Luminous Landscape Forum

Site & Board Matters => About This Site => Topic started by: Ben Rubinstein on May 16, 2006, 07:51:10 am

Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on May 16, 2006, 07:51:10 am
Didn't realise I'd be the first!

Couple of points from reading the article:

Firstly thanks for doing it, having done many pixel peeping tests I know how hard it is to get everything 'equal' in the studio.

Secondly and I feel this is important. The on screen jpgs are worthless. Totally. Applying the same sharpening to canon cameras with AA filters and different strengths at that (the difference between the AA filters of the 5D and 1Ds mkII is readily apparent) and medium format backs, never mind film, cannot tell you ANYTHING! The only way to evaluate these pictures is by seeing the RAW files and sharpening to your taste for print, period. I'm suprised that the gentlemen put up these jpgs, they show an area where significant differences in resolution are hard to see (not that much really fine detail, I was looking at the hair of the doll to try and see differences) and are only going to cause trouble through the uneducated and fanatics of the internet. Flame Retardent Suits everyone!

Thirdly it's interesting to see that the differences between the original 1Ds and 5D which I've owned and shot tens of thousands of frames on agrees with what I've seen, the 1Ds files are 'chunkier' than the 5D for the same level of resolution. Almost as if there are artifacts in the 1Ds at 100% in comparison. Don't know if this is connected to the noise difference which even at iso 100 is significant, could be.

Fourthly and this came as a suprise to my own eyes and MR's own conclusion. 'And to my eyes images from the 16Mp Canon 1Ds MKII are awfully close to those from drum scanned 645 format Velvia.' I assume you mean the RAW files not the onscreen jpgs. OUCH you are going to get murdered for that given the original 1Ds vs 6X& drum scanned comparison way back then. 1Ds mkII only just equals 645, oh dear.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: michael on May 16, 2006, 08:47:44 am
I said it in the article, Bill said it, and so did Charles.

Get the disk, do your own sharpeneing, vodoo, or whatever, and then draw your own conclusions.

It's only $10.

Inevitably with anything like this someone (everyone) will have a different opinion. Bitching about how we did the jpgs is Monday morning quarterbacking. However we did them someone would have found fault.

Michael
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Julian Love on May 16, 2006, 08:56:23 am
Thanks Michael for sharing this test with us. However, I can't help feeling that the subjects used were not really detailed enough to show any meaningful difference between the cameras. Looking at the jpegs I can make out improvements between the 1Ds/5D and the 1DsMII/645 velvia, but after that they are pretty much all the same unless you are a pixel-peeper extrordinaire. A dollar bill at that maginifcation really doesn't pose these sensors much of a challenge. Maybe it is more obvious in the RAWs.

I agree with Pom that stating the 1DsMII is very close to 645 Velvia is quite a retraction from the 1Ds vs 6x7 Velvia test from a few years ago!

Julian
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: tsjanik on May 16, 2006, 09:37:21 am
Gee, lighten up people.  Take the free!(or $10 if you want all the details) information for what value it is to you and be thankful someone has gone to the trouble of posting it.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Ray on May 16, 2006, 10:07:32 am
I'm very skeptical about the idea that subtle differences in resolution cannot be transmitted over the internet. If you crop enough and the jpeg is 100% quality, you should get 99% of the effect.

First, I should thank this merry band of middle-aged photo gurus for taking the time to make a thorough comparison which is believable and credible. It's an interesting comparison and highlights from my, perhaps slapdash, big picture approach, the small differences between the 5D and the Betterlight Super 6K, or the P45.

At a pixel-peeping level, there's no doubt that the 1Ds2 has a very,very slight 'accutance' advantage over the 5D, and so on to the Betterlight which appears to have the detail edge over all the others.

However, the big message for me is that the image improvement from the 1Ds to the Betterlight is relatively trivial in the broad scheme of things.

For anyone primarily interested in creativity, originality, expression and communication, I don't see any big advantage in these super expensive and cumbersome super-cameras.

I think I'll stick with whatever the 35mm format has to offer.

But I could change my mind some time in the future   .
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: michael on May 16, 2006, 10:35:49 am
Which goes to show the difficulty of such comparisons. Change even the slightest thing and you get differing results.

We entered into this project to answer questions that we ourselves had about this equipment. We set up the tests are rigerously as we could and tried to remove as many variables as possible.

Only afterward did we decide to make the results and the raw file publicly available.

Inevitably people will find fault with our methodolgy, choice of dolls and dollar bills, jpg presentation, and anything and everything else that can be imagined.

Such is life.

Michael
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: michael on May 16, 2006, 10:37:25 am
Ray,

If you obtain the disk, and print out some of the real-world files shot by Bill, Charlie and me in the Redwoods, you might think otherwise.

Many thousands of photographers around the world aren't spending their hard earned money on these tools just on the off chance that they may provide slightly better images.

The differences are quite real, and pros make their livelyhoods based on these differences.

Tests like ours only tell a small part of the full story.

Michael
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: eleanorbrown on May 16, 2006, 10:41:20 am
Michael, do you still think these digital backs are "lens limited" when using the high end lenses that you all did your testing with?  Thanks, Eleanor
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: BernardLanguillier on May 16, 2006, 10:44:03 am
Quote
For anyone primarily interested in creativity, originality, expression and communication, I don't see any big advantage in these super expensive and cumbersome super-cameras.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=65655\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

There you go.

