Luminous Landscape Forum

Site & Board Matters => About This Site => Topic started by: Steven Draper on January 31, 2009, 05:00:53 pm

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Steven Draper on January 31, 2009, 05:00:53 pm
Well despite the economic climate and being on the same time zone as Toronto it's good that on Jan 31st I can see Tomorrows posting!!!!!

I think this will be an interesting series of essays and certainly very current. When I recently left my long term career I had the dream of earning a living from photography. I knew it would be tough as the market was already collapsing from the influx of people willing to provide photography for free.

I analysed the market for a year before formulating my business plan and ruled out fine art and creative photography as a centre piece, even though I will continue to work on my own projects.  So with a budget that I could have purchased a Hy6 system or Phase P65+ I actually spent my money on a non photographic piece of equipment, ie the means in which to achieve a different view point for my target clients cheaper than current options, faster than current options and to a better standard than current options. Whether I'm successful or not will be answered in the future, but I realized that I needed to be different and I need clear water and choice of camera wasn't going to achieve this. Method of operation, type of image could.  Ultimately the cost of the camera is a small percentage of the equation, I've spent more on software and  choices like Light room or Aperture, Capture NX or DxO, marketing strategy and operational efficiencies are where much of the difference is made because time is the most valuable factor in the equation if you wish to earn a living.

FWIW I use a D700 for the new business and I'm shooting with a 6008i for some personal projects, - I would swap for a high end data back if you gave one too me, but I'm not buying one just yet!!! .

Whatever camera one uses, whatever you shoot,  one thing is for sure the world is changing very fast and the rules will change too - there are opportunities for all, if your quick, brave and open minded.

Steven
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on January 31, 2009, 07:46:10 pm
Not to offend you, but have you actually done anything in the new business during the time from 1. Feb, 2008 to 31. Jan, 2009?

 
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Steven Draper on January 31, 2009, 08:48:29 pm
Quote from: Panopeeper
Not to offend you, but have you actually done anything in the new business during the time from 1. Feb, 2008 to 31. Jan, 2009?

 

Hi Panopeeper.

No problems. Your right that I do not have years of experience running a photography business and may well be very 'green' with certain aspects, but I have a lot of contacts within various markets that provide information about trends, thoughts and concerns to help me build a big picture. There are many articles on the web detailing the concern photographers have 'Guy/Girl With Camera' weddings, Send your pix to our media team so we can build up stock libraries for our use - instead of purchasing from stock sources, photo rights issues at sports events, even taking photos in public issues etc etc. So with the economy entering new and uncharted waters it will be very interesting to see what happens to the progress and development of cameras. I think Michael has identified a very interesting subject for which to spend some time providing some thoughts using his knowledge and understanding of photography.

For what it's worth a recent business seminar a friend of mine presented claimed that the 'money' for things like photography was not in taking the pictures anymore, but in assisting those who want to take pictures. Running web sites, forums, workshops, producing software etc. And for those selling personal work, be a celebrity or have a really good story! I'm sure there will be lots of thoughts on this!

Back to your question - Over the past year I moved to a completely new region in a country that I am also new too. Before diving in and spending money on everything I wanted to get to know the local market and make various assessments on a number of potential ideas.

I set myself up as a business because where I live I need to have a vendors permit in order to sell anything to the public - legally!  I knew for a while I would not have the time to be able to launch a full business product / service and needed to learn a lot more about certain aspects -  although I'm confident about the images I produce, although I always like to learn more and push boundaries further. My turnover for the period is not massive, in fact it is very small but I have laid a lot of foundations for the future. For example  I won an award for one my photographic prints at a reasonably highly acclaimed Juried art show in my region, not world news, Not a New York show,  but a good marker considering the number of highly established photographers and other artists that had work there. Because of this I have been accepted into a very successful Juried Studio Tour in my region (several thousand people attend the event) and also a local gallery for 2009. I learnt a lot about print making, framing and developing thoughts on presenting my work. How much I can generate from selling personal work is yet to be seen, but to me I do not want personal work to be driven by the need to feed the family!

Now for earning a living. I looked at the things I enjoyed with photography and with life and what people wanted and got excited about and also what no-body was doing in my area. Some ideas took a lot of time to work through and did not come to any thing. But  I have a personal project in mind that requires some very specific equipment and this equipment also lends itself to a wide range of commercial applications, as demonstrated in other regions and countries. Everyone I have spoken to during my market research has been very excited about it - including the bank manager and many local business people and I am currently working with a marketing company to put together a brand package. The equipment arrives in just under two weeks and I have some intensive testing and photography to do to do before launching in March. I'm very confident about my plan and it ties in very well with my personal projects.

So for the time being there is very little image work on my website while my business structure is put together from a keen photographer selling some work to earning a living from it. But one thing I've learnt about setting up a photography business is that there is a lot of other things other than photography that need to be done, especially at the beginning!!

ATB
Steven




Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ken Tanaka on January 31, 2009, 09:16:03 pm
Michael:  I enjoyed reading your thoughtful essay.  Indeed, we seem to have reached a real nexus in digital photo technology.  (I actually am very shocked by the high quality images I can get from my Canon XSi versus my 1Ds Mark III!)  

Skill, talent, vision, and purpose have always been, and will continue to be, the most significant elements in photography.  We no longer have plausible excuses for crappy images, regardless of our budgets.

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Dean Z on January 31, 2009, 09:55:02 pm
Thanks for the essay. I don't know how "typical" a reader I am.  I am a plain old amateur.  I have yet to venture into this level of equipment and work (obviously). I have thought a lot about where I am going with photography and the what camera purchase to make. My comment, or quetion rather, is that when Michael refers to his choices for his work, I am curious to what extent his pursuit as a professional landscape photgorapher informs this choice?  While I have read a bit elsewhere, I am wondering if his prefence of the Sony would be common with  those with other photographic specialties?

I agree about the value comment especially understanding that I will be one of those budget-minded folks who won't spend more then the A900 or the D700 would require.  I might not even end up there.

The article asked if frustration has set in.  Lets just say I thought about buying a table saw.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: AndyF on January 31, 2009, 10:08:06 pm
The price / DxOMark chart is one way of quantifying image quality vs. cost of the camera, and is relevant to us, the buyers.  Certain makers have taken criticism for the price they ask for their current peak of technology.  But, is the price actually a reliable basis for comparison?  This doesn't change which camera you choose to buy, based on your image quality desires and chequebook strength.  But it does question the fairness of the price / image quality comparison.

One company is mostly, or entirely, involved in the imaging business.  Their camera scores at the top of DxOMark chart.  It's also by far the most expensive.

Another company scores almost as high at about a third the price.  They may be a better value.  Is it really a better price/IQ camera?

Sony makes the sensor for their own A900 and apparently for the D3x.  There are undoubtedly differences in the spectral filtering on the R, G, B, cells and the colour information processing each company applies to them, and each company likely has different criteria on other characteristics of the sensor they buy off the fab line.  So yes, Nikon's D3x and Sony's A900 sensor might be the "same" sensor but they're certainly not just prior to being installed in the camera.  Anyway, I briefly digressed from my main point.

Nikon's revenue is based mostly on imaging products.  The D3x is $8K.

Sony has an enormous product range.  The A900 is $3K.  But Sony owns the image sensor fab, and also makes flat screen TVs, GPS units, alarm clocks, MP3 players, Playstations, owns some entertainment industries, etc.  The retail price of some of those products is supposedly less than their manufacturing cost; this can sometimes be due to a corporate strategic plan to get into a leadership position in an industry.  So if the A900 is 3K, is that the real cost of the camera, or is it subsidized by revenue from Bravia TVs, Playstations, and perhaps image sensor product lines?

Image quality vs. value is an absolutely great discussion and we can't really use anything except the retail price of the camera as the basis for our comparison, as buyers.  But it would be interesting to see a chart of DxOMark vs "real" cost of the camera.  We would then have two results; the IQ vs. true cost of the camera as the camera maker can achieve it, and the IQ vs. the market price of the camera.  Both figures of merit are of interest.

Andy
(shooting with an XTi)


Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 01, 2009, 12:06:54 am
I get the impression that many camera purchases are made on the basis of performance specifications alone, rather than the usefulness of the camera for a particular task or style of shooting.

In his article, Michael makes reference to his comparison between the Canon G10 and a 39MP Phase back. Experienced photographers who were invited to view A3+ size prints were not able to identify which camera had been used, until they realised that the shallower DoF of certain prints was an indication that the print was probably from an MFDB.

It seems that the DoF differences were more noticeable than differences in dynamic range, signal-to-noise and tonal range. Why is this, I ask?

If we look at DXOMark's results for SNR, DR and Tonal Range in respect of the Sony A900 and Canon G10, we find that, at an 8x12" print size (at 300 ppi), the A900 is streets ahead of the G10 in all three categories.

When we consider that a Phase 39mp back has to be better than an A900 (in all 3 categories), and when we consider that differences at the larger print size of A3+ must favour the larger sensor, then the obvious questions is, "What the heck's going on?"

Perhaps we need some cognitive psychologists to weigh in here, as well as eminent physicists such as Emil Martinec.

Now, understand, I'm not trying to impugn the integrity of Michael and his invited guests. I'm not trying to say that they are clueless when comparing G10 A3+ prints with Phase 39mp prints.

I'm simply saying, there are a few unanswered questions here. There's an enigma, a discrepancy, a dissonance between DXO test results of a lesser sensor's performance (the A900) at 8x12" print size, and the viewed result at 13x19" from an MFDB, in Michael's comparison involving experienced photographers.

The graphs below show the huge differences between the A900 and the G10 on 3 fronts, SNR, DR and Tonal Range. These graphs relate not to pixel performance, but to what you might expect to see on an 8x12" print.

[attachment=11292:DR_8x12_print.jpg]  [attachment=11293:SNR_8x12_print.jpg]  [attachment=11294:Tonal_Ra...12_print.jpg]
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on February 01, 2009, 12:43:17 am
Hi,

Another excellent article by Michael Reichmann.

One of the factors which I felt was quite obvious with Michaels comparison of the G10 and the P45 was the role of depth of field. In practical shooting a smaller frame camera gives more depth of field. No doubt in my mind that the P45 is better than  than any DSLR regardless of formate, but it takes both knowledge and experience to make best use of the quality on a high class MFDB.

On the other hand, we have a lot of parameters affecting perceived image quality, depth of field is an important one but there are others. Resolution wihich is closely realted to "MPixels" is an obvious one. In small enlargement's we don't really see resolution but acutance. Acutance is heavily affected by sharpening.

I have compared my new Sony A900 to my somewhat older A700. When viewed in Photoshop in the "scientific way" the A900 has a tremendous advantage in sharpness, but very little remains of that advantage when I make A2 size prints. No doubt that the differences may be larger in larger prints or with different objects. Check the following pages:

Actualpixels: http://www.pbase.com/ekr/image/107619976/original (http://www.pbase.com/ekr/image/107619976/original)
Scanned detail from A2-print: http://www.pbase.com/ekr/image/107823207/original (http://www.pbase.com/ekr/image/107823207/original)

My conclusion this far is that when a certain resolution has been acomplished which is good enough for a certain print size additional resolution is of little benefit. The additional resolution certainly helps if we make larger prints, howver.

Some other factors like DR may be independent of enlargement.

Best regards
Erik


Quote from: Ray
I get the impression that many camera purchases are made on the basis of performance specifications alone, rather than the usefulness of the camera for a particular task or style of shooting.

In his article, Michael makes reference to his comparison between the Canon G10 and a 39MP Phase back. Experienced photographers who were invited to view A3+ size prints were not able to identify which camera had been used, until they realised that the shallower DoF of certain prints was an indication that the print was probably from an MFDB.

It seems that the DoF differences were more noticeable than differences in dynamic range, signal-to-noise and tonal range. Why is this, I ask?

If we look at DXOMark's results for SNR, DR and Tonal Range in respect of the Sony A900 and Canon G10, we find that, at an 8x12" print size (at 300 ppi), the A900 is streets ahead of the G10 in all three categories.

When we consider that a Phase 39mp back has to be better than an A900 (in all 3 categories), and when we consider that differences at the larger print size of A3+ must favour the larger sensor, then the obvious questions is, "What the heck's going on?"

Perhaps we need some cognitive psychologists to weigh in here, as well as eminent physicists such as Emil Martinec.

Now, understand, I'm not trying to impugn the integrity of Michael and his invited guests. I'm not trying to say that they are clueless when comparing G10 A3+ prints with Phase 39mp prints.

I'm simply saying, there are a few unanswered questions here. There's an enigma, a discrepancy, a dissonance between DXO test results of a lesser sensor's performance (the A900) at 8x12" print size, and the viewed result at 13x19" from an MFDB, in Michael's comparison involving experienced photographers.

The graphs below show the huge differences between the A900 and the G10 on 3 fronts, SNR, DR and Tonal Range. These graphs relate not to pixel performance, but to what you might expect to see on an 8x12" print.

[attachment=11292:DR_8x12_print.jpg]  [attachment=11293:SNR_8x12_print.jpg]  [attachment=11294:Tonal_Ra...12_print.jpg]
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 01, 2009, 04:55:41 am
Quote from: ErikKaffehr
My conclusion this far is that when a certain resolution has been acomplished which is good enough for a certain print size additional resolution is of little benefit. The additional resolution certainly helps if we make larger prints, howver.

Some other factors like DR may be independent of enlargement.

Best regards
Erik

Erik,
Resolution is indeed relevant to the size of the print. We can go back to Michael's first review of a DSLR, the 3mp Canon D30, which was quite a contoversial review at the time because he claimed that prints from the D30 looked better than prints from 35mm scans (or at least as good) in all respects, but only up to a certain size. That size was approximately A4 to A3. Above that size, 35mm scans began to have a clear resolution edge. That's reasonable, but what was surprising was that a 3mp camera could hold its own against 35mm film up to A3 size.

This latest comparison from Michael, the G10 against the P45, continues in the same tradition and demonstrates that the 15mp of the G10 is sufficient for an A3+ size print and that the additional pixels of the very large and expensive P45 (and camera) serve little purpose at this size.

However, there is more to a photographic image than resolution. DXOMark shows clearly that there's a significant jump in DR, SNR and tonal range at the 8x12" print level (never mind the A3+ level) comparing the A900 with the G10. It is reasonable to presume that the gap would be even wider if DXO had compared the P45 with the G10.

What is puzzling to me is why these other attributes of image quality; dynamic range, noise and tonal range, did not stand out in the print from the P45 image to the extent that experienced photographers could recognise them. Such differences seem very significant on the DXOMark website even at the smaller print size of 8x12", and even when the G10 is compared with a lesser sensor than the P45, the A900. Got my point?
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Farmer on February 01, 2009, 05:14:44 am
Quote from: Ray
What is puzzling to me is why these other attributes of image quality; dynamic range, noise and tonal range, did not stand out in the print from the P45 image to the extent that experienced photographers could recognise them. Such differences seem very significant on the DXOMark website even at the smaller print size of 8x12", and even when the G10 is compared with a lesser sensor than the P45, the A900. Got my point?

A very (very!) simple guess is that the DR and TR of the particular image didn't challenge the G10 - in other words, the P45 had more of both, but didn't need it.  Also, both images were post processed, so if there was a slight advantage it may have been mitigated in processing (again, simply because the G10 was adequate for the job at hand).

It's a bit like pixels and print sizes - more DR and TR is wonderful, but if the range of of the particular image is sufficiently captured on a given device, having more on another won't make the image better.

Regarding noise, again, the SNR might be better but if the original capture has sufficient information the prints may not benefit.

At the end of the day, you're limited by the output capability of the printer even if the camera captured more information, if it's not possible for the printer to reproduce it, then you may not see the advantage.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: barryfitzgerald on February 01, 2009, 05:18:37 am
I know some folks stand 3 inches away from a wall print and want it to look great..

Back in the real world, not many people do that ;-)
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Rob C on February 01, 2009, 06:31:24 am
Forgive me if Iīm going off at half-cock here, but I seem to find a confusion between two things: the OPīs post which strikes me as being about starting up in a photo business regardless of economic climate; references to an article by Michael about format size v. print size.

Perhaps the two subjects are connected but I have lost the reference: can anyone help? I do realise the title of this thread.

Anyway, be that as it may, I would return to Steve Draperīs post.

Starting up a pro photography business at ANY time is fraught with risk; starting up in a full-blown recession/depression - semantics be damned, it hurts either way - even more so. Further, I have a dreadful suspicion that you can do all the analysis you like, consult all the specialist career advisers that want to sell you their product and you will not really be any closer to any truth or shining pathway to economic paradise. IN PHOTOGRAPHY.

I say this because unlike many other things in life, unlike most, possibly, you are trying to sell a product that many believe is no better than their friend in the camera club can produce, probably for free because he feels flattered to be asked. Worse, when you are selling a service in photography, as in an assignment to go out and shoot something in exchange for the clientīs money, you are selling something that has to be sold on a basis of blind confidence in the photographerīs talent, selling a product that does not exist. Yes, this faith in one might well come later in life, based on past record, but even there there is much room for disaster for many reasons totally outwith the photographerīs control. So, basically, it is never easy, never the simple option but often the option you chose because nothing else in life would satisfy the yearning you might have felt within.

For my money, if you donīt already have that overwhelming need to be a photographer full-time, a need which would probably already have you working in the business, then I see little point in taking onboard the inevitable problems of a photographic business. Why on Earth not just enjoy it as a hobby, free to do whatever turns you on? This isnīt any put-down; this isnīt protectionism (Iīm retired and would hardly care) but mostly to do with suggesting anyone avoid embarking on one of the most difficult journeys imaginable that offers precious little reward except for some very few, well-connected talents.

Rob C
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 01, 2009, 07:07:23 am
Quote from: Farmer
A very (very!) simple guess is that the DR and TR of the particular image didn't challenge the G10 - in other words, the P45 had more of both, but didn't need it.  Also, both images were post processed, so if there was a slight advantage it may have been mitigated in processing (again, simply because the G10 was adequate for the job at hand).

It's a bit like pixels and print sizes - more DR and TR is wonderful, but if the range of of the particular image is sufficiently captured on a given device, having more on another won't make the image better.

Regarding noise, again, the SNR might be better but if the original capture has sufficient information the prints may not benefit.

At the end of the day, you're limited by the output capability of the printer even if the camera captured more information, if it's not possible for the printer to reproduce it, then you may not see the advantage.

That could be the explanation and it certainly occurred to me, which is why I wrote earlier that I get the impression that many camera purchases are made on the basis of performance specifications only, rather than the usefulness of the tool for specific tasks and styles of shooting.

However, I find it surprising that modern inkjet printers might not be capable of reproducing the greater subtlety and smoothness of tonal variation that are suggested on those DXO charts.

Perhaps we are back to the analogy of the Porsche or Maserati. Those cars are clearly of higher performance than the average Mazda sedan, but they don't necessarily get you to your destination more quickly or more safely. However, just occasionally they might. You're stuck behind a slow lorry on a narrow winding road. Suddenly, on a steep hill there's an overtaking lane, a window of opportunity, but it's a short lane and there's a car in front of you that tries to overtake first. But the driver is not in a Porsche and by the time he's overtaken the lorry there's only 50 metres of overtaking lane left, so you slam down your foot and your Porsche almost takes off like a plane.

Do I buy an expensive, high-performance camera for such rare occasions?  
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Steven Draper on February 01, 2009, 07:50:57 am
Quote from: Rob C
Forgive me if Iīm going off at half-cock here, but I seem to find a confusion between two things: the OPīs post which strikes me as being about starting up in a photo business regardless of economic climate; references to an article by Michael about format size v. print size.

Perhaps the two subjects are connected but I have lost the reference: can anyone help? I do realise the title of this thread.

Anyway, be that as it may, I would return to Steve Draperīs post.

Starting up a pro photography business at ANY time is fraught with risk; starting up in a full-blown recession/depression - semantics be damned, it hurts either way - even more so. Further, I have a dreadful suspicion that you can do all the analysis you like, consult all the specialist career advisers that want to sell you their product and you will not really be any closer to any truth or shining pathway to economic paradise. IN PHOTOGRAPHY.

