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Author Topic: Do Pro Landscapists use DSLR's?  (Read 14263 times)
hjulenissen
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« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2010, 02:58:03 PM »
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It seems that the dilemma is something like "I want the most detailed image possible". Solutions include MF (digital or film), or DSLR (possibly stitching for increasing the resolution). The pro of stitching is that you can use relatively cheap, ergonomic and flexible equipment, the con is for movement.

It seems that another candidate would be going super-resolution. Get the AA/OLPF filter removed from a FF DSLR. Take 8-16 exposures. Then add some details via the aliasing "backdoor". Pro: each image has value on its own. Taking the whole set means that you (in principle) can be limited only by optics (right?), while being able to exclude some shots or parts of the shot due to movement. Con: Still need great lense, the improvement is limited (unlike stitching), ideally need to permanently modify camera,


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DonWeston
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« Reply #21 on: November 10, 2010, 09:15:27 AM »
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Not a pro, but have shot landscapes with MF and LF for decades, and now use DSLR's for the same purpose. Being in my 50's I can say the switch to digital has become a welcome one, although, instead of film bags, we have tons of cables and batteries Grin

I have had a few very large prints in my dental office from the 90's, done with 4x5 Velvia, they are still some of my most favorite images and have remained up for the last dozen years or so. That said, dslrs have totally replaced all my gear except 4x5 which has not seen daylight in 5 yrs. It is held on to for nostalgia and in case I get the film bug again. It is like a virus, it is there forever and can come back from time to time. Short of 4x5 film there is little that I can't accomplish with my 12-16Mp digital cameras. One can get really nice straight 24x36 inch prints from a single frame yet alone an insane amount of detail from stitching. The record for me so far was a 5 frame stitch from my D300 and 28mm AIS prime lens in Zion about two years ago. Looking at detail  from that easily matches or best some 4x5 with better color, tone and contrast. I used to spend hours in a darkroom making prints, now is done in a fraction of the time digitally and I get to print and control all the parameters in a finite way, one could not do with film if an outside lab was involved. JHMO, YMMV... best of luck...
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langier
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« Reply #22 on: November 10, 2010, 11:56:01 AM »
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Take a look at the work of various photographers and see whose work most closely matches your current vision, then find out what they shoot.

For instance, three colleagues here in Northern California who are tremendous landscape shooters are Elizabeth Carmel, Charles Cramer and Bill Atkinson. All three shoot MF digital capture and produce 30x40 prints rivaling 4x5 film. However, this route costs more than most midsize cars and that's before you add camera, lenses, filters, computers, file storage, printers.

You will be working very slowly and methodically on a tripod dealing with a system mainly optimized for the studio but repurposed for the field. Batteries last about 20-25% the frames you get with your D40 and file sizes can be overwhelming, and packing this stuff in the field will make your back scream, but that image quality.

You've better have a great market for your work or a large fortune for which to make your smaller fortune before you start in this direction!

One avenue coming to fruition is the Pentax 645 digital which Pentax hopes to get going for the many still shooting the Pentax 6x7 and 645 film cameras. Time will tell if it will gain a foothold as another digital MF contender. I know that there are still quite a few still shooting landscape with this system and then having their best scanned into the digital workflow and that's still a valid method.

That said, if your market for prints doesn't get much beyond 24x36 and you shoot more loosely, like the work of Galen Rowell, for instance, you will be perfectly fine with a FF camera or even the newer generation of DX cameras with selected premium lenses. Since one of my facets is shooting landscape (cultural landscapes for the most part), my D2x, D200, D700, and D300 are more than enough to produce quite excellent 24x36 (the right image with my 6MP D100 had this potential) and even a few 30x45 inch images. Granted, they won't have the same overall IQ that a digital MF can produce but with proper crafting and viewed from reasonable distances, they are still quite stunning and best of all produce enough sales to more than pay to keep my big Epson printers in ink and paper.

