is much more evenly lit from left to right.

36 minutes ago, kye said:

The skintones I'm used to dealing with in my own footage are all over the place in terms of often having areas too far towards yellow and also too pink, and with far too much saturation, but if you pull the saturation back on all the skin then when the most saturated areas come under control the rest of the tones are completely washed out.

I assume you're also not employing a makeup team? That's really the difference between good and bad skin tones, particularly in getting different people to look good in the same shot.

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I think the light and amount of contrast of the scene makes a huge difference to the image thickness.  When you have a good amount of contrast in your scene with areas of shadow and bright highlights, and your object is well exposed then you can bring the blacks down were they belong and help with the perceived thickness (and also reduce the perceived grain/noise).  Were I notice the main difference with cameras that produce thicker images like the digital Bolex is with skin tones and also foliage/leaves/trees etc.  Whether it's the tonality/colour gamut/saturation/shadow saturation or all of these when combined with good light they just look more alive. Here is a screen shot from the D16 (not mine) which while compressed to heck look 'thick' and alive to me.

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2020-10-18 at 7.51.33 PM.png

Screen Shot 2020-10-18 at 7.52.30 PM.png

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On 10/16/2020 at 1:09 PM, KnightsFan said:

@tuppMaybe we're disagreeing on what thickness is, but I'd say about 50% of the ones you linked to are what I think of as thick.

To me, the "thickness" of a film image is revealed by a rich, complex color(s).  That color is not necessarily saturated nor dark.

 

That "thickness" of film emulsion has nothing to do with lighting nor with what is showing in the image.  Certainly, for the thickness to be revealed, there has to be some object in the frame that reflects a complex color.  An image of a white wall will not fully utilize the color depth of an imaging system.  However, a small, single color swatch within a mostly neutral image can certainly demonstrate "thickness."

 

On 10/16/2020 at 11:55 PM, kye said:

Long story short, film desaturates both the highlights and the shadows because on negative film the shadows are the highlights!  (pretty sure that's the right-way around..)

I don't think that's how it works.  Of course, there is also reversal film.

 

 

On 10/16/2020 at 11:55 PM, kye said:

Yes, if the skin tones are from a bad codec and there is very little hue variation (ie, plastic skin tones) then that's not something that can be recovered from,...

Agreed.  Digital tends to make skin tones mushy (plastic?) compared to film.

Look at the complex skin tones in some of these Kodachrome images.  There is a lot going on in those skin tones that would be lost with most digital cameras.  In addition, observe the richness and complexity of the colors on the inanimate objects.

 

 

On 10/16/2020 at 11:55 PM, kye said:

but thickness is present in brighter lit images too isn't it?

Yes.  Please note that most of the images in the above linked gallery are brightly lit and/or shot during broad daylight.

 

 

On 10/16/2020 at 11:55 PM, kye said:

Interesting images, and despite the age and lack of resolution and DR, there is definitely some thickness to them.

Agreed.  I think that the quality that you seek is inherent in film emulsion, and that quality exists regardless of lighting and regardless of the overall brightness/darkness of an image.

 

 

On 10/16/2020 at 11:55 PM, kye said:

I wonder if maybe there is a contrast and saturation softness to them, not in the sense of them being low contrast or low saturation, but more that there is a softness to transitions of luma and chroma within the image?

Because of the extensive color depth and the distinctive color rendering of normal film emulsion, variations in tone are often more apparent with film.  Not sure if that should be considered to be more of a gradual transition in chroma/luma or to be just higher "color resolution."

 

 

On 10/16/2020 at 11:55 PM, kye said:

I've been messing with some image processing and made some test images.  Curious to hear if these appear thick or not.

Those images are nice, but they seem thinner than the Kodachrome images in the linked gallery above.

 

 

On 10/17/2020 at 8:41 AM, KnightsFan said:

Here's a frame from The Grandmaster which I think hits peak thickness. Dark, rich colors, a couple highlights, real depth with several layers and a nice falloff of focus that makes things a little more dreamy rather than out of focus.

