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Author Topic: Medium format and the Billboard Myth  (Read 10246 times)
FredBGG
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« on: September 19, 2012, 11:33:06 PM »
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Last week I had a discussion with a client about a shoot for a Billboard.
The other photographer that was bidding (and did not get the job)
had told the client that they would shoot 50MP digital for the Billboard shots.
The client brought this up and appeared to be somewhat convinced that
it was necessary.

I assured the client that it was not necessary and that Billboards are actually quite low res
and are viewed at a distance.

A quick call to the billboard company and here are the specs...

Work scale needs to be set to 1:12 at 300 dpi

Delivery file size comes out to 3,600 x 1800 px for a 6'x12' billboard.

D800 at 7,360 x 4,912 is just fine.

Client also brought up 14x48ft digital billboard.

The spec for that is 1408x384 px

I also pointed out that Billboards are very horizontal and that MF sensors have a 4x5 aspect ratio while 35mm cameras have a 3x2 aspect ratio that is closer to the 1x2 aspect ratio
of most billboards.

So even if we wanted to be sticklers the actual difference is....

8176x4088 for the 50mp sensor
7360x3680 for the 36mp sensor

The percentage difference is 11%

So once this is down sampled that 11% becomes totally irrelevant.

But what really sealed the deal is that some electronic billboards permit some animation.
So I told the client that we could shoot uncompressed video with dress waving and wind in the hair
just in case the opportunity of motion came up. Still shooting stills, but moving stills...

This is another reason why this Hasselblad wording did not go down well with me.

Quote
A Hasselblad camera is not a reward for having achieved a successful career. A Hasselblad camera is the tool with which you build your successful career to begin with.
There is never any time like the present to start building for the future. And if you think 35mm is good enough for this stage of your career, then you’d better hope that your clients are also willing to settle for “good enough”. The best clients, however, are almost never willing to settle for “good enough”. And why should they, when there are photographers out there who can provide the best? And providing the best is what Hasselblad and the new H5D are all about.



« Last Edit: September 19, 2012, 11:42:36 PM by FredBGG » Logged
Sareesh Sudhakaran
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« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2012, 12:07:00 AM »
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For some reason this reminded me of Sunset Boulevard.
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« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2012, 12:07:40 AM »
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Fred,
I'm trying to figure out what you are doing on the MF and Large sensor forum really.  Are you working for Nikon?   Wink

I mean if you are trying to convince the bulk of us that own and shoot with MFDB's to dump our gear all at once, just so you can pick one up on the cheap it isn't going to work.  You'll have a lot better luck convincing us all to pick up a Fuji system.  Cheesy    So far those are the more compelling images you've posted.  Actually I don't think you've posted any thing but test images from the nikon but speaking of,  I'm still waiting to see your pimped out Nikuji 800 tilt shift camera.      

and I'm mostly just joking around with you ... 'K   Wink
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HarperPhotos
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« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2012, 12:12:08 AM »
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Hi Fred,

Totally agree with your comments, my clients do not give a dame what camera I use.

I had a image I took with a Nikon D3x horizontal cropped into a vertical 14 meter billboard and it was awesome and never a complaint from the client.

I find Hasselbald’s marketing crap to be insulting as I do work for some of the biggest consumer names in the world and none of them or there agencies have ever asked me if I shot with a Hasselblad.

It interesting about the video thing. I was shooting a well know celeb for Unicef and after the stills where done the art director pulled out his iphone and asked if he could do a web video. I laughed and told him that my Nikon D800E also shot video and I would be happy to do it for him so using the modelling lamp on my Bowens flash and a couple of Dedo’s I shot my first video ever. All good fun.

Cheers

Simon

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FredBGG
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« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2012, 12:46:54 AM »
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Fred,
I'm trying to figure out what you are doing on the MF and Large sensor forum really.  Are you working for Nikon?   Wink

I mean if you are trying to convince the bulk of us that own and shoot with MFDB's to dump our gear all at once, just so you can pick one up on the cheap it isn't going to work.  You'll have a lot better luck convincing us all to pick up a Fuji system.  Cheesy    So far those are the more compelling images you've posted.  Actually I don't think you've posted any thing but test images from the nikon but speaking of,  I'm still waiting to see your pimped out Nikuji 800 tilt shift camera.      

and I'm mostly just joking around with you ... 'K   Wink


I can't finish my pimped out Nikuji tilt shift because Hasselblad's Lunar development team bought all the whales penis skin leather there was on the market. Wink Cheesy

I'm not trying to get people to dump their gear so I can by it cheap... actually when it comes to buying and selling gear I don't look out for my interests before another photographers. Just recently a guy was asking me about buying a Fuji 250mm I had for sale.... I ended up refering him to a better deal  and he got it for less money... I still have the one I'm selling.....

Not working for Nikon ...

