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Author Topic: Everything Matters. It's All About The "Small Details" by Mark Dubovoy Jan 2012  (Read 24924 times)
Iwill
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« on: January 22, 2012, 10:52:31 PM »
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I liked what Mark said in his latest article, "Everything Matters," and was happily following his words up until I came to the two comparison pictures he included to show the difference between medium format and DSLR images.  I could easily decide which picture looked best on my calibrated monitor.  Imagine my shock when I found that I had picked the DSLR image!  I really liked the overall brightness and color of the first image, and thought that the second image was dull, artificially muted and lacked either a true black and a true white, making it look "blah" and uninteresting.

I do agree that the medium format image had improved detail and did not blow out highlights.  But it was visually boring to me, and if I had taken it, I would have immediately lightened and brightened it to make it look more like the DSLR image.  Granted that I'm sure that, with adjustments, the medium format file would be capable of making a superior image, one having the brightness and color that I prefer plus the technical advantages of better gradation, highlight detail and resolution.  But the pictures AS SHOWN did not make the superiority of the medium format image "easily seeable" to me, and I definitely prefer the brightness and color rendition of the DSLR image to it.  I've been in photography for 50 years, but that medium format image as presented didn't "look better" to me. 

Sorry, Mark!
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2012, 11:59:00 PM »
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Hi,

I sort of want to see physically feasible explanations. I have not yet seen any explanation that MF would not blow out highlights except that they seem to have a bit to high ISO setting, leading to a bit less exposure. As far as I understand a saturated pixel is saturated, weather it is sitting on a IQ180 or a D3X sensor. On the other hand, if anyone comes up with a good explanation based on solid physics I would accept that easily.

Regarding the two images I guess that focus is different. It seems to me that focus is further back on the upper image, but I may be wrong.

Another observation is that I don't argue that wide angles for MF are superior to DSLR lenses (although I guess that there are some exceptions, like the Zeiss 21/2.8 and Nikons 14-24/2.Cool, but I would expect MF wideangles have more vignetting (according to the cosine 4 law). DSLR lenses are as a rule inverted telephoto designs. So MF lenses need to be corrected for vignetting and lens cast in software. It's is quite probable that DSLR lenses have more distortion than MF lenses, but that distortion can be eliminated in software. Very clearly, that is a route that Hasselblad has taken with it's 28 mm lens.

I have little doubts that a high end digital back with high end MF lenses will give better detail than lesser formats, at least if it is competently handled by a competent photographer. But laws of physics still apply.

Best regards
Erik



I liked what Mark said in his latest article, "Everything Matters," and was happily following his words up until I came to the two comparison pictures he included to show the difference between medium format and DSLR images.  I could easily decide which picture looked best on my calibrated monitor.  Imagine my shock when I found that I had picked the DSLR image!  I really liked the overall brightness and color of the first image, and thought that the second image was dull, artificially muted and lacked either a true black and a true white, making it look "blah" and uninteresting.

I do agree that the medium format image had improved detail and did not blow out highlights.  But it was visually boring to me, and if I had taken it, I would have immediately lightened and brightened it to make it look more like the DSLR image.  Granted that I'm sure that, with adjustments, the medium format file would be capable of making a superior image, one having the brightness and color that I prefer plus the technical advantages of better gradation, highlight detail and resolution.  But the pictures AS SHOWN did not make the superiority of the medium format image "easily seeable" to me, and I definitely prefer the brightness and color rendition of the DSLR image to it.  I've been in photography for 50 years, but that medium format image as presented didn't "look better" to me. 

Sorry, Mark!
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rgmoore
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2012, 01:06:48 AM »
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The article leads one to believe that the comparison is between DSLR and Medium Format.  When the images are imported into PS for closer evaluation File Information identifies the MF image coming
from the IQ 180 and the "smaller format" coming from an iPhone ... Very interesting.
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dreed
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2012, 01:20:24 AM »
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I got as far as reading the paragraph about audio and I've stopped. If the rest of the article continues in that vein, it's going to be a waste of my time reading it.

Unfortunately for this article I've spent time listening to music played on $100,000 single channel amps connected to high end turn tables and CD players (where the DAC is separate from the source.) I'll not go further on this.

When I read stories on this website, I'm looking for information on photography. I'm not reading this website to be told about the pro's or con's of audio hifidelity or wine. If the writer of an article cannot convey the required material and subject matter without straying into other fields then please replace the writer with someone that can.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2012, 02:33:01 AM »
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Mark,

If the relationship of pixel count to sensor size yields pixels of just about the same size, yet you think the MF pixel will be of higher quality than say the same size DSLR pixel (if that is what you are referring to), I'd be interested to know what other factors aside from microns/pixel would be causing this to be the case. As well know - there could be numerous design and firmware factors, but which and how?

