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Author Topic: Zeiss 617  (Read 5535 times)
BernardLanguillier
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« on: March 18, 2009, 01:20:30 AM »
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Thanks for the article.

However I exchange emails recently with a former owner of the same first generation Zeiss 617 and he was very negative about the image quality of the camera in terms of noise and pixel quality.

What is your view on this?

Cheers,
Bernard
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Wally
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2009, 09:25:23 AM »
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What I don't understand is why not just shoot with a 6x17 roll film back mounted on a 4x5 field camera. Or get one of the dedicated 6x17 rollfilm cameras. With panoramic shooting you are mainly shooting  outdoors lugging around all that gear is just not very practicle.
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image66
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2009, 11:05:52 AM »
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Quote from: Wally
What I don't understand is why not just shoot with a 6x17 roll film back mounted on a 4x5 field camera. Or get one of the dedicated 6x17 rollfilm cameras. With panoramic shooting you are mainly shooting  outdoors lugging around all that gear is just not very practicle.

Well, the "common wisdom" says that you're not going to get an image of any quality from film when printed 96" wide.  And the gauntlet has been thrown down--2009 is the year of the 96" wide prints.  Every gallery showing is going to have to have at least one of these monsters to prove that you are a real photographer using the best equipment around.     The rest of us will just have to pano-stitch using whatever we can afford.

From a "usability perspective" I'd suggest that this digital system is great for those who are into "productions".  In reality, this is not too different than putting together a television commercial where you can easily lug 500 pounds of flight cases to a simple shoot and require five people to pull it off.  No big deal for a commercial photographer. The advantages of shooting digital for commercial photography when you have 12 worthless people from the advertising agency trying to act important is priceless.

But for a one-lunger (photographer working on his own without assistants) doing spec work, I'd absolutely recommend going the film route.  A high-quality 4x5 field camera with a set of world-class lenses and polaroid back can be acquired for less than the cost of a 5Dmk2.  Not only that, but the 4x5 is going to give you movements to correct perspective and give you focusing options.  Also, that 4x5 will allow you to shoot images at any desired shutter speed without having things distort or change during the sweep as well as allow you to shoot with flash!

The only problem I see with recommending the 4x5 camera and film is that even "back in the day", few professional photographers really understood how to use them and they were used so infrequently that one needed to use the 'roids just to correct the "duh" moments.  Now, with the digital mindset of most photographers, using something literally as technical as a 4x5 and transparency film is beyond our capabilities.  Remember, "expert" and "professional" are not synonymous.

This is a classic case of "fringe" equipment and application.  It's neat to read about these cameras and see what the top dogs are doing, but when I show up at my next assignment, I pull out the camera equipment that both my client and myself can afford.  And for us, when my digital camera doesn't cut it, I use film.  It's amazing, but for the average photographer, the need for a 96" wide print doesn't come along very often.

But one can dream.
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Thomas Krüger
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2009, 11:55:50 AM »
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Going with 4x5" film means own in-house C41 processing, no problem with an old Jobo ATL processor. Next step is scanning the negatives to be able to print archival ink-jet prints. Or printing to RA-4 paper.
Honestly, I prefer a digital back or a digital camera, a big color calibrated monitor and a state-of-the-art large format photo printer.
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John Camp
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2009, 01:28:34 PM »
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This is the part of the article that interested me:

"The final prints measure a remarkable 44x96 inches (and bigger is also possible). They offer the viewer a near visionary experience that I think is entirely new to photography. Of course, as photographers we have been able to print big for years but there has always been a corresponding fall-off in quality. With these prints, however, you can see every little detail – every little scrape of mortar around each brick. I feel as if I am creating a whole new reality, prints that are so life-like it is as if you are looking through a window on to the subject. As a specialist in panoramic photography, it has always been my dream to create images that fill the viewer’s field of vision – to remove the obstacle of the photograph itself from the viewer’s mind and create a picture that is so sharp and intense you feel you could be stepping into it. And this is what I think you get with the Seitz."

I do think this is pretty important, and is *new.* I've looked closely at huge, high-quality prints done with large format film cameras by a fashion photographer who also shoots landscape as a hobby, and even with 8 X 10 film and terrific technique, really huge prints just don't have that life-like, out-the-window quality.