To me it's about photographers... in particular the new comers... I like to give them my point of view ... that of a photographer ... not a dealer, fan boy or manufacturer Wink
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FredBGG
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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2012, 01:08:56 AM »
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Hi Fred,

....

I find Hasselbald’s marketing crap to be insulting as I do work for some of the biggest consumer names in the world and none of them or there agencies have ever asked me if I shot with a Hasselblad.

....

Cheers

Simon



I shoot mainly celebrities now.. A-list actors, Politicians, Rock stars, Comedians etc etc

They and their people don't question what I shoot with either.
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lfeagan
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« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2012, 01:35:01 AM »
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I can't finish my pimped out Nikuji tilt shift because Hasselblad's Lunar development team bought all the whales penis skin leather there was on the market. Wink Cheesy

This cracked me up sitting here late at night. You summed up the Lunar's essence quite well (phallus enhancer from outer space). Thanks Fred.
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Fuji: X-Pro 1, 14mm f/2.8, 18mm f/2.0, 35mm f/1.4
pedro39photo
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2012, 02:25:46 AM »
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GREAT another boring topic about d800 vs DMF ....yes he all have to sell all the DMF cameras because 35mm its cheap and have the same quality....
AND IF IN THE FUTURE IF THE IPHONE HAVE THE SAME QUALITY OF THE 35MM CAMERAS...HE HAVE TO SELL ALL 35MM CAMERA GEAR AND JUST SHOOT WITH THE PHONE !!!
MAYBE IN THAT FUTURE FRED TIF HE CLIENT HAVE THE SAME CAMERA THAT YOU HAVE, HE CAN DO THE PHOTO SHOOT FOR YOU...
 
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Mr. Rib
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2012, 07:29:07 AM »
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Hm, Pedro, I think you came to strange conclusions after reading Fred. I think his message is the opposite- that the person behind the camera is what is important, rather than equipment distinguishing us.

And when it comes to equipment talk, Fred is always praising a Fuji which is an example of MF camera isn't it Smiley He's in the right place.


Wait, Fuji.. but Fuji... Hasselblad... hmm. I think Fred has a complex plan of making us buy a Hassy in a long run
Wink
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Gigi
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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2012, 09:10:06 AM »
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Fred,
I'm trying to figure out what you are doing on the MF and Large sensor forum really.  Are you working for Nikon?   Wink

I mean if you are trying to convince the bulk of us that own and shoot with MFDB's to dump our gear all at once, just so you can pick one up on the cheap it isn't going to work.  You'll have a lot better luck convincing us all to pick up a Fuji system.  Cheesy    So far those are the more compelling images you've posted.  Actually I don't think you've posted any thing but test images from the nikon but speaking of,  I'm still waiting to see your pimped out Nikuji 800 tilt shift camera.      

and I'm mostly just joking around with you ... 'K   Wink


With all due respect to FredBGG, it does seem that the general thrust of his posts is that DSLR is good enough and that there really isn't enough difference for MFD work. That's a viewpoint, and it even can be supported, although I don't agree with it. I did a shoot of an art install (Leaf back) and compared with those done by a longtime pro using 7D - and those looked like they were shot through some clean but smokey windows compared to the Leaf. Glass matters too.

All to say that FredBGG's thoughts and approach aren't necessarily wrong - but they just seem oddly located here. I'd follow up with Eric's question with "what points are you trying to make, and why here?".
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2012, 09:19:52 AM »
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... AND IF IN THE FUTURE...

PEDRO, I THINK YOU QUITE CORRECTLY PREDICTED THE FUTURE Wink
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2012, 09:24:35 AM »
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Absolutely. Billboards, positioned hundreds of feet from the viewer, simply do not require high resolution.

Resolution requirements are much higher for in-store displays, subway ads*, bus station ads*, multi-purposed images (e.g. using one master image for horizontals pano crop, tall vertical crop), and other large prints which will be viewed close by the consumer. This is especially true when typography or other vector art will be placed in close proximity, since those elements are inherently sharp in most print methods regardless of the print size.

I just walked by a subway ad this morning in Herald Square and the images used were of such dreadful resolution that they were fuzzy even from 6 feet away - yet they were placed in a space where people are physically forced to walk within inches. It was the opposite of immersive - the ad caught my eye from across the way and I wanted to see more of the clothing (ok, in reality I wanted to see more of the cute model) and as I got physically closer to the ad my viewing experience got worse, not better.