The image is nicely crafted, but I read that it was shot on Fuji Eterna stock.  Nevertheless, to me its colors look "thinner" than those shown in this in this Kodachrome gallery.

 

 

On 10/17/2020 at 9:49 AM, BTM_Pix said:

In the same vein, this might be a useful resource for you.  https://film-grab.com

Great site!  Thanks for the link!

 

 

On 10/17/2020 at 10:10 AM, KnightsFan said:

That's why I say it's mainly about what's in the scene.

I disagree.  I think that the "thickness" of film is inherent in how emulsion renders color.

 

 

On 10/17/2020 at 10:10 AM, KnightsFan said:

The soft diffuse light comign from the side in the Grandmaster really allows every texture to have a smooth gradation from light to dark, whereas your subject in the boat is much more evenly lit from left to right.

The cross-lighting in that "Grandmaster" image seems hard and contrasty to me (which can reveal texture more readily than a softer source).  I don't see many smooth gradations/chirascuro.

 

 

17 hours ago, mat33 said:

I think the light and amount of contrast of the scene makes a huge difference to the image thickness.

Evidently, OP seeks the "thickness" that is inherent in film emulsion, regardless of lighting and contrast.

 

 

17 hours ago, mat33 said:

Here is a screen shot from the D16 (not mine) which while compressed to heck look 'thick' and alive to me.

Nice shots!

Images from CCD cameras such as the Digital Bolex generally seem to have "thicker" color than their CMOS counterparts.

However, even CCD cameras don't seem to have the same level of thickness as many film emulsions.

 

 

5 hours ago, KnightsFan said:

I just watched the 12k sample footage from the other thread and I think that it displays thick colors despite being an ultra sharp digital capture.

That certainly is a pretty image.

Keep in mind that higher resolution begets more color depth in an image.  Furthermore, if your image was shot with Blackmagic Ursa Min 12K, that sensor is supposedly RGBW (with perhaps a little too much "W"), which probably yields nicer colors.

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On 10/18/2020 at 1:10 AM, KnightsFan said:

Yes, I think the glow helps a lot to soften those highlights and make them dreamier rather than sharp and pointy and make it more 3D in this instance where the highlights are in the extreme background (like you said, almost like mist between subject and background).

I agree, the relation between the subject and the other colors is critical and you can't really change that with different sensors or color correction. That's why I say it's mainly about what's in the scene. Furthermore, if your objects in frame don't have subtle variation you can't really add that in. The soft diffuse light comign from the side in the Grandmaster really allows every texture to have a smooth gradation from light to dark, whereas your subject in the boat is much more evenly lit from left to right.

I assume you're also not employing a makeup team? That's really the difference between good and bad skin tones, particularly in getting different people to look good in the same shot.

No, no makeup team for me!

The people i'm filming have much more variability - more like in this image:

5b882456203984fd6188091b06fe0f56.jpg

That's also a useful image for testing LUTs and seeing what they do to skintones BTW.

On 10/18/2020 at 3:00 PM, mat33 said:

I think the light and amount of contrast of the scene makes a huge difference to the image thickness.  When you have a good amount of contrast in your scene with areas of shadow and bright highlights, and your object is well exposed then you can bring the blacks down were they belong and help with the perceived thickness (and also reduce the perceived grain/noise).  Were I notice the main difference with cameras that produce thicker images like the digital Bolex is with skin tones and also foliage/leaves/trees etc.  Whether it's the tonality/colour gamut/saturation/shadow saturation or all of these when combined with good light they just look more alive. Here is a screen shot from the D16 (not mine) which while compressed to heck look 'thick' and alive to me.

Nice looking images.  The DB certainly had a cult following.