To be fair though, I feel that we would see significantly more difference if these files were all printed at A1 or A0 size.  

Even then, no need to spend fortunes. The only think really missing from this fascinating comparison is a 3*2 stitched image shot with the 5D with a 200 mm lens... that would have shown with breathaking clarity that a 600 US$ spherical pano head + 3000 US$ DSLR can close the gap very easily with 40.000 US$ gear.  Granted, it doesn't work for all subjects and the productivity won't be as high... but is it really a problem for fine art work?

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: michael on May 16, 2006, 11:14:33 am
Eleanor,

It's something that Charlie, Bill and I have discussed, and to my mind it's a quibble. In other words, I think that with the best lenses, we're very close in the 39MP world.

With lower resolution backs and DSLRs I think this is likely the case, except maybe, again, with the very finest lenses and technique applied.

Michael
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: madmanchan on May 16, 2006, 11:14:46 am
I just wanted to offer my thanks to Michael and the others for conducting this test, but especially for making the RAW data available (at a very accessible price).  It ensures not only that people can come to their own conclusions, but also that the test will still be useful going forward as RAW development software improves.

Eric
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: mtomalty on May 16, 2006, 11:43:00 am
Michael,

Thanks for making the effort to post your groups efforts regarding these comparisons.
While they certainly won't address many (most?) issues on the subject of 'what is best' it does an
excellent job of giving a visual record of how the different contenders compare.
There are an almost infinite number of variables that will allow one system to extract more
'quality' from a given situation than another on any given day.

Looking forward to getting the DVD and comparing the landscape RAWS to see how the
various camera/lens combos perform when printed to a large size.

Mark
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on May 16, 2006, 11:43:17 am
Michael, I wasn't getting at you at all, just trying to reinforce your point and wondering at your bravery of putting up the jpgs in the first place [/b]given that those are going to be the point of argument over the various forums by as I said, the uneducated and the fanatics.

The point is that from what can be seen so far the jpgs are essentially worthless, not that you may have different opinions based on the RAW files, no opinion should even be allowed to form until the RAW files have been seen!. It was with this point that I wanted to start the thread.

The title of the front page image 'Threatening Storm' is rather apt!  
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: theophilus on May 16, 2006, 11:44:42 am
Quote
Even then, no need to spend fortunes. The only think really missing from this fascinating comparison is a 3*2 stitched image shot with the 5D with a 200 mm lens... that would have shown with breathaking clarity that a 600 US$ spherical pano head + 3000 US$ DSLR can close the gap very easily with 40.000 US$ gear.  Granted, it doesn't work for all subjects and the productivity won't be as high... but is it really a problem for fine art work?

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=65664\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I've been meaning to bring up this very subject.  How close can you get with a stitched 5D/1Ds2 shot compared to the MF digital backs?

It's certainly not a viable alternative in every circumstance, I am just curious if with the right subject (Horseshoe Bend?) how similar a large print of 30x40" would be.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: David Mantripp on May 16, 2006, 12:07:53 pm
Quote
Even then, no need to spend fortunes. ... that would have shown with breathaking clarity that a 600 US$ spherical pano head + 3000 US$ DSLR can close the gap very easily with 40.000 US$ gear.

You don't think even 3600 US$ is a fortune ?  I'm sure many would disagree....

Photography - in the artistic sense - is rapidly losing grip on economic reality.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Ray on May 16, 2006, 12:49:33 pm
Quote
Ray,
If you obtain the disk, and print out some of the real-world files shot by Bill, Charlie and me in the Redwoods, you might think otherwise.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=65662\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Michael,
Okay! I've ordered it. I'll report back to you later.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on May 16, 2006, 12:53:56 pm
Quote
Photography - in the artistic sense - is rapidly losing grip on economic reality.

Don't think so, it's just becoming more 'up front' as opposed to years of buying and processing film, nevermind scanning. A DSLR and especially a med format system has to be seen as an investment that will prove worthwhile and more profitable than the equivelent film usage, after a year or two not straight away.

Where it falls down is for those who are buying the camera or back then upgrading it before it has paid for itself in film savings. As with any business expense it has to be done sensibly. If you speak to your accountant it may be far more prudent to go digital, I'm sure that once the quality was there, that is the reason that the big boys are changing over, not necessarily because they like digital better though it may be an added bonus.

To put it into perspective, I bought a 2nd hand 1Ds for 2500. It was paid for in film _savings_ within 3 months of a wedding season. That means that for the amount of frames shot during that time, the same amount spent on film or processing would have bought me that 2nd hand 1Ds. And I was charging the clients the same amount of course. Yes I had to sit infront of the computer, but I'm very fast in ACR, I can process 200 pics in an hour and actions do the rest. For all that film would be 'easier' there is no way I can afford to lose that level of profit by going back to film period.

