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Author Topic: Thoughts on Medium Format Cameras  (Read 31860 times)
Noel Greene
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« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2010, 06:19:21 AM »
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I am also very surprised that Mark D essay was even posted on the site. He is of course entitled to his opinion but he should refrain from caustic comments about the quality of say Hasselblad gear .. I cant afford a Hasselblad system for example but I have friends who have developed their photography using Hasselblad systems for years and their images are fantastic .. I have visited many many photographic galleries over the years and have purchased many prints from many photographers .. never once have I asked which camera was used, which lens was used, even which system was used. The final printed image is the only determining issue as to how competent the photographer is and how much imagination was "used" to capture the image itself   
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2010, 08:41:05 AM »
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Mark does not mention stitching because it's irrelevant to his topic, he is not saying a single MF capture is always better than any stitch. What he is saying, and comparing apples with apples, is that MF digitals are superior in image quality as single capture devices. This is pretty inarguable. I have the S2, I have also shot it extensively alongside the D3X with the best Nikon lenses and the 5D2 with the best Canon lenses, and it is clearly the winner for pure IQ.

Hum... not quite. He is comparing them in the context of a specific application called landscape with a strong focus on the need to achieve the highest possible image quality.

My point is that this comparison is leaving aside an excellent candidate for the job, a virtual camera with amazing image quality at a much cheaper price.

Jeff, I know that you can stitch with a MF camera and will get great results potentially faster (although this statement isn't that obvious in low light conditions).

My comment is not against MF, I, for one, really don't care about what format/camera is used. My comment is a reaction to the fact that an obvious solution was not even mentioned.

Cheers,
Bernard
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2010, 09:05:04 AM »
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Now, I know that I could resurrect my old trusty Nikon Coolpix 900 and by stitching a good number of shots I could create a higher resolution picture, but I suspect it just wouldn't compare with the quality of 50-ft prints I used to create 15 years ago by using a combination of a rotational film camera with a long lens, or even with a single image taken by the latest crop of high-resolution MF cameras. Beside, many of my large panoramas contain moving subjects or were shot from a low-flying plane, so stitching wouldn't work. But to tell truth, I was never fond of stitching, and I have to admit that nowadays I'd be perfectly happy to create a print in panoramic format by taking a single shot by HD4-60 or P65 armed with a wide angle lens and simply chop off the upper half of the image.

I don't remember mentioned Coolpix 990s, did I? That would obviously not work because:
- The pixel quality, starting with DR, or the 990 is way lower than current best in class cameras,
- The resolution gap is just too large, you would have to stitch too many frames for practical applications,

Besides:
- I have never claimed that stitching could handle all applications, but it seems fair to say that plane based landscape photography represents less than 0.01% of all landscape images being captured every year. There are of course also other applications where stitching does not work well, but this is not the point. All the images shown by Mark are excellent stitching candidates,
- My initial post was probably not explicit enough about this, but my point has never been against MF. I am fully aware that it is possible to stitch with MF also, I have done this a lot myself in the past. My reaction is against a blind claim that MF is the only way to go for high quality landscape work.

But maybe Bernard is on to something with his stitching suggestion.
A good friend of mine, Peter Lorber of Boca Raton, who in the good olden days of film, used to print hundreds of kilometers of panoramic prints for the panoramic community worldwide, is now a happy Hassy dealer and shooter, and when he is not diving or hanging out of helicopter shooting panoramas, he creates insanely huge giga pans by stitching H4D images. On my last trip south, I stopped in his lab, and witnessed personally the abuse of his hardware working furiously on stitching together over one hundred H4D-40 images into a multi-gigapixel  panorama of Ft.Lauderdale. The amount of visual information, the detail, and the dynamic range was simply astounding. I doubt that the same result could be achieved by a lesser camera.

I clearly agree that stitching with MF can be the most efficient way to achieve a given result in some conditions. This only re-enforces my point that stitching should clearly be given some consideration for those trying to achieve the best possible image quality.

As a side comment, I don't own any stock of the famous www.stitching.com company and bear no relationship with them. I have no interest in defending this point but to share what I hope could help some photographers get a more realistic take on the realities of this wonderful world we live in. Smiley

On the other hand, I don't agree that stitches performed with DSLR will be significantly inferior in terms of DR. I believe that this myth has been proven wrong time and again through measure and just about every objective test done to compare the 2 formats with single frames, large DSLR stitches will be even superior compared to single MF frames.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2010, 11:37:44 AM »
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We should also bear in mind that the best image quality from an MFDB system is usually at ISO 50 (or maybe actually 40, or 44) despite any manufacturer nominated ISO 100.