I say this because unlike many other things in life, unlike most, possibly, you are trying to sell a product that many believe is no better than their friend in the camera club can produce, probably for free because he feels flattered to be asked. Worse, when you are selling a service in photography, as in an assignment to go out and shoot something in exchange for the clientīs money, you are selling something that has to be sold on a basis of blind confidence in the photographerīs talent, selling a product that does not exist. Yes, this faith in one might well come later in life, based on past record, but even there there is much room for disaster for many reasons totally outwith the photographerīs control. So, basically, it is never easy, never the simple option but often the option you chose because nothing else in life would satisfy the yearning you might have felt within.

For my money, if you donīt already have that overwhelming need to be a photographer full-time, a need which would probably already have you working in the business, then I see little point in taking onboard the inevitable problems of a photographic business. Why on Earth not just enjoy it as a hobby, free to do whatever turns you on? This isnīt any put-down; this isnīt protectionism (Iīm retired and would hardly care) but mostly to do with suggesting anyone avoid embarking on one of the most difficult journeys imaginable that offers precious little reward except for some very few, well-connected talents.

Rob C

Thanks Rob C - I guess I'm at some fault for generating some confusion. I wanted to make the point that within a business operation choices are critical, but the actual camera may be of less significance that many of the other choices one has to make.

However I value your thoughts and you identify a huge problem for many potential sellers of photography in that so many people do take and make very 'solid' images. In some ways photography is almost like trying to sell people air - why not just breath your own!   My thoughts in selling my own personal work are that it becomes the level of communication within these images that people enjoy - the technicalities of what camera, what lens, what processing or what printer are not so important to my clients.

And with 'my about to launch business service',  the images I will be able to take, virtue of the additional non photographic equipment I will be using, will not be able to be taken by others unless they own the same equipment, or hire similar solutions that are fairly expensive on a day to day rate. Many of my target clients require photography whether the world is in recession or not, yet when in recession the advantage I will be able to give is actually at its strongest because funds are least and competition is greatest.

For those that are interested I'll hopefully have more info soon, perhaps I should submit an essay to this site about detailing my plans to beat the recession!!!!!

Back to the cameras am the MR article.

There are sweet spots for photography too, and often I have found cameras to be very similar when operating in ideal conditions. It's when you start to push the limits in both actual capture conditions and then processing style where huge differences can start to occur, regardless of what size print you wish to make.

However knowing your own camera can mean that you can shoot to it's strengths and compensate for it's weaknesses. And some cameras are better in many circumstances. I have a touching collection of images made by my 3 year old son using a Canon IXUS - exciting because they identify how a 3 year old see's the world, not just in view point but in what is important to him!!! The actual pixel quality is somewhat irrelevant and they could never have been made with a D700 or a Hy6 due to there size!

atb
Steven

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: michael on February 01, 2009, 08:18:33 am
Ray,

Your point is right on the money, and in fact is the subject of my next essay, which will likely appear early on Feb 3.

The core issue is that their is often a disconnect between what we see and what we measure.

More soon.

Michael

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: barryfitzgerald on February 01, 2009, 08:24:25 am
Quote from: Steven Draper
My thoughts in selling my own personal work are that it becomes the level of communication within these images that people enjoy - the technicalities of what camera, what lens, what processing or what printer are not so important to my clients.


Clients don't care what you are using, they simply want results, and nothing more.
These equipment discussions crop up frequently..the obvious answer is to use what you like (handling, ergonomics, personal taste, cost etc)

Whilst I only do some part time work, nobody has "ever" asked me what I use, what lens took a photo, etc etc. And they would not be impressed much if I told them ;-)
Saying that, there are obvious limitations to some cameras, nobody would out of choice take a fuji compact to a wedding, you could still get some decent shots, but you are making life hard.

I would go so far as to say, the only people who do ask about equipment, are photographers..most folks wouldn't have a clue about an L lens v a kit lens, or a cheap flashgun v a top end one.
You simply have a choice of makers, and equipment makes your life easier..there are 3 that have fairly complete systems, and other makers are worth a look too.
The same goes for landscape work, folks can talk mega pixels and res all day long, but it is the prints that tell the real story. The actual quality of the photo, not image quality. Technical flaws may not render an image sub standard, it can still be very good
It's even open to debate if you "need" a full frame camera, certainly for many jobs an APS one will be more than enough.

Just a note to Ray here, I shoot 6mp and 10mp alongside 35mm film. And I have questioned and being more specific, simply looked at the prints I have done. And I can say, without any hesitation, that neither of my digitals can "hold their own" up to a quality 35mm scan. So if people say 3mp does so well, I would have to strongly disagree, based on my own use of all of them. Not that I am unhappy with the digitals, simply I am satisfied with the output of good quality 35mm, some are not..some want larger formats..that is fine, choice as they say. But the reason I do use "some" film, is not for simply resolution, it is on a tonal and sometimes DR level, hence my gravitation to neg film, against the trends of most scenic shooters. I prefer to use digital for low light work, as it has a notable advantage over film. I really don't want to read any more of this "3mp near 35mm" it simply does not hold up.

If people want to talk about print sizes, my little comment above, had no impact. You cannot talk about that, unless you talk about viewing distances..from normal distances lower resolution prints will hold up just fine, only the print/pixel peepers will have a problem with them. There is nothing wrong with talking about res, to a point, but we hear so little about other areas, tonal variations, colour reproductions, hues, saturations, dynamic range..and various other ones.

You are either satisfied, or you are not (print wise)









Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: pegelli on February 01, 2009, 09:16:56 am
There's another parallel thread covering the same essay, but exploring different avenues vs. this one.

See Here (http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=31658&hl=)
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: timpenner on February 01, 2009, 09:28:23 am
Consider a previous golden age that dawned with the advent of highly portable 35mm technology to record the passage of the latter half of the 20th century in countless newspapers, magazines and galleries. I used to look back on those dated photos with envy. I couldn't possibly afford the film and the processing that well-backed journalists and artists were provided or starved for. Now I can use their inspiration.

I have a couple of 8MP bodies, a bag of lenses, flashes and gizmos, and a couple of funky digicams. Unfortunately, my non-photography job keeps me busy; but I still find time to take pleasure in my version of artistry, defining or refining a vision perhaps only subtly different from so many others in my situation. The serenity of looking through viewfinders is palpable, then the ink jet chugs another 8x10 into view, yields the satisfaction of expressing oneself in a manner that our visual culture conspicuously reveres. No matter the distainful exhortations of certain well-healed professionals, that photographic art cannot exist outside of the parameters they define so precisely for themselves, there are now legions of us, the great untrained and underfunded, emitting a flood of images, many compelling, without sanction.

A few years ago, I figured that photography and computer technology would one day, maybe around 2015, reach the point where anyone could afford to experiment enough to learn enough to produce decent photographs. That point has passed already. The cost of "acceptable" technical quality flattened as the ante for optimal technical quality plateaued, making photography more accessible than it has ever been. My thanks to those pushing state-of-the-art technology with their money for their leavings.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Moynihan on February 01, 2009, 09:40:47 am
Quote from: barryfitzgerald
I know some folks stand 3 inches away from a wall print and want it to look great..

Didn't know anyone saw me doing that  
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Moynihan on February 01, 2009, 10:03:19 am
A comment from an amateur. Have not photographed for money for years, but do love it.
Not having a related income stream, nor significant discretionary income, the Quality vs Value question is for me, a discussion of a hypothetical question, with little or no bearing on my life. But it is interesting non-the-less.

I used to use (in film only days) a little 8x10, some 4x5, and 120, 35mm.

The embedding of some basic elements of image quality into a fixed aspect of the camera body has set for me, due to cost (recession or not) a barrier that is new to the digital photography "age".

But preferring small prints (A4), it is not a serious negative (pardon the pun)for me. I will toddle along with my 10mp sensors, and some 120 B&W scans, inside a self imposed boundary condition of A4, with no up-rezing, etc.

But like an average car driver reading about formula one racing machines, i will find the series interesting.

   
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: dchew on February 01, 2009, 10:40:10 am
Quote from: Ray
Do I buy an expensive, high-performance camera for such rare occasions?  

And the rest of the time we want the car to have traits of an opposing design such as high gas mileage or low noise (road!).  For example, I frequently reduce the DR in post-processing; my old default film was Velvia, which probably had the worst DR of the options available.

With film, we could on a whim go out and get negative film instead of positive, even though 90% of the time we would shoot transparencies.  Or we could drop in 1600 ISO film.  Those films were the same in every camera (assuming common formats).  Today's digital cameras all do this better than film did, but some do it even better than others; that's where the value/utility/cost equation comes in.

The issue is in the value of flexibility at the edge.  Current cameras are so much more versatile than they were just a few years ago.  Varying ISO, high DR, wide gamut, etc.  As Michael showed in the G10 comparison, most cameras will beautifully handle a variety of situations almost identically in print.  The added cost / utility is on the margin (for me): low-light moving subjects, high DR situations, really big prints...  

I think camera choice is so much more of a personal preference than ever before.  That's why asking a forum today, "Which camera should I buy?" get's so muddy.

Dave Chew

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: OwlsEye on February 01, 2009, 01:24:02 pm
As usual, this was a very nice read. I, like others, appreciate the articulate and honest perspective that Michael takes when he authors his essays about gear and vision.
I read the essay earlier this morning, the discussion topic... "When is Enough Enough" has sat heavy in my head. Like many photographers, I have been everywhere when it comes to gear. I began with 35mm in the 80's, bounced around medium and large format photography in the 90's, and have fallen for the total control that digital has allowed in the current decade. Unlike many of Michael's workshop participants, the purchase of this gear does not come easy. I'm a biologist and teacher who also likes to add the label "photographer."

So, if money is a limiting factor, the question "When is enough, enough?" really matters. There was a time when a photographer could shoot with an old 500C camera and a few quality Zeiss lenses and they could produce the same level of imagery as another using a 503C or 6008i(Rollei) or (you fill in the blank.....). Unfortunately, this is no longer the truth. Today, how much you spend can really affect the final image output... In the past when I decided to buy an F100 instead of an F5, I reasoned that the additional cost would be better applied to the optics... as optics (and film) was the great equalizer. Now I find myself with a real predicament. Good optics (which I have) make great images possible, but the ultimate quality now lies in the computer (read as camera) that resolves that image. Not only is the camera now the deciding factor, but the difference in price between good and great now limits the possibilities. This is what I find very very sad! Here we are in a world of photographic possibilities where a $1300 (12-15mpx crop) camera is almost 3-times less than the next image jump ($3000 full frame), which is 2-times less than a high resolution full-frame, which is 6 times less than a medium format body & back. That $1300 crop body costs 1/25 (or more) as much as the P65+ described by Michael... Great images can be produced with that $1300 camera (note nearly twice the price of an F100 or Eos3), but it can never reach the possibilities that a P65+.

So, here is the question, are only the rich allowed to produce the best quality outputs?... this is sad, as there are some fine (less healed) artists out there that would benefit from the old days where the camera really didn't matter!

Apologies for the ramble... but the disparity between what is, and what is possible continues to trouble me.
cheers and good shooting,
bruce
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Nemo on February 01, 2009, 01:49:04 pm
Improvements we can expect in sensors:

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/t...-keeping-t.html (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2008/12/still-keeping-t.html)

Sony's first back-illuminated CMOS is here:

http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/News/Press/20...069E/index.html (http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/News/Press/200806/08-069E/index.html)

Less is more? I don't think so...
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: douglasf13 on February 01, 2009, 01:53:30 pm
Bruce, I think your post is right on the money, and it is very frustrating. I miss using my Hassies, but I'm not in the position to buy a new Leaf or equivalent. I tried older backs, but they are still cropped, and didn't provide anything more than my A900 IQ wise. I guess the main positive to it all is the savings from not buying film.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Pete Ferling on February 01, 2009, 02:15:48 pm
Nothing was more of a leap for the money than purchasing a $7000 1Ds mark I.  Even so, five years ago digital was a dirty word, and in my job, having instant gratification and same day turn around (without having to grab the keys to visit the lab) was a huge deal.

Today I shoot primarily with a 40D, and still use that 1Ds whenever I need the extra 30mm for full frame for wides, etc.

I still shoot with my FD cameras, and the MAM645 on occasion for the fun of it, and when I desire the response/look of film.  Yes, with some tweaking I could fake some of those looks, and there are many times where I'll pick a digital over the same scene shot in film.  Much of this is habit and all of it simply ignores the specs sheets and the eyes pick the winner.

I do agree with an earlier poster whom said clients don't care how it was shot, only how it looks.  That makes me my own best client then.

I could easily request a budget for a Mark III or go digital with my MF back.  However, upgrading today is more like a fix that needs a problem to justify it.  Right now, I'm getting 30" prints off of my 9800 that tells me I don't need to spend a penny more.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Quentin on February 01, 2009, 02:55:32 pm
There is also portability to consider.  I have gone the A900 route, and with a Sigma 12-24mm, Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8 and Sony G 70-300 I have a high resolution system of far greater portability than MF digital or LF film and with focal length coverage from 12-300mm covering almost every conceivable shooting situation and all fitting in or about a Lowepro belt.  It's fantastic not to have to compromise and still be so portable, particularly as one gets a tad older.

Quentin
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: pegelli on February 01, 2009, 03:19:45 pm
Quote from: douglasf13
Bruce, I think your post is right on the money

I think there's a couple of other points to consider:

1) In the film days the body does still matter. A more accurate and repeatable light meter was essential to get properly exposed slides. A smaller spot measurement area really helped to get better exposures as well. Ruggedness still determined if a camera kept working in the rain or being banged around. Exchangable ground glasses were needed for special jobs and at the end of the era a more accurate AF system is always better. So the question about "when is enough enough" was being asked then as well.

2) Isn't Michael in his essay trying to say something different really. There are certain job where the resolution of a MF back or the low noise of a D3 are needed, but when these high specs are not needed a G10 can produce similar stellar quality. So everybody for himself has to decide how much he want to pay for having the best gear for the extreme situations he finds himself in. The answer for this question depends on how much money he can afford and justify to spend, as well as how often he finds himself in that situation. No DxO graph can answer that question, only you can.

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Farkled on February 01, 2009, 03:29:46 pm
I suspect that it is a truism, when considering investment in tools, that for the price of the "ultimate", once can get 90% of the performance for about 20% of the price.  That last 10% of performance puts one on a nearly vertical cost curve.  Regardless of the actual shape of the curves, I believe the principle holds true.

When designing production lines, there is no value in improving machine performance beyond that required to match the performance of the slowest machine in the line; the limiting point.

The limiting point in photography is the final output medium.  The limitations are different for digital and film processes, but they exist.  Current inkjets and papers have a resolution that may be less than the camera & lens part of the chain.  I cannot speak to optical enlargers and photo sensitive papers but I suspect the situation is similar.  Digital displays are already far behind camera & lens capabilities regardless of film or digital.

My conclusions are:

1) - The world is different for business or pleasure.  Achieving the ultimate performance may be entirely justifiable for pleasure when the cost cannot be supported for any rational business decision.  Because I want it is justification enough.

2) - Digital images can potentially endure for eternity.  Fine art images ought to be the best possible because display technology will improve over time.  Business images (product shots, etc.) need only endure for a short useful life.  Their quality need not exceed intended display quality for the life of the product.

3) - Journalists will continue to thrive as long as there is ambiguity in the price - performance curves and as long as there are differences of opinion as to where one should reside on that curve or where equipment fits on the curve.

4) - Such discussions are a lot more fun than political discussions but about as useful.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark F on February 01, 2009, 09:08:17 pm
Kind of like the law of diminishing returns. Michael makes a very important point when he emphasizes that each individual user must judge what is right for him.  

Is the successful advertising pro using last year's P45+ back going to lose clients if he does not run out and upgrade? Will his work be any less creative? Only that photographer can decide if his clients will require the extra quality that the new back can provide. If his clients will notice and demand the extra detail that more pixels will give or if his work is consistently blown up to larger than 30 x 40, then maybe yes. But if not, then as a business matter it seems not to make sense to upgrade, even though we all want the latest and greatest.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: DaveCurtis on February 01, 2009, 09:32:17 pm
Quote from: Ray
That could be the explanation and it certainly occurred to me, which is why I wrote earlier that I get the impression that many camera purchases are made on the basis of performance specifications only, rather than the usefulness of the tool for specific tasks and styles of shooting.

However, I find it surprising that modern inkjet printers might not be capable of reproducing the greater subtlety and smoothness of tonal variation that are suggested on those DXO charts.

Perhaps we are back to the analogy of the Porsche or Maserati. Those cars are clearly of higher performance than the average Mazda sedan, but they don't necessarily get you to your destination more quickly or more safely. However, just occasionally they might. You're stuck behind a slow lorry on a narrow winding road. Suddenly, on a steep hill there's an overtaking lane, a window of opportunity, but it's a short lane and there's a car in front of you that tries to overtake first. But the driver is not in a Porsche and by the time he's overtaken the lorry there's only 50 metres of overtaking lane left, so you slam down your foot and your Porsche almost takes off like a plane.

Do I buy an expensive, high-performance camera for such rare occasions?  


I couldn't agree more Ray.

When I bought my 1Ds MrkIII (my Porcshe), I thought it would kick the arse off my 1D MrkII (my Mazda) however it didn't! It was more like a gentle spank.

To be far to the 1DS MrkIII, pixel peeping at 1:1 showed a larger difference than when comparing A2 prints but in the end making prints was  the reason I purchased the 1DS markIII not pixel peeping.


Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: JeffKohn on February 02, 2009, 12:20:17 am
Quote from: barryfitzgerald
I know some folks stand 3 inches away from a wall print and want it to look great..

Back in the real world, not many people do that ;-)
On the contrary, I've found that many "regular", non-photographer types do just that. I guess it depends on image content, as most people have no interest in counting nose-hairs in a portrait. But show them a high-detail landscape and unless there's some sort of barrier preventing them from doing so, most viewers will step closer to get a better look. It's human nature to want to see just how much detail is there.

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 02, 2009, 12:57:59 am
Quote from: JeffKohn
On the contrary, I've found that many "regular", non-photographer types do just that. I guess it depends on image content, as most people have no interest in counting nose-hairs in a portrait. But show them a high-detail landscape and unless there's some sort of barrier preventing them from doing so, most viewers will step closer to get a better look. It's human nature to want to see just how much detail is there.

I agree. That's my experience also, assuming the subject is something they are interested in.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: pegelli on February 02, 2009, 01:46:58 am
Quote from: DaveDn
I couldn't agree more Ray.

When I bought my 1Ds MrkIII (my Porcshe), I thought it would kick the arse off my 1D MrkII (my Mazda) however it didn't! It was more like a gentle spank.

To be far to the 1DS MrkIII, pixel peeping at 1:1 showed a larger difference than when comparing A2 prints but in the end making prints was  the reason I purchased the 1DS markIII not pixel peeping.

If you want your next camera to give your Mk III a real kick in the arse you'll probably have to wait buying a new one until the Mk VI or VII is out. For me that's one of the messages Michael is telling us in this essay series. Doesn't mean you should not upgrade with every step if you want to, it just means you're paying a lot for relatively small steps.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: barryfitzgerald on February 02, 2009, 04:49:31 am
Disagree. People don't nose job photos, they admire and look at them! They don't peer into the corners, wondering if a sharper lens would do better.
Those who subscribe to big resolution= good landscape print, are sorely missing the point. A sharp print is fine, but that is not what counts, the "does it work" factor is the main element.

You could tear yourself apart wondering if you gear is up to the job, or work harder on getting "good shots", I know which I prefer..

Equipment has always been part of photography, however, there is an unhealthy obsession with it, from some folks.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on February 02, 2009, 05:06:23 am
Quote from: pegelli
2) Isn't Michael in his essay trying to say something different really. There are certain job where the resolution of a MF back or the low noise of a D3 are needed, but when these high specs are not needed a G10 can produce similar stellar quality. So everybody for himself has to decide how much he want to pay for having the best gear for the extreme situations he finds himself in. The answer for this question depends on how much money he can afford and justify to spend, as well as how often he finds himself in that situation. No DxO graph can answer that question, only you can.

Very true.