Then I sold the 1Ds for 2200 and bought a new 5D +grip in December for approx (I bought it as a package and sold the 24-105L) for 2050. It has dropped in price quite seriously by now, but I've shot over 20,000 frames with it, weddings, portraiture and commercial. It was more than paid for when I bought it, it is now coining money for me. The trick is to charge the same under the title 'Digital Capture Fee', that is how to pay for your DSLR and how it will make you money fast! The cost difference in capture mediums is your business not the clients instead of paying for the film, now they have to pay for the percentage of the cost of your digital equipment, plus your time. Streamline your workflow and they end up paying for your equipment for you. As it should be.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: David Mantripp on May 16, 2006, 03:58:56 pm
I see your point, Pom, but it only adds up if you're a commercial photographer with a very high capture rate.  If you're working as what people call a "Fine Art" photographer, then your time to amortize that up front payment is going to be very long indeed.  Ok, people like David Noton to name but one have switched, so I guess the economics do stack up even for a landscape photographer, but for amateurs it is a totally different situation.

Some time back, an amateur could at least aspire to buy pro-level gear, say Fuji or Mamiya 67, without "paying up front" a huge premium for something he or she was ever going to use.  Even a prolific shooter, with a day job, isn't going to burn through $20K's worth of film within the lifetime of the gear (which seems under 1 year, if the turnover rate on PhaseOne backs is anything to go by :-) )

The digital revolution has very much widened the gap between the amateur who is in it simply for pleasure / fulfillment, and the pro who earns a living (or the very rich, of course).  I think this is unfortunate...
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on May 16, 2006, 05:47:32 pm
David, I first decided to go digital, with the D60 then, when I came back from a two week intensive shooting trip (landscape) and having shot 250 rolls of velvia 120. The cost of the film and the processing itself would have paid for that 2nd hand D60, by the time I sold the Mamiya 645 and bevy of lenses I paid for a 10D which had then only just been replaced by the 20D. Not printing larger than 18X12" for sales and exhibition the 10D gave me incredible prints as well as earning my bread and butter shooting weddings/events.

Seriously, these days, even a years worth of shooting 120 film for fine art will easily buy a 5D with pretty much the same quality as well as being far more versatile in that you can shoot most everything else with it too. Then the year after that you're laughing. What I mean is that a body like the 5D or older 1Ds can replace a med format system and a film 35mm system so the saving is not just in the 120 film.

If you stick to primes as most people shoot with med format anyway, even top quality lenses aren't that expensive. If you don't mind manual hyperfocal focusing (as I always did with med format when shooting landscape) then a range of even the great (and here in the UK at give away prices) Contax 35mm lenses is opened up.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on May 16, 2006, 06:55:52 pm
Woops, just realised that this thread should have gone in the new forum that I hadn't noticed, then again considering it's gone OT anyway....

All in the name of fun!  
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: BernardLanguillier on May 16, 2006, 07:14:17 pm
Quote
I've been meaning to bring up this very subject.  How close can you get with a stitched 5D/1Ds2 shot compared to the MF digital backs?

It's certainly not a viable alternative in every circumstance, I am just curious if with the right subject (Horseshoe Bend?) how similar a large print of 30x40" would be.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=65680\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well, it is difficult to answer in a rigorous way since stitching was not part of this comparison, but my view is that for those subject that allow it, stitching is difficult to beat.

The longer the lens, the higher pixel density you will be able to reach. But using longer lenses has drawbacks like the inability to focus real close, more limited DoF...

In terms of attainable pixel count, the only 4 practical limitations I see for stitching are:

1. The stability of the spherical head as a function of the weight of the body + lens assembly and possibility to use a lens tripod collar to attach the assembly. Because you want to rotate around the entrance pupil point, that point has to be reasonnably close to the tripod collar location for practical reasons. The problem is a possibe loss of sharpness because of vibrations etc...

2. The accuracy of the markings of typical pano heads makes it hard to go beyond 300 mm lenses. Indeed, each portrait image will then cover only about 1.5 lateral degrees, and it becomes difficult to manage the overlap between frames in a reliable way,

3. Lenses in the 200/300 mm range will have too limited a DoF for wide looking images, which limit the interest of simulating a wide angle image by stitching many tele images together. Besides, wide angles images typically work thanks to some sort of near/far composition that is based on a short distance to the subject. This rules out most real tele designs... but not macro lenses like the Nikkor 105 mm VR for instance.

4. Computer resources... but that is not worse than dealing with drum scanned 4*5 files.

All things considered, I don't think that stitching with lenses longer than 300 mm is an option most of the time, and I wouldn't go longer than 50-70 mm for those stitched composition that will "look wide". Even then, reaching 100 MP is often possible with a resulting sharpness per pixel that doesn't look much worse than the P45 samples I saw.

You can of course always stitch using a MFDB as well, but:

- if you need to stitch, then the time it will take to stitch with a DSLR and MFDB won't be that different,
- the Hassy H1 is even heavier that a D2x/1ds2 and its RRS L bracket doesn't look sturdy enough (pure speculation at this stage). The lenses are even heavier still, and most don't have a tripod collar,
- the DSLR 3*2 image ratio results in the pixel density on the long end of the frame being higher than that of MFDB, which speeds up stitching since you will typically be able to shoot less images rows (even if you have more frames per row, that is not the time consuming part),

All things considered, stitching with a DSLR does appear to be the best method today to achieve those very high pixel counts for those subjects when stitching is an option.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: BernardLanguillier on May 16, 2006, 07:22:59 pm
Quote
You don't think even 3600 US$ is a fortune ?  I'm sure many would disagree....

