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Author Topic: Stitching small format vs using medium format  (Read 14496 times)
Gurglamei
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« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2009, 06:23:24 AM »
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Many, many thanks to all.

From what I read it seems that for my prints - 24 inch printer - there is little to be gained in print quality form buying a MF system compared to propperly done stitches from a D3x. Maybe I with time can approach even better quality with stitches as Bernard suggests is possible. Time will show..

So, I have decided to go for the stitching option. Thanks for helping out    Saved me a lot of money!



Christopher
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marcs
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« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2009, 12:30:41 PM »
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Thanks for the clarification, Bernard.  I am curious to learn more about your dual-row stitching process and use of technical aids, if you do not mind sharing.  It sounds tedious, but perhaps you have mastered the technique.  I will likely avoid the process since I like digital backs, but I am curious nonetheless.  

Once I return to NYC I will mail you several discs with the raw image files you requested.  Give me a couple weeks.  Please PM me your coordinates.

MS


Quote from: BernardLanguillier
I have never said that 3 images from D3x could equal a single frame from a P65+. The back has slightly sharper pixels, and it probably takes 80MP from D3x image to capture the same level of detail, my view has always been that you probably need at least 6 in two rows with a proper pano head (like the Really Right stuff head I have been using).

One key aspect here though is the quality of the capture with the D3x. I find that only the most robust tripod, head and pano head (I have been using a Gitzo 5531s) have enough rigidity to ensure panoramic stitching withouth vibrations with the D3x. So yes, it requires a good technique and not to make any mistake. A P65+ is for sure an easier solution to use, if you have the cash and want to use it that way.

I find either C1 or Raw Developper to be needed to extract the detail and sharpen properlly D3x files, once this is done they get real close to back level pixel sharpness.

As far as tonality goes, could you please share images of a given subject shot with the 2 cameras? If you can provide the raw images of the d3x I'd love to see if I can get closer to what you see with your back.

Thanks.

Cheers,
Bernard
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marcs
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« Reply #22 on: September 02, 2009, 12:35:21 PM »
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Thanks Murray for sharing your experiences.  I, for one, would be very interested in seeing some of the stitched work you have created using your DSLR.  But I imagine most of it is commercial, and therefore confidential, such as the 96 inch Canon file.  If not, please PM me.

Best,

MS

Quote from: Murray Fredericks
Marcs,

I own both systems and totally agree that MFDB has a different quality to DSLR. It's just that to actually make that extra quality apparent I have found that the files have to be pushed to their limits either through enlargement to huge sizes and or by pushing the limits of 'quality' (a very subjective term). For someone 'considering' either system I would say they are so close in terms of the final print that paying 10 times as much simply can't be justified...I always thought you should feel completely constrained by one bit of gear and clearly know how and why the planned purchase of new gear will alleviate that constraint before trading up.

I can't answer the technical questions properly but have relayed my experiences working with both systems - and yes, assume all proper exposure and stitching techniques were used.

I dropped the same $$ as you on a MFDB system and then bought the 5d2 when it was released. Horses for courses - but soon I realized that for my commissioned work, very few of clients could tell the difference between the results of both systems - in fact my clients seemed happier with the 5d2 images in general as:

 1. more images were produced on the shoot as it's faster to work with,

 2. the files required less work straight out of the camera for some reason (result - quicker post processing = cheaper) and

 3. The viewfinder was better in the 5d2 so the compositions were better in environments where shooting faster was essential ie when the client is watching the clock.  I also found myself more inclined to 'play' and take risks when I could see the shot quickly through the DSLR finder.

All that only applies to the situation where the client commissions the work.

When shooting my own work the MFDB is always used or the 8" x 10" because the work is usually printed quite large and aesthetic quality while not the point of the work can ruin a shot if it's not there. I am considering replacing the 8" x 10" all together with P65+  - but still not sure. Speed is really not an issue either.

