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Author Topic: Do Pro Landscapists use DSLR's?  (Read 14096 times)
Stark2k
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« on: October 13, 2010, 06:00:39 AM »
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Hello everyone. I'm a new member here although been an avid reader of the site in general for sometime. My intention is to become a fulltime landscape photographer and I am working towards that goal. The one issue I am having problems resolving is which gear-path to go down.

I'm not a gear-head and prefer to spend time and resources in learning and getting to locations. But, I do need images of enough quality to be able to produce gallery quality images in the near future.

I use to shoot medium format 120 6x6 but prefer the wider aspect. At the moment I've dipped my toe in digital with a Nikon D40. I enjoy the lightness and speed of digital, and will not go back to film as I process all my images via Aperture 3/CS 5.

So my question is - are there many pro's making gallery quality fine art prints from DSLR's? Are these viable options over MF and LF (which I don't want to use) camera's?

If DSLR's are of the quality, then the next obvious questions is what are the more popular models? I notice that a few amateur shooters use the 5D MKII and others use the Nikon D700 - would either of these models coupled with good lenses be a good investment for large exhibit quality prints?

I would really appreciate some help and guidence on this issue as I don't want to invest in a system that ultimately won't give me what I need, but on the other hand I don't want to spend 10K plus on digital medium format.

Thanks in advance.
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MarkL
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2010, 07:01:59 AM »
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Have a look into stitching. Most of my landscapes are 8-12 D700 frames stitched togther and the resolution is very impressive. It's not a perfect solution but it's pretty damn good and enough to make me sell my 6x7 gear.
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Stark2k
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2010, 07:04:55 AM »
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Hi mark,

Thanks for the suggestion, it is something I had considered, but how is it possible with long exposures at low-light (dusk/dawn) - won't the sky/water/wind prove too much movement to get a smooth stitch? Most of my work is coastal and I worry that it will be too difficult to get a seamless stitch with all the movement that goes on within each individual frame.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2010, 08:39:00 AM »
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Hi,

In my view a "full frame" 24.6 MP DSLR is on par with a Pentax 67 using Velvia and CCD based film scanner. The image from the DSLR is smoother.

You can check my article on the issue: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/16-pentax67velvia-vs-sony-alpha-900

So if you are satisfied with 67 on film you would probably be satisfied with a full frame DSLR having > 20 MPixels. That would be Nikon D3X, Canon 5DII and Sony Alpha 850/900.

Nikon D700 has less resolution. Many authors say that 12 MPixels are enough for print sizes up to A2.

There is little doubt that MFDBs can offer better image quality, but it's not very obvious what is meant by image quality.

I'd also point out that some people still like film.

Best regards
Erik


Hello everyone. I'm a new member here although been an avid reader of the site in general for sometime. My intention is to become a fulltime landscape photographer and I am working towards that goal. The one issue I am having problems resolving is which gear-path to go down.

I'm not a gear-head and prefer to spend time and resources in learning and getting to locations. But, I do need images of enough quality to be able to produce gallery quality images in the near future.

I use to shoot medium format 120 6x6 but prefer the wider aspect. At the moment I've dipped my toe in digital with a Nikon D40. I enjoy the lightness and speed of digital, and will not go back to film as I process all my images via Aperture 3/CS 5.

So my question is - are there many pro's making gallery quality fine art prints from DSLR's? Are these viable options over MF and LF (which I don't want to use) camera's?

If DSLR's are of the quality, then the next obvious questions is what are the more popular models? I notice that a few amateur shooters use the 5D MKII and others use the Nikon D700 - would either of these models coupled with good lenses be a good investment for large exhibit quality prints?

I would really appreciate some help and guidence on this issue as I don't want to invest in a system that ultimately won't give me what I need, but on the other hand I don't want to spend 10K plus on digital medium format.

Thanks in advance.
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mcbroomf
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2010, 11:39:33 AM »
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I print 24x36 with the Canon 1Ds3 with no issues.  I've printed larger on canvas and also with stitching as Mark suggested, and up to ~42 with very careful processing.

Any of the full frame cameras with 21MP+ will be capable and have their particular Pros/Cons.  You may want to look at lens choices of the various makes to help with your decision.

