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Author Topic: Will 30x45 be big enough in the out years?  (Read 3055 times)
BryanWillman
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« on: November 30, 2009, 01:05:00 PM »
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Various reviews of the S2 (30x45 mm) conclude it makes images on a par with most other medium format digital systems.  (I've not yet seen it compared with the P60.)

I'm actually interested in a different question.  A long term strategic question.

35mm full frame cameras will of course continue to improve, until they hit some serious physical limits.

One may assume the same will be true of medium format systems as a whole, and of the S2 as well.

My question is this - given how very very good a "bigger than full frame" camera already has to be to justify the step up from FF 35, will 30x45 be "bigger enough" in the out years?

Put another way, in 5 or 10 years, will it be the case that state-of-physics 30x45 sensors just do not have enough edge over state-of-physics 24x36 sensors to make them worth while?   (The same might apply to 45x56mm as well of course.)

[A different take is that the S2 isn't all that much bigger than a D3 or 1Ds, so maybe S2 and follow-on prices will come down and they'll be Leica's entrant in the auto-focus SLR market.]

Thoughts?   Anybody have a good understanding of the combined physics/electronics issues?
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2009, 05:21:40 PM »
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Quote from: BryanWillman
35mm full frame cameras will of course continue to improve, until they hit some serious physical limits.

One may assume the same will be true of medium format systems as a whole, and of the S2 as well.

My question is this - given how very very good a "bigger than full frame" camera already has to be to justify the step up from FF 35, will 30x45 be "bigger enough" in the out years?

The problem is not just one of size... it is a problem of technology also.

I don't believe that Kodak and Dalsa have the potential to compete against Sony, Canon, Nikon and Samsung in terms of sensor technology. This is the #1 reason why I would personnally never buy a S2, even if it sold for 10.000 US$.

The pace of progress will be much faster at Nikon/Canon/Sony than at Leica. Considering tat a D3x is already on par in all aspects but resolution (and the gap is small there also), I have no dout that the 1ds4 and D4x will be clearly superior and that the S3 will probably be unable to catch up.

Cheers,
Bernard
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2009, 11:14:38 PM »
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Hi,

30-45 vs. 24-36 is a 25% advantage regarding resolution and a 56% advantage regarding light collecting ability.

In my view:

- The larger format is significant, but no superlative argument
- Let's assume that Leica lenses are sharper than Canon/Nikon/Sony lenses. This is quite possible, as DSLRs pretty much are on zooms now
- DSLR sensors seem to perform much better at high ISO

I guess that Leica figured that there is a need in the market for a very high quality DSLR camera, competing with MFDBs. Within a limited scope I'm pretty sure that they have achieved a camera system with excellent capabilities. Question is if that niche is big enough for Leica to survive on?

As I see it the situation is a bit like DSLRs have very good sensors but less than perfect lenses. The Leica S2 has very good lenses but some question marks about the sensor, even if it performs very well at low ISO. As it seems, no DSLR vendor has a very consistent line of very high performing AF-lenses. It seems that some of the Zeiss ZF stuff for Nikon is very good, but lacks auto focus. There are a few Zeiss lenses for Sony, but few fixed focals, and Sony doesn't really have sensor based live view, necessary for critical focusing.

Personally I wouldn't buy fixed focals, anyway. The flexibility offered by zooms is to big an advantage. In my shooting I often cannot change vantage point a lot so zooms are a great advantage to me.

There are many aspects with image size:

- 24x36 will sooner or later be diffraction limited.
- Diffraction limit does also affect large formats
- Larger formats need to be stopped down more DOF
- Depth merge techniques and Scheimpflug may help with the DOF/Diffraction issue
- We need lenses that perform optimal at large apertures utilize small sensor pitches

High ISO is not very interesting in studio or tripod based landscape shooting.

One additional point, worth some consideration. I have the impression that Contax essentially made everything right with the Contax 645, except that Contax is no longer around.

Best reagrds
Erik



Quote from: BernardLanguillier
The problem is not just one of size... it is a problem of technology also.

I don't believe that Kodak and Dalsa have the potential to compete against Sony, Canon, Nikon and Samsung in terms of sensor technology. This is the #1 reason why I would personnally never buy a S2, even if it sold for 10.000 US$.

The pace of progress will be much faster at Nikon/Canon/Sony than at Leica. Considering tat a D3x is already on par in all aspects but resolution (and the gap is small there also), I have no dout that the 1ds4 and D4x will be clearly superior and that the S3 will probably be unable to catch up.