Why not take a MF digital workshop or rent a system and give it a whorl or rent a high-end DSLR system for a few weeks or take a workshop where they supply the equipment, try it and see for your self? The best way to really know is to put your hands on the stuff and experience things first hand or hang out with those that do what you want to do and learn from them.

From my experience is yes, you can do it, but know what are the limits then keep pushing them.

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Larry Angier
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #23 on: November 10, 2010, 02:27:15 PM »
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This entire thread so far assumes that resolution is the only element of image quality. Color, detail rendition, bokeh (if anything is out of focus), distortion, dynamic range, gradations/tonality, amount and feel/look of noise (if any) and "3Dness" are all elements of a large format print.

Then there are the non-image quality elements like how well you and your camera "get along" which involves ergonomics, aesthetics, user interface, and other elements of individual preference. In other words if you told me I could start taking "pictures" using a computer program and a database of other peoples images (something which will likely be a commonplace ability in 10 years) I wouldn't care about the image quality because the visceral pleasure of shooting would be gone. Likewise I enjoy shooting with a technical camera body more than an SLR when shooting landscape - it's a nice side benefit that the image quality is also higher than an SLR.

Then portability, reliability, consistency, and niche abilities (such as long exposures, multiple exposures, IR/UV, etc) should come into consideration as well as cost (up front cost and expected longevity).

Resolution has been the key selling point for cameras for far too long. Very high resolution is still a tremendous asset to a large format landscape printer but it is NOT the only factor of image quality, and image quality is not the sole reason to select a camera.

Just some points to ponder.

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« Reply #24 on: November 10, 2010, 05:48:58 PM »
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Don's right. Total image quality is a major key.

It's the ink on the paper that settles all arguments, anyway.

FYI, H'blad is doing an H4D landscape/pano workshop in Moab at the end of March 2011 including food, lodging, use of equipment and a large print. It may be a good way to get the feel for MF digital before spending every last cent and then having to resell at a loss if it doesn't work.

It's called the Moab Panarama Workshop if you want to google it.
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #25 on: November 11, 2010, 02:40:35 AM »
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Don's right. Total image quality is a major key.

It's the ink on the paper that settles all arguments, anyway.

FYI, H'blad is doing an H4D landscape/pano workshop in Moab at the end of March 2011.
I hear that Hasselblad UK are planing a view camera workshop, date to be announced shortly, I think.
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dstefan
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« Reply #26 on: December 03, 2010, 09:41:45 PM »
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Jack Dykinga, one of the most respected landscape photographers, who has multiple pictures in almost every Arizona Highways magazine issue, is now using a D3X and the PCe lenses, and publishing those images.  http://www.nikondigital.com/Learn-And-Explore/Photography-Tips/ga5bvk2y/all/Natural-Resources.html

That site is a Nikon promo site, but you can see Jack's comments. If you look at the galleries on his site you will see plenty of 4x5 and he hasn't given that up, but you will also see a lot of more recent pictures with the D3X. 

I'm embarassed to talk about my shooting in the same post as Jacks, and I am NOT a pro landscaper, though pretty serious about it. However, to give you an idea, I went from 25 years of 35mm film and fooling around with early digital to a blend of digital and 4x5 film because I couldn't see that digital got me the resolution and "presence" I wanted.  Then I got a D3X in 2009 when the first came out and haven't shot my 4x5 since then.  I will again, but at $7 a shot, plus scan time, plus expensive drum scan if I really liked it, it wasn't worth it when I could get an equally good picture for my purposes printed as large as I wanted, plus able to shift and tilt with the PCe lenses. If I wanted to cover a whole wall, I can easily stitch a scene.  I was hot to get a MFDB, but frankly a simple stitched D3X shot is equal in many ways and I own all the lenses now, and don't want to make the further investment for a more clunky, expensive system (not that I can't see some incremental benefit).   
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #27 on: December 04, 2010, 12:24:44 AM »
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Jack Dykinga, one of the most respected landscape photographers, who has multiple pictures in almost every Arizona Highways magazine issue, is now using a D3X and the PCe lenses...  I was hot to get a MFDB, but frankly a simple stitched D3X shot is equal in many ways and I own all the lenses now, and don't want to make the further investment for a more clunky, expensive system (not that I can't see some incremental benefit).   

