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Author Topic: Ten Years after….  (Read 5609 times)
Theodoros
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« on: February 16, 2014, 12:52:53 PM »
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Are those 22mp "fat pixel" backs that people used to buy (at those days) at prices similar to a good quality family car still worth buying? Your experiences with them and how they compare with modern high resolution backs as well as with modern DSLRs, is most welcome… Those backs, (Imacon 132c/528c, P1-P25/H25, Sinar Emotion 22, Leaf 22, Sinar 54S/H/M) are now sold for 1000-3000 Euros which is less of 1/10th of what their cost was to buy new…

-How do they compare with equal price (new) DSLRs?
-Have they benefit from modern processing programs?
-Are they good to use with View and Tech cameras?
-Can they give "breath" to an old MF system?
-How do they compare with film?
-What is the "fat pixel" magic that some where so enthusiastic about?
-What is the difference between Kodak and Dalsa sensors?
-How good are their MS versions for stills?

Lets have some (nostalgic ?) fun…  Wink
« Last Edit: February 17, 2014, 03:11:10 AM by T.Dascalos » Logged
FMueller
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2014, 08:39:53 PM »
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Recently heard an architectural photographer field a question about the breathtaking price of MFDB's. He says that when he switched from 4x5 film to a Phase back many years ago (P65+ or a P45+ I believe) his lease payment on the Phase One MFDB was less than his monthly film and processing bill had been. He was saving money... And when he upgraded to an IQ260 he freed up a completely serviceable MFDB to someone more price sensitive.

Also, as the owner of a "legacy" MFDB, (P40+) I can also say that the lenses for tech cams (even my "legacy" Schneiders) are in a completely different league than just about anything for a DSLR. The difference is easy to see. Plus with tech cams, you can flat stitch which is far easier than a pano stitch.

My Hasselblad 503 cw has also found new life with the MFDB. (I sought a V mount for that reason)

It seems a good reason to buy a 22-25 mp MFDB would be to use on a tech cam system. I found an affordable tech cam and lenses used. The newest 80mp backs don't work very well with many of the wide Schneiders which help when you are buying used, but someday there will be no buyers for MY used tech cam lenses, so maybe I have a bit of a dead end system, but I have many years of great use of high IQ equipment ahead of me.
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Theodoros
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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2014, 02:05:32 AM »
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Recently heard an architectural photographer field a question about the breathtaking price of MFDB's. He says that when he switched from 4x5 film to a Phase back many years ago (P65+ or a P45+ I believe) his lease payment on the Phase One MFDB was less than his monthly film and processing bill had been. He was saving money... And when he upgraded to an IQ260 he freed up a completely serviceable MFDB to someone more price sensitive.

Also, as the owner of a "legacy" MFDB, (P40+) I can also say that the lenses for tech cams (even my "legacy" Schneiders) are in a completely different league than just about anything for a DSLR. The difference is easy to see. Plus with tech cams, you can flat stitch which is far easier than a pano stitch.

My Hasselblad 503 cw has also found new life with the MFDB. (I sought a V mount for that reason)

It seems a good reason to buy a 22-25 mp MFDB would be to use on a tech cam system. I found an affordable tech cam and lenses used. The newest 80mp backs don't work very well with many of the wide Schneiders which help when you are buying used, but someday there will be no buyers for MY used tech cam lenses, so maybe I have a bit of a dead end system, but I have many years of great use of high IQ equipment ahead of me.