Good luck.
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Mike Broomfield
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feppe
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2010, 12:29:27 PM »
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Thanks for the suggestion, it is something I had considered, but how is it possible with long exposures at low-light (dusk/dawn) - won't the sky/water/wind prove too much movement to get a smooth stitch? Most of my work is coastal and I worry that it will be too difficult to get a seamless stitch with all the movement that goes on within each individual frame.

Depends on the subject matter. Water can be tough especially with shorter exposures (up to a few seconds). Stitching software is quite good at accommodating most scenes, although you will run into ones which won't stitch properly and/or will have to do manual post work.

Here some stitched 20-200+ megapixel examples from my portfolio, and some zoomable full-res stitches here. None of the ones below had extensive post to fix stitching, most of the ones in the link did.


Slovakia - Bratislava (Castle Night Panorama)


Finland - Jämsänkoski (Minimalist Landscape Panorama III)


Spain - Mar Menor (Tear)
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2010, 12:48:17 PM »
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Hi,

In my experience I get better results when stitching with AutopanoPro than with Photshop CS5. PtGui is another well know alternative.

Best regards
Erik


Depends on the subject matter. Water can be tough especially with shorter exposures (up to a few seconds). Stitching software is quite good at accommodating most scenes, although you will run into ones which won't stitch properly and/or will have to do manual post work.

Here some stitched 20-200+ megapixel examples from my portfolio, and some zoomable full-res stitches here. None of the ones below had extensive post to fix stitching, most of the ones in the link did.


Slovakia - Bratislava (Castle Night Panorama)


Finland - Jämsänkoski (Minimalist Landscape Panorama III)


Spain - Mar Menor (Tear)
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sojournerphoto
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2010, 06:03:12 PM »
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To offer an alternative view... I have tested and concluded that my Mamiya 7 (6 by 7 medium format) can out resolve my 1Ds3 (Mamiya 80 lens vs Zeiss 35/2 distagon) shooting Kodak Ektar 100 and scanning on a Nikon 9000. This is really visible in bigger prints, but clear in a 22 inch high print, perhaps unsurprisingly as the native resolution is 160dpi for the 1Ds3 and 400 odd dpi for the scanned neg. Both upressed to 600dpi for my HP Z3100 in Qimage.

Having said that, the 1Ds3 can look very good at that size (although it is very subject dependent and some will break up much earlier) and it is much (much!) more convenient. Also, stitching is more easily possible with the canon - though you could stitch with the Mamiya and the 150m lens if the thought of stitching 550Mb files appeals to you... 

Either will give you good results, but you may be looking for medium format digital? It depends on what you want in your pictures.

Mike (one who still shoots 400iso, 35mm film)


Hi,

In my view a "full frame" 24.6 MP DSLR is on par with a Pentax 67 using Velvia and CCD based film scanner. The image from the DSLR is smoother.

You can check my article on the issue: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/16-pentax67velvia-vs-sony-alpha-900

So if you are satisfied with 67 on film you would probably be satisfied with a full frame DSLR having > 20 MPixels. That would be Nikon D3X, Canon 5DII and Sony Alpha 850/900.

Nikon D700 has less resolution. Many authors say that 12 MPixels are enough for print sizes up to A2.

There is little doubt that MFDBs can offer better image quality, but it's not very obvious what is meant by image quality.

I'd also point out that some people still like film.

Best regards
Erik


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coles
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2010, 09:20:38 PM »
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As the previous poster has stated, my Mamiya 6 out-resolves my DSLR when using Velvia or some other fine-grained film and scanning on a Nikon 9000.
The issue, sad as I have to admit, is really NOT just resolution, but how the finished print LOOKS. And I'll be the first to admit that prints from my DSLR--a measly Pentax k20d--simply look sharper and smoother. The details are in the film and that can clearly be seen by zooming in on the computer. But digital is able to bring a sharpness and contrast that film is not. When I got my first DSLR, even a 6mp scenic shot simply looked better that subsequent attempts on the same subject on MF. It's what I call the "digital paradox."
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2010, 02:18:03 AM »
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When I got my first DSLR, even a 6mp scenic shot simply looked better that subsequent attempts on the same subject on MF. It's what I call the "digital paradox."
With the planned upgrade, my first DSLR will be 60Mpx, and I hope that, with a Sinar P3, a quad-stitch and a set of Apo-Digitars, it might be close to the ultimate landscape tool (a multi-shot back would be useful too). A 10m tripod and eShutters will improve the system for some pictures.