Photography - in the artistic sense - is rapidly losing grip on economic reality.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=65683\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

3600 US$ is definitely a lot of money for 90% of the population of this planet, but is in fact reasonnable in photographic terms.

It is for instance about only 2/3 the price of a H1 film lens kit.

If you look at the average income in developping countries, you'll see that 40.000 US$ is clearly above the yearly income just about anywhere. On the other hand anyone willing to sacrifice his/her car for instance (as I have been doing for many years) should be able to spend 4000 US$ on gear a year without huge impact on other spendings.

Regards,
Bernard
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: dmcginlay on May 16, 2006, 08:35:58 pm
Wow!

My bennie (Bentley) can out-perform your roller (Rolls Royce)!

Fill in the brackets with your favourite car.

Will I be able to afford one of these top-end systems? Probably not today, but you know my current car has all the features and capabilities of these originals - better know as the trickle down effect; even the cheapest systems, cars, cameras have what has been only available in top end systems previously.

I think this type of comparison is a good idea for various reasons; pure information, pure blast-off comparisons, I am considering buying one of these systems today, etc. - each person has there primary reasons for reading about these reviews.

Keep up the great work.

Satisfied subscriber.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: eyedias on May 17, 2006, 12:37:22 am
Michael, thanks for publishing these comparisons. I think they are very useful for anyone interested in landscape photography, as I am.

I'm wondering at what dpi the 4x5 Velvia scans were originally made. In landscape photography, digital seems to have a definite cutoff point beyond which enlargements are no longer credible or satisfying, whereas film can be 'pushed' until the grain becomes prominent and still look good, at least to my sensibility.

I wonder, though, how many 4x5 fine art shooters drum scan their images. It would probably be interesting to a lot of people to include a comparison from a lesser, but more common scanner (is that what you left empty spaces for?  ).

I use a Umax Powerlook 3000, which maxes out at 3048 dpi. I think you're familiar with it. A lot of others use the high end Epsons or Microteks. It would be interesting to see the difference between one of these and the P45. At least on the web site, if it's too late for the DVD.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: leonvick on May 17, 2006, 02:00:21 am
I've ordered the DVD and look forward to running my own tests with it. Meanwhile, I think it's totally awesome that these guys went to the trouble of doing these comparisons and making the results available on the site and on the DVD.

When have we ever seen such a comparison done with top-caliber lenses or films or anything else to this scale, much less with accessible, unmanipulated data from which we can make our own evaluations? I would beg to see more of this kind of thing but the effort required can be so huge that I can only be grateful when it happens.

So thanks fellas. You done good!  
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: eronald on May 17, 2006, 03:44:52 am
Quote
Well, it is difficult to answer in a rigorous way since stitching was not part of this comparison, but my view is that for those subject that allow it, stitching is difficult to beat.

The longer the lens, the higher pixel density you will be able to reach. But using longer lenses has drawbacks like the inability to focus real close, more limited DoF...

In terms of attainable pixel count, the only 4 practical limitations I see for stitching are:

1. The stability of the spherical head as a function of the weight of the body + lens assembly and possibility to use a lens tripod collar to attach the assembly. Because you want to rotate around the entrance pupil point, that point has to be reasonnably close to the tripod collar location for practical reasons. The problem is a possibe loss of sharpness because of vibrations etc...

2. The accuracy of the markings of typical pano heads makes it hard to go beyond 300 mm lenses. Indeed, each portrait image will then cover only about 1.5 lateral degrees, and it becomes difficult to manage the overlap between frames in a reliable way,

3. Lenses in the 200/300 mm range will have too limited a DoF for wide looking images, which limit the interest of simulating a wide angle image by stitching many tele images together. Besides, wide angles images typically work thanks to some sort of near/far composition that is based on a short distance to the subject. This rules out most real tele designs... but not macro lenses like the Nikkor 105 mm VR for instance.

4. Computer resources... but that is not worse than dealing with drum scanned 4*5 files.

All things considered, I don't think that stitching with lenses longer than 300 mm is an option most of the time, and I wouldn't go longer than 50-70 mm for those stitched composition that will "look wide". Even then, reaching 100 MP is often possible with a resulting sharpness per pixel that doesn't look much worse than the P45 samples I saw.

You can of course always stitch using a MFDB as well, but:

- if you need to stitch, then the time it will take to stitch with a DSLR and MFDB won't be that different,
- the Hassy H1 is even heavier that a D2x/1ds2 and its RRS L bracket doesn't look sturdy enough (pure speculation at this stage). The lenses are even heavier still, and most don't have a tripod collar,
- the DSLR 3*2 image ratio results in the pixel density on the long end of the frame being higher than that of MFDB, which speeds up stitching since you will typically be able to shoot less images rows (even if you have more frames per row, that is not the time consuming part),

All things considered, stitching with a DSLR does appear to be the best method today to achieve those very high pixel counts for those subjects when stitching is an option.

Cheers,
Bernard
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=65718\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I don't know much about MFDB's but on dSLR flat-stitching is easily possible with the shift lenses. I have the shift 24 Canon as my all-purpose wide lens, and I'm told the shift 90 Canon is *excellent*. Whether it's worth the bother I don't know, but certainly the price is right and these lenses seem to have the right properties for flat-stitching. The best trick would be to fix the lens to the tripod and move the camera.

