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Author Topic: Can you see a difference in small prints between an MFDB and a DSLR?  (Read 72226 times)

jerome_m

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Re: Can you see a difference in small prints between an MFDB and a DSLR?
« Reply #280 on: March 13, 2014, 03:12:12 pm »

Sorry to extend the conversation - but lets try. But try as we might, it depends on your standards, what you are shooting, and how you wish to judge. Some personal observation on this : I've been given the opportunity to try a Leica Monochrome. It has an 18mp CCD sensor, which is generally understood to be very much at the top of the smaller cameras, equal more or less to the top DSLRs (see Sean Reid's reviews for more on this). Its CCD sensor is used to only give BW information. I have not compared it to a D800 tho, but rather used it as a small camera and tried shooting very demanding architectural and landscape scenes. The local Leica dealer calls these scenes torture tests, so the gear gets a workout. The lenses used were the 21 SE, the 28 2.8 Asph, and a 50 'cron.

Up to about 13x19 inches, the MM results looks as good as MFDB (Leaf 33 mp). Everything is there and super crisp. The standard used is looking at a print for absolute detail at about 10" (25 cm) viewing distance. The prints are gorgeous.

When taken up to 17x22, things starts to change. Here's where its tricky: for the MM, if the lens is a really good one, the shooting technique is good, and full frame, the MM holds up reasonably well. If any of those factors slip, well, you can see it. If all is good, then the results are good, very good, but… you can see a difference between the MM and MFDB at this size. At first, its not so apparent, but put the prints side by side, and one is very very nice pops and the other pops. When shooting landscape (leaves, very fine texture), for example, the difference is there and it is visible, not just to me, but to others. The MFDB simply renders at 17x22 with more detail. However, if the subject is more dramatic, then the difference between the two is less obvious - that is, it is still there, but it is not so apparent. So for me, 17x22 is the upper limit for the smaller camera to make really really, blow you away, crisp results. Again, this is with prints viewed at very close distances. If you made bigger prints, the viewing distance should increase as well, and its likely larger prints would still captivate, as many others have reported.  

These results were generally confirmed in observation with friends. I think if you could see the prints you'd agree. Whether you think its a critical difference - well, now we are back to art….However, these results don't necessarily match what others have reported, who say they take MM prints up to larger sizes with great success. I believe the print is the ultimate way to judge, and haven't seen their work in person. Its possible they get better results. Perhaps their trade craft is better, or  have better up-rezzing techniques (which I don't use). I use only modest sharpening (LR for the MM, C1 for the Leaf). Maybe C1 is better for the MM, I don't know.

These are my observations as well. I call 13x19 "A3" and 17x22 "A2" and my experience with an A900 is that the resolution is sufficient for A2, but that I am limited in my choices of lenses and apertures if I want lens defects to be negligible. The A900 has roughly the same resolution as your Leica.

I'll take the example of landscape pictures. Basically, a camera of about 20-25 mpix can produce perfect A3 prints (13x19) and very nice A2 prints (17x22). For the next size up, A1 (which is twice as big… 22x34), I suppose I would need double the resolution.

The emphasis is on "can". And this is the main difference with medium format: with the A900 or the D800, I am very limited in my choices of lenses and apertures if I want to print that big. I need to play a bit with various software pieces to correct lenses defects (e.g. chromatic aberrations), get the sharpening right, etc… I need a heavy tripod, because the focal plane shutter induces vibrations at certain speeds. I need to calibrate AF precisely. etc…

With the H3D-50, I take any lens, any aperture, a light tripod and shoot. I enter the files into Phocus and only need to adjust the sharpness slider to taste, everything else is more or less automatic. Even the AF, with its single point, is well calibrated most of the times (it is still an occasional problem, but I am planning a new laptop to be able to shoot tethered). Not that I am saying that the H is perfect or better than any competition. I suppose that Phase One allows the same workflow, and I am quite aware that the camera is big, heavy, slow and more dependent on light quality.