Cheers,

Mark S
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
John R Smith
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2012, 03:05:37 AM »
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One phrase comes to mind-

"Methinks he doth protest too much" (my apologies for the misquote)

John
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2012, 03:34:53 AM »
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I'm sorry, but I have to say it. This article is the biggest load of pretentious nonsense I think that I have ever come across on a photography web site. Each to his or her own I guess, and thankfully this kind of quasi-religious pastiche doesn't turn up very often on LL. But when it does, boy, its a humdinger.  Huh
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stamper
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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2012, 04:32:03 AM »
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Quote

In other words, what I like to call Hyper-Reality is the ability to show detail, dynamic range, color, depth of field and fine tonalities that
either exceed the human eye or are so far above what the eye/brain system expects that it has basically the same effect as seeing
the unseen for the first time.

Unquote

That to my mind that is a contradiction? How can you show something that exceeds the human eye? You wouldn't see it.
As to the audio contents then it is out of place in the context of the article. I know a little about audio. It is a fact that
some people are guilty of listening for faults in their systems rather than sitting back and enjoying the music. It is good
to have a good sounding system but if you start to worry about if your neighbour has a better one then you are in trouble.
The bit about small details is well meant but the over riding comparison to medium format smacked of elitism.  Five of
 ten for effort and two out of ten for achievement.
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2012, 04:47:15 AM »
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Looking at the pictures of the flowers, I can hardly believe such an experienced photographer would use such poor images to show the differences between two camera formats.  Both pictures are poor and though I do realise they are used merely to illustrate a point, why on earth choose such a bad subject.  The only real difference the samples seem to show me is that with no adjustments the MF image seems to have a bit less contrast and a higher dynamic range.  But if they were optimised in Lightroom who can say how they would look.  The obvious thing that gives away the MF image is shallower depth of field.  Earlier in the piece there was a beautiful picture of Moss Tree which had a lovely quality about it (MF?), with a more limited tonal range.  Likewise the first picture - Wheat.  Now I would love to see how a picture from a 1DS and one of my Canon or Zeiss prime lenses would look compared to those at say A4 size.

If there is a myth to be debunked, these pictures do not prove it.

Jim
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Josh-H
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2012, 05:40:37 AM »
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The article is an interesting photographic conceit. It clearly has an elitist flavour (although that doesn't bother me -  a lot of Marks articles do read this way) and is clearly striving to promote medium format as superior (lets leave that discussion for another thread Roll Eyes ). The analogies to high end Audio and fine wine are just being used to illustrate the author's points and I don't think in and of itself that is a bad thing either. I think we can allow license for writers to draw analogies where they see fit. I see nothing wrong with that.

What concerns me however; is that the article is claiming picture A comes from a 'smaller format camera' and picture B comes from the IQ180 on an ALPA. A detailed analysis in Bridge shows all the metadata has been stripped from image A and not image B. In fact Image A is actually labelled as 'i-phone'. I can only assume that this was indeed the capture device used. If this was the case Mark should have come clean in the article that this was the capture device used.

On first reading I thought I read that image A was from a DSLR; however, I must have imagined that since a 2nd reading shows no specific type of camera is actually mentioned other than "smaller format camera".

Im not surprised in the slightest that image B looks better than image A (on my calibrated Spectraview monitor). If it didn't and I owned an IQ180 I would be more than a little annoyed  Grin.

Had image A been shot with say a 1DS MKIII, Sony NEX or D3X the results would have been much closer. All three of these cameras will smoke the iPhone even at the resolution used to illustrate. So what is the author trying to prove?

At the risk of guessing what Mark was driving at: Simply that better (more expensive) cameras produce better images than less expensive cameras even at low resolution. Would this test have been any different had he actually used a DSLR? Yes. The gap between image A and image B would have been much smaller - and possibly not even noticeable at the resolution displayed. Thus I conclude that the example Mark has used is 'extreme' to make his point.

I am not saying I agree or disagree either with Marks conclusions since they fly smack in the face of Michaels own print tests (remember the Canon G9 [I think it was the G9] vs. the Phase camera in 'You have to be kidding me!' article. Clearly Mark missed that one....
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Bryan Conner
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2012, 05:46:34 AM »
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I was not aware of the "Apple iPhone's camera is comparable in quality to a Phase One IQ180 Digital Back" myth.  I am certainly the myth was busted before I ran out and bought an iPhone.
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OldRoy
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2012, 05:52:36 AM »
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I only got as far as:
"I frankly get tired of people saying things like "I cannot tell the difference between a fine wine and a mediocre one", or "I cannot appreciate the difference between a fine audio system and an average one", or "My eyes are not good enough to see the difference between a medium format original and a smaller one"...."
before giving up.

The above statement is such a grotesque over-simplification as to render the rest of the article worthless IMO.
The role of expectation and training in such evaluations is entirely ignored.