Magazines and the web might be "real world" market for which there is a market, but MF digital view cameras have massive advantages, particularly when when photographing landscapes including moving objects like trees, boats and vehicles...  but the cost is horrendous.
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« Reply #28 on: December 04, 2010, 10:54:45 AM »
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Gear.....Gear.....Gear!  How about the old BOX CAMERA in the hands of an artist. But that is off topic.
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uaiomex
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« Reply #29 on: December 05, 2010, 10:26:35 PM »
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I am a "pro-landscaper" on the side. I live from commercial photography. I stop lusting for MFDB's  about 6 months ago when I bought a 17TS. Well, it was a combination of things. It's prices, its shortcomings and tired of waiting for Hasselblad to show a smart back for the V system. (my fav camera ever). Now it is in the drawer of oblivion and most likely to stay there forever. Dslr's with the new digital-ready lenses are a dream come true. You can go from a point&shoot to a true fine-art photography rig with the addition of a light tripod. What else can I ask? More resolution, yet better pixels? Yeah, I do but in practice and in real life I don't need more quality than what I get from my dslr now. The best thing about it? To step to the next level is going to cost me less than $3K. Who can argue with that. Actually much less than that after re-selling the "old one".
Best
Eduardo

Jack Dykinga, one of the most respected landscape photographers, who has multiple pictures in almost every Arizona Highways magazine issue, is now using a D3X and the PCe lenses, and publishing those images.  http://www.nikondigital.com/Learn-And-Explore/Photography-Tips/ga5bvk2y/all/Natural-Resources.html

That site is a Nikon promo site, but you can see Jack's comments. If you look at the galleries on his site you will see plenty of 4x5 and he hasn't given that up, but you will also see a lot of more recent pictures with the D3X.  

I'm embarassed to talk about my shooting in the same post as Jacks, and I am NOT a pro landscaper, though pretty serious about it. However, to give you an idea, I went from 25 years of 35mm film and fooling around with early digital to a blend of digital and 4x5 film because I couldn't see that digital got me the resolution and "presence" I wanted.  Then I got a D3X in 2009 when the first came out and haven't shot my 4x5 since then.  I will again, but at $7 a shot, plus scan time, plus expensive drum scan if I really liked it, it wasn't worth it when I could get an equally good picture for my purposes printed as large as I wanted, plus able to shift and tilt with the PCe lenses. If I wanted to cover a whole wall, I can easily stitch a scene.  I was hot to get a MFDB, but frankly a simple stitched D3X shot is equal in many ways and I own all the lenses now, and don't want to make the further investment for a more clunky, expensive system (not that I can't see some incremental benefit).  

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douglasf13
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« Reply #30 on: December 06, 2010, 10:25:40 AM »
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  I would seriously consider the Sony A850, if you decide to go DSLR.  It is on sale at B&H right now, and has excellent color and low ISO DR.  The new Zeiss 24/2 is excellent, as well.
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stever
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« Reply #31 on: December 06, 2010, 10:51:06 AM »
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the Sony is a lot of IQ bang for the buck,  but i think the lack of liveview is a disadvantage for landscape work compared to Canon or Nikon (liveview being one of the advantages of DSLR over MF)

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DaveCurtis
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« Reply #32 on: December 10, 2010, 03:47:57 PM »
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Yes, liveview is a really advantage if you are looking for really sharp images and getting the most out of your system.

For landscape shooting on a big tripod with good glass it is a must. When landscape shooting with my 1D3 and Zeiss ZE lenses I always use liveview. I am amazed how shallow the depth of field is with wide angle lenses when stopped down when viewing large prints.
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #33 on: December 10, 2010, 04:30:22 PM »
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the Sony is a lot of IQ bang for the buck,  but i think the lack of liveview is a disadvantage for landscape work compared to Canon or Nikon (liveview being one of the advantages of DSLR over MF)
I think that nearly every MF system has live view, but on a tethered computer rather than on the back of the camera, but I think that Sinar are about the only cameras that offer good daylight live view without the need for ND filters.

