Luminous Landscape Forum

Site & Board Matters => About This Site => Topic started by: Rajan Parrikar on December 20, 2010, 05:14:16 pm

Title: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Rajan Parrikar on December 20, 2010, 05:14:16 pm
A clear statement of position by Mark Dubovoy.  I enjoyed the photographs, too.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 20, 2010, 06:32:49 pm
Hum... with so much focus on using the right tool for the job I find the lack of mention of stitching surprising.

Stitching is clearly the only way to reach high resolutions, MFBD Added_for_clarification"single frames" cannot dream to even come close.

I understand that, just like 8x10 wasn't for everybody, stitching also isn't, but I still don't get why anyone looking into really high quality would do oneself the disservice of not stitching. This just doesn't make sense when looking at things in an objective fashion.

I have no problem with someone preferring the experience provided by one camera over another, but please don't try to justify this with a "desire for perfection".

I have also a hard time swallowing quotes like "Also, the resolution and general image quality of a small DSLR is not in the league of what most clients in this area expect and demand. This is why the vast majority of serious architectural photography is done using technical cameras." that are simply based on... nothing.

So, sorry to crash the party, but this new piece reads once more like an MF commercial.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Josh-H on December 20, 2010, 07:02:43 pm
Hum... with so much focus on using the right tool for the job I find the lack of mention of stitching surprising.

Stitching is clearly the only way to reach high resolutions, MFBD cannot dream to even come close.

I understand that, just like 8x10 wasn't for everybody, stitching also isn't, but I still don't get why anyone looking into really high quality would do oneself the disservice of not stitching. This just doesn't make sense when looking at things in an objective fashion.

I have no problem with someone preferring the experience provided by one camera over another, but please don't try to justify this with a "desire for perfection".

I have also a hard time swallowing quotes like "Also, the resolution and general image quality of a small DSLR is not in the league of what most clients in this area expect and demand. This is why the vast majority of serious architectural photography is done using technical cameras." that are simply based on... nothing.

So, sorry to crash the party, but this new piece reads once more like an MF commercial.

Cheers,
Bernard


+1 for me. Whilst there is much in the article that is of interest and I did really enjoy the article (including the excessive and over used analogies to musical instruments and cars) I cant help but disagree with the same statement Bernard has raised.

Quote
"Also, the resolution and general image quality of a small DSLR is not in the league of what most clients in this area expect and demand. This is why the vast majority of serious architectural photography is done using technical cameras."

I believe it far more likely that MF cameras are used for two reasons: 1 - To create a pseudo 'grey' point of differentiation between the professionals work and uncle Bob with this D3X or equivalent (and this is a wholly justifiable reason given the way the pro market has been hammered by the cheap availability of high resolution cameras). Or 2 - To justify charging larger sums of money for ones work; which is not justifiable in my opinion. Who cares what brush was used to make the painting - its irrelevant wether it was horsehair or the finest Russian sable. What matters to the viewer or purchaser is the artwork - not the tool used to create it. The tool only matters to the painter/photographer.

It has been my experience that the photographer is the one sweating bullets over minutia (my technical term for 'things' MF pundits often refer to as subtle tonal variations) in their work (I am guilty of sweating these bullets). The purchaser of the art work has never in my experience pixel peeped the art.  They buy on emotion that an image evokes in them - not technical perfection. Thats been my experience anyway (and BTW: This is not an argument not to strive for technical perfection).

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 20, 2010, 07:31:09 pm
Stitching merits are another point of discussion entirely. You can stitch with any camera, including medium format ones, to any level of resolution you choose, only really limited by the time it takes in post and the movement of the subject.

Mark does not mention stitching because it's irrelevant to his topic, he is not saying a single MF capture is always better than any stitch. What he is saying, and comparing apples with apples, is that MF digitals are superior in image quality as single capture devices. This is pretty inarguable. I have the S2, I have also shot it extensively alongside the D3X with the best Nikon lenses and the 5D2 with the best Canon lenses, and it is clearly the winner for pure IQ. The lenses are awesome (really) and the sensor is bigger and just plain 'better'. I'm talking from experience with all three cameras, not from reading about it and/or downloading sample images. (Just to be clear, I'm talking about IQ here, not handling and AF performance etc.)

Sure, I can achieve a more or less 'similar' result with my Canon 5D2 by stitching, at least as far as pixel count is concerned but not even close when lens quality and bit depth is concerned. If you want a level playing field you really need to be discussing the relative merits of stitching D3X images against stitching P65+ images on Rodenstock lenses or S2 images with Summicron lenses.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Schewe on December 20, 2010, 08:01:14 pm
Hum... with so much focus on using the right tool for the job I find the lack of mention of stitching surprising.

Mark doesn't mention stitch...I'm not sure Mark has ever "stitched" a scene...

I have. And while stitching with a file size of a 1Ds MIII (or equivalent Nikon) is useful, I've actually gotten into stitching 6-8 P64+ files for my "ultimate" file size...it's nice to have a file that is 36" x 107" at 300 PPI...

If you have a lens with coverage, it's pretty easy to do a camera back shift with a technical camera which will always be a bit better than actually moving the camera lens...
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Rajan Parrikar on December 20, 2010, 08:06:22 pm
Who cares what brush was used to make the painting - its irrelevant wether it was horsehair or the finest Russian sable. What matters to the viewer or purchaser is the artwork - not the tool used to create it. The tool only matters to the painter/photographer.

It has been my experience that the photographer is the one sweating bullets over minutia (my technical term for 'things' MF pundits often refer to as subtle tonal variations) in their work (I am guilty of sweating these bullets). The purchaser of the art work has never in my experience pixel peeped the art.  They buy on emotion that an image evokes in them - not technical perfection. Thats been my experience anyway (and BTW: This is not an argument not to strive for technical perfection).

This point has been touched upon by Dubovoy in there somewhere, I think, although he may not have expanded on it.  The musical analogy again holds: a great musician can make memorable music on a less-than-capable instrument, music that moves hearts and soothes souls.  The listener doesn't care about the make of the instrument or the fine details of its construction.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: tho_mas on December 20, 2010, 09:15:14 pm
This quote is simply nonsense:
Quote
The ALPA is not only more precise than any view camera...
By design the Rm3D is clearly superior. The super high resolution of the focus ring allows extremely precise (and reproducable) focussing... even on badly lit or uniform surfaces lacking any contrast (that are impossible to focus on a groundglass). On the Rm3D focussing is actually only limited by the laser distometer you use.
As to the back shimming: the Arca lenses provide a linear scale and tables to translate real distances into the values of the focus mount.
Once you know the deviation (due to sensor misalignment) you can use that offset for any lens at any distance (as, again, the scale is linear).
Now, Alpa just introduced their "high precission focus rings" to keep up a bit with Arca and to support the use of a laser disto.
These rings are a very nice improvement but still nowhere near the Arca design.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Steven Draper on December 20, 2010, 09:18:31 pm
Having just tested an S2 (currently shooting D700) I can certainly understand a large part of the essay.

The S2 is wonderful to work with - a little bit like using a Mac for the first time after living with PC's, although I have yet to test an Alpa.

A key part of the essay is Marks comment about final use, and if large pixel peeping prints are the destination then non dSLR is almost certainly required. My dSLR prints max out at about 30" - although most viewers would not notice the issues photographers tend to notice even if the prints are actually much larger.

MF a requirement for Pro working....  My clients are very happy with the files they receive from my dSLR, and my equipment handles a whole range of assignments well.  

The reason I'm looking at MF isn't on the whole bigger prints or more charging more expensive rates but in saving time. I can shoot wide open portraits on my dSLR in the morning and architectural interiors in the afternoon, but the amount of time required per dSLR file to achieve the look I require is much longer than that required for the larger file size of the S2.

So where time is money and post processing of dSLR files to achieve a certain signature look is heavy, MF may pay dividends quicker than expected.

Steven

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: K.C. on December 20, 2010, 09:37:46 pm
Well timed use of Mark's opinion piece as it won't be valid for long in 2011.

The quality of the Pentax and its IQ are not nearly as important as the influence it will have on the market. Survival is based on sales supporting what it costs to bring a product to market. Phase One and Hasselblad will have to respond to a lower price point and they only have X amount of R&D resources so the high end products will suffer. Add the next generation of DSLRs hitting 30+ MP and 2011 will bring a redefined, and ever shrinking, market for MF quality.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 20, 2010, 11:37:06 pm
I enjoyed this article very much, and having seen a sample of Mark Dubovoy's large size prints, I readily relate to the quality standard from which he is appraising these systems, and I do not doubt his observations. The main issue with medium format photography which needs to be emphasized is that it is more demanding "per unit of quality" than FF-DSLR photography. What I mean by this is that it takes more patience, more premeditation and more precision to achieve the image quality it can deliver when everything is "done right". This in turn means that one will achieve a higher success ratio not only the more experienced the user, but also the better the ergonomics and technical reliability of the equipment. As an owner of a Phase One system, and having been involved with the testing of both the Leica S2 and the Pentax D645, the latter two have a clear edge. It has been my view from day-one using a Phase system that the weakest link is the camera body. The sooner Phase One starts from scratch and puts their fine backs and fine lenses on an ergonomically imporved, energy-efficient, and technically reliable body, they will do themselves and their clients a huge favour. I don't think they have much choice but to improve the camera body and reduce their prices. The latter has already started.

I also appreciated Mark's comments on the inevitable shake-out this industry is facing. He wasn't too specific about what he thinks will happen, and that is wise. We can be surprised by all kinds of things manufacturers may have up their sleeves, and predictions are very hazardous at the best of times, especially without the data. With that caveat behind us, I shall jump right into it based on what I think is *somewhat* compelling logic. Here's roughly the way I see things based on current, known data: Pentax is offering quality well within the range of a 40 MP Phase One system for half the cost if not less; Leica, with lenses, is costlier than a comparable Phase One system, but it appeals to the high-end, very demanding purchasers who have the resources to buy the best in its class. Hence the Hasselblad and Phase One families get squeezed from the top by the flight to quality for which Leica is having a hard time meeting the demand, and they get squeezed from the bottom by the attractive price/quality point of the Pentax, and perhaps some DSLRs to come. Therefore I see the biggest onus of structural adjustment falling on the Phase One and Hasselblad groups. They will need to reposition themselves on the price/quality spectrum, the one big factor giving Phase One an on-going niche, however, is the detachability of its backs - this is the only way, for example that Mark could implement his Alpa/P65+ combo. And the quality of the back is really what makes Phase One what it is.

Speaking of quality, just a footnote on comparing apples to apples. I appreciate the foregoing comments on stitching medium format frames. I've done it, and I've achieved results which definitely surpass what would be achievable with stitched Canon 1DsMk3 shots - of that I have no doubt. That said, I'm not nearly as hard as Mark Dubovoy is on the better FF-DSLR systems - for the image sizes I usually print, I find my 1DsMk3 with the 24-105 L lens to be capable of delivering very high quality results (in terms of sharpness, tonality, shadow detail etc. etc.,) with great ease of use. I really do appreciate what the Phase One can deliver, but I won't be giving up my handy, high-quality 1DsMk3 any time soon.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 20, 2010, 11:43:59 pm
Hi,

A couple of things I noted...

Mark has replaced 8x10" with MF digital. There was a discussion on this forum what was needed to replace 8x10" and it seems that in Mr Dubovoy's case it's an Alpa, shimmed to perfection with a P65+ back and carefully chosen lenses.

It is very obvious to me that there are alignment problems on all cameras. It's simply probable that any given camera is less than perfect.

http://www.josephholmes.com/news-medformatprecision.html

It may be that MF digital has it's share of problems, but similar problems exists on DSLRs. Also, MF system are not created equal. Diglloyd recently tested an MF system of Swedish origin and found the lenses badly lacking. One of the lenses had an obvious decentering problem, but neither of the two he tested was really good of axis.

Regarding stitching, it can be obviously done with any equipment. Stitching works less than well for some subjects. For anything non static stitching can be quite problematic.

Best regards
Erik

A clear statement of position by Mark Dubovoy.  I enjoyed the photographs, too.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 21, 2010, 12:03:21 am
Hi,

I agree with everything you wrote. I'd just add some observations.

DSLRs now also have live view which really helps achieving pin point focusing accuracy.

AFAIK Mark uses a laser rangefinder with his Alpa and AF on the Leica S2 works very well for him. Diglloyd had AF issues with the Leica S2, but loved the lenses. Diglloyd seems to like the Pentax 645D and I got the impression that AF works reasonably well but he was not at all satisfied with the new 55/2.8 lens.

In the end, I'm pretty sure that larger formats always will have benefits. It's quite obvious that Hasselblad and Phase now have some serious competition. On the other hand, neither Leica S2 or Pentax are really MFDBs, they are MF DSLRs. A back has more utility.

All MF backs are not created equal. Some sensors are bigger (in square inches).

Best regards
Erik


I enjoyed this article very much, and having seen a sample of Mark Dubovoy's large size prints, I readily relate to the quality standard from which he is appraising these systems, and I do not doubt his observations. The main issue with medium format photography which needs to be emphasized is that it is more demanding "per unit of quality" than FF-DSLR photography. What I mean by this is that it takes more patience, more premeditation and more precision to achieve the image quality it can deliver when everything is "done right". This in turn means that one will achieve a higher success ratio not only the more experienced the user, but also the better the ergonomics and technical reliability of the equipment. As an owner of a Phase One system, and having been involved with the testing of both the Leica S2 and the Pentax D645, the latter two have a clear edge. It has been my view from day-one using a Phase system that the weakest link is the camera body. The sooner Phase One starts from scratch and puts their fine backs and fine lenses on an ergonomically imporved, energy-efficient, and technically reliable body, they will do themselves and their clients a huge favour. I don't think they have much choice but to improve the camera body and reduce their prices. The latter has already started.

I also appreciated Mark's comments on the inevitable shake-out this industry is facing. He wasn't too specific about what he thinks will happen, and that is wise. We can be surprised by all kinds of things manufacturers may have up their sleeves, and predictions are very hazardous at the best of times, especially without the data. With that caveat behind us, I shall jump right into it based on what I think is *somewhat* compelling logic. Here's roughly the way I see things based on current, known data: Pentax is offering quality well within the range of a 40 MP Phase One system for half the cost if not less; Leica, with lenses, is costlier than a comparable Phase One system, but it appeals to the high-end, very demanding purchasers who have the resources to buy the best in its class. Hence the Hasselblad and Phase One families get squeezed from the top by the flight to quality for which Leica is having a hard time meeting the demand, and they get squeezed from the bottom by the attractive price/quality point of the Pentax, and perhaps some DSLRs to come. Therefore I see the biggest onus of structural adjustment falling on the Phase One and Hasselblad groups. They will need to reposition themselves on the price/quality spectrum, the one big factor giving Phase One an on-going niche, however, is the detachability of its backs - this is the only way, for example that Mark could implement his Alpa/P65+ combo. And the quality of the back is really what makes Phase One what it is.

Speaking of quality, just a footnote on comparing apples to apples. I appreciate the foregoing comments on stitching medium format frames. I've done it, and I've achieved results which definitely surpass what would be achievable with stitched Canon 1DsMk3 shots - of that I have no doubt. That said, I'm not nearly as hard as Mark Dubovoy is on the better FF-DSLR systems - for the image sizes I usually print, I find my 1DsMk3 with the 24-105 L lens to be capable of delivering very high quality results (in terms of sharpness, tonality, shadow detail etc. etc.,) with great ease of use. I really do appreciate what the Phase One can deliver, but I won't be giving up my handy, high-quality 1DsMk3 any time soon.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on December 21, 2010, 01:20:35 am
We should also bear in mind that the best image quality from an MFDB system is usually at ISO 50 (or maybe actually 40, or 44) despite any manufacturer nominated ISO 100.

This has always seemed to me to be a distinct disadvantage when searching for maximum quality. My Nikon D700 has a base ISO of 200 with no compromise on shadow noise. I find that wonderfully liberating.

If ISO 44 with an MFDB produces wonderfully low SNR but unsharp images due to subject movement, what's the point?

I haven't even brought into the equation DoF. If we do, it get's even worse. At ISO 44 we have to either further reduce shutter speed as a result of F/stop adjustment, or increase ISO to match the Nikon at base ISO, at equivalent DoF.

We sometimes fail to make a distinction between the best image quality under ideal circumstance, and the best image quality in specified 'real world' circumstances.

I really think this is part of the confusion. If one has total control over the lighting, as in a studio environment, then the MFDB can have the advantage in terms of lower SNR and higher resolution.

If one is half-way up a mountain, such advantages tend to be less relevant.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Noel Greene on December 21, 2010, 02:19:27 am
To Mark Segal

thanks for your thoughtful contribution. Much more balanced than the original Post. The flexibility of the high end DSLR just cannot be confined to the bin.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on December 21, 2010, 02:40:07 am
To Mark Segal

thanks for your thoughtful contribution. Much more balanced than the original Post. The flexibility of the high end DSLR just cannot be confined to the bin.

+1

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: David Mantripp on December 21, 2010, 03:06:33 am
Great.

So you've got to be a multi-squillionaire before you can even think about pretending to be even a vaguely competent landscape photographer....

Awesome.  Whatever.   
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: stamper on December 21, 2010, 04:31:16 am
I don't have the photographic knowledge needed to understand the advantages of medium format over "lesser" formats but what I do understand is that there is  -imo- an egotistical slant to the article that I disliked. I am surprised that it was posted on the site. Him stating that he has over 50 years experience doesn't justify what I think is just an egotistical rant. :o
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Josh-H on December 21, 2010, 05:40:55 am
I don't have the photographic knowledge needed to understand the advantages of medium format over "lesser" formats but what I do understand is that there is  -imo- an egotistical slant to the article that I disliked. I am surprised that it was posted on the site. Him stating that he has over 50 years experience doesn't justify what I think is just an egotistical rant. :o

Unless I am mistaken; Mark D. recently became part owner of Luminous Landscape (or at least a business partner) - so it is not surprising that there has been quite a few articles / opinion pieces from him of late.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: stamper on December 21, 2010, 05:52:21 am
There is nothing wrong with striving for perfection. The issue that I have is that he is dismissive of tools that he has probably used in his quest for perfection. At the risk of sounding paranoid I take this as a slight to those still using them and can't afford or even wish to move up the ladder to MF, or similar tools. I don't know about his business interests - haven't met him because I am a native of Scotland and never crossed the pond - so the point I made still stands with respect to it being my opinion based on the reading of the article. I slept on it and posted my remarks not as a knee jerk reaction. ::)
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: LesPalenik on December 21, 2010, 06:59:18 am
Hum... with so much focus on using the right tool for the job I find the lack of mention of stitching surprising.

Stitching is clearly the only way to reach high resolutions, MFBD cannot dream to even come close.

Bernard

In contrast to Bernard, I found Mark's article highly interesting and informative.
Although I enjoyed many of Bernard's previous posts, this time he is totally out of place.

Now, I know that I could resurrect my old trusty Nikon Coolpix 900 and by stitching a good number of shots I could create a higher resolution picture, but I suspect it just wouldn't compare with the quality of 50-ft prints I used to create 15 years ago by using a combination of a rotational film camera with a long lens, or even with a single image taken by the latest crop of high-resolution MF cameras. Beside, many of my large panoramas contain moving subjects or were shot from a low-flying plane, so stitching wouldn't work. But to tell truth, I was never fond of stitching, and I have to admit that nowadays I'd be perfectly happy to create a print in panoramic format by taking a single shot by HD4-60 or P65 armed with a wide angle lens and simply chop off the upper half of the image.

But maybe Bernard is on to something with his stitching suggestion.
A good friend of mine, Peter Lorber of Boca Raton, who in the good olden days of film, used to print hundreds of kilometers of panoramic prints for the panoramic community worldwide, is now a happy Hassy dealer and shooter, and when he is not diving or hanging out of helicopter shooting panoramas, he creates insanely huge giga pans by stitching H4D images. On my last trip south, I stopped in his lab, and witnessed personally the abuse of his hardware working furiously on stitching together over one hundred H4D-40 images into a multi-gigapixel  panorama of Ft.Lauderdale. The amount of visual information, the detail, and the dynamic range was simply astounding. I doubt that the same result could be achieved by a lesser camera.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Noel Greene on December 21, 2010, 07:19:21 am
I am also very surprised that Mark D essay was even posted on the site. He is of course entitled to his opinion but he should refrain from caustic comments about the quality of say Hasselblad gear .. I cant afford a Hasselblad system for example but I have friends who have developed their photography using Hasselblad systems for years and their images are fantastic .. I have visited many many photographic galleries over the years and have purchased many prints from many photographers .. never once have I asked which camera was used, which lens was used, even which system was used. The final printed image is the only determining issue as to how competent the photographer is and how much imagination was "used" to capture the image itself   
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 21, 2010, 09:41:05 am
Mark does not mention stitching because it's irrelevant to his topic, he is not saying a single MF capture is always better than any stitch. What he is saying, and comparing apples with apples, is that MF digitals are superior in image quality as single capture devices. This is pretty inarguable. I have the S2, I have also shot it extensively alongside the D3X with the best Nikon lenses and the 5D2 with the best Canon lenses, and it is clearly the winner for pure IQ.

Hum... not quite. He is comparing them in the context of a specific application called landscape with a strong focus on the need to achieve the highest possible image quality.

My point is that this comparison is leaving aside an excellent candidate for the job, a virtual camera with amazing image quality at a much cheaper price.

Jeff, I know that you can stitch with a MF camera and will get great results potentially faster (although this statement isn't that obvious in low light conditions).

My comment is not against MF, I, for one, really don't care about what format/camera is used. My comment is a reaction to the fact that an obvious solution was not even mentioned.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 21, 2010, 10:05:04 am
Now, I know that I could resurrect my old trusty Nikon Coolpix 900 and by stitching a good number of shots I could create a higher resolution picture, but I suspect it just wouldn't compare with the quality of 50-ft prints I used to create 15 years ago by using a combination of a rotational film camera with a long lens, or even with a single image taken by the latest crop of high-resolution MF cameras. Beside, many of my large panoramas contain moving subjects or were shot from a low-flying plane, so stitching wouldn't work. But to tell truth, I was never fond of stitching, and I have to admit that nowadays I'd be perfectly happy to create a print in panoramic format by taking a single shot by HD4-60 or P65 armed with a wide angle lens and simply chop off the upper half of the image.

I don't remember mentioned Coolpix 990s, did I? That would obviously not work because:
- The pixel quality, starting with DR, or the 990 is way lower than current best in class cameras,
- The resolution gap is just too large, you would have to stitch too many frames for practical applications,

Besides:
- I have never claimed that stitching could handle all applications, but it seems fair to say that plane based landscape photography represents less than 0.01% of all landscape images being captured every year. There are of course also other applications where stitching does not work well, but this is not the point. All the images shown by Mark are excellent stitching candidates,
- My initial post was probably not explicit enough about this, but my point has never been against MF. I am fully aware that it is possible to stitch with MF also, I have done this a lot myself in the past. My reaction is against a blind claim that MF is the only way to go for high quality landscape work.

But maybe Bernard is on to something with his stitching suggestion.
A good friend of mine, Peter Lorber of Boca Raton, who in the good olden days of film, used to print hundreds of kilometers of panoramic prints for the panoramic community worldwide, is now a happy Hassy dealer and shooter, and when he is not diving or hanging out of helicopter shooting panoramas, he creates insanely huge giga pans by stitching H4D images. On my last trip south, I stopped in his lab, and witnessed personally the abuse of his hardware working furiously on stitching together over one hundred H4D-40 images into a multi-gigapixel  panorama of Ft.Lauderdale. The amount of visual information, the detail, and the dynamic range was simply astounding. I doubt that the same result could be achieved by a lesser camera.

I clearly agree that stitching with MF can be the most efficient way to achieve a given result in some conditions. This only re-enforces my point that stitching should clearly be given some consideration for those trying to achieve the best possible image quality.

As a side comment, I don't own any stock of the famous www.stitching.com company and bear no relationship with them. I have no interest in defending this point but to share what I hope could help some photographers get a more realistic take on the realities of this wonderful world we live in. :)

On the other hand, I don't agree that stitches performed with DSLR will be significantly inferior in terms of DR. I believe that this myth has been proven wrong time and again through measure and just about every objective test done to compare the 2 formats with single frames, large DSLR stitches will be even superior compared to single MF frames.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 12:37:44 pm
We should also bear in mind that the best image quality from an MFDB system is usually at ISO 50 (or maybe actually 40, or 44) despite any manufacturer nominated ISO 100.

This has always seemed to me to be a distinct disadvantage when searching for maximum quality. My Nikon D700 has a base ISO of 200 with no compromise on shadow noise. I find that wonderfully liberating.

