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Author Topic: How much quality do you really need?  (Read 44445 times)

myotis

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #60 on: March 01, 2016, 01:06:20 pm »

I have some expired ISO25 film that has to be shot at 12. Let's just say you would need a tripod even ON the Sun. :P

I had a spell with Kodak technical pan 25, that I seem to remember exposing at 12 asa. BUT the least bit of overexposure used to destroy any grain/sharpness gain that it gave, and I ended up bracketing exposure and then choosing the thinnest neg that still retained shadow detail.

This thread seems to have turned into a trip down memory lane for me :-)

Cheers,

Graham
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myotis

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #61 on: March 01, 2016, 01:20:52 pm »

Hi,

My point with the posting was that small pixels may be beneficial even if 16-24 MP are quite enough for a large print.

Best regards
Erik

Thanks for the further explanation.

Cheers,
Graham
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Dan Wells

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #62 on: March 01, 2016, 02:52:39 pm »

Just to my eye (I have shot a lot of different cameras and own an Epson 7900, so tend to print up to 24x36, but rarely over):

Micro 43 (recent 16 mp sensor, not the 20 mp, which I haven't used) will make a 12x16" print from almost any subject, with minor limitations with really high dynamic range subjects. 16x24" works more often than not, but not on the highest detail subjects. I sometimes get an acceptable print at 20x30" or larger, especially on lower detail, more atmospheric subjects.

Fuji 16 MP goes a little larger than Micro 43 16 mp - just about one print size... 16x24" works very well on almost any subject, and I'm surprised how often I can push on to 24x36, although certainly not on anything.

Most modern 24 mp sensors will go to 24x36" fairly easily on a wide variety of subjects (this applies to 24 mp FF, as well as the newer versions of 24 mp APS-C). I'm really looking forward to the X-Pro 2, because it will be a beautifully handling camera with the Fuji look to the images, using Fujinon glass, that is 24x36" capable on more subjects.

The "pixel monsters" go well beyond where my printer will go. I've never used an A7rII, which should be better still, but 36 mp is sufficient for single-shot panoramas up to 24x50" or larger (and almost certainly for 36x54" prints or the like if I had a larger printer).

I really like the Fuji experience, and their lenses. Now that they have a camera that should do a good job up to 24x36" in almost any situation, I see no reason to concern myself with larger when I don't have the printer for it.

The OP seems to be printer limited one size smaller than I am, which would suggest that modern Micro 43, or anything higher quality than that, would work just fine... The 24 mp cameras might offer some advantages in noise or dynamic range, and lens choices of course make a huge difference.
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NancyP

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #63 on: March 01, 2016, 03:20:15 pm »

Thanks for backpack tips, folks. Much of the volume of a pack goes toward raingear and / or mid-layer top, 10 essentials, socks socks socks (sweaty feet, need extras!), and to date, Nalgene water bottles, which seem trustworthy (unlikely to leak inside pack).
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myotis

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #64 on: March 01, 2016, 03:36:54 pm »

Just to my eye (I have shot a lot of different cameras and own an Epson 7900, so tend to print up to 24x36, but rarely over):

The OP seems to be printer limited one size smaller than I am, which would suggest that modern Micro 43, or anything higher quality than that, would work just fine... The 24 mp cameras might offer some advantages in noise or dynamic range, and lens choices of course make a huge difference.

Some useful direct observations in this post.  Thanks.

I just picked the 17" size as one that was probably within reach of most enthusiast photographers. 

However, how picky are you being?

The premise of the OP was that once you got above a threshold (which I suggested was a 12mp Nikon D700) you needed to be looking very closely to see any meaningful difference (with 17" prints). And questioned the importance of that difference, not in a judgmental way, just out of interest to get others thoughts.

But like everyone else, I am still trying to get the best quality I can, so your observations particularly your comments on DR, and those of others, are coming together as useful resource of information. 

Cheers,
Graham

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Dan Wells

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #65 on: March 01, 2016, 05:51:14 pm »

I'm not sure how to define pickiness... I have never shot low-resolution full frame, and actually have very little experience with cameras of exactly 12 mp. I have experience with cameras in the 4-10 mp range, but jumped from 10 to 16. I've looked at images from other people's 12 mp cameras, but never owned one, so my answer is likely to be unsatisfying..