One thing though, the G10 will only do a stellar job in those situations where the DR that needs to be addressed in the scene is reasonnably limited.

(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3011/3031086578_a95f9af499_o.jpg)

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Rob C on February 02, 2009, 05:24:15 am
Very nice shot, Bernard.

Rob C
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 02, 2009, 05:42:08 am
Quote from: barryfitzgerald
Equipment has always been part of photography, however, there is an unhealthy obsession with it, from some folks.

Especially from those who actually design the lenses and sensors. What can they be thinking of, when most normal people would be quite happy with a pin-hole camera.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: barryfitzgerald on February 02, 2009, 06:41:07 am
Quote from: Ray
Especially from those who actually design the lenses and sensors. What can they be thinking of, when most normal people would be quite happy with a pin-hole camera.


This is the problem, some people take things to extremes! Please point out where I mentioned "pinhole" camera.

Like I said, some love the gear some love photography..some love both, only one really counts.
The article was about "good enough"..though in honestly, the only reason the G10 is there, is because it has 15 megapixels.

And back we go to the res debate..boring isn't it ;-)
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: siba on February 02, 2009, 06:42:36 am
It simply isn't true that clients don't care what equipment you use.

I agree that often a job could be shot with a "lesser" camera. If you're shooting alone and sending the files by e-mail then it may well not matter. But, I can't imagine that this is what most photographers aspire to. And, more to the point, most jobs aren't like that.

Art directors deal with hundreds of photographers, and the majority of the time they will start with the assumption that the job will be shot with a medium format digital back. If not then there has to be a reason. Photo editors at magazines pixel peep because it is their job to look at thousands of photos every month, and the graphics people who have to cut out my product shots have an easier job if the image is from 39MP than 21MP.

Many clients, ad people, in fact pretty much everyone nowadays, will have a dslr. Do you want to turn up to a shoot as the photographer and have the same camera as everyone else? It's your trade, you're a photographer, and choice of equipment will influence the way people judge you.

As Michael likes to say, it is horses for courses. But, it's not that any old horse will do. If you're a professional photographer then it's either a full frame quickest autofocus DSLR horse, or a medium format digital back horse - and ideally one would own both horses. If a photographer is not using one or both of these then it's because he can't afford to, not because he's happy shooting with less.

The issue in this thread is interesting as an absolute argument, and implying that the end product is all that counts when taking a photo is absurd.

Stefan
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: barryfitzgerald on February 02, 2009, 06:49:33 am
Quote from: siba
It simply isn't true that clients don't care what equipment you use.

I agree that often a job could be shot with a "lesser" camera. If you're shooting alone and sending the files by e-mail then it may well not matter. But, I can't imagine that this is what most photographers aspire to. And, more to the point, most jobs aren't like that.

Art directors deal with hundreds of photographers, and the majority of the time they will start with the assumption that the job will be shot with a medium format digital back. If not then there has to be a reason. Photo editors at magazines pixel peep because it is their job to look at thousands of photos every month, and the graphics people who have to cut out my product shots have an easier job if the image is from 39MP than 21MP.

Many clients, ad people, in fact pretty much everyone nowadays, will have a dslr. Do you want to turn up to a shoot as the photographer and have the same camera as everyone else? It's your trade, you're a photographer, and choice of equipment will influence the way people judge you.

As Michael likes to say, it is horses for courses. But, it's not that any old horse will do. If you're a professional photographer then it's either a full frame quickest autofocus DSLR horse, or a medium format digital back horse - and ideally one would own both horses. If a photographer is not using one or both of these then it's because he can't afford to, not because he's happy shooting with less.

The issue in this thread is interesting as an absolute argument, and implying that the end product is all that counts when taking a photo is absurd.

Stefan



So folks who pay for photographic services, are paying for "a nice set of lenses and a beefy camera" ??? Are they..
Most wouldn't have a clue what you are using.

I don't use a FF DSLR, I use 2 APS-C ones, and 35mm when I prefer to use that. They are all capable of better than email results!

It's pure nonsense to say you "NEED" a FF DSLR, you don't. It would be nice..but it is not essential.

If you want to say I am poor for using lesser gear, fire away..I don't really care myself, I just worry about what I produce.

The end product is what counts, sorry, that is so clearly obvious, denial is very unwise. Of course I will get better quality photos from a D3 at low light, but we come back to the same point again.."good enough"

The only absurd argument here, is to say equipment is more important than the end result. Some folks have a very odd way of looking at things.

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: siba on February 02, 2009, 07:13:06 am
Quote from: barryfitzgerald
So folks who pay for photographic services, are paying for "a nice set of lenses and a beefy camera" ??? Are they..
Most wouldn't have a clue what you are using.

I don't use a FF DSLR, I use 2 APS-C ones, and 35mm when I prefer to use that. They are all capable of better than email results!

It's pure nonsense to say you "NEED" a FF DSLR, you don't. It would be nice..but it is not essential.

If you want to say I am poor for using lesser gear, fire away..I don't really care myself, I just worry about what I produce.

The end product is what counts, sorry, that is so clearly obvious, denial is very unwise. Of course I will get better quality photos from a D3 at low light, but we come back to the same point again.."good enough"

The only absurd argument here, is to say equipment is more important than the end result. Some folks have a very odd way of looking at things.

no one is saying that equipment is more important than the end result. That would be absurd and quite an extreme view in what is a much broader debate. But, you're saying quite adamantly that the only important factor in photography is the end product. That is just as extreme a point of view. I do "NEED" my P45 and telling me that it is not essential for my photography is just not true. How could I use my contax if I didn't have a back attached to it. Do you suggest that I use film? Should I settle for image quality that is inferior to what I can obtain from the digital back by using an APS-C camera? Or, are you saying that APS-C sensors are the same image quality as a 39MP back? Because that is what you are implying.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: barryfitzgerald on February 02, 2009, 07:23:06 am
What I am saying is..

For my needs, I find APS (and film for some jobs) more than adequate for the jobs I do. If they were not, then I would of course hunt out something that was better suited. I am not talking about shooting a wedding with a fuji compact. I am suggesting, that we all have different needs.
I don't do advertising shoots for billboards, so I have no "need" for a MF digital back..and associated gear with that.
I don't do studio work, I do on location stuff
The equipment I have is more than sufficient for producing magazine quality images. I know this, because I have sold some to magazines! And they did not ask what camera I used/
So I am not saying that high end gear is not better, or desirable (If you need it for your own requirements), but that we have our own demands, and needs..and that simply having the best of the best, was never a road to getting quality results.

Back to the topic, which is "when is good enough..good enough" ??

Not all of us are shooting for A1 prints. I won't be throwing my shots away, simply because they were taken with not as good as they could be cameras. They shots work, or they do not! I know more than a few landscapers with top notch gear, and a mediocre eye..

As it happens I wouldn't even look at a G10, 15mp is all fine and dandy, but I find the DR too limited, and dislike it on a tonal level. So for me, I will get better results with a 35mm camera.


Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 02, 2009, 07:53:53 am
Quote from: barryfitzgerald
This is the problem, some people take things to extremes! Please point out where I mentioned "pinhole" camera.

I was trying to make my point as briefly and cogently as possible, but I'll expand upon it if you like. What you describe as an unhealthy obsession with the technical performance of cameras and lenses is what drives the industry and technological innovation. When consumers in general are undiscerning about such matters, don't care if lenses are sharp to the corners, don't care whether or not their camera produces sharp and clean results at ISO 3200, dont' care whether the DR of their camera is 6EV or 12EV, then the manufacturers also don't care. Why should they?
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: barryfitzgerald on February 02, 2009, 11:02:12 am
Manufacturers will care, simply because of competition
You can view the technology aspect however you like..
Were people unwise to buy a Canon EOS-1D back in 2001? At the time a very expensive camera. In pure IQ terms, I would imagine even the cheapest DSLR's on the market today, will soundly thump it with regards IQ, DR and high ISO performance. Obviously they wont have the build and features, but IQ is most important right?

Take the Canon D30, heralded at the time as a breakthrough camera..again, it's dated tech means it's left wanting compared to newer beasts. Things always get better.

So should I go on ebay and buy a Ģ450 Canon EOS 1D/D30...to look like a pro, or would I be better of with a lower to mid point modern DSLR? I would on a personal level, go for the newer models. This is kind of what I am saying with regards "good enough" Those cameras, despite being old, managed to work for the people that bought them, in the same way the technology has filtered down to the low end too. The 450d isn't pricey, but it's pretty good, good enough to do serious work with.

So top end cameras will always be more expensive, and better. But good enough is just that..no point worrying "if something better" will come along, always will. I would love to get a FF digital, but I ain't blowing out Ģ2k to get one. And when FF is better priced, I will be happy I got a deal. But then I do a bit here and there, if you are full time, you can justify the outlay, as you will get it back fairly fast. But I def don't see that working with more cost effective equipment, means you cannot do a good job. Today's budget stuff, whips yesteryears top end..bar a few FPS, in pure IQ terms, we already have it pretty good right now.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Quentin on February 02, 2009, 11:10:48 am
Quote from: barryfitzgerald
The only absurd argument here, is to say equipment is more important than the end result. Some folks have a very odd way of looking at things.

Completely agree.  Equipment is all but irrelevant so long as it is good enough for the job in hand.  I have pro photo friends using modest (not top end) dslr equipment who have major international clients.  Their clients could not give a proverbial toss about the equipment they use.  They are buying the skills of the photographer, not a hardware ego trip.

Quentin
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: image66 on February 02, 2009, 11:16:12 am
Haven't we had this discussion before?  It seems uncannily familiar.  Oh, yes, I remember now.  8MP vs. 6MP sensors.

I've decided to jump off the bus.  As you all are spending tens of thousands of dollars pursuing the "Holy Grail" of image-quality and discovering that it's only good for 18 months, I've gone a different direction. I've had to.  There is no way I can afford to "keep up with the Jones" when this current approach has gone off the deep end of logic.

Rule #1:  Somebody will always show up with a lens bigger than yours.
Rule #2:  Somebody will always show up with a sensor bigger than yours.
Rule #3:  When A/B comparing images, he who has the biggest lens/sensor wins.  I'll never keep up with MR on this.

Therefore, I'm presented with options.  If you can't beat them or join them in this crazy quest, then play by a different set of rules.

For the paying photographic work in my life, believe it or not, even a lowly 5MP camera still meets and exceeds customer requirements.  It's impossible to justify the cost in a pure ROI calculation.  After all, my photographic business is a "business" and profit motivation is key.

From an artistic endeavor, maybe one can buck the system and go by the beat of a different drummer.  In the 19th century, Impressionism became an alternative style of painting.  Ask yourself this question:  Which is infinitely more interesting or desirable to hang on your wall?  A Claude Monet painting or a landscape photograph done with this week's latest/greatest camera?

Unfortunately, nearly all images taken with these top-dog cameras have the same look to them and the subject seems secondary to the technical aspects of the image. If you want to make a photograph of a brick wall look more interesting, throw more pixels at it.  So much of what I see from ALL of us is a rehash of the same thing.  For example, how many more pictures of blue ice are we going to see this month?  OK, I get it, the Sony captures blue and you can make out every mirror-like crystal and 100,000 year-old snowflake.  Lot's of "pretty pictures" but nothing that jumps out at me yet and says "I want THAT photograph on MY wall!"  Maybe I'm a tougher customer, though--I'm looking for artistic interpretation, not high-end bedspread sized-postcards.

But none of that is the point of this discussion, is it?  This discussion is about technical limits and how much one can spend to achieve this week's "perfection".

If money was no problem for me, I'd love to be that "somebody" in my Rules 1-3, and unfortunately, I can see myself "Counting Ants".

Ken
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Pete Ferling on February 02, 2009, 01:38:38 pm
Quote from: siba
It simply isn't true that clients don't care what equipment you use..... The issue in this thread is interesting as an absolute argument, and implying that the end product is all that counts when taking a photo is absurd.

Stefan

Frankly, I am more thrilled to hear compliments about having a good eye for composition than how expensive or big my camera is.

What today's market has done was level the field for all photographers, and the only things that will stand out is good working skills.  The sake of just having access to the tools is no longer a reason for job security or commanding higher prices.  Maybe then, in today's economy, we'll see more threads about business and technique than charts, spec sheets and scientific BS.

I know where I'm coming from, as I shoot for corporate work and hire out for the same when I can't be two places at once.  The first thing I ask to is to see examples of their work, and I've never asked about gear.  Which is pretty much the same case for when folks hire me.

My only negative to this whole way of thinking is that it's not very beneficial to those whom are making and selling the very gear we need to do our jobs.  As we migrate from print and paper (another discussion) to electronic formats, the requirements for high end gear is dropping off.  This year already I've produced "digital posters" (video for HDTV display) for five corporate events that normally would have required large prints from our 9800.  
Right away I lost a big reason to budget for new camera as the old 1Ds is still meeting that level of resolution, and in fact, it's overkill.

In addition, I will be spending a lot less on ink and paper and start to worry about the print heads drying up.

In the end, is this a problem?  No.  After all, I'm still doing what I like, and that's taking pictures.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Bas Stekelenburg on February 02, 2009, 01:46:41 pm
Dear Michael,

Thank you for your well documented opinion, leading to the conclusion that the Sony A900, with respect to format, resolution, quality and price, is the very best camera in the world.
To be honest, I have foreseen this conclusion when you announced to test this new born purchase on your trip to the south of the south, from where you took such excellent pictures, thank you for that!  And for a part I share your conclusion; there must be a balance between price and quality.
At this place you expect a HOWEVER, and here it is.
The however is not a reaction out of confusion, annoyance, frustration, or even greed.
One important issue you have not mentioned is the position of the ALREADY EQUIPPED moderate photographer, the one who choose his or her camera (many) years ago, and who was wise enough to invest the biggest part of the spendable money over the years in prime glass instead of a body that nowadays has to be replaced every two years. I happen to be one of those people who started ages ago with a Nikkormat with one-lens-only, the terrific 55mm f/3.5 Micro Nikkor. Every 5 years another body; when new or better lenses appeared it meant addition of the glass inventory. By now I am more than happy with four primes, 2.8 or faster, and three fantastic ditto zooms, the 14-24 being one of them, all regularly used on the D700 and the F5, among some MF equipment.
What good does it do for me to know that the A900 Sony is almost-as-good as the D3X, but a much better price/quality performer? I will certainly not e-bay my glass and bodies to start all over again with Sony! What if in two years, to name one, RED decides to buy itself into the 35 mm market with a splendid 40 MP camera with Leica mount to couple the best glass available to their best body available, for only a couple of thousands, should I start all over again?
What I do, and what many with me do I think, is wait and see what Nikon comes up with as their second best high pixel, moderately priced camera.
All of my colleagues who write CANON where I wrote Nikon, are already pleased with the D5 Mk II, and I am absolutely sure that they too will not sell any Canon equipment in favour of Sony.
In other words, I am fascinated that a new boy on the professional block came with an excellent product for a very affordable price, but it can be as such; as a new, beautiful product, without to be compared to, or praised above other beautiful products.
Only for the starters who have to decide what the brand name of their new outfit will be this is very interesting and a very good reason to take Sony into their considerations.
Not for us.

Bas
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: douglasf13 on February 02, 2009, 02:11:12 pm

  Bas, I think that you make very good points in regards to owning a system, but, if one is so entrenched in a system that he/she won't switch, why be concerned about the reviews of any camera outside of his/her current system at all?  I keep reading that so many users have X amount of dollars in glass, so I ask, what kind of camera would it take for you to switch?

  It seems to me that, if one is actively reading reviews/opinions about different camera bodies with any real interest, he/she should at least entertain the notion of a system switch.  If not, what's the point?  Whether using Medium Format or 35MM, I shoot with 3-4 lenses tops, so selling a few things is no biggie for me.


Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Jonathan Cross on February 02, 2009, 02:41:49 pm
Thanks Michael for another thought-provoking article.  A very salient point you have written is,
"How is value determined? By balancing price and performance based on one's own particular needs and abilities."

I am an amateur Landscape photographer.  I use the best images for either cards or to hang on the wall, and occasionally to sell as prints.  Each of these means a print is involved.  I am aware of the 300dpi principle, which it seems results from the resolving power of the eye.  (I do not know the actual cited scientific evidence, just that 300dpi is very often quoted.)  For an A6 or even A5 greeting card this does not correspond to the need for many megapixels in the camera.  To hang on the wall, I do not need bigger than A3 - with a good size mount this is quite large enough.  A3 at 300dpi is about 17.5megapixels, though some will say that A3 at 250dpi is good enough because people tend to view it from further away than A4 or a card.  At 250dpi, A3 is about 14.5 megapixels.

All this means I do not need loads and loads of megapixels.  Value to me means the best possible pixel output from 14 to 17 megapixels, which means of course, considering good lenses as well as the camera body.  A good lens should well outlast the body, so I want to choose a manufacturer who will have a good chance of keeping on producing good bodies without buying more lenses.   I want all this at the best price. If I only wanted to view on a monitor I would be way down on the pixels.  Others may want rapid bursts for moving subjects and may have different requirements.

I guess that there are far more amateurs than professionals out there, so how about looking at it from their point of view.  Not a huge number of megapixels, but good quality pixels using a good body and good lenses.  Value to them is high quality output per unit currency.  Bodies with the number of pixels above are getting commonplace.  What matters is the best ouput in terms of all the usual factors, noise, tonal range, good colour, etc.

Am I talking nonsense, Michael?

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: imagico on February 02, 2009, 03:00:03 pm
What strikes me when reading the essay and the discussion about it is that maybe the meaning of the observed levelling of quality across the price range is misinterpreted a bit.  I will use the much overused car analogy to illustrate my point:

Cars are build and sold in a price range similar to that of cameras and none the less in practical use it often does not differ much how long it takes you to drive from A to B using a Toyota or a Ferrari.  Just like nearly all cars available today are based on the same technology (combustion engine) todays digital cameras are actually very similar technologically no matter if they cost 500 or 50000 €/$.  Now i think the interesting point is what we can learn from this analogy:

1) The situation with cars (i.e. the similarity across the price range) has been essentially the same for a long time.  You could say the car, after initial development testing out a large variety of concepts, has matured to this state.
2) The car market is very much established in this technological situation - so much that even with a strong external trigger (the oil price increase) alternative technologies (for example electrically powered cars) have a hard stand.

What does this mean for digital photography?

I think it is quite possible (although i would not bet on it) that digital cameras have reached a mature state with relatively few variation and development in basic technologies over the whole price range.  Like car manufacturing cameras (and especially their sensors) are very complex to make requiring a lot of experience from the side of the producer and both cars and cameras are mostly sold as whole packages by a single company.  This is different from some other technological products like computers which are primarily built from interchangeable components.

The bottom line: If this analogy is correct the most important question is not if you should today buy a Toyota or Renault, a Land Rover or a Mitsubishi Pajero but how technological innovation takes place in this market and if it does in a way that is to our - the photographers - advantage.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Rob C on February 02, 2009, 04:18:12 pm
I have a feeling that things are perhaps no different today than yesteryear, that the different opinions expressed here are all biased to the - inevitably - personal experience of the writers and extrapolation therefrom.

Doing the same thing myself - what else can you honestly do? - I would say that the chap who mentioned the fact that clients, if knowing much about professional photography, do look to see what you are using, has the right argument on his side. In my own day I used to have a couple of īblads sitting around the studio even if I was doing the shoot on Nikon. Why? Client impression counts.

We had the same discussion, more or less, a while ago when somebody decided to knock James for having a black Amex card or something like that. Of course those things are important; those are some of the symbols that encourage and conspire to inspire confidence in people that they have backed a winner. Letīs face it, money sort of confirms that the guy who has it has earned it. This might be totally incorrect in some specific instances, of course, but the general idea is sound enough. To say that results are what count is silly: of course they do, they always do, always have, and that is taken for granted and hardly figures as a factor in the discussion if you assume (dangerous, I know) an intelligent client.

You do have to appear professional; you do have to ring the right bells, press the right buttons. The only thing that changes is what makes you look professional - which could be a question as much as a statement.