If ISO 44 with an MFDB produces wonderfully low SNR but unsharp images due to subject movement, what's the point?

I haven't even brought into the equation DoF. If we do, it get's even worse. At ISO 44 we have to either further reduce shutter speed as a result of F/stop adjustment, or increase ISO to match the Nikon at base ISO, at equivalent DoF.

We sometimes fail to make a distinction between the best image quality under ideal circumstance, and the best image quality in specified 'real world' circumstances.

I really think this is part of the confusion. If one has total control over the lighting, as in a studio environment, then the MFDB can have the advantage in terms of lower SNR and higher resolution.

If one is half-way up a mountain, such advantages tend to be less relevant.

Ray - a simple question to help evaluate what you are saying: how many MF systems have you personally tested at varying ISO settings, printed the outcomes and seen the results?

I contest the notion that these systems can only be advantageous under controlled studio conditions. It's just not true.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 12:46:50 pm
Great.

So you've got to be a multi-squillionaire before you can even think about pretending to be even a vaguely competent landscape photographer....

Awesome.  Whatever.   

David, let's be fair and correct about this. I doubt Mark Dubovoy would disagree that one can be a very competent landscape photographer using a huge range of equipment from the least expensive to the most expensive. In fact, read what he says about the relationship between the user and the tools. The remaining focus of the article is about what maximizes technical quality, and if you really want to maximize, it doesn't come cheap. There is a difference between quality which satisfies me on my budget versus the best achievable quality at any price. Let us respect that and move on.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: David Mantripp on December 21, 2010, 01:19:48 pm
David, let's be fair and correct about this. I doubt Mark Dubovoy would disagree that one can be a very competent landscape photographer using a huge range of equipment from the least expensive to the most expensive. In fact, read what he says about the relationship between the user and the tools. The remaining focus of the article is about what maximizes technical quality, and if you really want to maximize, it doesn't come cheap. There is a difference between quality which satisfies me on my budget versus the best achievable quality at any price. Let us respect that and move on.

Well, certainly, but I can't help but wonder what market this website is targeting. I mean I don't wish Mark Dubovoy any ill or disrespect, and I guess the article is interesting in an abstract sort of way, but really ... an Alpa system, and a Leica S system, and whatever else does seem a little over the top. One could reasonably ask if this extreme pursuit of quality at any price does not actually get in the way of the photography.   And there is also the point to consider that people viewing photographs at usual viewing sizes are unlikely to notice the difference between the output  a $50,000 MF device and, say, a Lumix LX5.  Sure, I can see the difference in a Leica S photo, but I'm seeing it by ignoring the photograph itself. 

It's difficult to avoid sounding like I've got a bad case of sour grapes ... but frankly it's more that I wish we could get over the technolust ... and move on.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Steve Hendrix on December 21, 2010, 01:48:11 pm
Well timed use of Mark's opinion piece as it won't be valid for long in 2011.

The quality of the Pentax and its IQ are not nearly as important as the influence it will have on the market. Survival is based on sales supporting what it costs to bring a product to market. Phase One and Hasselblad will have to respond to a lower price point and they only have X amount of R&D resources so the high end products will suffer. Add the next generation of DSLRs hitting 30+ MP and 2011 will bring a redefined, and ever shrinking, market for MF quality.


I agree the Pentax will have (some) effect on the medium format market in terms of pricing, but more from the standpoint of price pressure on entry level systems. The customer who purchases a Leaf Aptus-II 12 or a Phase One P65+ is a different customer than the one who purchases a Pentax 645D. I feel Pentax's more enduring legacy will (hopefully) be modern camera features that current medium format cameras lack. Pentax has shown that features like in-camera HDR, weather sealing, sensor cleaning, and a good LCD, etc, can be produced in medium format cameras. As a company, Phase One offers more products with far more versatility and capability than Pentax and is a proven entity in the high end class. While the 645D vs P40+ showed how competent the 645D can be, the P40+ offers the ability to be used on many different cameras (with various associated lens lineups), a class leading software workflow, especially with regard to tethered use, and a traditionally strong upgrade path towards future technology.

I see the Pentax as more of a competitor to 35mm DSLR, as it is a product that more closely mimics those systems. Ok, I have a Nikon D3, should I get a D3X or should I get a Pentax 645D? That's how I see it. That same photographer might also consider an entry level Phase or Hasselblad system, but if they want a DSLR on steroids, the 645D may be the closest thing to it. If DSLR-type features aren't important, and they want something else, the 645D becomes out-flanked.

Go Go Pentax, but I don't see Pentax as a threat to Phase One by any means. It is a welcome, but complimentary player who has entered the medium format market. I also don't see the advant of 30+ megapixel DSLR cameras with 36mm x 24mm sensors having any significant impact on the medium format market beyond the existing impact of 35mm DSLR. If anything, I see the medium format market expanding (and sales from this year back this up) as 35mm DSLR's, while providing versatile operation and reasonably good results, stay where they are in terms of image quality, sensor size, (being restricted to 36mm x 24mm) while medium format continues to grow in both those areas. The lines have already been drawn.


Steve Hendrix
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on December 21, 2010, 01:51:42 pm
Well, certainly, but I can't help but wonder what market this website is targeting...

I am pretty sure they would tell you they are not targeting anything, they are doing it for fun and personal pleasure. And that whatever commercial gain there is, it is to cover the cost of running it. Apparently, there are enough people flocking to this site who do not mind that attitude. People like to read about Ferraris of the world, while knowing perfectly well they could never afford one. People read and obsess about celebrities, knowing perfectly well they will never become one. I like to read, occasionally, what "rich boys and their toys" (no judgment here) can do, i.e. what is the theoretical and practical limit in our pursuit of perfection.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Luis Argerich on December 21, 2010, 02:10:49 pm
To avoid repetition I'll just say I agree with Bernard 100%.
The article does sound like a commercial only that the images are not good enough for one.


Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 02:43:32 pm
One could reasonably ask if this extreme pursuit of quality at any price does not actually get in the way of the photography.   

And there is also the point to consider that people viewing photographs at usual viewing sizes are unlikely to notice the difference between the output  a $50,000 MF device and, say, a Lumix LX5. 

Sure, I can see the difference in a Leica S photo, but I'm seeing it by ignoring the photograph itself. 

 I wish we could get over the technolust ... and move on.

First sentence above: no it doesn't.

Second sentence above: have you had the experience of doing it? What print sizes? What viewing distance? What kind of subject matter? What lighting? Time to get a bit more scientific if you want to tell us what people are unlikely to notice.

Third sentence: that may be your problem, but not necessarily everyones'.

Fourth sentence: Who's the "we" suffering from "technolust"? Certainly not Mr. Dubovoy - he clearly evaluates why he buys what he buys, HAS the equipment and using it, so nothing to lust over in that quarter.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Alan Goldhammer on December 21, 2010, 03:22:05 pm
 Some observations on Mark's posting.  I enjoyed both the article and the images.  I think Mark was quite clear (and long has been) about his prejudices (I think this is the correct term) regarding format sizes.  It is clear that larger sensors can capture more information; nothing new here as we know from the film era that MF & LF cameras outperformed 35 mm for some but not all applications.  Enlarging a 4x5 negative or contact printing an 8x10 negative to an 8x10 print gives you much better print resolution than a 35 mm negative enlarged to the same size.  The one big difference that digital offers is stitching and other types of digital manipulations that were not available in the darkroom era.  Bernard's point is a good one and I agree with him that we cannot quickly dismiss a 35 mm set up for landscape photography.  Thus, I think that the choice between 35 mm and larger format digital is not as clear cut as with film.

The impact of the new Pentax camera remains to be seen and it will be interesting to see if there is any change in pricing structure and/or sales of other MF digital cameras and backs when we see full scale entry of this camera.

In the end it all comes down to trade offs.  Going out in the field with a MF setup is more difficult that with a 35 mm one. 
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ndevlin on December 21, 2010, 03:22:17 pm
Well, certainly, but I can't help but wonder what market this website is targeting. I mean I don't wish Mark Dubovoy any ill or disrespect, and I guess the article is interesting in an abstract sort of way, but really ... an Alpa system, and a Leica S system, and whatever else does seem a little over the top. One could reasonably ask if this extreme pursuit of quality at any price does not actually get in the way of the photography.   And there is also the point to consider that people viewing photographs at usual viewing sizes are unlikely to notice the difference between the output  a $50,000 MF device and, say, a Lumix LX5.  Sure, I can see the difference in a Leica S photo, but I'm seeing it by ignoring the photograph itself.  

It's difficult to avoid sounding like I've got a bad case of sour grapes ... but frankly it's more that I wish we could get over the technolust ... and move on.

Actually, I have to respectfully disent from the conclusions of my scholarly friend Mr. Segal. I do think the pursuit of technical perfection has gotten in the way of my photography at least, I agree that very few can tell the difference between point and shoot and MF in print (as much of the "art" market at the mass level confirms), and I do agree that technolust is a bit pernicious, but it does at least give us something to talk about. If all we discussed was great images and artistic vision, there'd be a lot less photographic content on the 'net. (And I say that as an offender and known technoluster myself).

My cure is to have ordered a Holga. Hasn't arrived yet, but I hope to publish a shoot-out of it vs. the 645D and a stitched D3x early next year.  ;)


- N.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Rajan Parrikar on December 21, 2010, 03:27:24 pm
Lloyd Chambers has a technical issue with one of Dubovoy's claims re. Leica S2.  Here -

http://diglloyd.com/diglloyd/index.html

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Schewe on December 21, 2010, 03:33:24 pm
It's difficult to avoid sounding like I've got a bad case of sour grapes ... but frankly it's more that I wish we could get over the technolust ... and move on.

Well, so far you don't seem to have mastered NOT sounding like you've got a bad case of sour grapes. Who has the "technolust"? You? Sure sounds like it...

I guess you missed the part of the article where Mark mentioned that cameras, lenses and backs are simply tools. There are a wide range of tools available to make digital images. Some people are willing to go to great extremes in the pursuit of image quality. Others aren't. Does that make either camp less of a photographer? Not necessarily. Using a MFDB doesn't make you a better photographer and using a DSLR doesn't make you a worse one.

The question really boils down to what you, as the photographer, want your images to look like. Your own tastes and image demands will dictate the tools. Heck, I've got a P65+ but on a recent trip some of my favorite shots (and arguably better images) were done with an S90 point and shoot. Will that keep me from carrying the P65+ on future trips? Nope...but to be sure I'll also bring the S90 too. Some times I'll also shoot with the 1Ds MIII. Heck, I have lots of tools...I just try to use the correct tool for the job.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 03:35:27 pm
Lloyd Chambers has a technical issue with one of Dubovoy's claims re. Leica S2.  Here -

http://diglloyd.com/diglloyd/index.html



As much as I respect Lloyd Chambers, looking at that tree section, I just can't help thinking he's doing something wrong, or he's a victim of very unusual conditions. Even with my Phase One 645DF and its auto-focus particularities, I have yet to be able to produce a result as hideous as the one he did in the left image.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: LesPalenik on December 21, 2010, 03:54:04 pm
I don't remember mentioned Coolpix 990s, did I? That would obviously not work because:
- The pixel quality, starting with DR, or the 990 is way lower than current best in class cameras,

.......

As a side comment, I don't own any stock of the famous www.stitching.com company and bear no relationship with them. Cheers,
Bernard

Bernard,
thank you for graciously sharing the stitching.com link. This gives a new meaning to stitching. And some more tangible results. I will submit it to my local camera club's Valuable Resource Links section.

BTW, I was talking about Coolpix 900, not 990. The 990 model came out with drastically increased resolution, which would surely account for the lower pixel size and resulting changes in the dynamic range. The Nikon engineers should have taken lesson from the Canon's G10 migration path and apply the Less Is More principle rather then fooling around with a good thing.  
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 21, 2010, 04:03:05 pm
Hi,

I actually asked Mr. Dobovoy about this and he was very clear that his experience was that AF on the Leica was very accurate. Diglloyd has tested two different samples of the S2 and has a different experience.

I have no explanation.

Best regards
Erik


Lloyd Chambers has a technical issue with one of Dubovoy's claims re. Leica S2.  Here -

http://diglloyd.com/diglloyd/index.html


Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 04:13:38 pm
Hi,

I actually asked Mr. Dobovoy about this and he was very clear that his experience was that AF on the Leica was very accurate. Diglloyd has tested two different samples of the S2 and has a different experience.

I have no explanation.

Best regards
Erik



My experience with the Leica S2 is limited to the time that I was out on a test shoot with it (I don't own one), and the results it returned were so sharp we wondered whether there was some sharpening process happening under the hood. It turns out there isn't - that's how the lens and camera performed and perform all on their own. It's amazing.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: fredjeang on December 21, 2010, 04:52:21 pm
I used extensivly the Holga in Fine arts and also a russian 6x6 Lomo. That was a lot of fun.
Curiously, the Lomo with lightmeter exposed always pretty well.

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 21, 2010, 05:11:28 pm
Hi,

May be an MF system belongs on top of a tripod? Of course it can be used on free hand, especially with strobes, but to really utilize it fully I guess that tripod, MLU and cable release/self timer is needed. Even than, some MF systems may have problems with vibration from focal plane shutter.

Best regards
Erik

Ray - a simple question to help evaluate what you are saying: how many MF systems have you personally tested at varying ISO settings, printed the outcomes and seen the results?

I contest the notion that these systems can only be advantageous under controlled studio conditions. It's just not true.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 05:14:02 pm
Hi,

May be an MF system belongs on top of a tripod? Of course it can be used on free hand, especially with strobes, but to really utilize it fully I guess that tripod, MLU and cable release/self timer is needed. Even than, some MF systems may have problems with vibration from focal plane shutter.

Best regards
Erik


Yes, all true.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: LesPalenik on December 21, 2010, 05:22:05 pm
Great.

So you've got to be a multi-squillionaire before you can even think about pretending to be even a vaguely competent landscape photographer....

Awesome.  Whatever.   
Actually, the situation is not that dire.

Both Hasselblad and Phase One companies offer now landscape-oriented photography workshops at a cost approximating a vacation in Hawaii. Well, the workshops are not really in Hawaii, but in desolate places like Iceland, Death Valley or Utah. But by not taking your wife to those awful places you may save enough to finance the purchase of the demo after completion of the workshop.

And for less than price of a trip to Cuba, you can get yourself a good copy of used Fuji 6x9 film camera with an excellent Fujinon lens and a great viewfinder. Or maybe a 4x5 camera.
 
   
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 05:29:28 pm
Actually, the situation is not that dire.

Both Hasselblad and Phase One companies offer now landscape-oriented photography workshops at a cost approximating a vacation in Hawaii. Well, the workshops are not really in Hawaii, but in desolate places like Iceland, Death Valley or Utah. But by not taking your wife to those awful places you may save enough to finance the purchase of the demo after completion of the workshop.

And for less than price of a trip to Cuba, you can get yourself a good copy of used Fuji 6x9 film camera with an excellent Fujinon lens and a great viewfinder. Or maybe a 4x5 camera.
 
   

I sense some wry humour here, but just in case you are serious, let me disabuse our readers of the notion that Iceland, DV or Utah are "desolate". They are photographic gems. And let me also re-assure the readers, you can take your wife on multiples of these trips before the cost will approach buying a Phase One kit. The wife, for a change, is the bargain in the package! Trust me - been there, done that! :-)
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: David Mantripp on December 21, 2010, 05:43:38 pm
First sentence above: no it doesn't.

Second sentence above: have you had the experience of doing it? What print sizes? What viewing distance? What kind of subject matter? What lighting? Time to get a bit more scientific if you want to tell us what people are unlikely to notice.

Third sentence: that may be your problem, but not necessarily everyones'.

Fourth sentence: Who's the "we" suffering from "technolust"? Certainly not Mr. Dubovoy - he clearly evaluates why he buys what he buys, HAS the equipment and using it, so nothing to lust over in that quarter.


First point: well, I would say that is subjective and a matter of opinion.  But I hardly think that the idea that a leaning towards the technology could be detrimental to the artistic quality of output is controversial.  I'm neither claiming that it applies to the author, nor anybody else specific.  But then again I'm not claiming the opposite.

Second point: oh purleeeze......  99% of the viewing populace react emotionally to photography and other visual art. They don't analyse the boke(h) or whatever else. Science has nothing to do with it.  This is the point where the conversation gets mind-numbingly tedious.

Third point: I'm not sure you quite get the point I'm making here...  never mind.

Fourth point: Please don't try to pin an ad hominen attack on me, especially I went out of my way to avoid it.


Whatever. I guess if $50,000 camera systems don't seem just a touch ridiculous to you, we don't live in the same world.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: David Mantripp on December 21, 2010, 05:44:49 pm

And for less than price of a trip to Cuba, you can get yourself a good copy of used Fuji 6x9 film camera with an excellent Fujinon lens and a great viewfinder. Or maybe a 4x5 camera.
 
   

well yeah. Exactly.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 05:52:07 pm
First point: well, I would say that is subjective and a matter of opinion.  But I hardly think that the idea that a leaning towards the technology could be detrimental to the artistic quality of output is controversial.  I'm neither claiming that it applies to the author, nor anybody else specific.  But then again I'm not claiming the opposite.

Second point: oh purleeeze......  99% of the viewing populace react emotionally to photography and other visual art. They don't analyse the boke(h) or whatever else. Science has nothing to do with it.  This is the point where the conversation gets mind-numbingly tedious.

Third point: I'm not sure you quite get the point I'm making here...  never mind.

Fourth point: Please don't try to pin an ad hominen attack on me, especially I went out of my way to avoid it.


Whatever. I guess if $50,000 camera systems don't seem just a touch ridiculous to you, we don't live in the same world.

David, I refrain from Ad Hominem attacks and there is nothing Ad Hominem in my 4th point.

I don't own a 50,000 dollar camera system because I really don't think I'd get value for money from it for what I do, so I won't make the financial sacrifice, but whether it's ridiculous or not is a completely subjective matter. I think 500,000 diamonds are ridiculous because all they do is glitter, but that's me. There are other people who obviously put immense value on them because they buy them and support those prices. Same with the cameras. Purely subjective what price is "ridiculous".
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: PierreVandevenne on December 21, 2010, 05:52:53 pm
To avoid repetition I'll just say I agree with Bernard 100%.
The article does sound like a commercial only that the images are not good enough for one.

Some very nice images on your site Luis!

We should be thankful you aren't aware that you are using the wrong tool.  ;D
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: LesPalenik on December 21, 2010, 05:57:03 pm
I sense some wry humour here, but just in case you are serious, let me disabuse our readers of the notion that Iceland, DV or Utah are "desolate".
They are photographic gems.

So was my wife. So I thought. Now, I wish I had bought that MF equipment while I was still married.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: David Mantripp on December 21, 2010, 06:03:38 pm
Well, so far you don't seem to have mastered NOT sounding like you've got a bad case of sour grapes. Who has the "technolust"? You? Sure sounds like it...

Really ? No, but really ?  I've no idea where you got that from.  My spending on gear is minimal, I just wish I had the time and aptitude to fully master what I have.  Perhaps my point was too off topic, but I don't think it was invalid.

I guess you missed the part of the article where Mark mentioned that cameras, lenses and backs are simply tools. There are a wide range of tools available to make digital images. Some people are willing to go to great extremes in the pursuit of image quality. Others aren't. Does that make either camp less of a photographer? Not necessarily. Using a MFDB doesn't make you a better photographer and using a DSLR doesn't make you a worse one.

Well I'd certainly be willing to own a Leica S2 system....  but "willing", sadly isn't enough.  But I'm under NO illusions that an S2 would make me a better photographer, although I guess it might help me produce more detailed A2 prints.  And surely you're not going to deny that IQ does not increase linearly with spend....

The question really boils down to what you, as the photographer, want your images to look like. Your own tastes and image demands will dictate the tools. Heck, I've got a P65+ but on a recent trip some of my favorite shots (and arguably better images) were done with an S90 point and shoot. Will that keep me from carrying the P65+ on future trips? Nope...but to be sure I'll also bring the S90 too. Some times I'll also shoot with the 1Ds MIII. Heck, I have lots of tools...I just try to use the correct tool for the job.

Well without wanting in any way (you're just gonna have to take my work on this) to make this personal, I think what I'm questioning is to what extent the technology tail is wagging the photographic dog.....  I'd really like to see the pendulum swing back to discussing making better photos as opposed to buying "better" cameras, but as I'm sure you're ready to point out, nobody's stopping me starting my own web site....
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 21, 2010, 06:15:03 pm
I'd really like to see the pendulum swing back to discussing making better photos as opposed to buying "better" cameras, but as I'm sure you're ready to point out, nobody's stopping me starting my own web site....

For those still interested in optimizing the usage of existing equipment to maximize its value in order to achieve an artistic intend www.bythom.com is a valuable reference (whether you shoot Nikon or not).

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 21, 2010, 06:20:02 pm
thank you for graciously sharing the stitching.com link. This gives a new meaning to stitching. And some more tangible results. I will submit it to my local camera club's Valuable Resource Links section.

I am sure they'll love it.

www.stitching.com is another proof that very high image quality doesn't have to be expensive and remains, above all, a craft. I believe that MF owners might benefit from it as much as Coolpix 773 lovers.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: LesPalenik on December 21, 2010, 06:34:42 pm
I am sure they'll love it.

www.stitching.com is another proof that very high image quality doesn't have to be expensive and remains, above all, a craft. I believe that MF owners might benefit from it as much as Coolpix 773 lovers.

Cheers,
Bernard

Thats' very true. However, I worry that some posters may find them soft.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 07:06:15 pm

........................ I think what I'm questioning is to what extent the technology tail is wagging the photographic dog.....  I'd really like to see the pendulum swing back to discussing making better photos as opposed to buying "better" cameras, but as I'm sure you're ready to point out, nobody's stopping me starting my own web site....

David, let's face it - photography has always been a delicious mixture of fascination with gear and fascination with the image. There are plenty of sections in this Discussion Forum for discussing both, not one to the detriment of the other. This is a thread largely about what gear does for the technical attributes of an image. If you want to discuss making better photos from a purely artistic perspective, head down the list of Sections here.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Schewe on December 21, 2010, 07:36:44 pm
Well without wanting in any way (you're just gonna have to take my work on this) to make this personal, I think what I'm questioning is to what extent the technology tail is wagging the photographic dog.....

Who wags the tail?

Yes, I know it's easy to complain that technology seems to drive (wag) advances in photography...but the fact remains, it's up to YOU to choose what YOU do. Nobody is holding a gun to your head demanding some sort of specific behavior. Right? If there is, let us know and we'll try to free you...might take a black ops team to pull you out of Switzerland...on the other hand, the Swiss seem pretty "neutral" to me...

Complaining about what other people use to create their own images is really kinda sick. It means that you pay far too much attention to the technology and far less to the images. Is that your fault? I don't know...I do know that "process" seems to be far more important these days that the "old days" when you were judged by the print you hung on a wall. What goes into the "creation" of an image means little to nothing to me. I've spent a lot of time (and been paid a ton of cash) to create images for clients...I no longer care to do that stuff and only shoot what I want to the way I want to. I care nothing about what OTHER people think of either my work or me, personally...I really only care about friends and family and to a large extent, what I think. Do I like an image? Is it worth spending any time on? Is it worth actually putting ink on paper to make a print? Which camera and what I did (or didn't do) to create the image is meaningless. What camera I used is meaningless. What "technique" I used in Camera Raw/Lightroom/Photoshop is meaningless. All I ultimately care about is the image.

The fact that some people in this thread seem fixated on the tools really only plays into what Mark was talking about. These things are tools...use them or don't use them. But you really, really shouldn't fixate on the tools.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 21, 2010, 07:51:29 pm
The fact that some people in this thread seem fixated on the tools really only plays into what Mark was talking about. These things are tools...use them or don't use them. But you really, really shouldn't fixate on the tools.

Jeff,

Agreed 100% that tools are not the most important part, but the negative reactions in this thread are mostly about Mark's comment that the usage of a given type of tools (MFDB) defines high quality in landscape photography.

He is the one focusing on tools and commenting negatively on what other people do using his authority as one of the officials at LL.

The only way to counter this is to join him in his discussion of tools.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: JohnBrew on December 21, 2010, 08:11:49 pm
Bernard, when I click on your link for stitching I get a needlepoint website. What's up with that?
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 08:27:58 pm
Jeff,

Agreed 100% that tools are not the most important part, but the negative reactions in this thread are mostly about Mark's comment that the usage of a given type of tools (MFDB) defines high quality in landscape photography.