Many pros or serious artists do use 22mp backs on their tech and/or view cameras… Obviously the reason is that larger pixels benefit (since "entrance" of photons into the pixel is much easier) with movements and they benefit even more the larger the movements are. Another thing to consider, is that they are "easier" with older lenses, where the lens analysis is less due to the huge image circle they provide. Interesting thing is, that there are no complains either for their resolution or DR…. I know people that love the "out of the box" curve (they call it the "fat pixel magic") that these backs provide, to the extend where some prefer their "look" from larger resolution backs and this doesn't only happen with view/tech cameras, but among MF users too, in fact the only serious complain about these backs, is that they are more prone to moire presence than the higher resolution backs, but again, they are not more prone than a Nikon D700 or D3/S to be honest… Interesting thing is, that D700/D3/D3S owners, don't complain on moire issues about their cameras, although they are the most "sensitive" ones for the effect to appear compared to anything else in the market…. maybe it's because the issue is much exaggerated as of its chance to happen? ….Besides, with todays "anti-moire" filters on modern developers, the issue can be treated well when ever it appears.
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Theodoros
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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2014, 03:43:42 AM »
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This does not match my experience. I have done both and I am consistently faster with cylindrical stitching with far less constraints in terms of the accuracy of the movement since I am not affecting the lens/sensor relative positioning. Cylindrical stitching with the right equipment requires zero mental effort and the overhead between images is max 1 second at capture. The post-processing also requires zero manual operation in most cases.

But the key value is of course that you get a much more uniform image quality across the image field with spherical stitching. The image quality of the very best tech cam lens in the corner when shifted is a average to poor compared their center or to the image quality delivered by an Otus over 2/3 of a 35mm sensor.

Note that my comment applies to stitching with either a tech cameras or a DSLR.

Cheers,
Bernard

Bernard, if one stitches on the camera (without moving the lens at all) as it happens when one is stitching on a 4x5 camera, there are no vignetting, no exposure, or other issues that are involved as with moving (change position) of the image area and of the lens… Practically, what he does, is a form of scanning the area that the lens projects. Surely, none can argue that accuracy problems (nodal point, vignetting, exposure) are eliminated… It is a far superior method which improves resolution by much, increases the nyquist limit since area is increased and widens the AOV… Using a view camera's whole image area in combination with the ability to use lens movements on the total image area is surely much superior than stitching a pano using a DSLR…. Not many would argue for the opposite…  Wink
« Last Edit: February 17, 2014, 04:07:48 AM by T.Dascalos » Logged
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2014, 03:59:36 AM »
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Hi,

Well, there is something called the law of cosine four, resolution drops across the image circle, all lenses have some distortion and the increases when moving outwards the image circle.

Best regards
Erik


Bernard, if one stitches on the camera (without moving the lens at all) as it happens when one is stitching ion a 4x5 camera, there are no vignetting, no exposure, or other issues that are involved as with moving (change position) of the image area and of the lens… Practically, what he does, is a form of scanning the area that the lens projects. Surely, none can argue that accuracy problems (nodal point, vignetting, exposure) are eliminated… It is a far superior method which improves resolution by much, increases the nyquist limit since area is increased and widens the AOV… Using a view camera's whole image area in combination with the ability to use lens movements on the total image area is surely much superior that stitching a pano using a DSLR…. Not many would argue for the opposite…  Wink
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Theodoros
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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2014, 04:56:06 AM »
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Hi,

Well, there is something called the law of cosine four, resolution drops across the image circle, all lenses have some distortion and the increases when moving outwards the image circle.

Best regards
Erik


That too! It's best to have resolution dropping as it would do if the image area was united, rather than having "wavy" resolution and it's best to pre-view and control lens distortion (again like if it was a single shot) than have it spread in a "wavy" manner.
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torger
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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2014, 05:19:25 AM »
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A nodal-point calibrated click-stop pano head and appropriate software will produce very good results. It seems like most think that DSLR stitching is something that's generally done handheld. You can, but you don't have to. With a calibrated pano head you can stitch tight indoor superwide scenes without parallax issues.

Stitching inside an image circle is not free of problems either. Few tech cameras have click-stops (my Techno has for horizontals though), and turning the back into position with knobs takes time and there's a high risk of disturbing, cocking the manual shutter also is a disturbance risk. It's quite likely you'll need software alignment anyway, as you can see in Doug's recent tests. Wide angles loss of resolution towards the edges may fully nullify the image stretching too, it depends. If you shoot an ultra-wide you generally get some pixel crosstalk and color fidelity loss towards the sides too, a problem you don't have with spherical stitching.

"Wavy" resolution is generally not a problem of spherical stitching. I do recommend to use a camera with AA-filter though, eg a D800 rather than a D800E as the softer pixels handles post-processing stretching better.