From an amateur point of view, it simply doesnīt matter a damn. Buy what you can comfortably afford and thatīs all there is to it. If there is more to it, then you are just playing the olde Jones game and hell mend you for being so dumb!

From a professional point of view, first know your market and THEN buy the best you can to suit it. But bear in mind that you might want to go further upmarket and then, possibly, you will have to spend a little more than your present clients/shoots merit or with what your wallet might be comfortable. Thatīs what second mortgages are for!

Rob C
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mosccol on February 03, 2009, 04:37:30 pm
Hello everybody and greetings from snowy London...

My 2Ē are cover two points: What is NOT Good Enough? and What can we learn from HiFi?

1) What is NOT Good Enough?

I have been using a well-loved EOS 20D for about 3 years now and my son works with a 400D which I use occasionally in both cases as an amateur and occasional local rugby team photographer. I can report that my son's 400 and my brother's G7 more than occasionally take better pictures than my 20D; gosh even my daughter's pocket Canon 570IS takes great pictures!

Without going into the debate of what constitutes good photography, I think that 8MP is now too low, especially if you are doing any cropping. I also think that there has been significant progress in the processing algorithms and again anything running Digic 3 or 4 will have a much better dynamic range, a better buffer speed and so on. I therefore declare (perorate?) that although I intend to keep my 20D for many years, it has now sadly made it to the NGE club! The new line in the sand for me is either the 40D or the 450D: they have modern chips and allow both cropping and printing to a good size.

2) The HiFi influence

For many years of youthful bliss (a.k.a. pre-children) I sunk a considerable proportion of my disposable income into 'proper' HiFi. Now that is the industry where the law of diminishing returns is best illustrated! When you do A/B comparisons with any two pieces of HiFi, you can usually tell the difference, no matter how trivial. This is what pushes you to spend insane money on something that can be had for $100 at the local *Mart. It was not unusual for example to own a turntable stylus that would cost more than a large television; or a pair of headphones costing considerably more than a full sound system.

But electronics made something interesting happen: after 3 or 4 generations for instance, pretty much *all* CD players became good at the $200 price point. There was no longer an excuse to sink $10k in a two-part CD player. So the market evolved like this:

- Slave labour CD players: $50
- Good audiophile grade CD players but can be improved: $200
- Slightly silly but the-tweak-does-make-a-difference (say Marantz Special Edition): $500
- Frankly-not-worth-it-but-if-you-have-the-money-why-not: say Naim
- Daft: Mark Levinson, Krell, most Linn etc.

Now if we take out pro users needing cameras built like tanks, you can see where this is taking us: very soon there will be a son of EOS 450D with video that will tick all the boxes. Anything above will be special needs and/or indulgence.

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 03, 2009, 07:52:11 pm
Quote from: barryfitzgerald
Manufacturers will care, simply because of competition

Doesn't make sense to me. Manufacturers exist only because they can make profits. You don't make profits by designing cameras with features that are not appreciated by the customer. There's a simple supply and demand equation. Not only does the price have to be right, the features and performance also has to be right. You can't compete with a product that is more expensive as a result of the inclusion of features that are not appreciated or desired by the customer.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Rob Reiter on February 04, 2009, 12:34:54 pm
A great discussion here and I agree with Michael's points. Of course, most of us who use any of these cameras don't just look at our pictures on the monitor-we make prints. And I think we are in a similar place regarding printing technology today. Epson, Canon and HP produce printers that are very close to one another in terms of print quality. None of them achieve across the board superiority, although each may exhibit a gamut that excels in one area and falls off in another.

Seven or eight years ago, each new generation of printers did represent significant leaps in recognizable print quality, but since the introduction of the Epson 9600 and UltraChrome ink, there has not been any printer that represents a quantum leap in quality and the biggest changes now come in mechanical areas-speed, ink swapping capability, jet clogging, etc.

So, while everyone needs to find the camera and printer that suits their style, in the end, the quality of the printed image hanging on the wall will still owe a greater debt to the photographer's vision and skill than to which sensor or ink or paper she used to get there.

Not a bad place to be...
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jani on February 04, 2009, 07:13:07 pm
Quote from: Ray
There's a simple supply and demand equation.
This is a minor digression, but the "simple supply and demand question" was debunked decades ago.

It was a nice approximation in the 19th or 18th century (I'm sorry, I forget which, but it's so long ago that it's only of interest to historians).

Quote
Not only does the price have to be right, the features and performance also has to be right. You can't compete with a product that is more expensive as a result of the inclusion of features that are not appreciated or desired by the customer.
... and then it's not just a simple matter of supply and demand, but also of market perception, market exposure, third party perceptions and influence, and so on.

Amazingly enough, people still purchase phones, computers and Internet services from suppliers who from a simplistic supply-demand perspective shouldn't even be in business. The imagined value of a product also plays a role in the product's market viability.

Regarding your other claim, Manufacturers exist only because they can make profits., this largely depends on the point of view. Some manufacturers of goods are nearly permanent fixtures, while others are mayflies, comparatively speaking.

I think the repeated comparison with the world of high fidelity audio is of some value, although usually not in the way that Michael or posters to this forum portray it; it's an object lesson in how marketing and imaginary value works on how fit a product is in the market, as well as its profitability compared to the manufacturer's ambitions.

There's a term called "audioph00lery" which serves as another lesson here. Perhaps we could learn something from it.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: douglasf13 on February 04, 2009, 07:29:19 pm
Quote from: Rob Reiter
A great discussion here and I agree with Michael's points. Of course, most of us who use any of these cameras don't just look at our pictures on the monitor-we make prints. And I think we are in a similar place regarding printing technology today. Epson, Canon and HP produce printers that are very close to one another in terms of print quality. None of them achieve across the board superiority, although each may exhibit a gamut that excels in one area and falls off in another.

Seven or eight years ago, each new generation of printers did represent significant leaps in recognizable print quality, but since the introduction of the Epson 9600 and UltraChrome ink, there has not been any printer that represents a quantum leap in quality and the biggest changes now come in mechanical areas-speed, ink swapping capability, jet clogging, etc.

So, while everyone needs to find the camera and printer that suits their style, in the end, the quality of the printed image hanging on the wall will still owe a greater debt to the photographer's vision and skill than to which sensor or ink or paper she used to get there.

Not a bad place to be...

  Great points, Rob.  Sounds good to me.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: douglasf13 on February 04, 2009, 07:29:43 pm
whoops, duplicate post. sorry.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: NikosR on February 05, 2009, 01:25:00 am
Quote from: jani
This is a minor digression, but the "simple supply and demand question" was debunked decades ago.

It was a nice approximation in the 19th or 18th century (I'm sorry, I forget which, but it's so long ago that it's only of interest to historians).


... and then it's not just a simple matter of supply and demand, but also of market perception, market exposure, third party perceptions and influence, and so on.

Amazingly enough, people still purchase phones, computers and Internet services from suppliers who from a simplistic supply-demand perspective shouldn't even be in business. The imagined value of a product also plays a role in the product's market viability.

Supply and demand principle still is very much applicable in the world of trade. Please take a look at what's happening around you these days. You are referring to macroeconomic theories but that's another discussion altogether.

Market perception and the rest you're discussing are simply factors which influence demand.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 05, 2009, 02:50:10 am

Quote
This is a minor digression, but the "simple supply and demand question" was debunked decades ago.

Jani,
It's never been debunked my me, and that's what counts (to me). The 'supply and demand' equation is the foundation of all my purchases, from tomatoes to motor cars; from cameras to houses. I have a 'demand' for something (or more politely, a requirement, need or desire) and I search for a supplier to fulfill that requirement, need or desire.

I try not to pay more than I have to for the fulfillment of this demand, and I shall not be buying a D3X because my desire (or demand) for its qualities is not sufficiently strong, or shall we say, not comensurate with the price being asked.

Quote
... and then it's not just a simple matter of supply and demand, but also of market perception, market exposure, third party perceptions and influence, and so on.

Merely fancy words and elaborations on the basic principle of 'supply and demand'. I think what you are trying to say is that the advertising industry plays a vital role in creating a demand for certain products and services. People may often buy things they actually don't need or can't use, but there has to be a demand of some description which is associated with the purchase, even if it's only a demand to make themselves feel temporarily good, as in 'retail therapy', or to impress the neighbours in the sense of 'keeping up with the Jones's".

Quote
I think the repeated comparison with the world of high fidelity audio is of some value, although usually not in the way that Michael or posters to this forum portray it; it's an object lesson in how marketing and imaginary value works on how fit a product is in the market, as well as its profitability compared to the manufacturer's ambitions.

I think I've made a similar comment in this thread or perhaps another one. I call it the placebo effect. But what is interesting about this effect is that it's actually real, in a sense. The brain and body can actually respond as though the performance claims are true. When audiophiles spend $200 on a couple of short lengths of copper wire to attach the amplifier to the loudspeakers, they can actually experience more pleasure when listening to their favourite music. They imagine the sound quality is improved and (presumably) as a consequence of such imaginings, there is change in the brain that registers this effect.

Another example that I read about recently was in regard to wine tasting. People who are not wine connoisseurs can actually experience more pleasure when drinking the cheap wine, than they will when drinking the expensive wine, if they are told beforehand that the cheap wine is the expensive wine. Experimenters have verified this by placing electrodes on the subjects' brains and measuring the response in the taste/pleasure centres, to confirm that the subjects are not lying to create the impression that they are connoissers.

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mosccol on February 05, 2009, 04:01:07 am
Quote from: Ray
I think I've made a similar comment in this thread or perhaps another one. I call it the placebo effect. But what is interesting about this effect is that it's actually real, in a sense. The brain and body can actually respond as though the performance claims are true. When audiophiles spend $200 on a couple of short lengths of copper wire to attach the amplifier to the loudspeakers, they can actually experience more pleasure when listening to their favourite music. They imagine the sound quality is improved and (presumably) as a consequence of such imaginings, there is change in the brain that registers this effect.

Sure. In medical terms, placebo can happen as much as in 30% of the cases. This is why good hifi testing is done in blind comparisons.



Quote from: Ray
Another example that I read about recently was in regard to wine tasting. People who are not wine connoisseurs can actually experience more pleasure when drinking the cheap wine, than they will when drinking the expensive wine, if they are told beforehand that the cheap wine is the expensive wine. Experimenters have verified this by placing electrodes on the subjects' brains and measuring the response in the taste/pleasure centres, to confirm that the subjects are not lying to create the impression that they are connoissers.

Electrodes, hmm yummy!

The wine story could be driven by other factors: people who are not regular wine drinkers will typically appreciate wines with wore obvious and direct qualities: lighter, frutier or more alcoholic for example. And these are typically cheaper too...
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 05, 2009, 04:46:48 am
Quote from: Mosccol
Sure. In medical terms, placebo can happen as much as in 30% of the cases. This is why good hifi testing is done in blind comparisons.

The wine story could be driven by other factors: people who are not regular wine drinkers will typically appreciate wines with wore obvious and direct qualities: lighter, frutier or more alcoholic for example. And these are typically cheaper too...

Quote
Sure. In medical terms, placebo can happen as much as in 30% of the cases. This is why good hifi testing is done in blind comparisons.

The placebo effect is associated with a medical situation, but in reality a similar effect applies across the whole spectrum of human activity. When hi fi testing is done in a blind comparison, the valve amplifiers with a measured higher distortion are the only amplifiers which can be distinguished from the others, however expensive the others. Whether or not the sound of those valve amplifiers is preferred, is another question. I read one report of a blind test where a $400 Pioneer transistor amp was confused with a $10,000 Mark-Levinson hybrid valve amplifier. With the other amps in the test, the results were no better than tossing a coin. However, about 60% of the 'golden ears' attributed a slightly better quality of sound to the Pioneer in preference to the valve/hybrid amp. In other words, there was a subtle difference to be discerned, but only a few could discern it, and then they got it the wrong way round    .

Quote
The wine story could be driven by other factors: people who are not regular wine drinkers will typically appreciate wines with wore obvious and direct qualities: lighter, frutier or more alcoholic for example. And these are typically cheaper too...

When you go to the trouble of placing electrodes on people's heads, you don't just stop at one comparison. The message is, whatever the quality of the wine, the non-connoisseur will accept what he's told. If he/she is told that the inferior wine is the high quality wine, then the brain's pleasure centres record the experience of greater pleasure when drinking the inferior wine. The reverse is also true. When the expensive wine is correctly identified as the better quality wine, to the subjects, they experience the greater pleasure when drinking the expensive wine.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jani on February 05, 2009, 05:41:27 am
Quote from: NikosR
Supply and demand principle still is very much applicable in the world of trade. Please take a look at what's happening around you these days. You are referring to macroeconomic theories but that's another discussion altogether.

Market perception and the rest you're discussing are simply factors which influence demand.
The phrase used was "simple supply and demand".

When you take a look at the more modern representations of supply and demand, which don't merely look at simple factors, then it has a higher degree of relevance.

While I'd love to get into a discussion about how this does and doesn't relate to what's happening around me these days, I fear that this is a bit too off-topic, so I'll stop here.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 05, 2009, 07:39:15 am
Quote from: jani
The phrase used was "simple supply and demand".

I'll rephrase that. Simply put, it's a sometimes complex equation of supply and demand. Happy?  
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: barryfitzgerald on February 08, 2009, 03:48:57 pm
I feel another "your camera does not matter" thread coming on very shortly ;-)
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jjj on February 09, 2009, 03:04:48 am
Quote from: Ray
I think I've made a similar comment in this thread or perhaps another one. I call it the placebo effect. But what is interesting about this effect is that it's actually real, in a sense. The brain and body can actually respond as though the performance claims are true. When audiophiles spend $200 on a couple of short lengths of copper wire to attach the amplifier to the loudspeakers, they can actually experience more pleasure when listening to their favourite music. They imagine the sound quality is improved and (presumably) as a consequence of such imaginings, there is change in the brain that registers this effect.
A while back, a friend of mine asked to listen to some music and his hifi sounded noticably better. He then revealed after I had noticed and commented on the improvement, than he had used better quality phono leads. No placebo. No imagining.
Other people may say that there is no difference between a 50D and a Phase 65+ back and the differences are simply the imagination of the  deluded fool who paid for the way more expensive MFD back.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jjj on February 09, 2009, 03:17:02 am
Quote from: Ray
The placebo effect is associated with a medical situation, but in reality a similar effect applies across the whole spectrum of human activity. When hi fi testing is done in a blind comparison, the valve amplifiers with a measured higher distortion are the only amplifiers which can be distinguished from the others, however expensive the others. Whether or not the sound of those valve amplifiers is preferred, is another question. I read one report of a blind test where a $400 Pioneer transistor amp was confused with a $10,000 Mark-Levinson hybrid valve amplifier. With the other amps in the test, the results were no better than tossing a coin. However, about 60% of the 'golden ears' attributed a slightly better quality of sound to the Pioneer in preference to the valve/hybrid amp. In other words, there was a subtle difference to be discerned, but only a few could discern it, and then they got it the wrong way round    .
Why is that the wrong way around? More expensive is not necessarily the best. I saw a review of TVs a while back and the cheapest was thought to have the best picture quality.
I've spent time listening to different hifis and different kit can cetainly sound markedly different.
Anyone who claims that you cannot hear any difference between amps is a cloth eared muppet akin to a blind man denying that green cannot be more that one shade or hue. If you really believe that, then surely all cameras must take the same quality image.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mosccol on February 09, 2009, 03:39:41 am
Quote from: jjj
Anyone who claims that you cannot hear any difference between amps is a cloth eared muppet akin to a blind man denying that green cannot be more that one shade or hue. If you really believe that, then surely all cameras must take the same quality image.

Hmm not sure what your point is jjj - unless your view is another angle agreeing on the same story - and I agree too!

My story about HiFi had a slightly different angle: it was about very sharp diminishing returns as well as a minimum level of quality. So to go back to SLRs I would argue that any camera with decent individual pixel size (for low light performance), 12MPx and any form of image stabilisation has the potential to give you very very good photographs most of the time (all other things being equal, including the photographer). After that (the Good Enough threshold - the equivalent of your $400 Pioneer amp) you are into rapidly diminishing returns and personal preferences...

I would be interested in other examples of what constitutes Good Enough. As I said before, I think that Canon EOS 450D seems to be a modern threshold for me.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: barryfitzgerald on February 09, 2009, 05:20:22 am
So 12mp is good enough for most..

But are we getting caught up in the "resolution" trap here. I won't say it's bad to have it..but really, I think unless you have a habit of making door sized prints..it's overstated.


Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 09, 2009, 09:07:36 am
Quote from: Ray
What is puzzling to me is why these other attributes of image quality; dynamic range, noise and tonal range, did not stand out in the print from the P45 image to the extent that experienced photographers could recognise them. Such differences seem very significant on the DXOMark website even at the smaller print size of 8x12", and even when the G10 is compared with a lesser sensor than the P45, the A900. Got my point?

Ray, I think this observation gets to the nub of the issue at play here - there is a visual disconnect between differences of test results and differences you see with your eyes, and how/whether the one can be systematically correlated with the other.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 09, 2009, 09:15:28 am
Quote from: Ray
However, I find it surprising that modern inkjet printers might not be capable of reproducing the greater subtlety and smoothness of tonal variation that are suggested on those DXO charts.

OK, you're suggesting that if the printer is on the critical path of image quality, its capabilities may set the boundaries of comparison below the lowest common denominator of the compared cameras. BUT that still raises an issue of how you translate visual impressions of image quality to a set of DxO numbers and vice versa. If it's hard to do this, which I think it is, it's also hard to tell whether the printer is the binding constraint. I'm using an Epson 3800 and I continue to be very impressed with the subtilities of tonal gradation and detail it reproduces.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 09, 2009, 09:35:17 am
Quote from: jjj
A while back, a friend of mine asked to listen to some music and his hifi sounded noticably better. He then revealed after I had noticed and commented on the improvement, than he had used better quality phono leads. No placebo. No imagining.

Dear me! jjj. Have you been smoking something again??

It's widely recognised, if there is any credence to the benefits of oxygen-free copper interconnects, and other exotic formulations that cost an obscene amount of money, the audible improvements in sound quality are very, very subtle indeed.

Anecdotal evidence such as you've provided above is basically worthless without full details of the circumstances. People who specialise in getting objective assessments of the audible differences between hi fi equipment, arrange the listening environment very carefully. The comparisons have to be made within a small time frame, to avoid as much as possible changes in mood of the listener. It also helps to use a recording with which the listener is very familiar, is aware of every nuance. It is also essential of course that the listener is not aware of which equipment is in use at any given time.

Visiting your friend on one occasion and listening to a piece of music whilst in a particular mood, and having smoked a certain number of joints, then visiting your friend a few days or a few weeks later, and listening to a different (or even the same) piece of music, having smoked a different number of joints and being in a different mood, and declaring that the music sounds better, is fine. I'm happy for you.

But to declare that difference is due to the upgraded phono cables is just farcical   .  Unless the original phono cables were defective in some way. It's always possible that the plugs had become corroded to some extent, or that the original cables were just very cheap and inadequately shielded and never gave the sort of performance that one would expect from a properly designed pair of phono cables.

I don't think anyone is saying, and I'm certainly not, that there is no audible difference between very cheap and inadequate equipment, and properly designed equipment at a reasonable price.

Quote
Other people may say that there is no difference between a 50D and a Phase 65+ back and the differences are simply the imagination of the  deluded fool who paid for the way more expensive MFD back.

Never heard that before. Where did you see that? On this forum? I know that Michael did a comparison between the Canon G10 and the Phase P45+ and made A3+ size prints which he showed to a number of experienced photographers who couldn't tell the difference. Is this what you are referring to?

I think we all understand that at a size larger than A3+, the P45+ would identify itself, and if the nature of the subject were different, the smoother tonality of the P45 would have probably been apparent even at the the A3+ size, with icebergs at the Antartic, for example, or creamy smooth-skinned models.

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 09, 2009, 09:39:47 am
Quote from: jjj
Why is that the wrong way around? More expensive is not necessarily the best. I saw a review of TVs a while back and the cheapest was thought to have the best picture quality.
I've spent time listening to different hifis and different kit can cetainly sound markedly different.
Anyone who claims that you cannot hear any difference between amps is a cloth eared muppet akin to a blind man denying that green cannot be more that one shade or hue. If you really believe that, then surely all cameras must take the same quality image.