A recent blind test with violinists offered comparison between a highly rated Strad and a top-end modern instrument. I understand that the musicians were equipped with something to mask the sight of the instruments. On balance the majority selected the modern instrument. In the absence of the masking device the results, with another set of musicians, were reversed.

Substituting the contents of bottles of wines and spirits has been demonstrated repeatedly to produce similar effects. There is no shortage of other examples.

Roy
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« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2012, 06:45:32 AM »
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Josh-h,

That was the G-10, but point taken!!!!!!




Peter



www.peterfiore.com
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2012, 07:12:30 AM »
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As others have noted the use of faulty analogies (fine wine, super audio, expensive violins) to compare two camera formats opens the author to potential ridicule.  When the prime example used is a Medium Format Camera and an i-Phone, it goes over the top.  Physics and chemistry are just that, natural sciences with hard and fast rules (maybe excepting special relativity but I'm pretty sure that that doesn't apply to camera optics and sensor design).  I admire Mark's photographic work, but please spare us the pseudoscience of wine tasting, wooden pucks sitting on top of speakers, $2K (maybe more) per foot interconnect cables, etc.  Well designed blinded testing has disproven all of this ad nauseum.  Sorry Mark, you really could have made this case ina  much better manner.
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« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2012, 07:24:40 AM »
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I'd love to know which analog turntable has a drive accurate to 100 picoseconds. Smiley

Given that in 100 picoseconds light travels 0.3 mm I am a bit suprised that we'd notice.
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jeremyrh
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2012, 07:35:08 AM »
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"The market for CDs is in decline". Yes - but that isn't because listeners are looking for higher fidelity! They are buying LOWER fidelity MP3s !!!
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bernhardAS
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« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2012, 07:45:55 AM »
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I have at the moment some experience at the opposite end of the camera quality spectrum.
As a personal fun project I bought the LEGO camera (30 USD) to try what is possible with it.
Nominally it provides a 3 MP picture. However the unaltered image is so horrible in quality that you can not do any prosessing with it, without causing bad side effects. After scaling it to about 1MP one has a picture that can be carefully processed and improved to mid decent web display standard.
I was surprised myself by the experience how much improvement in quality and more so "enhanceability" for lack of a bettter word is generated by downscaling. And while this is admittedly an extreme example, it shows how little the hardware resolution means in comparison to the quality of the image or pixels.
There is no simple mesurement, or even term in which we could describe or compare this image or pixel quality. Noise level is a prime suspect, but I am not sure that noise levels alone capture the full spectrum of quality to be described.  

I can very well understand Marks point looking at the high end of quality where the differences will be much finer than in my 30$ Crap Camera where they become really obvious. But they will be there.        
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jeremyrh
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« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2012, 07:49:16 AM »
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The article leads one to believe that the comparison is between DSLR and Medium Format.  When the images are imported into PS for closer evaluation File Information identifies the MF image coming
from the IQ 180 and the "smaller format" coming from an iPhone ... Very interesting.
If one of the cameras was an iPhone, then I wonder what this means:
"The images received no processing adjustments.  I exposed them as carefully as possible, did a direct conversion from RAW to TIFF"
What is the RAW format of the iPhone?
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bjanes
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« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2012, 08:23:11 AM »
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If one of the cameras was an iPhone, then I wonder what this means:
"The images received no processing adjustments.  I exposed them as carefully as possible, did a direct conversion from RAW to TIFF"
What is the RAW format of the iPhone?

Exactly what I was thinking. Looking further at the metadata (what there is), I see that the iPhone is in sRGB as expected and the IQ180 is in ProPhotoRGB. With an color unmanaged browser, the ProPhotoRGB image would look pale, but with a managed browser a richer color gamut would be available. For an alleged expert, this is pretty sloppy technique.

Also, Mark maintained that the pixel quality of the MFDB is far superior to that of a dSLR, but objective measurement fails to demonstrate that, and in fact, the pixel quality is inferior to that of the Nikon D3x as demonstrated by the screen measurements by DXO. It is only when the results are normalized for pixel count that the IQ180 is superior. We all know that the IQ180 has more pixels and can print at larger sizes. Of course, Mark discounts any objective measurement and only his discriminating senses and fine judgment is able to discern what us unwashed masses cannot. Typical elitist snobbery.









Regards,

Bill
« Last Edit: January 23, 2012, 08:30:56 AM by bjanes » Logged
kwalsh
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« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2012, 09:17:58 AM »
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EDITED:  Original post probably too harsh.  Summary, I didn't like the article even if I mostly agreed with what Mark was saying.  I thought the presentation was extremely poor and would ask Michael to exert better editorial control in the future to ensure quality articles.  The message alone is not sufficient, you must put some effort into carrying your readers and this article failed at that.

Ken
« Last Edit: January 23, 2012, 09:26:56 AM by kwalsh » Logged
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