That said, here's my best supposition. I have never seen a camera with less than 12 mp that I'd be comfortable with as large as 16x24, which is the largest easy size from a 17" printer. Both 16 mp from the very old (but very high end for its time) Canon 1Ds II and 16 mp from the newer Micro 43 cameras are borderline, depending on how much detail is in the scene (they work for many, but not all subjects). I'd imagine the D700, which has less resolution, but a reputation for an extraordinarily good sensor for its time, is probably in the same category. Most other 12 mp cameras (other than the new Sonys) are probably a small category below the D700 - good up to 12x18", really pushing it any bigger. 

One possible rule of thumb (it works for me, with the cameras I've tried it on, but I'd want more evidence before saying I was anywhere close to sure) is that the resolution in megapixels roughly equals the short edge of the largest comfortable print? Subtract one size for a small or poor sensor (only half a size for a semi-small sensor like micro 43), and perhaps add a size for an extraordinary sensor, or one that is unusually large for its resolution? This passes the sniff test on a lot of cameras I am familiar with:

8 mp iPhone: 5x7 (subtract one size for a small sensor)
10 mp Nikon D200: 10x15  (this matches my memory)
16 mp Micro 43: 12x16/16x20 (subtract half a size)
16 mp Fuji: 16x24 (done this a lot, and it works well)
24 mp Sony sensor (any modern one): 24x36 ( the only camera with such a sensor where I would say "not quite" is the original NEX-7, and that may have partially been less than great lenses).
36 mp+: enough bigger than my printer that I've never found the limit with any confidence.

EDIT: On further reflection, I realized that the one group of cameras this understates the performance of is very early DSLRs - A Nikon D1 or Canon D30 were capable of more than 3x5 (although 3 MP compacts really weren't). Similarly, a 6 MP DSLR easily outperforms an 8 MP iPhone, and can go somewhat higher than 6x9.

There's also a point at the very high end of the range (whether this is 24 mp, 36 mp or even higher in what is presently medium format territory is debatable) where viewing distance means that print size becomes effectively unlimited. Sure, you could use more resolution if you stuck your nose up to the print, but how close are you going to get to a 40x60" print, much less a 100x150" print? A practical limit is that the best (highest resolution and best color quality) printers are rare above 44" widths, and simply do not exist above 60". The grand format printers that are the only way to print many feet wide are made for signage, and just don't have the image quality of the Epsons and Canons that dominate the 17-44" market. They also don't print on the baryta and art rag papers that the 17-44" machines do.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 12:00:45 am by Dan Wells »
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jng

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #66 on: March 02, 2016, 12:05:47 am »

Interesting thread... As others have mentioned, I don't think there are necessarily any hard and fast rules about translating pixels to maximum print sizes, or any thresholds per se. Sure, I have some fairly large prints hanging on the wall that I likely would not have printed so large if not captured on a 36 Mp D800E (30" on the long dimension) or 60 Mp IQ160 MFDB (36-45" on the long dimension). These typically involve landscapes with very fine details. But some of my favorite prints, at 24", were from my 12 Mp D700 and probably could have been stretched up to 30" without any issues. All of these prints look great from a viewing distance that actually allows one to take in the entire image or get close enough to study the details (but not so close as to leave nose prints on the glass - who in their right mind would do that?), regardless of which camera I used. So I guess the short answer is: it depends.

Re: the 12 Mp sensor of the old D700/D3 - it was a gem. In many ways I miss my D700, which I reluctantly sold to help finance the D800E. The D700 rendered images for me that I can only describe as smooth and "buttery," whereas the D800E - a superb instrument by any measure - seems a bit finicky by comparison, almost daring me to eke out every last bit of image quality that its sensor can deliver. With that said, since taking up medium format using the digital back (talk about finicky), I don't use the Nikon very much these days, at least not for landscape or still life images. For me, there's simply no comparison. And therein, perhaps, lies the paradox...

- John (an otherwise unapologetic chaser of pixels)
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Petrus

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #67 on: March 02, 2016, 12:39:33 am »

I have one slightly cropped (panorama format) print made from a 16 MPix Fujifilm file which is a 170 cm wide canvas print. Looks great and "artistic", but certainly falls apart if looked at closely (both pixels and processing artifacts). But the truth told, it is as sharp or sharper than any Rembrant or Turner I have ever seen…  ;D
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #68 on: March 02, 2016, 01:11:53 am »

Hi,

One way to see it is that something like 180 PPI is needed for a very good print. That 180 PPI correlates with the angular resolution of 20/20 vision at 50 cm. In practice, 180 PPI also works well for shorter viewing distances. For 25 cm distance 20/20 vision can resolve 360 PPI which happens to be the normal resolution mode of Epson printers.