I believe (rumor) that the sharper Schneider shift 28 has distorsion which make flat stitch problematic, and I don't know about the Nikons. Some guys are using russian adapters and MF lenses, maybe they can comment ?

It used to be the alternative was between a digital back and a 1DsII, these days it's between a digital back and a sub$3K 5D, I think for anyone without a big revenue stream exploring these options makes sense. Unfortunately, my clients don't pay for reproduction of a quality sufficient that anything above what I have would matter to them.

Edmund
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: John Camp on May 18, 2006, 12:31:22 pm
I thought this test was one of the best things I've ever seen about photography on the internet.

JC
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: svein on May 19, 2006, 02:03:09 am
Ordering the disk - or not.
Regarding Michael's comment on the number of people not ordering the disk after reading the article:
0.2% don't seem too surprising to me. I read the story with great interest and think it really describes "the state of the art". But the price of the equipment used is so far beyond what I can spend that working with the images on the disk just doesn't seem worth the effort. Also, even if I could afford it the size and weight would prevent me from taking advantage of it.
Assume the same applies to a lot of people.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: David Mantripp on May 19, 2006, 03:52:29 am
Quote
Assume the same applies to a lot of people.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=65991\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I totally agree. I'm surprised Michael is "fascinated".  I would say 200 is a pretty good score, especially if those 200 are potential customers for the hardware.

Apart from the well-known exceptions, this stuff is just FAR TOO EXPENSIVE for taking photos.

I would add that most of the people who are potential customers probably do not need these files or this report.  They already know what they want, they have PhaseOne reps (etc) on tap, and they're far too busy recouping the cost of their overheads to spend all day on the internet or peeping at pixels.  They just get their assistants to do it.

And now, back on Planet Earth....
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: michael on May 19, 2006, 08:57:21 am
David,

The reason for my "surprise" is the large number of emails that I receive on a constant basis asking how this back or camera compares to that back or camera.

I also get emails from people asking me if I "really' think that medium format backs are that much better than the D2x, 1Ds MKII, or whatever.

I also get a few people asking if they could have a raw file from this or that camera so that they could see for themselves.

I also frequently get criticised when I do product reviews and post image comparisons that I over sharpened, undersharpened, etc, etc, etc.

So, it seemd to me that to be able to get for $10 a disk with carefully produced raw files of the same subject under controlled conditions would be of appeal. Also the fact that the available files include not only some high end backs but also regular equipment in use by pros and others, seemed to me to provide something that would be of interest to a large audience.

Guess I was wrong (Not the first time).

As for the comment, Apart from the well-known exceptions, this stuff is just FAR TOO EXPENSIVE for taking photos, In have to say that this simply expresses a very narrow and parochial perspective.

There are tens of thousands of professional photographers as well as advanced amateurs for whom these aren't Ferraris or status symbols, but are rather the tools of the trade. Many of these photographers frequent this forum, and would be surprised at a comment that denegrates the tools that they use, and their particular needs.

Not everyone is an hobbiest on a budget. Please try and have a more inclusive perspective.

Michael
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Tyler Hawk on May 19, 2006, 10:48:45 am
It's nice that all that work was put together but it will probably be archaic in two years.  Personally, as it has been said many times before, it's about the pictures.  If you can't take quality shots it doesn't matter how many MP's you throw out there.  

Take the same pic with a 10D and a 5D but give the 10D image to a skilled PS user and the 5D image to an average PS user and both make 11X14 prints on the same printer and I'll just about assure you most people will prefer the 10D image.

This whole MP thing reminds me of all those same guys who got into tizzies about the minutia of lens tests and film grains (same ISO comparisons) and yet couldn't produce a quality image if they fell on it.  Of course they could criticize and out wit the masses on engineering specs and baffle you with that BS.

I can't blame Michael for thinking there was a market for this - it seems a good portion of the posters here are into that and I probably would have made the same business decision.   For me the technology moves so fast that quibbling the difference in some of these DSLR's is pointless.  As for all the backs - if you need it, get it - but do you need it or are you compensating for something  

But again, it's about the pictures - always will be - digital or film.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: benInMA on May 19, 2006, 03:43:39 pm
Every successive test I see like this just re-emphasizes that we have finally gotten to a point where cameras are getting so good that the tools should not be the focus anymore.

Seems like digital created a temporary over-emphasis on the equipment and some of that has got to be fading at this point.

All this gear is so nearly perfect and the pictures are so hard to tell apart, even if I can see the difference if I had bought the RAW files, all the cameras are obviously capable of extremely good results.

I don't know 3 years ago this was definitely not true but today it seems like it's time to stop spending as much time worrying/wondering about equpment and instead start enjoying what you have!
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Fred Ragland on May 19, 2006, 06:40:17 pm
It depends.  I print large.  Incremental improvements in equipment, software and workflow make big differences in large prints.

And it depends on our orientation toward change.  I expect technology to continue producing rapid, significant changes in photography.  As they become available, many of us will incorporate them as welcome improvements, even if they seem incremental (at best) to others.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: David Mantripp on May 20, 2006, 06:01:00 am
Quote
I have to say that this simply expresses a very narrow and parochial perspective.