Cloth-eared muppets and blind people generally cannot tell the difference between well-designed, average-priced amplifiers and very expensive, exotic designs of amplifiers.

To hear the difference, you have to have good eyesight. At least good enough to recognize the brand name of the amplifier in use.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 09, 2009, 06:59:27 pm
Quote from: MarkDS
Ray, I think this observation gets to the nub of the issue at play here - there is a visual disconnect between differences of test results and differences you see with your eyes, and how/whether the one can be systematically correlated with the other.

Mark,
Is it a disconnect or is it simply a matter of the characteristics of the photographed subject not being ideal to show up the differences that may exist? It's quite clear, for example, if you want to demonstrate the dynamic range differences between two cameras, you need to photograph something with a wide range of subject brightness. Likewise, if you want to demonstrate resolution differences, you need to photograph a subject that contains fine detail.

Why should it be any different for the other image quality characteristics, such as noise, tonal range and color sensitivity?
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 09, 2009, 07:09:07 pm
Ray. I agree that if one is using images in order to test for differences of any variable, there needs to be enough "range" of that variable in the images so that the differentials one is testing for would be able to show. But that is a different matter from being able to draw systematic inferences from variances in numbers to variances in visual impact - for example to be able to predict with any confidence that if you had a difference of 10 on a test between camera A and camera B, and a difference of 15 between camera A and Camera C that you would see an impact you could somehow say makes the print from C 50% better than the print from B in respect of that variable. That's where I think one runs into problems.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mosccol on February 09, 2009, 07:11:38 pm
Quote from: Ray
Dear me! jjj. Have you been smoking something again??

It's widely recognised, if there is any credence to the benefits of oxygen-free copper interconnects, and other exotic formulations that cost an obscene amount of money, the audible improvements in sound quality are very, very subtle indeed.

Anecdotal evidence such as you've provided above is basically worthless without full details of the circumstances. People who specialise in getting objective assessments of the audible differences between hi fi equipment, arrange the listening environment very carefully. The comparisons have to be made within a small time frame, to avoid as much as possible changes in mood of the listener. It also helps to use a recording with which the listener is very familiar, is aware of every nuance. It is also essential of course that the listener is not aware of which equipment is in use at any given time.

Visiting your friend on one occasion and listening to a piece of music whilst in a particular mood, and having smoked a certain number of joints, then visiting your friend a few days or a few weeks later, and listening to a different (or even the same) piece of music, having smoked a different number of joints and being in a different mood, and declaring that the music sounds better, is fine. I'm happy for you.

But to declare that difference is due to the upgraded phono cables is just farcical   .  Unless the original phono cables were defective in some way. It's always possible that the plugs had become corroded to some extent, or that the original cables were just very cheap and inadequately shielded and never gave the sort of performance that one would expect from a properly designed pair of phono cables.

A bit of a side discussion this, but when I was a lot more into HiFi (and before I hit the age when male hearing accuracy in the highs start to diminish i.e. 35) I always refused to pay over the odds for cabling. Typically I would ask my dealer to supply me with 3 or 4 cables and then pick the one or two down from the top. One thing made a big difference though: cleaning/deoxydising all contacts in the chain about once a year wouldmake a tremendous difference for a very low cost.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 09, 2009, 07:13:24 pm
Quote from: MarkDS
OK, you're suggesting that if the printer is on the critical path of image quality, its capabilities may set the boundaries of comparison below the lowest common denominator of the compared cameras. BUT that still raises an issue of how you translate visual impressions of image quality to a set of DxO numbers and vice versa. If it's hard to do this, which I think it is, it's also hard to tell whether the printer is the binding constraint. I'm using an Epson 3800 and I continue to be very impressed with the subtilities of tonal gradation and detail it reproduces.

Mark,
I think it was someone else who suggested that subtle differences as seen on screen might get lost at the printing stage. I've never found that to be the case myself, provided the on-screen version is viewed at the same size as the print, and provided the monitor calibration and paper/ink profile is in order.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 09, 2009, 07:29:51 pm
OK - same here.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on February 09, 2009, 07:36:42 pm
Quote from: Ray
Is it a disconnect or is it simply a matter of the characteristics of the photographed subject not being ideal to show up the differences that may exist? It's quite clear, for example, if you want to demonstrate the dynamic range differences between two cameras, you need to photograph something with a wide range of subject brightness
It is absolutely clear, that if someone wants to measure or demonstrate the DR of a camera, one does not need to photograph something with a wide range of subject brightness.

It is the demonstration of the lack of understanding of the principles of digital photography, when someone requires such scenarios for comparison. The fact is, that exclusively the darkest shadows are interesting.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 09, 2009, 07:46:18 pm
Quote from: MarkDS
Ray. I agree that if one is using images in order to test for differences of any variable, there needs to be enough "range" of that variable in the images so that the differentials one is testing for would be able to show. But that is a different matter from being able to draw systematic inferences from variances in numbers to variances in visual impact - for example to be able to predict with any confidence that if you had a difference of 10 on a test between camera A and camera B, and a difference of 15 between camera A and Camera C that you would see an impact you could somehow say makes the print from C 50% better than the print from B in respect of that variable. That's where I think one runs into problems.

Mark,
It's been mentioned a few times that the over all DXOMark score represents a 'weighted' assessment of a number of variables bundled into a single figure. One really needs to study the graphs under the various headings, such as SNR, DR etc, to get an idea of what to expect when comparing cameras.

One might find, for example, that at a normalised size of 8x12", camera A has 3dB less noise than camera B, at ISO 200, but the same DR. You would have to choose your subject carefully to get a visual confirmation of that one stop noise difference, especially bearing in mind the differences in the way converters handle noise, and the unavoidable manufacturing variations in equipment due to less than perfect quality control.

When I recently compared Bibble with ACR, I found that Bibble was indeed able to extract slightly more detail from a raw image than ACR, as some people had suggested, but only at the expense of greater noise. There was an implication to me that ACR might be applying a certain level of default noise reduction which one cannot turn off.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 09, 2009, 07:56:39 pm
Quote from: Panopeeper
It is absolutely clear, that if someone wants to measure or demonstrate the DR of a camera, one does not need to photograph something with a wide range of subject brightness.

It is the demonstration of the lack of understanding of the principles of digital photography, when someone requires such scenarios for comparison. The fact is, that exclusively the darkest shadows are interesting.

Measure or demonstrate? I'm talking about a demonstration from a photographic composition. You know, the sort you would like to look at, and appreciate as a work of art. Wasn't that clear?
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on February 09, 2009, 08:20:48 pm
Quote from: Ray
I'm talking about a demonstration from a photographic composition. You know, the sort you would like to look at, and appreciate as a work of art. Wasn't that clear?
It is clear, that you are into prattling. You may appreciate that as a work of art; I don't.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 09, 2009, 08:33:06 pm
Quote from: Panopeeper
It is absolutely clear, that if someone wants to measure or demonstrate the DR of a camera, one does not need to photograph something with a wide range of subject brightness.

It is the demonstration of the lack of understanding of the principles of digital photography, when someone requires such scenarios for comparison. The fact is, that exclusively the darkest shadows are interesting.

Gabor, OK, but DR isn't the whole universe being discussed here. In fact, we're talking about how one relates numbers (covering several parameters) to images, so at some point you do need the images and they should have relevant, operationally useful characteristics, otherwise the whole point of the discussion evaporates.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 09, 2009, 08:46:24 pm
Quote from: Ray
Mark,
It's been mentioned a few times that the over all DXOMark score represents a 'weighted' assessment of a number of variables bundled into a single figure. One really needs to study the graphs under the various headings, such as SNR, DR etc, to get an idea of what to expect when comparing cameras.

One might find, for example, that at a normalised size of 8x12", camera A has 3dB less noise than camera B, at ISO 200, but the same DR. You would have to choose your subject carefully to get a visual confirmation of that one stop noise difference, especially bearing in mind the differences in the way converters handle noise, and the unavoidable manufacturing variations in equipment due to less than perfect quality control.

When I recently compared Bibble with ACR, I found that Bibble was indeed able to extract slightly more detail from a raw image than ACR, as some people had suggested, but only at the expense of greater noise. There was an implication to me that ACR might be applying a certain level of default noise reduction which one cannot turn off.

Yes true - their weighting scheme is an effort to bundle everything into one tangible statistic which they think has merit for differentiating overall sensor quality from one model to the next. You would almost have to be in their shoes to fully grasp whether they've exercised the most appropriate judgments in crafting these composites. Being serious professionals I'd give them the benefit of the doubt until better informed information becomes available.

And true, there can be differences between raw converters in how they handle noise, but at least with ACR and LR (perhaps also with other converters) one has a substantial amount of control over it. clearly a variable to normalize when doing comparisons involving images.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on February 09, 2009, 08:52:20 pm
Quote from: MarkDS
In fact, we're talking about how one relates numbers (covering several parameters) to images, so at some point you do need the images and they should have relevant, operationally useful characteristics, otherwise the whole point of the discussion evaporates.
There are confusions regarding the measurement of dynamic range. The most important issue is, that photographers usually accepts much more noise in "difficult situations", like in a night club hand-held, without flash light, than in "high light situations", like a landscape in sunshine from tripod.

However, it is not necessary to have a scenery of wide dynamic range to measure or even to judge the camera's capability, due to the linear nature of the raw data recording: the top end of the dynamic range is given by the sensor.

(Note, that the linearity of the raw data is not so absolute as some believe, but that is an entirely different issue.)

Look at the following example: a measurement taken on a Canon 40D shot, ISO 200. It displays the noise measured on a certain strip: 12.06% @ -7.38 EV, 6.20% @ -5.97 EV, 6.35% @ 6.09 EV. This show was intentionally underexposed by 2 EV; it comes nowhere to the high end of the DR. That is not necessary, for the sensor's general characteristics dictate the high end.

(http://www.panopeeper.com/Demo/Stouffer_Sample.GIF)
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 09, 2009, 10:58:59 pm
Quote from: Panopeeper
It is clear, that you are into prattling. You may appreciate that as a work of art; I don't.

Which work of art are we referring to, Gabor? The one immediately above this post, underexposed by 2EV?
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on February 10, 2009, 12:09:34 am
Quote from: Ray
Which work of art are we referring to, Gabor?
You were referring to the art of prattling, I to the art of measuring the noise and dynamic range.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jani on February 10, 2009, 04:17:06 am
Quote from: Panopeeper
You were referring to the art of prattling, I to the art of measuring the noise and dynamic range.
Why don't you just keep to the technicalities? This is embarassing.

I wonder why you're not looking at how highlights are handled by the sensor, which affects the usable dynamic range. Effects such as sensor bloom (http://www.naturfotograf.com/D70_rev02.html) seem to be of practical interest in photography, not merely as the art you scoff at.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 10, 2009, 04:26:27 am
Quote from: Panopeeper
You were referring to the art of prattling, I to the art of measuring the noise and dynamic range.

Not at all. I was referring to the art of producing one's best attempt at an interesting shot using accepted good practice, such as ETTR, accurate focussing, appropriate DoF and a sufficiently fast (or slow) shutter speed for the conditions or the intent.

To get a visual confirmation of differences in DR between cameras with such a shot, the subject should have a wide range of brightness levels.

If the purpose of the shot is purely to measure DR, then I agree. You don't need a high subject brightness range. You can underexpose appropriately and examine the deepest shadows. Is that your point?
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jjj on February 10, 2009, 11:54:15 pm
Quote from: Ray
Dear me! jjj. Have you been smoking something again??

It's widely recognised, if there is any credence to the benefits of oxygen-free copper interconnects, and other exotic formulations that cost an obscene amount of money, the audible improvements in sound quality are very, very subtle indeed.
Says the man who argues endlessly about differences in minute amounts of differences between various sensors and the like. And pointlessly as it'll make no difference to your output from what I've seen of it.
Widely recognized! By whom?

Quote
Anecdotal evidence such as you've provided above is basically worthless without full details of the circumstances. People who specialise in getting objective assessments of the audible differences between hi fi equipment, arrange the listening environment very carefully. The comparisons have to be made within a small time frame, to avoid as much as possible changes in mood of the listener. It also helps to use a recording with which the listener is very familiar, is aware of every nuance. It is also essential of course that the listener is not aware of which equipment is in use at any given time.
Do you simply assume every one else on the planet is a complete moron? And that no-one is as informed as you seem to think you are.

Quote
Visiting your friend on one occasion and listening to a piece of music whilst in a particular mood, and having smoked a certain number of joints, then visiting your friend a few days or a few weeks later, and listening to a different (or even the same) piece of music, having smoked a different number of joints and being in a different mood, and declaring that the music sounds better, is fine. I'm happy for you.
Your repeated and tedious insinuations that I post or experience things as I do due to my drug addled nature is beginning to piss me off. I don't even drink alchohol or smoke legal cigarettes and I find drug users incredibly boring.
Also my friend and I shared a house, so I saw him every day whether I wanted to or not. And immediately after admitting his new purchase he swapped back between the old and new leads and we listened again. And  I believe I turned my back, so I didn't know which he was using. I have a bacground in science and understand how good experiment protocol. I also have a selection of tunes that are specifically chosen to test various attributes of hi-fi kit. And the difference in sound quality between equipment is most certainly noticable. I've listened to tracks on high end kit that I've heard on merely expensive kit and you can hear so much more information. It's like using a higher MP camera and seeing more detail due to the extra resolution.
You talk such an an awful lot of shit at times and presume even more nonsense that has no basis in reality and then have the audacity to accuse others of drug use! Maybe you are simply describing your own experiences and projecting onto others. Guess what? Making assumptions only mades you look stupid.
 

Quote
But to declare that difference is due to the upgraded phono cables is just farcical   .
No it's not. I seem to be sensitive to sound quality and will often notice there is an issue when other are oblivious. Same thing with visual quality and partly why I'm good at my job. I thought it seemed a bit far fetched, that changing cables could make any difference, but I certainly noticed it.
 


Quote
Never heard that before. Where did you see that? On this forum? I know that Michael did a comparison between the Canon G10 and the Phase P45+ and made A3+ size prints which he showed to a number of experienced photographers who couldn't tell the difference. Is this what you are referring to?
No!
Try reading posts more carefully. I'm talking about the average person who cannot tell the difference between a 50D's shots and a Phase65+. Not professional photographers.
Something I find very annoying is when people who cannot discern differences, will never admit it may be them who cannot tell the difference and will insist through all sorts of dreadful reasoning, that there is on fact no difference.
I've DJed  Latin music and it's very tedious when ignorant people bang on about how all Latin music sounds the same. Just like all dance music , all european music, all Blues and all hip hop sounds the same, when it's obvious to anyone with half a brain, that that cannot possibly be true. If I wander around Beijing everyone will sound the same to me, no matter if they are discussing the weather or how to do open heart surgery. Even if they may be speaking Hokkian, Mandarin or Cantonese I won't know and local accents will certainly not be discernable when I cannot even tell languages apart.
To many Americans, all Brits sound much the same though they may notice a stong Welsh, Irish or Scottish accent. Yet many people can tell exactly what town people are from in their local area, as the differences in even the various Yorkshire or Welsh accents are very noticable to the trained ear. By trained, I mean having heard them a lot through simply living in area.


Quote
I think we all understand that at a size larger than A3+, the P45+ would identify itself, and if the nature of the subject were different, the smoother tonality of the P45 would have probably been apparent even at the the A3+ size, with icebergs at the Antartic, for example, or creamy smooth-skinned models.
Most of the population would simply not notice any difference.  Doesn't mean there isn't any. Most people don't even notice if a film is shown out of focus at the cinema.
Michael just ordered a 65+, despite owning a 45+, because even at that silly high level of quality there is a noticable difference to those who care.



Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jjj on February 11, 2009, 12:00:34 am
Quote from: Ray
Cloth-eared muppets and blind people generally cannot tell the difference between well-designed, average-priced amplifiers and very expensive, exotic designs of amplifiers.

To hear the difference, you have to have good eyesight. At least good enough to recognize the brand name of the amplifier in use.
And the only way to tell the difference between cameras, is by the brand name according to that cretinous logic. As they all take the same qaulity photo particularly if they are both the same MP.
Considering the amount of time you spend debating differences in sensors/DR/noise etc due to equipment, why do you decny that the same sort of things apply to sound equipment.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on February 11, 2009, 12:10:51 am
Quote from: jani
Why don't you just keep to the technicalities? This is embarassing.

I wonder why you're not looking at how highlights are handled by the sensor, which affects the usable dynamic range
Don't be embarrased, ask if you don't understand the issues, just like now.

I am not looking at the highlights, because

1. I know when, i.e. at which pixel level the numerical range of the raw data ends; this is more or less fixed for any given model (the differences between copies are so small that they can be ignored),

2. the raw data is quasy-linear (if it is not, then one needs to know how to compensate for the non-linearity); I don't need to *see* any highlights in order to calculate the intensity ("lightness") of the raw pixels.

This is an important point to understand: the highlight region ends *abruptly* with digital, in contrast to film. The only question of the noise and dynamic range analysis is, how "deep" in the shadows can one go when looking for the "low end" of the dynamic range.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on February 11, 2009, 12:15:30 am
Quote from: Ray
I was referring to the art of producing one's best attempt at an interesting shot...If the purpose of the shot is purely to measure DR, then I agree. You don't need a high subject brightness range
You said with different words just what I posted: you are prattling about something what I am measuring. I guess we both are making our best attempts; at the end of the day we can compare our results.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jani on February 11, 2009, 05:37:07 am
Quote from: Panopeeper
Don't be embarrased, ask if you don't understand the issues, just like now.
Oh-ho-ho, very droll.

Quote
I am not looking at the highlights, because
In other words, you disregard what I wrote completely.

Please look at the article and the example of sensor bloom, which shows quite clearly that there are very real, very practical effects of highlights that must be considered, not only by photographers, but also by theorists like yourself.

I don't know why you choose to ignore this point completely and pretend that "I don't understand the issues".

I wasn't embarrassed on my behalf. I was - and still am - embarrassed on your behalf.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: barryfitzgerald on February 11, 2009, 05:44:03 am
"When I recently compared Bibble with ACR, I found that Bibble was indeed able to extract slightly more detail from a raw image than ACR, as some people had suggested, but only at the expense of greater noise. There was an implication to me that ACR might be applying a certain level of default noise reduction which one cannot turn off."



Might? They have done for some time now..not really a problem for low ISO shots, but high ISO you can clearly see the effects of NR on the raw images. Compare ACR to just about anything else. The main problem area is shadow regions, obviously..and also it can smear colour noise, making it hard to remove it. Though I seem to be one of the few who is kicking up about it.

Bottom line, I don't use ACR for high ISO work any more, it's not up to the job
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 11, 2009, 07:53:06 am
Quote from: Panopeeper
You said with different words just what I posted: you are prattling about something what I am measuring. I guess we both are making our best attempts; at the end of the day we can compare our results.

Gabor,
You already know that I know that it is possible to devise a DR test methodology which does not require a target with a high range of brightness levels. It was little more than a year ago I was carrying out such a test in Chiang Mai using Jonathan Wienke's printed target of different size numbers, and posting the results on LL.

My approach is different from yours. I have a paractical concern only with the  benefits at the output stage of such factors as DR, SNR and high ISO performance.

The only reasons I'm interested in more DR is because I have photographed scenes in the past at base ISO which, despite a full ETTR exposure, have noisy shadows. I believe there is room for improvement. I also believe that achieving a full ETTR can be less of a concern when one's camera has lots of DR to spare and that there is consequently less of a risk of ruining a shot with blown highlights. These are very practical concerns.

The same situation applies to high ISO performance. There are some circumstances where use of flash or tripod is prohibited; most churches and museums in Italy for example, as well as art galleries in Australia. There are other circumstances where using flash may not be wise because it draws unwanted attention to oneself, or might simply not be effective because the subject is too far away.

