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Author Topic: Backs and LF films resolution according to Burtynsky  (Read 11085 times)
fredjeang
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« on: November 12, 2010, 04:22:48 AM »
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I found a Burtynsky interview where he was explaining that the digital backs are going to pass the 100MP barrier ( 120 MP ) and when that will happen it will overcome the current large format film resolution.

So if I understand Burtynsky well, the current digital backs are still not capable of surpassing the 8x10 films resolution until they will reach 120MP. But it seems that his affirmation is contradicting the "datas that are disponible" in internet.

It would be nice if large format film users who also work with high end backs could comment on that matter.

Is the Burtynsky statement correct?
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UlfKrentz
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2010, 05:29:39 AM »
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Fred,

there has been the thread about this not a long time ago. If you have ever worked with bigger sizes like 8x10 you will know there is something beyond the mere resolution which IMO has reached a more than enough level for all sort of things at least we do. Although I really love and enjoy working with digital backs and would never think of going back for a second, the DOF rendering of the larger formats is something that could feel lacking.

Cheers, Ulf
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fredjeang
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2010, 05:40:50 AM »
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Burtynsky output are art galleries. I got the feeling for what I've been talking so far with gallerists, that there is a sort of snobery about using big films. For big prints, each time i asked about digital or film the gallery attendant had always this kind of answer. "film of course!"...

The thing is, is it really snobery, or films are still giving a more "noble" imagery? (independently of the hassles compared to the digital workflow)

Seems that in the big galleries, there is still a sort of resistence or suspiciouscy about the digital imagery for fine arts, but this is changing.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2010, 05:47:39 AM by fredjeang » Logged
Mr. Rib
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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2010, 05:49:01 AM »
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The conclusion of the thread Ulf has mentioned was that a well exposed, focused and developed 8 x 10 is far beyond the capabilities of current backs. The problem is that getting a perfect 8 x 10 image is pretty much impossible / very very hard. Maybe 120 mp would change it, but who knows- we'll have another discussion regarding 8x10 vs 120 mp at that time Smiley
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UlfKrentz
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2010, 05:52:23 AM »
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hmm...

you could also argue you can only listen to music that is reproduced by high end turntables, vinly records, amplified with tube amps...I am sure you will find a lot of guys that will second that. Grin
I do not believe this gallerist will be able to tell whats done with film and whats done with digital.

Cheers, Ulf

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fredjeang
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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2010, 05:56:39 AM »
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It seems that the "vintage label" or traditional technics is a sale argument for them. I'm not sure it can be clearly recognisable. I think most of the people could not make any difference.
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2010, 06:09:29 AM »
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Its not all about resolution. LF film or MF film photography has a different "taste" or "haptics" which has nothing to do with snobery IMHO, but with image parameters, which are not only mere resolution. Especially the rendering of out of focus or slight out of focus areas and the transition between sharp and OOF areas is different. I do not have scientific data at hand, its just from images I saw, and some talking I had with others - professionals- using film. Because of that different characteristics, especially of the OOF areas I decided to sell my Mamiya Press in the future and move to an Arca Swiss 4x5" and not to some digital thing in the first step. The digital workflow, speed and overall handling together with the quality of their images make modern digital cameras incredible, great tools, but MF or LF film is something different. Maybe in the future this will change - with bigger sensors and sensors without Lowpass filter, but for now there are still differences in aesthetics which matter.
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UlfKrentz
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« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2010, 06:31:47 AM »
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The conclusion of the thread Ulf has mentioned was that a well exposed, focused and developed 8 x 10 is far beyond the capabilities of current backs. The problem is that getting a perfect 8 x 10 image is pretty much impossible / very very hard. Maybe 120 mp would change it, but who knows- we'll have another discussion regarding 8x10 vs 120 mp at that time Smiley

I was not aware of this beeing the only conlusion of the other thread, what I meant was kind of the opposite like Christoph adresses. The out of focus / depth of field rendering -regardless of the overall resolution- is different and that is what I am missing sometimes, wish it could be done digital. But this cannot be achieved, it is a matter of input size and I am not expecting a full frame LF sensor. We did a designer´s portrait with 8x10 polaroid some years ago, it was printed extremely small and still had the magic LF touch that only can be created by a huge film size, suppose resolutionwise 6MP would have been enough.