You can of course do camera-turning stitching with tech cams too, and many do. Multi-row is unpractical due to the heavy bulky bodies, but cylindrical stitches are fine, and for landscape panoramas a cylindrical projection is often better looking than an ultra-wide rectalinear due to the perspective stretch.

Attached is an example of stretching required for a 3 shot cylindrical stitch reprojected to rectalinear.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2014, 05:25:44 AM by torger » Logged
Theodoros
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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2014, 06:12:32 AM »
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I would really prefer it, if the conversation won't diverge completely from the subject… which of course is, the usefulness and quality of old 22mp backs in todays world as alternatives to modern more expensive solutions…  Roll Eyes
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torger
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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2014, 07:16:08 AM »
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I've shot a bit with a Hasselblad CF-22 on my Techno. It's nice. Moiré is a problem sometimes, but in landscape as I shoot I can live with it (and no, a D700 with AA filter has no way near as much moiré issues as a 22mp back withou AA).

The advantages of the 22 megapixel backs today as I see it is 1) they are cheap, 2) they are cheap, 3) they don't require as much from the camera body and lenses in terms of precision and sharpness, 4) the lower resolution means that you generally are less anal about focus precision and overall lens quality.

In terms of absolute image quality they may have a color cast advantage on symmetrical wides (ie less cast than smaller pixel backs), but compared to a 33 or 39 megapixel back I don't think it's so large difference. They are considerably better than the 6um sensors though. Concerning the full well capacity the 9um Kodak KAF-22000 has ~100k electrons, while a newer 6um CCD sensor has about ~50k electrons. However this 1 stop advantage is buried in noise and quantization, and is of course only on pixel level, per area the 6um sensor gathers about the same amount of photons.

The color filters and profiles for especially the Kodak backs gives a saturated "Kodak color" which some like, and it can be hard to reproduce in the same way with a modern Dalsa sensor. I think it's primarily that people refer to when they say "fat pixel magic", but I think it's more about nostalgia than a real useful image quality advantage.

I think the 22 megapixel backs are great when you want to make a low cost entry to MF and is interested in using legacy cameras. But if your budget allows a more recent back I'd suggest to go for that, a 33 or 39 should provide little disadvantages even on legacy cameras.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2014, 07:20:43 AM by torger » Logged
Paul2660
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« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2014, 08:15:18 AM »
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As a landscape shooter, I can't see much need or advantage to the older 22MP backs.  The only one I would consider is the P25+, only then for longer exposures as I understand it does a pretty good job at base iso.  

For me resolution is all about final output.  My goal has always to create output without uprezing with software as I have yet to find any software solution that really can go the distance.  This creates situations where I will stitch with 35mm or Phase One depending on the conditions.  

1.  You are limited to pretty much the base iso maybe plus one stop.
2.  There are plenty of 35mm cameras that can get the job done better at 18 to 20MP, all however CCD, but I have not been much of a believer that the CCD
     is so much better.
3.  Stitching, is something I do quite a bit of, don't see any advantage to the older 22mp backs at all.  I am only stitching for one reason to get to a larger print
     output without having to use interpolation (software based uprezing). 
4.  Not a user of 4x5 so I can't address the statement it's better for stitching.  However I have found that stitching either nodal or non-nodal with a 35mm camera
     can create excellent images.
5.  Moving to the 33 x to 39MP range makes more sense to me.
6.  The 22MP backs don't have the ability to use the LS lenses that offer the faster flash sync.
7.  Most if not all of the 22MP platforms are no longer seeing any improvements from their parent company and or software (raw conversion improvements).


For money, I would much rather have a 2nd D800e.

Paul C.