The difference is not that one cannot produce a very nice picture with a 24x36 camera. The difference is that, with the highest resolution 24x36 camera, you will need to select your lenses amongst a very limited choice of, maybe, 4 to 8, and when everything works perfectly, you may be able, with the help of various software to produce a landscape picture which is sharp corner to corner when printed to A2. With the H3D-50, it is much easier and you get enough pixels to print to A1. And this is on a single criteria: sharpness. With the H, I also get cleaner bokeh, more pleasant skin tones and flash sync at any speed.

I also find the camera a joy to use, but that is just me… ;)
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Can you see a difference in small prints between an MFDB and a DSLR?
« Reply #281 on: March 13, 2014, 03:27:31 pm »

Hi Jerome,

I would agree with most of your observations. Most Sony lenses I have are weak in the corners.

Regarding taking pictures I have a small benefit as the Sony Alpha 99 is essentially vibration free, it has a fixed mirror, not causing vibrations and it also has electronic first curtain, so the only vibration arises when the second curtain closes. I normally use live at maximum magnification for focusing, and that is essentially exact.

I actually have some corner sharpness issues on Hasselblad V-series lenses, too, but they are all older designs (4 CF and 1 CFE). For instance, Zeiss says that the 120/4 CFi is markedly superior to the 120/4 CF I have. The Hasselblad H-series lenses are new designs. The lenses are designed by Hasselblad, but the optical assembly is manufactured by Fujinon in Japan. Just to make clear, Contax 645 lenses may have similar designations but at least some of them are very different design.

I enclose an actual pixel crop of the images I used for my initial test. The Sony image is here resized to same width the P45+ image has. Pixel peeping at actual the P45+ image is much better, but in my approximately A2 size print (half of the image printed on A4) neither I or my friend could see any difference. I looked at flower marked with red boxes with a 5.5X loupe on print and in enlargement the P45+ image was much better. I guess it is about limitation in vision, I am 58 and my friend is around 40, both near sighted (I have 20/20 vision with glasses). Another consideration is that both images are scaled to printer resolution and output sharpened by Lightroom. To that comes the printing process. (The images were here processed in Lightroom, they could have been much enhanced by Bart's process, but I guess that it would benefit both images nearly equally.)

Yes, I am astonished how small the visual difference is in print.


Best regards
Erik


These are my observations as well. I call 13x19 "A3" and 17x22 "A2" and my experience with an A900 is that the resolution is sufficient for A2, but that I am limited in my choices of lenses and apertures if I want lens defects to be negligible. The A900 has roughly the same resolution as your Leica.

I'll take the example of landscape pictures. Basically, a camera of about 20-25 mpix can produce perfect A3 prints (13x19) and very nice A2 prints (17x22). For the next size up, A1 (which is twice as big… 22x34), I suppose I would need double the resolution.

The emphasis is on "can". And this is the main difference with medium format: with the A900 or the D800, I am very limited in my choices of lenses and apertures if I want to print that big. I need to play a bit with various software pieces to correct lenses defects (e.g. chromatic aberrations), get the sharpening right, etc… I need a heavy tripod, because the focal plane shutter induces vibrations at certain speeds. I need to calibrate AF precisely. etc…

With the H3D-50, I take any lens, any aperture, a light tripod and shoot. I enter the files into Phocus and only need to adjust the sharpness slider to taste, everything else is more or less automatic. Even the AF, with its single point, is well calibrated most of the times (it is still an occasional problem, but I am planning a new laptop to be able to shoot tethered). Not that I am saying that the H is perfect or better than any competition. I suppose that Phase One allows the same workflow, and I am quite aware that the camera is big, heavy, slow and more dependent on light quality.