Cheers,
Bernard
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2009, 02:00:31 AM »
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Quote from: ErikKaffehr
As I see it the situation is a bit like DSLRs have very good sensors but less than perfect lenses. The Leica S2 has very good lenses but some question marks about the sensor, even if it performs very well at low ISO. As it seems, no DSLR vendor has a very consistent line of very high performing AF-lenses. It seems that some of the Zeiss ZF stuff for Nikon is very good, but lacks auto focus. There are a few Zeiss lenses for Sony, but few fixed focals, and Sony doesn't really have sensor based live view, necessary for critical focusing.

It appears that the S2 AF is un-usable for anything that really moves, meaning that it is only useful for objects that mostly don't move... meaning that MF would mostly do the job...

Leica R lenses are very good too and can be mounted on a D3x...

Cheers,
Bernard
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BJL
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2009, 09:26:11 AM »
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The size gap from 24x36 to 30x45 is just a bit less that from 645 to 6x7, and many MF users find that a useful step up. So if combined with superior lenses (comparison must be made to the best primes from Nikon, Canon and Sony/Zeiss, not just to their zooms), the Leica S system might just have a toe-hold for a system offering

"higher IQ than 24x36mm systems when there is enough light to use lowish ISO speeds while hand-holding, and untethered".

The last two qualifications are needed because for those whose main usage is on tripod and/or tethered, the established DMF systems probably win out. In particular the S2  "form factor" is clearly aimed at hand-holding with the best description being "larger format DSLR" rather than "digital medium format".

It sounds like a rather narrow niche, but Leica has been living in a narrow, high-priced niche for a long time now.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2009, 09:26:59 AM by BJL » Logged
alba63
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2009, 06:19:50 PM »
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Quote from: BernardLanguillier
The pace of progress will be much faster at Nikon/Canon/Sony than at Leica. Considering tat a D3x is already on par in all aspects but resolution (and the gap is small there also), I have no dout that the 1ds4 and D4x will be clearly superior and that the S3 will probably be unable to catch up.


Your theory assumes that a D4x will increase resolution while maintaining image quality, like colour rendition, shadow noise (low ISO), high ISO noise, dynamic range. I doubt this will be so easy.

I also agree with the other answer that a - let's say - 32MP FF sensor will be increasingly diffraction limited. Or you will have to shoot at F5,6 (which limits DOF considerably, and therefore resolution) or you will get files with larger DOF but softer/ with less sharpness.

I know a photographer who has used Mamiya ZD, now SInar MF back, Leica M9 and D3x. He says, quality wise the MF digital comes first, M9 second, D3x third. Obviously he means esthetics, colour and the final impact the photos make, not speed and high ISO performance.


regards
Bernie
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2009, 08:17:11 PM »
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Quote from: alba63
Your theory assumes that a D4x will increase resolution while maintaining image quality, like colour rendition, shadow noise (low ISO), high ISO noise, dynamic range. I doubt this will be so easy.

I believe that Canon and Sony will also achieve similar things, this is not just about Nikon.

As far as Nikon goes, between the D3 and D3x they managed to double the resolution while adding more than one stop of DR and improvig the pixel per sharpness. So they have done it in the past. I don't care about high ISO much, but it will still be for sure superior to MF performance.

Let's compare the progress between 34mm and MF:

- Jan 2006
  - Nikon D2x: 12 MP, 11 stop DR
  - P45: 39 MP, 12.5 stop DR

- Jan 2008:
  - Nikon D3: 12 MP, 12 stop DR
  - P45+: 39MP, 12.5 stop DR

- Jan 2010
  - Nikon D3x: 24 MP, 13 stop DR
  - P65+: 60MP, 13.5 stop DR
  - Leica S2: 37 MP, 13 stop DR

Quote from: alba63
I also agree with the other answer that a - let's say - 32MP FF sensor will be increasingly diffraction limited. Or you will have to shoot at F5,6 (which limits DOF considerably, and therefore resolution) or you will get files with larger DOF but softer/ with less sharpness.

There is a 1.6 surface ratio between 24x36 and 30x45, which means that the pixel pitch will be the same between a 33 MP d4x and a 50MP S3, correct?

Both lenses will need to be stopped down to the same aperture to avoid diffraction, but you will get more DoF with the D3x than with the S3 at equal framing since you will be able to use a shorter lens.

You can also reason at equal resolution and will reach the conclusion that there is in fact no difference as long as you keep using lenses that are good enough between f4 and f8, which is the case for most modern design primes. It is true that there will be a point where the DSLR will run into a wall, but if 35 MP is not enough for you, then 50 will also not be enough, you will need to stitch anyway.

Quote from: alba63
I know a photographer who has used Mamiya ZD, now SInar MF back, Leica M9 and D3x. He says, quality wise the MF digital comes first, M9 second, D3x third. Obviously he means esthetics, colour and the final impact the photos make, not speed and high ISO performance.