...but with a good DSLR and a good long lens you could, in most situations, produce comparable pictures. The man advantage of MF over DSLR pan-and-stitch is when you need to photograph moving subjects.
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Stark2k
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« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2010, 04:50:19 AM »
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This has turned into a fascinating thread, thanks for all the replies. Feppe - those stiches look fantastic and would be exactly the kind of thing I would be looking to do and you have put my mind at rest that stitching software is capable of dealing with cloud/water movement.

I would in an ideal world go for a digital MF but I just simply don't have the budget for it - maybe in a few years if the prices come down, and my earnings increase it would be an option, but at the beginning of a career I think a 24mp DSLR and stitching is probably the way to go as I am committed to digital processing and will never go back to film. My strenghts are in digital processing and I really appreciate the freedom and convenience it brings (and low costs with regards to film).

So, carrying on the theme of stitching as this seems the way to go for large prints; what are the key things in regards this technique? I'm assuming I wouldnt need to use a wide-angle lens if I'm stitching? What about tripod and head? Are there specific heads that help with the panning of the stitch?

Thanks again for all the info so far, it's been very helpful.
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JohnBrew
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« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2010, 05:52:55 AM »
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I find I get excellent stitches handheld. Yes, it's nice to use a tripod, MLU and remote shutter release, but I suppose I've been doing it long enough to get about the same results both ways. And for me CS4 works just fine.
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Stark2k
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« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2010, 05:56:55 AM »
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I find I get excellent stitches handheld. Yes, it's nice to use a tripod, MLU and remote shutter release, but I suppose I've been doing it long enough to get about the same results both ways. And for me CS4 works just fine.

Unfortunately that wouldn't work for me as I do many shots that require shutter speeds less than 1/15th and upwards to 10 secs, and I feel I get better compositions when I use a tripod as it slows me down and makes me think more, I get a bit wayward when I start free-hand shooting.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2010, 06:15:51 AM »
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I have some write up on this:

http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/panorama-and-stitching

Check also this: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=36973

And yes, Feppe's panos are fantastic!
BR
Erik

This has turned into a fascinating thread, thanks for all the replies. Feppe - those stiches look fantastic and would be exactly the kind of thing I would be looking to do and you have put my mind at rest that stitching software is capable of dealing with cloud/water movement.

I would in an ideal world go for a digital MF but I just simply don't have the budget for it - maybe in a few years if the prices come down, and my earnings increase it would be an option, but at the beginning of a career I think a 24mp DSLR and stitching is probably the way to go as I am committed to digital processing and will never go back to film. My strenghts are in digital processing and I really appreciate the freedom and convenience it brings (and low costs with regards to film).

So, carrying on the theme of stitching as this seems the way to go for large prints; what are the key things in regards this technique? I'm assuming I wouldnt need to use a wide-angle lens if I'm stitching? What about tripod and head? Are there specific heads that help with the panning of the stitch?

Thanks again for all the info so far, it's been very helpful.
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jeremypayne
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« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2010, 06:57:55 AM »
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Here's some of really, really, really nice work done with a DSLR ....

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/01/hebrides/warren-text
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Stark2k
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« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2010, 07:23:05 AM »
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Here's some of really, really, really nice work done with a DSLR ....

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/01/hebrides/warren-text

Thanks for this link, I forgot about Jim, I watched a video of him shooting in scotland for an aperture 3 video, these are really stunning images. The 3 image composite ones; am I right in thinking they are three shots vertically and then stiched?
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2010, 12:04:20 PM »
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Here's some of really, really, really nice work done with a DSLR ....
DSLR's are good for back-packing as they are light and rugged.
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« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2010, 01:22:17 PM »
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In terms of absolute resolution as measured by charts and pixel-peeping, 35mm velvia slides scanned with a high-end scanner are competitive with a 20MP full frame dSLR, except way more grainy and mushy (you need to sharpen tons, adding additional grain).  So you'll then get large format enthusiasts saying "large format is 300 megapixels!" but what they forget is this:

In terms of how prints "look" three megapixels beats any 35mm color film print as this very site proves:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/d30/d30_vs_film.shtml

Medium format may resolve a tiny bit more detail if drum scanned, and large format may resolve a little more than that (though due to issues of film flatness and bad lenses/diffraction, large format is barely better than medium format, just less grainy, which isn't an issue with digital).  Medium format film is still grainier than even digital point and shoots are.  And most of the detail is fuzz.  Digital cameras resolve >100% mtf until they hit extinction, at around 80lp/mm on high-end dSLRs.  Velvia, the subjectively sharpest color film, falls to under 100% mtf around 20lp/mm, hence grain/fuzz issues.

