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Thread: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

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    Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Can anybody comment on low light and low ISO performance with backs such as the Phase P21, P21+, P25, and P25+? Just found an interesting article while looking for information/reviews of the P21 which is looking more and more like the one for me. Anybody have any thoughts on this subject?

    Here's the link to the article:

    http://www.pebbleplace.com/Personal/..._THE_FUND.html

  2. #2
    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    actually, at iso 50-100 all current backs produce no noise. is is not the noise on low iso that's important. rather, it's the grain structure on iso200 and higher.

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    thsinar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    yes, and I would add, that at higher ISO (200 and up) some manufacturers do filter noise by "default" and in the raws, some others do not filter any noise in the raw files, like Sinar: filtering noise is ALWAYS bound with loss of details, therefore we prefer to leave the choice and decision to the users.

    Thierry

    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    actually, at iso 50-100 all current backs produce no noise. is is not the noise on low iso that's important. rather, it's the grain structure on iso200 and higher.

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    thierry, i though any raw files are not processed in any way; everything is left to the user. or some files are rawer than the others?

  5. #5
    thsinar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Definitively, some are "rawer" than others: there is no back which gives you "plain" access to the real raws, except for the Sinarback eMotion files, the .IA (Image Archive) and .BR (Black Reference) files: these are real raws, what the sensor has captured.
    Other raws are all somehow processed by default, in some ways, being it "clipping" the highlights, de-noising, applying a tonal curve / contrast (which in some cases can be switched off), sharpening (which can be switched off), etc ...: unfortunately, IMO, some of this "tweaking" CANNOT be switched off.

    Thierry

    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    thierry, i though any raw files are not processed in any way; everything is left to the user. or some files are rawer than the others?

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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Thank you all, and sorryfor not phrasing my question better. Please let me clarify: in the last few years I have been shooting a lot of macros, mostly outside under whatever natural light is available, might be in a garden early in the day or it could be while I'm out on a hike in a dark woods. Obviously, especially out in the woods or in early morning, light conditions can vary significantly, but are often quite dark. I use a tripod all the time when I'm shooting macros. I prefer to shoot in the ISO 100 - 300 range with my current equipment, a Canon 1Ds2, and I'm wondering how backs such as the P21 or P21+ or even the Sinars will perform at ISO up to approximately 400. How good is the noise performance in deep shadows at these ISOs? Thank you again.

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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Ray,

    All sensors have some amount of noise, even ISO 100, but it often goes unnoticed at ISO 100 and lower. I would say that at ISO 50, the noise is completely negligible, but technically it is still there.

    As Thierry points out, the Sinar backs do the least processing of any MFDB, so you will have to manually remove the amount of noise from the images yourself. I actually prefer this, since I can control the look of the image, sort of like choosing different film grains. Other people prefer the Phase approach, where they try to clean up the image as much as possible with electronics and default software post-processing. In the case of Phase, you are basically letting them make the decision about how to alter the noise content in your images to a certain extent (in all fairness, they do a decent job and it is not like they destroy the images completely...but the Sinar gives you total control).

    Overall, to minimize noise in your work, I would recommend a back with large pixels (9um) and ISO 50.

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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Thanks David, Yes, this is exactly what's attracted me to the larger pixels of the Phase P21 (I've only in the last day or two started to look with any interest at the Sinars, the e22 sounds like a very interesting back and deserving of more reading). And, like in everything else, the trade-off that I'm seeing is the increased moire possibility of the larger pixels versus the decreased noise of the larger pixels. I suspect that I'll ultimately choose a refurbed P21 as the price is that much more attractive, and, for what I plan to do with it, 18MP will be sufficient for many years to come. The newer P21+ looks interesting too (from what I can tell better noise is the primary change??), but I wonder if there is any realworld difference beyond the newer model having less noise at higher ISO??
    Thanks again.