Cheers, Ulf
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eronald
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« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2010, 06:53:26 AM »
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I was not aware of this beeing the only conlusion of the other thread, what I meant was kind of the opposite like Christoph adresses. The out of focus / depth of field rendering -regardless of the overall resolution- is different and that is what I am missing sometimes, wish it could be done digital. But this cannot be achieved, it is a matter of input size and I am not expecting a full frame LF sensor. We did a designer´s portrait with 8x10 polaroid some years ago, it was printed extremely small and still had the magic LF touch that only can be created by a huge film size, suppose resolutionwise 6MP would have been enough.

Cheers, Ulf

I remember this when I was young, I had 6x9 plate cameras, and then someone donated a broken Leica; the Leica images were never as good as my contact prints from the plate camera.

Edmund
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Mr. Rib
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« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2010, 07:25:22 AM »
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I was not aware of this beeing the only conlusion of the other thread, what I meant was kind of the opposite like Christoph adresses.

Initially I thought we are speaking about the resolution alone. I wouldn't try to paraphrase the whole thread since obviously there is so much more into it- both in the thread and when it comes to 8x10 film and DB differences. Although I don't use film anymore, I still think there's a huge difference (in general, not only 8 x 10 vs db) in the feel, subjective aesthetics, organic sensation you get when you watch film output, and no craftsy workflows, PS filters and plugins will be able to make it up.
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TMARK
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« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2010, 09:10:46 PM »
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Fred,

A singular analogue artifact (negatives) will always be worth more than the infinitely and instantly copied digital file (binary code), at least in the fine arts world.  That is starting to change as gallerists and artists begin to seriously control the number of prints made. 
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DanielStone
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« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2010, 12:21:57 PM »
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Burtynsky has used 4x5 film, not 8x10 recently from what I've read/heard.

these new backs provide an easier and lighter method of making hi-quality images, but IMO, a properly done 4x5 color neg or chrome will still look better.

but the digital's catching up, and damn quick too.

I still shoot film(8x10) because it renders things differently, and its cheaper in the long run, FOR ME. I'm a student btw...

-Dan
« Last Edit: November 13, 2010, 12:24:44 PM by DanielStone » Logged
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2010, 03:17:42 PM »
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Hi,

I'd suggest that there is a lot of snobbery  involved. On the other hand there is another factor. Different optical systems have a specific signature. With digital we may have a tendency for perfection. Large format lenses were never perfect, if you look at MTF data for any of them they are just awful, but they may have some kind of character. Rodenstock Imagons come to mind.

So I'd suggest that it is snobbery and perception.

There is also an aspect of workmanship. Shooting a single sheet of film costing perhaps 50 USD (including processing) vs. shooting images with very little marginal costs.

Best regards
Erik


Burtynsky output are art galleries. I got the feeling for what I've been talking so far with gallerists, that there is a sort of snobery about using big films. For big prints, each time i asked about digital or film the gallery attendant had always this kind of answer. "film of course!"...

The thing is, is it really snobery, or films are still giving a more "noble" imagery? (independently of the hassles compared to the digital workflow)

Seems that in the big galleries, there is still a sort of resistence or suspiciouscy about the digital imagery for fine arts, but this is changing.
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Rob C
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« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2010, 03:34:56 PM »
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Hi,

I'd suggest that there is a lot of snobbery  involved. On the other hand there is another factor. Different optical systems have a specific signature. With digital we may have a tendency for perfection. Large format lenses were never perfect, if you look at MTF data for any of them they are just awful, but they may have some kind of character. Rodenstock Imagons come to mind.

So I'd suggest that it is snobbery and perception.

There is also an aspect of workmanship. Shooting a single sheet of film costing perhaps 50 USD (including processing) vs. shooting images with very little marginal costs.