« Last Edit: February 17, 2014, 12:14:13 PM by Paul2660 » Logged

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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2014, 09:04:45 AM »
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Bernard, if one stitches on the camera (without moving the lens at all) as it happens when one is stitching on a 4x5 camera, there are no vignetting, no exposure, or other issues that are involved as with moving (change position) of the image area and of the lens… Practically, what he does, is a form of scanning the area that the lens projects. Surely, none can argue that accuracy problems (nodal point, vignetting, exposure) are eliminated… It is a far superior method which improves resolution by much, increases the nyquist limit since area is increased and widens the AOV… Using a view camera's whole image area in combination with the ability to use lens movements on the total image area is surely much superior than stitching a pano using a DSLR…. Not many would argue for the opposite…  Wink

I, for one, very clearly disagree. Wink

With those technical cameras:
- You are moving the sensor relative to the lens, which introduces a very real possibility of compromised alignment with the risk of asymmetric results,
- The sharpness of the outer area of the image circle is clearly less than its center.

On the other hand, the drop of resolution of top 35mm lenses like the Otus between its centre and half of the frame at f5.6-f8 is negligible, there is no such effects as the wavy resolution you seem concerned about.

You can of course do spherical stitching with a back as well and many one this very forum do just that.

But to the initial point, I frankly see no value in buying those 22mp back nowadays. And yes, I used to own a Mamiya ZD so I have a fairly good idea of what I am talking about here. The D3x was already superior from a DR standpoint, the D800/a7r just bury them alive.

Get a Sony a7r with the 55mm f1.8 and a spherical pano head instead. You'll spend less than the cost of one of those super tech camera Roddy lenses and will get a higher image quality in a smaller and lighter package.

Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
gerald.d
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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2014, 09:34:15 AM »
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Multi-row is unpractical due to the heavy bulky bodies, but cylindrical stitches are fine, and for landscape panoramas a cylindrical projection is often better looking than an ultra-wide rectalinear due to the perspective stretch.
I've done lots of multi-row (full spherical in fact) stitching with both the ALPA TC and FPS on a Seitz VR Drive 2. Works very nicely...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2N1po56z18

Wink
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torger
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« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2014, 09:59:05 AM »
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I've done lots of multi-row (full spherical in fact) stitching with both the ALPA TC and FPS on a Seitz VR Drive 2. Works very nicely...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2N1po56z18

Wink

Ahh, nice example Smiley. That head allows for nodal point calibration so it should work nicely in tight indoor scenes too. But it's not for free I assume.
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2014, 10:14:31 AM »
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- You are moving the sensor relative to the lens, which introduces a very real possibility of compromised alignment with the risk of asymmetric results,

With a plate-on-plate system like Arca, Cambo, or Alpa this is nigh impossible. I've never seen it and if I did it would be a warranty service to eliminate.

With standards based view cameras (e.g. rear standard + front standard) this is more of a potential.


- The sharpness of the outer area of the image circle is clearly less than its center.

This is absolutely true. Many lenses like the 120ASPH, 60XL, 90HR-SW, 32HR, and 40HR the usable image circle easily allows 2, 3, 4 or sometimes even 6 or 9 frames (depending on the back sensor size, resolution, and focus distance) but there is no doubt that pan-and-stitch works better for massive number of frames.

Most of the photographers we work with value capturing the scene in front of them with a more traditional/organic method where even 4 frames is starting to push into undesired category. A quick left-right stitch on a tech camera to get to a 2:1 aspect ratio or a 1:1 aspect ratio is easy and intuitive. Others of course will get a kick out of the machine-driven computationally-intensive have-the-computer-reconstruct-the-scene method that a massive pan-and-stitch requires. I once did a 100+ image depth-of-field stack of a fly's eye which required days of post processing to have the computer reconstruct the scene I was capturing only slivers of at a time, so I can appreciate the enjoyment factor of watching that all come together. But personally if I'm hiking up a mountain to take a photo I'd rather stick with traditional manners of creating the image - not out of a purity nothing-new-is-good point of view, but because it feels somehow more tactile and direct to me to compose in the field and see the frame-edges at that time, and know that the path to the final image is - to me - more direct and simple. On the other hand tech cameras require an LCC which is a counter argument to that point. I guess my point is that the final result as measured in pixels is only one consideration as to which method is more appropriate for any individual shooter.
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KLaban
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« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2014, 11:45:29 AM »
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But to the initial point, I frankly see no value in buying those 22mp back nowadays. And yes, I used to own a Mamiya ZD so I have a fairly good idea of what I am talking about here. The D3x was already superior from a DR standpoint, the D800/a7r just bury them alive.

