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Author Topic: Hyper-reality for dummies  (Read 5545 times)
torger
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« on: May 08, 2012, 06:26:53 AM »
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I'm a happy new owner of a good old Aptus 75 and a tech camera, and curious engineer as I am I've made some testing. I don't have particular high expectations of MF sensors, it was more the camera and lenses I wanted so I have no prestige in the results.

The resolution aspect is obvious, 33 megapixels is 33 megapixels. Not having the AA filter has effect too (good and bad). I've also looked at noise performance and it is perfectly ok, better than my Canon 5D mark 2 of course, but worse than an APS-C Nikon D7000 in the shadows, and on par or a little better than it in brighter areas (when the lower photon shot noise of the aptus comes into play), all expected from measurement data others have provided.

What I'm still curious about is the "hyper-reality" aspect of MF that some claim to see, more or less vague description of properties that makes the MF picture inherently better than smaller formats. Better color rendition, better tonal range in midtones, more "3D look" (DOF/bokeh rendering from the lenses rather than the sensor I presume?) is things I often hear and all of it may be true but I have never been able to find any pictures to support these claims. Well, until I read

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/understanding-series/everything_matters__it_is_all_about_the_small_details.shtml

under the "hyper-reality" and "first myth" section. Doesn't look like a well-controlled test though, you don't need to blow out highlights like that, that's poor technique. Maybe he is comparing in-camera JPEG with MF raw, I don't know.

So I kind of still wonder if these differences are real or if they fall flat when actually compared with the best DSLRs (D800/D800E on top today I guess), as I would say the more easily verifiable DR claim does.

Is there any examples out there to show us MF dummies, preferably seriously made side-by-side shots by someone who knows how to use both systems. Or maybe this is just a too controversial subject? Or even beating a dead horse, it feels like this small format vs MF is discussed in hundreds of threads, but the picture comparisons is extremely rare still...
« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 07:18:29 AM by torger » Logged
KLaban
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2012, 12:37:27 PM »
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I'm a happy new owner of a good old Aptus 75 and a tech camera

You need more?

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torger
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2012, 01:47:02 PM »
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You need more?

Yes! :-)

I'm truly interested in finding out what the secret sauce of medium format is, if it is more to it than resolution and lenses that support it. This has nothing to do with my attempts to do photography art with my new fine camera system, this is about my interest in camera technology and some sort of problem with my personality which is I can't sleep if there's a thing I haven't figured out.

It is quite often I read claims that even in web-sized pictures the superiority of MF is obivous (and the lower DSLR image quality is equally obvious), and well I have a hard time seeing those "obvious" things. Sure thing I get curious what it is all about.

Am I totally clueless, or does it require some special fine skill to see this, like distinguishing a fine wine from another? I do find color rendition superiority as likely though, also midtone tonal range but I have not seen any side-by-side examples which you really need to see if it is significant.

In the end I want to find out if this is a "loudspeaker cable thing" or not. In the hifi audio world loudspeaker cables is one of those things that some claim to detect huge differences between them, while the majority of people don't hear any difference at all. As it is now I don't know if I'm missing something obvious (and being me that is not a nice feeling!) or if it is a loudspeaker cable thing. I would sleep better if I knew :-)
« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 01:49:47 PM by torger » Logged
Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2012, 01:55:01 PM »
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It is a religion thing... you got to believe there are differences in order to "see" (or "hear") them.
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2012, 02:10:33 PM »
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In the end I want to find out if this is a "loudspeaker cable thing" or not. In the hifi audio world loudspeaker cables is one of those things that some claim to detect huge differences between them, while the majority of people don't hear any difference at all. As it is now I don't know if I'm missing something obvious (and being me that is not a nice feeling!) or if it is a loudspeaker cable thing. I would sleep better if I knew

Go make pictures.
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Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2012, 02:34:03 PM »
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Go make pictures.




Are you sure that won't deprive him of more sleep?

I sleep perfectly well having figured out very few things in life. When I don't sleep at all is when I get those 'racing heads' and the same old things go on and on and round and around without stopping until dawn comes knocking. Those same old things were all figured out years ago, but that doesn't stop them playing waking nightmare with me. Irony? Yes, it should all be controllable by the self, just like suicide.