And of course if asked for a certain resolution on a project that does not seem to require it, if you own that camera then no need to go to great lengths to educate your client that they don't need the resolution. So this is most important to know for those with lower resolution cameras, especially those who used to own a higher res camera and have since down graded and so have to fight to educate their clients that it's really not necessary. :-)

*When printing will be high quality - this varies a LOT by region/city, if it will be crappy newspaper quality printing the resolution requirements are much lower.
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« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2012, 09:28:13 AM »
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I've used my H3D2-39 for a billboard knowing full well I could have used a point and shoot and not have seen the difference from the highway.  So if you are talking about billboards, no special cameras are needed.  But imagine how my client would feel if I used a P&S for the photography.  Lol.  Perception is very important as is the client's experience with you.  Billboards (and web images) have little to do with how a large print will look on a wall.
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« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2012, 08:06:42 AM »
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True: Some "clients" don't know nothing about photography. (NOT ALL)
False: The Megapixels and Raw file of the D800 or D800E can be compared to the Megapixels and Raw file of a MFDB.

You see the Bit Depth is a huge difference between the 14-Bits of D800(E) and the 16-Bits of a MFDB
Not to mention Sensor Size, depth of field control, etc etc.

I have shoot with a D800E, and own a little much less megapixels Aptus 22 and although the Nikon image is bigger, the quality is not compared to the Leaf file. Now if your client does not know the difference, good for you.

You could try to shoot now with the phone Nokia 808 that comes out with 41 Megapixels in a sensor that is less than your fingernail big.

I am glad that Nikon and Canon (and Nokia) are getting big MegaPix, it won't be long until everyone realizes how different an image from MF is. (again)

 
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MrSmith
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« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2012, 08:20:27 AM »
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way back when a p25 was the biggest back available lots of 48sheets were printed with those files. 20-24mp is fine for posters that size.
the only area where 35mm is pushed is things like adshels where the viewer gets close to the print, i bet joe public has never pondered the file size or quality when looking at the ad. they are probably more concerned with how long they have to wait for a bus.
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2012, 08:32:02 AM »
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i bet joe public has never pondered the file size or quality when looking at the ad. they are probably more concerned with how long they have to wait for a bus.

Just because a viewer can't articulate or identify why an ad is compelling does not change the reality that it is.

For many ads the resolution/clarity/detail will be very low on the list of factors that make it successful or not. For instance a generic shot of two people walking hand-in-hand into the sunset, used to sell insurance, likely won't benefit from additional resolution/clarity/detail. In fact a lower level of detail may further the viewers ability to mentally interject themselves as the individual portrayed ("hey that could be me walking happily into the sunset of my life").

In other ads the resolution/clarity/detail will play a big role in the viewing experience - regardless of whether the viewer can articulate or identify that as a factor in their viewing experience. An ad for a spa resort hotel in Cancun will be more effective if - in addition to excellent composition/color/lighting/scene-choice/perspective-choice - the scene portrayed is vibrant with immersive details and makes the viewer feel as if they are already at the place portrayed. An ad for a designer hand bag which, in part, sells it's brand by asserting that it's attention to detail ("hand stitching", "xyz luxery materials", "meticulously designed") - additional detail on those components will further the argument of the ad.

When detail is important to the message of an image, and print quality of the advertisement allows for it's exhibition, a camera that provides that detail, is an important part of the process of that ad.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2012, 08:38:36 AM by Doug Peterson » Logged

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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2012, 08:37:15 AM »
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way back when a p25 was the biggest back available lots of 48sheets were printed with those files.

And back in the H5 days many were printed from those 6mp files. But I wouldn't use that as an argument regarding what is and is not enough in today's world for any given application.

I also don't think that the stated/spec'd resolution of any given camera is - by itself - a very strong indication of what level/look of detail the final image will provide. Lens, sensor type, lens, aliasing filter, lens, technique, lens, and software all matter quite a bit - all 22mp files are NOT the same.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2012, 08:41:32 AM by Doug Peterson » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2012, 09:07:47 AM »
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"When detail is important to the message of an image, and print quality of the advertisement allows for it's exhibition, a camera that provides that detail, is an important part of the process of that ad."

absolutely. but as has been stated above the thumbnail splodges that make up a 48sheet and it's splodge dimensions only  require a file of the same dimensions.
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TMARK
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« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2012, 10:33:48 AM »
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You see the Bit Depth is a huge difference between the 14-Bits of D800(E) and the 16-Bits of a MFDB

 


All the backs are 14 bit.  The last two bits are empty, so its not bit depth.
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Rob C
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« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2012, 01:48:41 PM »
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For many ads the resolution/clarity/detail will be very low on the list of factors that make it successful or not. For instance a generic shot of two people walking hand-in-hand into the sunset, used to sell insurance, likely won't benefit from additional resolution/clarity/detail. In fact a lower level of detail may further the viewers ability to mentally interject themselves as the individual portrayed ("hey that could be me walking happily into the sunset of my life").


Damn! Just when I thought you'd articulated a winning a argument you blew it!

Nobody walks happily into the sunset of their life; they fight like hell to avoid getting anywhere near setting suns!

Worst bit of psychology I've bumped into in a long time.

;-)

Rob C
 
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