18 hours ago, KnightsFan said:

A lot of our examples have been soft, vintage, or film. I just watched the 12k sample footage from the other thread and I think that it displays thick colors despite being an ultra sharp digital capture. So I don't think that softening optics or post processing is a necessity.

flower.thumb.jpg.20f019129b1653c107c222ebeb327465.jpg

Interesting.  There were also some great sample shots from the UMP with skintones, I should look through them for good examples.

13 hours ago, tupp said:

To me, the "thickness" of a film image is revealed by a rich, complex color(s).  That color is not necessarily saturated nor dark.

That "thickness" of film emulsion has nothing to do with lighting nor with what is showing in the image.  Certainly, for the thickness to be revealed, there has to be some object in the frame that reflects a complex color.  An image of a white wall will not fully utilize the color depth of an imaging system.  However, a small, single color swatch within a mostly neutral image can certainly demonstrate "thickness."

I don't think that's how it works.  Of course, there is also reversal film.

Agreed.  Digital tends to make skin tones mushy (plastic?) compared to film.

Look at the complex skin tones in some of these Kodachrome images.  There is a lot going on in those skin tones that would be lost with most digital cameras.  In addition, observe the richness and complexity of the colors on the inanimate objects.

Yes.  Please note that most of the images in the above linked gallery are brightly lit and/or shot during broad daylight.

Agreed.  I think that the quality that you seek is inherent in film emulsion, and that quality exists regardless of lighting and regardless of the overall brightness/darkness of an image.

Because of the extensive color depth and the distinctive color rendering of normal film emulsion, variations in tone are often more apparent with film.  Not sure if that should be considered to be more of a gradual transition in chroma/luma or to be just higher "color resolution."

Those images are nice, but they seem thinner than the Kodachrome images in the linked gallery above.

The image is nicely crafted, but I read that it was shot on Fuji Eterna stock.  Nevertheless, to me its colors look "thinner" than those shown in this in this Kodachrome gallery.

Great site!  Thanks for the link!

I disagree.  I think that the "thickness" of film is inherent in how emulsion renders color.

The cross-lighting in that "Grandmaster" image seems hard and contrasty to me (which can reveal texture more readily than a softer source).  I don't see many smooth gradations/chirascuro.

Evidently, OP seeks the "thickness" that is inherent in film emulsion, regardless of lighting and contrast.

Nice shots!

Images from CCD cameras such as the Digital Bolex generally seem to have "thicker" color than their CMOS counterparts.

However, even CCD cameras don't seem to have the same level of thickness as many film emulsions.

That certainly is a pretty image.

Keep in mind that higher resolution begets more color depth in an image.  Furthermore, if your image was shot with Blackmagic Ursa Min 12K, that sensor is supposedly RGBW (with perhaps a little too much "W"), which probably yields nicer colors.

I agree that thickness can happen with low and high key images, with saturated and not so saturated images too.  

A few things keep coming up, and I think i'm starting to fit a few of them together.

One is the ability to render subtle variations in tone, and yet, we're looking at all these test images in 8-bit, and some in less than 8-bit, yet this doesn't seem to be a limiting factor.

I wonder if maybe we're thinking about colour subtlety and DR and bit-depth the wrong way.  I mean literally, that we think we want more of these things, but that actually maybe we want less.

Take this image for example:

ng6MXKn9_o.jpg

This image is contrasty and saturated.  In fact, it's very contrasty.  If you were looking at this scene in real life, these people wouldn't have so much variation in luminance and saturation in their skintones - that baby would have to have been sunbathing for hours but only on the sides of his face and not on the front.

In that sense, film and its high contrast is actually expanding and amplifying subtle luma differences, and when we increase contrast we increase saturation too, so it's amplifying those subtle hue variations.

One thing i've noticed about film vs digital in skintones is that digital seems to render people's skintones either on the yellow-side, on the pink-side, or in the middle and not that saturated.  Film will show people with all those tones all at once.  

This guy is another example of a decent variation of hues in his skin:

enXqlM4X_o.jpeg

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On 10/19/2020 at 6:38 AM, kye said:

One is the ability to render subtle variations in tone, and yet, we're looking at all these test images in 8-bit, and some in less than 8-bit, yet this doesn't seem to be a limiting factor.

