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Author Topic: MF Digital newbie needs a little help please  (Read 9698 times)
alosurdo
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« on: April 05, 2013, 04:06:18 PM »
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Hi guys, wondering if you could help me a little please....

I am looking at entering the MF Digital world. I currently shot with a 5DMkII (in occasion) but mainly shoot the 6x17 Tranny Film format.

I have stumbled across a Mamiya 645 DF with a Aptus II 6 (28mp) back for what looks like a pretty decent price.

My concerns are crop factor of 1.3 (i believe) and what i have had read is that it cant really do much over ISO 200.

I shoot mainly landscape images and am wondering if this combination will suit.
With slide film i get approx 4-5 Stops (which i dont mind, its a charesteristic of slide), never using a MF Digital setup i am wondering if it will be a steep learing curve and if the claims of 12 stops of dynamic range is actually true.

If the 5dmkii produces raw files that are approx 20mb and it is a 14bit system with a 5-6 stop DR, i would have thought a 16bit 12 stop sysrtem would yield files at least 80-100mb, however it seems it produces files in the range of 40mb (for this back anyway).

THanks in advance for your advice and assitance.

Cheers

Andrew
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2013, 04:33:20 PM »
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Hi,

File size is MP * bits/pixel / 8. So 28 MP at 16 bit would be 56 MByte, Could be smaller with smart encoding. The 5DII is a 14 bit system and has probably nearly the same DR as the Aptus II but DR does not affect file size. Quite possible that the Aptus has an advantage in DR but the six step advantage is myth. Two stops quite possible, at lowest ISO.

Just think about it, would the Aptus have an advantage of 6 stops in DR, than you could underexpose six stops and still have the same image quality as the Canon 5DII at 100 ISO. Would the MF camera have a 6 stop advantage it would work very well at 6400 ISO.

If you want to have a realistic view on MF backs you can read this article, it is interesting and well illustrated: http://www.ludd.luth.se/~torger/photography/noise-test.html

That said, if the back you acquire is in good shape, you will probably find pleasure in using it and can have good results. But if you expect miracles you may be expecting to much.

Best regards
Erik



Hi guys, wondering if you could help me a little please....

I am looking at entering the MF Digital world. I currently shot with a 5DMkII (in occasion) but mainly shoot the 6x17 Tranny Film format.

I have stumbled across a Mamiya 645 DF with a Aptus II 6 (28mp) back for what looks like a pretty decent price.

My concerns are crop factor of 1.3 (i believe) and what i have had read is that it cant really do much over ISO 200.

I shoot mainly landscape images and am wondering if this combination will suit.
With slide film i get approx 4-5 Stops (which i dont mind, its a charesteristic of slide), never using a MF Digital setup i am wondering if it will be a steep learing curve and if the claims of 12 stops of dynamic range is actually true.

If the 5dmkii produces raw files that are approx 20mb and it is a 14bit system with a 5-6 stop DR, i would have thought a 16bit 12 stop sysrtem would yield files at least 80-100mb, however it seems it produces files in the range of 40mb (for this back anyway).

THanks in advance for your advice and assitance.

Cheers

Andrew
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alosurdo
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2013, 05:08:36 PM »
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Thanks for taking the time to reply ERIK. I must say im now even more confused. So the MF will only give me better toanl transitions due to the 16bit file though Dynamic range is pretty much equaly or only slightly better then a 5dmkII?? If that is the case then why would a landscape photographer go down the MF path??

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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2013, 06:35:19 PM »
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Hi,

The major factor in favor of MF is that the sensor can collect more light (called photons). Larger sensor more photons. The incoming light has random nature so it will vary some pixels get more light and some get less light. This variation will be less significant with increasing number of photons.
Therefore, the larger sensor can give a smoother image.

DR on the other hand is per definition the number of photons a pixel can hold, typically around 60000 and the noise reading out the pixels, typically around 15-20 electrons on older MF backs. Each electron corresponds to a photon, essentially. So an older MF back will have a DR of say 60000/20 -> 3000.

3000 is 11.5 stops.  DxO-Mark gives for instance 10.96 EV (per pixel) for the Mamiya ZD-back and 11.86 EV for the Phase One P40+ black.