The 96" prints were landscapes over a farm at dawn.

Also, don't forget the role of the rip in all this and the printer's workflow in general as well as choice of materials etc etc. So many variables and all of this is so subjective.

Cheers

Murray
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2009, 03:23:14 PM »
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Quote from: Gurglamei
Many, many thanks to all.

From what I read it seems that for my prints - 24 inch printer - there is little to be gained in print quality form buying a MF system compared to propperly done stitches from a D3x. Maybe I with time can approach even better quality with stitches as Bernard suggests is possible. Time will show..

So, I have decided to go for the stitching option. Thanks for helping out    Saved me a lot of money!

Christopher

If you really want to answer this question the only way to do so would be to shoot both yourself.

At a dealer like ours you could do so for free. You could also attend one of the workshops we work with (e.g. GetDPI's upcoming Oregon workshop) where you could use just about every camera on the market (canon, nikon, sony as well as several Phase One backs).  

IMO (and its only that, opinion) composition through pan+tilt+stitch removes a lot of the hands-on feeling that photography gives me. You can't really compose; you just point the camera in the right general direction and take a composition much looser than you think you want because you can't be confident where the frame edges will end up after you apply the geometric distortions to merge them together. It feels too abstract and removed from the actual process of photography.

Also keep in mind that while Bernard says six total images from the D3X (captured with excellent technique) will come close to a P65+ that many of our P65+ shooters are using a tech camera which allows them to shoot 180+ megapixel images which would imply the need for 18 frames from a D3x (again assuming the technique was perfect); the stitching on a tech camera requires no geometric distortion since the lens and camera remain static and the back simply moves to capture different parts of the same image circle. This means on a tech camera that 180 megapixel image requires no elegant stitching, distortion correction, or cropping - so you can actually compose at the time of capture.

Doug Peterson
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« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2009, 06:26:08 PM »
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Quote from: dougpetersonci
composition through pan+tilt+stitch removes a lot of the hands-on feeling that photography gives me. You can't really compose; you just point the camera in the right general direction and take a composition much looser than you think you want because you can't be confident where the frame edges will end up after you apply the geometric distortions to merge them together. It feels too abstract and removed from the actual process of photography.

Also keep in mind that while Bernard says six total images from the D3X (captured with excellent technique) will come close to a P65+ that many of our P65+ shooters are using a tech camera which allows them to shoot 180+ megapixel images which would imply the need for 18 frames from a D3x (again assuming the technique was perfect); the stitching on a tech camera requires no geometric distortion since the lens and camera remain static and the back simply moves to capture different parts of the same image circle. This means on a tech camera that 180 megapixel image requires no elegant stitching, distortion correction, or cropping - so you can actually compose at the time of capture.

Doug,

you make some good points but I think they need expanding a bit...

Composition
It's a clunky way (and reason) to stitch to use a longer lens on a smaller sensor just to build up the megapixels instead of shooting wider on a larger sensor. Stitching really comes into it's own where the field of view required is so large it either cannot fit into a single frame or the lens required is so wide the resulting 'stretch' in the corners starts to dominate the subject matter. When you are shooting compositions with FOVs that extend beyond any available lens then you have to learn to predict the final composition even though you can't see it while shooting. Naturally, the 'hit rate' drops - but it's the only way and it's quite amazing how we can train our minds to 'see' this kind of stuff in advance.

Megapixels
It's fine to have all those extra megapixels, achieved either through stitching or through a larger sensor, but as discussed above, unless you are actually looking for differences in even a large-'ish' print, they are all going to appear pretty similar assuming good printing and exposing technique. I don't know if this is what you were saying, but the inherent lens distortion in most DSLR lenses will be cancelled out in the stitching stage with programs like Auto Pano Pro.

The difference between a good DSLR and a MFDB very large print is nothing like comparing say 35mm film and 8" x 10" film enlarged big. IMO it's more like comparing 4" x 5" and 8" x 10" and if the DSLR is stitched then it will be hard to see the difference at all.

