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Thread: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

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    Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    A shot of my living room with the Canon 5D 16-35mm f2.8 mark II at 35mm f10, 1/5 sec and ISO 100. Camera was on tripod with mirror lock up and self timer. The raw file was process in Camera Raw.

    The Betterlight is the super 6K at ISO 553 and 1/20 sec line scan, with the Schneider 110mm XL on a Chamonix 4x5.

    First, the whole images:
    Last edited by Francois_A; 26th January 2010 at 19:26.

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    A crop of the 5D image at 100%, and the corresponding section from the Betterlight at 50% to match sizes:

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Finally, a 5D crop at 200% to match the Betterlight crop at 100%:
    Last edited by Francois_A; 26th January 2010 at 19:02. Reason: wrong crop!

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Resolution aside, it's the dynamic range of the betterlight that really shines, imo.

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    What strikes me first, is the greater dynamic range of the scanning back; more details in the highlights and the shadows. The other aspect is the smooth transitions in the mid-tones. There is also an absence of jagged lines in the edges of the windows, as well as no color artifacts in high contrast transitions

    The noise of the Betterlight is also more film like.
    The noise could have been improved by using the 200 base ISO, but scanning time would have been twice as long (over 12 minutes)

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy View Post
    Resolution aside, it's the dynamic range of the betterlight that really shines, imo.
    Yes Jeremy!

    That is the main advantage imo too.
    I did all I could to recover highlights on the 5D raw image.

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Though the resolution is nice. I get to play with a Super 8k at work :-)

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    What is amazing is how close the 5D is...
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Ben, there is a world of difference imo in terms of dynamic range, tonality and resolution! I love my 5D nonetheless

    Maybe the differences are more obvious if I put both crops side by side on the same image, (please click once on the thumbnail, and then click on the resulting image to view at 100%):

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    Senior Member kevinparis's Avatar
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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    not really a surprising comparison considering the back/sensor costs 14K alone before you add camera and lens

    still impressive quality.... always good to see what the next level up is like.

    cheers

    K

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Hi Kevin,
    I've agonized a long time before purchasing the scanning back (in LN condition on eBay at half-price). I wish I had access to some comparisons with the 5D then; I would have made the purchase much earlier! The cost of camera in large format is very reasonable (I used an $800 Chamonix); the Canon 16-35 is not cheap, compared to large format lenses!

    What would be nice to know is where the medium format digital backs fit between the 5D and the scanning back in terms of dynamic range and resolution.

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    Super Duper
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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    That file looks exactly like what I used to get with a camera quest adaptor and my 5D to make 200 megapixels files with a LF camera. Utterly georgous tonality. My mistake, I forgot to click before comparing
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Senior Member routlaw's Avatar
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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois_A View Post
    A shot of my living room with the Canon 5D 16-35mm f2.8 mark II at 35mm f10, 1/5 sec and ISO 100. Camera was on tripod with mirror lock up and self timer. The raw file was process in Camera Raw.

    The Betterlight is the super 6K at ISO 553 and 1/20 sec line scan, with the Schneider 110mm XL on a Chamonix 4x5.

    First, the whole images:
    Francois its interesting you have done this, because just last night I was also doing a comparison with my D3 and my Super 6k-HS also. My approach and subject matter were quite a bit different than yours, ie a copy setup. And had also been thinking about posting this on the forum, just was not sure the best place to do it. As one other poster said your conclusions & results here come as no surprise. Simply put if you get it right with the scan backs everything else is second rate by comparison IMO.

    Rob

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by routlaw View Post
    ...just last night I was also doing a comparison with my D3 and my Super 6k-HS also. My approach and subject matter were quite a bit different than yours, ie a copy setup. And had also been thinking about posting this on the forum, just was not sure the best place to do it. ...
    Rob
    Rob, I would be interested in seeing your comparison.

    Initially, I got the scanning back because it could be used on the view camera using my current LF lenses; I wasn't expecting such a quantum leap in resolution and dynamic range.

    Have you compared MFDB with your scanning back?

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    How are you focusing?
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Senior Member routlaw's Avatar
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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois_A View Post
    Rob, I would be interested in seeing your comparison.