For all REASONABLE purposes, unless your viewer is going to study your prints under a microscope, the Canon 5DII should equal or surpass large format film, though APS-C digital may not.  High-volume photographers have all gone digital.  David Meunch, the big name in color 4x5 landscapes, switched from a Linhof 4x5 to a point and shoot, which he uses handheld if needed.

If you want to print HUGE (wall-sized) and do near/far compositions, a tilt/shift lens and tripod may be worth it.  Otherwise a couple IS zooms and some filters may suffice.  But digital is flexible so you can bring the tripod only when you need it for stitching/focus stitching (to defeat diffraction)/hdr/etc.

That said, there is something "nice" about technically perfect huge (40''x50'' or larger) large format prints that I've yet to see even from medium format digital--and some films have nice, inaccurate but dramatic color rendition (which only matters if you don't post-process, but it still looks cool).  But if you plan to shoot more than five images a year and spend less than a thousand dollars on each print, a full frame dSLR will look as good as large format film on first impression, better than medium format, and will be much better than either in general by virtue of being way more flexible and less expensive past the initial investment.  There might just be a tiny bit less detail than large format if you walk up to the print and squint, but does that matter to your average viewer?  

Personally, I don't like stitching since the best light is fleeting, but digital gives you the option to stitch if you want to make huge prints so why not?  Three stitched dSLR images will trounce large format in terms of subjective sharpness and likely surpass it in terms of actual detail, too.

And, full disclosure, I shoot large format so I've had to convince myself there's a difference in image quality.  Ask people who've switched to digital, they may disagree and say dSLRs already beat large format.  Almost no pros still shoot large format.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2010, 01:28:42 PM by Policar » Logged
sojournerphoto
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« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2010, 12:54:16 PM »
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Not sure that I agree with all the views expressed here, though your conclusion may well be reasonable in many circumstances. Some comments below

Mike


In terms of absolute resolution as measured by charts and pixel-peeping, 35mm velvia slides scanned with a high-end scanner are competitive with a 20MP full frame dSLR, except way more grainy and mushy (you need to sharpen tons, adding additional grain).  So you'll then get large format enthusiasts saying "large format is 300 megapixels!" but what they forget is this:

In terms of how prints "look" three megapixels beats any 35mm color film print as this very site proves:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/d30/d30_vs_film.shtml

The article expresses MR's (experienced) opinion, but anyone really interested should do their own tests. I'm not convinced that this applies in all circumstances as print size, viewing distance etc will impact on the results.

Medium format may resolve a tiny bit more detail if drum scanned in my experience there is no comparison between 6 by 7 and 35mm - Mamiya 7 compared to Zeiss Ikon, and large format may resolve a little more than that (though due to issues of film flatness and bad lenses/diffraction, large format is barely better than medium format, just less grainy not done this comparison myself, which isn't an issue with digital).  Medium format film is still grainier than even digital point and shoots are not true in my experience - though the last 400 iso film I ran through the Mamiya was T-Max 400 which was able to make outstanding 27 by 22 inch prints unlike any P&S I've used at iso 400.  And most of the detail is fuzz a bit exagerated, but MTF characteristics are very different and film resolves more at lower mtf's compared to digitals typically high mtf until somewhere approaching nyquist Digital cameras resolve >100% hopefully only 100% before sharpening, which wouldn't be necessary if they really achieved 100% MTF mtf until they hit extinction except that AA filters and Bayer arrays mean the don't really achieve this, at around 80lp/mm on high-end dSLRs.  Velvia, the subjectively sharpest color film, falls to under 100% mtf around 20lp/mm Film mtfs vary significantly - consider fine grain black and white - but generally their mtf falls from 100% (and plus) at low frequency to 0 at high frequency in a smooth curve. This looks different than digital capture, hence grain/fuzz issues.

