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Author Topic: Waiting for Moore's Law to plateau  (Read 9907 times)
texshooter
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« on: June 10, 2012, 02:35:35 PM »
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I just read a persuasive article for why one should abandon the 35mm DSLR for a medium format digital camera..

http://zackarias.com/for-photographers/gear-gadgets/why-i-moved-to-medium-format-phase-one-iq140-review/

But then I learned that this guy, Nick Brandt, shoots with medium format film...
And we aren't talking 11x14 prints either !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5X2A1Crrpo

So there's an obvious contradiction here. Why would I spend $40 G's for a camera that is inferior to 6x7 film? No thank you. I understand MF has a fast sync shutter speed, easy sensor cleanup, a big viewfinder, etc. But if digital camera technology follows Moore's law like computers do, then I just as well wait for that 80 megapixel Mamiya that has 20 EV dynamic range so I can get Nick Brandt's results, thank you much. Do as the successful do, I say.

Am I alone on this one?

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texshooter
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2012, 04:35:02 PM »
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Or maybe Nick Brandt doesn't have anything agains medium format digital cameras. Instead, perhaps, he opts for film because he shoots primarily with infrared film, and because there are no medium format cameras that can be practically converted to IR.  I could have gotten this one wrong. I couldn't find anyone who converted their Phase One to IR. So IR film is the best choice. One could should with IR filters attached to the front of the lense, but then forget about hand-held shooting.

Moreover, according to this site, the new Nikon D800 gives the Phase One a run for its money in terms of resolution(36MP) and dynamic range (14.4 EV, THE HIGHEST EVER for digital). The gap is quicly closing. I'm willing to hold my breath a little longer.

http://dxomark.com
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2012, 04:45:28 PM »
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Zack's blog post predates the introduction of the D800.

"Why would I spend $40 G's for a camera that is inferior to 6x7 film?"

How much do you spend a year on film and processing?
« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 04:52:07 PM by Ellis Vener » Logged

Ellis Vener
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2012, 10:06:23 PM »
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So there's an obvious contradiction here. Why would I spend $40 G's for a camera that is inferior to 6x7 film? No thank you.
I don't agree with that conclusion.

I've shot a lot over the years with 6x7, and still have my RZ67 and my Pentax 67 systems.  I've also been shooting digital for since the Kodak DCS 520, and have owned nearly every dSLR system as well as medium format beginning with Kodak's original DCS back up to know with a PhaseOne IQ180.

I've printed from those files as well as scanned film.  One of my good customers has been shooting landscapes for quite some time, and much of his older stuff is scanned 6x7 transparencies which I've printed.

From that experience I feel I can get as good and perhaps slightly better quality of prints out of a well exposed/processed digital image from a good dSLR in the 20mp range.  As with any of this, final print size is really the determining factor, but the 36mp Nikon or 40mp MFDB's will easily handle getting pushed to larger sizes than the scanned 6x7 film.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2012, 11:32:53 PM »
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There is a  quick summary of Nick Brandt and the way he works is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Brandt.

I believe the outstanding quality of Brandt's work has far more to do with his passion, intellect and sense of what he wants a photo to be and the emotions he wants his photographs to stir in a viewer than it does with any camera or capture format that he uses.

Brandt clearly understands that the initial exposure - made at the right instant - is just the beginning of that process.
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Ellis Vener
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2012, 01:56:07 AM »
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I think that Moores law has limited applicability to circuits of a fixed size.

-h
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torger
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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2012, 02:20:56 AM »
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He is not using film due to superior technical quality. Film is a strong "brand" in art circles, if you want to be an artist you should shoot film :-). Using b&w film and shorter lenses is surely a strengthening of his brand rather than using a DSLR and supertelephoto lenses. I'm not so sure though if it is wise to be close to wild animals, it is not so good for either humans or the wild animals to get used to be close together. I think he'd get just as good pictures with a telephoto lens, but his rehearsed talk about getting close to the personality of the animals sounds nice and artsy.

If you are going to over-enlarge a picture my experience is however that over-enlarged film looks better up close than over-enlarged digital.

Concerning Moore's law it is as said above not applicable to fixed size chips. Electronics gets cheaper and faster by getting smaller, and with a fixed size chip you can't make it smaller...
« Last Edit: June 11, 2012, 02:29:12 AM by torger » Logged
texshooter
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« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2012, 02:47:29 AM »
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I wouldn't be surprised if there are some folk who sold the farm to get the 40 megapixel MFDB shortly before the 36MP Nikon D800 was announced. OUCH! Talk about a "I could've had a V8" moment.

I wish I new the upper technological limits that apply to the DSLR and MFDB with regards to megapixels and EV dynamic range. Foreknowledge of such limits should help one to plan the timing of their future upgrades. The Nikon, Canon and Phase One engineers all keep their expectations secret. My poor 5D Mark II will be worthless soon I bet. Oh well, better the smell of destruction than the smell of decay.
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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2012, 03:04:28 AM »
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I wouldn't be surprised if there are some folk who sold the farm to get the 40 megapixel MFDB shortly before the 36MP Nikon D800 was announced. OUCH! Talk about a "I could've had a V8" moment.

