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Author Topic: Digital backs offer more DR than 35mm sensors?  (Read 9998 times)
Abdulrahman Aljabri
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« on: January 26, 2010, 10:33:19 AM »
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I see Phase and Hasselblad advertising higher dynamic range, up to 12.5 stops. For those who have both a digital 35mm and a digital MF cameras are you seeing a difference in captured dynamic range and is it significant? I am not sure what is the dynamic range on 35mm cameras but assuming it is 8-10, 12.5 stops should be significant improvement. Interior photography, particularly in which the light source is visible in the frame such as lamps, can benefit from this greatly.  I often find myself in such situations taking several underexposed exposures to add back lost details in the original. This approach is far from ideal because blending is never straight forward with jpeg.
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2010, 10:45:32 AM »
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Quote from:  Abdulrahman Aljabri
I see Phase and Hasselblad advertising higher dynamic range, up to 12.5 stops. For those who have both a digital 35mm and a digital MF cameras are you seeing a difference in captured dynamic range and is it significant? I am not sure what is the dynamic range on 35mm cameras but assuming it is 8-10, 12.5 stops should be significant improvement. Interior photography, particularly in which the light source is visible in the frame such as lamps, can benefit from this greatly.  I often find myself in such situations taking several underexposed exposures to add back lost details in the original. This approach is far from ideal because blending is never straight forward with jpeg.

Without wanting to state the obvious- if dynamic range is a concern, why are you shooting JPEGs? JPEG compression is perceptual, so it is going to particularly clobber detail in the shadows and highlights because the algorithm knows that shadows are dark, highlights are bright, and human eyes are more sensitive to details in the mid-tones.

I'd have thought shooting RAW and subsequently processing in 16 bits per channel would do a lot of good to your details- the "recovery" slider in raw processors and Lightroom can help make the most of this and bring out the detail in the shots if it is there to start with. Multiple stacked exposures in JPEG sounds like a very labourious way to work- if you do need multiple combined exposures and some sort of HDR procedure, you'll definitely do better with RAW than with JPEG.

  Cheers, Hywel Phillips
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Abdulrahman Aljabri
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2010, 11:04:54 AM »
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Quote from: Hywel
Without wanting to state the obvious

you just did, lol

Quote from: Hywel
Multiple stacked exposures in JPEG sounds like a very labourious way to work-

it is, and raw becomes better here.

Quote from: Hywel
if you do need multiple combined exposures and some sort of HDR procedure, you'll definitely do better with RAW than with JPEG

I am aware of this but my question is about MF vs 35mm, whether it is jpeg vs jpeg or raw vs raw, are MF cameras producing more dynamic range?
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Graeme Nattress
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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2010, 11:31:43 AM »
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Take said cameras, point them at at backlit calibrated dynamic range chart - Stouffer wedges are commonly used for this, and count the number of wedges you can see for each camera. Post your answer and images on this forum for us all to enjoy.

Graeme
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Abdulrahman Aljabri
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« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2010, 12:01:18 PM »
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Quote from: Graeme Nattress
Take said cameras, point them at at backlit calibrated dynamic range chart - Stouffer wedges are commonly used for this, and count the number of wedges you can see for each camera. Post your answer and images on this forum for us all to enjoy.

Graeme


I wish I could but I do not have access to MF cameras in my area. The only way to get my hands on one is to buy it from the US and have it shipped over.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2010, 12:48:03 PM »
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Quote from:  Abdulrahman Aljabri
I wish I could but I do not have access to MF cameras in my area. The only way to get my hands on one is to buy it from the US and have it shipped over.

DXO has taken detailed measurements of many cameras, both DSLR and MFDB, and posted the results online. A few minutes of quality time with Google should get you all the info you need.
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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2010, 01:10:35 PM »
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I have direct and long term experience with Leaf 75S, Leaf 22, P25+, Nikon D3, Nikon D300, Fuji S3 & S5; KING of DR is the Fuji S5, jpg vs jpg and raw vs raw! The DBs are very close in DR to the Fuji, nearly the same, but still fall very slightly short of it. In my experience neither the D3 nor the D300 are in the same league when it comes to DR, dxo figures or not.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 01:29:07 PM by ddk » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2010, 01:21:31 PM »
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Quote from:  Abdulrahman Aljabri
you just did, lol



it is, and raw becomes better here.



I am aware of this but my question is about MF vs 35mm, whether it is jpeg vs jpeg or raw vs raw, are MF cameras producing more dynamic range?