Cheers

Murray
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2009, 07:11:34 PM »
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Quote from: dougpetersonci
Also keep in mind that while Bernard says six total images from the D3X (captured with excellent technique) will come close to a P65+ that many of our P65+ shooters are using a tech camera which allows them to shoot 180+ megapixel images which would imply the need for 18 frames from a D3x (again assuming the technique was perfect); the stitching on a tech camera requires no geometric distortion since the lens and camera remain static and the back simply moves to capture different parts of the same image circle. This means on a tech camera that 180 megapixel image requires no elegant stitching, distortion correction, or cropping - so you can actually compose at the time of capture.

Fair statement Doug, totally agree with that.

It is for sure true that stitching has some risk inherent to it, and you can never be 100% sure that you didn't mess up with something that could compromise the quality of the result (although it happens less and less the more you use the technique). It is obvious that for commercial applications where the need to deliver 100% of the time is a central requirement, a back provides - on top of all its core qualities - some peace of mind that is for sure worth a good bunch of $.

I guess that for fine art where there is more freedom to use those images that worked and to get rid of the rest, this is a bit less critical.

In the end, there is no solution that is better for everybody I guess, but Phaseone dropping their prices significantly would make it easier to consider all these alternatives purely based on their technical merits.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: September 02, 2009, 07:12:14 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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hcubell
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« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2009, 07:35:59 PM »
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Quote from: dougpetersonci
If you really want to answer this question the only way to do so would be to shoot both yourself.


IMO (and its only that, opinion) composition through pan+tilt+stitch removes a lot of the hands-on feeling that photography gives me. You can't really compose; you just point the camera in the right general direction and take a composition much looser than you think you want because you can't be confident where the frame edges will end up after you apply the geometric distortions to merge them together. It feels too abstract and removed from the actual process of photography

Doug Peterson
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Sounds like the experience of a technical camera that you always espouse(i.e., a $50k point and shoot but without the benefit of Live View), except that stitching with a D3X, you can precisely focus the lens and see the exact effects of a wide angle or telephoto lens on your photograph through the lens.
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RobertJ
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« Reply #27 on: September 03, 2009, 12:56:59 AM »
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Quote from: BernardLanguillier
The following link is a res down 60 megapixel pano (original is 6 times more) shot with a d3x and Zeiss 100 mm f2.0. I didn't use HDR techniques to achieve this result...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardlangui...720762/sizes/o/

Bernard, amazing crispness and sharpness, maybe the best from a DSLR I've seen.  

Just wondering, what RAW converter did you use?  

That image alone could sell me on the D3x and the Zeiss 100 f/2, but I won't be buying anything for a little while...
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #28 on: September 03, 2009, 04:39:22 PM »
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Quote from: T-1000
Bernard, amazing crispness and sharpness, maybe the best from a DSLR I've seen.  

Just wondering, what RAW converter did you use?

This was converted using C1 Pro 4.8.2.

Keep in mind that this image was originally 360 megapixel downsized to 60. The pixel per sharpness of the original tiffs was excellent, the resulting 360 mp pano also, but the downsized version you are looking at is still a bit better.

I am generally surprised by the softness of 100% crops from other 20+ megapixel DSLRs that are often posted around here. A stronger AA, poor raw conversion (ACR)/sharpening are of course part of the reason, but I believe that many shooters surprisingly under-estimate the importance of a very robust tripod.