He is the one focusing on tools and commenting negatively on what other people do using his authority as one of the officials at LL.

The only way to counter this is to join him in his discussion of tools.

Cheers,
Bernard


Bernard, these comments made me wonder whether we read the same article so I went back to review it. I don't see that he's done anything like what you say here.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: PierreVandevenne on December 21, 2010, 08:43:15 pm
Possibly because the article began by

"This article is a compilation of a number of personal thoughts about photographic tools."

and uses the word "tools" 18 additional times (and "tool" 4 times).

If it wasn't about tools, what was it about?
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Rajan Parrikar on December 21, 2010, 09:10:28 pm
Has Mark Dubovoy said or implied that photographs made with 'lesser' cameras constitute inferior photography, or that great photographic work cannot be done with these 'lesser' bodies?  If yes, where?  If not, what is this Sturm und Drang all about?
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 09:16:18 pm
Possibly because the article began by

"This article is a compilation of a number of personal thoughts about photographic tools."

and uses the word "tools" 18 additional times (and "tool" 4 times).

If it wasn't about tools, what was it about?

Of course he is focusing on tools, because it is a discussion mainly about fitting tools to intent and what the tools do and don't do. So? Is there a problem with this?
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 09:17:25 pm
Has Mark Dubovoy said or implied that photographs made with 'lesser' cameras constitute inferior photography, or that great photographic work cannot be done with these 'lesser' bodies?  If yes, where?  If not, what is this Sturm und Drang all about?


No he didn't and like you I'm having a hard time understanding the basis for the "Sturm and Drang" too. :-)
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: PierreVandevenne on December 21, 2010, 09:32:17 pm
For example, "Lots of folks shoot landscapes with small format DSLR's.  To my eyes, the results are sub-standard."

Maybe "sub-optimal" would be a better word?

Among other things, I've seen landscapes by Plisson shot on a DSLR - they didn't look sub-standard to me.

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on December 21, 2010, 09:46:26 pm
For example, "Lots of folks shoot landscapes with small format DSLR's.  To my eyes, the results are sub-standard."
…
Among other things, I've seen landscapes by Plisson shot on a DSLR - they didn't look sub-standard to me.

Shocking! Two people having different opinions about the same thing. Who has ever heard of such a thing!?
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 09:46:55 pm
For example, "Lots of folks shoot landscapes with small format DSLR's.  To my eyes, the results are sub-standard."

Maybe "sub-optimal" would be a better word?

Among other things, I've seen landscapes by Plisson shot on a DSLR - they didn't look sub-standard to me.



I don't understand. Clearly there are DSLRs and there are DSLRs - small format ones, larger format ones, inexpensive ones, costlier ones. Which ones was Mark Dubovoy talking about, which kinds do Plisson and the photographers represented in his shop use? This discussion is like nailing jelly to a wall.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: billmac on December 21, 2010, 09:48:17 pm
Jeez, I love a good food fight!  :)

Bill
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 09:50:29 pm
Jeez, I love a good food fight!  :)

Bill


Sorry to disappoint, but it's not a fight, it's a discussion - perhaps a bit forceful here and there, but a discussion nonetheless.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: PierreVandevenne on December 21, 2010, 10:10:15 pm
Sorry to disappoint, but it's not a fight, it's a discussion - perhaps a bit forceful here and there, but a discussion nonetheless.

Agreed.  Mark Dubovoy's articles have always been great discussion catalyzers.

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 21, 2010, 10:15:23 pm
I don't understand. Clearly there are DSLRs and there are DSLRs - small format ones, larger format ones, inexpensive ones, costlier ones. Which ones was Mark Dubovoy talking about, which kinds do Plisson and the photographers represented in his shop use? This discussion is like nailing jelly to a wall.

Assuming you mean Philippe Plisson, then I am one of the photographers represented by his company. My images in his catalogue were mostly shot on Canon 5D, 5D2, 35mm film, Pentax 6x7, Ebony 4x5, Mamiya RZ67, Mamiya RB67, Silvestri etc etc

Others that I know personally like Charlie Waite and Yann Arthus Bertrand use a similarly eclectic mix of tools. Charlie sometimes likes to shoot on a Mamiya Press on Fuji Press neg film. YAB shoots his aerials on 1Ds3s...

Point is, use the tools that you have and like, for whatever reason. Now I use the S2, and I absolutely love it. If I could'nt afford it I'd not loose sleep, I'd just press on with my Canons and do more stitching!

My mate in Western Australia, Christian Fletcher runs three galleries and recently bought a P65. The big showcase images on his gallery walls are spectacular. Thus it was a good choice of camera for him, irrespective of the cost.

I'm a little tired of this cognitive dissonance - MR has written about this in past years and I agree with him. Did photographers gripe about not being able to afford 10x8 cameras twenty years ago?

The best camera in the world is the one you have in your hand.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 10:40:58 pm
Assuming you mean Philippe Plisson, then I am one of the photographers represented by his company. My images in his catalogue were mostly shot on Canon 5D, 5D2, 35mm film, Pentax 6x7, Ebony 4x5, Mamiya RZ67, Mamiya RB67, Silvestri etc etc

Others that I know personally like Charlie Waite and Yann Arthus Bertrand use a similarly eclectic mix of tools. Charlie sometimes likes to shoot on a Mamiya Press on Fuji Press neg film. YAB shoots his aerials on 1Ds3s...

Point is, use the tools that you have and like, for whatever reason. Now I use the S2, and I absolutely love it. If I could'nt afford it I'd not loose sleep, I'd just press on with my Canons and do more stitching!

My mate in Western Australia, Christian Fletcher runs three galleries and recently bought a P65. The big showcase images on his gallery walls are spectacular. Thus it was a good choice of camera for him, irrespective of the cost.

I'm a little tired of this cognitive dissonance - MR has written about this in past years and I agree with him. Did photographers gripe about not being able to afford 10x8 cameras twenty years ago?

The best camera in the world is the one you have in your hand.

I thought I should review precisely the meaning of "cognitive dissonance" and came-up with this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance, complete with "sour grapes" ! I love it.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 21, 2010, 10:49:19 pm
Bernard, when I click on your link for stitching I get a needlepoint website. What's up with that?

Strange isn't it? :)

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2010, 10:54:46 pm
Strange isn't it? :)

Cheers,
Bernard


No not strange - it's the secret app Bernard uses for stitching his panos. He was never a fan of Photoshop for doing this, as far as I can remember. :-)
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 21, 2010, 10:58:48 pm
No not strange - it's the secret app Bernard uses for stitching his panos. He was never a fan of Photoshop for doing this, as far as I can remember. :-)

Mark, you know me way too well. :)

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 21, 2010, 11:13:20 pm
I thought I should review precisely the meaning of "cognitive dissonance" and came-up with this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance, complete with "sour grapes" ! I love it.


This is what MR wrote on the subject back in 2004

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/cognative.shtml (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/cognative.shtml)
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on December 21, 2010, 11:47:01 pm
Ray - a simple question to help evaluate what you are saying: how many MF systems have you personally tested at varying ISO settings, printed the outcomes and seen the results?

I contest the notion that these systems can only be advantageous under controlled studio conditions. It's just not true.

Only two, Mark. They were the Mamiya RB67 and the Fujifilm GW690III. I believe the increased resolution from these two cameras would have exceeded the resolution of my Canon 35mm film-camera by a greater degree than a P65+ exceeds the resolution of a 1Ds3, 5D2, A900 or D3X.

I bought these MF systems second-hand for what I thought was a good price. I got the impression that many professional photographers at the time, around the year 2001, were dumping their MF gear in favour of lower resolution digital which was far more convenient to use and the images far cheaper and easier to process.

Around this time, Canon's first DSLR offering, the 3mp D30, was selling in Australia for around A$6,500. I preferred to spend A$6,000 on Nikon's first affordable MF scanner, the 8000ED, so I could scan my 6x7cm and 6x9cm negatives which would provide considerably more resolution than a 3mp DSLR.

If I'd known at the time that within  3 years or so Canon would double the MP count and produce a D60 at a lower price than the D30 (I recall the 4mp 1D preceded it), I would not have bought into those MF systems.

As soon as I experienced that amazing convenience and flexibility of the D60, all my film gear including the higher resolution MF gear, remained on the shelf.

I'm a bit fanatical in some respects, but not so fanatical that I'm going to lug around a lot of heavy and inflexible gear for the odd occasion that I can get a high resolution shot that wouldn't be possible with a DSLR because the scene didn't lend itself to a stitching procedure.

I wonder if you realize, Mark, that half a dozen D7000 images (perhaps fewer depending on overlap) stitched to produce the same file size as a single shot from a P65+, would actually have equal or higher image quality in every respect.

The D7000 would have marginally better color sensitivity, but so marginally better we can call it equal.

The P65+ would have very marginally better tonal range, but so marginally better we can definitely call it equal.

The P65+ would also have marginally better SNR at 18% grey, of the order of 1.2dB. Definitely of no consequence.

However, the stitched D7000 shot would have almost 2 stops better DR. Now that's definitely of consequence, wouldn't you agree?

One should also bear in mind that all these improvements (or equalities) of the stitched D7000 image are achieved at approximately one stop higher ISO; to be precise ISO 83 for the D7000 as opposed to ISO 44 for the P65+.

It is assumed if one is stitching images from a smaller format to reach the same file size, FoV and DoF as a larger format, then one would use the same focal length of lens at the same F/stop as one would  use on the larger format for the single shot of the same scene.

There might be further nitpicking issues regarding AA filters, but I think these would be offset by the fact that lenses designed for 35mm format, with their smaller image circle, usually manage a slightly higher MTF response at any given resolution than equivalent quality MF lenses. If it's not completely offset, then stitch 8 images instead of 6. No big deal.

I think the stitched image would also have the advantage of better edge performance. As you know, all lenses have a significantly worse MTF response towards the edges, including MF lenses. A 35mm lens on a D7000 not only has the advantage of the soft edges being cropped by the sensor, but the edges of the stitched composition will have the benefit of the sort of resolution one would expect from the central area of the image circle.

MFDB just doesn't make sense to me. I understand very well the principle of the 'best tool for the job'. If I were in the position of certain professional photographers who always know the nature of their assignment beforehand, then I would be in a position to choose what I thought was the best tool for a specific job, and there might well be certain occasions when I would select the MFDB system from the shelf, if I had an MFDB system.

However, that's not my situation. Photography for me is an adventure. I may have an idea of the sorts of scenes I will encounter, but for me, flexibility (consistent with good technical quality) is the name of the game.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 22, 2010, 12:01:00 am
The D7000 would have marginally better color sensitivity, but so marginally better we can call it equal.

The P65+ would have very marginally better tonal range, but so marginally better we can definitely call it equal.

The P65+ would also have marginally better SNR at 18% grey, of the order of 1.2dB. Definitely of no consequence.

However, the stitched D7000 shot would have almost 2 stops better DR. Now that's definitely of consequence, wouldn't you agree?

There might be further nitpicking issues regarding AA filters, but I think these would be offset by the fact that lenses designed for 35mm format, with their smaller image circle, usually manage a slightly higher MTF response at any given resolution than equivalent quality MF lenses. If it's not completely offset, then stitch 8 images instead of 6. No big deal.


Ray, where do you get the idea that the D7000 has two stops better DR than the P65?

And where do you see MF lenses having inferior MTF to 35mm lenses? The term 'equivalent quality' bothers me somewhat - the best lenses for MF are considerably better than the best lenses for 35mm. Check out the Schneider Digitar MTF charts and the Leica S2 lens MFTs as well.

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 22, 2010, 12:01:28 am
Ray,

Stitching is rather easy now, using smart blend and similar algorithms. Nevertheless, it's still very easy to get artifacts on things that move or change between exposures, like waves.

Best regards
Erik

Only two, Mark. They were the Mamiya RB67 and the Fujifilm GW690III. I believe the increased resolution from these two cameras would have exceeded the resolution of my Canon 35mm film-camera by a greater degree than a P65+ exceeds the resolution of a 1Ds3, 5D2, A900 or D3X.

I bought these MF systems second-hand for what I thought was a good price. I got the impression that many professional photographers at the time, around the year 2001, were dumping their MF gear in favour of lower resolution digital which was far more convenient to use and the images far cheaper and easier to process.

Around this time, Canon's first DSLR offering, the 3mp D30, was selling in Australia for around A$6,500. I preferred to spend A$6,000 on Nikon's first affordable MF scanner, the 8000ED, so I could scan my 6x7cm and 6x9cm negatives which would provide considerably more resolution than a 3mp DSLR.

If I'd known at the time that within  3 years or so Canon would double the MP count and produce a D60 at a lower price than the D30 (I recall the 4mp 1D preceded it), I would not have bought into those MF systems.

As soon as I experienced that amazing convenience and flexibility of the D60, all my film gear including the higher resolution MF gear, remained on the shelf.

I'm a bit fanatical in some respects, but not so fanatical that I'm going to lug around a lot of heavy and inflexible gear for the odd occasion that I can get a high resolution shot that wouldn't be possible with a DSLR because the scene didn't lend itself to a stitching procedure.

I wonder if you realize, Mark, that half a dozen D7000 images (perhaps fewer depending on overlap) stitched to produce the same file size as a single shot from a P65+, would actually have equal or higher image quality in every respect.

The D7000 would have marginally better color sensitivity, but so marginally better we can call it equal.

The P65+ would have very marginally better tonal range, but so marginally better we can definitely call it equal.

The P65+ would also have marginally better SNR at 18% grey, of the order of 1.2dB. Definitely of no consequence.

However, the stitched D7000 shot would have almost 2 stops better DR. Now that's definitely of consequence, wouldn't you agree?

One should also bear in mind that all these improvements (or equalities) of the stitched D7000 image are achieved at approximately one stop higher ISO; to be precise ISO 83 for the D7000 as opposed to ISO 44 for the P65+.

It is assumed if one is stitching images from a smaller format to reach the same file size, FoV and DoF as a larger format, then one would use the same focal length of lens at the same F/stop as one would  use on the larger format for the single shot of the same scene.

There might be further nitpicking issues regarding AA filters, but I think these would be offset by the fact that lenses designed for 35mm format, with their smaller image circle, usually manage a slightly higher MTF response at any given resolution than equivalent quality MF lenses. If it's not completely offset, then stitch 8 images instead of 6. No big deal.

I think the stitched image would also have the advantage of better edge performance. As you know, all lenses have a significantly worse MTF response towards the edges, including MF lenses. A 35mm lens on a D7000 not only has the advantage of the soft edges being cropped by the sensor, but the edges of the stitched composition will have the benefit of the sort of resolution one would expect from the central area of the image circle.

MFDB just doesn't make sense to me. I understand very well the principle of the 'best tool for the job'. If I were in the position of certain professional photographers who always know the nature of their assignment beforehand, then I would be in a position to choose what I thought was the best tool for a specific job, and there might well be certain occasions when I would select the MFDB system from the shelf, if I had an MFDB system.

However, that's not my situation. Photography for me is an adventure. I may have an idea of the sorts of scenes I will encounter, but for me, flexibility (consistent with good technical quality) is the name of the game.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on December 22, 2010, 12:18:15 am
Quote
Well, let's go back to our example of someone playing the violin. Some of us have had the excruciating experience of listening to a violin beginner. If you give a beginner a mediocre violin, because the instrument is not very responsive and not particularly loud, the beginner can go along without causing too much pain to the ears of others. However, give the same beginner a very fine instrument that is extremely responsive and quite loud, and you are looking at a real catastrophe.


I was very amused at the above comment from Mark Dubovoy. Where did he get such an idea? Is this comment inserted just to provoke a response from music lovers?  ;D

High quality violins and pianos are not high quality as a consequence of their being loud, but high quality because they produce more mellifluous, more appealing, more attractive and more subtle tones that are a delight on the ear.

If you want to encourage your kids to develop an appreciation for fine music, the last thing you should be doing is to buy them a cheap musical intrument that produces a harsh tone, whether loud or not.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 22, 2010, 12:35:15 am
Hi,

I got the impression that Leica S2 lenses are really excellent, but that wouldn't help a Hasselblad user. An MFD you can put on any device and can be used with the Schneider Digitar. Regarding the P65+ let's not forget it has a larger sensor, MFDBs are not created equal.

The approach that Mark suggests, using the best MFDB on a camera body built with tight tolerances and carefully matched to the individual MFDB, completed with the best lenses and exact focusing is probably what is needed to extract optimum quality.

So, technically speaking, I agree with Mark's writing.

On the economical side, it's my belief that anyone can use his/her hard deserved Dollars/Kronor/Euros as they want. Some of us have more and some have less. It's my belief that excellent images can be made with any decent equipment. Whatever equipment at hand we need to make best use of it. Having a Leica, Hasselblad or Nikon D3X will not make one a better photographer. They are just tools.

I used to say that it is not only the sensor, it's also what you put in front of it, like lens and subject, what you put under it (like a tripod) and what you put behind it (like a decent photographers) that matters.

So, Mark's writing makes a lot of sense to me.

On the other hand, I recall Michael Reichmanns interview with Charlie Cramer. Charlie also bought a P45 (at that time) and for him it was a very major investment, he still decided to do it and was quite happy.

Best regards
Erik

Ray, where do you get the idea that the D7000 has two stops better DR than the P65?

And where do you see MF lenses having inferior MTF to 35mm lenses? The term 'equivalent quality' bothers me somewhat - the best lenses for MF are considerably better than the best lenses for 35mm. Check out the Schneider Digitar MTF charts and the Leica S2 lens MFTs as well.


Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 22, 2010, 12:49:40 am
The approach that Mark suggests, using the best MFDB on a camera body built with tight tolerances and carefully matched to the individual MFDB, completed with the best lenses and exact focusing is probably what is needed to extract optimum quality.

So, technically speaking, I agree with Mark's writing.


I agree too.

How one spends one's money, whether for a business or a hobby, is one's own concern.

How one spends one's time is the same - I personally don't want to spend much time shooting lots of images carefully for stitching and then a certain amount of time running them through PS or PTGUI or whatever. I want to make the shot, and then another and another...the light is changing...OMG...I have not finished my sequence for the 4th row yet! I can definitely get more shots as single images, and spend less time in post too - time is money so over a period of time maybe the expensive MFDB is actually more economical.

As they say, YMMV, so one person's overpriced bling is another's workhorse.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on December 22, 2010, 02:29:36 am
Ray, where do you get the idea that the D7000 has two stops better DR than the P65?

And where do you see MF lenses having inferior MTF to 35mm lenses? The term 'equivalent quality' bothers me somewhat - the best lenses for MF are considerably better than the best lenses for 35mm. Check out the Schneider Digitar MTF charts and the Leica S2 lens MFTs as well.



Hi Nick,
DXOMark is now my source of technical performance of sensors. I trust their results because they conform very closely with my own testing of my own equipment, and other equipment I've tested in the store, such as the Nikon D3 some years ago; in a comparative sense of course.

I have no way of determining that the SNR at a particular tone is, for example, 36dB. But I understand that 36dB is noisier that 39dB. If I see increased noise at 18% grey, (or 128,128,128), when comparing two models of cameras, and later find that DXOMark indicate that the camera with visibly less noise has 3dB higher SNR on their graphs, then I consider their results confirmed.

At the pixel level, the D7000 is shown as having almost 2 stops better DR than the P65+. (1.84 EV to be precise). Below is a jpeg of the DXO chart. As you can see, the D7000 is streets ahead, even when the P65+ is in 'sensor plus' mode, which incidentally would put the two images at a similar resolution.

My impression that larger format lenses with bigger image circles tend to have a lower MTF response than high quality lenses for smaller formats, was gained from the old Photodo MTF charts.

Photodo did test quite a few MF lenses using the same procedures they used to test 35mm lenses. I remember well that a particularly fine Tamron SP 90mm lens I owned had a higher MTF response than the Hasselblad 80mm/2.8 planar, which was of course much more expensive than the Tamron.

The Tamron SP 90/2.8 was one of Tamron's finest lenses, and although it had a higher MTF response in the central area of the image cricle, that central area would not have been as large as the central area of the Hassy Planar. In other words, comparing resolution at 20mm from the centre, the Tamron would have shown the typical fall-off, whereas the Hasselblad lens would still be very good, in fact better. But 20mm from the centre of the Hassy lens is a long way from the corner of the frame.

When comparing a stitched D7000 image of similar resolution to a single P65+ shot, it's the performance at the pixel level that's relevant (regarding DXO graphs), not the performance at a normalised print size.

I'm quite willing to be persuaded that the best of the current crop of MF lenses have a higher MTF response than the best of the current 35mm lenses. Unfortunately, Photodo no longer do MTF testing and I don't trust manufacturers' charts.

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 22, 2010, 03:11:20 am
Thanks Ray
You might be interested to know that whilst Canon apparently publish MTF charts based on lens design, not real lenses, Leica actually test each lens and make sure they match the target MTF before leaving the factory. Their published charts are from real lenses, have a look at the one for the new 120mm macro for the S2, it's astounding. I don't have this lens yet as they are like hens teeth, but I have shot with it. It's quite ruthlessly sharp.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 22, 2010, 04:29:40 am
Hi,

Are you really sure about Leica actually MTF testing each individual lens?

Anyway, I'm pretty sure they are impressive.

Best regards
Erik


Thanks Ray
You might be interested to know that whilst Canon apparently publish MTF charts based on lens design, not real lenses, Leica actually test each lens and make sure they match the target MTF before leaving the factory. Their published charts are from real lenses, have a look at the one for the new 120mm macro for the S2, it's astounding. I don't have this lens yet as they are like hens teeth, but I have shot with it. It's quite ruthlessly sharp.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: tho_mas on December 22, 2010, 04:30:51 am
Agreed 100% that tools are not the most important part, but the negative reactions in this thread are mostly about Mark's comment that the usage of a given type of tools (MFDB) defines high quality in landscape photography.

He is the one focusing on tools and commenting negatively on what other people do using his authority as one of the officials at LL.
spot on!


The approach that Mark suggests, using the best MFDB on a camera body built with tight tolerances and carefully matched to the individual MFDB, completed with the best lenses and exact focusing is probably what is needed to extract optimum quality.

So, technically speaking, I agree with Mark's writing.
while the context is correct - i.e. the spacing of lens & sensor has to be adjusted super accurately - the claim the Alpas were the only cameras you can do that with is... technically ... incorrect. The Rm3D is the king of the hill is this regard - no doubt about that. So his claim is plain and simply wrong.
The Alpa also do not offer Tilt/Swing ... only in conjunction with an adpater; but Alpa only provides one for longer lenses. Correct me if I am wrong... but isn't tilt/swing one of the "tools" landscape photographers used to use frequently? So the Alpa is also limited.
While the Alpas are beautifully made cameras and the back shimming is an extremely helpful feature ... they are not the most accurate and also not the most versatile tech cameras. This is a fact.
Finally you can also adjust the digital large format lenses on all the other large format lenses by yourself. Of course you have to see whether the groundglass is still usable for focussing if you do so. But if not you could also re-adjust the groundglass (for instance, well, with shims). I've meticulously adjusted my LF lenses to focus accurately at infinity. My groundglass is still fully usable for focussing. In case that I need it for focussing at all... mostly I only use it for composition (I prefer a laser disto for focussing mostly). Well, I don't want to bore you with talk about my kit or my workflow... but Mark's claim simply does not apply to my setup (and I use neither an Alpa nor an Rm3D). That simple.

The P65+ is limited re long exposure. Again something not exactly uncommon in landscape photography. So in this regard it's clearly not the "king of the hill".
Resolution wise the Aptus II 12 is "king of the hill".
As to usability - especially on a tech camera - Leaf backs also provide very nice features on the LCD (zooming, moveable grid lines to check vertical and/or horizontal lines in the capture... which is, admittedly, mostly useful for architectural photography but still a nice feature also for landscape photography. Just to name two features). Too, the LCD on the Leaf backs is much better. Both aspects also apply to the Aptus II 10, of course (not only to the Apt.II 12).
So... sorry, no, the P65+ is not the "king of the hill". It's beyond doubt one of the top products, but not the only one.
As to the comparision to Hasselblad I guess Mark's findings would be different if he could have mastered to use the cameras and the Phocus software correctly.

There is no discussion about these aspects in his article. Just claims without further proofs.
So ... the "Sturm und Drang" reaction of people is well understandable...




Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 22, 2010, 04:38:57 am
Hi,

Hasselblad has replaced the old Zeiss line with in house designed lenses built by Fujica. The new lenses outperform the old lens line according to MTF data and other information from Hasselblad. According to both MTF-data and "Diglloyd" who actually did test a couple of Hasselblad H lenses the S2 lenses were much better than the HC lenses. The HC-lenses did not impress at all.