One part of the reason 180 PPI works that well is that while human vision can resolve high contrast detail at one minute of arc, the contrast sensitivity of human vision is much higher at lower frequencies. So, an image that is sharp at say 90 PPI may look pretty well, although it may lack in fine detail.

So, using the 180PPI criteria we would need something like 180 * 17 -> 3600 pixels on the long edge for a 17" print and 180 x 11 -> 1980 for an 11"x17" print, that is about 7 MP, but you need to add some MP for cropping, say 8 MP would be OK.

If you have perfect vision and pixel peep at 25 cm / 12", where human vision tends to have maximum resolution you would need four times that MP, but once you get in the fifties the eyes are typically not so good to accommodate for short distances and I don't think reading glasses are optimised for 25 cm / 12".

This video by Canon's Larry Thorpe covers a lot of ground. It is oriented towards motion, not still, but it is still very informative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBKDjLeNlsQ

Best regards
Erik


Interesting thread... As others have mentioned, I don't think there are necessarily any hard and fast rules about translating pixels to maximum print sizes, or any thresholds per se. Sure, I have some fairly large prints hanging on the wall that I likely would not have printed so large if not captured on a 36 Mp D800E (30" on the long dimension) or 60 Mp IQ160 MFDB (36-45" on the long dimension). These typically involve landscapes with very fine details. But some of my favorite prints, at 24", were from my 12 Mp D700 and probably could have been stretched up to 30" without any issues. All of these prints look great from a viewing distance that actually allows one to take in the entire image or get close enough to study the details (but not so close as to leave nose prints on the glass - who in their right mind would do that?), regardless of which camera I used. So I guess the short answer is: it depends.

Re: the 12 Mp sensor of the old D700/D3 - it was a gem. In many ways I miss my D700, which I reluctantly sold to help finance the D800E. The D700 rendered images for me that I can only describe as smooth and "buttery," whereas the D800E - a superb instrument by any measure - seems a bit finicky by comparison, almost daring me to eke out every last bit of image quality that its sensor can deliver. With that said, since taking up medium format using the digital back (talk about finicky), I don't use the Nikon very much these days, at least not for landscape or still life images. For me, there's simply no comparison. And therein, perhaps, lies the paradox...

- John (an otherwise unapologetic chaser of pixels)
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myotis

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #69 on: March 02, 2016, 01:26:45 am »

I'm not sure how to define pickiness...

Thanks for the time you have put into this Dan,

Interesting that you raise the same resolution Fuji up a notch from the smaller sensor M43 sensors, I wonder whether that also pushes the FF D700 a little higher up the scale than you suggest. But your comments support final quality being more than pixels, which was also part of my OP.

It has still helped put the different resolutions into perspective.

Cheers,

Graham
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myotis

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #70 on: March 02, 2016, 01:45:34 am »

Interesting thread... As others have mentioned, I don't think there are necessarily any hard and fast rules about translating pixels to maximum print sizes, or any thresholds per se. Sure, I have some fairly large prints hanging on the wall that I likely would not have printed so large if not captured on a 36 Mp D800E (30" on the long dimension) or 60 Mp IQ160 MFDB (36-45" on the long dimension). These typically involve landscapes with very fine details. But some of my favorite prints, at 24", were from my 12 Mp D700 and probably could have been stretched up to 30" without any issues. All of these prints look great from a viewing distance that actually allows one to take in the entire image or get close enough to study the details (but not so close as to leave nose prints on the glass - who in their right mind would do that?), regardless of which camera I used. So I guess the short answer is: it depends.

Re: the 12 Mp sensor of the old D700/D3 - it was a gem. In many ways I miss my D700, which I reluctantly sold to help finance the D800E. The D700 rendered images for me that I can only describe as smooth and "buttery," whereas the D800E - a superb instrument by any measure - seems a bit finicky by comparison, almost daring me to eke out every last bit of image quality that its sensor can deliver. With that said, since taking up medium format using the digital back (talk about finicky), I don't use the Nikon very much these days, at least not for landscape or still life images. For me, there's simply no comparison. And therein, perhaps, lies the paradox...