This has always seemed to me to be a distinct disadvantage when searching for maximum quality. My Nikon D700 has a base ISO of 200 with no compromise on shadow noise. I find that wonderfully liberating.

If ISO 44 with an MFDB produces wonderfully low SNR but unsharp images due to subject movement, what's the point?

I haven't even brought into the equation DoF. If we do, it get's even worse. At ISO 44 we have to either further reduce shutter speed as a result of F/stop adjustment, or increase ISO to match the Nikon at base ISO, at equivalent DoF.

We sometimes fail to make a distinction between the best image quality under ideal circumstance, and the best image quality in specified 'real world' circumstances.

I really think this is part of the confusion. If one has total control over the lighting, as in a studio environment, then the MFDB can have the advantage in terms of lower SNR and higher resolution.

If one is half-way up a mountain, such advantages tend to be less relevant.

Ray - a simple question to help evaluate what you are saying: how many MF systems have you personally tested at varying ISO settings, printed the outcomes and seen the results?

I contest the notion that these systems can only be advantageous under controlled studio conditions. It's just not true.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #24 on: December 21, 2010, 11:46:50 AM »
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Great.

So you've got to be a multi-squillionaire before you can even think about pretending to be even a vaguely competent landscape photographer....

Awesome.  Whatever.   

David, let's be fair and correct about this. I doubt Mark Dubovoy would disagree that one can be a very competent landscape photographer using a huge range of equipment from the least expensive to the most expensive. In fact, read what he says about the relationship between the user and the tools. The remaining focus of the article is about what maximizes technical quality, and if you really want to maximize, it doesn't come cheap. There is a difference between quality which satisfies me on my budget versus the best achievable quality at any price. Let us respect that and move on.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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David Mantripp
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« Reply #25 on: December 21, 2010, 12:19:48 PM »
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David, let's be fair and correct about this. I doubt Mark Dubovoy would disagree that one can be a very competent landscape photographer using a huge range of equipment from the least expensive to the most expensive. In fact, read what he says about the relationship between the user and the tools. The remaining focus of the article is about what maximizes technical quality, and if you really want to maximize, it doesn't come cheap. There is a difference between quality which satisfies me on my budget versus the best achievable quality at any price. Let us respect that and move on.

Well, certainly, but I can't help but wonder what market this website is targeting. I mean I don't wish Mark Dubovoy any ill or disrespect, and I guess the article is interesting in an abstract sort of way, but really ... an Alpa system, and a Leica S system, and whatever else does seem a little over the top. One could reasonably ask if this extreme pursuit of quality at any price does not actually get in the way of the photography.   And there is also the point to consider that people viewing photographs at usual viewing sizes are unlikely to notice the difference between the output  a $50,000 MF device and, say, a Lumix LX5.  Sure, I can see the difference in a Leica S photo, but I'm seeing it by ignoring the photograph itself. 

It's difficult to avoid sounding like I've got a bad case of sour grapes ... but frankly it's more that I wish we could get over the technolust ... and move on.
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« Reply #26 on: December 21, 2010, 12:48:11 PM »
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Well timed use of Mark's opinion piece as it won't be valid for long in 2011.

The quality of the Pentax and its IQ are not nearly as important as the influence it will have on the market. Survival is based on sales supporting what it costs to bring a product to market. Phase One and Hasselblad will have to respond to a lower price point and they only have X amount of R&D resources so the high end products will suffer. Add the next generation of DSLRs hitting 30+ MP and 2011 will bring a redefined, and ever shrinking, market for MF quality.


I agree the Pentax will have (some) effect on the medium format market in terms of pricing, but more from the standpoint of price pressure on entry level systems. The customer who purchases a Leaf Aptus-II 12 or a Phase One P65+ is a different customer than the one who purchases a Pentax 645D. I feel Pentax's more enduring legacy will (hopefully) be modern camera features that current medium format cameras lack. Pentax has shown that features like in-camera HDR, weather sealing, sensor cleaning, and a good LCD, etc, can be produced in medium format cameras. As a company, Phase One offers more products with far more versatility and capability than Pentax and is a proven entity in the high end class. While the 645D vs P40+ showed how competent the 645D can be, the P40+ offers the ability to be used on many different cameras (with various associated lens lineups), a class leading software workflow, especially with regard to tethered use, and a traditionally strong upgrade path towards future technology.

I see the Pentax as more of a competitor to 35mm DSLR, as it is a product that more closely mimics those systems. Ok, I have a Nikon D3, should I get a D3X or should I get a Pentax 645D? That's how I see it. That same photographer might also consider an entry level Phase or Hasselblad system, but if they want a DSLR on steroids, the 645D may be the closest thing to it. If DSLR-type features aren't important, and they want something else, the 645D becomes out-flanked.