I'd suggest that there is a lot of old glory hanging around about Hasselblad stuff and Zeiss lenses, but it may be that we need better designs to keep up with micron sensors.

By the way, there is more to lenses than MTF. Haloes, glare, veiling flare and last not but least they are not supposed to fall apart...

Best regards
Erik

Hi Nick,
DXOMark is now my source of technical performance of sensors. I trust their results because they conform very closely with my own testing of my own equipment, and other equipment I've tested in the store, such as the Nikon D3 some years ago; in a comparative sense of course.

I have no way of determining that the SNR at a particular tone is, for example, 36dB. But I understand that 36dB is noisier that 39dB. If I see increased noise at 18% grey, (or 128,128,128), when comparing two models of cameras, and later find that DXOMark indicate that the camera with visibly less noise has 3dB higher SNR on their graphs, then I consider their results confirmed.

At the pixel level, the D7000 is shown as having almost 2 stops better DR than the P65+. (1.84 EV to be precise). Below is a jpeg of the DXO chart. As you can see, the D7000 is streets ahead, even when the P65+ is in 'sensor plus' mode, which incidentally would put the two images at a similar resolution.

My impression that larger format lenses with bigger image circles tend to have a lower MTF response than high quality lenses for smaller formats, was gained from the old Photodo MTF charts.

Photodo did test quite a few MF lenses using the same procedures they used to test 35mm lenses. I remember well that a particularly fine Tamron SP 90mm lens I owned had a higher MTF response than the Hasselblad 80mm/2.8 planar, which was of course much more expensive than the Tamron.

The Tamron SP 90/2.8 was one of Tamron's finest lenses, and although it had a higher MTF response in the central area of the image cricle, that central area would not have been as large as the central area of the Hassy Planar. In other words, comparing resolution at 20mm from the centre, the Tamron would have shown the typical fall-off, whereas the Hasselblad lens would still be very good, in fact better. But 20mm from the centre of the Hassy lens is a long way from the corner of the frame.

When comparing a stitched D7000 image of similar resolution to a single P65+ shot, it's the performance at the pixel level that's relevant (regarding DXO graphs), not the performance at a normalised print size.

I'm quite willing to be persuaded that the best of the current crop of MF lenses have a higher MTF response than the best of the current 35mm lenses. Unfortunately, Photodo no longer do MTF testing and I don't trust manufacturers' charts.


Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 22, 2010, 04:45:46 am
Hi,

Much to that statement. Also, next years camera doesn't shoot this years moose!

Best regards
Erik

The best camera in the world is the one you have in your hand.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: John R Smith on December 22, 2010, 04:58:53 am
Hi,

Hasselblad has replaced the old Zeiss line with in house designed lenses built by Fujica. The new lenses outperform the old lens line according to MTF data and other information from Hasselblad. According to both MTF-data and "Diglloyd" who actually did test a couple of Hasselblad H lenses the S2 lenses were much better than the HC lenses. The HC-lenses did not impress at all.


There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the "new" Hasselblad HC lenses. According to Hasselblad themselves, the HC designs do not necessarily claim better MTF than the old Zeiss glass. What they have done, apparently, is change the range in which the lenses work best. Most of the Zeiss V-System lenses were computed for best performance at infinity (the 120mm S-Planar excepted). The HC range is designed for optimum performance in the mid-field, which is where Hasselblad reckon they will be used most - for fashion, wedding, portraiture, etc.

John
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 22, 2010, 05:18:04 am
Hi,

Some people spend 50 kUSD on cars some on cameras, what's wrong with that?

Another perspective is that we something like ten years ago vi visited a Swedish photographer (Janne Hφglund) who was a pioneer in the digital area. He was shooting with a scanning back, I don't know if it was Phase or Dicomed. It did cost around 20kUSD plus in those days dollars. With film he used 67 and scanned on Imacon. He pointed out that the cost of equipment was just a minor post compared to studio, lighting equipment, etc.

Best regards
Erik

First point: well, I would say that is subjective and a matter of opinion.  But I hardly think that the idea that a leaning towards the technology could be detrimental to the artistic quality of output is controversial.  I'm neither claiming that it applies to the author, nor anybody else specific.  But then again I'm not claiming the opposite.

Second point: oh purleeeze......  99% of the viewing populace react emotionally to photography and other visual art. They don't analyse the boke(h) or whatever else. Science has nothing to do with it.  This is the point where the conversation gets mind-numbingly tedious.

Third point: I'm not sure you quite get the point I'm making here...  never mind.

Fourth point: Please don't try to pin an ad hominen attack on me, especially I went out of my way to avoid it.


Whatever. I guess if $50,000 camera systems don't seem just a touch ridiculous to you, we don't live in the same world.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 22, 2010, 06:02:06 am
Hi,

Are you really sure about Leica actually MTF testing each individual lens?

Anyway, I'm pretty sure they are impressive.

Best regards
Erik


That's what I'm told by the Leica folks. I'm hoping to visit the Soln factory next year so I can find out for myself.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: PierreVandevenne on December 22, 2010, 06:33:06 am
Some people spend 50 kUSD on cars some on cameras, what's wrong with that?

Possibly the substandard driving experience a cheap 50K car provides? ;)
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Alan Goldhammer on December 22, 2010, 08:23:14 am
I am sure they'll love it.

www.stitching.com is another proof that very high image quality doesn't have to be expensive and remains, above all, a craft. I believe that MF owners might benefit from it as much as Coolpix 773 lovers.

Cheers,
Bernard

Without question the techniques on this website can give outstanding results!  I have four original images that my late mother captured using this approach.  The color palettes and dynamic range are outstanding.  One must realize that unlike Photoshop stitching, this approach is much more time consuming and it can take a month or two to get the final result just right.

Alan
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: michael on December 22, 2010, 08:59:35 am
That's what I'm told by the Leica folks. I'm hoping to visit the Soln factory next year so I can find out for myself.


Been there, done that.

Yes, each Leica lens is MTF tested to assure that it meets design spec.

Part f the cost of superior products.

Michael
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 22, 2010, 11:13:09 am
Only two, Mark. They were the Mamiya RB67 and the Fujifilm GW690III. I believe the increased resolution from these two cameras would have exceeded the resolution of my Canon 35mm film-camera by a greater degree than a P65+ exceeds the resolution of a 1Ds3, 5D2, A900 or D3X.

I bought these MF systems second-hand for what I thought was a good price. I got the impression that many professional photographers at the time, around the year 2001, were dumping their MF gear in favour of lower resolution digital which was far more convenient to use and the images far cheaper and easier to process.

Around this time, Canon's first DSLR offering, the 3mp D30, was selling in Australia for around A$6,500. I preferred to spend A$6,000 on Nikon's first affordable MF scanner, the 8000ED, so I could scan my 6x7cm and 6x9cm negatives which would provide considerably more resolution than a 3mp DSLR.

If I'd known at the time that within  3 years or so Canon would double the MP count and produce a D60 at a lower price than the D30 (I recall the 4mp 1D preceded it), I would not have bought into those MF systems.

As soon as I experienced that amazing convenience and flexibility of the D60, all my film gear including the higher resolution MF gear, remained on the shelf.

I'm a bit fanatical in some respects, but not so fanatical that I'm going to lug around a lot of heavy and inflexible gear for the odd occasion that I can get a high resolution shot that wouldn't be possible with a DSLR because the scene didn't lend itself to a stitching procedure.

I wonder if you realize, Mark, that half a dozen D7000 images (perhaps fewer depending on overlap) stitched to produce the same file size as a single shot from a P65+, would actually have equal or higher image quality in every respect.

The D7000 would have marginally better color sensitivity, but so marginally better we can call it equal.

The P65+ would have very marginally better tonal range, but so marginally better we can definitely call it equal.

The P65+ would also have marginally better SNR at 18% grey, of the order of 1.2dB. Definitely of no consequence.

However, the stitched D7000 shot would have almost 2 stops better DR. Now that's definitely of consequence, wouldn't you agree?

One should also bear in mind that all these improvements (or equalities) of the stitched D7000 image are achieved at approximately one stop higher ISO; to be precise ISO 83 for the D7000 as opposed to ISO 44 for the P65+.

It is assumed if one is stitching images from a smaller format to reach the same file size, FoV and DoF as a larger format, then one would use the same focal length of lens at the same F/stop as one would  use on the larger format for the single shot of the same scene.

There might be further nitpicking issues regarding AA filters, but I think these would be offset by the fact that lenses designed for 35mm format, with their smaller image circle, usually manage a slightly higher MTF response at any given resolution than equivalent quality MF lenses. If it's not completely offset, then stitch 8 images instead of 6. No big deal.

I think the stitched image would also have the advantage of better edge performance. As you know, all lenses have a significantly worse MTF response towards the edges, including MF lenses. A 35mm lens on a D7000 not only has the advantage of the soft edges being cropped by the sensor, but the edges of the stitched composition will have the benefit of the sort of resolution one would expect from the central area of the image circle.

MFDB just doesn't make sense to me. I understand very well the principle of the 'best tool for the job'. If I were in the position of certain professional photographers who always know the nature of their assignment beforehand, then I would be in a position to choose what I thought was the best tool for a specific job, and there might well be certain occasions when I would select the MFDB system from the shelf, if I had an MFDB system.

However, that's not my situation. Photography for me is an adventure. I may have an idea of the sorts of scenes I will encounter, but for me, flexibility (consistent with good technical quality) is the name of the game.

Ray, I'm briefly responding to this and your post on DxO.

Dealing with the latter first, real questions have been raised about the usefulness of DxO ratings. I just don't have time to dig all this up for you, but you can do your own research and examine the details. I don't pretend to know the truth of the matter, but the results in the JPEG you posted for the P65+ don't reflect the performance of that sensor based on other information. I won't say or respond to any more about DxO, because I have nothing more to contribute about it. I once thought it credible, but until the questions which have been raised are definitively resolved, the jury remains out. It's a laboratory construct which may be valid within the confines of the methodology and assumptions upon which it is predicated, but I believe the issues relate to the practical implications of the whole construct. Another thread would be more appropriate for re-opening a DxO discussion, in which I would be a keen spectator.

You put a great deal of weight on stitching a series of smaller frames versus using an MF frame (or two or three). Stitching of course is an option, but it deals only with the total pixel count in the image. As we all know, there is much more to sensor quality and image quality than pixel count. But even at the level of pixel count, my immediate reaction to these options was exactly that of Nick Rains: how much premeditation, time and effort do you want to put into a stitching approach pre and post capture, versus getting one or several MF captures containing all the pixels you'll ever need? Yes, the latter costs much more money as an investment, and the former costs a lot more time - perhaps even at the expense of getting the image, depending on conditions - and there is, for many people, a real time value to money. Over time, it all adds-up. I don't think the value of MF photography using the better of today's equipment (2010) is at all nullified by the stitching alternative, although stitching remains a viable and worthwhile option in many circumstances.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Jonathan Cross on December 22, 2010, 12:03:46 pm
A fascinating article in the stratosphere as far as I am concerned.  The kit cost is mind-blowing.  In the UK the S2 system with 4 lenses would cost about £34,500 minimum, i.e. about US$53,000.  Then there are the PhaseOne and the Alpha with lenses.  Given that the average UK annual income is about £26.000 how many people can do more than dream about this sort of money?

Jonathan
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: billmac on December 22, 2010, 12:29:28 pm
I'm not disappointed. Lighten up. The only food fights I have been in were fun, as is this intense discussion. I've learned a lot from it.

I wish I could add something, but I'm just a guy struggling along with Canon 1D MkIII, 5D MkII, and a bunch of what I thought was expensive f2.8 glass. It works for what I love to do, but....

I also wish I could justify a MFDB/body, which I have rented from time to time on assignment, but maybe the Pentax will entice me.

It also strikes me that a lot of energy is being expended defending Mark's views, when they need no defense. He is as precise in his analysis as he is in photography, and he makes it clear that he expresses his opinions.

I like that he shakes "accepted wisdom".

Bill McClure
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 22, 2010, 12:37:32 pm
Hi,

That is very reassuring.

Best regards
Erik

Been there, done that.

Yes, each Leica lens is MTF tested to assure that it meets design spec.

Part f the cost of superior products.

Michael
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 22, 2010, 12:57:37 pm
Hi,

I have seen a comparison of the V and HC lenses in a brochure from Hasselblad, with essentially the same information that you wrote.

In addition, Hasselblad presents measured MTF for each type of lens. I compared MTFs for different V and HC lenses and in general the HC-lenses had higher MTF at comparable frequencies.

Leica and Linos (Rodenstock) also give MTF curves for their lenses which are in turn much better than the HC lenses. Please note that the MTF curves can display different frequencies. Hasselblad shows 1, 20 and 50 lp/mm, while Rodenstock HR Digitals normally have 7.5, 15, 30 and 60 lp/mm.

Sensor pitch on D3X, P65+ and Pentax 645D is around 6 micron corresponding to about 80 lp/mm.

Best regards
Erik

There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the "new" Hasselblad HC lenses. According to Hasselblad themselves, the HC designs do not necessarily claim better MTF than the old Zeiss glass. What they have done, apparently, is change the range in which the lenses work best. Most of the Zeiss V-System lenses were computed for best performance at infinity (the 120mm S-Planar excepted). The HC range is designed for optimum performance in the mid-field, which is where Hasselblad reckon they will be used most - for fashion, wedding, portraiture, etc.

John
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: bjanes on December 22, 2010, 01:06:54 pm
Ray, I'm briefly responding to this and your post on DxO.

You put a great deal of weight on stitching a series of smaller frames versus using an MF frame (or two or three). Stitching of course is an option, but it deals only with the total pixel count in the image. As we all know, there is much more to sensor quality and image quality than pixel count. But even at the level of pixel count, my immediate reaction to these options was exactly that of Nick Rains: how much premeditation...


It is often claimed without any confirmation that MFDB pixels are of higher quality than those from a good dSLR, but I have seen little evidence to substantiate this claim. The dSLRs have a blur filter, which reduces aliasing artifacts as well as apparent sharpness, but the effects on sharpness can largely be overcome with deconvolution sharpening. The MFDBs lack a blur filter so the images appear sharper, but can suffer from aliasing; this is apparently not a problem with most images of naturally occurring subjects (e.g. landscape). The DXO measurements show that the per pixel performance of both the Nikon D7000 and the Nikon D3x is superior to that of the Phase One P65+.

When stitching, the per pixel performance is the criterion of interest. If one does not mind stitching a large number of images, the D7000 might be preferable to the D3x, since the former has a higher pixel density (4.73 vs 5.9 microns) and one can use the central portion of the projected image where optical performance is higher. The Coastal Optics 60 mm f/4 UV-Vis-IR APO Macro is probably the best lens for the Nikons and likely is equal to any of the Phase One lenses. Bernard has gotten good results with the Zeiss 100 mm macro lens.

Regards,

Bill


Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 22, 2010, 01:14:22 pm
Hi!

Just a few short comments.

1) The original Photodo tests were done at the Hasselbald factory using Hasselblads MTF equipment by the Swedish monthly Aktuell Fotografi. After Aktuell Fotografi merged with it's local concurrent Foto, Lars Kjellberg who was technical editor at Aktuell Fotografi started Photodo. That essentially means that the old Photodo tests are compatible with todays Hasselblad MTFs.

2) If you check out the original Photodo test you will probably find that both Pentax 645 and Mamiya 67 lenses were better than the Hasselblad V line.

3) The old Photodo figures of merit were mostly based on low frequency, not necessarily the correct base for large enlargements.

4) MTF can be measured on slanted edges. An easy way to do this is to use "Imatest". I made such a comparison based on Imaging Resource images, see this link:

http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/images/Pentax645DP645D_vs_D3X_MTF.jpg

Here it is quite obvious that the Pentax 645D outperforms the Nikon D3X on a per pixel bases, in addition to having almost the double amount of pixels. The Nikon D3X was probably tested using a 24-70/2.8 lens. No doubt that there are better lenses in the Nikon inventory.

The Pentax having high MTF at Nyquist limit would indicate that it would be prone to aliasing, and aliasing is very much present in the Imaging Resource images: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/images/Pentax645D/Moire_small.jpg

Best regards
Erik



I'm quite willing to be persuaded that the best of the current crop of MF lenses have a higher MTF response than the best of the current 35mm lenses. Unfortunately, Photodo no longer do MTF testing and I don't trust manufacturers' charts.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Rob C on December 22, 2010, 01:57:17 pm
What I take from all of this is that one could, given the language, prove almost any alternative point of view, and then as easily, disprove it using the same language.

I suppose it comes down to this: they are more or less all good cameras/lenses; some will suit one pocket or use and others others. Real differences abide in the fanclubs and not in the pictures.

Sadly, it's all academic to me, so I can view it all with impartiality.

Think Amsterdam: buy the prettiest you can afford; you're gonna get screwed anyway.

Rob C
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: John Camp on December 22, 2010, 02:01:13 pm
One of the major problems with his article is the use of words like "quality." It's like the word "fair" in political discussions. "Fair" almost always means what one particular person thinks is moral or right, and -- hard to believe! -- it almost always works out to that person's personal advantage. I don't want to accuse Mark of being unfair, but when he refers to quality, what does he mean? Sharpness in very large prints? Prints that can be used by a tiny market that demands super-sizing? How much advantage does a P65+ have over a D3x in a 19" print, which happens to be a pretty common size for people to put on their walls?

Or come at it from a different aspect of "quality." How many "famous" shots has Mark made -- famous in the sense of Moonrise, or Running White Deer, or Clearing Winter Storm? In fact, take the work of almost any famous film photographer. How many of those shots were made with cameras that could match the quality of a D3x. (Answer: very damn few. But the "quality" of those photographs doesn't have much to do with sharpness.)

It's necessary to remember that when he throws the word "quality" out there, he has his thumb on the scale. If you accept his definition of quality -- sharpness in large prints, irrespective of almost anything else -- then he is correct. MF is better. But that's a pretty trivial observation. I'd suggest that it's also a terribly limited definition of "quality." So limited, there's almost no point in most people even worrying about it. Or even considering it.

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 22, 2010, 02:18:47 pm
Hi,

Mark obviously wants or needs very high image quality. For that reason he used 8x10" instead of 4x5", and the difference of the image quality was worth the extra cost and effort in his view. Now, he wants to achieve a similar quality in digital, using a sensor that has 20 times smaller surface area. To do that he needs to everything perfect. Not good enough but perfect.

Best regards
Erik

One of the major problems with his article is the use of words like "quality." It's like the word "fair" in political discussions. "Fair" almost always means what one particular person thinks is moral or right, and -- hard to believe! -- it almost always works out to that person's personal advantage. I don't want to accuse Mark of being unfair, but when he refers to quality, what does he mean? Sharpness in very large prints? Prints that can be used by a tiny market that demands super-sizing? How much advantage does a P65+ have over a D3x in a 19" print, which happens to be a pretty common size for people to put on their walls?

Or come at it from a different aspect of "quality." How many "famous" shots has Mark made -- famous in the sense of Moonrise, or Running White Deer, or Clearing Winter Storm? In fact, take the work of almost any famous film photographer. How many of those shots were made with cameras that could match the quality of a D3x. (Answer: very damn few. But the "quality" of those photographs doesn't have much to do with sharpness.)

It's necessary to remember that when he throws the word "quality" out there, he has his thumb on the scale. If you accept his definition of quality -- sharpness in large prints, irrespective of almost anything else -- then he is correct. MF is better. But that's a pretty trivial observation. I'd suggest that it's also a terribly limited definition of "quality." So limited, there's almost no point in most people even worrying about it. Or even considering it.


Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Alan Goldhammer on December 22, 2010, 03:14:41 pm

Think Amsterdam: buy the prettiest you can afford; you're gonna get screwed anyway.

Rob C
Pretty much sums it up for me!! ;D
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: NikoJorj on December 22, 2010, 03:46:54 pm
In fact, take the work of almost any famous film photographer. How many of those shots were made with cameras that could match the quality of a D3x.
Well, Moonrise over Hernandez and Clearing Winter Storm come to my mind...  ;D 
(I just verified in the "40 examples" : both shot with 8x10")

Of course, many iconic photographs of the last century were shot on 35mm, and some are iconic partly because of the blur (Death of a loyalist soldier, some HCB, Nick Ut's napalm girl...), but I don't think that the former two with their fine details would have the same impact shot on 35mm film of that time (or Ed Weston's shell, or...). Tools for uses (or do you say horses for courses?).
Title: S2 - deadly accurate focusing?
Post by: Jeff Kott on December 22, 2010, 06:40:11 pm
I'm not trying to stir anything up, but I thought I would point out for those that haven't seen it that in testing the S2, Lloyd Chambers found consistent focusing errors, which conflicts with Mark's experience with the S2.

There's a short blurb part way down the page here:

http://diglloyd.com/diglloyd/index.html

On a positive note, Lloyd thinks the S2 lenses are the best of any system.

Since Mark and Lloyd are both in N. CA, Lloyd has invited Mark to go shooting S2's together to demonstrate the focusing issues.  :)
Title: Re: S2 - deadly accurate focusing?
Post by: Schewe on December 22, 2010, 06:49:32 pm
I'm not trying to stir anything up, but I thought I would point out for those that haven't seen it that in testing the S2, Lloyd Chambers found consistent focusing errors, which conflicts with Mark's experience with the S2.

Old news...if you had read the entire thread you would have noted reply #32 (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=49728.msg409971#msg409971) in the thread.
Title: Re: S2 - deadly accurate focusing?
Post by: Jeff Kott on December 22, 2010, 06:56:19 pm
Old news...if you had read the entire thread you would have noted reply #32 (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=49728.msg409971#msg409971) in the thread.

My apologies.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on December 22, 2010, 07:38:08 pm
Dealing with the latter first, real questions have been raised about the usefulness of DxO ratings. I just don't have time to dig all this up for you, but you can do your own research and examine the details. I don't pretend to know the truth of the matter, but the results in the JPEG you posted for the P65+ don't reflect the performance of that sensor based on other information. I won't say or respond to any more about DxO, because I have nothing more to contribute about it. I once thought it credible, but until the questions which have been raised are definitively resolved, the jury remains out. It's a laboratory construct which may be valid within the confines of the methodology and assumptions upon which it is predicated, but I believe the issues relate to the practical implications of the whole construct. Another thread would be more appropriate for re-opening a DxO discussion, in which I would be a keen spectator.

Mark,
I've also heard rumours, innuendo, statements of disbelief and even total dismissal of the accuracy of DXOMark results. But I've never seen any photographic comparisons which demonstrate such claimed inaccuracies or discrepancies.

You know, many of us who are concerned about such issues as dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio may not be scientists or engineers, but we probably appreciate and understand the basic principles of the scientific method. At least I do.

Claims that are not supported by clear evidence that can withstand critical examination should be dismissed by all fair-minded and impartial observers. 

What is surprising from my perspective is that a comparison between, for example, the D3X and the P65+ is very much simplified by the fact that both sensors have a similar pixel pitch. To compare same size images at the pixel level should therefore be a doodle.

To compare DR, for example, one could simply use the same focal length of lens at the same f/stop on each camera, shoot the same high-contrast, high-DR scene under identical lighting conditions, then crop the P65+ image to the same FoV as the D3X image (which should result in almost exactly the same file size), then compare shadow detail in the equal-size images.

If the D3X image were not able to display better detail in the shadows, and the deep shadows, then that could open up an interesting discussion as the the reasons why. It may be the case that the internal reflections of one or both of the lenses are placing a limit on the DR; or it may be the case that for practical, real-world situations, the DXO results are misleading, irrelevant or plain wrong, however you want to describe it.

Until someone provides these sorts of comparisons, we can't move forward on this issue.

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: John Camp on December 22, 2010, 07:51:35 pm
Well, Moonrise over Hernandez and Clearing Winter Storm come to my mind...  ;D 
(I just verified in the "40 examples" : both shot with 8x10")

I doubt 8x10 film in the early 40s would match a D3x for either sharpness or resolution.

The point, though, was that defining photographic "quality" in terms of sharpness is spurious. 
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Alan Goldhammer on December 22, 2010, 07:59:56 pm
Mark,
I've also heard rumours, innuendo, statements of disbelief and even total dismissal of the accuracy of DXOMark results. But I've never seen any photographic comparisons which demonstrate such claimed inaccuracies or discrepancies.

You know, many of us who are concerned about such issues as dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio may not be scientists or engineers, but we probably appreciate and understand the basic principles of the scientific method. At least I do.

Claims that are not supported by clear evidence that can withstand critical examination should be dismissed by all fair-minded and impartial observers. 