Rob C
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Don Libby
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2012, 06:28:20 PM »
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This might be the case of I don't know what it is however I'll know it when I see it.

I've seen stunning files taken with both 35mm and medium format; some I can tell the difference some I can't.  All I know is that when comparing files from my P65 versus my 1DsIII the P65 normally wins.  Then again I need to be on the top of my game in order to make it work.


So I kind of still wonder if these differences are real or if they fall flat when actually compared with the best DSLRs (D800/D800E on top today I guess), as I would say the more easily verifiable DR claim does.

Is there any examples out there to show us MF dummies, preferably seriously made side-by-side shots by someone who knows how to use both systems. Or maybe this is just a too controversial subject? Or even beating a dead horse, it feels like this small format vs MF is discussed in hundreds of threads, but the picture comparisons is extremely rare still...

I've never got the idea of comparing two-completely different types of image capture.  While both capture a file using similar methods the main difference is the sensors and until they are the same there will always be a difference.  Besides that sizes does (occasionally) matter and MF is the bigger dog.

Be happy with your setup and go out and capture what made you buy it in the first place and stop over thinking the smaller stuff.

Now start worrying you need.  Cheesy

Don
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torger
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« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2012, 01:27:26 AM »
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Thanks for the kind replies. I think I can both sleep and make pictures in peace now :-). From your replies it seems to me that it is one of those things that some see and some don't, and you don't really need to be blind to not see it. So to me, the secret sauce of MF continues to be high resolution (and beautiful tech cameras).
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John R Smith
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« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2012, 03:46:14 AM »
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Torger

An awful lot of the difference between small and medium format photography these days centres not on image quality (which is now pretty similar, it seems) but on whether you enjoy the process of photography as well as the end result. There is a great deal of difference in the feel and heft of MF kit which makes using a Hasselblad (V or H) or Mamiya RZ or whatever very different from picking up a Nikon. For those who enjoy a slower, more contemplative way of working MF still has powerful attractions.

John
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Hasselblad 500 C/M, SWC and CFV-39 DB
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2012, 04:06:35 AM »
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For those who enjoy a slower, more contemplative way of working MF still has powerful attractions.

Like slow and contemplative? Stitch with DoF stacking!



Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
ced
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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2012, 06:36:38 AM »
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Torger for what it is worth I was involved a little in complaints to software engineers that the images coming out of an early version on some back (prefer to remain mum here) were flat and without dimension to the image compared with "X".  For the hell of me I could not understand what the complaint was about I just could not see what they were trying to convey to me.
The only thing I could think of was to take an old 6mpx three shot back and start with that.  I photographed a still life that contained wooden fruit with transparent lacquered colours in them where the grain of the wood was still very obvious and these were in a tarnished brass dish alongside some other bits and pieces.
The shots were made on both systems and the results proofed on screen and on a mechanical proof.  I finally understood what the complaint was all about.
The 3 shot showed transitions and details that followed the curvature of the fruit and bowl giving a continuous rendering and which on the single shot seemed to have been sliced like butter through the curvatures rendering them flat and missing details that in comparison also lacked the 3 dimensional like quality some called it "shape" and can very quickly be seen and understood.
I would say that the results were more software related than format related but when the engineers got their heads around it they conjured results that were as good if not pretty near the 3 shot result.
I reckon you can conduct your own tests to try and see what the difference is with small vs med. format maybe you might find there is a dramatic difference that is more obvious in some images maybe not....  Maybe then you can post us some images if you succeed.
BL's fine landscape of the bouldered river looks like it has lots of dimension to it regardless of what equipment he used (Well done Bernard!)
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torger
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« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2012, 12:11:31 AM »
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I got a tip about this blogpost which perhaps indicates what differences it is about:

http://www.buschphoto.com/blog/2012/4/23/hasselblad-h4d-40-nikon-d800-blind-review.html