- John (an otherwise unapologetic chaser of pixels)

Actually you have got right to the core of my question, especially as you have used a D700.  The D700 images I have seen appear to look especially nice.  Given that "generally" the bigger the print, the further away you are, and that many people are probably restricted to 17" printers "quality" is probably more to do with other things than resolution.

Unless resolution also improves gradation and micro contrast. Then again you would also expect newer sensors/ processing engines to improve other things, and increased resolution just being part of the improvement. 

I wasn't suggesting a hard and fast rule, it just so happened that the D700 images  I was looking at triggered the question The buttery smoothness you refer to is something I associate with larger format and this exactly what I thought I was seeing with the D700. and I have heard people say similar things about the Nikon DF which is 16mp.

But reading what you have said, maybe there really is a threshold, and that once you get to around 16mp on full frame you need to jump to medium format for a more rounded improvement in quality. But I am just thinking out loud now.

Cheers,

Graham

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myotis

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #71 on: March 02, 2016, 01:50:24 am »

I have one slightly cropped (panorama format) print made from a 16 MPix Fujifilm file which is a 170 cm wide canvas print. Looks great and "artistic", but certainly falls apart if looked at closely (both pixels and processing artifacts). But the truth told, it is as sharp or sharper than any Rembrant or Turner I have ever seen…  ;D

Strange, I thought they both used Phase one cameras :-)

Cheers,

Graham
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dwswager

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #72 on: March 02, 2016, 08:53:15 am »

I am dissatisfied with every print I've ever made...until the point I hang it on the wall.  This is usually because I am not looking at the image, but comparing small sections to the original file.  Once hung on the wall, I am looking at the image itself and I am usually quite pleased...though I am always judging some way to have made it better.
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myotis

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #73 on: March 02, 2016, 11:07:36 am »

I am dissatisfied with every print I've ever made...until the point I hang it on the wall.  This is usually because I am not looking at the image, but comparing small sections to the original file.  Once hung on the wall, I am looking at the image itself and I am usually quite pleased...though I am always judging some way to have made it better.

I think you are not alone in this.   

On a similar vein, I find that when I carefully  test different raw processors, different sensors, different lenses etc and clearly see enormous differences that convince me that A is so much better than B, I will go back in a few months time and struggle to tell the difference, not always of course, but enough of the time for me to be aware of it.

Cheers,

Graham
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jng

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #74 on: March 02, 2016, 11:48:27 am »

But reading what you have said, maybe there really is a threshold, and that once you get to around 16mp on full frame you need to jump to medium format for a more rounded improvement in quality. But I am just thinking out loud now.

Cheers,

Graham

Thinking (barely) out loud myself: perhaps there's not so much a threshold as a point of diminishing returns? After all, how many pixels of ever-shrinking dimensions can one stuff into a given sized sensor and still expect to see some noticeable improvement in a print hanging on the wall? The lenses most of us can afford or are willing to spend money on can't keep up, and those that can will be diffraction limited at increasingly wider apertures.

As for jumping to medium format, there's a difference in what can be accomplished with 60 Mp on a 24x36 mm vs. 40x54 mm sensor. The size of the sensor has an impact not only on resolution but also tonality, depth of field, etc.  I appreciated this back when I was shooting film on both formats and it remains true today. Importantly, the overall magnification from sensor to a given size print (we're still talking about prints here, right?) is less than for an image captured on a smaller sensor, which among other factors means that any lens aberrations are magnified that much less. And then there's that "MF look" that many, including myself, swear by. Getting back to the D700, I just like the look of the images it gave me. The best way for me to describe it succinctly is that it didn't feel "digital." But I'll be the first to admit that when we start talking about a "look," we may as well be talking religion...

My two ¢.

John
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myotis

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #75 on: March 02, 2016, 12:47:12 pm »


As for jumping to medium format, there's a difference in what can be accomplished with 60 Mp on a 24x36 mm vs. 40x54 mm sensor. The size of the sensor has an impact not only on resolution but also tonality, depth of field, etc. 

John

But its the tonality and micro-contrast etc where the "quality" really lies. My experience also lies back with film and the reason I liked 5x4 wasn't the sharpness (which was still important), but the smoothness of tone. Images of things like trees in the mist worked on 5x4 but were just a mess in smaller formats.