What is surprising from my perspective is that a comparison between, for example, the D3X and the P65+ is very much simplified by the fact that both sensors have a similar pixel pitch. To compare same size images at the pixel level should therefore be a doodle.

To compare DR, for example, one could simply use the same focal length of lens at the same f/stop on each camera, shoot the same high-contrast, high-DR scene under identical lighting conditions, then crop the P65+ image to the same FoV as the D3X image (which should result in almost exactly the same file size), then compare shadow detail in the equal-size images.

If the D3X image were not able to display better detail in the shadows, and the deep shadows, then that could open up an interesting discussion as the the reasons why. It may be the case that the internal reflections of one or both of the lenses are placing a limit on the DR; or it may be the case that for practical, real-world situations, the DXO results are misleading, irrelevant or plain wrong, however you want to describe it.

Until someone provides these sorts of comparisons, we can't move forward on this issue.


Quite right.  DXO are engineering reports under controlled conditions.  They are clear about the methodology that is used in the tests and the results are there for everyone to look at.  What we don't have is how these results extrapolate to real life conditions.  I've long felt that such tests can be conducted (in fact Mark did participate in a recently posted test of the new Pentax MF and one of the Phase systems fairly recently with surprising results).  We are also held hostage to the particular camera makers and decisions that they make.  For example a particular DSLR may be optimized for ISO 200 and a MF to something else, lenses have an impact, etc.  I've seen lots of great images from members of LuLa via their websites and they use all different brands and formats of cameras.  There is no right or wrong choice of equipment as everything eventually comes down to who is looking through the viewfinder and capturing the image.  That being said, there are a number of us who want to know more about the science and engineering of the equipment we are using (I recall that within the past year the Leica M9 was mentioned as a great field camera for landscapes because of its accuracy and response; one might think all the MF users would junk their equipment and move to the Leica which is surely easier to carry and set up in the field).
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 22, 2010, 08:43:50 pm

If the D3X image were not able to display better detail in the shadows, and the deep shadows, then that could open up an interesting discussion as the the reasons why. It may be the case that the internal reflections of one or both of the lenses are placing a limit on the DR; or it may be the case that for practical, real-world situations, the DXO results are misleading, irrelevant or plain wrong, however you want to describe it.

Until someone provides these sorts of comparisons, we can't move forward on this issue.


I have done this, and the D3X does not have the superior shadow detail as predicted by the DXO measurements.

I did this test with the S2 and the D3X. Both have a 6 micron pitch I used a 70mm focal length on both cameras. I cropped to get the same FOV to compare apples with apples. Looking at the results on an EIZO243W, the Leica gives superior sharpness. As for DR, then I rate them about the same although the D3X has a certain smudgyness in the shadows that I cannot account for.

I take your point about scientific method etc but still, to me it's the results that count, not lab tests.

Before I'm accused of monitor pixel peeping I also made 20"x30" prints off both cameras and the S2 is superior for tonality and sharpness, and about the same for shadow details. Prints were made on an Epson 7900 on SemiGloss.

These are real world tests made using the best tools available to me. They do not support the DXO claims of 1-2 stop DR differences between the D3X, D7000 etc and the MFDBs although, to be scrupulously fair, there is no DXO data for the S2, I'm assuming it is mostly equivalent to the P65 as far as DR is concerned.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 22, 2010, 09:06:45 pm
You put a great deal of weight on stitching a series of smaller frames versus using an MF frame (or two or three). Stitching of course is an option, but it deals only with the total pixel count in the image. As we all know, there is much more to sensor quality and image quality than pixel count. But even at the level of pixel count, my immediate reaction to these options was exactly that of Nick Rains: how much premeditation, time and effort do you want to put into a stitching approach pre and post capture, versus getting one or several MF captures containing all the pixels you'll ever need? Yes, the latter costs much more money as an investment, and the former costs a lot more time - perhaps even at the expense of getting the image, depending on conditions - and there is, for many people, a real time value to money. Over time, it all adds-up. I don't think the value of MF photography using the better of today's equipment (2010) is at all nullified by the stitching alternative, although stitching remains a viable and worthwhile option in many circumstances.

Mark,

Fair analysis indeed.

I mostly agree with you but would have agreed 100% if you had talked about "a perfect MF body". Indeed, I agree 100% that a perfect MF body that would be available at reasonable prices would indeed be a better base landscape camera than a DSLR + stitching. :) Now, how close are existing MF bodies from that perfect camera and how many images does a top landscaper shoot a year that would justify the cost?

A key point that was not even mentioned by Mark is the real resolution achieved over 100 frames. That is one of the main gaps between current MF and the perfect camera I was talking about. FX bodies will be within a few percent of the optimal every single time thanks to live view. I believe that many MF landscape shooters have been suffering from mis-focusing on many frames, the lower the light level the worst the issue. Our friends at Diglloyd have been reporting once more in the 645D review about how difficult it is to focus the body accurately on a plane subject (granted real world applications will be less impacting). The real world resolution of bodies without live view should probably considered to be 10 to 20% lower than the pixel count indicates. Beyond that, it might just be me, but I always was very frustrated when coming back from a shoot with my MF body to notice that half of the images shot with my 10.000+ US$ camera were not correctly focused. For me that frustration was a major problem.

I didn't intend to enter the MF vs DSLR debate (my point was only about stitching), but others have take the discussion there, so let's assume for a second that most stitching is done with DSLRs.

Regardless of the time t relevance of DxO, there is little denying that the improvement of pixel quality of FX is faster than that of MF. I don't believe having ever felt limited by the DR of my D3x while I did feel limited by both my former DSLRs and my Mamiya ZD. Leading photo publications like Chasseur d'Image and Photo in France have recently reviewed the 645D and found its DR to be in the same ballpark (or a little bit lower) than their current reference, the D3x. For what it is worth, these guys combined sell over 500.000 copies a month. Diglloyd similarly found the DR of both S2 and 645D to be inferior or similar to that of the D3x. If a gap remains in favour of MF it is small and closing. Considering that the MF bodies use sensors with photosites of the same size as DSLRs it only makes sense that DR is similar by the way (knowing that DSLRs use CMOS that are typically less noisy - noise defines DR). The only rationale for MF bodies to still have better DR is their higher price.

Together with the reduction of the gap between FX's resolution and the needs of most real world applications, I feel that many landscape photographers (few images, high quality focus) today are in fact best served by a high end FX body plus the stitching option that will enable them to reach whatever resolution is needed for those images that deserve a large print. I wouldn't have been shocked had Mark, after presenting in a fair way these different options, had reached the conclusion that he feels that the balance still leans towards the MF being the better option.

But a fair comparison there was not.

So, considering the overlook of all these factors, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the initial article is perceived as a plug for MF manufacturers disguised into a opinionated write up. For what it is worth, the only place I know where the relevance of DxO results is widely questioned is this very community with a strong presence of MF owners and sellers. You and I appear to belong to this category of people feeling that we owe to ourselve to own and broadcast a balanced view of things, but LL as a whole seems to be leaning more and more to a one sided view of things aimed at counterbalancing the rest of the world.

LL vs DPreview. LL says MFBDs have 6 stops more DR, DPreview says they have the same... so it must be around 3 stops, right?... :)

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: bjanes on December 22, 2010, 10:54:29 pm
I have done this, and the D3X does not have the superior shadow detail as predicted by the DXO measurements.

I did this test with the S2 and the D3X. Both have a 6 micron pitch I used a 70mm focal length on both cameras. I cropped to get the same FOV to compare apples with apples. Looking at the results on an EIZO243W, the Leica gives superior sharpness. As for DR, then I rate them about the same although the D3X has a certain smudgyness in the shadows that I cannot account for.

I take your point about scientific method etc but still, to me it's the results that count, not lab tests.

Before I'm accused of monitor pixel peeping I also made 20"x30" prints off both cameras and the S2 is superior for tonality and sharpness, and about the same for shadow details. Prints were made on an Epson 7900 on SemiGloss.

Nick,

70 mm on a D3x implies use of a zoom, since, AFAIK, Nikon does not make a 70 mm prime. Comparison of a very high quality Leica prime and a Nikon zoom is not really fair. The smudgyness in the Nikon could very well be due to veiling flare, which would be more likely with a zoom. Diglloyd used the 60 mm AFS Micro Nikkor on the Nikon D3x with his comparison to the S2 with the 70 mm Leica prime. In the view of the church yard in the shadows in Diglloyd's comparison, the Nikon had at least as good shadow detail. Of course, the processing could account for the differences. And of course, the S2 gives better overall results, as well it should considering the price differential and larger format.

What lens did you use on the D3x?

Regards,

Bill

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: bjanes on December 22, 2010, 10:58:07 pm
Duplicate post deleted
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 23, 2010, 12:06:27 am
Hi,

I have done a comparison using Diglloyd's raw images from D3X and Leica S2 and looked at shadow detail. In my view there was no competition, the D3X was much better.

http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/images/LC_S2_D3X_Eval/DRCMP.jpg

Regarding the DxO data I had some conversation with Mark Dubovoy, and he says that the DxO data is actually very good but gets misinterpreted.

We had also some discussion on DR from a more technical viewpoint on this forums and had some discussion about the purported advantage of MF in DR. In my view DR is a technical term incorrectly used in the discussion. Mark Dubovoy has pointed out that he discusses DR with full texture. A probable explanation is that MF lenses transfer more contrast for small details. To begin with the details get larger (if same field of view is assumed). Mark also uses the best lenses available, which normally are primes. Those lenses may have less veiling flare.

Best regards
Erik


Nick,

70 mm on a D3x implies use of a zoom, since, AFAIK, Nikon does not make a 70 mm prime. Comparison of a very high quality Leica prime and a Nikon zoom is not really fair. The smudgyness in the Nikon could very well be due to veiling flare, which would be more likely with a zoom. Diglloyd used the 60 mm AFS Micro Nikkor on the Nikon D3x with his comparison to the S2 with the 70 mm Leica prime. In the view of the church yard in the shadows in Diglloyd's comparison, the Nikon had at least as good shadow detail. Of course, the processing could account for the differences. And of course, the S2 gives better overall results, as well it should considering the price differential and larger format.

What lens did you use on the D3x?

Regards,

Bill


Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on December 23, 2010, 01:12:55 am
I have done this, and the D3X does not have the superior shadow detail as predicted by the DXO measurements.

I did this test with the S2 and the D3X. Both have a 6 micron pitch I used a 70mm focal length on both cameras. I cropped to get the same FOV to compare apples with apples. Looking at the results on an EIZO243W, the Leica gives superior sharpness. As for DR, then I rate them about the same although the D3X has a certain smudgyness in the shadows that I cannot account for.

I take your point about scientific method etc but still, to me it's the results that count, not lab tests.

Before I'm accused of monitor pixel peeping I also made 20"x30" prints off both cameras and the S2 is superior for tonality and sharpness, and about the same for shadow details. Prints were made on an Epson 7900 on SemiGloss.

These are real world tests made using the best tools available to me. They do not support the DXO claims of 1-2 stop DR differences between the D3X, D7000 etc and the MFDBs although, to be scrupulously fair, there is no DXO data for the S2, I'm assuming it is mostly equivalent to the P65 as far as DR is concerned.

Nick,
Perhaps you would like to review your results after DXO have tested the S2. Until DXO have tested the S2 we can draw no conclusions about the accuracy or relevance of the DXO tests based upon your results at this stage.

You might be aware of this thread at http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=48209.0 which I started in an attempt to explore the real benefits of DXO's claim of significantly improved DR for the D7000.

I ended up buying a D7000, and so far my test results show that it does indeed have the claimed 2 stops better DR than that of my Canon 50D which is of similar pixel count and format.

What I also discovered, which is what I expected would be the case, is that the differences in shadow detail in the 2 images get progressively less as one moves up from the deep shadows to the moderate shadows, and to the lower midtones.

When comparing shadow detail, it's very easy to get almost any result you like, depending on how deep the shadows are that you are comparing.

That thread on the DR of the D7000 got bogged down in confusion about what 1% grey represented on the DXO log scale, on the full SNR graphs. 1% grey sounds very dark, but the graphs are quite explicit that at 1% grey the SNR of the D3X is about 27dB, that of the D7000 about 26dB, that of the P65+ about 25dB, and that of the 5D2 about 24.5dB (at base ISO).

In other words, there's hardly any difference between the four cameras regarding DR at this level of shadow depth, although one might be able to detect a slight difference between the D3X and the 5D2. The 0.5dB difference between the P65+ and the 5D2 would definitely not be noticeable.

Having unwittingly compared shadow detail at this level of shadow depth, 1% grey as an input signal, one might then declare that the DXO results are wrong and that the P65+ has no greater DR capability than the Canon 5D2.

I'm sure you would not agree with such a conclusion, Nick.  ;D


Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 23, 2010, 03:30:05 am
Bill, I used the 24-70G. Photozone.de show this as one of the sharpest lenses they have ever tested (even though its a zoom) so I thought it was a fair comparison.

It's amazingly sharp on a D3X, not quite as good as the 70mm Summarit, but still amazing. And its a zoom!
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 23, 2010, 03:37:43 am
Ray, I shot the interior of a cathedral, St Stephens in Brisbane. It has as large a brighness range as I can imagine and both camera recorded full blacks in some areas. The D3X simply did not do a better job. I am satisfied with my results, both cameras are quite remarkable, it's just that the S2 is more remarkable.

I guess I am saying that lab tests that don't translate to the real world are nothing more than mere tests. I'd not base my spending strategy on lab test, rather my own experience with gear. Luckily I am in a position to get my hands on pretty much any gear I like, so I think my opinions are valid since they are based on actual field shooting.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on December 23, 2010, 04:08:31 am
I guess I am saying that lab tests that don't translate to the real world are nothing more than mere tests.

Nick,
You're also saying that DXO haven't tested the S2 yet. For all we know at this stage, the DXO tests might show that the DR of the S2 is just as good as that of the D3X, in which case your results will confirm the accuracy and relevance of the DXO lab tests.

Can I persuade you to post some crops of the darkest shadows in that cathedral so we can see the difference, or lack thereof? Did you get an ETTR exposure with each camera that did not blow out the brightest parts of the stained-glass windows?

Cheers!
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 23, 2010, 07:19:07 am
You are not going to be fully satisfied as the interior is not as contrasty as I had first thought. These two images are the closest I can find to the exact same settings. I see that the S2 is slightly sharper and the there is slightly more definition in the black of the piano cover. What's interesting to me though is that the Nikon needed to be exposed 1.5 stops more to get the same visual density, even though the S2 has only  a 2/3 stop advantage on the base ISO. All LR3 settings are equalised between the two images, sharpening and NR is set to zero.

Update : I downloaded and looked at the file as you would see it and there is some jpeg artifacting in the piano cover black - this does not show on the original. The rest of the images show the relative differences reasonably well.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: tho_mas on December 23, 2010, 07:23:52 am
Mark obviously wants or needs very high image quality. For that reason he used 8x10" instead of 4x5", and the difference of the image quality was worth the extra cost and effort in his view. Now, he wants to achieve a similar quality in digital, using a sensor that has 20 times smaller surface area. To do that he needs to everything perfect. Not good enough but perfect.
okay, but still he is wrong when he is stating only his particular choice of tools deliver the "perfect quality". Above I've adressed some points where he is de facto failing.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: JohnBrew on December 23, 2010, 08:28:23 am
Wow, Nick, thanks for that comparison. The Leica did indeed get the blacks better. However, what impressed me was the red thingy hanging above the piano. The Leica image seems to have smeared the color whereas the Nikon is sharp and more defining. I find this thread fascinating, btw.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: bjanes on December 23, 2010, 10:16:55 am
You are not going to be fully satisfied as the interior is not as contrasty as I had first thought. These two images are the closest I can find to the exact same settings. I see that the S2 is slightly sharper and the there is slightly more definition in the black of the piano cover. What's interesting to me though is that the Nikon needed to be exposed 1.5 stops more to get the same visual density, even though the S2 has only  a 2/3 stop advantage on the base ISO. All LR3 settings are equalised between the two images, sharpening and NR is set to zero.

Update : I downloaded and looked at the file as you would see it and there is some jpeg artifacting in the piano cover black - this does not show on the original. The rest of the images show the relative differences reasonably well.

Nick,

I agree that the S2 image does have a better appearance, but the lack of sharpening places the D3x at a distinct disadvantage, as it has a blur filter and needs more sharpening than the S2, which does not have a blur filter. This topic is covered at some length in Diglloyd's review comparing the D3x with the S2. He found deconvolution sharpening with Richardson-Lucy to give the best results, but also suggested settings for ACR sharpening.

Nikon appears to use the ISO saturation standard to rate its sensors, whereas Canon and Phase One have lower measured ISOs as compared to the saturation standard (see DXO graph). With ACR the situation if further clouded by the use of a baseline offset, which is +0.5 EV for the Nikon D3, causing the image to be brighter. An image exposed for the highlights would be blown in the ACR histogram. One really has to look at the raw file with a program such as Rawnalize or DCRaw. Alternatively, one can look at the DNG with an EXIF reader. I don't know the offset for the D3x.

Regards,

Bill

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: John R Smith on December 23, 2010, 10:22:05 am
Wow, Nick, thanks for that comparison. The Leica did indeed get the blacks better. However, what impressed me was the red thingy hanging above the piano. The Leica image seems to have smeared the color whereas the Nikon is sharp and more defining. I find this thread fascinating, btw.

Indeed. But if these are 100% crops (which I assume they are), you would have a hard time seeing any difference at all in the average size print.

John
Title: 40's era 8"x10" lens and film resolution limits
Post by: BJL on December 23, 2010, 01:56:25 pm
I doubt 8x10 film in the early 40s would match a D3x for either sharpness or resolution.
And the resolution of the LF lenses of that era sucked compared to modern lenses --- even compared to more recent lenses covering 8"x10" (which in turn are of lower resolution, in lp/mm, than good MF or smaller format lenses.) AA himself makes this clear with some comparisons in his books between his older lenses and newer Nikon LF lenses. Some people might be nostalgic about the wonders of old lenses, but not a gear-testing freak like AA as far as I can tell!

In summary: with the lenses and films of the 40's, one probably needed 8"x10" to get prints of "gallery size and quality", say 16"x20", because only about 2x enlargement was sustainable.

Anyway, much of the artistic excellence of images like "moonrise" and "clearing storm" shows up on even smallish reproductions in books; it is not predominately about the more recent obsession of many LF photographers with extremes of resolution and detail.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: tom b on December 23, 2010, 02:41:01 pm
I recently saw two AA prints at MoMA Sydney. One was Moonrise over Hernandez. The significant feature of the image is the the blocked shadows and the blown out highlights (the crosses) which are features of the image. In fact the top half of the image is black.

The other image was of trees. They featured blown out white strips down the one side of the trunks, once again a feature of the image. So much for exposing to the right.

The truth is you can make greate images with a wide variety of cameras. Having seen two HCB retrospectives I can say there are a lot of digicams that will give you equal quality to his images. What you won't get however is his eye for photography.

Cheers,
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: LesPalenik on December 23, 2010, 02:49:40 pm
I recently saw two AA prints at MoMA Sydney. One was Moonrise over Hernandez. The significant feature of the image is the the blocked shadows and the blown out highlights (the crosses) which are features of the image. In fact the top half of the image is black.

The other image was of trees. They featured blown out white strips down the one side of the trunks, once again a feature of the image. So much for exposing to the right.

Well, with faults like that those images would never make into the Getty Images collection.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: tom b on December 23, 2010, 05:00:43 pm
Well, with faults like that those images would never make into the Getty Images collection.


As I quoted earlier in a different thread I found Getty Images watermarks on Atget images which are now in the public domain. So I wouldn't be surprised what was in the collection.

Cheers,
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Jeff Kott on December 23, 2010, 05:26:34 pm
As a side note to this topic, I just received the Ansel Adams in Color book as an early Christmas present and was comparing the images to those in one of Galen Rowell's books.

I find the images in the AA book to be beautiful with great detail and tonality. In comparison, most of the images in GR's book seem a little unsharp and a little muddy, although the compositions are great.

So, what am I seeing? Is it the printer or the processing or is the difference that AA was using LF and GF was using 35mm?

I know we're all pixel peepers to some degree and I agree that there is a lot of great photography that is not technically great.  But, I'm looking at a real world example of how big an impact the technical stuff can have on the final impact of the image and it does make a real difference. And this is looking at images that are about 11 inches on the longest side.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 23, 2010, 07:30:57 pm
Nick,

I agree that the S2 image does have a better appearance, but the lack of sharpening places the D3x at a distinct disadvantage, as it has a blur filter and needs more sharpening than the S2, which does not have a blur filter. This topic is covered at some length in Diglloyd's review comparing the D3x with the S2. He found deconvolution sharpening with Richardson-Lucy to give the best results, but also suggested settings for ACR sharpening.



True, and I considered sharpening both. it occurred to me that the extra native sharpness of the S2 would be interesting to see, that's all.

Prints from these files do look very similar in the shadows, which is a feather in the Nikon's (with zoom lens!) cap. However, the extra MP of the S2 also come into play and same size prints are that much better.

One thing I have found, and this is a warning to pixel peepers, if you don't have a really good monitor then you are simply not seeing 'into' the file correctly. The image I posted looks totally different on a cheap Viewsonic 24" compared to the finer pixel pitch on a MacBook Pro (with the new hi-res screen) and on an EIZO CG243W. The EIZO shows so much more shadow detail, as you'd expect from such an expensive monitor.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on December 23, 2010, 07:53:41 pm
You are not going to be fully satisfied as the interior is not as contrasty as I had first thought. These two images are the closest I can find to the exact same settings. I see that the S2 is slightly sharper and the there is slightly more definition in the black of the piano cover. What's interesting to me though is that the Nikon needed to be exposed 1.5 stops more to get the same visual density, even though the S2 has only  a 2/3 stop advantage on the base ISO. All LR3 settings are equalised between the two images, sharpening and NR is set to zero.

Update : I downloaded and looked at the file as you would see it and there is some jpeg artifacting in the piano cover black - this does not show on the original. The rest of the images show the relative differences reasonably well.

Nick,
Thanks for taking the trouble to post these examples. It certainly appears that the S2 is the equal of the D3X regarding dynamic range. At normalised print sizes of full scenes with the same FoV, the S2 should therefore have slightly better DR than the D3X.

It will be interesting to see what the DXOMark results for the S2 will be. For all we know, its DR might be the equal of the D7000. Wouldn't that be remarkable!  ;D

However, from my perspective as the viewer, there are too many uncertainties in this comparison for the purposes of assessing DR. The highlights are clearly blown and there appear to be no deep shadows containing detail, only dark cloth with a low reflectance.

As I mentioned earlier, at a signal input of 1% grey (on the log scale) the Canon 5D2 has an SNR equal to the P65+, at the pixel level, according to DXOMark. It's only below that input level that the P65+ edges ahead of the 5D2.

The Nikon shot might be overexposed, for all the viewer knows, which creates another uncertainty. By the way, I don't see 2.5 secs exposure, as opposed to 1 sec exposure, being quite 1.5 stops greater exposure. 1.5 stops would be 3 secs for the Nikon. It's more like 1 & 1/3rd stops more, isn't it?

DXO rate the sensitivity of the D3X at ISO 78. Double that and it's very close to ISO 160. The Leica M8 has a DXO-rated sensitivity of ISO 151 at the nominated ISO 160, so it's quite conceivable that Leica in this case are spot on with their ISO 160 rating for the S2.

The additional 1/3rd of a stop exposure you gave to the D3X could be explained by the different T-Stops for the respective lenses used. Again, DXO come to the rescue. They've tested the Nikkor 24-70/2.8 and their results indicate the T-Stop at 70mm and F2.8 is approximately F3.2.

I can find no T-Stop results for the Summarit-S 70mm, but it might be reasonable to presume, because it's a prime lens and a very expensive lens, that the T-Stop is the same as the F/stop.

I'm not sure if one can presume that the T-stop at F11 (for the Nikkor zoom) will be F12 or F13 if it's measured as F3.2 at F2.8. Perhaps someone can advise me on that.

Merry Christmas!  ;D
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: douglasf13 on December 23, 2010, 09:20:41 pm
Mark,

Fair analysis indeed.

I mostly agree with you but would have agreed 100% if you had talked about "a perfect MF body". Indeed, I agree 100% that a perfect MF body that would be available at reasonable prices would indeed be a better base landscape camera than a DSLR + stitching. :) Now, how close are existing MF bodies from that perfect camera and how many images does a top landscaper shoot a year that would justify the cost?