    Have you compared MFDB with your scanning back?
    Yes, sort of. I don't own an MFDB but have certainly considered the purchase of one off and on. Before buying my BL and while comparatively shopping for the multi shot versions of the MFDB's one dealer had sent me some full res files he had taken also in a copy light setup, ie map, currency small color check chart that sort of thing. They were impressive but once I got my BL I setup the same subsequent copy situation albeit with a different map and still thought the scan back was superior having a more natural look to it among other things.

    My setup from yesterday, as boring as it is, really illustrates the superior image quality compared to dslr's and to some extent probably MFDB's as well. But as you know there are limitations with the scan backs. And due to this I still keep searching for an alternative higher quality capture system for those times when the scan back is not usable. Sometimes I feel like tossing my hands up and going back to film for those situtations but really like the digital workflow even for my own personal work.

    If you have been following a couple of threads on the MF forums here at getdpi there has been some excellent discussion regarding MF solutions of late, and which also reflect to some degree the same sentiments and frustrations I have. So on Tues and Thurs I am ready to pull the trigger on an MF solution, then on Wed and Friday I say the hell with, I am back to film and scanning.

    I will try and get my experiments from yesterday posted sometime today if you still want to take a gander.

    Rob

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    How are you focusing?
    I focus on the ground glass with a loupe, and fine tune it using "live" focus mode from the software. The nice thing is that a bar graph and numerical value shows how accurate the focus is. One can also switch the sound on, which increases in pitch as the focus improves. Note that the scanning back is always tethered to a computer.

    The beauty of this approach is that it works equally well for IR photography, which has we know has a different plane of focus than visible light.

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by routlaw View Post
    If you have been following a couple of threads on the MF forums here at getdpi there has been some excellent discussion regarding MF solutions of late, and which also reflect to some degree the same sentiments and frustrations I have. So on Tues and Thurs I am ready to pull the trigger on an MF solution, then on Wed and Friday I say the hell with, I am back to film and scanning.

    I will try and get my experiments from yesterday posted sometime today if you still want to take a gander.

    Rob
    Yes Rob, please post your experiments; I am sure others would be interested too.

    For the time being, I will stick to LF neg (color and B&W) when things are not suitable for the scanning back. After all, if I carry the LF camera with lenses, the Betterlight and the laptop, I may as well add a couple of holders for film!
    I recently got a Jobo CPP2 processor for color negatives, which I have yet to try.
    The problem is scanning the film...

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois_A View Post
    Yes Rob, please post your experiments; I am sure others would be interested too.

    For the time being, I will stick to LF neg (color and B&W) when things are not suitable for the scanning back. After all, if I carry the LF camera with lenses, the Betterlight and the laptop, I may as well add a couple of holders for film!
    I recently got a Jobo CPP2 processor for color negatives, which I have yet to try.
    The problem is scanning the film...
    Have an afternoon shoot to do, might take till later to get them up. Understood on the film thing but you are right a good, really good scanner, ie the Hasselblad X5 cost as much as an MFDB solution. The epson V750 is pretty good I guess and will do in a pinch but still not the best option. Some BL folks have adapted their scan backs for film scanning too. But you don't get the digital ice this way either.

    Rob

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    "Note that the scanning back is always tethered to a computer."

    This must make it difficult to use in the field. Especially in inclement and cold weather. Have found little in the digital world so far that takes winter weather very well compared to the old tried and true Deardorff/Sinar gear.

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by zzyzx View Post
    "Note that the scanning back is always tethered to a computer."

    This must make it difficult to use in the field. Especially in inclement and cold weather. Have found little in the digital world so far that takes winter weather very well compared to the old tried and true Deardorff/Sinar gear.
    Actually, it really wasn't bad at all relative to a stash of film in holders, especially a small laptop with good battery life. The QQQ was a nice solution a few years ago, a MB Air would work pretty well now I suspect, and at the end of the day, not all that expensive of addition in terms of the high-resolution digital world.

    With it you get,

    1) Confirmed, onscreen digital focus
    2) A fast preview scan for adjusting exposure, curves and composition
    3) 11 true stops of DR that you could "curve" real time to match just about whatever look you were after.
    4) Better than drum-scanned 8x10 quality (resolution)
    5) The ultimate pano camera if you added the BL panning head

    The downside was subject motion would impart mini rainbows in those sections of your image, and the paraphernalia required compared to direct single capture MF digital.