If it is JPEG vs JPEG, there will be very little difference, because the limiting factor is the JPEG format and compression, not the cameras. JPEG is limited to 8 bits per channel anyway so only 8 stops (actually that's not strictly true because of the non-linear tone curve baked into the JPEG files, but still the principle is true because recovering those details from a lossy perceptual compression is tricky or impossible).

For lab measurements, as others have said DxO's website contains a mountain of careful measurements. In practice, shooting RAW on my Canon 5D vs my Hasselblad H3D-31, the Hasselblad does "feel" like it has more dynamic range (and much better image quality for a variety of other reasons).

But... as I suggested in my first post, if dynamic range is a primary concern for you, the first step is to turn the camera off JPEG always shoot RAW, whatever camera you are using. I'd certainly do that before considering the relative merits of an expensive MFDB system  :-)

  Cheers, Hywel.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 01:22:57 PM by Hywel » Logged
EricWHiss
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2010, 02:30:35 PM »
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Just a thought, but maybe we ought to have a FAQ on this forum for all people who want to know the differences between DSLR's and MF systems?    Every couple months or so, someone wanders in and initiates the same discussion over and over.
To the OP - you should do a search - there's tons of discussion already here about this.  Waste of time to repeat it -ESPECIALLY if you 'don't have access' and most likely won't ever use one.
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2010, 05:15:31 PM »
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I'm no tech-head and don't know much about the numbers. I'm just a photographer who's interested in doing great work. MFDB may have more dynamic range than small format, but it's hard to tell the difference in the finished shot. If you're hoping for MFDB to make a big difference that's going to make the skies part and the air sing with enlightenment, you're likely to be disappointed.

Dump the jpegs and shoot raw. There's a big difference there and it won't cost you anything. If you still want more and have cash to burn, then go with MFDB.

John
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bjanes
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2010, 05:30:39 PM »
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Quote from: Jonathan Wienke
DXO has taken detailed measurements of many cameras, both DSLR and MFDB, and posted the results online. A few minutes of quality time with Google should get you all the info you need.
Some photographers are not swayed by scientific data, but take pictures of clouds and infer an expanded DR for their expensive MFDBs. I suspect that they see what they need to see to justify their cash expenditure.  .

According to the DXO measurements, the Phase One P65+ has 11.51 EV of dynamic range at base ISO and the Nikon D3x has 12.8 EV of DR at base ISO. The Phase One does have better resolution and enables bigger prints, but I have yet to see photographic evidence that it has better DR than the D3x. Of course, I have neither camera and would like someone with both cameras to demonstrate the practical DRs of each instrument. However, I won't hold my breath for those results expect that subjective hype will continue to be offered.

The DXO measurements do have a wealth of data. Older dSLRs such as the Nikon D3 have their DR limited by the ADC and have relatively high read noise at base ISO. If read noise were constant across ISOs, each doubling of the ISO would halve the DR, since only half as many photoelectrons would be collected. If you look at the DR plot vs ISO for the D3 (which has only 11.92 EV of DR at base ISO), it doesn't change much for the first 2 doublings over base ISO. One collects fewer electrons, but the read noise decreases--for each stop of DR lost at the high end due to fewer collected photons, one gains nearly 1 stop of DR at the low end due to reduced read noise. As one reaches ISO 800, she does lose 1 stop of DR for each doubling of ISO. With this camera it makes little sense to set the ISO camera over 800 is you are shooting raw--it merely reduces highlight headroom. You do get a brighter preview on the LCD.

The DR vs ISO curve for the D3x is nearly linear, indicating low read noise at base ISO. The plot for the P65+ is linear, indicating that read noise does not change with ISO, but is relatively high due do the higher read noise with CCD designs as compared to CMOS. Other things being equal, one would expect that MFDBs would have better DR, since they collect many more photo electrons due to the large sensor size.
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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2010, 05:55:39 PM »
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Quote from: bjanes
Some photographers are not swayed by scientific data, but take pictures of clouds and infer an expanded DR for their expensive MFDBs. I suspect that they see what they need to see to justify their cash expenditure.  .

According to the DXO measurements, the Phase One P65+ has 11.51 EV of dynamic range at base ISO and the Nikon D3x has 12.8 EV of DR at base ISO. The Phase One does have better resolution and enables bigger prints, but I have yet to see photographic evidence that it has better DR than the D3x. Of course, I have neither camera and would like someone with both cameras to demonstrate the practical DRs of each instrument. However, I won't hold my breath for those results expect that subjective hype will continue to be offered.