Not everyone is an hobbiest on a budget. Please try and have a more inclusive perspective.
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Well Michael you have the right to say what you wish. Maybe in Toronto and California it would be parochial to question if "cost no object" articles are really somehow educational.  I doubt that working professionals who's business justifies these means are your audience, or need your lessons.  Your audience, I thought, was essentially people like me who are just captivated by photography, invest in it all they can (which maybe is not as much as you can afford - so what ?), and would like to learn how to do better. I'm not the only one who thinks you are really in danger of completely losing the plot.

If you want to run a high end site catering to very successful pros and very rich amateurs, go ahead and do it. But make it clear.

Inclusive perspectives apply both ways.  

Whatever. I'm wasting my breath.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: michael on May 20, 2006, 07:19:13 am
Not to belabor the point, but once again your assumptions are incorrect.

This site is read by a great many professionals. Few have the time (or inclination) to join in forum discussions, but just like any photographer they are interested in the latest tools and techniques. I know this for two reasons. The first, is that I receive large number of emails from them, and the second is that I frequently do seminars that are focused on the needs of professionals, and the turn-out is always high.

In the end, I write about what interests me. For the magazines that I write for I am told what subjects are wanted. On my site, as you rightly point out, I write about anything and everyhting else. This ranges from the $20 Funkycam to high end equipment. This doesn't make this a high-end or a low end site. Hopefully it makes it one that is inclusive of a broad range of interests.

And as for the "Toronto and California" comment, in fact it's just the opposite. It's photographers working in more remote locales that tell me they benefit the most from these pieces, because they don't have retailers and VARs close by, or too many like minded colleagues to share experiences with.

Michael
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: madmanchan on May 20, 2006, 07:21:35 am
Quote from: drm,May 20 2006, 10:01 AM
Your audience, I thought, was essentially people like me who are just captivated by photography[\quote]

Yes, David, but consider the possibility that not every article on this site applies equally to every person who fits the description above.  Some articles cover basic photography technique.  Some articles cover expedition experiences.  And some, like this one, cover equipment, perhaps even high-end equipment.  If you feel the equipment is too expensive and isn't relevant to you, perhaps you ought to skip the article.

I thought Michael's "fascination" comment was appropriate, given the number of people who complain in the forums about invalid comparisons due to improperly or ineptly processed RAW files, etc.  The DVD containing the RAW files is a significant effort to overcome this issue.

Eric
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: svein on May 20, 2006, 11:07:38 am
I wrote the "original" (I think) comment about not being surprised by the lack of interest in the DVD.  I'm still not surprised even after Michael's additional comments about email requests etc.

I'm not a photo pro and don't have a website either, but I've studied and worked with computers since the early eighties. Specially before computer became as common as they are today I got questions about really advanced stuff that the people asking found "kind of interesting", but would never actually spend money on.  Just knowing they are talking to (or mailing) an expert seem to make some people ask all kinds of "advanced" questions. Wont speculate on why.

So, although the price of the DVD was very reasonable it would involve having to do something yourself, including trying to analyze the files better (or at least differently) than four "high-end" photo pros.

A last comment on the article. Although I didn't get the DVD I found the article really interesting. It's these kind of articles that set LL apart from other photosites. That I can't afford it isn't an issue for me at all.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: eyedias on May 20, 2006, 01:45:08 pm
I'm a part-time photographer who (after more than 20 years with 35mm) has just delved into the 4x5 view camera world. Although I'm on a limited budget, I like to keep my eye on the cutting edge. It helps me keep the price of my services fair and gives me a quality target to shoot for.

The comparison by these experienced photographers compares not only digital backs to film, but various lenses as well. Making the raw files available makes it even more valuable for those with high quality standards.

What would make the comparison interesting to an even broader range of artists would be a selection of scans from other scanners. The article teased us with the suggestion that most other scanners would fall below the P45 in resolution, but it would be fascinating to pixel peep that issue too, for me, and I'm sure many others.

If the range of scanners was broad enough, from inexpensive to high-end pro, it would, I'm guessing, have more long term appeal as a kind of guage of where you stand in the capture resolution world. For better or worse, I see an enduring fascination with this question on the forums.

Of course, I would understand completely if Michael says the scope of such a project would distract him from his own pursuits. It's just a idea.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Mike Boden on May 20, 2006, 03:02:23 pm
Quote
What would make the comparison interesting to an even broader range of artists would be a selection of scans from other scanners.

Check out the following links for scanner compaisons.

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/scan-comparison/ (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/scan-comparison/)

http://www.terrapinphoto.com/jmdavis/ (http://www.terrapinphoto.com/jmdavis/)

Enjoy!

Mike
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: eyedias on May 20, 2006, 06:03:58 pm
Thanks, Mike, for those links. I've sent Leigh Perry a note that I would like my scanner included in his comparison (the largeformatphotography site). What makes it useful is that it uses the same image throughout. The other link uses a dozen different images of hugely varying quality and subject matter, making comparisons difficult. They both leave out digital backs. That's what makes Michael's comparison unique.

So it would still have been interesting to see other scanners added to Michael's comparison. I may still get the CD just to see what a print of a P45 file looks like.