    I liked the camera and if money were not an issue for me, I would still own a super 6K, the panning head, a view camera and three or four lenses...
    Jack
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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Yes, they are very cool tools, but I think they would be too limited for my work. If I did architecture, product or art reproduction work, I would say that a scan back is really hard to beat. But for anything that moves (water, foliage, people, stars), they are pretty much a no go. And the tethering. The other issue is that the kind of subject matter they work for also works perfectly for stitching, so the resolution advantage is not as unsurmountable as one might think. Given the scan time versus instant capture, you have time to do a few stitched frames in the same amount of time it would take to scan. That pretty much leaves you with the dynamic range and color advantages, which are nothing to sneeze at, but also addressed by medium format digital to a greater or lesser extent.
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    zzyzx
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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Actually, it really wasn't bad at all relative to a stash of film in holders, especially a small laptop with good battery life. The QQQ was a nice solution a few years ago, a MB Air would work pretty well now I suspect, and at the end of the day, not all that expensive of addition in terms of the high-resolution digital world.

    Much more than most Large Format cameras, holders, film and accessories for field use.
    With it you get,

    1) Confirmed, onscreen digital focus

    Is your focus so bad you need to waste time doing this with electronics?


    2) A fast preview scan for adjusting exposure, curves and composition

    Experience with film, developer and paper combinations will make this one fairly easy as well.


    3) 11 true stops of DR that you could "curve" real time to match just about whatever look you were after.

    Nice to be able to manipulate this way. HDR and control are a positive digital advantage for some subjects yet goof LF technique and experience can work wonders here as well.


    4) Better than drum-scanned 8x10 quality (resolution)

    Shoot Large film and contact print and save yourself a fortune while getting the finest quality possible.


    5) The ultimate pano camera if you added the BL panning head

    Why not shoot a circuit camera. 8x20, 7x17 or the like and get quality with the panoramic shot set in the camera rather than with computer generated tricks?

    The downside was subject motion would impart mini rainbows in those sections of your image, and the paraphernalia required compared to direct single capture MF digital.

    Another big downside is the need to lug the electronic gear around in inclement weather. Try it in warehouses and sites at 15 below zero(farehneit) and long interior exposures and watch the digital batteries kill your image as they die. Very dim interiors with exposures of 1-6 hours or so with film are out of the realm of possiblity with most digital systems due to battery life. True 3-8 hour star trail exposures don't cut it with digital either.

    Digital has some advantages as does film. Whichever works for you is fine but shooting Large Format and especially Ultra Large Format for specific images is still less expensive than scanning backs. Nothing quite like a 12x20 contact print or a 5 foot wide contact print from the circuit cameras.

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Nice, but 5d is very close, shot two or three images for better DR and it will be almost the same without scan time and large format camera.

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    While I am sure you have made these comparisons (BL vs 5D) first hand yourself may I suggest you purchase the following book if you really believe this.

    http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1460977

    Report back to us with your findings and conclusions once you receive the book.

    Rob

    Quote Originally Posted by photoshutter View Post
    Nice, but 5d is very close, shot two or three images for better DR and it will be almost the same without scan time and large format camera.

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois_A View Post
    Ben, there is a world of difference imo in terms of dynamic range, tonality and resolution! I love my 5D nonetheless

    Maybe the differences are more obvious if I put both crops side by side on the same image, (please click once on the thumbnail, and then click on the resulting image to view at 100%):
    Not even close.

    Marc

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    Re: Betterlight vs Canon 5D, an informal comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Not even close.

    Marc
    Absolutely. The BL is capable of a full 11 stops of capture, or at least was when I was shooting it. that required a linear curve and generated an extremely flat image. However, using the software you could adjust that curve to almost any response balance you wanted on a per-capture basis which made it pretty powerful in use. That's one big advantage of shooting with any good tethering software you don't get untethered, and one I really enjoyed using with the BL. (Yes, I do miss the BL, and have this niggle in the back of my head to obtain another super 6K, a simple view cam and a few lenses -- I suspect they're pretty inexpensive now.)
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