Although we disagree on the "less than 8-bit" images, I have been waiting for someone to mention that we are viewing film emulsion images through 8-bit files.

 

To the eye, the color depth of Kodachrome is considerably more vast than what is shown in these 8-bit images.  Kodachrome was one of the rare film processes that added dye to the emulsion during processing, which gave it such deep colors (and which is also more archival).  Some of that splendor is captured in these 8-bit scans, so, theoretically, there should be a way to duplicate those captured colors shooting digitally and outputting to 8-bit. 

 

 

 

On 10/19/2020 at 6:38 AM, kye said:

If you were looking at this scene in real life, these people wouldn't have so much variation in luminance and saturation in their skintones - that baby would have to have been sunbathing for hours but only on the sides of his face and not on the front.

You probably would see the variation in the skin tones if you were there, but, to one's eyes, such variations don't seem so dramatic.  Furthermore, Kodachrome usually looked snappier than other reversal films (when normally processed), but when directly viewing a Kodachrome slide, it won't look as contrasty as the 8-bit scans we see in this thread.

Of course, the baby's face (and the parents' faces) is brighter on the front, because of the lighting angle.  If the baby has been sunbathing for hours, then the father is crispier than George Hamilton.

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From today's shooting with the Panasonic S1H (V-Log, NR -1)
Rokinon 50mm T1.5 at T1.5
Black Satin 2 Filter
55M Organic Lut (part of Advanced Deluxe Set)

Looks thick enough to me. 🙂
Key is having a camera without nasty processing - especially sharpening and strong NR but having great tonality, at least 10 bit and also good color science instead

1.10.8_1.10.8.jpg

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sup density u lookin thick in that mask today

 

lots of great stuff to read in this thread

fwiw: to me a 'thick' image is

1. a well exposed piece of film where you can pull value by dodging and burning in the darkroom

2. in contemporary speak, the same thing. just using computers

i feel like its a colloquial term lol

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Quick demo of the effect of water on image thickness. Just two pics from my (low end) phone cropped and scaled for manageable size. These may be the worst pictures in existence, but I think that simply adding water, thereby increasing specularity, contrast, and color saturation makes a drastic increase in thickness. Same settings, taken about 5 seconds apart.

Dry.thumb.jpg.ba7d24c40ad3022786db8decde4cd2c6.jpg

 

wet.thumb.jpg.fd23ff479f7dfcd1a38fac947576ba71.jpg

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On 10/16/2020 at 9:19 AM, tupp said:

I think that one of those linked articles mentioned the tendency that film emulsions generally have more saturation at and below middle values.

 

On 10/17/2020 at 7:55 AM, kye said:

 Long story short, film desaturates both the highlights and the shadows because on negative film the shadows are the highlights!

The situation with film is complex, as so many things in life are. From my tests, the midtones of a scene shot on negative film are most saturated when exposed at +1 or +2 above box speed, and then brought within range when scanning. Nevertheless and regardless of under or overexposure, a comparison of the same scene shot on film and digital will show that the film has more saturated shadows and more desaturated highlights than the digital, when the contrast of the digital is made to match the film scan and when the global saturation of the digital is altered so that midtone saturation matches. Phew, that was a mouthful!

I think what Art Adams was referring to in his article that mentions desaturated shadows on film is with regard to a print film emulation lut. I could be wrong but he seems to be referring to the fashion for lifted and desaturated shadows that seeks to emulate the toe of film.

Characteristic-curve-of-X-ray-film-adapt

You can see that effect clearly here. This is Fuji 400H exposed at box speed:f400h_d-jpg.253713

And this is the same chart exposed at -2 but scanned to bring up the midtones. Note how the shadows are lifted, because the shadow areas of the chart are now very close to the base fog of the emulsion, and are hardly registering at all:
f400h_b-jpg.253711

Yes, it's a less saturated image than the correctly exposed one. But if you took a digital shot of the same chart at the same exposure level, applied a curve to match the contrast and altered saturation so that the midtones match.... I think you'd still see the same pattern of more saturation in the shadows for film, and less in the highlights.