The Canon is a bit different, it has a very good sensor but it cannot read out the photons as well as more modern designs. DxO-mark gives DR =11.86 (per pixel) for the Canon 5DII. But, Canon has a trick! If you increase ISO, the signal from sensor is amplified, so readout noise goes down because of the amplification, and that makes taht Canon cameras hold DR with increasing ISO. Nikon D800, some other Nikons and Sony cameras are a bit different. They have the signal processing pipeline on the sensor and have therefore less readout noise.

The enclosed figure shows DR for an old MFDB, and older Canon and a very up to date Sony. You can see that the Sony is best at low ISO, but Canon wins above 400 ISO. The old MFDB is on par with Canon at lowest ISO.

I also enclose a figure that takes the difference in number of pixels into account.

DR is the actual number of pixels that the system uses. So, Sony utilizes 13 bits, Mamiya and Canon 11 bits. So when MFDB vendors talk about 16 bits it is simply a marketing term, because the last 4-5 bits are just random noise.

Now, DR is a technical term. It tells about the amount of noise but not about the quality of noise. It may be that some cameras have more ugly noise than other cameras.

Here is a quite technical discussion on the issue: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/dxomark_sensor_for_benchmarking_cameras.shtml

Best regards
Erik

Thanks for taking the time to reply ERIK. I must say im now even more confused. So the MF will only give me better toanl transitions due to the 16bit file though Dynamic range is pretty much equaly or only slightly better then a 5dmkII?? If that is the case then why would a landscape photographer go down the MF path??


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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2013, 06:39:16 PM »
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One area where MF may have a potential advantage is microcontrast. An MF sensor needs less resolution for say a 360 PPI print than a smaller sensor, so it makes much lesser demands on the lens.

Top of the line backs have very high resolution but are also horribly expensive.

Best regards
Erik
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2013, 06:42:20 PM »
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A few thoughts here on a Friday as I'm ending for the week...
- As a newcomer try very hard not to play the numbers games. Instead look at, play with, and print raws and judge that way.
- After evaluating image quality consider that there are many attributes to a camera system not easily quantifiable with numbers, and meaningful factors beyond pure image quality. A system should ideally meet as many of your needs/wants as possible. This includes weight/size, long term flexibility/expandability, manner/enjoyability of operation (do you like shooting with it) etc.
- Working with a dealer (a selfish and self interested suggestion) rather than browsing eBay and forum information only would afford you the ability to test/evaluate/rent/demo a system to come to your own conclusions sans a purchase. I also think there is a lot to be said for having a single resource which can not only easily answer any of your technical questions you know to ask, but can also point out the questions you haven't even thought of yet (what you don't know you don't know). For instance maybe your wants/needs/styles would be better served with a tech cam than with an SLR (or maybe not, but these are these sorts of questions you may not even know to ask). Most of the time you read someone with a strongly negative view of medium format they were "going it on their own" (not working with a dealer).
- Start by first finding what back/body would be the best fit for your wants, needs, and budgets. THEN look for a good deal on it. If you start the other way around, by first finding a deal, you are in my opinion doing yourself a grave dis-service.
- Coming from slide film you will almost surely be stunned at the ease, technical quality, and enjoyability of playing with a medium format raw file.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 06:44:00 PM by Doug Peterson » Logged

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FredBGG
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2013, 06:43:29 PM »
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Hi guys, wondering if you could help me a little please....

I am looking at entering the MF Digital world. I currently shot with a 5DMkII (in occasion) but mainly shoot the 6x17 Tranny Film format.

Andrew

IF you like to shoot 6x17 aspect ratio maybe you should look into a gigapan and shooting stitch panos with your canon.
A 28MP back cropped to 6x17 aspect ratio will not really give you much advantage over doing the same with the 5DII. However panos will give you a huge resolution boost
and let you make very large prints.
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2013, 06:46:18 PM »
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IF you like to shoot 6x17 aspect ratio maybe you should look into a gigapan and shooting stitch panos with your canon.
A 28MP back cropped to 6x17 aspect ratio will not really give you much advantage over doing the same with the 5DII. However panos will give you a huge resolution boost
and let you make very large prints.