In these circumstances, it's a real joy to be able to get acceptable results at ISO 1600 or ISO 3200 without flash in poor lighting conditions. However, I'm disappointed that cameras such as the D3 and D700 have only 1/2 a stop lower noise than the 5D at very high ISO. It's worth something, but it's no big deal. I was hoping for at least 1 stop lower noise and higher DR at ISO 1600 and above.

As regards resolution, with which many of us seem to be obsessed; again I have a very practical concern. I have a large printer, the 24' wide Epson 7600. I was using this printer with my D60 and 20D when the development of the 5D was still a secret. If I had not already been using this printer, I would probably have had second thoughts about buying a 5D so soon after the acquisition of a 20D.

Of course, a 24" wide printer can effectively use a camera with a far greater pixel count than the 5D. I'm disappointed again that the A900 does not have better high-ISO performance because that was definitely a contender as an upgrade to my 5D.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 11, 2009, 08:06:12 am
Quote from: jjj
Says the man who argues endlessly about differences in minute amounts of differences between various sensors and the like. And pointlessly as it'll make no difference to your output from what I've seen of it.
Widely recognized! By whom?

Do you simply assume every one else on the planet is a complete moron? And that no-one is as informed as you seem to think you are.

 Your repeated and tedious insinuations that I post or experience things as I do due to my drug addled nature is beginning to piss me off. I don't even drink alchohol or smoke legal cigarettes and I find drug users incredibly boring.
Also my friend and I shared a house, so I saw him every day whether I wanted to or not. And immediately after admitting his new purchase he swapped back between the old and new leads and we listened again. And  I believe I turned my back, so I didn't know which he was using. I have a bacground in science and understand how good experiment protocol. I also have a selection of tunes that are specifically chosen to test various attributes of hi-fi kit. And the difference in sound quality between equipment is most certainly noticable. I've listened to tracks on high end kit that I've heard on merely expensive kit and you can hear so much more information. It's like using a higher MP camera and seeing more detail due to the extra resolution.
You talk such an an awful lot of shit at times and presume even more nonsense that has no basis in reality and then have the audacity to accuse others of drug use! Maybe you are simply describing your own experiences and projecting onto others. Guess what? Making assumptions only mades you look stupid.
 

 No it's not. I seem to be sensitive to sound quality and will often notice there is an issue when other are oblivious. Same thing with visual quality and partly why I'm good at my job. I thought it seemed a bit far fetched, that changing cables could make any difference, but I certainly noticed it.
 


No!
Try reading posts more carefully. I'm talking about the average person who cannot tell the difference between a 50D's shots and a Phase65+. Not professional photographers.
Something I find very annoying is when people who cannot discern differences, will never admit it may be them who cannot tell the difference and will insist through all sorts of dreadful reasoning, that there is on fact no difference.
I've DJed  Latin music and it's very tedious when ignorant people bang on about how all Latin music sounds the same. Just like all dance music , all european music, all Blues and all hip hop sounds the same, when it's obvious to anyone with half a brain, that that cannot possibly be true. If I wander around Beijing everyone will sound the same to me, no matter if they are discussing the weather or how to do open heart surgery. Even if they may be speaking Hokkian, Mandarin or Cantonese I won't know and local accents will certainly not be discernable when I cannot even tell languages apart.
To many Americans, all Brits sound much the same though they may notice a stong Welsh, Irish or Scottish accent. Yet many people can tell exactly what town people are from in their local area, as the differences in even the various Yorkshire or Welsh accents are very noticable to the trained ear. By trained, I mean having heard them a lot through simply living in area.


Most of the population would simply not notice any difference.  Doesn't mean there isn't any. Most people don't even notice if a film is shown out of focus at the cinema.
Michael just ordered a 65+, despite owning a 45+, because even at that silly high level of quality there is a noticable difference to those who care.

Jeremy and Gabor,

The use of expletives and recourse to personal insults is an unwelcome intrusion into an otherwise useful discussion. Both of you are serious enough professionals to sustain your reputations and enhance your impact on your readers by being moderate on the keyboard. I would suggest there is merit to keeping this discussion polite, dispassionate, impersonal and technical. Otherwise you annoy other readers and do yourselves a professional disservice.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 11, 2009, 08:17:24 am
Quote from: barryfitzgerald
The main problem area is shadow regions, obviously..and also it can smear colour noise, making it hard to remove it. Though I seem to be one of the few who is kicking up about it.

Bottom line, I don't use ACR for high ISO work any more, it's not up to the job

It's not only deep shadow regions but lower midtones. The images with clearly extra detail in the Bibble conversions, also had clearly more noise in the shadows, lower midtones and even midtones.

I never went to the trouble of making prints of the images. I'm not sure it's necessary, provided one is always aware of what size of print a particular degree of magnification on one's monitor represents. At 100%, one often might be looking at a print size of 4ftx6ft, depending on the pixel count of the DSLR and the resolution of one's monitor.

When one takes such factors into consideration, at a particular print size both the extra detail of the Bibble conversion as well as the extra noise might disappear, leaving one with a net zero benefit compared with ACR.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 11, 2009, 08:18:08 am
Quote from: Ray
Of course, a 24" wide printer can effectively use a camera with a far greater pixel count than the 5D. I'm disappointed again that the A900 does not have better high-ISO performance because that was definitely a contender as an upgrade to my 5D.

Ray,

Take care on this one. Have you seen high ISO results from the Sony A900? I have and they are very good. Also, referring to the numbers, I'm comparing my Canon 1DsMk3 with the Sony A900: the difference in overall sensor score is Neglible - a mere 1.4 DxO Marks. When you look at the price difference between these two cameras, had the A900 been available when I bought my 1Ds3 (the day it arrived in Toronto) I would have cancelled that order and bought an A900. If the Sony A900 performs just about as well on noise as my 1Ds3, I'd be a happy camper, because I've done lots of work at 1600 and much of it either doesn't need noise reduction, or very little, to get a fine print at least to Super A3 (13*19 inches). This depends much on the content of the image. I can't speak beyond those parameters because that's as far as I've gone both for ISO and print size. If high ISO noise performance is the only factor discouraging you from getting more of the resolution that your large-format printer can handle, I would suggest you test the camera - if only in the camera shop, at high ISo, take the shots back to your workplace and examine them. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Mark
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: michael on February 11, 2009, 08:33:33 am
I agree with Mark that this is a useful thread, so I'll leave it open for the moment. But, any more personal attacks and it'll be closed and the guilty parties given 30 days in the klink.

Michael

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 11, 2009, 08:43:06 am
Quote from: MarkDS
Ray,

Take care on this one. Have you seen high ISO results from the Sony A900?

Mark,
The internet has been abuzz with conflicting reports of performance ever since the A900 was released. On balance, I get the impression from numerous sources that the A900 is a bit lacking at high ISO. DXOMark seem to confirm this impression.

Comparing the 5D with the A900 on the DXOMark website, it seems that at ISO 3200 the A900 has the same noise as the 5D, but actually 2/3rds of a stop less DR, at the normalised print size of 8x12".

On the screen, pixel for pixel, the 5D has more than 1 stop greater DR than the A900, at ISO 3200. This is not encouraging for me. On the screen at 100%, the 5D also shows less noise than the A900, although not as much as one stop.

Edit: However, my new standard for low noise and high DR is the Nikon D700. Whether at a normalised print size of 8x12" or at full screen resolution, it either beats or equals the A900, mostly beats. I think the A900 matches the D700 only at base ISO in respect of SNR, DR, Tonal Range and Color Sensitivity.

Of course, resolution is better. But I was hoping for more.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 11, 2009, 09:54:44 am
Quote from: Ray
Mark,
The internet has been abuzz with conflicting reports of performance ever since the A900 was released. On balance, I get the impression from numerous sources that the A900 is a bit lacking at high ISO. DXOMark seem to confirm this impression.

Comparing the 5D with the A900 on the DXOMark website, it seems that at ISO 3200 the A900 has the same noise as the 5D, but actually 2/3rds of a stop less DR, at the normalised print size of 8x12".

On the screen, pixel for pixel, the 5D has more than 1 stop greater DR than the A900, at ISO 3200. This is not encouraging for me. On the screen at 100%, the 5D also shows less noise than the A900, although not as much as one stop.

Edit: However, my new standard for low noise and high DR is the Nikon D700. Whether at a normalised print size of 8x12" or at full screen resolution, it either beats or equals the A900, mostly beats. I think the A900 matches the D700 only at base ISO in respect of SNR, DR, Tonal Range and Color Sensitivity.

Of course, resolution is better. But I was hoping for more.

Ray,

Here's where we get to the nub of an issue about user needs and results versus measurements. Doubtless there will be more to say about this generic question on L-L. However, in the context of the specific discussion here, there are a number of questions:

1) How often would you use ISO 3200 (yes I know good to have high quality functionality when you need it, but still.......)?
2) How likely is it that you would actually see and be disturbed enough by this difference ("not as much as 1 stop") in a print of the size you would normally print?
3) Do you really believe that seeing noise at 100% on your display is a reliable indicator of the noise you will see in the print? (I'm not saying no, but I'm a bit skeptical.)
4) The Nikon D700 lacks the resolution of the A900. In all these things there are trade-offs - sad to say - as you know. What do you need more: the nth degree of performance on noise or the higher resolution? With an Epson 7600 and if I make big prints with it, I'd definitely opt for the latter because I can reduce noise any number of ways, but I can't manufacture more resolution than the camera provides. Makes sense?

I come back to my basic view that the measurement stuff is really useful for general guidance, but must be complemented by visual inspection in print for the images and workflow we the photographers would use.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on February 11, 2009, 02:45:57 pm
Quote from: Ray
I have a paractical concern only with the  benefits at the output stage of such factors as DR, SNR and high ISO performance
Of course, the only thing what counts at the end of the day is, how the real shots come out.

My claim is, that the capability of the camera can be objectively measured in shots targeted to that purpose better than judged from "real life" shots. If the DR of one camera is relevantly higher than that of another camera, then it depends only on you if that difference is taken advantage of.

However, I would not replace my camera for only 1/3 EV difference (other aspects aside, of course).
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on February 11, 2009, 02:54:55 pm
Quote from: jani
Please look at the article and the example of sensor bloom, which shows quite clearly that there are very real, very practical effects of highlights that must be considered, not only by photographers, but also by theorists like yourself
Sensor blooming is caused by not only reaching but exceeding (usually by a lot) the wells' saturation. That is outside of the dynamic range.

Quote
I wasn't embarrassed on my behalf. I was - and still am - embarrassed on your behalf
I did understand your post.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jani on February 11, 2009, 05:04:57 pm
Quote from: Panopeeper
Sensor blooming is caused by not only reaching but exceeding (usually by a lot) the wells' saturation. That is outside of the dynamic range.
Okay.

So why do you then think that sensor bloom is immaterial?
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on February 11, 2009, 05:53:07 pm
Quote from: jani
So why do you then think that sensor bloom is immaterial?
Immaterial for what? Blooming is not immaterial, because the effects range from ignorable to devastating. However, it is immaterial for the dynamic range, because the DR ends exactly at the pixel saturation at base ISO. At higher ISOs the range is even more limited simply by the numerical range of the pixel values, thus saturation is not a factor at all.

Back to your question: if you think blooming affects the dynamic range, then pls explain, how.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on February 11, 2009, 09:55:52 pm
Hi!

I have the A900 and it is a fine camera for landscape photography. From my experience I would agree that it should be used at low ISO and my impression is that DR is decaying with ISO. My experience doesn't conflict with the data on the DxO-mark site. On the other hand I don't have experience with other cameras than Sony/Minolta. Some raw converters may yield better results than ACR. Noise Ninja cleans up noise but cannot help with the limited DR.

Best regards
Erik

Quote from: Ray
Mark,
The internet has been abuzz with conflicting reports of performance ever since the A900 was released. On balance, I get the impression from numerous sources that the A900 is a bit lacking at high ISO. DXOMark seem to confirm this impression.

Comparing the 5D with the A900 on the DXOMark website, it seems that at ISO 3200 the A900 has the same noise as the 5D, but actually 2/3rds of a stop less DR, at the normalised print size of 8x12".

On the screen, pixel for pixel, the 5D has more than 1 stop greater DR than the A900, at ISO 3200. This is not encouraging for me. On the screen at 100%, the 5D also shows less noise than the A900, although not as much as one stop.

Edit: However, my new standard for low noise and high DR is the Nikon D700. Whether at a normalised print size of 8x12" or at full screen resolution, it either beats or equals the A900, mostly beats. I think the A900 matches the D700 only at base ISO in respect of SNR, DR, Tonal Range and Color Sensitivity.

Of course, resolution is better. But I was hoping for more.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 12, 2009, 06:59:02 am
Quote from: MarkDS
Ray,
Here's where we get to the nub of an issue about user needs and results versus measurements. Doubtless there will be more to say about this generic question on L-L. However, in the context of the specific discussion here, there are a number of questions:
1) How often would you use ISO 3200 (yes I know good to have high quality functionality when you need it, but still.......)?

Mark,
Perhaps the question should be, "How often would I use ISO 3200 if image quality were better?" The answer would be, surprisingly often, particularly when using the Canon 100-400 IS for wildlife. In practice I'm reluctant to go beyond ISO 1600 with my current Canon cameras. However, I would consider it a worthwhile upgrade if a new camera could give me the same noise and DR at ISO 3200 that I currently get with my 5D at ISO 1600.

The 100-400 is effectively an F8 lens at 400mm for decent image quality. F8 at ISO 1600 usually produces sharper results than F5.6 at ISO 800 with the same shutter speed.

I find when choosing a camera body one should always consider the options for available lenses. The availability of a particularly good lens in the range that one uses frequently should affect one's choice of camera body.

I see nothing from either Nikon or Sony that is an improvement on the Canon 100-400mm. The 400mm prime lenses are too expensive, or too heavy or too inflexible for my style of shooting. I think there's a big gap in the market for an affordable, lightweight, F5.6 zoom in the range of 100-400, that is sharp at full aperture.

Quote
2) How likely is it that you would actually see and be disturbed enough by this difference ("not as much as 1 stop") in a print of the size you would normally print?

Possibly not much, comparing the 5D with the A900. The additional resolution of the A900 would always be appreciated. However, I'm reminded of the performance of my first DSLR, the Canon D60. I never went above ISO 400 because the results were so obviously degraded. In fact, I was often reluctant even to use ISO 400 on some occasions when I probably needed to, for a fast shutter speed with a lens like the Canon 100-400. In such situations I sometimes found myself in a state of indecision. Is a 200th sec exposure at ISO 200 likely to produce better results than a 400th at ISO 400?

You can imagine how pleased I was when I discovered that the 20D at ISO 1600 could actually produce better image quality at ISO 1600 than the D60 at ISO 400; better in terms of noise, color saturation, tonality, resolution and dynamic range; all the things that count.
The fact is, if a camera doesn't produce good results at high ISO, then you don't use it at high ISO. I don't want to feel limited in that respect.

Quote
3) Do you really believe that seeing noise at 100% on your display is a reliable indicator of the noise you will see in the print? (I'm not saying no, but I'm a bit skeptical.)

No. One usually has to reduce the magnification on the monitor to 67%, or 50% or less, depending on the print size one intends making. But I'm not happy that an A4 size print from a 5D file would have about 2/3rds of a stop greater DR than the A900, according to DXO tests.

Quote
4) The Nikon D700 lacks the resolution of the A900. In all these things there are trade-offs - sad to say - as you know. What do you need more: the nth degree of performance on noise or the higher resolution? With an Epson 7600 and if I make big prints with it, I'd definitely opt for the latter because I can reduce noise any number of ways, but I can't manufacture more resolution than the camera provides. Makes sense?

It's sometimes a difficult decision. When the pros and cons seem about even with regard to the camera bodies, one should consider the lenses. There are too many issues regarding the A900, about which I'm not exactly happy. In addition to the 'less than stellar' performance at high ISO, it has no Live View and no Sony or Zeiss wide angle zoom on a par with the Nikkor 14-24/2.8.
As far as I can tell, the A900 also doesn't have that excellent feature of auto-ISO in manual mode. You select the aperture and shutter speed, and the camera selects the ISO for a correct exposure.

The A900 also doesn't have the wide range of autobracketing options that the D700 has. I believe it's either 3 frames up to a 2EV interval, or 5 frames up to 0.7EV interval. The D700 has up to 9 frames at up to 1EV intervals. I believe much of the criticism levelled at Adobe's 'Merge to HDR' is due to people trying to merge too few shots with a too great an EV interval. I could be wrong, though.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Dan Vincent on February 12, 2009, 08:13:09 pm
There is the new Sony 16-35 f/2.8 ZA and 70-400 f/4-5.6 G. They are just newly available, though, and might be hard to find until supplies ramp up in the coming months.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on February 12, 2009, 11:09:11 pm
Quote from: Ray
It's sometimes a difficult decision. When the pros and cons seem about even with regard to the camera bodies, one should consider the lenses. There are too many issues regarding the A900, about which I'm not exactly happy. In addition to the 'less than stellar' performance at high ISO, it has no Live View and no Sony or Zeiss wide angle zoom on a par with the Nikkor 14-24/2.8.

I have found Live view on th D3x to be one important feature when one is relly trying to get the peak focus exactly where it should be.

AF is often not accurate enough for shots like the following, and it is next to impossible to focus manually at the exactly right location.

(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3404/3262015614_9afaa8193f_o.jpg)

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 13, 2009, 03:42:26 am
Quote from: BernardLanguillier
I have found Live view on th D3x to be one important feature when one is relly trying to get the peak focus exactly where it should be.

AF is often not accurate enough for shots like the following, and it is next to impossible to focus manually at the exactly right location.
Cheers,
Bernard

Bernard,
Isn't this a stitched image? You've shown it before. I think it's an excellent technical example of what's now possible with stitching programs. The straight lines are straight and even the focussing looks accurate after stitching, although one can't really tell without 100% crops, However, I have to say that the subject and composition leave me somewhat underwhelmed.

Below is a shot of fine detail taken with the 5D. No stitching required. This is how I found her when I came home for dinner   .

[attachment=11483:9717.jpg]


Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Rob C on February 13, 2009, 04:24:53 am
Quote from: Ray
Below is a shot of fine detail taken with the 5D. No stitching required. This is how I found her when I came home for dinner   .

[attachment=11483:9717.jpg]



Lies, more lies and damned lies! I can see the stitches from here - all along the hemline.

Rob C
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 13, 2009, 09:15:59 am
Quote from: Ray
Bernard,
Isn't this a stitched image? You've shown it before. I think it's an excellent technical example of what's now possible with stitching programs. The straight lines are straight and even the focussing looks accurate after stitching, although one can't really tell without 100% crops, However, I have to say that the subject and composition leave me somewhat underwhelmed.

On the contrary, I think it's a fine photograph. It has real "atmosphere", good formal composition and the control of focus is masterful.

Turning to your counter-example Ray, well, what to say about that!....................

Mark
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 13, 2009, 10:51:51 pm
Quote from: MarkDS
On the contrary, I think it's a fine photograph. It has real "atmosphere", good formal composition and the control of focus is masterful.

Turning to your counter-example Ray, well, what to say about that!....................

Mark

Well, Mark, you could say "Cute!"   . Bernard's image attempts to demonstrate mastery of stitching, but fails because the image presented is so small. It could, for all we know, be just a single shot from any camera with a wide-aperture lens.

Mine actually is a single shot. The stitching is implied, not of multiple images, but of the fabric in the lady's dress ( as Rob noted).

Bernard's image demonstrates great mastery of foussing. Mine was autofocussed at F8. But there's a different type of mastery at work here. Do you realise how difficult it was to train this lady to greet me in this fashion when I return home from work each day?  

Okay! Enough silliness! Back to the theme of the thread.

If we consider 3 major issues regarding image quality; resolution, dynamic range and focussing accuracy; we find that resolution can be increased to taste through stitching, provided the subject is static. Dynamic Range can be increased through exposure bracketing, provided the subject is static. Focussing accuracy can be increased either through Live View, or through the autofussing micro-adjustment of the latest Canon models.

The advantage of any higher pixel count camera in respect of resolution, dynamic range and autofocussing accuracy, therefore only applies to subjects that are moving.