But I am sure its a combination of things that give that quality. But I have been really taken by the D700 images I have been looking at, so maybe we both have similar religious ideas when it comes to quality.

Really of course I would like medium format, but that isn't ever going to happen. But I am very tempted to pick up a secondhand d700 :-)

Cheers,
Graham
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #76 on: March 02, 2016, 02:36:33 pm »

Hi,

I have been shooting medium format for 2.5 years. I do enjoy shooting it but I am pretty sure that the claimed benefits of MFD are just a myth.

If you compare a 24x36 camera with say 36-50 MP using a very good lens it will perform better than a 39-50 MP CCD based MF camera. If you compared 36-50 MP CMOS to 50 MP CMOS on MFD, I think the MFD will have a small benefit. The main reason for that benefit is modern CMOS having a large fill factor and gapless micro lenses.

But, 90% or so of the benefits of MFD may be just folklore, and modern CMOS doesn't play well with symmetric wide angles.

If you use programs like C1 or Phocus, they may benefit backs from Team Phase One or Hasselblad.

Best regards
Erik

 


But its the tonality and micro-contrast etc where the "quality" really lies. My experience also lies back with film and the reason I liked 5x4 wasn't the sharpness (which was still important), but the smoothness of tone. Images of things like trees in the mist worked on 5x4 but were just a mess in smaller formats.

But I am sure its a combination of things that give that quality. But I have been really taken by the D700 images I have been looking at, so maybe we both have similar religious ideas when it comes to quality.

Really of course I would like medium format, but that isn't ever going to happen. But I am very tempted to pick up a secondhand d700 :-)

Cheers,
Graham
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 02:40:09 pm by ErikKaffehr »
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Rob C

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #77 on: March 02, 2016, 02:51:47 pm »

But its the tonality and micro-contrast etc where the "quality" really lies. My experience also lies back with film and the reason I liked 5x4 wasn't the sharpness (which was still important), but the smoothness of tone. Images of things like trees in the mist worked on 5x4 but were just a mess in smaller formats.

But I am sure its a combination of things that give that quality. But I have been really taken by the D700 images I have been looking at, so maybe we both have similar religious ideas when it comes to quality.

Really of course I would like medium format, but that isn't ever going to happen. But I am very tempted to pick up a secondhand d700 :-)

Cheers,
Graham


That's one camera I don't think I would ever sell. And as I write, I realise I'd not sell the D200 either.

But then, I thought like that about my two 500 Series, too. Now I can't have 'em back, it's too late. But, even if I had them, film and processing are not currently possible for me, so it would be an empty sort of 'having', one more promising if I ever move back to Britain at some stage, though.

Adding insult to injury, I looked again at an old Michael Kenna video yesterday... I could even envisage giving landscape another whirl again if I had a square. Always loved the format, from my Rollei onwards.

Rob

ErikKaffehr

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #78 on: March 02, 2016, 03:02:35 pm »

Hi,

I just get hold of another 6x7 projector, quite happy about it. So, I guess I'll shoot some Provia 100 on 67 pretty soon again, or just put a roll of Provia in one of my Hasselblad backs.

Best regards
Erik



That's one camera I don't think I would ever sell. And as I write, I realise I'd not sell the D200 either.

But then, I thought like that about my two 500 Series, too. Now I can't have 'em back, it's too late. But, even if I had them, film and processing are not currently possible for me, so it would be an empty sort of 'having', one more promising if I ever move back to Britain at some stage, though.

Adding insult to injury, I looked again at an old Michael Kenna video yesterday... I could even envisage giving landscape another whirl again if I had a square. Always loved the format, from my Rollei onwards.

Rob
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myotis

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Re: How much quality do you really need?
« Reply #79 on: March 02, 2016, 03:10:21 pm »

Hi,

I have been shooting medium format for 2.5 years. I do enjoy shooting it but I am pretty sure that the claimed benefits of MFD are just a myth.

Best regards
Erik

I have no expertise in this to comment, but I do feel that the images I have seen from MFD still have a smoothness that smaller sensors have. But then I have also seen that smoothness  from smaller sensors as well, so not sure what to think.

You obviously still use MFD, so it presumably it gives you something you still think is desirable.

Cheers,

Graham
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