Alternatively a flat tech camera stitch of two horizontal frames would provide a huge boost to 6x17 output over a single capture from any dSLR and would not require the geometric realignment of an image and post-capture cropping/composition of a pan-stitch - though it does require an LCC (which is arbitrarily easy for a set pano stitch setting).
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DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
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alosurdo
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2013, 07:02:12 PM »
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thank you all for your replies. While i have a degree of technical understanding, in all honesty a lot of this is going over my head. What i am really chasing is a reasonable dynamic range (greater then my 5dmkII) which is able to provide smooth tonal graduations. I like the ease of digital, however i am trying to get away from complicated post processing which includes lumonosity blending to get the extended dynamic range and generally i am let down by poor colour rendition in my digital setup (5dmkii), lack lustre sharpness as well as abrassive channel clipping when it is coming to the end of its range.

I do enjoy film, however the process of conditions being absouletly 100% perfect to record it accurately on slide as well limited exposure latitiude etc etc can become a little frustrating.

im not sure which way to go now. While i type a reply now and am working on my lumonosity masking/blending for a image, the frustration of it does get a little over bearing.

Thanks
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FredBGG
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2013, 07:08:59 PM »
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Alternatively a flat tech camera stitch of two horizontal frames would provide a huge boost to 6x17 output over a single capture from any dSLR and would not require the geometric realignment of an image and post-capture cropping/composition of a pan-stitch - though it does require an LCC (which is arbitrarily easy for a set pano stitch setting).

OR for much less money you could use the fotodiox / nex stitch camera with an inexpensive Hasselblad V lens.

http://fotodioxpro.com/index.php/vizelex-rhinocam-for-sony-nex-e-mount-cameras.html

Same rectalinear stitch as using a shift lens on a tech camera.

The fotodiox final image quality is quite extrordinary with a relatively simple stitch, but above all you get a ground glass for your composition something you would not have when doing a three shot stitch with a MF digital back and a tech camera.



« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 07:12:11 PM by FredBGG » Logged
Doug Peterson
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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2013, 07:12:02 PM »
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Sounds like stitching isn't for you then.

Send me an email and on Monday I'll send you landscape raws from a few digital backs and you can see color, sharpness, detail, and dynic range yourself.

Much better than discussing numbers.
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Gigi
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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2013, 07:23:43 PM »
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thank you all for your replies. While i have a degree of technical understanding, in all honesty a lot of this is going over my head. What i am really chasing is a reasonable dynamic range (greater then my 5dmkII) which is able to provide smooth tonal graduations. I like the ease of digital, however i am trying to get away from complicated post processing.....im not sure which way to go now. While i type a reply now and am working on my lumonosity masking/blending for a image, the frustration of it does get a little over bearing.

Thanks

Its actually rather simple: shoot something with MFDB, and look at the files. You either will see why its worthwhile or it won't be worth it to you. Some say there isn't a difference, others (mostly those on this forum) swear by the difference.

For myself, I was amazed at the files, and remain so every day I look at them. They have an elasticity in post, a luminosity in character, and a sense of subtlety that makes ordinary DSLR images look flat. But the proof is in the pudding - so however you can, take shots (or use Doug's) and look them over carefully. The rest of the discussion of the why's and where's can wait for another day. 
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Geoff
alosurdo
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« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2013, 07:34:31 PM »
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Thanks Guys,

Im going to take you up on that Doug, thank you very much.

From what i have seen (the end product of images) online and through others i know, i am certain that i could not get that level of tonal graduation as well as apparent dynamic range (though from other comments it seems there really isnt a DR increase).

Going for something like a Leaf Aptus II 6 (28mp) with a cropped sensor which i believe was released in 2009, to something more modern, apart from resolution and slight DR increase, could i expect similar quality? I dont have a huge budget and couldn't afford a IQ back, so the aptus ii (28mp) may be a good intro do MFD??

Thanks again, it is all appreciated.
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FredBGG
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« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2013, 07:40:05 PM »
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I like the ease of digital, however i am trying to get away from complicated post processing which includes lumonosity blending to get the extended dynamic range and generally i am let down by poor colour rendition in my digital setup (5dmkii), lack lustre sharpness as well as abrassive channel clipping when it is coming to the end of its range
Thanks

There is complicated stitching there the camera is put on a panoramic head and the whole thing is moved around to produce
a series of images that need a lot of processing to assemble them without distortion.
There are however programs like PTGui that do this very very well and are inexpensive.