- Victor
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 20, 2006, 06:04:16 pm
After reading all the posts in this thread, I think it is important to dis-entangle ones' personal circumstances from the world of objectivity. This isn't about "I don't need it so it isn't important", "I'm satisfied with what I have so it doesn't matter", or "I can't afford any of that gear so it's irrelevant". The way I see it, this is about carefully observing the evolution and state of photographic capture technology in a practical and scientifically objective manner. For all those people who aren't interested in the technical progress made, say between the 1Ds and the 5D, or the value-added of a medium format back versus a 1DSMk2, no-one is forcing them to read this stuff or to buy the disc. For those of us who ARE interested in it - if only for its own sake, this is truly a unique and remarkable resource. But as well, I think it may also help me decide about my next camera, because I will see the new stuff in context of what came before it and what is for sure or likely coming next. That's partly how I opted for a used 1Ds when the MK2 hit the market. I'm really looking forward to receiving this disc - a ten dollar investment in knowledge that will long outlast a couple of Mocca-Latte's from my favorite Starbucks, no matter how fast the technology evolves.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Tim Gray on May 20, 2006, 07:52:32 pm
I think, in part, what surprises Michael is the time folks spend contributing (and I intend no sarcasm) to these forums - discussing relatively expensive hardware.  

If their time is worth more than $.50 per hour, I don't see why someone (like me) who never aspires to MF wouldn't fork out $10.00 (I did) to get some real life files to play with.  If their time is worth less than $.50 per hour then I guess $10.00 is a bit steep.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: David Mantripp on May 21, 2006, 05:04:56 am
Well I suppose I haven't really expressed my reaction terribly well.  My intention was to point out there is a context to this stuff, and as long time readers of this forum may have noticed, I do have a tendency to delight in playing the Devil's advocate.  I still believe that the asymptotic cost of high end photographic equipment is an issue, and that it has a social context too, but this forum is not the appropriate place to air that view. I also have a slightly better grip on business plans than I do on photography, and I'm not totally convinced that the numbers add up in the majority of cases.  But .... if a PhaseOne P45 and Hasselblad H1 turned up on my doorstep, would I turn my nose up at it ? Like hell I would :-)

So, Michael, I apologise for going way off topic, and in particular for any offense to you, your co-authors, or other contributors to this topic.

David.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: BJL on May 23, 2006, 12:56:23 pm
Quote
You don't think even 3600 US$ is a fortune ?  I'm sure many would disagree....

Photography - in the artistic sense - is rapidly losing grip on economic reality.
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Amen; but I think that it is only some forum participants that have lost track of economic realities, talking of cameras that cost far more than many good medium format film options as if they were widely affordable options ofr photgaphic enthusiasts.

This does not seem to apply to the SLR buyers who are overwhelmingly choosing sub-$1000 DSLR, and buying the $1700 D200 at about four times the rate of the $3000 5D. (A market reality check: even Pentax apparently sells more of its DSLR's than Canon does of its 35mm format models, and Olympus sells twice as many again, while Canon's own EF-S mount bodies outsell those 35mm format DSLRs almost twenty to one).

My guess is that for many photographers who are disposed to work in the traditional large format view camera mode with stationary subjects and many minutes spent making an image, very good results good could be achieved for far less than US$3,600 by stitching images from a quite modestly priced DSLR and a good sharp lens. With stitching, the gap between even the new low-price champion Pentax K110D ($600 with kit lens, probably under $500 when the body-only option comes out) and something for more expensive like a D200, 5D, D2X or 1DsMkII is only having to take about twice as many frames for the stitch-up job.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: benInMA on May 23, 2006, 04:30:51 pm
Well the thing is all the cameras in this comparison look great and you have to pixel peep or look at large prints to see any difference.

It's all in your given needs & budget.  The 5D might seem expensive when compared against the 30D or D200 but in this company it is a smoking bargain.

Since this comparison already covers such a monstrous price range it would have been interesting to see a 1.5x/1.6x sensor camera thrown in just for the heck of it.  My guess is we should have been able to pick out the small sensor DSLR even with the JPGs on the website.

Everything electronic seems to have a price/performance curve.  At some point around the D200 or 5D the price/performance curve skyrockets... huge amounts of money spent for diminishing increases in image quality.
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on May 23, 2006, 05:53:23 pm
Oy BJL, hands off my 5D    

Seriously though if canon are willing to fill that niche then they are still selling the 5D well to the wedding/portrait/landscape market with the lenses that go with it.

Let's face it, the entry level market is where the real money is, it's no secret. I'm sure the D2X and 1Ds mkII or even the 1D mkII also sell fractions in comparison to the D50/70 and 350D but that is the point, they need to be there for the pros and for the companies street cred.

Lets face it, even if the original groundbreaking 1Ds was a loss leader, it did an incredible amount for canon's prestige, for the canon name, no doubt sold more canon lenses than any other camera ever made (considering it pulled in so many nikon, minolta, med format shooters, etc) and even now is considered a ground breaking classic. The 1D and mkII has insured that the sidelines of any sports game, press scrum, catwalk or indeed any where you see a journalist there are a bevy of white lenses. Did not the 1Ds and it's successor ensure that medium format prices on ebay are just silly? Did it not contribute to the death of Bronica, Contax, possibly Mamiya? I would not doubt that it was these bodies far more than the digital medium format niche which killed those manufacturers and believe me Canon are milking it for all it's worth.