Bernard, I'm so grateful for the clarification. I now realise the error of my ways. I'm at such a huge disadvantage that I might as well toss my piece of crap of a camera into a hole and be done with it.

As always your D800 images just scream superiority.
 
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Manoli
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« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2014, 12:31:08 PM »
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Bernard, I'm so grateful for the clarification. I now realise the error of my ways. I'm at such a huge disadvantage that I might as well toss my piece of crap of a camera into a hole and be done with it.

As always your D800 images just scream superiority.

'Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit' - Oscar Wilde
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Manoli
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« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2014, 12:41:53 PM »
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I've done lots of multi-row (full spherical in fact) stitching with both the ALPA TC and FPS on a Seitz VR Drive 2. Works very nicely...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2N1po56z18

impressive movie - what's next ?
www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2557799/The-dizzying-pictures-taken-Chinas-tallest-buildings.html
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KLaban
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« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2014, 12:47:23 PM »
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'Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit' - Oscar Wilde

Are you sure?

Often erroneously attributed to Wilde but it certainly doesn't sound like him. The line clearly lacks the sparkling wit and worldliness typical of Wilde's best quips. More importantly, the quote is not found anywhere in Wilde's writings.

But there again it's unlike you to be wrong.

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Theodoros
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« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2014, 01:02:41 PM »
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'Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit' - Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wild was referring for sarcasm on a sensible conversation... If one uses the term "bury them alive" (which is no where near for truth) it's no longer a sensible statement in a sensible conversation, then, sarcasm's meaning changes to …."satire" (Aristophane was the inventor) [/i] and is a very ethical thing to do since it uses/exposes the ridicule of the original false statement… My Imacon 528c used with my C645 lenses, out performs my D800E at near base Iso… and the result of the D800E to be worthy to compare (not to beat - just to be maximised so that the comparison will need closer examination), one has to use the best of primes closed down to their best performing apertures… Also, Iso sensitivity on those older backs is clearly underestimated by the makers, 50 Iso (on my 528c) should be exposed at the same settings of shutter and aperture, as 100 Iso on my D800E for exposure to be equal in mid tones… then one realises that those old backs have better usable DR too... where by usable I mean what is left of DR after one processes for a realistic print look.
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Theodoros
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« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2014, 01:36:35 PM »
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In terms of absolute image quality they may have a color cast advantage on symmetrical wides (ie less cast than smaller pixel backs), but compared to a 33 or 39 megapixel back I don't think it's so large difference. They are considerably better than the 6um sensors though.
I agree on the Dalsa 33mp sensor as being superior… My personal opinion is that it's the best sensor out there ever… it keeps nearly all the advantages of the 22mp backs, it's as easy (due to the shallow depth of its pixels?) with view/tech cameras, it is usable up to 400Iso, its colour is the best around out of all backs, it is very "moire resistant" and its DR is simply superb… but to be honest with you, I had a chance to have compared P25+ and P45+ on the same camera with the same lenses (Hassy H2 with 120m and 80mm) back on 2008 and although there where some advantages with the 39mp Kodak sensor, I would (slightly) prefer P25+ over the two, because of its (little but clear) DR advantage and more linear presentation in the mid tones… Also, resolution difference wasn't as much as one would think by not having tested the sensors side by side… especially if one (like me) is not the "mp junkie" kind of person but thinks of other values as more important for picture quality. By this, I don't mean that one should like his pictures soft, but clearly, with a 22mp back one can print really large with all the detail that a sensible person would consider as being sharp enough.

Never the less, this conversation was initiated to talk about the worth (or not) and the reasons that one (especially if he is absent from MF or is a new comer) should consider such a back "ten years after…" and to inform those new comers on the advantages or disadvantages (like occasional -but rare- moire) they should expect with respect to the DSLRs (or MF film/sheet film) that they use with their cameras.
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