But my question is (Bernard?) can you get the same quality with a smaller, cheaper camera, good optics and stitching? I've seen some of those super-megapixel stitched prints posted at various places around the net, that you can zoom in on forever, and it seems like they would allow printing to pretty extreme quality...If it's possible to use a standard camera, like a Canon or a Nikon and get quality as good as with the Seitz, then technique (which costs nothing except your time) could replace $38,000 worth of highly specialized equipment. No?

JC
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Wally
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2009, 01:39:14 PM »
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Quote from: image66
Well, the "common wisdom" says that you're not going to get an image of any quality from film when printed 96" wide.  And the gauntlet has been thrown down--2009 is the year of the 96" wide prints.  Every gallery showing is going to have to have at least one of these monsters to prove that you are a real photographer using the best equipment around................It's amazing, but for the average photographer, the need for a 96" wide print doesn't come along very often.

But one can dream.

Is anyone even buying 96" wide prints? When framed and matted that would be about 10 feet long. From a practicality standpoint for making such huge prints Large Format film gear would be the way to go. A 96" enlargement from 8x10 sheet film is only 10X. From 4x5 is only 20X. Shooting good film well exposed and then scanned with a good highend scanner will give you outstanding resolution. I have seen very large prints made from Clyde Butchers large format negatives they are quite stunning. I guess the "common wisdom" is wrong
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Wally
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2009, 01:47:59 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
."

I do think this is pretty important, and is *new.* I've looked closely at huge, high-quality prints done with large format film cameras by a fashion photographer who also shoots landscape as a hobby, and even with 8 X 10 film and terrific technique, really huge prints just don't have that life-like, out-the-window quality.

the problem is that you can't shoot fashion with Zeiss 617 because of the 2-3 seconds it takes to scan the image. The models can't sit perfectly still for that long and the slightest movement at that resolution with look horrible.

and for landscapes I can't imagine carrying all 60 pounds of gear into the wilds. Imagine taking that on the recnt LL trip to Antartica
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2009, 02:18:26 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
But my question is (Bernard?) can you get the same quality with a smaller, cheaper camera, good optics and stitching? I've seen some of those super-megapixel stitched prints posted at various places around the net, that you can zoom in on forever, and it seems like they would allow printing to pretty extreme quality...If it's possible to use a standard camera, like a Canon or a Nikon and get quality as good as with the Seitz, then technique (which costs nothing except your time) could replace $38,000 worth of highly specialized equipment. No?

JC

Although stitching is far from the 'does it all' answer, anything that is going to stay still for 1-5 seconds is probably going to stay still long enough to shoot the frames on a 35mm DSLR for stitching purposes. Of course when shooting pano's stitching is even faster as you can achieve an incredible 'megapixel' range with a simple one row stitch.



A paltry 35 megapixels, 8 frames and under a minute to shoot. Autopano Pro did an incredible job with the moving branches, not a single problem.
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John Camp
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« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2009, 04:41:02 PM »
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Quote from: Wally
the problem is that you can't shoot fashion with Zeiss 617 because of the 2-3 seconds it takes to scan the image. The models can't sit perfectly still for that long and the slightest movement at that resolution with look horrible.

and for landscapes I can't imagine carrying all 60 pounds of gear into the wilds. Imagine taking that on the recnt LL trip to Antartica

I wasn't suggesting shooting fashion with this camera, I was saying that I'd seen prints by a very well-known and competent fashion/landscape shooter that were printed very wide (six feet?) and they'd didn't hold up so well. Apparently this is not the case with the Seitz, and I was wondering how well smaller format cameras, like the higher-res Canons and Nikons, would hold up against the Seitz with a stitched pano...the underlying question being, is there any real point to the Seitz, except in some *extremely* limited conditions?

JC
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2009, 05:26:03 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
But my question is (Bernard?) can you get the same quality with a smaller, cheaper camera, good optics and stitching? I've seen some of those super-megapixel stitched prints posted at various places around the net, that you can zoom in on forever, and it seems like they would allow printing to pretty extreme quality...If it's possible to use a standard camera, like a Canon or a Nikon and get quality as good as with the Seitz, then technique (which costs nothing except your time) could replace $38,000 worth of highly specialized equipment. No?

John,

I have never seen a Seitz file at 100% (it would have been interesting to see some 100% crops), but the person I spoke with was clearly saying that the pixel quality was poor with lots of noise and artifacts. That person has quickly sold his Seitz and gotten a P45 for stitching...

Considering that:
- the pixel quality of the best DSLR is very impressive nowadays,
- you end up using mostly the center part of the lens with stitching,
- you lose very little when stitching properlly,

my assumption is that a 100+ MP from a 20+ MP DSLR would probably be as as good or better overall than a single 160 MP Seitz image. The is basically 8 frames, or 15 seconds or so.