Another point, anyone who is going to spend the money on a stitching setup (software, tripod setup, brackets, learning curve, more computer memory etc) might well forgo the bother and spend the extra. Stitching is not for everyone and as you say, more suited for those used to a large format type shooting style with the added pain of all the extra time at the computer afterwards. I would of course be useless for a majority of subjects where stitching just wouldn't be an option and that is pretty limiting.

I also think that it's important to reiterate what I said earlier here. Many many people here are shooting these so called 'OTT expensive' digital solutions because it makes sense financially for them. Yes for enthusiasts the math may not add up, but hey how many of them are even shooting a 1Ds mkII never mind a medium format back. Of course many of them do have the 5D but once you've had the 20D it's only a step up in price isn't it? There I do agree with you wholeheartedly, if it isn't making economic sense then it's just paying lots for nice toys and we know how vulnerable us blokes are for that kind of thing not least with cameras!
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Quentin on May 23, 2006, 06:10:20 pm
Hmm.  I am not surpised only 200 or so have shown an interest in the disk; the market for these backs is vanishingly small. I know several full time pros and well-heeled amateurs who would (and some do) laugh at the idea of spending mortgage-level sums of money on a technology that is changing so rapidly.

So while I am fascinated to read such well executed comparisons on line, and genuinely grateful to Michael and chums for doing the tests, I regret that I'm not interested enough (and plainly I am not in a minority in thinking this way) to pay to look at the raw files on disk.  

Quentin
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: BernardLanguillier on May 23, 2006, 07:18:17 pm
Quote
Amen; but I think that it is only some forum participants that have lost track of economic realities, talking of cameras that cost far more than many good medium format film options as if they were widely affordable options ofr photgaphic enthusiasts.

My guess is that for many photographers who are disposed to work in the traditional large format view camera mode with stationary subjects and many minutes spent making an image, very good results good could be achieved for far less than US$3,600 by stitching images from a quite modestly priced DSLR and a good sharp lens. With stitching, the gap between even the new low-price champion Pentax K110D ($600 with kit lens, probably under $500 when the body-only option comes out) and something for more expensive like a D200, 5D, D2X or 1DsMkII is only having to take about twice as many frames for the stitch-up job.
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Good points. Besides, using even a 6MP DSLR at its full potential isn't as easy as it seems, and many of us could probably still gain something by sticking with our existing gear and focussing on knowing it and using it better.

On the other hand, there are IMHO objective reasons to invest in DSLRs like the 5D/D2x/1ds2.

1. IMHO, very few high end amateurs own printers that go larger than A2. With a D2x/1ds2, you have enough pixels on the long end of the frame to do one row stitches that have a quality high enough to use the potential of A2+ paper rolls.

A 6MP DSLR would require you to do 2 row stitching to get there, which requires a more complex pano head and implies a slower stiching routine in the field, furhter reducing the attainable scope for stitching.

Besides, we all know that stitching isn't the solution for all situations, and it makes sense to have a DSLR that can yield images with a resolution high enough to be compatible with large prints without requiring stitching.

2. I feel that it takes that level of resolution to clearly out do 35 mm film and get into MF realm, the traditionnal sweet spot for landscape in terms of compromise between usability and image quality. For those photographers that are able to resist the pressue of buying the best and the latest at each new release, this means that a 5D/d2x/1ds2 could remain a credible solution for many years to come...

3. The 5D/d2x/1ds2 cameras are expensive, but as I wrote before, so are cars for instance. I haven't owned a car for 10 years, which allowed me to save between 20.000 and 40.000 Euros. Even then, I coudl hardly afford a P45, but I can easily afford a D2x.  Granted, not all people are in a position not to own a car.

Regards,
Bernard
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: Blake on May 23, 2006, 08:11:16 pm
Hi Michael,

     Re: your "personal note" article, I must say that I admire your professionalism in addressing those who denigrate the efforts of people like you (as well as Charlie and Bill) who make the net a better place by sharing their invaluable experience with us all; I'm not sure if I would have been able to maintain such candor in a similar situation.

     I know of more than one instance where such disrespect has worn down the creator of a site or list to the point where they simply didn't want to deal with it anymore so they gathered up their marbles and went home, and I would hate to see such a thing happen here.  Thank you once again for providing the excellent photographic resource that is The Luminous Landscape.

 -Blake
Title: Measuring Megabytes
Post by: BJL on May 29, 2006, 05:24:11 pm
Bernard,

   your analysis makes sense to me. In the rarified realms calling for resolution beyond the now common-place 8MP, there are two cases
a) stitching, which it is probably better to do in one direction only, so that you want the long dimension of your sensor to match the resolution needs of the short dimension of your prints. The ultimate digital panoramic camera might use a linear CCD as in a scaning back, scanning the image with a Nobilex style rotating lens system.
 single shot, where of course pixel counts of 12MP or 16MP and beyond have their place, though only for those who are likely to make some uncommonly large prints, like A2 and up, and view the mfrom uncommonly close for that print size.

My observation is that viewers of even huge prints rarely get much closer than the short dimension of the print, and about 3000 to 4000 pixels on that short dimension seems to be about enough for that: 6-12MP for stitching, 12-14MP for single shot satisfying most but not all needs?