A key point that was not even mentioned by Mark is the real resolution achieved over 100 frames. That is one of the main gaps between current MF and the perfect camera I was talking about. FX bodies will be within a few percent of the optimal every single time thanks to live view. I believe that many MF landscape shooters have been suffering from mis-focusing on many frames, the lower the light level the worst the issue. Our friends at Diglloyd have been reporting once more in the 645D review about how difficult it is to focus the body accurately on a plane subject (granted real world applications will be less impacting). The real world resolution of bodies without live view should probably considered to be 10 to 20% lower than the pixel count indicates. Beyond that, it might just be me, but I always was very frustrated when coming back from a shoot with my MF body to notice that half of the images shot with my 10.000+ US$ camera were not correctly focused. For me that frustration was a major problem.

I didn't intend to enter the MF vs DSLR debate (my point was only about stitching), but others have take the discussion there, so let's assume for a second that most stitching is done with DSLRs.

Regardless of the time t relevance of DxO, there is little denying that the improvement of pixel quality of FX is faster than that of MF. I don't believe having ever felt limited by the DR of my D3x while I did feel limited by both my former DSLRs and my Mamiya ZD. Leading photo publications like Chasseur d'Image and Photo in France have recently reviewed the 645D and found its DR to be in the same ballpark (or a little bit lower) than their current reference, the D3x. For what it is worth, these guys combined sell over 500.000 copies a month. Diglloyd similarly found the DR of both S2 and 645D to be inferior or similar to that of the D3x. If a gap remains in favour of MF it is small and closing. Considering that the MF bodies use sensors with photosites of the same size as DSLRs it only makes sense that DR is similar by the way (knowing that DSLRs use CMOS that are typically less noisy - noise defines DR). The only rationale for MF bodies to still have better DR is their higher price.

Together with the reduction of the gap between FX's resolution and the needs of most real world applications, I feel that many landscape photographers (few images, high quality focus) today are in fact best served by a high end FX body plus the stitching option that will enable them to reach whatever resolution is needed for those images that deserve a large print. I wouldn't have been shocked had Mark, after presenting in a fair way these different options, had reached the conclusion that he feels that the balance still leans towards the MF being the better option.

But a fair comparison there was not.

So, considering the overlook of all these factors, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the initial article is perceived as a plug for MF manufacturers disguised into a opinionated write up. For what it is worth, the only place I know where the relevance of DxO results is widely questioned is this very community with a strong presence of MF owners and sellers. You and I appear to belong to this category of people feeling that we owe to ourselve to own and broadcast a balanced view of things, but LL as a whole seems to be leaning more and more to a one sided view of things aimed at counterbalancing the rest of the world.

LL vs DPreview. LL says MFBDs have 6 stops more DR, DPreview says they have the same... so it must be around 3 stops, right?... :)

Cheers,
Bernard



  I wonder if we could take your stitching recommendations another step?  After seeing so many of your beautiful landscape shots in remote locations, I can't help but wonder if you'd be served well by stitching images from a tiny camera like the NEX-5 (and adapted lenses,) since it would be an outrageously light and packable setup.

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: NikoJorj on December 24, 2010, 07:26:25 am
Is it the printer or the processing or is the difference that AA was using LF and GF was using 35mm?
Yes, in the days of film differences were really showing bad - one must reckon that grain did help much.

I agree with your findings (and really love AA in Color BTW), and moreover obtained the same kinds of results in some Marc&David Muench (Primal Forces and Plateau Light) where images from 4x5", MF (harder to tell) and 35mm are mixed.
With an image size about 8" and fine printing, differences are really showing in the clarity of fine details and grain - even if I agree this is not a randomized, double-blind test as it should be (but in the Muench book at least, the camera used is only showed in the list of plates at the end), I'd say results are significant enough (at least to be mentioned in a forum thread ;D ).

I'd like to see such an exercise with digital : same photographer, same printing and image size, different camera format.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Graham Welland on December 24, 2010, 06:22:03 pm
I find the images in the AA book to be beautiful with great detail and tonality. In comparison, most of the images in GR's book seem a little unsharp and a little muddy, although the compositions are great.

So, what am I seeing? Is it the printer or the processing or is the difference that AA was using LF and GF was using 35mm?

Slightly off topic:

I own a couple of Galen Rowell prints and have viewed many if his prints at his gallery in Bishop and I can attest to the fact that film grain is often very evident in some of his images. The emphasis was obviously on the composition and light with 35mm film grain being somewhat less important. In the case of AA's large & medium format images, at least the ones I've seen at his exhibitions, you really aren't aware of anything other than very fine B&W prints with no obvious film artifacts.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: yaya on December 25, 2010, 01:59:33 am
Hum... with so much focus on using the right tool for the job I find the lack of mention of stitching surprising.
Stitching is clearly the only way to reach high resolutions, MFBD Added_for_clarification"single frames" cannot dream to even come close.
I understand that, just like 8x10 wasn't for everybody, stitching also isn't, but I still don't get why anyone looking into really high quality would do oneself the disservice of not stitching. This just doesn't make sense when looking at things in an objective fashion.

You can shoot a portrait with 8X10

You cannot practically shoot+stitch a portrait with a DSLR

You can get close or exceed it with a single shot MFDB (in quality, maybe in looks as well...)
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 25, 2010, 02:43:59 am
You can shoot a portrait with 8X10

You cannot practically shoot+stitch a portrait with a DSLR

You can get close or exceed it with a single shot MFDB (in quality, maybe in looks as well...)

Agreed 100%, but we were speaking about landscape weren't we? :)

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: yaya on December 25, 2010, 03:12:25 am
Agreed 100%, but we were speaking about landscape weren't we? :)
Cheers,
Bernard

I can think of quite few landscapes that can benefit from using a single shot camera
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 25, 2010, 04:03:45 am
I can think of quite few landscapes that can benefit from using a single shot camera

Yes, so do I, but I can also think of many others that stitching will address much better than a single frame of MFDB, starting with the 2m wide print I have in front of me as I type this X-Mas answer.  ;)

This is the point I was trying to make.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Anders_HK on December 25, 2010, 12:24:49 pm
Mark Dubovoy wrote of what is in his experience best tool for his task. His landscape images with MFDB are highly impressive and some of best of digital high end art landscape photos made. There are others of course whos work are equally high end art landscapes e.g. Alain Broit. Douglas Dilde also have some indeed impressive fine art landscapes. Yup, those people shoot Phase One and Leaf digital backs. Sure, you can shoot landscapes with a DSLR too, same as Galen Rowel used 35mm film when fine art landscape shooters used 4x5 and larger. Where the images different, yes. Digital is a new media and there are few renowned landscape shooters who have managed to transition and still produce high end quality. The one I can think of who have done so is John Shaw, and he still shoot Nikon. Now why did these folks not choose to use stitching for most of their images? Perhaps simply because they not read this particular forum and read of what a complete miracle blessing it is to all sorts of photography??????  ;D Or simply because it is not the best tool.  ??? Perhaps they were not counting pixels but busy producing ultimate image...
 
Why stitch when there is a larger sensor which not only can do the job better in one shot with same (or near same) pixels but also with far better performance from the sensor than any DSLR have. That does not mean that it is not possible to shoot landscapes with DSLR, for anyone doing so please keep on doing it, and enjoy photography. Also check up on John Shaw.  :)

Probably all who shoot MFDB and large format film have also used DSLR or SLR. Yet, why do some of us use MFDB and medium and large format film? Simply because those are better tools (for us). It helps us get the image at HIGHER quality which is what we seek. Else we would all be shooting point and shoots and not have wasted our $$ on DSLRs even.

I did like and value Mark Dubovoys article. It was very well written and seems spots on what is best TOOL for fine art landscape photography nowadays is, albeit some shoot scanning backs he pointed out why in his preference he left that out. I was surprised to see the Leica S2 in article. His images with that one seemed like snaps and very pale to his landscape shots. However, check up some threads with photos from the S2 and see clearly what he meant of image quality.

This forums is else at same stage it seems; an argument from certain photographers with DSLR of that it is equal to MFDB and from select ones of that stitching is answer to all. Silly. Photography is about taking pictures and using the best tools we see fit for the job and we can afford. As Mark pointed out it also takes learning the tools. A better tool can also challenge you in squeezing extra to get that image quality. The high end MFDB are now 60-80MP, then why should serious shooters not use those or the high end 4x5 scanning backs of now nearly 200MP? And yes, unfortunate is that digital is expensive and ridiculous so, also DSLRs.

Personally, my 28MP Leaf Aptus MFDB is now three years old with me but still impress me with its image quality. Thus indeed it was a very good choice in tool for me for digital. And with what I gone through in over a period of two years prior in short term ownership of two Nikon DSLRs before (and faulty Mamiya ZD), I am frank happy I ditched Nikon and went medium format and Leaf MFDB. Thanks Leaf!  ;D

Cheers
Anders
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ndevlin on December 25, 2010, 12:39:49 pm
 +1. Well said Anders.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: telyt on December 25, 2010, 03:11:10 pm
As a side note to this topic, I just received the Ansel Adams in Color book as an early Christmas present and was comparing the images to those in one of Galen Rowell's books.

I find the images in the AA book to be beautiful with great detail and tonality. In comparison, most of the images in GR's book seem a little unsharp and a little muddy, although the compositions are great.

So, what am I seeing? Is it the printer or the processing or is the difference that AA was using LF and GF was using 35mm?

When Galen Rowell first started printing digitally he had an exhibit at his (former) Emeryville gallery where his and Bill Atkinson's Lightjet prints were on display.  Bill Atkinson's prints were made from scanned MF film, Rowell's from scanned 35mm film.  Huge difference in image quality: tonality, highlight & shadow detail, "muddiness" and grainlessness.  The difference in composition and working style is equally unmistakable and IMHO both Atkinson and Rowell chose equipment best suited to their particular working styles.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: tsjanik on December 25, 2010, 07:09:36 pm
Yes, so do I, but I can also think of many others that stitching will address much better than a single frame of MFDB, starting with the 2m wide print I have in front of me as I type this X-Mas answer.  ;)

This is the point I was trying to make.

Cheers,
Bernard


Of course MFDB can be stitched as well.  I'm learning to use a new camera while in Philadelphia for the weekend.  Attached is an email Christmas card I sent out made from two 40 MP images taken yesterday.  I just used PS CS3 on a five-year-old laptop.   The color gradations are quite compressed in the web version and the resolution in the original file is such that a decent 8x10 could be made of any of the tree silhouettes.  Quite amazing.
Happy Holidays to all.

Addendum:  Now that I have access to an adequate computer, I’ve added a crop of actual pixels (DNG/ACR, no sharpening, 869w); stitch used jpegs from the camera.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 25, 2010, 07:46:52 pm
This forums is else at same stage it seems; an argument from certain photographers with DSLR of that it is equal to MFDB and from select ones of that stitching is answer to all. Silly.

There are probably people feeling that way, but there are others who are just considering all the available options and picking the best one for the job, which sometimes means stitching with a DSLR or with a back. Not everybody cares about formats or brands.

Your applications might differ, but I have several 2m large panoramic prints sitting in my place that a single P65+ shot would have been clearly unable to do as well as stitching, by a very large margin (think bout the gap between your excellent Leaf back and a Canon S90... and double it). A P65+ stitch would have been an even better option in terms of convenience, but at a much higher price with no actual advantage in terms of final image. This is factual.

I don't see what is so hard to understand here, what you do doesn't define quality landscape photography more than what Mark does (and quality refers here to the technical aspects discussed in this thread), we live in a vast world where different people are trying to achieve different things. If you decide to write a piece telling the world what tools they should be using to take "good" pictures, it is wise to do it with a good knowledge of the available choices.

Photography is about taking pictures and using the best tools we see fit for the job and we can afford.

Ah... very good.... I am glad that we agree on this then, it didn't come across well in the rest of your post. :)

I personally see no reason to stick to pre-defined aspect images ratio and meager pixel counts when stitching can open many other doors. I certainly see no reasons to do so when more can be had for less money.

By the way, how are you experiments going with stitching on your Shen Hao? Have you managed to reach a satisfactory level of sharpness?

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Anders_HK on December 25, 2010, 09:07:04 pm
A P65+ stitch would have been an even better option in terms of convenience, but at a much higher price with no actual advantage in terms of final image. This is factual.

Following is incorrect, assuming still speak ultimate image quality: "...no actual advantage in terms of final image."

By the way, how are you experiments going with stitching on your Shen Hao? Have you managed to reach a satisfactory level of sharpness?

Shen-Hao is keeper for 4x5 FILM use.  ;D I do not like MFDB on a view camera since tilts & swings complicate and I do not find much need for such on small medium format sensor. Nor do I find convenience in using sliding adapter with groundglass. That said the non digital Schneider 72XL and Rodenstock Sironar-N 150mm are tack sharp on 28MP MFDB sensor, more so than my Mamiya non D lenses.

Please refer to my prior post for all rest. In regards to Galen Rowell, I hold much respect for his images, many are truly superb. Different than large format shooters, but that is also what is part of the choice of gear, it leaves an imprint on the image.

Cheers,
Anders
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Anders_HK on December 25, 2010, 09:11:58 pm
double post
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 25, 2010, 09:36:08 pm
Following is incorrect, assuming still speak ultimate image quality: "...no actual advantage in terms of final image."

This is where you depart from rationality.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on December 25, 2010, 10:28:50 pm
Why stitch when there is a larger sensor which not only can do the job better in one shot with same (or near same) pixels but also with far better performance from the sensor than any DSLR have.

The answer is clear. The performance is simply not far better. It's marginally better. Far better is an 8x10 plate or 4x5 film compared with 35mm film. The lack of grain and the obviously smoother tonality on even a modest size print from 4"x5" film, is really striking. That's what I call far better.

The other issue is cost, weight and the general lack of flebility of the MFDB system. For some of us, the MFDB system just doesn't make the grade.

Nick Rains has provided an example, in reply #119, of the marginally sharper results one may get from a $6,000 prime lens on a $23,000 camera, compared with a $2,000 zoom on an $8,000 DSLR.

$10,000 worth of camera plus one lens, even though the lens is a good quality zoom, is too expensive for me, especially considering that the lens doesn't even have the benefit of that wonderful technology called Image Stabilisation.

I'd be looking at a 5D2 if I wanted to exceed the quality of the Leica S2.

The Leica S2 plus standard 70mm prime not only costs around $29,000, it weighs about 2.3Kg.

The Canon 5D2 with the new 100/2.8 IS Macro can be had for as little as $3,500 total, and weighs only 1.5Kg.

A good 100mm lens is likely to be at least as sharp as an ultra-super-quality 70mm lens, when the shots are taken from the same perspective. 3 or 4 or 6 stitched 5D2 images using the Canon 100/2.8 IS Macro should knock the socks off a single shot from the $29,000 Leica system with standard 70mm lens.

But don't let me discourage anyone from splashing their money in the search for marginal improvements.

I'm well-used to the marginal (and even dubious) improved sound quality from ultra-super-expensive hi fi gear. However, to appreciate any such improvements in sound quality, imagined or real, one doesn't have to place one's ear a foot away from a loudspeaker, whereas to appreciate the improved image quality of a print from an MFDB one does have to place one's nose a foot away from the print.  ;D


Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 25, 2010, 10:45:47 pm
Everyone is still comparing stitched images to single shot MFDB captures. This is pointless.

Ray, yes, certainly you can do better than a single S2 shot with a 5D2 and a 100macro if you shoot 6 or 8 frames. The problem is that if I do the same with an s2 I'll maintain the quality difference so we are back to where we started.

The only meaningful comparison is for single frames.

The D3x that I used confirms my earlier points from older posts on the subject. The next level of IQ is incremental only. The law of diminishing returns comes into play and an extra few percent of IQ comes at a higher and higher cost.

On a per pixel basic the Nikon and the Leica can be almost indistinguishable. The S2 has more MP (and generally better lenses) therefore bigger prints can be made of the same quality. This small gain comes at a great cost.

All true. After that there is nothing to discuss because you must all make up your own minds about the 'value' of that extra quality step. There is no right or wrong here, just personal situations and opinions.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Jeff Kott on December 25, 2010, 10:52:22 pm
When Galen Rowell first started printing digitally he had an exhibit at his (former) Emeryville gallery where his and Bill Atkinson's Lightjet prints were on display.  Bill Atkinson's prints were made from scanned MF film, Rowell's from scanned 35mm film.  Huge difference in image quality: tonality, highlight & shadow detail, "muddiness" and grainlessness.  The difference in composition and working style is equally unmistakable and IMHO both Atkinson and Rowell chose equipment best suited to their particular working styles.

It, of course, does not surprise me that there is a difference in print quality from different formats (AA used LF and GR used 35mm). What does surprise me is that the differences are clearly visible in prints that are 8 inches on the longest side.

It's pretty common for a reviewer to say that there is no difference between smaller format X and larger formats Y at print size Z. I'm starting to question those statements.

And again, I apologize for going off topic.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: LesPalenik on December 25, 2010, 10:54:17 pm
To put it in perspective (of a Non Stitcher):

1 H4D-40 image = 7304 pixels in length. Full image printed at 300 dpi = 24”
1 P65 image = 8984 pixels in length. Full image printed at 300 dpi = 30”

1 H4D-40 image = 7304 pixels in length. Full image printed at 180 dpi = 40”
1 P65 image = 8984 pixels in length. Full image printed at 180 dpi = 50”


1 6x17 film frame, scanned at 1,600 ppi  – 10700 pixels. Printed at 300 dpi = 35”
1 6x17 film frame, scanned at 3,200 ppi  – 21400 pixels. Printed at 300 dpi = 70” (almost 2 m)
I had some 6x17 city skylines printed with RIP program at 10-12 ft / 3-3.5 meters in very good quality

1 Roundshot 220 frame using 300 or 400mm lens – max. frame length is limited only by the film length – typically 150-165 cm for a 220 roll.
Prints made on Roundshot enlarger -  30-50 ft/10-16.5 m depending on the lens in the enlarger). I think paper rolls used to come in 100 ft length.
Did I mention that if you stick to a Roundshot enlarger system and real silver-emulsion paper, no stitching is required?

I think, next year I might get adventurous and try some new tricks.
Bernard, how many frames (and what image size) did you use to make the 2m panorama, and which is your preferred stitching program?
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: bjanes on December 25, 2010, 10:56:22 pm

Why stitch when there is a larger sensor which not only can do the job better in one shot with same (or near same) pixels but also with far better performance from the sensor than any DSLR have.

What basis do you have for this assertion? Certainly, scientific measurements by DXO show that the Nikon D3x has better per pixel performance than the Phase One P65+ on the parameters that they measured. In a practical field test comparing the Nikon D3x with the much more expensive Leica S2 with the , Digilloyd concluded:

"On a per-pixel basis, the Nikon D3x image fares very well with this sharpening approach. The two cameras appear to have very much the same per-pixel detail."

If one does not mind a bit of stitching, the megapixel advantage of the Leica can be overcome. Of course, one can also Stitch with the Leica S2, but one does not spend $27,995 for the camera and another $5,995.00 for the Leica Summarit-S 70mm F/2.5 CS Aspherical CS Lens and then stitch images. The D3x costs $7,399.00 and the 60 mm AFS MicroNikkor costs $539.95 (all prices from Adorama).

Regards and a merry Christmas to all,

Bill
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 25, 2010, 11:41:09 pm
Hi,

Just a few comments. An MF equipment doesn't need to be that expensive. For sure, I loved to have a P65+, but no one is giving me the money for that. I may be able to do with a Pentax 645D or a lesser Phase One, possibly refurbed. On the other P65+ is optimal for sure, having a small crop factor. I guess that I'm not really prepared to pay for either.

As long as pixel sizes are similar I would expect similar performance on a per pixel basis. At present I'd suggest that Nikon D3X is the best choice in DSLR, but unfortunately a fairly expensive one. For the Nikon there are quite few lens options, including manual Zeiss lenses which seem to be very good. Correct focus is possible using live view. Some of the Nikon lenses are outstanding. Canon 5DII is much more affordable but has less desirable noise characteristics. A few of the Zeiss lenses are also available for Canon.

No, I don't suggest that everyone should buy ZF lenses but some like the 100 macro and the 21/2.8 seems to be very, very good!

In APS-C the Nikon 7000D seems to be a champ.

Just turning the camera 90 degrees and stitch makes it equivalent to next size. (APS-C to FF), FF to cropped MF. Stitching is always a good idea when you want to maximize what you have.

- Gives about 2.25 times the pixels
- Doesn't use full image circle
- Expands your view

This article illustrates some of the aspects: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/44-things-to-do-with-multiple-images

Unfortunately, stitching is not always an alternative. It won't work in some cases like waves, but it can always be worth a try:

http://echophoto.smugmug.com/Travel/Gotland-Public/20100804-Gotland040000/973172722_FftRg-L.jpg

Stitching is of course applicable to all formats. It can also be automated with some gear costing a small fraction of MF gear. Bernard is right on that.

On the other hand, the way Mark Dubovoy works makes a lot of sense. He tries to find the best tool available for the job and tries to use it optimally. He obviously can afford it. The Alpa he has seems to be reasonable light weight and certainly more practical than the 8x10" equipment it would replace. The Leica is efficient, environmentally sealed and has some of the best lenses ever built. Auto focus on the S2 works well for Mark.

So:
- Mark has P65+ on Alpa and S2
- Bernard has D3X and uses a Zeiss 100/2.0 macro and stitching
- You choose a Nikon D7000
- I have Sony Alpha 900 and a Sony Alpha 55 so now I even have live view!

These are choices based on needs, preferences and what we can reasonably afford.

Best regards
Erik


The answer is clear. The performance is simply not far better. It's marginally better. Far better is an 8x10 plate or 4x5 film compared with 35mm film. The lack of grain and the obviously smoother tonality on even a modest size print from 4"x5" film, is really striking. That's what I call far better.

The other issue is cost, weight and the general lack of flebility of the MFDB system. For some of us, the MFDB system just doesn't make the grade.

Nick Rains has provided an example, in reply #119, of the marginally sharper results one may get from a $6,000 prime lens on a $23,000 camera, compared with a $2,000 zoom on an $8,000 DSLR.

$10,000 worth of camera plus one lens, even though the lens is a good quality zoom, is too expensive for me, especially considering that the lens doesn't even have the benefit of that wonderful technology called Image Stabilisation.

I'd be looking at a 5D2 if I wanted to exceed the quality of the Leica S2.

The Leica S2 plus standard 70mm prime not only costs around $29,000, it weighs about 2.3Kg.

The Canon 5D2 with the new 100/2.8 IS Macro can be had for as little as $3,500 total, and weighs only 1.5Kg.

A good 100mm lens is likely to be at least as sharp as an ultra-super-quality 70mm lens, when the shots are taken from the same perspective. 3 or 4 or 6 stitched 5D2 images using the Canon 100/2.8 IS Macro should knock the socks off a single shot from the $29,000 Leica system with standard 70mm lens.

But don't let me discourage anyone from splashing their money in the search for marginal improvements.

I'm well-used to the marginal (and even dubious) improved sound quality from ultra-super-expensive hi fi gear. However, to appreciate any such improvements in sound quality, imagined or real, one doesn't have to place one's ear a foot away from a loudspeaker, whereas to appreciate the improved image quality of a print from an MFDB one does have to place one's nose a foot away from the print.  ;D



Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 26, 2010, 01:43:23 am
Hi,

Thanks for posting the image. Unfortunately the only difference I can see is that the Leica image is sharper. I certainly cannot see more shadow detail.

Just because you pointed out, rightfully, that differences may be lost on lesser monitors I downloaded the image and added fill light in camera raw. I still cannot see the Leica containing more shadow detail.

I'm not arguing about your findings on the S2, it's just that I'd suggest that the image you posted doesn't tell the story.

This image made from raw images from the "Diglloyd" site and used with Mr. Lloyd Chambers kind permission indicates that Nikon (to the right) has better DR.

My article is here: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/38-observations-on-leica-s2-raw-images
and Mr Lloyds article is here: http://www.diglloyd.com/prem/prot/DAP/index.html#LeicaS2

"Diglloyds" DAP site is for subscribers only, unfortunately. For anyone considering investing thousands of dollars in equipment that Lloyd Chambers has evaluated a subscription to DAP would be a good idea.

Regarding the Leica S2, Lloyd Chambers liked it very much, but couldn't get it to focus reliably. He also recently tried the Pentax 645D and found that camera excellent in handling. Regarding lenses the Leica S2 lenses were remarkably excellent while he found the Hasselblad lenses and the new 55/2.8 for the Pentax lacking. His opinion, not mine, but he has samples to prove...