If the subject is stationary, you simply don't need an expensive, high resolution camera. And certainly not a ridiculously expensive MFDB. You don't even need a D3X. A D700 will be more than adequate, provided the subject lends itself to the stitching process. Focussing accuracy is perhaps in a different ball park. Liveview and micro-adjustment of autofocus with respect to any lens, seems the best solution for this factor. But again, manual focussing is more difficult if the subject is not static.

Agreed?

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 14, 2009, 09:51:50 am
Quote from: Ray
Well, Mark, you could say "Cute!"   . Bernard's image attempts to demonstrate mastery of stitching, but fails because the image presented is so small. It could, for all we know, be just a single shot from any camera with a wide-aperture lens.

Mine actually is a single shot. The stitching is implied, not of multiple images, but of the fabric in the lady's dress ( as Rob noted).

Bernard's image demonstrates great mastery of foussing. Mine was autofocussed at F8. But there's a different type of mastery at work here. Do you realise how difficult it was to train this lady to greet me in this fashion when I return home from work each day?  

Okay! Enough silliness! Back to the theme of the thread.

If we consider 3 major issues regarding image quality; resolution, dynamic range and focussing accuracy; we find that resolution can be increased to taste through stitching, provided the subject is static. Dynamic Range can be increased through exposure bracketing, provided the subject is static. Focussing accuracy can be increased either through Live View, or through the autofussing micro-adjustment of the latest Canon models.

The advantage of any higher pixel count camera in respect of resolution, dynamic range and autofocussing accuracy, therefore only applies to subjects that are moving.

If the subject is stationary, you simply don't need an expensive, high resolution camera. And certainly not a ridiculously expensive MFDB. You don't even need a D3X. A D700 will be more than adequate, provided the subject lends itself to the stitching process. Focussing accuracy is perhaps in a different ball park. Liveview and micro-adjustment of autofocus with respect to any lens, seems the best solution for this factor. But again, manual focussing is more difficult if the subject is not static.

Agreed?

First on the image: Bernard should clarify the nature of the subject matter and why he approached it with a stitching solution. There may be more to this than meets the eye simply looking at an end result posted in a web forum.

Second, on the main theme of the thread: quality/value/ ideal specs for the purpose: Whether or not the subject matter is in motion I think is one variable amongst others to be considered in the appropriate choice of specs. I don't think it is necessarily determinative one way or another, but I agree that more technical flexibility is helpful for this kind of image. You may still want to use a hi-res camera for stationary subjects - it depends on how much resolution you want at what print size and the extent to which you are comfortable with resampling data.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 14, 2009, 10:35:35 pm

Quote from: MarkDS
Whether or not the subject matter is in motion I think is one variable amongst others to be considered in the appropriate choice of specs. I don't think it is necessarily determinative one way or another, but I agree that more technical flexibility is helpful for this kind of image. You may still want to use a hi-res camera for stationary subjects - it depends on how much resolution you want at what print size and the extent to which you are comfortable with resampling data.

Mark,
I think the point I'm trying to make is that one has to be careful with one's own weighted assessment of a camera when there's any obsessional factor involved. Resolution is perhaps the most obsessional of all camera specs. It's the most easily appreciated aspect of camera performance because, however small the improvement, one can usually see it. If it's not visible at 100% on one's monitor, then it might be at 200%. If it's not visible at 200%, then it might be at 400%. The relevance to the print of such increases is another matter.

The fact is, provided that an increase in pixel count doesn't have any downside, then it has to be a good thing, but by itself it might not be sufficient reason to upgrade. At least, that is what I have found to be the case. When I look back on all my purchases of DSLRs, I find that resolution was only a major issue with my very first purchase, the 6mp Canon D60. The 3mp of the D30 was just too few pixels to persuade me to part with my money, so I waited for the upgrade. Apart from a doubling of pixel count, the D60 had no significant performance advantage over the D30.

However, that has not been the case with subsequent upgrades. With each upgrade, the increase in pixel count has been fairly low on my list of performance considerations. My latest Canon purchase, the 50D has fully 50% more pixels than my 40D which I bought on impulse in Bangkok about a year earlier. That increase in pixel count alone would not have been sufficient reason for me to buy the 50D. In conjunction with the autofocus micro-adjustment feature and the high resolution LCD screen, which is just amazing at 10x magnification with a 400mm lens, that 50% increase in pixel count tipped the balance in favour of my being able to justify a purchase.

If I can justify the purchase of a 50D as an upgrade from the 40D, then surely I can justify the purchase of a 5D2 as an upgrade from the 5D1? Oddly enough, I'm having difficulty doing this, despite all of the obvious advantages of the 5D2. However, the increase in pixel count is only slightly greater, as a percentage, than the increase of the 50D over the 40D. We're looking at about 65% as opposed to 50%.

In terms of lp/mm resolution, those figures represent a 22% increase for the 50D (over the 40D) and a 28% increase for the 5D2 (over the 5D1). But these increases in resolution can only be achieved if there's a corresponding and equal increase in lens resolution, which there rarely is. Using the same lenses with the 5D2 and 50D as one would with the 5D1 and 40D, one could cut those resolution increases in half. That is, an 11% increase for the 50D and a 14% increase for the 5D2, approximately.

I'm sure you'll agree, the true benefit of those increase in pixel count are now beginning to look a lot less persuasive.

I shan't mention the water resistant issues and the limited functionality of the 5D2 video, which are also cause for hesitation.

When dealing with such relatively small increases in 'system' resolution, the quality of the type of lenses one uses most frequently should surely be a major concern. In my own case, the 3 lenses I have found, over the years, that I use most often are the Sigma 15-30, the Canon 24-105 IS (before that the Canon 28-135 IS), and the Canon 100-400 IS.

The Sigma 15-30 is simply not good enough for the 5D2 at the borders and corners which are bad enough on the 5D1. The 5D2 would just accentuate that poor performance.

The 100-400 IS I use mostly on a cropped format DSLR, such as the 20D or 40D, but in future the 50D. I think there can be no doubt that a 50D image with that lens at 400mm will show superior detail to a 5D2 image cropped to the dimensions of the 50D sensor.

So where does that leave me? Perhaps on my next photographic trip I shall be carrying 3 cameras. The D700 with 14-24, the 5D2 with 24-105, and the 50D with 100-400.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jjj on February 15, 2009, 01:22:15 am
Quote from: MarkDS
Jeremy and Gabor,

The use of expletives and recourse to personal insults is an unwelcome intrusion into an otherwise useful discussion. Both of you are serious enough professionals to sustain your reputations and enhance your impact on your readers by being moderate on the keyboard. I would suggest there is merit to keeping this discussion polite, dispassionate, impersonal and technical. Otherwise you annoy other readers and do yourselves a professional disservice.
What has Gabor got to do with Ray's repeated and innaccurate insistence I'm constantly off my head on drugs, as there is no other reason I could possiblyI post the things I do? Simply having a different point of view based on my drug free experiences, never occured to him.
And if I'm more than a little annoyed with such made up, nonsense that is being used instead of rational argument, is that surprising?
I also find it baffling that Ray escapes censure for his inflammatory comments.


Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on February 15, 2009, 01:58:52 am
Quote from: MarkDS
First on the image: Bernard should clarify the nature of the subject matter and why he approached it with a stitching solution. There may be more to this than meets the eye simply looking at an end result posted in a web forum.

Thanks for your kind support Mark.

I selected this image because IMHO it would have been very hard to get the exact focus point with anything but live view. Considering the proximity of the subject, the AF focus points are just too large to enable accurate focus on the exact point where it needs to be set. This matters because I am planning to print this large.

I decided to use stitching for this image for 4 main reasons:

- aspect ratio, 3:2 was just too square for this subject per my taste,
- resolution, this one is pretty self explanatory,
- quality of bokeh. Out of the lenses I own and had with me during that trip, the Zeiss 100 mm f2.0 wins hands down bokehwise, and it is obviously too long to get a wide angle feel with a single frame,
- there was no reason whatsoever not to stitch.

Quote from: MarkDS
Second, on the main theme of the thread: quality/value/ ideal specs for the purpose: Whether or not the subject matter is in motion I think is one variable amongst others to be considered in the appropriate choice of specs. I don't think it is necessarily determinative one way or another, but I agree that more technical flexibility is helpful for this kind of image. You may still want to use a hi-res camera for stationary subjects - it depends on how much resolution you want at what print size and the extent to which you are comfortable with resampling data.

Absolutely. Adding to what you are saying, it might be interesting to think about the following question "what is a static object?...".  Indeed, many of my subjects are static, but the light changes in intensity, color and direction. The following image was hard to stitch because of the fact that the sun moved enough in the sky between the different rows of frames that the shadows of the trees were not matching... this is due to the fact that each row is in fact a depth of field stacking made up of 5 to 9 frames...



Cheers,
Bernard
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 15, 2009, 12:05:58 pm
Quote from: Ray
Mark,
I think the point I'm trying to make is that one has to be careful with one's own weighted assessment of a camera when there's any obsessional factor involved. Resolution is perhaps the most obsessional of all camera specs. It's the most easily appreciated aspect of camera performance because, however small the improvement, one can usually see it. If it's not visible at 100% on one's monitor, then it might be at 200%. If it's not visible at 200%, then it might be at 400%. The relevance to the print of such increases is another matter.

The fact is, provided that an increase in pixel count doesn't have any downside, then it has to be a good thing, but by itself it might not be sufficient reason to upgrade. At least, that is what I have found to be the case. When I look back on all my purchases of DSLRs, I find that resolution was only a major issue with my very first purchase, the 6mp Canon D60. The 3mp of the D30 was just too few pixels to persuade me to part with my money, so I waited for the upgrade. Apart from a doubling of pixel count, the D60 had no significant performance advantage over the D30.

However, that has not been the case with subsequent upgrades. With each upgrade, the increase in pixel count has been fairly low on my list of performance considerations. My latest Canon purchase, the 50D has fully 50% more pixels than my 40D which I bought on impulse in Bangkok about a year earlier. That increase in pixel count alone would not have been sufficient reason for me to buy the 50D. In conjunction with the autofocus micro-adjustment feature and the high resolution LCD screen, which is just amazing at 10x magnification with a 400mm lens, that 50% increase in pixel count tipped the balance in favour of my being able to justify a purchase.

If I can justify the purchase of a 50D as an upgrade from the 40D, then surely I can justify the purchase of a 5D2 as an upgrade from the 5D1? Oddly enough, I'm having difficulty doing this, despite all of the obvious advantages of the 5D2. However, the increase in pixel count is only slightly greater, as a percentage, than the increase of the 50D over the 40D. We're looking at about 65% as opposed to 50%.

In terms of lp/mm resolution, those figures represent a 22% increase for the 50D (over the 40D) and a 28% increase for the 5D2 (over the 5D1). But these increases in resolution can only be achieved if there's a corresponding and equal increase in lens resolution, which there rarely is. Using the same lenses with the 5D2 and 50D as one would with the 5D1 and 40D, one could cut those resolution increases in half. That is, an 11% increase for the 50D and a 14% increase for the 5D2, approximately.

I'm sure you'll agree, the true benefit of those increase in pixel count are now beginning to look a lot less persuasive.

I shan't mention the water resistant issues and the limited functionality of the 5D2 video, which are also cause for hesitation.

When dealing with such relatively small increases in 'system' resolution, the quality of the type of lenses one uses most frequently should surely be a major concern. In my own case, the 3 lenses I have found, over the years, that I use most often are the Sigma 15-30, the Canon 24-105 IS (before that the Canon 28-135 IS), and the Canon 100-400 IS.

The Sigma 15-30 is simply not good enough for the 5D2 at the borders and corners which are bad enough on the 5D1. The 5D2 would just accentuate that poor performance.

The 100-400 IS I use mostly on a cropped format DSLR, such as the 20D or 40D, but in future the 50D. I think there can be no doubt that a 50D image with that lens at 400mm will show superior detail to a 5D2 image cropped to the dimensions of the 50D sensor.

So where does that leave me? Perhaps on my next photographic trip I shall be carrying 3 cameras. The D700 with 14-24, the 5D2 with 24-105, and the 50D with 100-400.

Ray,

I take your general point that lens quality can be the binding constraint, but let's look at some details of the options you discuss. Your Canon 5D body was worth round-about 1500 USD on eBay last week when several sold. The 5DMk2 is 2700 USD (NYC), so in the USA, which I know is not Australia (but Bangkok is competitive with NYC for Canon gear - better get back there so you can stock-up on gear and photograph some more of those pretty ladies waiting to serve you tea   ), the 5Dmk2 would carry a net incremental cost of about 1200 USD plus some sales tax or shipping, whatever. For that you would be getting, as you say, a 28.6% increase of resolution allowing to print one more sq.ft. of paper at 240 PPI without any resampling. IF you use your 24-105 L lens at its optimal aperture, the effective resolution of the lens should be adequate for the 5DMk2 sensor. Hard to know for sure without detailed testing of both bodies using the same lens, but having been there between the 1Ds and the 1DsMk3, this is my impression - remembering the aperture is important. According to the DxO results, there is what I would estimate to be a moderate improvement in sensor quality between the two models. These factors, combined with all the other improvements between the two cameras suggests that there may be more of a case to up-grade than you give it credit for. Even if you don't sell your 5D, it would give you a full-frame reserve camera, and you could probably sell all the rest of your cameras unless one of them particularly suits a special purpose not equally well-fulfilled by the FF gear. There's nothing preventing you from using a cropped portion of your FF 5DMk2 where you would have used the 50D, and you should get the same IQ - if not - better - as you would from a 50D. There's a substantial improvement of DxO rating for a 5DMk2 sensor compared with the 50D sensor.

Mark
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 15, 2009, 12:09:25 pm
Quote from: BernardLanguillier
Thanks for your kind support Mark.

I selected this image because IMHO it would have been very hard to get the exact focus point with anything but live view. Considering the proximity of the subject, the AF focus points are just too large to enable accurate focus on the exact point where it needs to be set. This matters because I am planning to print this large.

I decided to use stitching for this image for 4 main reasons:

- aspect ratio, 3:2 was just too square for this subject per my taste,
- resolution, this one is pretty self explanatory,
- quality of bokeh. Out of the lenses I own and had with me during that trip, the Zeiss 100 mm f2.0 wins hands down bokehwise, and it is obviously too long to get a wide angle feel with a single frame,
- there was no reason whatsoever not to stitch.



Absolutely. Adding to what you are saying, it might be interesting to think about the following question "what is a static object?...".  Indeed, many of my subjects are static, but the light changes in intensity, color and direction. The following image was hard to stitch because of the fact that the sun moved enough in the sky between the different rows of frames that the shadows of the trees were not matching... this is due to the fact that each row is in fact a depth of field stacking made up of 5 to 9 frames...

So if a single frame were good enough for the target print size, this image would be a lot easier to come up with. Using a Phase one P65+ would make sense here.

Cheers,
Bernard

I knew there would be a logical explanation and you didn't disappoint. Thanks for the insights and nice shot of the log in the snow.

Mark
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jani on February 15, 2009, 02:05:48 pm
Quote from: Panopeeper
Immaterial for what? Blooming is not immaterial, because the effects range from ignorable to devastating. However, it is immaterial for the dynamic range, because the DR ends exactly at the pixel saturation at base ISO. At higher ISOs the range is even more limited simply by the numerical range of the pixel values, thus saturation is not a factor at all.

Back to your question: if you think blooming affects the dynamic range, then pls explain, how.

The statement I reacted to wasn't the notion that you now present, but this:

Quote
The fact is, that exclusively the darkest shadows are interesting.
In the cases where you have over-saturation of the sensor, which bleeds into neighbouring sensor elements, this statement is no longer true; you have exceeded the brightness of the camera's dynamic range so much that there are very obvious and very real problems.

Such an image is therefore not suitable for a shadows-only analysis.

My objection wasn't one made in a world made only of black or white.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on February 15, 2009, 10:05:39 pm
Quote from: jani
In the cases where you have over-saturation of the sensor, which bleeds into neighbouring sensor elements, this statement is no longer true; you have exceeded the brightness of the camera's dynamic range so much that there are very obvious and very real problems.

Such an image is therefore not suitable for a shadows-only analysis
That post of mine was an answer to

if you want to demonstrate the dynamic range differences between two cameras, you need to photograph something with a wide range of subject brightness

An image causing sensor blooming sensor and containing deep shadows would be just "something with a wide range of subject brightness", and I stated, that that is not necessary; thus sensor blooming is ab ovo not a consideration for me.

In fact, when I am asking for raw files for this purpose, I always say "two-three stops underexposed" (among other criteria). Finding out if an actual image is suitable for such measurement takes sometimes more time than the measurement itself.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 15, 2009, 10:30:29 pm
Quote from: Panopeeper
That post of mine was an answer to

if you want to demonstrate the dynamic range differences between two cameras, you need to photograph something with a wide range of subject brightness

An image causing sensor blooming sensor and containing deep shadows would be just "something with a wide range of subject brightness", and I stated, that that is not necessary; thus sensor blooming is ab ovo not a consideration for me.

In fact, when I am asking for raw files for this purpose, I always say "two-three stops underexposed" (among other criteria). Finding out if an actual image is suitable for such measurement takes sometimes more time than the measurement itself.

Perhaps you should clarify this concept, Gabor. I can understand, if you know how much an image is underexposed, then that factor can be taken into account when assessing DR for comparison purposes. I presume that, theoretically, you could compare two shots of a white brick wall containing a certain amount of detail, each shot being precisely 10 stops underexposed. The camera which shows the most detail in the white brick wall might be described as having the greater DR. Is this correct?
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 15, 2009, 10:44:31 pm


Quote
There's nothing preventing you from using a cropped portion of your FF 5DMk2 where you would have used the 50D, and you should get the same IQ - if not - better - as you would from a 50D. There's a substantial improvement of DxO rating for a 5DMk2 sensor compared with the 50D sensor.

Mark,
I don't quite know why I'm not as excited as perhaps I should be regarding the 5D2. The lack of full manual control in video mode disturbs me, as well as an apparent waterproofing problem. I think these two issues will be addressed in the next upgrade.

I find that I'm so often caught by surprise with Canon's upgrade path. If I'd succumbed to the excitement and praise of their first DSLR, the D30, and bought one at an unprecedented price (for me) of A$6,000, I would have been kicking myself when the D60 was announced a few months later.

6 months after I bought a 20D, Canon announced the 5D. I feel too much of a materialist when I keep upgrading at this rate. The 40D was a mistake in view of the soon-to-be-released 50D. My fault for buying on impulse.

When you examine the 'on screen' results at DXOmark, comparing the 20D with the 5D2 (at the pixel level), it's surprising how close those results are in respect of SNR, DR, Tonal Range and Color Sensitivity. The DR of the 5D2 is very marginally better. On the other hand, the color sensitivity of the 20D is marginally better than that of the 5D2.

Basically, it looks as though the 5D2 is a full frame sensor with 20D pixels and an extended ISO range.
I therefore find it difficult to believe that a cropped portion of the 5D2 sensor (equivalent to a 20D sensor) would give me the same image quality as the 50D with almost double the number of pixels (85% more, to be precise).

In other words, the reasons for preferring a 50D image to a cropped 5D2 image (with long telephotos), are more compelling than the reasons for preferring the higher resolution pontential of the 5D2 compared with the 5D1. (85% increase is better than 65% increase, no?)

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on February 15, 2009, 11:12:20 pm
Quote from: Ray
I can understand, if you know how much an image is underexposed, then that factor can be taken into account when assessing DR for comparison purposes
The concept of "underexposure" has no use in the evaluation. Underexposed compared to what? Manual metering? Evaluative metering? Center metering?

When I ask for underexposed shot, I have only one thing in mind: that there be patches suitable for measurement in the deep shadows; therefor I ask for smooth, unicolored, uniformly lit areas in different shades. An underexposed gray wedge is very good, a transmission wedge is the best.