So yes, there is a kind of saturation curve for film: as you increase stops of exposure, saturation increases up to the midtones and then starts to decrease. BUT (!) at each exposure level when proper contrast is applied (either by printing onto paper, projecting onto a screen through transparency, or applying a gamma curve when scanning) the shadows end up more saturated and the highlights less than you would find in a digital file given the same treatment.

Now, I'm not exactly sure why that is. It sounds logically impossible, but I've seen the proof of it countless times. Note, I'm basing my observations on scans of negative film from a Noritsu minilab scanner. This is not the same process as negative to print film in the motion picture industry. It might be that the Noritsu is controlling saturation in this way. However, if it is then it's doing so to emulate the behaviour of a darkroom print.

On 10/18/2020 at 8:00 AM, mat33 said:

I think the light and amount of contrast of the scene makes a huge difference to the image thickness.

Yes, you and @KnightsFan have shown some great examples of this. However, aside from concerns with exposure, lighting, whether the scene is wet or dry etc., it seems to be the case that two cameras can shoot the same scene and be given the same post treatment, yet one camera will yield a "thick" image and the other will yield a "thin" image.

What causes it? I think it's the saturation response across the tonal range. Digital images look thin because of the way they (probably accurately) capture saturation from shadows to midtones to highlights. If you want your image to look thicker you need to boost shadows and decrease highlight saturation. But you need enough colour information in the file to do that.

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And I think this is one of the ingredients in "image thickness"... but probably not the only one. Anyway, a very interesting discussion with some great examples and a lot to think about here.

Another difference I've noticed between film and digital (photos) is that the contrast curve tends to be different. Film has more contrast in the shadows and less in the highlights compared to digital. This makes sense when you consider that film has about four stops under middle grey when shot at box speed, and many more above. For digital it's the opposite: about four stops above middle grey (it varies with camera and with profile, there will be more with log) and many more below.

So the film print curve is pushing down those low contrast shadows in the toe of the negative to actually make them black, but the highlight curve is much more restrained so that it can hold onto those 10+ stops that reach up into the shoulder (when shooting Vision3 negative film or Portra 400 or Fuji 400H.... you wouldn't get as much highlight headroom with other film stocks).

Finally, that blocking up of the shadows that you get when film is exposed at box speed or slightly underexposed is actually a very useful visual tool because it focuses the eye on the midtones and highlights.

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Sorry for the multiple posts, but I keep running out of time to make edits 🙂

To illustrate my points about contrast, the only difference in this comparison is the RGB curve.

Here's Adobe Standard with linear curve from ACR:
01.thumb.jpg.ded6f8f0c9380cbadea30575eeaff22c.jpg

And here's the same shot with a Fuji 400H box speed curve applied so that middle grey remains middle grey. Watch what happens with the shadows and notice highlight roll off on skin is softer:
02.thumb.jpg.883cc0436556cec9a116db3b409c6336.jpg

(The shadows are also warmer, but that's just the nature of the shadow colour cast for that particular film stock).

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@hyalinejimI don't disagree with anything you said. But I do think that the difference between the two images you posted is very subtle to the point that without flipping back and forth, neither one would really stand out as "thicker". That's why I'm saying thickness is mostly (not entirely, but mostly) about the colors in the scene, as well as of course exposure and white balance. There's a definite improvement between the pics, but I don't think that it makes or breaks the image.

On the other hand I think the colors in my phone pics went from being stomach-turningly terrible to halfway decent with just a little water.

Another way to put it, is I don't think you'd get a significantly thicker image out of any two decent digital/film cameras given the same scene and sensible settings. You can definitely eke small gains out with subtle color adjustment, and I agree with your analysis of what makes it better, I just don't see that as the primary element.

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