For all REASONABLE purposes, unless your viewer is going to study your prints under a microscope, the Canon 5DII should equal or surpass large format film, though APS-C digital may not. Only the photographer can decide what they consider reasonable High-volume photographers have all gone digital. Yep, film is not tenable for volume today David Meunch, the big name in color 4x5 landscapes, switched from a Linhof 4x5 to a point and shoot, which he uses handheld if needed. Does this prove much? He could have switched to 1Ds3 or D3x etc

If you want to print HUGE (wall-sized) and do near/far compositions, a tilt/shift lens and tripod may be worth it.  Otherwise a couple IS zooms and some filters may suffice. Agree they may suffice for lots of purposes But digital is flexible so you can bring the tripod only when you need it for stitching/focus stitching (to defeat diffraction)/hdr/etc. 

That said, there is something "nice" about technically perfect huge (40''x50'' or larger) large format prints that I've yet to see even from medium format digital-and this is the nub of the argument, that I do agree with-and some films have nice, inaccurate but dramatic color rendition (which only matters if you don't post-process, but it still looks cool)agree, though reproducing the same dramatic look is not always that easy.  But if you plan to shoot more than five images a year and spend less than a thousand dollars on each print come on, you can probably manage 15 to 20 good images using film, and that would use up my yearly stock on film or digital:), a full frame dSLR will look as good as large format film on first impression, better than medium format, and will be much better than either in general by virtue of being way more flexible and less expensive past the initial investment.  There might just be a tiny bit less detail than large format if you walk up to the print and squint, but does that matter to your average viewer?  Which will look better is liekly to have more to do with how you treat the images thanthe original source imho, but it's true that most viewers don't even notice what source they were shot on or whether one has more or less detail than another. A lot aren't even really aware of the tonality or colours in monochrome images

Personally, I don't like stitching since the best light is fleeting, but digital gives you the option to stitch if you want to make huge prints so why not?  AgreeThree stitched dSLR images will trounce large format in terms of subjective sharpness and likely surpass it in terms of actual detail, too. Don't know, but I've got 7 frame stitched panoramas that look mightly impressive 60 inches wide.

And, full disclosure, I shoot large format so I've had to convince myself there's a difference in image quality.  Ask people who've switched to digital, they may disagree and say dSLRs already beat large format.  Almost no pros still shoot large format.


Full disclosure - I shoot film and digital and they are very different. Further disclosure - I shoot a lot of monochrome film and not much colour as I tend to use digital for colour now. I just prefer black and white film for mono. I know I could use silver efex.

Apology - I'm not usually as grumpy as this, just thought that there was a bit of simplification here. Fundamentally, I agree. If you print at normal sizes then a dslr will suit most things perfectly well. And certainly, digital 'outperforms' its Mp rating when compared to film scans from similar sized 'sensors'. Also, point and shoots are much better than they are given credit for in the right circumstances.

Mike
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« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2010, 01:37:55 PM »
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My post was pretty grumpy, too...  I've just started with 4x5 and have a love/hate relationship with it.  Tried a 7D over the weekend and I was just amazed by how easy it is to use and how relatively difficult it is to screw up.  No need to worry about shielding for light leaks, bringing a tripod absolutely everywhere, constantly fidgeting with the front standard to line it up precisely, protecting the fragile bellows, obsessively spot-metering and calculating for bellows compensation when you have a half stop of latitude on velvia, focusing under a dark cloth, carrying at most like eight sheets of film and having to load them in absolute darkness, stressing about depth of field versus diffraction limits, and so forth.  I mean, you can even zoom!  And see images in the viewfinder after shooting them!  Quality scans don't cost $100!   If I had any intentions of making money, I would ditch film and get a 5D, as the pros I know have done.

The Mamiya 7 is the best small camera there is, though, and has the best lenses.  Plus b&w film still beats b&w digital.  The best large format lenses are half as sharp in linear terms as the Mamiya, maybe?  All you gain from large format (beside lens movements, which matter a lot to me but not everyone) is better tonality, necessary for color.  To me 4x5 still looks better than what you get from a dSLR (and 8x10 looks significantly better than that, substantially beyond anything else I've seen), but that's just me.  From an image quality perspective dSLRs are good enough--and from a business perspective, film, unfortunately, usually isn't.

But velvia 50 still has nice greens.

And agreed that point and shoots are underrated.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2010, 01:40:33 PM by Policar » Logged
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