So did I... and my assessment is very different. I see the D3x files are being superior to the ZD files in every single domain, most obviously shadow noise.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Dan Wells
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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2009, 09:12:44 PM »
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Within the range that the Leica offers (undoubtedly excellent) lenses, there are also superb ED-Nikkors and Canon L-series lenses (not to mention the ZE and ZF lines). Complaints about DSLR lenses, apart from Sony, who are building their professional lens line, are often focused on the quality of wide-ranging zooms, or very wide lenses, or very fast lenses, none of which Leica even attempts. Both Canon and Nikon have lenses covering the range of Leica's initial lenses (plus long teles Leica doesn't offer) that outresolve current sensors and the probably the next couple generations as well. This doesn't mean you can throw a 28-300 mm f5-6.3 CokeBottle Special on a D3x with any success, but the lenses that are direct competitors to the S2 lenses (top-end primes and the very best pro zooms) are darned good from both Nikon and Canon (plus Zeiss).  I wonder whether the S2 is really 3 times as good as the D3x for any application (I'm sure it's at least modestly better, but it's thrice the price). The Phase and Hasselblad cameras offer some limited applications where DSLRs simply can't get the shot at all (Phase back on a technical camera, or Hassy with the HTS adapter - both offer more movement than a simple tilt/shift lens).

                                -Dan


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BJL
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« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2009, 08:53:19 AM »
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Quote from: alba63
... a - let's say - 32MP FF sensor will be increasingly diffraction limited.
How many times does this have to be said: the degree of diffraction limitation depends almost entirely on the resolution target (pixel count), not the format. In brief (search for many posts and debates!) tis is because at equal pixel count, the larger format and its larger pixels and longer focal lengths needs a higher f-stop to get the same DOF, and this higher f-stop increases diffraction spot size in proportion to the increase in pixel size, so that the final image has an equal diffraction effect.

Diffraction only limits a smaller format more than a larger format when the f-stops needed to get full resolution are too low for the lenses to handle well. If good 35mm formt lenses can handle f/5.6 well, this will happen when pixel size gets down to around 3 microns or less, meaning about 100MP.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2009, 08:53:39 AM by BJL » Logged
filmcapture
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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2009, 12:37:42 PM »
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Quote from: BJL
Diffraction only limits a smaller format more than a larger format when the f-stops needed to get full resolution are too low for the lenses to handle well. If good 35mm formt lenses can handle f/5.6 well, this will happen when pixel size gets down to around 3 microns or less, meaning about 100MP.

3um pixel size? Noise could be a big problem.
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BJL
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« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2009, 01:08:10 PM »
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Quote from: filmcapture
3um pixel size? Noise could be a big problem.
Maybe, but I was talking only about the limits on resolution due to diffraction.

I suspect that 35mm format will never get to 3 micron photosites, but more due to the limits of lens resolution and the very limited utility of 100MP images, more than noise. After all, many compact digital cameras can produce prints with no visible noise from sensors with photosites far smaller than 3 microns. (And 100MP images would be for printing at high PPI, not for cropping massively to about 2MP and then displaying at about 100PPI, which is what 100% pixel peeping is!)


P.S. At higher ISO speeds, the best CMOS sensor technology from Canon, Sony, Nikon and Panasonic scaled down to 3 micron photosites would probably still have less per pixel noise than the current 6 microns FF CCD pixels from Kodak and Dalsa!
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RobertJ
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« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2009, 07:34:02 PM »
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Quote from: alba63
Your theory assumes that a D4x will increase resolution while maintaining image quality, like colour rendition, shadow noise (low ISO), high ISO noise, dynamic range. I doubt this will be so easy.

I also agree with the other answer that a - let's say - 32MP FF sensor will be increasingly diffraction limited. Or you will have to shoot at F5,6 (which limits DOF considerably, and therefore resolution) or you will get files with larger DOF but softer/ with less sharpness.

Everybody keeps saying this, but it's BS, IMO.

The D3x already has more dynamic range than any digital back, and I don't know what lenses you shoot with, but my lenses show the highest resolution from f/2.8 to f/5.6 on a 20D APS-C or big pixel 5D, so I don't see a problem with moving on with even more MP on a 35mm sensor.  Especially now, with Zeiss ZE and ZF wides, my old school Contax Zeiss lenses that I can mount on Canon, a few of the L lenses, along with the ability to mount a Leica 100mm APO macro or whatever you want.  Hell, we can throw it on a Cambo and use Rodenstock HR digital lenses if we want to.  These lenses are all top performers.  I'm not worrying about more pixels ruining image quality or DOF.
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