Best regards
Erik

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: hjulenissen on December 26, 2010, 06:28:03 am
I'm well-used to the marginal (and even dubious) improved sound quality from ultra-super-expensive hi fi gear. However, to appreciate any such improvements in sound quality, imagined or real, one doesn't have to place one's ear a foot away from a loudspeaker, whereas to appreciate the improved image quality of a print from an MFDB one does have to place one's nose a foot away from the print.  ;D
For music playback, a lot of the current gear performs at a level where proper blind tests cannot prove that they are changing the sound in an audible way. Thus, it seems natural to assert that it is audible "perfect" for the application of listening to music.

For photography capture, we add the creativity of image processing, editing and "putting your nose against a 2 meter wide print". This means that there will probably always be corner-cases where someone will be able to spot some difference (even though som might think that it is a irrelevant use-case).

-h
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 26, 2010, 09:25:38 am
For music playback, a lot of the current gear performs at a level where proper blind tests cannot prove that they are changing the sound in an audible way. Thus, it seems natural to assert that it is audible "perfect" for the application of listening to music.

A good analogy can be attacked from several angles. For some reason, the part I like best is the similarity of the denial I am witnessing regarding the value of objective measurements. :)

Better late than never, I have recently understood that our world is in fact governed by the theory of measurement. Successful endeavors differ from others because they:
1. Identify the relevant measure - that quality that makes some woman go wild when they smell a rare flagrance, that rightness of tone making a wealthy audiophile spend 50.000 US$ for a unobtainium turntable arm or those clean shadows that enduce a quick orgasm to hardcore pixelpeepers,
2. Take a conscious decision to focus on this measure and to try to produce a product that will fare well against it,
3. Develop the technology generating this utterly precious quantity at reasonable cost,
4. Manage to measure/quantify it more accurately and reliably to validate the potential of the solution throughout a development cycle.

As we have seen, any technology advanced enough is often perceived as magic but people typically only like magic when they perform it themselves.  ;D

And there comes the denial. A Devialet D-Premier can definitely not sound as good as a 50.000 US$ Mark Levinson pair of class D mono-blocks although it does measure much better, a pair of Wilson Benesch A.C.T. C60 measuring nearly linear up to 50 Khz can of course not overdo Magico Q3s stuck at 25 and there is no way the DR of a DSLR could be in the same ballpark as that of a P40+ back.  ;D

This is just a little fun, but the high end audio analogy just works wonders!

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: hjulenissen on December 26, 2010, 10:48:48 am
A good analogy can be attacked from several angles. For some reason, the part I like best is the similarity of the denial I am witnessing regarding the value of objective measurements. :)
...
This is just a little fun, but the high end audio analogy just works wonders!
I did not understand your post, but my position is that if it cannot be heard, cannot be seen, cannot be smelled, cannot be touched, then for all practical purposes, one may as well consider it as not being there. Anyone claiming that it clearly is there, that cannot sense it in any way, are probably victims to "the emperrors new clothes"-effect.

This is my position on God, my position on (a lot of) audiophile equipment, and photography equipment. When people can show me a sensible side-by-side where I (or anyone else) can spot the difference, fine and good. If they can not, why bother?

-h
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Rob C on December 26, 2010, 11:43:39 am
I did not understand your post, but my position is that if it cannot be heard, cannot be seen, cannot be smelled, cannot be touched, then for all practical purposes, one may as well consider it as not being there. Anyone claiming that it clearly is there, that cannot sense it in any way, are probably victims to "the emperrors new clothes"-effect.

This is my position on God, my position on (a lot of) audiophile equipment, and photography equipment. When people can show me a sensible side-by-side where I (or anyone else) can spot the difference, fine and good. If they can not, why bother?-h



People can bother for one good reason: faith. It really can move mountains in some circumstances.

Rob C
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: tho_mas on December 26, 2010, 11:47:06 am
People can bother for one good reason: faith. It really can move mountains in some circumstances.
that sums up the entire thread really good... including the initial article by Mark D.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: hjulenissen on December 26, 2010, 12:38:16 pm
People can bother for one good reason: faith. It really can move mountains in some circumstances.

Rob C
I dont know enough about MF to claim that faith is the only reason to buy one. I would argue that since photography is a creative activity (not only objectively capturing a scene, or objectively playing back the contents of a CD), pretty much any real difference between two cameras or two cathegories of cameras _can_ be made into a significant difference for some kinds of editing and/or presentation. That makes it very hard to state that two cameras have equally good image quality, or that their image quality is good enough.

-h
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 26, 2010, 04:35:51 pm
I did not understand your post, but my position is that if it cannot be heard, cannot be seen, cannot be smelled, cannot be touched, then for all practical purposes, one may as well consider it as not being there. Anyone claiming that it clearly is there, that cannot sense it in any way, are probably victims to "the emperrors new clothes"-effect.


How do you measure the benefits of using finely crafted hardware that simply gives pleasure by its use? If you get pleasure from using a tool, then there's a reasonable chance that you will do better work with it.

Using a camera that really feels good, and with a control setup that you, personally, find efficient and pleasing, can lead to greater enjoyment of your craft. This is not something that you can measure.

I have been in this game long enough to be able to take reasonable images with pretty much any camera; in fact in many cases I have to do this when I review cameras that I don't actually like very much. When the differences we are discussing here become so subtle, then it's often down to the feel, design and ergonomics of cameras to make a difference. And, if you have an 'expensive' camera, who's to say that the simple fact of owning a 'premium' product does not lead to better images simply because you just really enjoy using it.

Photography is a fascinating hobby/profession because there is so much more to it than lab tests.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 26, 2010, 04:55:16 pm

...................Of course, one can also Stitch with the Leica S2, but one does not spend $27,995 for the camera and another $5,995.00 for the Leica Summarit-S 70mm F/2.5 CS Aspherical CS Lens and then stitch images. The D3x costs $7,399.00 and the 60 mm AFS MicroNikkor costs $539.95 (all prices from Adorama).

Regards and a merry Christmas to all,

Bill

Hi Bill, thanks and compliments of the Season to you as well.

Actually, there is no reason NOT to stitch medium format images - it depends on what kind of image you are making. I did a pano of the Toronto sky-line from the water front. There is NO WAY I could have encompassed all that material in a single shot with a wide angle lens on a DSLR and achieved the image quality at the size and resolution I printed it (5 feet long at something in the range of 300 PPI). It is three stitched P40+ shots. The detail in this pano, down to the texture of the concrete exterior of the CN Tower quite some distance away is truly quite remarkable. And it was made with the Phase One 75~150mm zoom lens, at 150mm, f/8.

While here, I would like to address two points from Bernard:

Bernard, yes, I too have had very annoying focus experiences with MF. I'm still to determine whether this is pilot error or something to do with the inherent nature of the technology. It can be amazingly sharp or truly crappy. Secondly, I think all this discussion of stitching is a bit of a red-herring. The real issue here is native image quality, before you start stitching anything. Much of the discussion of native image quality seems fixated on DxO, DigiLloyd and numbers about DR and pixel pitch. As I've mentioend before, I think the problem with DxO may have nothing to do with DxO itself, but with how people use it to convey lab work into making photographs; as for DigiLloyd, as I've said beforfe, all due respect to him, but I just don't find that Leica stuff he posted credible based on what I've personally witnessed that camera can do (anyhow, if he and Mark Dubovoy get together for some real-world photography using that system it would be extremely interesting to see what they come up with - jury out; finally, the numerical stuff: from the perspective of scientific method, what can always come back to bite us in the derriere are the hidden aspects which perhaps can be more determinative than the more tangible ones we think we know something about. You know that dilemma of not knowing what we don't know about. If you sit through a session with the Chief Technologist of Phase One - well not quite as good as sleeping at a Holiday Inn Express because he compresses very complex stuff into an hour or two - but you may get the point - there is a helluva lot more to making and programming a sensor than the stuff being discussed in this Forum, and until we know what it is and how determinative it is compared with the stuff we are discussing, we're not going to resolve what's better based on what little we know about what goes INTO it. We're on safest territory talking about comparisons of what comes OUT under conditions that are as comparable as we can make them. And even then we can have trouble. So I listen carefully to Nick Rains in his description of the tests he's done, similar to the sensible procedure Ray describes.

Gosh we're up to post a hundred and what - anything really conclusive yet? Maybe it's time to get out those knitting needles after all. :-)
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 26, 2010, 05:22:39 pm
Hi,

I'd just like to point out that Lloyd Chambers (Diglloyd) actually enjoys the Leica S2 very much, it's just that he finds it very hard to achieve critical focus. He seems to have this problem with two different bodies and several lenses. In recent testing he also found similar issues on Nikon D3X and D3s using Nikon 35/1.4 and 24/1.4 lenses. The Nikon obviously has live view and can focus at actual pixels or use contrast sensing AF.

As I see it, Lloyd Chambers has issues with AF on S2 and has samples to prove. Nicks (Devlin & Rains) and Mark Dubovoy don't seem to have issues. I cannot explain.

Best regards
Erik

Hi Bill, thanks and compliments of the Season to you as well.

Actually, there is no reason NOT to stitch medium format images - it depends on what kind of image you are making. I did a pano of the Toronto sky-line from the water front. There is NO WAY I could have encompassed all that material in a single shot with a wide angle lens on a DSLR and achieved the image quality at the size and resolution I printed it (5 feet long at something in the range of 300 PPI). It is three stitched P40+ shots. The detail in this pano, down to the texture of the concrete exterior of the CN Tower quite some distance away is truly quite remarkable. And it was made with the Phase One 75~150mm zoom lens, at 150mm, f/8.

While here, I would like to address two points from Bernard:

Bernard, yes, I too have had very annoying focus experiences with MF. I'm still to determine whether this is pilot error or something to do with the inherent nature of the technology. It can be amazingly sharp or truly crappy. Secondly, I think all this discussion of stitching is a bit of a red-herring. The real issue here is native image quality, before you start stitching anything. Much of the discussion of native image quality seems fixated on DxO, DigiLloyd and numbers about DR and pixel pitch. As I've mentioend before, I think the problem with DxO may have nothing to do with DxO itself, but with how people use it to convey lab work into making photographs; as for DigiLloyd, as I've said beforfe, all due respect to him, but I just don't find that Leica stuff he posted credible based on what I've personally witnessed that camera can do (anyhow, if he and Mark Dubovoy get together for some real-world photography using that system it would be extremely interesting to see what they come up with - jury out; finally, the numerical stuff: from the perspective of scientific method, what can always come back to bite us in the derriere are the hidden aspects which perhaps can be more determinative than the more tangible ones we think we know something about. You know that dilemma of not knowing what we don't know about. If you sit through a session with the Chief Technologist of Phase One - well not quite as good as sleeping at a Holiday Inn Express because he compresses very complex stuff into an hour or two - but you may get the point - there is a helluva lot more to making and programming a sensor than the stuff being discussed in this Forum, and until we know what it is and how determinative it is compared with the stuff we are discussing, we're not going to resolve what's better based on what little we know about what goes INTO it. We're on safest territory talking about comparisons of what comes OUT under conditions that are as comparable as we can make them. And even then we can have trouble. So I listen carefully to Nick Rains in his description of the tests he's done, similar to the sensible procedure Ray describes.

Gosh we're up to post a hundred and what - anything really conclusive yet? Maybe it's time to get out those knitting needles after all. :-)
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: tsjanik on December 26, 2010, 05:37:30 pm
Some empirical data: I've had a 645D for about a week and was very concerned about my ability to use my MF A lenses.  After several tests, I'm convinced I can do as well as AF lenses (just much slower).  By way of example, here is a recent test of the Pentax 200mm A (not the best of the line) @f/8.  The crop of the lock is actual pixels (Approx. 140x140).  This is fairly typical of what I've seen so far.  Focus was on the lock.

Tom

NB No sharpening other than 50 in ACR
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 26, 2010, 06:20:57 pm
I did not understand your post, but my position is that if it cannot be heard, cannot be seen, cannot be smelled, cannot be touched, then for all practical purposes, one may as well consider it as not being there. Anyone claiming that it clearly is there, that cannot sense it in any way, are probably victims to "the emperrors new clothes"-effect.

This is my position on God, my position on (a lot of) audiophile equipment, and photography equipment. When people can show me a sensible side-by-side where I (or anyone else) can spot the difference, fine and good. If they can not, why bother?

Faith is indeed important. Both in high end audio and high end photography, some people do not trust measurements, they claim to hear/see things that are simply not apparent in measurement figures provided by top engineering facilities:
- some audiophile owners claim qualities to the music their equipment delivers that do not map well with objective measurements,
- some MF owners see magical qualities in the DR of their device than cannot be measured,

In both cases, faith in the value of money spent over-rides decades of science. In both cases rationality is swept aside by reference to their own quality as listeners or watchers, "my ear is better", "my eye is better".

Wait... faith... or bad faith? ;D

Is there a possibility that science is not measuring the right thing? That a real quality, not yet formalized, is perceived by some people with special sensibility? Yes, that is possible. What are the odds? Low, very low.

My personal bet is on the power of marketing rather than on the weakness of science.  ;)

By I agree Mark, this story is getting old as well, time to do some photography!  8)

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 26, 2010, 06:36:29 pm
finally, the numerical stuff: from the perspective of scientific method, what can always come back to bite us in the derriere are the hidden aspects which perhaps can be more determinative than the more tangible ones we think we know something about. You know that dilemma of not knowing what we don't know about. If you sit through a session with the Chief Technologist of Phase One - well not quite as good as sleeping at a Holiday Inn Express because he compresses very complex stuff into an hour or two - but you may get the point - there is a helluva lot more to making and programming a sensor than the stuff being discussed in this Forum, and until we know what it is and how determinative it is compared with the stuff we are discussing, we're not going to resolve what's better based on what little we know about what goes INTO it. We're on safest territory talking about comparisons of what comes OUT under conditions that are as comparable as we can make them. And even then we can have trouble. So I listen carefully to Nick Rains in his description of the tests he's done, similar to the sensible procedure Ray describes.

Gosh we're up to post a hundred and what - anything really conclusive yet? Maybe it's time to get out those knitting needles after all. :-)

Sure, let's put this to rest.

As far as the technology going into these products, I am pretty well aware about the complexity we do not see, but rest assured that folks at Canon, Sony and Nikon do just as much of it, they just don't communicate about it. That's the main difference with Phaseone. The Phaseone folks are approaching this from a B2B perspective that means a closer connection with your customers and therefore enables a small scale NDAed type of communication that is very powerful. I work in a similar B2B environment and our engineering does spend a significant amount of time with our customers. Besides the objective delivery of information, such communication also has a very efficient binding effect that generates a sense of belonging.

Focusing on the outcome is indeed best, whether it is measured or perceived. I am confident that average perception by third parties will converge to be very close to measure.

Anyway, what matters is happiness in the end and everybody around seem to be happy about their own choices. Perfect harmony will be reached the day we manage to respect choices different than our own. Since I acknowledge the value of MFDB as an excellent option, I feel that my part of the work is done.  ;D

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: bjanes on December 26, 2010, 06:36:50 pm
Hi Bill, thanks and compliments of the Season to you as well.

Actually, there is no reason NOT to stitch medium format images - it depends on what kind of image you are making. I did a pano of the Toronto sky-line from the water front. There is NO WAY I could have encompassed all that material in a single shot with a wide angle lens on a DSLR and achieved the image quality at the size and resolution I printed it (5 feet long at something in the range of 300 PPI). It is three stitched P40+ shots. The detail in this pano, down to the texture of the concrete exterior of the CN Tower quite some distance away is truly quite remarkable. And it was made with the Phase One 75~150mm zoom lens, at 150mm, f/8.


Mark,

Your image sounds awesome, but it is not necessary to have a P40+ to take some very high resolution shots by stitching, as a Google search using the key words Megapixel and Images.

Here is a pretty impressive night shot of Chicago (http://www.docbert.org/ChicagoByNight/cbninfo.html) taken with 194 frames from a Canon 10D.

And here is a very impressive panorama of President Obama's inaugural speech (http://www.davidbergman.net/blog/how-i-made-a-1474-megapixel-photo-during-president-obamas-inaugural-address/) composed of 220 frames from a Canon G10. I have read that a crop frame camera is actually better than a full frame model in many cases, since it uses only the central portion of the image.

And film (http://www.gigapxl.org/) is not entirely dead.

Regards,

Bill

 


Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 26, 2010, 06:45:39 pm
And here is a very impressive panorama of President Obama's inaugural speech (http://www.davidbergman.net/blog/how-i-made-a-1474-megapixel-photo-during-president-obamas-inaugural-address/) composed of 220 frames from a Canon G10. I have read that a crop frame camera is actually better than a full frame model in many cases, since it uses only the central portion of the image.

With all due respect, that Obama picture is actually pretty awful and is in no way representative of the image quality achievable with stitching.

It is true that very high resolution can be achieved with compact digital also, but the quality of pixels with those really differs significantly from top DSLRs. This is both measured and seen (I used to own a G10 before it died too young).

As far as DX bodies being better, I believe indeed that a Pentax K5 or Nikon D7000 with a good FX lens like a Zeiss 50mm f2.0 probably offer the best comprise today between price and achievable image quality when stitching is considered since they have very clean shadows and therefore excellent DR. Besides, they have more DoF at the optimal apertures of the lenses and can therefore reduce the need for DoF stacking in some cases.

As a stitching platform, they are for sure very far ahead of my 2 years old D3x in terms of price to performance ratio and even farther ahead compared to MF.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 26, 2010, 07:20:04 pm
Mark,

Your image sounds awesome, but it is not necessary to have a P40+ to take some very high resolution shots by stitching, as a Google search using the key words Megapixel and Images.

Here is a pretty impressive night shot of Chicago (http://www.docbert.org/ChicagoByNight/cbninfo.html) taken with 194 frames from a Canon 10D.

And here is a very impressive panorama of President Obama's inaugural speech (http://www.davidbergman.net/blog/how-i-made-a-1474-megapixel-photo-during-president-obamas-inaugural-address/) composed of 220 frames from a Canon G10. I have read that a crop frame camera is actually better than a full frame model in many cases, since it uses only the central portion of the image.

And film (http://www.gigapxl.org/) is not entirely dead.

Regards,

Bill


Bill, I never said it's *necessary* to have a P40+ for doing this. I was commenting on one of your previous statements to the effect that one wouldn't spend umpteen dollars to buy an MF and then stitch with it. And thanks but no thanks - I'll pas on stitching 194 frames and all the more so 220 in this day and age. But in the days of the Canon 10D, that is probably what he had to do to get that particular image of Chicago, which I agree is awesome. Amazing how fast this technology has been evolving. We can lose perspective.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Nick Rains on December 26, 2010, 10:25:26 pm
[quote author=ErikKaffehr link=topic=49728.msg411002#msg411002 date=1293402159

As I see it, Lloyd Chambers has issues with AF on S2 and has samples to prove. Nicks (Devlin & Rains) and Mark Dubovoy don't seem to have issues. I cannot explain.

Best regards
Erik

[/quote]

I can't explain it either. But then again, I don't use AF much on either my Canons or the S2. I prefer to focus manually and, whilst I do get the occasional loose one, generally I'm happy with the sharpness. A big bright viewfinder and f2.5 lenses do help with the focussing.

The times that I have used AF on the S2, when shooting hand held, have resulted in as many sharp images as I get from my Canons. On a tripod, I turn off the AF.

UPDATE: I have just been shooting off some frames around the house, using AF at ISO640 and f2.5. It's miserable weather here in Brisbane so it's very gloomy in the house, hardly ideal AF conditions, yet the S2 worked fine and it seemed to nail the focus pretty well. Hardly a definitive test but reassuring at least. I'm not disputing Lloyds findings, they are what they are, but I'm not seeing it with my S2.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on December 27, 2010, 01:26:13 am
Hi,

Sorry about the weather but happy about your results. Sweden, where I live is pretty gloomy this time of the year. We had a lot of snow the last month. Hopefully we get some sunshine today.

Best regards
Erik


UPDATE: I have just been shooting off some frames around the house, using AF at ISO640 and f2.5. It's miserable weather here in Brisbane so it's very gloomy in the house, hardly ideal AF conditions, yet the S2 worked fine and it seemed to nail the focus pretty well. Hardly a definitive test but reassuring at least. I'm not disputing Lloyds findings, they are what they are, but I'm not seeing it with my S2.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: hjulenissen on December 27, 2010, 04:06:29 am
How do you measure the benefits of using finely crafted hardware that simply gives pleasure by its use? If you get pleasure from using a tool, then there's a reasonable chance that you will do better work with it.

Using a camera that really feels good, and with a control setup that you, personally, find efficient and pleasing, can lead to greater enjoyment of your craft. This is not something that you can measure.
I think enjoyment is actually quite easy to measure. Depending on what you want to understand (and what variables you want to exclude from the test), you could give 20 persons a Leica and 20 persons a Panasonic where branding was removed, or where the image quality was identical, etc. Let them play with the toy for 2 weeks then use questionnaries to figure out what they feel. I would be surprised if the manfucaturers did not do something similar.
Quote
...if you have an 'expensive' camera, who's to say that the simple fact of owning a 'premium' product does not lead to better images simply because you just really enjoy using it.
I fully agree. But often one will see people claiming that their expensive camera (that they bought for hard-earned money) has amazing tonality, expressive dynamic range etc. They may be right, but they may also be mislead by their own feelings. Using scientific or semi-scientific tests of subjective response or physical measurements may settle this.
Quote
Photography is a fascinating hobby/profession because there is so much more to it than lab tests.
Lab tests may have limited relevance to photography, but I find it relevant to photography equipment.

-h
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: hjulenissen on December 27, 2010, 04:20:18 am
Faith is indeed important. Both in high end audio and high end photography, some people do not trust measurements, they claim to hear/see things that are simply not apparent in measurement figures provided by top engineering facilities:
...
Is there a possibility that science is not measuring the right thing? That a real quality, not yet formalized, is perceived by some people with special sensibility? Yes, that is possible. What are the odds? Low, very low.

My personal bet is on the power of marketing rather than on the weakness of science.  ;)
Those people tend to forget that there are scientific methods of determining what you can see and what you can hear - not involving a single MTF measurement. The same tools are used by the food/drink industry to establish what wine people prefer, and if they can sense the difference between two wines.

If you are served two glasses of wine multiple times over a large time period and cannot sense any difference at all, it is probably not a question of "a real quality, not yet formalized", but a case of over-confidence in ones own senses coupled with (usually) knowledge of brand, feelings etc.

To venture a little less off topic:
How do you think along these lines when it comes to photography equipment? Two different cameras will typically be "different". They may have different weight, different size, different button layouts, and different color balance. This is trivial and may or may not matter for the user. Many users seems to be interested in the image quality in isolation (i.e. how good the image files out of the camera looks, or how good "optimally"post-processed files will look for certain camera settings. The fact that some cameras applies more noise reduction, while others have more sharpness seems irrelevant if one can emulate one with the other using reasonable photoshop skills and time.

I think it would be intereseting to have some tool (based on dcraw?) that could take two raw files from two different cameras of the same scene, and apply development parameters that make one look like the other. How different would cameras be then? I sometimes see two side-by-side images that are clearly somewhat different in exposure and white-balance presented as proof that one camera is inherently better than the other. Or two images with radically different tonemapping presented as proof that one camera has better dynamic range than the other.

-h

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: douglasboyd on January 13, 2011, 10:02:57 pm
All,

I enjoyed this thread and would like to discuss Photo-Stitching using a real example.  A few months ago my wife asked me to produce a 30" x 90" photograph of the Hawaiian surf, more-or-less in the Peter Lik style (high saturated color).  This was intended to decorate our vacation condo in Waikiki.  So I dutifully set out to do this using my Sony A900 and a rented Gigapan Epic Pro.  Over a few days I visited several beaches in Hawaii and photographed with various lenses and photo-stitching to achieve 100-400 mega-pixels.   The result was several good pictures that look fine in smaller sizes, but do not qualify as "Fine Art" in the large size intended.  Since by definition photos of surf are not static, there is the obvious artifact that the waves do not line up.  There were a lot of other small but visible issues as well that might have been solved by using better software than that supplied in CS5 or Gigapan.   

In the end, I went back to Hawaii with a Fuji 617 camera and Velvia 100 film.  Velvia 100, not Velvia 50 because you need to have a reasonably fast shutter speed to freeze the water droplets in a surf picture.   I exposed the Velvia 100 at ISO200 to get deeper colors and to get even more film speed. I scanned using the Nikon 9000 focussed on film grain into a 500 megapixel 16-bit TIFF.  You have to use larger files with film scans than with digital due to the gradual slope in the MTF that film scans get, and then the need for a lot of sharpening.  The 1 Gigayte TIFF did stress Lightroom 3.3 and Photoshop CS5 almost to a standstill, and this required a few compromises in post-processing, but the result was reasonable.  Very similar to Peter Lik panoramas, but not as sharp as what is possible with digital photo stitching.  You don't notice the loss of sharpness at normal viewing distances, but see it when you move close.