Pls look at my post #85 on Page 5 of this thread. It does not matter how much the transmission wedge had been underexposed; the only important thing is, that there are steps in different shades down to the uselessly dark. Thus I can select from many different shades, exhibiting different degrees of noisiness. I don't believe in DR expressed by a single number. For example from that shot I measured dozens of patches; here is a small crop of the result, from the end of that list:

EV   -> noise

9.28 -> 32.5
9.32 -> 35.1
9.41 -> 34.9
9.51 -> 41.0
9.59 -> 40.0
9.69 -> 43.2
9.75 -> 43.9
9.78 -> 44.7
9.89 -> 46.4
9.95 -> 51.7

The first number shows the intensity of the patch from saturation downwards, the second number is the degree of noise, as the standard deviation in percentage of the average pixel values in the selected patch. 51.7% is roughly SNR=2 at -9.95 EV. This means, that if you accept SNR=2, then the DR is 10 EV (this is the 40D at ISO 200). If you accept only SNR=3, i.e. 33% noise, the DR is somewhere between 9.3 and 9.4 EV.

I know the highest possible pixel value from any shot, which contains anything causing raw clipping. (This is often ISO dependent, and sometimes the channels are not equal.) I determined those levels once and now I do not need anything in the higher ranges. The "intensity position" of the selected patch can be calculated from the clipping level without having anything near clipping in the shot.

I don't need any actual measurement on the highlights, for I know that the noise is always lower in the highlights. Why would I care for the noise in the top stop of the DR? The interesting issue is the noise in the very shadows, isn't it?
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 15, 2009, 11:20:27 pm
Ray,

I agree - buying a camera can be as frustrating as buying a computer. As soon as you get comfortable with it, the next model makes it obsolete and that happens very fast. But we must be hardened to that reality and only buy when we really think it worthwhile in terms of the bird in hand.

Now, on that note, as the birds sing, the 5DMk2 has 36% larger pixel pitch than the 50D and it's low light ISO is 2.1x that of the 50D. Along with the higher resolution those must be reasons why you should expect better image quality from it.  

Cheers,

Mark
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Herkko on February 16, 2009, 05:22:36 am
Quote from: Ray
When you examine the 'on screen' results at DXOmark, comparing the 20D with the 5D2 (at the pixel level), it's surprising how close those results are in respect of SNR, DR, Tonal Range and Color Sensitivity. The DR of the 5D2 is very marginally better. On the other hand, the color sensitivity of the 20D is marginally better than that of the 5D2.

When I examine the 'on screen' results from my 20D and 5DMKII files I can see a country mile difference in image quality. Good old lenses like EF 50/2.5 Macro or EF 300/4 IS are utilized properly, at last. Even when I crop out 8mpix portion of 5DMKII the color accuracy, lack of noise artifacts etc. are better than 20D, not to talk about the whole 21mpix...

Ability to crop has got a new meaning when I have been looking my recent shots. Definitely better with less artifacts and closer to natural surface colors at 100% than my ex. 5D had.

Just a casual ice surface shot from yesterday: from this (http://www.jussivakkala.com/dpreview/uncropped.jpg) I can extract unsharpened 100% like this (http://www.jussivakkala.com/dpreview/crop.jpg). If I'm desperate I can even save heavily cropped finished picture (http://www.jussivakkala.com/dpreview/finished.jpg) like this.
IMO, very nice and accurate surface details + tone graduation compared to my similar in 5D and especially in 20D pictures. (And more observant of you can also notice that I haven't bothered with the fw upgrade yet ;)
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 16, 2009, 07:06:17 am
Quote from: Herkko
Even when I crop out 8mpix portion of 5DMKII the color accuracy, lack of noise artifacts etc. are better than 20D, not to talk about the whole 21mpix...

Well, of course I'm not referring to the whole 21mp. I'm talking only about an 8mp crop from those 21mp. There is no question that 21m 20D pixels are better than 8m 20D pixels.

However, you are just the person we need on this site. There's been a lot of criticism of the meaningfulness of the DXOmark figures. Some people seem to think they are just plain wrong, but no-one seems to provide any evidence that they are wrong or inaccurate. The criticisms seems all hot air.

You are now in the privileged position of being able to provide such evidence, since you own both a 20D and 5D2   .

Can I suggest the following methodology? Shoot an appropriate subject with varied tonality, fine detail, lots of color and contaning a few smooth and dark surfaces. Use the same lens with both cameras at the same aperture and ISO, and at the same distance to subject. Use tripod, MLU and remote cord or self-timer. Bracket all shots +/-1/3rd stop. The 20D, according to DXO, is slightly more sensitive than the 5D2. That means at the same ISO and shutter speed, the 20D will receive a slight overexposure compared to the 5D2. However this might not be apparent until you have cropped the 5D2 image to the same FoV as the 20D image because the 5D2 scene is larger. Do not try to compare exposures until the 5D2 image has been cropped in ACR to the same FoV as the 20D image. The histogram will change as you adjust the crop.

Another concern, use a lens that you know autofocuses accurately on both cameras. The Live View of the 5D2 should allow for totally accurate focussing. We don't want distractions such as one image having slightly different focussing than the other. Post results here. Okay!  
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 16, 2009, 07:21:42 am

Quote
I agree - buying a camera can be as frustrating as buying a computer. As soon as you get comfortable with it, the next model makes it obsolete and that happens very fast. But we must be hardened to that reality and only buy when we really think it worthwhile in terms of the bird in hand.

Mark,
I only upgrade my computer when I find it really worthwhile. My first computer took a whole 2 minutes just to open an 18mb PhotoCD file. That was intolerably slow and there was great need to upgrade. I've been using my current Win 64 bit system with 6GB of RAM and a WD Raptor 10,000 rpm hard drive solely as a scratch disc, for over 3 1/2 years now and feel no urge to upgrade because it's still a reasonably fast computer and gets the job done.

Quote
Now, on that note, as the birds sing, the 5DMk2 has 36% larger pixel pitch than the 50D and it's low light ISO is 2.1x that of the 50D. Along with the higher resolution those must be reasons why you should expect better image quality from it.

Let's have a look at some hard facts from the DXOmark website. The 5D2's SNR, DR etc are approximately a whole stop better than those of the 50D. For example, at ISO 3200 the 5D2's DR is 9.09 EV, the 50D's DR at ISO 1600 is 9.19 EV.

A similar situation applies comparing the 50D at ISO 400 with the 5D2 at ISO 800, and the 50D at ISO 800 with the 5D2 at ISO 1600, with regard to all the parameters of noise, DR, tonality and color sensitivity.

However, oddly enough, between ISO range 100 to 400, the DR of the 5D2 is only marginally better than that of the 50D, at both the pixel level and the normalised print size; that is, less than a stop better.

Now such an improvement certainly appears to be worthwhile. However, when one brings into the equation the sort of lenses one might use with each camera, that apparent advantage might sometimes be non-existent.

For example, the lens I would use most with a 5D2 would be my Canon 24-105/F4 IS. For very wide angle requirements I would use the D700 with Nikkor 14-24/F2.8. For long telephoto work, I would prefer the 50D with my 100-400 zoom.

But supposing I compare the 50D and 17-55/F2.8 combination with the 5D2 and 24-105mm? The EF-S 17-55 doesn't have quite the same range as the 24-105, being only 27-88mm full frame equivalent, but it's reasonably close. Whatever aperture I choose for the 5D2/24-105, I can choose one aperture wider using the 50D/17-55. The EF-S 17-55 is F2.8 across the whole FL range, and the 24-105 is F4 maximum across the whole FL range.

If I want extensive DoF and decide to use F11 with the 5D2/24-105 at ISO 400, I can use F8 or even F6.3 with the 50D/17-55 at ISO 125-200. If I'm shooting in the street at night without flash and need to use the 5D2/24-105 at F4 and ISO 3200, I can use the EF-S 17-55 at F2.8 and ISO 1600 with the 50D.

In this situation, I can't see any advantage for the 5D2. With another combination, comparing the 5D2 and 85/1.2 with the 50D and 50/1.4, for example, I can see there would be an advantage in terms of sharper and cleaner images with a shallower DoF, but not necessarily at smaller apertures. I think the 50D with 50/1.4 at F6.3 would be very close to the 5D2 with 80/1.2 at F11, bearing in mind that the resolution advantage of the 5D2 sensor is a mere 18% greater than the 50D.

Have I just talked myself out of buying a 5D2?  

Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 16, 2009, 08:00:03 am
Quote
It does not matter how much the transmission wedge had been underexposed; the only important thing is, that there are steps in different shades down to the uselessly dark. Thus I can select from many different shades, exhibiting different degrees of noisiness. I don't believe in DR expressed by a single number. For example from that shot I measured dozens of patches; here is a small crop of the result, from the end of that list:

Gabor,
I'm having trouble with your logic (probably my fault). On the one hand you say you want steps in different shades down to the uselessly dark, yet in the same sentence you say that it doesn't matter how much the transmission wedge has been underexposed. Surely it clearly matters from the perspective of the person taking the shot. If the shot of the different shades doesn't extend to the uselessly dark, then the exposure was too great. Is there another explanation?

Quote
The concept of "underexposure" has no use in the evaluation. Underexposed compared to what? Manual metering? Evaluative metering? Center metering?

Didn't you answer your own question? Underexposed compared to your own standard you've expressed as follows: "I know the highest possible pixel value from any shot, which contains anything causing raw clipping. (This is often ISO dependent, and sometimes the channels are not equal.) I determined those levels once and now I do not need anything in the higher ranges. The "intensity position" of the selected patch can be calculated from the clipping level without having anything near clipping in the shot."

Finally, if we go to the source of this little contretemps, my statement:  "...if you want to demonstrate the dynamic range differences between two cameras, you need to photograph something with a wide range of subject brightness", I would just repeat that my emphasis was on demonstration, not measurement, and the context was a finished 'picture' along the lines of Michael's forest shot comparing the Canon G10 with the Phase P45+.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Herkko on February 16, 2009, 08:04:37 am
Quote from: Ray
Can I suggest the following methodology?
....
Post results here. Okay!  

I have to politely decline that request  First I want to show real life examples for what I bought that camera. And that is not performance testing but nature photography or similar activities.

IMO, based on my normal 'real' shooting, 1DMKIII and 5D are embarrassing good cameras image qualitywise. Enough for me to submit files to demanding customer or printing 12x18". Then 5DMKII is even better, especially with good glass and tripod. My primary photography concern is not image quality now, but things like generating ideas, being at location in peak light, determining focal length, working hard enough for composition.. The things that should been the primary components for good photography.

I would sometimes talk about other camera properties than ultimate image quality, it seems to be a bit overrated topic nowadays. How about battery durability, bigger lcd, live view or viewfinder? Have they improved one's photography in any way?

To follow the topic, I feel having now enough camera for my applications.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 16, 2009, 09:21:37 am
Quote from: Herkko
I have to politely decline that request  First I want to show real life examples for what I bought that camera. And that is not performance testing but nature photography or similar activities.

Pity! I guess I'll just have to continue believing the DXOmark results until someone presents images demonstrating a discrepancy. Of course, most of us are mainly interested in real life photography, but it sometimes helps to know your equipment. Fortunately, there are organizations like DXO, Dpreview and Photozone who take the trouble to test cameras and lenses, and as a consequence I'm saved the trouble. However, if or when their results are seriously inaccurate, I'd certainly like to see the evidence rather than just read about vague and subjective opinons.

My own tests of equipment which happens to feature on the DXOmark website, seem to correspond quite well with the DXO results; not exactly, but close enough for their results to be credible to me.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 16, 2009, 11:44:56 am
Quote from: Ray
Mark,
 However, when one brings into the equation the sort of lenses one might use with each camera, that apparent advantage might sometimes be non-existent.

For example, the lens I would use most with a 5D2 would be my Canon 24-105/F4 IS. For very wide angle requirements I would use the D700 with Nikkor 14-24/F2.8. For long telephoto work, I would prefer the 50D with my 100-400 zoom.

But supposing I compare the 50D and 17-55/F2.8 combination with the 5D2 and 24-105mm? The EF-S 17-55 doesn't have quite the same range as the 24-105, being only 27-88mm full frame equivalent, but it's reasonably close. Whatever aperture I choose for the 5D2/24-105, I can choose one aperture wider using the 50D/17-55. The EF-S 17-55 is F2.8 across the whole FL range, and the 24-105 is F4 maximum across the whole FL range.

If I want extensive DoF and decide to use F11 with the 5D2/24-105 at ISO 400, I can use F8 or even F6.3 with the 50D/17-55 at ISO 125-200. If I'm shooting in the street at night without flash and need to use the 5D2/24-105 at F4 and ISO 3200, I can use the EF-S 17-55 at F2.8 and ISO 1600 with the 50D.

In this situation, I can't see any advantage for the 5D2. With another combination, comparing the 5D2 and 85/1.2 with the 50D and 50/1.4, for example, I can see there would be an advantage in terms of sharper and cleaner images with a shallower DoF, but not necessarily at smaller apertures. I think the 50D with 50/1.4 at F6.3 would be very close to the 5D2 with 80/1.2 at F11, bearing in mind that the resolution advantage of the 5D2 sensor is a mere 18% greater than the 50D.

Have I just talked myself out of buying a 5D2?  

As soon as you bring lenses into the resolution equation, which one must, the choice of aperture becomes a critical factor because of diffraction limitation. If you haven't focused much on this topic I recommend Cambridge in Colour Diffraction (http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/diffraction-photography.htm). If maximum resolution is the objective, that will end much of the discussion about which f/stop to use. If you wish to sacrifice resolution, you can maximize DoF with any of the lenses you discuss, but then it gets down to lens quality and physics.

27~88 is considerably less focal length range than 24~105. Let's not minimize that. And what is the quality of the 17~55 lens compared with the 24~105 L lens? As for aperture, one lens gives you one stop wider aperture than the other, good for lower light conditions where you want adequate shutter speed for hand-holding (at least 1/25th of a second with IS on and real steady hands) and one stop lower ISO. I don't see any other advantage.

And the fact is that DxOMark still shows a substantial improvement of sensor quality moving from the D50 to the 5DMk2 (from about 63 to 79).

The incremental quality and features of the up-grade are there. Whether you really need them is a subjective issue depending on your images and the quality differences which you can (a) see and (b, matter to you or your clients.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jani on February 16, 2009, 05:17:57 pm
Quote from: Panopeeper
I don't need any actual measurement on the highlights, for I know that the noise is always lower in the highlights. Why would I care for the noise in the top stop of the DR? The interesting issue is the noise in the very shadows, isn't it?
Wouldn't colour accuracy be interesting? Highlight roll-off?
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Ray on February 16, 2009, 06:40:16 pm


Quote
27~88 is considerably less focal length range than 24~105. Let's not minimize that.

Mark,
There is a slight disadvantage there, I admit. Travelling with a D700 and 50D, if I need less than 27mm I would have to switch cameras and use the Nikkor 14-24. There's a gap of 3mm. Not really significant. If I need a slightly longer FL than 88mm, I can use my EF-S 60/2.8 macro which becomes effectively 96mm on the 50D and is a very, very sharp lens, according to Photozone.

The gap problem would really be between the 96mm of the EF-S 60/2.8 and the 160mm of the 100-400 zoom. For this reason, for travelling purposes I'm considering getting the highly regarded Canon 70-200/F4 IS which I would carry in place of the 100-400. I would then have a (35mm equivalent) focal length range from 14mm to 320mm with just a few small gaps. The 70-200/F4 IS might also be good enough to use with my 1.4x extender which I find pretty useless on the 100-400 zoom.

Quote
And what is the quality of the 17~55 lens compared with the 24~105 L lens? As for aperture, one lens gives you one stop wider aperture than the other, good for lower light conditions where you want adequate shutter speed for hand-holding (at least 1/25th of a second with IS on and real steady hands) and one stop lower ISO. I don't see any other advantage.

The quality is very good indeed. The EF-S 17-55/2.8 appears to be sharper than the 24-105 by a significant margin, according to Photozone whose charts I show below. Even at F2.8, the EF-S 17-55 appears to be at least marginally sharper than the 24-105 is at any aperture. The borders of the 24-105 might appear to be marginally better, but that's deceptive because the 24-105 is being tested on an APS-C format. One expects the borders to be relatively good. On any full frame DSLR, including the 5D2 those borders are inevitably going to be worse.

Hope you don't think I'm boasting   .

[attachment=11565:Canon_24..._v_17_55.jpg]


Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 16, 2009, 08:03:04 pm
Ray, good to see the lens quality is excellent. That really helps.

As you are in the business of selling images and I am not, I can afford to really be minimalist when travelling. With all the nonsense we're facing from the airlines and the security these days, I've reduced my travel equipment to the 1Ds3, a 17-40 f/4 L, the 24-105 F4L and the 70-300 IS DOf/4~5.6. This last lens is not one of Canon's shining stars, but it's workable and very compact; so I have a continuous range from 17 to 300mm using little space and weight. Believe it or not, my camera bag dates from the early 1960s - an extremely light-weight soft-sided (some kind of nylon or polyesther) rectangular box below the economy class dimension limits, with a minimum of dividers - holds everything and all is reachable because the whole top flips open. Can't find anything like this on the market these days - it's not fancy enough, but is it ever practical. I also pack a Lumix LX-1 as a back-up camera. So far I've been fortunate with my 1 series cameras. They just work, and I hope that continues to be the case. One can get so cluttered with stuff it becomes hard to manage on the go. Of course there are obvious compromises here, but honestly, I use the 24~105 for over 90% of my images. The next thing I'm looking at is a Gitzo traveler tripod. A fabulous piece of equipment - so light and small and totally sturdy - but the price is also fabulous (like in the land of fables) so I haven't plunged yet.

Anyhow, this is all getting OT, except to say all these choices reflect quality:value trade-offs and so far to this point enough is enough.   "Lean and Mean" is the name of the game.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Panopeeper on February 16, 2009, 08:30:03 pm
Quote from: jani
Wouldn't colour accuracy be interesting? Highlight roll-off?
Neither has anything to do with dynamic range or noise. Particularly, there is no "highlight roll-off" on the level of raw data; that is a function of the raw image processing, not of the sensor.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: jani on February 17, 2009, 05:06:01 am
Quote from: Panopeeper
Neither has anything to do with dynamic range or noise.
Both are of practical interest to photographers, however, and do limit the usable dynamic range of the system.

Quote
Particularly, there is no "highlight roll-off" on the level of raw data; that is a function of the raw image processing, not of the sensor.
So now you're saying that the Super CCD HR sensor doesn't exist, and that sensor bloom is a function of the raw image processing? That's interesting. How do I go about fixing it with, I presume, dcraw?
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Rob C on February 17, 2009, 03:17:22 pm
[quote name='MarkDS' date='Feb 17 2009, 02:03 AM' post='260562']
Ray, good to see the lens quality is excellent. That really helps.

Believe it or not, my camera bag dates from the early 1960s - an extremely light-weight soft-sided (some kind of nylon or polyesther) rectangular box below the economy class dimension limits, with a minimum of dividers - holds everything and all is reachable because the whole top flips open.


Mark

Couldnīt resist posting this, which was shot today for exactly the same reason for another little site The only change from the NEF is that itīs converted to Jpeg and reduced in size - no corrections even attempted - all for speed, to catch the moment!

Rob C

EDIT: Lots of good stuff from the 60s!
EDIT 2: This venerable old bag is retired too; an aluminium floozy has usurped its place.
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 17, 2009, 04:52:55 pm
Well, ya know, it kinda looks like that, except mine is grey nylon fabric - not venerable old leather. That one is a collector's item!  Treasure it
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Rob C on February 18, 2009, 05:43:06 am
Quote from: MarkDS
Well, ya know, it kinda looks like that, except mine is grey nylon fabric - not venerable old leather. That one is a collector's item!  Treasure it


Trouble is, Mark, that I no longer have the stuff that used to live inside it. The trading-in business saw me lose so much stuff that hindsight makes me wish Iīd retained!

Rob C
Title: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 18, 2009, 09:24:42 am
It's called recycling! I used to carry a 4*5 Speed Graflex with a roll-film back and a Nikkormat 35mm camera with 3 lenses in mine. Remember all that kind of stuff? All gone. Sold on eBay for a fraction of their historical values, but the bag lives on and carries all the new digital gear, for which I am very thankful. I enjoyed the film era while it lasted, but I wouldn't look back now. It's interesting how the simplest kind of gadget bag, the lowest tech item of the whole lot, survived 5 decades of technical change!