The difference is not that one cannot produce a very nice picture with a 24x36 camera. The difference is that, with the highest resolution 24x36 camera, you will need to select your lenses amongst a very limited choice of, maybe, 4 to 8, and when everything works perfectly, you may be able, with the help of various software to produce a landscape picture which is sharp corner to corner when printed to A2. With the H3D-50, it is much easier and you get enough pixels to print to A1. And this is on a single criteria: sharpness. With the H, I also get cleaner bokeh, more pleasant skin tones and flash sync at any speed.

I also find the camera a joy to use, but that is just me… ;)
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 02:23:13 am by ErikKaffehr »
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Can you see a difference in small prints between an MFDB and a DSLR?
« Reply #282 on: March 13, 2014, 03:37:18 pm »

Hi,

In a sense, I am not the OP, I got a question that I essentially passed on. I am in no way insecure in my observations, but I am a bit astonished how well DSLRs seem to keep up with MF in print and I wanted to get more observations on the issue.


I guess the main cause to ask this question is that the intention is to print small and asking if a major expenditure going to MF will have benefits with the print sizes in question. I don't think art has any relevance to the question. Great art is great art weather printed large or small. But it is a perfectly good question if you plan on spending say 20k$US.

Best regards
Erik



Like others, I recommend to the OP that he spend more time studying photographs by the masters, more time making prints, learning how to develop a critical stance and apply judgment to his own work. And then many of the questions raised will answer themselves. Its not that hard - make the prints, learn the discipline, study and do the work. Just like other fields.


« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 02:18:31 am by ErikKaffehr »
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jerome_m

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Re: Can you see a difference in small prints between an MFDB and a DSLR?
« Reply #283 on: March 13, 2014, 04:45:33 pm »

I actually have some corner sharpness issues on Hasselblad lenses, too, but they are all older designs (4 CF and 1 CFE). For instance, Zeiss says that the 120/4 CFi is markedly superior to the 120/4 CF I have.

The Hasselblad lenses for the H series are completely different to the lenses for the V series. They are recent designs, manufactured by Fujinon. They are incredibly good.


Quote
I enclose an actual pixel crop of the images I used for my initial test. The Sony image is here resized to same width the P45+ image has. Pixel peeping at actual the P45+ image is much better, but in my approximately A2 size print (half of the image printed on A4) neither I or my friend could see any difference. I looked at flower marked with red boxes with a 5.5X loupe on print and in enlargement the P45+ image was much better. I guess it is about limitation in vision, I am 58 and my friend is around 40, both near sighted (I have 20/20 vision with glasses). Another consideration is that both images are scaled to printer resolution and output sharpened by Lightroom. To that comes the printing process. (The images were here processed in Lightroom, they could have been much enhanced by Bart's process, but I guess that it would benefit both images nearly equally.)

Yes, I am astonished how small the visual difference is in print.

I said it already: the way you are testing things, you cannot find any other result. Simply because you design all your tests to test resolution only and the 24 mpix of your A99 are a sufficient resolution for an A2 print.

Last but not least, I find your obsession with resolution and sharpness somewhat puzzling. You are obviously an intelligent and educated person, but you refuse to talk about anything else. Yet, resolution and sharpness are boring. I mean: we all want our cameras to work properly, up to a point, and I am probably guilty myself of too much time spent testing lenses. But when the pictures are reasonably sharp the objective of testing and pixel peeping is done. There is a world of a lot more interesting things to do with a camera.
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Can you see a difference in small prints between an MFDB and a DSLR?
« Reply #284 on: March 13, 2014, 05:14:45 pm »

Hi,

You have a point.

Best regards
Erik


Last but not least, I find your obsession with resolution and sharpness somewhat puzzling. You are obviously an intelligent and educated person, but you refuse to talk about anything else. Yet, resolution and sharpness are boring. I mean: we all want our cameras to work properly, up to a point, and I am probably guilty myself of too much time spent testing lenses. But when the pictures are reasonably sharp the objective of testing and pixel peeping is done. There is a world of a lot more interesting things to do with a camera.
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