The Sinar 86H/P3 48.8 Mpx multi-shot is at the top of a short list of 1.
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Rob C
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« Reply #34 on: December 11, 2010, 03:33:06 AM »
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Thanks for the link to the Nikondigitalconservtion(!) site; great shots, of course, but as almost ever with these things, far too tiny to reveal anything of interest other than the art within the image. In fact, on my screen, a calibrated LaCie 319, the images appear distictly soft.

I have surely posted this other site on LuLa before:

http://www.atacamaphoto.com

and some great stuff appears there, should you be into this genre.

Rob C
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Gigi
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« Reply #35 on: December 16, 2010, 10:46:11 AM »
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More .02$.

At what point is bias just judgment, and experience come home to roost? My eyes have gotten tired of DSLR images, with what I read as some sort of image aspects that just aren't pleasing. I'll take MFDB any day over the DSLR for thoughtful work. Admittedly for sports or fast work (wildlife) nothing beats a DSLR.

Consider the following possibilities (in rank of economy):

- an older MFDB back - the P20 is a fine back, and can make some remarkably fine images.
- good lenses on the DSLR - Zeiss or Leica.... will make all the difference. Altho some of the CaNikon lenses are fine also, there seems to be an image difference with the more expensive lenses
- a tripod and MLU.

Full disclosure: my interests are in tonality and in details, so the extra quality of MFDB makes all the difference. I think of it as a portable 4x5, without the movements. Its that good.  
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Geoff
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« Reply #36 on: December 16, 2010, 11:09:16 AM »
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I've just had a sneak at one of my Mythmas presents - Colin Prior's latest book, High Light - clicky

Some superb images, many spread across two pages (with the annoyance that of course brings - a split down through the centre of the photo!), shot on Fujichrome, taken with a Fuji GX617. Interpersed are equally gorgeous shots taken with a Canon 1DIIs.

This suggests to me that pro-landscape togs use DSLRs, at least some of the time.
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Rob C
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« Reply #37 on: December 16, 2010, 01:14:05 PM »
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Thanks for the link - some stunning imagery.

Rob C
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KevinA
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« Reply #38 on: December 21, 2010, 07:14:34 AM »
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It makes me smile, now some are saying 21 mp is good enough to match or beat MF film especially stitched frames, it seams such a short time ago to me when people were screaming 3 mp was better than MF.
I keep my library in Apple's Aperture, when I do a search through my archives and a handful of thumbs appear on screen, even at that thumb size the film images stand out to me, smoother deeper colour, but not pumped up colour via the saturation. Not sure what term you use to describe it, organic, gentler, smoother, tactile, call it what you will but the film is easy to spot. Digital did not take off because it is better, it's just quicker and easier and can be cheaper. Where once we consumed film and chemicals we now devour cameras, hard drives and computers. And resolution is not the make or break of most images either.

Kevin.
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Kevin.
Rob C
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« Reply #39 on: December 21, 2010, 03:35:56 PM »
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It makes me smile, now some are saying 21 mp is good enough to match or beat MF film especially stitched frames, it seams such a short time ago to me when people were screaming 3 mp was better than MF. I keep my library in Apple's Aperture, when I do a search through my archives and a handful of thumbs appear on screen, even at that thumb size the film images stand out to me, smoother deeper colour, but not pumped up colour via the saturation. Not sure what term you use to describe it, organic, gentler, smoother, tactile, call it what you will but the film is easy to spot. Digital did not take off because it is better, it's just quicker and easier and can be cheaper. Where once we consumed film and chemicals we now devour cameras, hard drives and computers. And resolution is not the make or break of most images either.

Kevin.


Kevin, you're not supposed to remember things like that!

;-)

Rob C
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