I wish I new the upper technological limits that apply to the DSLR and MFDB with regards to megapixels and EV dynamic range. Foreknowledge of such limits should help one to plan the timing of their future upgrades. The Nikon, Canon and Phase One engineers all keep their expectations secret. My poor 5D Mark II will be worthless soon I bet. Oh well, better the smell of destruction than the smell of decay.



Where would you place the smell of burned wallet?

Rob C
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Peter Stacey
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« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2012, 03:25:58 AM »
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Where would you place the smell of burned wallet?

The worst kind - it's both.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2012, 02:17:09 PM »
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He is not using film due to superior technical quality. Film is a strong "brand" in art circles, if you want to be an artist you should shoot film :-)

Richard Misrach, Gregory Crewdson and maybe even Andreas Gursky now shoot with digital cameras. PhaseOne IQ180s. I guess that means they are no longer artists. The "film is a more artistically valid" argument is one only embraced by third rate artists.

I think he'd get just as good pictures with a telephoto lens, but his rehearsed talk about getting close to the personality of the animals sounds nice and artsy.

What counts in photos like these is first the emotional wallop of them  - the connection between subject and viewer - and then you think about how he did that and all of the formal considerations. From what I've found out about Brandt he has plenty of technical knowledge - he's not some art school/ trust fund / technological cretin - and has found the combination of technology that allows him to create that emotional wallop. 

I suspect if he started this project this year instead of back in 2000 he'd be using a high resolution digital camera instead of his Pentax 67.
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Ellis Vener
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texshooter
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« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2012, 07:05:03 PM »
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Do you find it a bit pretentious of an artist to use a certain method merely to prove his stamina or loyalty to tradition? (Reminds me of bullies who say I can fight you with one hand behind my back.)  I hope that is not why Nick Brandt sticks with film. Although, after reading some posts, he did seem a little defensive of rumors that he composited his animals onto background scenes (for example the leapord in the tree). If he did composite, WHO CARES! One's imagination should rule his artistic vision, not his methods of production.

I have faith that if Nick could get supior results by shooting digital, he would do so.  It makes sense he shoots film because of his need for the infrared effect. And because there are (to my knowledge) no infrared converted MFDB, the next best thing is 6x7 infrared roll film. He can't use a 35mm DSLR because his prints are over-sized.
I read that Nick is disappointed that his favorite infrared B&W film, Macophot 820c, has been discontinued. It was the best he said. It seems infrared is a dying art. What a shame.

But yes, like the previous post said, the success of Nick's prints is primarily the subject material and its composition. A feat that can only be accomplished by years of relentless pursuit and patient waiting for that one golden shot. In fact if you ask me, I think the modern path to fame as a fine art photographer  is not technical mastery, but rather specializing in one subject area and creating a collection worthy of museum exhibition. Joey L. is another case in point.     Joey didn't invent his style, he perfected his subject.
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2012, 12:11:13 AM »
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Do you find it a bit pretentious of an artist to use a certain method merely to prove his stamina or loyalty to tradition?
Why do writers of litterature use typewriters instead of computers with spell-check and backup?

Why do musicians use old instruments that are technically hard to master and service?

Why do sculptors use chisel and hard rock when other techniques might be less work and finer detail?

I think it is hard to separate choice of tools from artistic vision when you are doing art. You choose your tools from whatever imperfect subjective-objective reasoning (why does one choose Liverpool over Arsenal?). Once they are chosen, you invest enough time that it is very hard to switch.

-h
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2012, 12:33:37 AM »
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Hi,

Moore's law is really a set of laws, and one of his laws allows for increasing chip size.

But sensors are not leading edge technology, at least regarding feature size. Intel is down to 0.025 micron rules and the D800/D800E has 4.7 micron sensels. I don't know what design rules are used for 4.7 micron EXMOOR type sensors but I guess perhaps 0.3 micron.

Size is a feature of the sensor, a bigger sensor collects more photons. So I'd say that Moore's laws relate very loosely to digital camera sensors.

Best regards
Erik

I think that Moores law has limited applicability to circuits of a fixed size.

-h
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2012, 12:37:50 AM »
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Hi,

Wayne's experience indicates the same as my testing:

http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/59-sony-alpha-900-vs-67-analogue-round-2

http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/16-pentax67velvia-vs-sony-alpha-900

There is also a convenience aspect it, too, it's hard work to scan slides/negatives. Professional scanning on high res drum scanner comes in at around 100$ US and up.

Best regards
Erik

I don't agree with that conclusion.

I've shot a lot over the years with 6x7, and still have my RZ67 and my Pentax 67 systems.  I've also been shooting digital for since the Kodak DCS 520, and have owned nearly every dSLR system as well as medium format beginning with Kodak's original DCS back up to know with a PhaseOne IQ180.

I've printed from those files as well as scanned film.  One of my good customers has been shooting landscapes for quite some time, and much of his older stuff is scanned 6x7 transparencies which I've printed.