I would personnally never spend so much money on such a specialized tool with many remaining questions marks. If single row panos are the name of the game, and money not a problem, I would probably personnally buy a high end back instead of the Seitz (probably a Leaf Aptus II 10 back of the AFi or a pankace camera).

Cheers,
Bernard
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2009, 05:27:57 PM »
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Quote from: Wally
Is anyone even buying 96" wide prints? When framed and matted that would be about 10 feet long. From a practicality standpoint for making such huge prints Large Format film gear would be the way to go. A 96" enlargement from 8x10 sheet film is only 10X. From 4x5 is only 20X. Shooting good film well exposed and then scanned with a good highend scanner will give you outstanding resolution. I have seen very large prints made from Clyde Butchers large format negatives they are quite stunning. I guess the "common wisdom" is wrong

I have to disagree. There is no way scanned 4x5 or 8x10 can even come close to a correctly executed stitch at such print sizes.

Cheers,
Bernard
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elf
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« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2009, 12:25:59 AM »
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Quote from: Wally
Is anyone even buying 96" wide prints? When framed and matted that would be about 10 feet long. From a practicality standpoint for making such huge prints Large Format film gear would be the way to go. A 96" enlargement from 8x10 sheet film is only 10X. From 4x5 is only 20X. Shooting good film well exposed and then scanned with a good highend scanner will give you outstanding resolution. I have seen very large prints made from Clyde Butchers large format negatives they are quite stunning. I guess the "common wisdom" is wrong

And a stitched from digital might have to be down-rezzed to print that small  
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Wally
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« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2009, 10:00:37 AM »
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Quote from: BernardLanguillier
I have to disagree. There is no way scanned 4x5 or 8x10 can even come close to a correctly executed stitch at such print sizes.

Cheers,
Bernard

I would agree but are we not talking about the Zeiss 617 in this thread?

However the clear advantage to LF gear over stitching is the ability to have lens and back movements to correct DOF and other distortion issues. When used properly this will allow you to have a much sharper image front to back than you will get with stitching. Of course that may or may not be important to you
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pedro.silva
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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2009, 02:24:22 PM »
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Quote from: Wally
I would agree but are we not talking about the Zeiss 617 in this thread?

not really, no -- despite the thread title i think it's actually the seitz 6x17 we are talking about...  

Quote from: Wally
However the clear advantage to LF gear over stitching is the ability to have lens and back movements to correct DOF and other distortion issues. When used properly this will allow you to have a much sharper image front to back than you will get with stitching. Of course that may or may not be important to you

again, not really.  the thing with digital, and stitching in particular, is that if you know what you are doing, you can do at least as good.  eg, you can shoot each row -- or even each component image -- at a different focusing distance, thereby getting everything in focus from close foreground to distant background.  if necessary, you can shoot each image (or just some of them) at different focusing distances, and do focus blending before stitching.  you can also "correct" geometric distortions, or introduce any you find pleasing.  etc, etc.  simple?  no, but lf done right is not simple either now, is it?  

cheers,
pedro
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tived
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2009, 11:35:44 PM »
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I remember seeing this camera when it first came out, WOW!

I think I have been playing with digital stitching since 2003-4, when i got my RRS kit, got so frustrated with it, well more with the software at the time, or the lack of time to learn the software (Panotools) either way it was frustrating.

Bought a 617 camera and a 90mm lens, and a secondhand Imacon, scanning at 3200dpi, sure big files. But just with stitching, so many things can go wrong.

In the past two years I have picked up my pano kit again and especially now with the Canon 1D mkIII and its liveview stitching is becoming fun again. software has improved alot. but now it isn't just stitching rows and columns of images, we are not doing HDRI as well, to add to the burden and to top it off, we are adding focus stacking. That is a lot of files to play with.  

Imagine, 5 rows of 15 columns, bracket with 5 shots for HDR, hmmm, now we are going to add focus stacking (we are currently at 5x15x5=375 images @ 10mb each) and we have not done the focus stacking...

the next thing on the shopping list is a robot :-) but am I now still a photographer or director?

but it is certainly a fascinating way of approaching a subject, but I can't remember a single shoot where something has not been missed.

Large format and movements, certainly would help here to cut down on shooting time, but live view would be a lifesaver here.

Henrik

Having fun
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