Best regards
Erik





But Eric, that's the same old trap that has been sprung over in another long thread: measured statistics. These, generally, have very little to do with how well things work in life. I can remember many ads for whisky products where the quality was just mind-bendingly good... 4x5 and upwards! Don't you remember those pics in airport concourses?

Rob C

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Policar
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« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2010, 04:05:44 PM »
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Large format lenses were never perfect, if you look at MTF data for any of them they are just awful, but they may have some kind of character. Rodenstock Imagons come to mind.

That's not really fair.  The Imagon is a soft focus lens, meant to give a fuzzy image by design.  If you compare slr lenses to modern large format glass (apo-sironar-s), the large format glass is still significantly worse (largely because it has to cover eight to thirty two times the surface area of digital sensors), but I wouldn't call it "just awful."

Over a small image circle, the best large format lenses are decently sharp.  Outside that circle, they get worse, but the larger surface area makes up for it and large format film with a good lens properly focused reliably holds more detail than even an image from a full-frame digital slr.  I also find distortion and chromatic aberration to be reduced with large format lenses relative to what I see with digital, largely due to simpler lens designs.  And color 4x5 costs about $5 a frame to shoot at most, not $50.  (Scans put the cost way over the top, but if you're scanning every frame you shoot you're either really good or really indiscriminate.)

I'm not going to pretend that modern large format lenses are anywhere near as good as slr lenses over their entire image circle (though they are surprisingly very close in the center; the sironar-s is just slightly worse than the Hasselblad H lenses at 20lp/mm over the same sized image circle at f11) but saying they're all awful because the Imagon is soft is like saying "all digital slr lenses are bad because the lensbaby is soft."  It's just not true--and there's a whole lot more you can get out of shooting large format than just "some character" imparted by bad lenses.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2010, 08:50:59 PM by Policar » Logged
Policar
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« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2010, 04:12:55 PM »
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So I actually went through the trouble of digging this up, a comparison between an undisputedly "very good" medium format lens (the latest 80mm f2.8 planar for 6x6) and the "just awful" apo-sironar-s.  Looking at its mtf at f5.6 over a 40mm image circle, the sironar-s drops from just over 80% in the center to slightly under 70% at the edges at 20 cycles/mm.  The planar drops from 85% to worse than 40% at the edges.  So the planar is sharper in the center but much softer at the edges.  At 10 cycles/mm the sironar-s falls from over 90% to over 85%; the planar from around 95% to around 65%.  So while the planar is sharper at the edges at f5.6, the sironar-s is significantly sharper across the frame.  On these terms alone (mtf charts, the very terms you cite), it's hardly an awful lens.

But for a variety of reasons, this is a bad comparison.  A better comparison would be at proper working apertures (f5.6 for the planar; f11-f16 for the sironar-s) comparing twice the cycles/mm on the medium format lens to what the large format lens produces (to compensate for large format having four times the surface area).  Rodenstock only provides mtf at f5.6 and f22 so the comparison has to be made at f22, at which point diffraction is already hurting the lens' ultimate resolving power.  But the sironar-s must also be traced to an 85mm radius and the planar to only 40mm.

In this fairer comparison, the sironar-s drops from just under 85% to just under 80% mtf at 10lp/mm.  The planar drops from 85% to worse than 40% at the corresponding 20lp/mm.  The sironar-s drops from just under 70% mtf to around 55% mtf at 20lp/mm.  The planar drops from just under 70% mtf to around 20% mtf at the corresponding 40lp/mm.  In this fairer comparison, were the mtf of the sensor not an issue (which of course it is), the medium format lens might be a tiny bit sharper in the center, but the large format lens would be far sharper toward the edges of the frame.  The superior proximity of saggital and meridional mtf on the sironar-s results in an impressive lack of chromatic abberation.

