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Author Topic: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras  (Read 56331 times)

Nick Rains

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #80 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.
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #81 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.
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tho_mas

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #82 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...




« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 04:34:17 am by tho_mas »
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #83 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.


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Erik Kaffehr
 

ErikKaffehr

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #84 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.
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Erik Kaffehr
 

John R Smith

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #85 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
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #86 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 Höglund) 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.
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Nick Rains

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #87 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.
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PierreVandevenne

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #88 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? ;)
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #89 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
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michael

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #90 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
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #91 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.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Jonathan Cross

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #92 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
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billmac

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #93 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
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #94 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
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #95 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
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bjanes

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #96 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


« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 01:45:15 pm by bjanes »
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #97 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.
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Rob C

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #98 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

John Camp

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Re: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras
« Reply #99 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.

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