My wife is happy with the final print, but I am now plan to purchase a Pentax 645D system to complement my Sony A900.  Based on my experience with A900 the Pentax should be able to support landscapes up to about 65" width with good sharpness, and should be close to the Fuji 617 in resolution.  But of course with the Pentax I will be able to shoot at ISO1600 which will be a great advantage when wading out in the surf and handholding a wide angle camera just inches above the active surf with good DOF and sharpness.

The attached photo is a down sized portion of the final print to show what I was trying to achieve that was not possible with 25mpix DSLR.  This was made at f11 and 1/250th hand-held a few inches above the water using a 90mm lens.

==Doug



 
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: LesPalenik on January 14, 2011, 12:29:50 am
Quote
In the end, I went back to Hawaii with a Fuji 617 camera and Velvia 100 film.  Velvia 100, not Velvia 50 because you need to have a reasonably fast shutter speed to freeze the water droplets in a surf picture.   I exposed the Velvia 100 at ISO200 to get deeper colors and to get even more film speed. I scanned using the Nikon 9000 focussed on film grain into a 500 megapixel 16-bit TIFF.  You have to use larger files with film scans than with digital due to the gradual slope in the MTF that film scans get, and then the need for a lot of sharpening.  The 1 Gigayte TIFF did stress Lightroom 3.3 and Photoshop CS5 almost to a standstill, and this required a few compromises in post-processing, but the result was reasonable.  Very similar to Peter Lik panoramas, but not as sharp as what is possible with digital photo stitching.  You don't notice the loss of sharpness at normal viewing distances, but see it when you move close.

Doug,

This is a good example where stitching wouldn't work. It's very likely that some of the problem with loss of sharpness can be attributed to the lens/camera blur.
I have shot also many panoramic frames hand-held, some even from a moving boat, but you can't beat a solid tripod for sharpness, especially with a large-format camera.

The sharpness should be noticeably improved by shooting from a tripod and by scanning the film on a drum scanner or even on Imacon.
I have had printed several Fuji 617 images in 10 or 12 ft long size, and although I didn't compare them with digital stitched alternatives, they would pass a close scrutiny.
I don't know what gear is Peter Lik using in these days, but as I am aware, most of his large panoramas were shot with 617 film cameras.

 
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on January 14, 2011, 01:03:00 am
Hi!

Lloyd Chambers has tests of Pentax 645D, Leica S2 and Hasselblad H4D on his DAP site. There are comparisons with Nikon/Canon equipment. It's a pay site but worth the cost.

http://www.diglloyd.com/dap/index.html

Imaging resource has samples from the Pentax645D, some available as "raw". My summary of some findings is here: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/51-a-closer-look-at-pentax-645d-image-quality

Regarding the DR aspect DxO-mark has good data.

I have seen very little downloadable images for comparing DR, but Lloyd Chambers (Diglloyd) made some raw images available for download from the Leica S2, and what I could see the S2 was inferior to the Nikon D3X on shadow detail.

On the other hand Phase One has also some images available for download. They have a high contrast image with a bridge from Melburn? photographed with both the Canon 1DsIII and the Phase One P65+. Here the P65+ outperforms the Canon 1DsIII by a wide margin with regard to DR.

The above conclusions are based on my own raw-processing.

Just a couple of more points.

- A larger sensor collects more photons and will be able to hold more electron charges. Photographic noise in digital images is mostly caused by the natural variation of the number of incident photons, called shot noise. Doubling the area will reduce the shot noise by a factor of 1.4.

- A camera having good DR would also have good high ISO performance.

- On the other hand, a larger format with top class optics would increase MTF for a given feature size, giving better "microcontrast" and better resolution of texture in the shadow areas. This is also an area there better lenses may show significant advantage. The Leica S2 lenses are said to be excellent designs, but I'd guess that some of the Phase One lenses are truly excellent, too.

In short, although I share your opinion on the value of lab testing I have seen enough evidence to convince me of the benefits of modern MF equipment. If it is worth the cost is an other issue, which is pretty much person dependent.

Best regards
Erik


Those people tend to forget that there are scientific methods of determining what you can see and what you can hear - not involving a single MTF measurement. The same tools are used by the food/drink industry to establish what wine people prefer, and if they can sense the difference between two wines.

If you are served two glasses of wine multiple times over a large time period and cannot sense any difference at all, it is probably not a question of "a real quality, not yet formalized", but a case of over-confidence in ones own senses coupled with (usually) knowledge of brand, feelings etc.

To venture a little less off topic:
How do you think along these lines when it comes to photography equipment? Two different cameras will typically be "different". They may have different weight, different size, different button layouts, and different color balance. This is trivial and may or may not matter for the user. Many users seems to be interested in the image quality in isolation (i.e. how good the image files out of the camera looks, or how good "optimally"post-processed files will look for certain camera settings. The fact that some cameras applies more noise reduction, while others have more sharpness seems irrelevant if one can emulate one with the other using reasonable photoshop skills and time.

I think it would be intereseting to have some tool (based on dcraw?) that could take two raw files from two different cameras of the same scene, and apply development parameters that make one look like the other. How different would cameras be then? I sometimes see two side-by-side images that are clearly somewhat different in exposure and white-balance presented as proof that one camera is inherently better than the other. Or two images with radically different tonemapping presented as proof that one camera has better dynamic range than the other.

-h


Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Schewe on January 14, 2011, 01:48:37 am
- A camera having good DR would also have good high ISO performance.

Well, maybe...a lot of that depends on the quality of the amplification from native ISO to increased ISO.

Not all analog to digital converters (with amplification) are created equal.

Some of the qualification comes from what the noise signature of the original capture is. Adding amplification doesn't really add "noise" just the perceptibility of the noise. So, some A to D converters do better than others. At the moment, Nikon seems to be doing real well because the native ISO is already a tad higher (200 vs Canon's 100). Phase has lower native ISO at 50. And amp'ing the ISO of the A to D of a Phase capture without the +Plus tech kinda sucks...be sure you are comparing apples to oranges.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: BJL on January 14, 2011, 06:09:23 pm
- A camera having good DR would also have good high ISO performance.
The two do not exactly go together, and the Kodak 14n was a classic example: the combination of very large well capacity with higher than average dark noise (and maybe also low QE, due say to lacking microlenses) can combine to give good DR but poor noise performance in low light ("high ISO").

- A larger sensor collects more photons and will be able to hold more electron charges. Photographic noise in digital images is mostly caused by the natural variation of the number of incident photons, called shot noise. Doubling the area will reduce the shot noise by a factor of 1.4.
Agreed, with the qualification that you also need to deliver twice as much light to the sensor from the lens, which requires some combination of a longer exposure time and a larger entrance pupil size. The former can reduce sharpness due to subject or camera motion; the latter can reduce sharpness in parts of the image due to reduced DOF. Larger sensors and larger photosites are not a "free lunch" for improving IQ.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on January 16, 2011, 12:17:58 am
Hi,

I sort of presume that 'horses for the courses' applies to MF. I presume that MF cameras are used in situations were they can perform optimally, like in studio or landscape and rather on tripod than free hand. DoF is still an issue of course.

MF digital backs have the additional advantage that they can be fitted to different camera body, possibly allowing Tilt and Swing or special very high resolution lenses.

Best regards
Erik

The two do not exactly go together, and the Kodak 14n was a classic example: the combination of very large well capacity with higher than average dark noise (and maybe also low QE, due say to lacking microlenses) can combine to give good DR but poor noise performance in low light ("high ISO").

Agreed, with the qualification that you also need to deliver twice as much light to the sensor from the lens, which requires some combination of a longer exposure time and a larger entrance pupil size. The former can reduce sharpness due to subject or camera motion; the latter can reduce sharpness in parts of the image due to reduced DOF. Larger sensors and larger photosites are not a "free lunch" for improving IQ.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: tho_mas on January 16, 2011, 10:35:54 am
Regarding the DR aspect DxO-mark has good data.

(...)

On the other hand Phase One has also some images available for download. They have a high contrast image with a bridge from Melburn? photographed with both the Canon 1DsIII and the Phase One P65+. Here the P65+ outperforms the Canon 1DsIII by a wide margin with regard to DR.
meanwhile I also looked at Peter Eastway's comparision of the 1Ds3 vs. P65 posted on the Phase site.
As these are published for comparision purposes I hope it's okay to post crops/screenshots of the images...?!?
source: http://www.phaseone.com/en/Downloads/Sample-images.aspx

The first attachment shows crops from both files pushed by around 3.5 stops in Capture One (1Ds3 image zoomed to 100%; P65 to 62% to roughly match the actual size).
The second attachment shows the same crops but the P65 pushed even further.
The third attachment shows the latter but a different crop from the capture.

No luminance NR but moderat colour NR was applied to both the captures.

Now, DxO shows a 1/3 stop screen and 1 stop print advantage in favour for the P65.
Doesn't make sense to me... clearly looks like several stops advantage for the P65 (only looking at the shadows here).
So, the comparision mediately also shows why MFD users often simply don't understand the DxO results.
It also might show that DxO's method is not appropriate for MFD RAW files as proprietray metadata is ignored (while being essential for the processing of MFD files). Not sure about that, but it seems so.

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on January 17, 2011, 09:27:57 pm
meanwhile I also looked at Peter Eastway's comparision of the 1Ds3 vs. P65 posted on the Phase site.
As these are published for comparision purposes I hope it's okay to post crops/screenshots of the images...?!?
source: http://www.phaseone.com/en/Downloads/Sample-images.aspx

The first attachment shows crops from both files pushed by around 3.5 stops in Capture One (1Ds3 image zoomed to 100%; P65 to 62% to roughly match the actual size).
The second attachment shows the same crops but the P65 pushed even further.
The third attachment shows the latter but a different crop from the capture.

No luminance NR but moderat colour NR was applied to both the captures.

Now, DxO shows a 1/3 stop screen and 1 stop print advantage in favour for the P65.
Doesn't make sense to me... clearly looks like several stops advantage for the P65 (only looking at the shadows here).
So, the comparision mediately also shows why MFD users often simply don't understand the DxO results.
It also might show that DxO's method is not appropriate for MFD RAW files as proprietray metadata is ignored (while being essential for the processing of MFD files). Not sure about that, but it seems so.



Makes perfect sense to me. In these comparison crops it is clear visually, and also accroding to F stop and shutter speed, that the P65 shots have about one stop greater exposure.

I frequently get the impression that photographers who attempt such comparisons between 35mm and MF do not appear to know what they are doing.

If you check the DXOMark test results first, you will find that ISO 50 and ISO 100 for both the P65+ and the IDS3 are the same sensitivity, ISO 44 (or 45) for the P65+ and ISO 73 for the 1Ds3 at both ISOs.

The comparisons you've shown are between the P65+ at F11, 1/60th and ISO 50, and the 1Ds3 at F11, 1/125th and ISO 100.

Of course the P65+ will have better shadow detail using twice the exposure at the same F stop.

If you check the DR figures for these two cameras, you will see that the P65+ at ISO 50 has a full stop better DR than the 1Ds3 at ISO 100, at equal image size.

If 1/60th sec exposure had been used with the 1Ds3 at ISO 50, the shadow noise would have been significantly improved and the highlights would have appeared blown, just as they do in the P65+ shot.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: ErikKaffehr on January 17, 2011, 11:52:17 pm
Hi,

I don't think that either the P65+ or the Canon had blown out highlights. Ray may be correct regarding the one stop difference in exposure. The histograms in Lightroom indicate this but Adobed has some bias that may falsify the comparison.

Best regards
Erik



If 1/60th sec exposure had been used with the 1Ds3 at ISO 50, the shadow noise would have been significantly improved and the highlights would have appeared blown, just as they do in the P65+ shot.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on January 18, 2011, 01:13:11 am
Hi,

I don't think that either the P65+ or the Canon had blown out highlights. Ray may be correct regarding the one stop difference in exposure. The histograms in Lightroom indicate this but Adobed has some bias that may falsify the comparison.

Best regards
Erik



The image comparison I'm referring to copied is below. The sky in the P65+ shot is clearly blown. Even the highlights on the metal sheeting on the far right are blown in the blue channel, at 249,253,255. At a similar location on the 1Ds3 shot the reading is 143,160,188. Big difference!

How anyone can present such comparisons and expect to be taken seriously, beats me.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: tho_mas on January 18, 2011, 04:09:23 am
The sky in the P65+ shot is clearly blown.
of course it is... the image was pushed by at least 5 stops in post. This was just to show how much more "content" you can recover in the shadows from the P65+.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on January 18, 2011, 09:51:11 am
of course it is... the image was pushed by at least 5 stops in post. This was just to show how much more "content" you can recover in the shadows from the P65+.

It is not necessary to blow the highlights in order to reveal shadow content. If anyone wishes to demonstrate that the P65+ has greater than a one stop DR advantage over the 1Ds3, the first requirement is to demonstrate that the images being compared have been equally exposed with regard to an ETTR.

To do this it is necessary to bracket exposures with both cameras at their minimum shutter speed or EV intervals so that one can precisely match pairs of images that have equal highlight detail after conversion.


DXO do not give DR comparisons at ISO 50 for these two cameras. What their results state is that the DR of the P65+ at the manufacturer-specified ISO of 100 is one stop greater than the DR of the 1Ds3 at its manufacturer-specified ISO of 100. They also claim that the DR of the P65+ at ISO 200 (actually ISO 89) is about the same as the DR of the 1Ds3 at ISO 100 (actually ISO 73).

It should not be difficult to confirm or refute such claims by DXOMark.

One also needs to be mindful of T-Stop considerations as well as true ISO sensitivity. One can't assume that all lenses at F11 produce equal exposures at the same shutter speed and the same ISO.

I should add that I am not disputing that the P65+ has a noticeably greater DR than the 1Ds3. Viewing Erik's screen shots showing the histograms of the bridge in Lightroom, it is clear that neither image is overexposed, but also that neither image is an ETTR. However, the 1Ds3 image clearly has a darker sky at zero settings.

The point I'm making is that these images do not suggest to me that the DXOMark results are wrong in practice. If the P65+ at ISO 100 has one stop better shadow detail than the 1Ds3 at ISO 100, as claimed by DXO, then it is reasonable to assume it has 2 stops better DR at ISO 50, than the 1Ds3 at ISO 100.

Add in the factor that the 1Ds3 shot looks slightly less exposed than the P65+ shot in this comparison, then one would expect the P65+ shot to have something greater than a 2 stop DR advantage in the shadows, which appears to be the case, thus tending to confirm the accuracy and relevance of the DXOMark test results.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on January 18, 2011, 07:03:58 pm
Having had time to reflect on this matter, since my previous post was made late at night in Australia, it may well be the case that ISO 50 for both cameras produces exactly the same as result as ISO 100. Perhaps the only benefit of ISO 50 is the slower shutter speed that can be used.

If this is the case, that fact should be mentioned and some reason given for comparing the 1Ds3 at ISO 100 with the P65+ at ISO 50.

For those of us who are primarily interested in unbiased comparisons (as far as it's possible to be unbiased) we also need to know how DPP, ACR or Lightroom compare with C1 when converting Canon files. It is my experience that certain RAW converters, with zero or default settings, can provide more detailed results but at at the expense of noticeably greater noise.

It's possible that such factors can work together to give the impression that P65+ images have a greater-than-one-stop DR advantage over the 1Ds3. For example, perhaps it's the case that C1 applies an automatic noise reduction to Phase files which are inherently sharper due their lack of an AA filter, but don't apply the same noise reduction to Canon files.

If one underexposes the Canon shot slightly, uses a converter that brings out the maximum detail in the Canon file at the expense of increased noise, uses ISO 100 with the Canon camera instead of ISO 50, it may be quite possible to give the impression that the DXOMark results are misleading and that the DR difference between these two cameras is greater than DXO test results imply.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: tho_mas on January 18, 2011, 07:23:20 pm
In RAW Developer the Canon file doesn't look any better.
I think one thing is pretty obvious: even if you deduct the 1 stop advantage for the P65+ due to the real ISO (you are right here) you can beat the file around much more than the Canon file... there is simply more (usable) information. 3-4 stops maybe... I don't know, but clearly much more than 1 stop.
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on January 19, 2011, 04:00:17 am
In RAW Developer the Canon file doesn't look any better.
I think one thing is pretty obvious: even if you deduct the 1 stop advantage for the P65+ due to the real ISO (you are right here) you can beat the file around much more than the Canon file... there is simply more (usable) information. 3-4 stops maybe... I don't know, but clearly much more than 1 stop.


It seems that none of us knows, or is keeping it a secret. The comparison under discussion is deeply flawed because of an apparent lower exposure of the 1Ds3 image and a difference in ISO sensitivities.

Of course a larger file consisting of a significantly greater number of pixels of similar DR characteristics will lend itself to more intense processing before posterization and other image degradation artifacts become apparent.

Simply downsizing the P65+ file to the same size as the 1Ds3 file increases the DR advantage from 1/4th of a stop to one full stop.

The 16 bit A/D converter in the P65 will provide some advantage over the 14 bit A/D converter of the 1Ds3, as regards post processing, just as it's better to convert a RAW file into 16 bit as opposed to 8 bit color for processing purposes. It's even advisable to convert an 8 bit TIFF original into 16 bit if it is intended to 'beat the file around', as you put it.

As regards DR, I imagine the post processing advantages of an original 16 bit file with almost 3x the pixel count will contribute a marginal increase to that 1 stop advantage shown in the DXOMark test results.

Perhaps a more significant factor, which DXO does not address, is the additional noise in the 1Ds3 image which might result from the greater degree of sharpening required for an image which has been subject to the effects of an AA filter.

On the other hand, the skillful operator will protect the deepest shadows when sharpening, as one is able to when using Photoshop's 'Smart Sharpen'.

I would be prepared to accept that certain P65+ images which require a lot of post processing might show a 1 & 1/2 stop DR advantage over the 1Ds3, at normalised print sizes.

But claims of a 3-4 stop advantage are simply not credible.

Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: hjulenissen on January 19, 2011, 01:51:30 pm
The 16 bit A/D converter in the P65 will provide some advantage over the 14 bit A/D converter of the 1Ds3, as regards post processing, just as it's better to convert a RAW file into 16 bit as opposed to 8 bit color for processing purposes. It's even advisable to convert an 8 bit TIFF original into 16 bit if it is intended to 'beat the file around', as you put it.
But claims of a 3-4 stop advantage are simply not credible.
Do you know this for a fact? I have seen some claims that the 15th and 16th bit contain only noise. If it does, then it should not give any benefit compared to converting a 14-bit file to 16 bits prior to editing.

In any case, the total quality is what is important, and numbers from a sales-brochure should not be as important as relevant as looking and measuring what is in the file.

-h
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on January 19, 2011, 07:39:56 pm
Do you know this for a fact? I have seen some claims that the 15th and 16th bit contain only noise. If it does, then it should not give any benefit compared to converting a 14-bit file to 16 bits prior to editing.

In any case, the total quality is what is important, and numbers from a sales-brochure should not be as important as relevant as looking and measuring what is in the file.

-h

No, I don't know that for a fact. It's difficult even to show the benefits in an image with a 14 bit A/D conversion from certain Nikon DSLRs, compared with the same scene shot in 12 bit mode using the same lens and camera.

Giving Phase the benefit of the doubt, I would expect only a very marginal IQ benefit from such increased bit depth at the A/D conversion stage. I understand also that Photoshop's 16 bit conversions from RAW files are effectively 15 bit, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

As I mentioned, the greatest DR benefit from the larger files of the P65 are already shown on the DXOMark site, ie, an increase from 1/4th of a stop at the pixel level to a full stop when the P65 image is downsampled to the same size as the 1Ds3 image.

An increase in noise due to the extra degree of sharpening required of the 1Ds3 image, may have the effect of increasing that 1-stop DR advantage slightly.

It is clear in general that MFDBs have a slight resolution advantage in parts of the image that are not affected by aliasing, as a result of their lack of an AA filter.

For this reason, even when DoF considerations are not an issue, it would be considered sound practice to adjust the F stop as well as the focal length when comparing different format cameras. Everyone should know that a lens at F7.1 or F8 is sharper than the same lens at F11.

This current comparison from Phase has used F11 with both the P65+ and 1Ds3. Why?

This is tantamount to making a statement in bold letters, "This comparison is biased".

Comparing the 1Ds3 with the P45 it would be appropriate to use F8 with the 1Ds3 for the same FoV as the P45 shot at F11, using appropriately different focal lengths of lenses.

However, the P65 is a larger format than the P45, so in circumstances where F11 is used with the P65, one should use F7.1 with the 1Ds3, if one wishes to even attempt to be objective. Such an image at F7.1 would not need as much sharpening in order to match the resolution of the downsampled P65+ image.

If there are any P65+ owners out there who also have access to a 1Ds3, and who are serious about resolving this issue of the relevance of DXOMark test results, I can recommend the following procedure.

1. Select two, good quality, prime lenses of the same focal length, one that fits the 1Ds3 and the other that fits the MF camera used with the P65+.

2. Determine the T-stop of both lenses in order to avoid exposure confusion, and/or be prepared to bracket exposures in order to correctly match equally exposed frames from each camera.

3. Set the P65+ at ISO 200 (ISO 89 according to DXOMark). Set the 1Ds3 at ISO 100 (ISO 73 according to DXOMark). This is the closest match of ISO sensitivity you can get.

4. Shoot the same high-contrast scene under constant lighting conditions, from the same position, using the same F stop with both cameras.

5. Do not be confused by any significant differences in exposures that might not appear to match the slight differences in ISO sensitivity. The P65 image will have a wider FoV that might include brighter parts of the scene that are not included in the FoV of the 1Ds3.

This is why it is helpful to know the T-stop of both lenses as a starting point for bracketing.

6. Crop all the bracketed P65+ images to the same FoV as the 1Ds3 shots.

7. After cropping (and not before) match a pair of images, one from each camera, that mostly closely have the same exposure and the same highlight detail..

8. Adjust WB and levels so that both images appear similar in tonality and hue.

9. Lighten the deepest shadows equally in both images, and compare.

Now the reason for this rigmarole is in order to compare images at the pixel level, equivalent to the 'screen' mode on the DXOMark website. What DXO tell us is that the 1Ds3 at ISO 73 has approximately 2/3rds of a stop better DR than the P65+ at ISO 89, at the pixel level or screen mode.

2/3rds of a stop better DR should be noticeable if there are deep shadows in the scene that has been photographed.

If the cropped P65+ image, in these circumstances, shows significantly better detail and less noise in the shadows, then this would be good evidence that the DXOMark results have questionable relevance as regards MFDB performance.

If shadow detail appears about the same, one might have to consider if the shadows are really deep enough to reveal the DR differences. I've noticed a lot of confusion recently about the significance of an input signal of 1% on the log scale. Some people seem to think such a level is representative of deep shadows, but DXO graphs suggest otherwise.

One might also consider that manufacturing and quality control differences might be the cause of any slight variance with the DXO tests. Whilst a 2/3rds of a stop difference in DR should be noticeable, it's not particularly significant.

I await with bated breath for someone to conduct such a comparison.  ;D
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Jim2 on April 07, 2011, 11:03:53 am
If one does not mind stitching a large number of images, the D7000 might be preferable to the D3x, since the former has a higher pixel density (4.73 vs 5.9 microns) and one can use the central portion of the projected image where optical performance is higher.
If I read this correctly, you're saying that sensors with smaller photo cell size is better? A cropped image from D3x will be worse than the same image from D7000 assuming the cropped d3x image is of the same scale as the image captured by d7000?
Title: Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
Post by: Ray on April 27, 2011, 04:22:06 am
If I read this correctly, you're saying that sensors with smaller photo cell size is better? A cropped image from D3x will be worse than the same image from D7000 assuming the cropped d3x image is of the same scale as the image captured by d7000?

The essential points here are that the D7000 pixel, although smaller than the D3X pixel, has about 1/2 a stop greater dynamic range but is approximately equal with regard to the other parameters that DXOMark test, such as tonal range, SNR at 18% grey, and color sensitivity. A half stop DR advantage is considered to be noticeable and worth having, but not particularly significant.

A row of 3 stitched D7000 images, with camera vertical, cropped to the same FoV and file size as a single shot with the D3X, camera horizontal, should have marginally better DR than the single D3X image, and noticeably better resolution in the corners and at the short edges, if a full-frame lens has been used.

If a single D3X image is cropped to the same FoV as a single D7000 image, having used the same lens of the same focal length with each camera, one would expect the cropped D3X image to be technically inferior.