The DXO measurements do have a wealth of data. Older dSLRs such as the Nikon D3 have their DR limited by the ADC and have relatively high read noise at base ISO. If read noise were constant across ISOs, each doubling of the ISO would halve the DR, since only half as many photoelectrons would be collected. If you look at the DR plot vs ISO for the D3 (which has only 11.92 EV of DR at base ISO), it doesn't change much for the first 2 doublings over base ISO. One collects fewer electrons, but the read noise decreases--for each stop of DR lost at the high end due to fewer collected photons, one gains nearly 1 stop of DR at the low end due to reduced read noise. As one reaches ISO 800, she does lose 1 stop of DR for each doubling of ISO. With this camera it makes little sense to set the ISO camera over 800 is you are shooting raw--it merely reduces highlight headroom. You do get a brighter preview on the LCD.

The DR vs ISO curve for the D3x is nearly linear, indicating low read noise at base ISO. The plot for the P65+ is linear, indicating that read noise does not change with ISO, but is relatively high due do the higher read noise with CCD designs as compared to CMOS. Other things being equal, one would expect that MFDBs would have better DR, since they collect many more photo electrons due to the large sensor size.

Here we go again!  Sigh!   So many arm chair psuedo scientific posts don't make it right.   And its been pointed out numerous times why the DXO comparisons are not accurate for comparing MFDB to DSLR.
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Abdulrahman Aljabri
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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2010, 11:01:45 AM »
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Folks, thanks for your feedback, but I am not looking for software analysis. I am looking for your practical findings. I personally can't think of too many places where I would need extra dynamic range in my professional photography work. That is why I posted a practical scenario, namely interior photography with light source in the frame. I was just carious if others found MF better in such setting for example.

Furthermore, I am not interested in buying a MF camera. Unless my work requires it I see no reason of making the investment. So far I have been asked about MF by only one advertising agency. That being said I was just interested to know if people saw any practical difference in a real shooting scenario.
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2010, 11:38:44 AM »
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Quote from:  Abdulrahman Aljabri
Folks, thanks for your feedback, but I am not looking for software analysis. I am looking for your practical findings. I personally can't think of too many places where I would need extra dynamic range in my professional photography work. That is why I posted a practical scenario, namely interior photography with light source in the frame. I was just carious if others found MF better in such setting for example.

Furthermore, I am not interested in buying a MF camera. Unless my work requires it I see no reason of making the investment. So far I have been asked about MF by only one advertising agency. That being said I was just interested to know if people saw any practical difference in a real shooting scenario.

There are a few areas where I feel MF outperforms DSLRs in any situation, and since you so wisely asked for *practical* experience over bloated scientific analysis, I'll share a few of my thoughts based on my own experience.  

First off, for what you do -- interiors with controlled lighting -- I would probably be hard pressed to recommend anything more than a high-end Canon body coupled to the 17 and 24 TSE II lenses.  That combo has certainly proven itself in a very short time, and as a huge plus, it's very convenient and easy to use. It's also relatively inexpensive compared to a MF back, tech camera and digital lenses! Bottom line is if what you're currently using works for you and your customers are not complaining, then you are probably set.

That out of the way, the areas where I find MF will outperform the high-end Canon include: higher resolution, expanded DR, more accurate color, better tonality, better inter-pixel contrast.  All of these factors allow you to push things around more aggressively in post to get to a desired result, including additional perspective corrections and selective pixel editing. So IMO the real question you need to ask yourself is if you need that ability, how often will you need it, and is it going to be worth the added investment (significant) for the MF solution?  

As respects your uses, I think if you used one of the latest 60MP MF backs on a good tech camera with the best lenses, and processed both files optimally* and printed them out to 24x32, the MF print would show  clear advantages; at 40x50 print sizes, the 60MP advantage will be patently clear and no contest.   Of course you'll only be able to see the advantages if you compare the prints side-by-side -- and for at least in the 24x32, most folks would be entirely satisfied with the Canon print if they didn't see the MF print. Moreover, you aren't likely to see the color or tonal advantages in an online jpeg.  

*The other issue is that not all MF shooters take the time to learn the back's software to process their files optimally, so we often see "comparable" results generated in online comparisons where the final files were not fully optimized -- usually these come from a DSLR shooter that borrowed or rented an MF back for a day. Sometimes we even see similar comparisons come from folks who have only read other analyses and then extrapolate their own hard scientific conclusion without ever picking up the cameras in question!  

Hope this helps,
« Last Edit: January 27, 2010, 11:41:58 AM by Jack Flesher » Logged

MichaelEzra
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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2010, 11:58:43 AM »
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Quote from: ddk
I have direct and long term experience with Leaf 75S, Leaf 22, P25+, Nikon D3, Nikon D300, Fuji S3 & S5; KING of DR is the Fuji S5, jpg vs jpg and raw vs raw! The DBs are very close in DR to the Fuji, nearly the same, but still fall very slightly short of it. In my experience neither the D3 nor the D300 are in the same league when it comes to DR, dxo figures or not.