Cheers,
Bernard

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« Reply #29 on: September 03, 2009, 06:20:01 PM »
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Mostly well reasoned discussions, but one fatal flaw. The whole experience should be the end result, the photograph. The 35mm style of camera allows me to takephotographs in places and situations where MF will or should not go. Add the aqvailability of extreme WA and telephoto lenses and for me it ends right there. I fully understand the pleasure of looking at a print from 8x10 film or a high end DB, but who is the intended viewer? Very few peole have the ability to appreciate the higer quality, I'm certainly not advocating acceptable mediocrity but with a bit of restraint regarding print size, I believe that the guy with the nice shot wins.
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« Reply #30 on: September 03, 2009, 06:27:13 PM »
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Quote from: Murray Fredericks
The difference between a good DSLR and a MFDB very large print is nothing like comparing say 35mm film and 8" x 10" film enlarged big. IMO it's more like comparing 4" x 5" and 8" x 10" and if the DSLR is stitched then it will be hard to see the difference at all.

Cheers

Murray

Agreed, but the thing that turns me off too much stitching is a point you made earlier Murray. The variety of shots you get with your 5D2 is often more valuable than a single, staggeringly sharp image comprised of 6 or 9, or whatever, images. I think that a single capture is always more desirable than having to do a stitch - if possible. 180 degree views always need stitching, and it's a great look, but to use multiple stitches where a single capture could be done is putting technique ahead of creativity and variety.

I always found those early hi-res digital captures from scanning backs to be utterly soulless - they took so long to make that there was only time for one or two shots. I can think of a particular well known photrographer whose Betterlight back work leaves me cold but is no doubt technically awesome.

From a prefessional's point of view it is often better to shoot creatively, freely and with variety than to lock into a single shot and spend hours on it both shooting and in post.
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« Reply #31 on: September 03, 2009, 07:04:41 PM »
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Have to agree and more importantly you lose the look of what the nice effects a wide angle lens has on certain subjects. Not to mention anything about time and movement. Stitching is very nice but it also extremely limited to subject and perspective of the look in the image. Sorry I will take a MF camera any day over stitching a DSLR to get a near result. None of this takes in effect the DR , Tonal range and look that MF provides. Now stitching MF is awesome. This one is a 3 shot Pano stitch with a P30 and 150mm lens
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« Reply #32 on: September 03, 2009, 07:13:46 PM »
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Quote from: Nick Rains
Agreed, but the thing that turns me off too much stitching is a point you made earlier Murray. The variety of shots you get with your 5D2 is often more valuable than a single, staggeringly sharp image comprised of 6 or 9, or whatever, images. I think that a single capture is always more desirable than having to do a stitch - if possible. 180 degree views always need stitching, and it's a great look, but to use multiple stitches where a single capture could be done is putting technique ahead of creativity and variety.

I always found those early hi-res digital captures from scanning backs to be utterly soulless - they took so long to make that there was only time for one or two shots. I can think of a particular well known photrographer whose Betterlight back work leaves me cold but is no doubt technically awesome.

From a prefessional's point of view it is often better to shoot creatively, freely and with variety than to lock into a single shot and spend hours on it both shooting and in post.

True, but it really depends on the intended usage of the images also. A single 35 mm image will often just not cut it for high quality large fine art prints, at least not if it is displayed next to one shot with sufficient resolution. If you are shooting for an expo that will have some very large stitched/LF images, those single frame ones really look like they don't belong.

Besides, I would argue that it is often possible to resolution-stitch images that have creatively vizualized with the right stitching gear and technique. My view is that the unconvenience gap is about the same between hand held vs tripod than it is between tripod single frame vs tripod stitched. Another thing is that stitching can also be used successfully hand held in many cases, it doesn't make the shooting that much faster than it is with a good pano head, but it shortens the set up.

Either way all stitching techniques are for sure a lot lighter footed than scan backs.

Cheers,
Bernard
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« Reply #33 on: September 03, 2009, 07:37:00 PM »
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Quote from: Guy Mancuso
Stitching is very nice but it also extremely limited to subject and perspective of the look in the image.

Guy,

Can you ellaborate on this? I understand how stitching can be limited subjectwise (although it is a lot less than it seems), but as far as perspective and look I don't get it.

