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Author Topic: "The look"  (Read 2716 times)

larkis

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"The look"
« on: September 20, 2022, 05:46:02 pm »

I know the subject of the medium format "look" has been beaten to death at this point, and full frame cameras with the same FOV as the medium format lenses can produce seemingly equivalent images (besides the aspect ratio). My question is to anyone on here that shoots portraits and fashion type of work, and the question is how does one achieve the type of skin texture seen here http://www.giampaolosgura.com/portfolio/into-the-blue/ ?

I have noticed that many modern cameras seem to produce mannequin looking skin. Even the low rez DP2 Merrill seems to capture something more organic. Is this something that medium format has a better chance with, is it the modern optics that make everything look sterile ? Can anyone with more experience this particular genre chime in ?
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BobShaw

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2022, 06:05:01 pm »

Well in general medium format uses longer focal length lenses at the same subject distance, so you get more compression and a more flattering image.
If you want to capture texture then you have to have enough resolution to see it. I don't think there is any magic there. Usually you smooth the skin to reduce it.
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larkis

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2022, 11:37:58 am »

Seems like what this poster over at the mirrorless forum is talking about is what I see as well. I wonder how much of it is post processing, lenses and the fact that most of the sensors in the popular cameras are made by sony. The color balance, how skin or other colors render is not my concern, all of that is fairly easy to adjust. It's the plastic look to skin that seems to be harder to get rid off.



Also, every Sony I've seen renders detail in a "plastic" or "digital" kind of way, and you either see it or you don't.  But once you see it, you can't UNSEE it.

 
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Doug Peterson

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2022, 11:49:40 am »

A camera system is a great many things put together in a package that can take a picture.

The sensor design, bayer design, IR filter design, lens coatings, lens element designs, lens shade, the choices made during readout of the sensor, the dark frame (if any), the debayering, the noise handling, the color engine, the color profile, and the tone curve all have a part in the final look of the image*. This is especially true with medium format where both Hassy and Phase One have their own raw processors which are developed in synergy with the hardware to get the most out of the joint system.

Any argument about a specific component that doesn't understand the holistic system is more than a specific component is inevitably going to be pretty unhelpful.

*Obviously the stuff in front of the camera (subject, lighting, composition, moment etc) matter even more than the camera system. But that stuff can be equalized more or less. Though I maintain that whether Vulcan-logical or not, the photographer is influenced by the equipment they use. Give someone a $10 glass of wine and and a $100 glass of wine and watch whether they spend time to truly examine, taste, and enjoy the wine to their fullest capability.

larkis

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2022, 02:57:48 pm »

Give someone a $10 glass of wine and and a $100 glass of wine and watch whether they spend time to truly examine, taste, and enjoy the wine to their fullest capability.

Not sure about the wine analogy, especially knowing how full of shit a lot of wine people can be. A great doc worth watching about this https://youtu.be/hPUYuwSRwB8

I agree with you about a camera being a sum of it's parts, and I do like the way the files behave in post processing  from medium format cameras compared to my Sony's, but the plastic skin issue seems to exist on both.
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BobShaw

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2022, 07:15:17 pm »

A camera system is a great many things put together in a package that can take a picture.

The sensor design, bayer design, IR filter design, lens coatings, lens element designs, lens shade, the choices made during readout of the sensor, the dark frame (if any), the debayering, the noise handling, the color engine, the color profile, and the tone curve all have a part in the final look of the image*. This is especially true with medium format where both Hassy and Phase One have their own raw processors which are developed in synergy with the hardware to get the most out of the joint system.

Any argument about a specific component that doesn't understand the holistic system is more than a specific component is inevitably going to be pretty unhelpful.
Too true. The camera is more than the sensor.
Medium format cameras by Hasselblad and Phase are basically individually made and calibrated.
The top end 35mm cameras may also be made to closer tolerances but the lower models are bulk made and vary tremendously.
I remember seeing the same image taken from 10 different Canon 5D Mk2 and they were all noticeably different in colour.
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wcarlew

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2022, 08:14:46 pm »

Not sure about the wine analogy, especially knowing how full of shit a lot of wine people can be.

As apposed to " Camera People?"  :)
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2022, 06:23:18 pm »

As apposed to " Camera People?"  :)

Ah ah ah. :)

Cheers,
Bernard

larkis

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2022, 10:41:24 am »

As apposed to " Camera People?"  :)

I suppose any industry where science and subjectivity collide ends up having this predicament. The High-Fi audio crowd also has parallels this this. Some instruments can measure a distinct improvement in equipment X, but the improvement might not actually effect the eyes/ears of a human the way it effects the measuring instrument. In the industry I work in (visual FX/Commercials) on paper the Arri Alexa has inferior specs to some of the high end RED offerings. A lot of cinematographers however still prefer the Arri due to some psychological component that comes across through the various parts of the system. I imagine this this what Doug is hoping for/talking about.

There is also this perspective that I found entertaining because it has a lot of truth in it: https://youtu.be/844iiDbtVwY?t=110
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BobShaw

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2022, 08:57:07 pm »

.... I do like the way the files behave in post processing  from medium format cameras compared to my Sony's, but the plastic skin issue seems to exist on both.
Sounds like a resolution issue, possibly the lens.
Plenty of skin texture in this video by Karl Taylor here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5GjcpJeKUs
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Doug Peterson

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2022, 03:19:57 pm »

Not sure about the wine analogy, especially knowing how full of shit a lot of wine people can be. A great doc worth watching about this https://youtu.be/hPUYuwSRwB8

You're agreeing with my point. I used wine to highlight the psychological element.