Then there are simpler stitches where the lens is maintained static and the sensor is moved around. These stitch together
very very simply and can be handled with plugins that ship stock with Photoshop

As far as dynamic range goes MFD cameras have excellent dynamic ramge, but there are also 35mm DSLR cameras that have the same dynamic range.
The Nikon d800e is a good option for higher resolution and higher dynamic range than the Canon 5dII. I used to own the 5DII and moved to the Nikon d800
for the significantly higher dynamic range. It was an easy move thanks to Canon and Nikon lenses having an excellent used market. Both hold their value very well and sell quick.
I kept a couple of Canon cameras.

Anyway here is a good comparison made by the owner of an IQ180 top of the line MFDB with a d800e

http://www.circleofconfusion.ie/d800e-vs-phase-one-iq180/

It's a landscape comparison so you should find it useful.

Here is DXO test results for dynamic range.



HEre is a quick test I did for highlight recovery with the d800:


I could not achieve this to the same level with the 5DII.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 07:49:26 PM by FredBGG » Logged
alosurdo
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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2013, 07:58:44 PM »
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Hi Fred, the highlight receovery is quite exceptional

After reading the article you linked to (circle of confusion) i can see a huge difference (even though the article does not say so) , especially in Comparison 2 100% crop. To me this is a major difference in tonal graduation.

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FredBGG
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« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2013, 08:00:14 PM »
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Here is another interesting article showing the shadow recovery
of the d800E.

http://www.sisson.co.nz/nikon-camera-lens-reviews-for-landscape-photography/nikon-camera-lens-reviews-for-landscape-photography/nikon-d800e-dynamic-range-test-nd-grad-filter.html
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alosurdo
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« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2013, 08:29:28 PM »
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All those reviews do look good for the D800e, however it seems to be (and for some reason it really isnt picked up in these reviews) that the tonal grautions and "3d feel" is hugely apparent in the MF backs
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FredBGG
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« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2013, 08:31:42 PM »
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Hi Fred, the highlight receovery is quite exceptional

After reading the article you linked to (circle of confusion) i can see a huge difference (even though the article does not say so) , especially in Comparison 2 100% crop. To me this is a major difference in tonal graduation.



There are a few things that can be seen in the test.
In the comparison 1 you can see the need for correction of lens/sensor color cast on the IQ180.
Notice how the sky has an un natural reddish/pink shift.

the difference you see in Comparison 2 I would say has more to do with raw converter.
copy the two shots into photoshop and bring up the saturation in the Nikon.
Some camera profiles in raw converters have higher saturation by default.

That said the IQ180 has slightly higher color depth while the Nikon has slightly higher dynamic range.
Both are EXCELLENT. The IQ180 certainly has the edge as far as very very large prints.

The difference in price is more than 14x.

OLder backs like the DM28 do not have either the color depth or dynamic range of the D800e.

see here:

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/(appareil1)/792%7C0/(brand)/Nikon/(appareil2)/512%7C0/(brand2)/Leaf
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Ed Foster, Jr.
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« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2013, 08:55:34 PM »
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Alosurdo,

Any time you are going to be investing in new equipment - whether Nikon or any of the medium format digital offerings from Phase, Hasselblad, Pentax or Leica - you really must be able to test the equipment on your own terms and see for yourself. Otherwise, a decision can become quite confusing and daunting.

I shoot with the D800 and it's an excellent camera, however, I prefer my Hasselblad H4s whenever conditions permit. I like the rendering, the look, the tonal gradation and the crispness of the files. But, that's my preference.

Since you have a lot of experience with transparencies, you should be up and running in no time and creating the type of beautiful files you are looking for with a minimum of fuss.

Good Luck with you decision,
Ed
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« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2013, 09:53:53 PM »
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Andrew, you seem to have some kind of expectation for this move. You also have some requirement that this should be an easy system. I would get some experience with the camera you are thinking about as well as cameras like the D800 or Pentax 645D--the Pentax is in essence a modern DSLR (the Mamiya and back you are looking at are rather dated). Yes, there are some real advantages to these camera--I use a Pentax 645D, Phase p25 back, and a D800. I prefer the MFD over the D800, but the D800 is an exceptional camera.

BTW, while the back manufacturers state the images are 16-bit, there really is no 16-bit camera in existence. You can have the places for 16-bits of information, but that does not mean they are used. I use scientific camera and they are often described as 16-bit also, but the dealers will readily admit they do not have 16-bits of information. The Phase rep said the same thing about my p25+.
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