There are many more comparisons on that blog http://www.buschphoto.com/blog/
« Last Edit: May 10, 2012, 03:02:44 AM by torger » Logged
ced
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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2012, 03:39:17 AM »
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Torger nice article and interesting the guy choosing the images like wine tasting found the type of details I was trying to convey in my last post,  the transitions and tonalities are what make the choice easier.
In the baking image one sees that all the 1/4 tones are washed out right up and into the midtones giving the other picture that dimensional quality.
I don't think this can be corrected by exposure or gradation.   This then I believe is the magic pill you were trying to find that shows the difference between the 2 systems. 
Good hunting down this info, Well Done!
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ondebanks
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« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2012, 04:21:47 AM »
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I dunno, it seems to me that in the baking image, the D800 image is simply systematically lighter (maybe 1/3 stop more exposed). Some exposure backeting might give a much closer comparison.

Ray
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torger
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« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2012, 04:56:04 AM »
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Yes how the exposures have been done is a question, if he has used the in-camera auto-exposure it could be a problem with that rather than with the camera sensor. When looking into more detail I agree that in the food shot the D800 picture is exposed brighter, there's more visible details in dark shadows because of the brighter exposure. These kind of tests are tough to do right.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2012, 04:58:14 AM by torger » Logged
yaya
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« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2012, 05:33:54 AM »
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Yes how the exposures have been done is a question, if he has used the in-camera auto-exposure it could be a problem with that rather than with the camera sensor. When looking into more detail I agree that in the food shot the D800 picture is exposed brighter, there's more visible details in dark shadows because of the brighter exposure. These kind of tests are tough to do right.

Torger if you have an MF and a DSLR then you can try to take some side-by-side shots of similar subjects and scenes

Bring them into your raw converter (or three) of choice and see what they look like "out of the box" (there is no such thing but anyway) and then try to find out what it takes (and how long it takes) to make them into something that you can be satisfied with, in terms of "dimentionality", tones, sharpness etc.
This process is very personal, since some prefer to do everything "in-camera" rather that working the files on the computer. For some it's the other way around. For others it is somewhere in between...

This is also why most published tests/ reviews often bring up debates about their credibility etc.

For example if we think that the D800 baking shot was brighter, it could well be that this is how LR brings it up with a curve or a colour profile, not necessarily how the camera exposed it...and so on and so forth...

The important thing IMO is to be able to create images that you are satisfied with (artistically and technically) and that convey the message you are trying to convey and if you enjoy the process then that's even better!!!

BR

Yair
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2012, 10:00:51 AM »
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It is a religion thing... you got to believe there are differences in order to "see" (or "hear") them.
Smiley
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Thanks,
Kirk

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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2012, 11:01:03 AM »
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I got a tip about this blogpost which perhaps indicates what differences it is about:

http://www.buschphoto.com/blog/2012/4/23/hasselblad-h4d-40-nikon-d800-blind-review.html

There are many more comparisons on that blog http://www.buschphoto.com/blog/

Once again, those who believe will say there are many differences and they are huge... the mere mortals would say there are few, if any, and they are at best microscopic. I mean, the guy needs arrows, after all, to point it out at 100%, and I still do not see it (other than being lighter/darker overall). One difference is, however, undeniable: one of them is 10-15x more expensive.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2012, 11:13:29 AM by Slobodan Blagojevic » Logged

Slobodan

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« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2012, 11:07:05 AM »
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if you take the time to know your equipment and given that you have some sense of vision and appreciation for a photograph then I would say as others have.. just go make pictures.. you will then learn what the limits of your equipment are and if they are in sync with your desired results.  I did a series of 18 20x30 prints for a client with a less than 3mp camera..is it good for everything..of course not.. but all this talk of pixels is diversion from the art of making photographs.  There are museums filled with photographic images made with uncoated lenses.. but would we go and buy one today?  I am trying to live by the philosophy "love the one you're with" -crosby,stills nash
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ondebanks
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« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2012, 11:12:40 AM »
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I am trying to live by the philosophy "love the one you're with" -crosby,stills nash

Well it was easy for Crosby to say that - he loved the many ones he was with! Check out his Byrds song, "Triad".

Ray
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