So, if by "having some character" you "being a little less sharp in the center but much, much sharper and better corrected in practice because the frame is so big," then you would be right.  The best modern plasmats have tons of character.  All this said, a 36X24mm crop from large format is usually considerably softer than a frame of the same film from 135, which is inevitably softer than a full frame dSLR.  But that's cropping 1/16th of the frame.  Look, I'd shoot on a 5DII instead if I had the money to afford the camera and some tilt/shift lenses--but large format is just really good.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2010, 04:23:26 PM by Policar » Logged
Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2010, 02:12:34 AM »
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Thanks Policar for just digging that out.
As an addition I'd (again) like to point to these two famous Zeiss articles about MTF,
which make very clear, that the percentage on the MTF charts is far from being all,
and that the course of the curves plays an important role as well for the overall image impression.
To sum it up:
There are not only few cases, where the MTF curve might look better than on another lens and
the images still look considerably worse.

Links:
Zeiss Camera Lens News with MTF article part 1
Zeiss Camera Lens News with MTF article part 2
« Last Edit: November 15, 2010, 02:15:42 AM by Christoph C. Feldhaim » Logged

Quentin
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« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2010, 07:36:37 AM »
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I'm a bit surpised this is even an issue.  Taking resolution alone, all things being equal then you need about 50-70mp to more or less match typical 4x5 LF film in my opinion. 8x10 has 4 times the area of 4x5, but its very difficult to get everything aligned correctly to make the most of it, so you are unlikely to need 200mp+ to get better results than 8x10 film.  There are also far more variables with film, such as film flatness, lens choice, and of course scanner quality, than make comparisons more difficult.  I still have an 8x10 LF camera kicking around but I have no intention of getting it and my old drum scanner out anytime soon.  Also, its is not all about digital catching up with film.  Digital MF does some things a lot better than film.  I don't feel the need to make comparisons with film any more.
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Quentin Bargate, ARPS, Author, photographer entrepreneur and senior partner of Bargate Murray, Law Firm of the Year 2013
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2010, 01:37:57 PM »
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Hi,

To begin with I'm sorry that my comment was more harsh than intended. What I essentially mean is that art buyers may look at other qualities than just technical merit. There may be some perception of greater value added by large format equipment.

That said, one very good reason to use large format is that film is cheap compared to sensors for a limited number of exposures. Excellent quality can be achieved by relatively affordable equipment while anything digital in excess of a full frame DSLR is coming at a fairly high price. For a pro shooting a large number of images film and processing costs would quickly go pretty high.

Looking at MTF curves I still have the opinion that LF-lenses are lacking in performance. They have essentially been intended for usage with film. A good example is the Schneider APO-Symmar 180 below. Note that curves on this lens correspond to 5, 10, and 20 lp/mm. For MFDBs and DSLRs normally 10, 20 and 40 lp/mm is used. So bottom curve for LF should be compared to the middle curve for medium format and DSLRs.

The MTF curves for the Zeiss Macro Planar 100/2.0 and the Leica APO Macro 120/2.5 are also attached.

As a side note, there are large format/medium format lenses from Rodenstock and Schneider intended for digital photography, those lenses are among the best with regard to MTF.

An interesting observation may be that Lloyd Chambers recently tested a Leica S2 and a Hasselblad H4D 50. He found the two Hasselblad lenses clearly lacking in sharpness and had sample images clearly demonstrating the deficit in sharpness.

Best regards
Erik

So I actually went through the trouble of digging this up, a comparison between an undisputedly "very good" medium format lens (the latest 80mm f2.8 planar for 6x6) and the "just awful" apo-sironar-s.  Looking at its mtf at f5.6 over a 40mm image circle, the sironar-s drops from just over 80% in the center to slightly under 70% at the edges at 20 cycles/mm.  The planar drops from 85% to worse than 40% at the edges.  So the planar is sharper in the center but much softer at the edges.  At 10 cycles/mm the sironar-s falls from over 90% to over 85%; the planar from around 95% to around 65%.  So while the planar is sharper at the edges at f5.6, the sironar-s is significantly sharper across the frame.  On these terms alone (mtf charts, the very terms you cite), it's hardly an awful lens.