To recap - there are two reasons for the "look":
1) TECHNICAL The factual/real difference in the quality/design of a myriad of components that all have consequence to the technical and aesthetic rendering of the scene. Often people errantly distill this to a single component ("it's the lenses" or "it's the sensor size" or "it's the CFA") when the reality is it's a dozen things all working in synergy (or not).
2) PSYCHOLOGICAL The reality that photographers usually behave differently when they are using a camera that is more expensive or is otherwise a more "serious" camera (however they subjectively define/experience that). They don't *have* to behave differently - a photographer is physically capable of spending 10 minutes carefully considering your composition on iPhone and then snapping away without thought with an XT IQ4 150mp, but in general that's not how people work. Give them wine you claim is better and they will usually taste it more carefully; tell them its swill and they will usually drink it casually and without thought.

Or put more succinctly:
1) The camera system hardware matters
2) The mental state of the photographer matters, which is partly influenced by the camera since people aren't Vulcans

An experiment to confirm (2) would be, for example, give 1000 photographers an XT IQ4 with the default black handle and another 1000 photographers an XT IQ4 with the DT Rosewood Handle. This has absolutely positively no impact on the technical capability of the camera - it's purely an aesthetic thing. But if you had the resulting work of each group voted on by photographers (blinded to who had what camera), I would bet you'd find a small but statistically significant difference in the rating of their work. I've shown XT cameras to thousands of photographers and they just like and connect to the Rosewood more, and if you like a camera more you're more likely to invest more of your own mental focus and creativity and physical effort when you use it. Again, the effect would be very minor – I use this example because it's a comparison where absolutely nothing about the technicals of the camera are changed.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2022, 03:34:56 pm by Doug Peterson »
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Gigi

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2022, 07:59:37 am »

While perhaps an unusual approach, this rings true. There is gear one likes to use, that has an appeal, resonates, or in some way inspires - and one takes different (better?) photographs with that.

Kudos to Doug for being willing to put this soft issue on the table, especially since his company deals with very high end gear, and very precise instruments for very particular purposes. Apart from the excellence of the equipment, the human factor matters as well.
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Geoff

aaronleitz

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2022, 05:43:49 pm »

It's pretty much all lighting conditions during the shoot and then post production/retouching. The particular camera used has almost nothing to do with it. I've seen photos of Sgura shooting with Hassleblad, Phase One, Nikon and Canon.

Well in general medium format uses longer focal length lenses at the same subject distance, so you get more compression and a more flattering image...

Distance to subject is what determines "compression" not focal length.
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AndrewMcD

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2022, 08:33:15 pm »

if you like a camera more you're more likely to invest more of your own mental focus and creativity and physical effort when you use it. Again, the effect would be very minor – I use this example because it's a comparison where absolutely nothing about the technicals of the camera are changed.

I remember buying my first Leica M in high school. I had been using an OM1, and sold my car to buy an M4. I really thought it was a magical difference the camera made, but I was just taking the process more seriously. That camera coincided with me becoming more detail oriented about how I used the equipment, processed the film, and printed.

Occasionally, I look at my old 4x5 color and wonder why some images, scanned, look amazing, and others, blah. It's a whole range of things that affect the final image, it's a lot like making music and finding the right mix of instruments, musicians, recording location, mixing, etc.
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Lust4Life

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2022, 04:59:14 pm »

Of the post here, I think Doug's post is interesting, BUY the part I feel is the most relevant to the topic are his two entries at the end of a long list of the "micro-elements" contained within the "macro-result".
"the color engine, the color profile, and the tone curve"

That is where the "Human" element comes into the equation, and frankly the "brilliance" of engineering, or the lack of it.

Decades ago back when I had hair to cover the scars on this bald head, there was a chap I respected with Hasselblad, Paul Claesson, who's son is still with Hassie last we talked in 2020.

I learned that Hassie spend a substantial amount on having a particular chap build their cameras internal engine "the color engine, the color profile, and the tone curve".   Additionally all of its color space rendering is done in 16 bit with the propriety LUT/Color Table that they had developed specifically for their camera, even though the array/sensor only gens 14 bit, for instance on the H4D 60.

So, in short I prefer to think of it not as wine (besides I am allergic to all alcoholic "beverages"!  LOL, who ever heard of an Irishman with that DNA flaw??) but as putting together a finely tuned race car and then loading it up with 87 octane fuel!

Thus, I put more weight on the end of Doug's sentence.

 

BobShaw

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2022, 10:22:20 pm »

Distance to subject is what determines "compression" not focal length.

I get that a lot.
Everyone (including myself) agrees that the distance from the lens to the subject is important.
Why then is the distance from the lens to the film plane not important? We call that the focal length.
I think that it is.
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EricV

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2022, 02:28:01 am »

Why then is the distance from the lens to the film plane not important? We call that the focal length.
I think that it is.
Consider the extreme example of a pinhole camera.  The image plane can be placed anywhere behind the lens, making the "focal length" anything you want.  Yet the image will always maintain the same perspective (set by the distance to the subject), regardless of size.
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BobShaw

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Re: "The look"
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2022, 12:20:12 am »

Consider the extreme example of a pinhole camera.  The image plane can be placed anywhere behind the lens, making the "focal length" anything you want.  Yet the image will always maintain the same perspective (set by the distance to the subject), regardless of size.
In that case there is no lens so there is no refraction.
Look at these two photos taken from the same spot of the same hotel and street.
One was taken with probably a large format camera, the other with a Canon.
The hotel in one is half the depth and the end of the street is about 600m away.
Which one has more compression?
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