I second that, though my experience is with Fuji S3 which has identical DR with Fuji S5.
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bjanes
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« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2010, 08:21:15 AM »
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Quote from: EricWHiss
Here we go again!  Sigh!   So many arm chair psuedo scientific posts don't make it right.   And its been pointed out numerous times why the DXO comparisons are not accurate for comparing MFDB to DSLR.
I don't know what is pseudo in my post. Kindly elaborate on what is false.

Actually, DXO uses standard image analysis methods for dynamic range measurement. Their Noise Measurements are very scientific and are more precise than we could get at home by using a Stouffer wedge. Those who maintain that the DXO comparisons are not accurate for comparing MFDBs to dSLRs likely do not understand the normalization process. Acutally, DXO explains that contrary to conventional wisdom, higher resolution actually compensates for noise.

If you can supply a better evaluation for the DR of MFDBs, please supply a link or present data.
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« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2010, 08:32:28 AM »
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« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2010, 04:06:40 AM »
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Quote from: bjanes
I don't know what is pseudo in my post. Kindly elaborate on what is false.

Actually, DXO uses standard image analysis methods for dynamic range measurement. Their Noise Measurements are very scientific and are more precise than we could get at home by using a Stouffer wedge. Those who maintain that the DXO comparisons are not accurate for comparing MFDBs to dSLRs likely do not understand the normalization process. Acutally, DXO explains that contrary to conventional wisdom, higher resolution actually compensates for noise.

If you can supply a better evaluation for the DR of MFDBs, please supply a link or present data.

bjanes, you can talk about DxO and scientific analysis all day, but in the end, if the MF print looks better than the DSLR print, then the conclusion is easy. The question is how much someone is willing to pay for how little a difference. One needs to look at the print and the wallet to decide, not the DxO website.
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« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2010, 05:46:46 AM »
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Hi,

The question is about MFDBs having more DR than 35 mm sensors. I'd suggest that the DxO tests give pretty good data on the issue. It may be that DxO and the person posting the question have a different interpretation of DR.

I would also say that the issue is a bit complex. Print cannot have DR larger than around 7. So the only way to put a DR of 10-12 into a print is using curves, that is, processing is involved. The question weather an MF print looks better than a DSLR print is probably not very much related to DR as DR used to be plenty. There are a lot of other factors.

The DxO data are probably accurate for some of the parameters using their technical definitions. The technical definitions may say little about how prints from two different system are perceived. If the MFDB image is better, is it better because DR is higher, or something else?


My feeling is that DR is like buzzword. Lot of talk but is it really DR we are talking about? Also, DR is about shadow detail, by definition. So if anyones sees differences in other areas than deep shadow it is not DR. The Fuji sensor may be an exception to this as it has actually an additional highlight sensing sensel and combines the two sensel in firmware, but MFDBs doesn't use similar technology.


Best regards
Erik



Quote from: carstenw
bjanes, you can talk about DxO and scientific analysis all day, but in the end, if the MF print looks better than the DSLR print, then the conclusion is easy. The question is how much someone is willing to pay for how little a difference. One needs to look at the print and the wallet to decide, not the DxO website.
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« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2010, 06:33:44 AM »
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Quote from: ErikKaffehr
The DxO data are probably accurate for some of the parameters using their technical definitions. The technical definitions may say little about how prints from two different system are perceived. If the MFDB image is better, is it better because DR is higher, or something else?

My feeling is that DR is like buzzword. Lot of talk but is it really DR we are talking about? Also, DR is about shadow detail, by definition. So if anyones sees differences in other areas than deep shadow it is not DR. The Fuji sensor may be an exception to this as it has actually an additional highlight sensing sensel and combines the two sensel in firmware, but MFDBs doesn't use similar technology.
Erik,

I think you hit the nail on the head with your reply. Michael and others whose opinions I trust do report an advantage for MFDB, so one has to come up with the reasons for that advantage. Having three or more times the resolution with no low pass filter is a big advantage. Also very high quality mostly prime lenses help. Top of the line electronics and a leisurely frame rate with 16 bit ADCs (analog to digital converters) are other advantages. It is difficult to make an ADC with a high frame rate and also a high dynamic range. The Hubble telescope reads out its images at a pretty low bit rate. DXO does not test for resolving power or some of these other factors.

For very large prints, the extra resolving power alone would be a big advantage, but some MDFB report a difference with 8 x 10 inch prints.

Bill
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