But for a variety of reasons, this is a bad comparison.  A better comparison would be at proper working apertures (f5.6 for the planar; f11-f16 for the sironar-s) comparing twice the cycles/mm on the medium format lens to what the large format lens produces (to compensate for large format having four times the surface area).  Rodenstock only provides mtf at f5.6 and f22 so the comparison has to be made at f22, at which point diffraction is already hurting the lens' ultimate resolving power.  But the sironar-s must also be traced to an 85mm radius and the planar to only 40mm.

In this fairer comparison, the sironar-s drops from just under 85% to just under 80% mtf at 10lp/mm.  The planar drops from 85% to worse than 40% at the corresponding 20lp/mm.  The sironar-s drops from just under 70% mtf to around 55% mtf at 20lp/mm.  The planar drops from just under 70% mtf to around 20% mtf at the corresponding 40lp/mm.  In this fairer comparison, were the mtf of the sensor not an issue (which of course it is), the medium format lens might be a tiny bit sharper in the center, but the large format lens would be far sharper toward the edges of the frame.  The superior proximity of saggital and meridional mtf on the sironar-s results in an impressive lack of chromatic abberation.

So, if by "having some character" you "being a little less sharp in the center but much, much sharper and better corrected in practice because the frame is so big," then you would be right.  The best modern plasmats have tons of character.  All this said, a 36X24mm crop from large format is usually considerably softer than a frame of the same film from 135, which is inevitably softer than a full frame dSLR.  But that's cropping 1/16th of the frame.  Look, I'd shoot on a 5DII instead if I had the money to afford the camera and some tilt/shift lenses--but large format is just really good.
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Policar
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« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2010, 03:39:08 PM »
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Certainly there's snobbery associated with large format acquisition, particularly if the print isn't done digitally.  The more the print cost to make and the more difficult it is to reproduce, the more perceived value there is in it.  That said, the best prints that I've seen were optically enlarged from 8x10 film, so there are aesthetic reasons, too, for their value.  Good digital prints look pretty close, though, up to any reasonable size.

The comparison you posted is a little unfair.  120mm is quite long on 645 whereas 180mm on 4x5 is a "normal" lens.  Longer lenses are typically sharper across the frame (look at the mtf data for Canon's telephoto l primes:  so good!).  This is why the comparison between the 150mm rodenstock and the 80mm distagon is unfair if you look at the same image circle, as I mentioned, and why I then compared a 40mm image circle with an 80mm one to be fair.

And in terms of equivalent focal length, this http://www.s.leica-camera.com/summarit-s-1-2-5-70-mm-asph-cs/ would be closer to the 180mm Schneider.  Not nearly as sharp as the 120mm.  While the Schneider still does extremely badly in comparison at 20lp/mm, the sensor is three times larger in any dimension, so it only has to do a third as well to deliver equivalent sharpness across the frame.  And its mtf curves go on to 100mm, but the image circle is only 80mm without lens movements, and within that range it's not so bad at all.  Pretty comparable to, if slightly worse than, the Leica when surface area is taken into account, obviously much worse over the same surface area, though.

I'm not saying you could mount a large format lens on a dSLR and expect good results (although I've tried it and it's not so bad as you'd think), just that the criteria are different for large format and digital lenses.  A large format lens has to cover a huge area; it's not going to be as fast or as sharp across it as a $5,000 leica lens covering a small sensor, but it's not designed to be and doesn't have to be to get equal performance overall.  The tolerances involved in shooting large format are also quite poor so it's almost not worth it spending money to get a perfect lens.  The flip side of that is you can do lens movements pretty dramatically in the field using the ground glass and a loupe for focusing and get good results consistently because the film plane is so big it's easier to manipulate.  Using lens movements on a smaller sensor is way harder.

Anyhow, the moral of these mtf charts is I'm glad I bought the rodenstock lenses!  And yes, they are intended for use with 4x5 film and I wouldn't trust them near a medium format back.  I also couldn't afford a medium format back, conveniently.  I looked at mtf charts, too, and was pretty distraught by them, but using the actual lenses impresses, and when you think about the whole system rather than "why is this not 16 times better than 135" it makes sense.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2010, 04:00:39 PM by Policar » Logged
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