Go Go Pentax, but I don't see Pentax as a threat to Phase One by any means. It is a welcome, but complimentary player who has entered the medium format market. I also don't see the advant of 30+ megapixel DSLR cameras with 36mm x 24mm sensors having any significant impact on the medium format market beyond the existing impact of 35mm DSLR. If anything, I see the medium format market expanding (and sales from this year back this up) as 35mm DSLR's, while providing versatile operation and reasonably good results, stay where they are in terms of image quality, sensor size, (being restricted to 36mm x 24mm) while medium format continues to grow in both those areas. The lines have already been drawn.


Steve Hendrix
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Steve Hendrix
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #27 on: December 21, 2010, 12:51:42 PM »
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Well, certainly, but I can't help but wonder what market this website is targeting...

I am pretty sure they would tell you they are not targeting anything, they are doing it for fun and personal pleasure. And that whatever commercial gain there is, it is to cover the cost of running it. Apparently, there are enough people flocking to this site who do not mind that attitude. People like to read about Ferraris of the world, while knowing perfectly well they could never afford one. People read and obsess about celebrities, knowing perfectly well they will never become one. I like to read, occasionally, what "rich boys and their toys" (no judgment here) can do, i.e. what is the theoretical and practical limit in our pursuit of perfection.
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« Reply #28 on: December 21, 2010, 01:10:49 PM »
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To avoid repetition I'll just say I agree with Bernard 100%.
The article does sound like a commercial only that the images are not good enough for one.


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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #29 on: December 21, 2010, 01:43:32 PM »
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One could reasonably ask if this extreme pursuit of quality at any price does not actually get in the way of the photography.   

And there is also the point to consider that people viewing photographs at usual viewing sizes are unlikely to notice the difference between the output  a $50,000 MF device and, say, a Lumix LX5. 

Sure, I can see the difference in a Leica S photo, but I'm seeing it by ignoring the photograph itself. 

 I wish we could get over the technolust ... and move on.

First sentence above: no it doesn't.

Second sentence above: have you had the experience of doing it? What print sizes? What viewing distance? What kind of subject matter? What lighting? Time to get a bit more scientific if you want to tell us what people are unlikely to notice.

Third sentence: that may be your problem, but not necessarily everyones'.

Fourth sentence: Who's the "we" suffering from "technolust"? Certainly not Mr. Dubovoy - he clearly evaluates why he buys what he buys, HAS the equipment and using it, so nothing to lust over in that quarter.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2010, 02:22:05 PM »
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 Some observations on Mark's posting.  I enjoyed both the article and the images.  I think Mark was quite clear (and long has been) about his prejudices (I think this is the correct term) regarding format sizes.  It is clear that larger sensors can capture more information; nothing new here as we know from the film era that MF & LF cameras outperformed 35 mm for some but not all applications.  Enlarging a 4x5 negative or contact printing an 8x10 negative to an 8x10 print gives you much better print resolution than a 35 mm negative enlarged to the same size.  The one big difference that digital offers is stitching and other types of digital manipulations that were not available in the darkroom era.  Bernard's point is a good one and I agree with him that we cannot quickly dismiss a 35 mm set up for landscape photography.  Thus, I think that the choice between 35 mm and larger format digital is not as clear cut as with film.

The impact of the new Pentax camera remains to be seen and it will be interesting to see if there is any change in pricing structure and/or sales of other MF digital cameras and backs when we see full scale entry of this camera.

In the end it all comes down to trade offs.  Going out in the field with a MF setup is more difficult that with a 35 mm one. 
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« Reply #31 on: December 21, 2010, 02:22:17 PM »
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Well, certainly, but I can't help but wonder what market this website is targeting. I mean I don't wish Mark Dubovoy any ill or disrespect, and I guess the article is interesting in an abstract sort of way, but really ... an Alpa system, and a Leica S system, and whatever else does seem a little over the top. One could reasonably ask if this extreme pursuit of quality at any price does not actually get in the way of the photography.   And there is also the point to consider that people viewing photographs at usual viewing sizes are unlikely to notice the difference between the output  a $50,000 MF device and, say, a Lumix LX5.  Sure, I can see the difference in a Leica S photo, but I'm seeing it by ignoring the photograph itself.  

It's difficult to avoid sounding like I've got a bad case of sour grapes ... but frankly it's more that I wish we could get over the technolust ... and move on.