Cheers,
Bernard
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« Reply #34 on: September 03, 2009, 07:42:02 PM »
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Nick and Guy,

couldn't agree more - stitching is no replacement for shooting more fluidly with a single frame. It's primarily useful when the FOV is too wide for any lens or the super wide stretch in the corners is not desired. Just stitching to raise the mpx count is cumbersome and clunky.

Guy, stitching MFDB is quite special I agree, but to really see a major difference in the print, I have found that the print has to be pretty big...

Cheers

Murray

BTW Guy- what a beautiful 'glow' that shot has - the tonality is quite special!
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 07:44:31 PM by Murray Fredericks » Logged

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« Reply #35 on: September 03, 2009, 08:05:47 PM »
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Quote from: marcs
...  And how would one DSLR stitch in double rows?

The image below was stitched from 37 frames 12 megapixel each. Frames were captured in 3 rows.
AutoPano team added a new feature per my request to allow layer-based color correction.
This allowed me to maintain underexposure of the sky to be preserved during the stitching process.



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« Reply #36 on: September 03, 2009, 08:07:30 PM »
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Quote from: BernardLanguillier
Guy,

Can you ellaborate on this? I understand how stitching can be limited subjectwise (although it is a lot less than it seems), but as far as perspective and look I don't get it.

Cheers,
Bernard


Forcing the perspective to front objects and such like you can do with wide angles. Something like is a good classic case of giving the room more space. Now if i pulled back with a longer lens and stitched I would be compressing that space. So when you want to force the perspective like this only a wide angle can give you that big foreground to small background effect

Now Bernard we can go around till the cows go home on glow and tonality but in all my years MF has it better with the great DR from shadow detail to detail in the highlights the tonal range i think is much better. Before you get into all that let me add I shot every system and every format there is including the D3x and granted it is a sweetie and finally Nikon has some real glass to go with it about freaking time I may add. Obviously a lot cheaper to get in as well and more versatile but end of the day MF just looks better to my eye in every way. Everything has it's place in this industry. This was a Mamiya 28mm

Now we can go round and round on this very subject but you would never convince me otherwise. Sorry

Oop's loaded the same image twice
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 08:08:42 PM by Guy Mancuso » Logged

elf
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« Reply #37 on: September 03, 2009, 08:33:08 PM »
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Quote from: Guy Mancuso
Forcing the perspective to front objects and such like you can do with wide angles. Something like is a good classic case of giving the room more space. Now if i pulled back with a longer lens and stitched I would be compressing that space. So when you want to force the perspective like this only a wide angle can give you that big foreground to small background effect

Now Bernard we can go around till the cows go home on glow and tonality but in all my years MF has it better with the great DR from shadow detail to detail in the highlights the tonal range i think is much better. Before you get into all that let me add I shot every system and every format there is including the D3x and granted it is a sweetie and finally Nikon has some real glass to go with it about freaking time I may add. Obviously a lot cheaper to get in as well and more versatile but end of the day MF just looks better to my eye in every way. Everything has it's place in this industry. This was a Mamiya 28mm

Now we can go round and round on this very subject but you would never convince me otherwise. Sorry

Oop's loaded the same image twice

Not quite.  Stitching with a longer lens from the same position will give you more detail, but the perspective will be the same.  If you move back and stitch, then the perspective will change, but depending on the lens you may still get more detail.
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« Reply #38 on: September 03, 2009, 08:42:29 PM »
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Sorry that is absurd, there is no way in hell you can match a forced perspective with it's inherent distortion with stitching with a longer lens. The part with the detail really baffles me unless you are talking a single image compared to 12 stitched.
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« Reply #39 on: September 03, 2009, 10:04:09 PM »
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Quote from: Guy Mancuso
Sorry that is absurd, there is no way in hell you can match a forced perspective with it's inherent distortion with stitching with a longer lens. The part with the detail really baffles me unless you are talking a single image compared to 12 stitched.
Try it.  You may surprise yourself.
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