From that experience I feel I can get as good and perhaps slightly better quality of prints out of a well exposed/processed digital image from a good dSLR in the 20mp range.  As with any of this, final print size is really the determining factor, but the 36mp Nikon or 40mp MFDB's will easily handle getting pushed to larger sizes than the scanned 6x7 film.
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2012, 02:03:18 AM »
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Hi,

Moore's law is really a set of laws, and one of his laws allows for increasing chip size.

But sensors are not leading edge technology, at least regarding feature size. Intel is down to 0.025 micron rules and the D800/D800E has 4.7 micron sensels. I don't know what design rules are used for 4.7 micron EXMOOR type sensors but I guess perhaps 0.3 micron.

Size is a feature of the sensor, a bigger sensor collects more photons. So I'd say that Moore's laws relate very loosely to digital camera sensors.

Best regards
Erik

What Moore initially claimed and what posterity have attributed to him may differ.

I think the essence is about the number of transistors that can economically be put into one chip, or the calculating performance that one might expect from an economic chip. This include physical, economical and even psychological phenomena. We have no guarantee that the development will extrapolate nicely next year, in fact most seem to agree that at some point it will flatten due to physical hard limits.

It might make sense to apply some law like this to the sensel density: for a given "number of megapixels", the price seems to decrease significantly over time. But this decrease comes from shrinking total sensor area and associated costs. For most photographers, megapixels are not as good indicators of camera performance as "flops" or some other calculation metric may be for computer scientists. The quality of the end-result is limited by lense designs and artistic desires that may benefit from larger sensors, everything else being equal.

What photographers might like (love, actually) is for the price (and total/per-sensel quality) of a _given_ sensor size to decrease over time. I don't think that is happening, at least not at the rate one might hope for.

-h
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torger
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« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2012, 03:54:00 AM »
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He is not using film due to superior technical quality. Film is a strong "brand" in art circles, if you want to be an artist you should shoot film :-)

Richard Misrach, Gregory Crewdson and maybe even Andreas Gursky now shoot with digital cameras. PhaseOne IQ180s. I guess that means they are no longer artists. The "film is a more artistically valid" argument is one only embraced by third rate artists.

I think he'd get just as good pictures with a telephoto lens, but his rehearsed talk about getting close to the personality of the animals sounds nice and artsy.

What counts in photos like these is first the emotional wallop of them  - the connection between subject and viewer - and then you think about how he did that and all of the formal considerations. From what I've found out about Brandt he has plenty of technical knowledge - he's not some art school/ trust fund / technological cretin - and has found the combination of technology that allows him to create that emotional wallop.  

I suspect if he started this project this year instead of back in 2000 he'd be using a high resolution digital camera instead of his Pentax 67.

You're right, back in 2000 digital was not that good, I did not think of that. I do know that many artists use digital. Many still use film though. Sally Mann is one example (oh well glass plates I guess). Would her pictures be the same if the analog look was created inside Photoshop? I don't think so. Art is not only about the result, it is also about the process. But if you have a photographic style which aims only for highest technical quality (no specific "look" of the medium) then digital is a good choice.

I do appreciate Brandts pictures, they are truly great. I'm just a bit skeptical about getting wild animals used to having humans close around, but then again I'm no wildlife expert. Maybe it does not makes to much of difference to the animals if you're standing at super-telephoto distance or not, they'll see you anyway.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 04:19:37 AM by torger » Logged
torger
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« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2012, 04:49:12 AM »
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If he did composite, WHO CARES! One's imagination should rule his artistic vision, not his methods of production.

I would care, a lot. Viewers don't like to get tricked into believing something that is fake is real. Wildlife photography as a genre is very sensitive concerning authenticity. As far as I know though all Nick Brandts images are real.

Art Wolfe is a photographer that has done some minor cloning/removal of animals in his wildlife photos, not tried to hide it though. I still don't like that particularly much, but maybe that's just me. It's not so simple to draw a line what feels ok and what does not. As a general guide I think it is ok if it is obvious to the viewer that it is a composite or arranged photo, but if the image can be taken for real but is fake, then it is not ok.
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2012, 05:09:50 AM »
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Quote
Art Wolfe is a photographer that has done some minor cloning/removal of animals in his wildlife photos,

Well, adding a few elephants to a stampeding herd is not so minor a change.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #19 on: June 12, 2012, 01:03:50 PM »
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Hi,

It seems that the Canon 5DIII is not a major upgrade regarding DR and noise characteristics. It is a great upgrade regarding shooting performance.  So if image quality is all you care about just keep the 5DII you have and be happy.

Nikon's 800D is a major upgrade over the D800, but perhaps less so over the D3X.

Best regards
Erik


W
I wouldn't be surprised if there are some folk who sold the farm to get the 40 megapixel MFDB shortly before the 3S6MP Nikon D800 was announced. OUCH! Talk about a "I could've had a V8" moment.

I wish I new the upper technological limits that apply to the DSLR and MFDB with regards to megapixels and EV dynamic range. Foreknowledge of such limits should help one to plan the timing of their future upgrades. The Nikon, Canon and Phase One engineers all keep their expectations secret. My poor 5D Mark II will be worthless soon I bet. Oh well, better the smell of destruction than the smell of decay.
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