Actually, I have to respectfully disent from the conclusions of my scholarly friend Mr. Segal. I do think the pursuit of technical perfection has gotten in the way of my photography at least, I agree that very few can tell the difference between point and shoot and MF in print (as much of the "art" market at the mass level confirms), and I do agree that technolust is a bit pernicious, but it does at least give us something to talk about. If all we discussed was great images and artistic vision, there'd be a lot less photographic content on the 'net. (And I say that as an offender and known technoluster myself).

My cure is to have ordered a Holga. Hasn't arrived yet, but I hope to publish a shoot-out of it vs. the 645D and a stitched D3x early next year.  Wink


- N.
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« Reply #32 on: December 21, 2010, 02:27:24 PM »
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Lloyd Chambers has a technical issue with one of Dubovoy's claims re. Leica S2.  Here -

http://diglloyd.com/diglloyd/index.html

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« Reply #33 on: December 21, 2010, 02:33:24 PM »
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It's difficult to avoid sounding like I've got a bad case of sour grapes ... but frankly it's more that I wish we could get over the technolust ... and move on.

Well, so far you don't seem to have mastered NOT sounding like you've got a bad case of sour grapes. Who has the "technolust"? You? Sure sounds like it...

I guess you missed the part of the article where Mark mentioned that cameras, lenses and backs are simply tools. There are a wide range of tools available to make digital images. Some people are willing to go to great extremes in the pursuit of image quality. Others aren't. Does that make either camp less of a photographer? Not necessarily. Using a MFDB doesn't make you a better photographer and using a DSLR doesn't make you a worse one.

The question really boils down to what you, as the photographer, want your images to look like. Your own tastes and image demands will dictate the tools. Heck, I've got a P65+ but on a recent trip some of my favorite shots (and arguably better images) were done with an S90 point and shoot. Will that keep me from carrying the P65+ on future trips? Nope...but to be sure I'll also bring the S90 too. Some times I'll also shoot with the 1Ds MIII. Heck, I have lots of tools...I just try to use the correct tool for the job.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #34 on: December 21, 2010, 02:35:27 PM »
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Lloyd Chambers has a technical issue with one of Dubovoy's claims re. Leica S2.  Here -

http://diglloyd.com/diglloyd/index.html



As much as I respect Lloyd Chambers, looking at that tree section, I just can't help thinking he's doing something wrong, or he's a victim of very unusual conditions. Even with my Phase One 645DF and its auto-focus particularities, I have yet to be able to produce a result as hideous as the one he did in the left image.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #35 on: December 21, 2010, 02:54:04 PM »
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I don't remember mentioned Coolpix 990s, did I? That would obviously not work because:
- The pixel quality, starting with DR, or the 990 is way lower than current best in class cameras,

.......

As a side comment, I don't own any stock of the famous www.stitching.com company and bear no relationship with them. Cheers,
Bernard

Bernard,
thank you for graciously sharing the stitching.com link. This gives a new meaning to stitching. And some more tangible results. I will submit it to my local camera club's Valuable Resource Links section.

BTW, I was talking about Coolpix 900, not 990. The 990 model came out with drastically increased resolution, which would surely account for the lower pixel size and resulting changes in the dynamic range. The Nikon engineers should have taken lesson from the Canon's G10 migration path and apply the Less Is More principle rather then fooling around with a good thing.  
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« Reply #36 on: December 21, 2010, 03:03:05 PM »
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Hi,

I actually asked Mr. Dobovoy about this and he was very clear that his experience was that AF on the Leica was very accurate. Diglloyd has tested two different samples of the S2 and has a different experience.

I have no explanation.

Best regards
Erik


Lloyd Chambers has a technical issue with one of Dubovoy's claims re. Leica S2.  Here -

http://diglloyd.com/diglloyd/index.html


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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #37 on: December 21, 2010, 03:13:38 PM »
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Hi,

I actually asked Mr. Dobovoy about this and he was very clear that his experience was that AF on the Leica was very accurate. Diglloyd has tested two different samples of the S2 and has a different experience.

I have no explanation.

Best regards
Erik



My experience with the Leica S2 is limited to the time that I was out on a test shoot with it (I don't own one), and the results it returned were so sharp we wondered whether there was some sharpening process happening under the hood. It turns out there isn't - that's how the lens and camera performed and perform all on their own. It's amazing.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #38 on: December 21, 2010, 03:44:48 PM »
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My cure is to have ordered a Holga. Hasn't arrived yet, but I hope to publish a shoot-out of it vs. the 645D and a stitched D3x early next year.

I'm backing the Holga, the others will be perfectly boring.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #39 on: December 21, 2010, 03:52:21 PM »
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I used extensivly the Holga in Fine arts and also a russian 6x6 Lomo. That was a lot of fun.
Curiously, the Lomo with lightmeter exposed always pretty well.

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