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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Unfortunately, I cannot give you first hand experience with the P21 versus P21+. I believe that there is probably image quality improvement across the board, at all ISO. However, at ISO 50, the improvements may not be perceptible to you. I know one person who upgraded his P45 to P45+, and was uncertain whether he could find a difference at ISO 50, but again I can offer no personal confirmation of this. Maybe someone who has upgraded the P21 to P21+ will pipe in.

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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Thanks David, this is pretty much how I read it too. I suspect 'noise' is one of those areas where improvement has been made.

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    Subscriber gogopix's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    It would be good for Lance to pipe in on the raw of the Phase backs. The noise suppression and sharpening can be totally turned off in C1 , but that begs the questions what IS done in the back.

    Real raw would be quite a burden for most to comprehend; the current levens from each of the bayer matrix pixels will first need interpolation to RGB at each site, and the over all WP, BP and WB or historgram are needed. I assume Sinar pack stop about here, but we know other systems go on to process, at least for the LCD, but also can show pixel level in the back.

    Then there are dead lixels, black level adjustment (for long exposure noise suppression that Leica does and some phase.

    It is why as Ray says the next level of improvement may be at the system board level where the back gets better. Sinar will then need to decide, as will Phase and Leaf, where to put the processing; in the back or in the SW.

    I am quite axnious to compare the sinar processin to Phase, and will likely rent a 74LV to try

    With Contax 645 mount, of course.

    Victor

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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Thanks Victor.

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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    FWIW, the little Mamiya ZD back allows you to turn NR totally off at all ISO's too. Does make a difference in both visible noise and added detail. As already stated, noise is not an issue at 50 or 100, but somewhat notable at 200 and notable at 400 with NR turned off. With NR on, noise is reduced significantly, with detail being reduced slightly.

    Side note on macro: the Mamiya 645 has an outstanding auto bellows that comes with a reversing ring and electronic connector to maintain full auto functionality. I picked a new one up on eBay.
    Jack
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    I do not even know how to emphasize the point I would like to make. The hasselblad H3D-31 has the most incredible noise free iso 400 and 800 images I have ever seen. Better than what i get with my canon 5D, 1DsmkIII. Steve Hendrix has commented on this as well. I know the comment will be that there is a heavy NR filter added to these files but I can tell you the RAW NR are all controlled by the post capture software and there is virtually no loss in image quality at high isos that I can see using the default settings. THe newer software will allow this camera to do iso 1600 or so this is what hasselblad has promised.

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    jack, does it come with tilts and shifts, or it is just a standard bellows?

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    jack, does it come with tilts and shifts, or it is just a standard bellows?
    Unfortunately this newest one has no shift tilt ability, but the older, all manual version does. And of course it will work too, just all manual mode -- not a big issue for macro anyway.
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Quote Originally Posted by mark1958 View Post
    I do not even know how to emphasize the point I would like to make. The hasselblad H3D-31 has the most incredible noise free iso 400 and 800 images I have ever seen. Better than what i get with my canon 5D, 1DsmkIII. Steve Hendrix has commented on this as well.
    I see the same with my HD-31 back vs Canon 1dsmk11 at ISO 800 - pretty amazing actually. I use the H series makro as well as the CF series Zeiss via adaptor for close up work - both lenses are pretty awesome in combination with those fat MFD pixels. The CF lens is softer.
    Last edited by PeterA; 20th April 2008 at 16:13.

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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Quote Originally Posted by mark1958 View Post
    I do not even know how to emphasize the point I would like to make.
    images would help

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Unfortunately this newest one has no shift tilt ability, but the older, all manual version does. And of course it will work too, just all manual mode -- not a big issue for macro anyway.
    you are absolutely right. even though contax bellows are fully automatic (i believe, even autofocus is supported), i most of the time use it with a schneider componon-s enlarger lens, even for portraiture. for some reason, all-manual operation feels much more reliable.
    Last edited by irakly; 21st April 2008 at 07:01.

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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Tilt is one reason I'm considering owning both units. The auto version supports AF too, but the only way to get the effect you show above is with some tilt. I have several LF lenses, among them an older Kodak 190mm Ektar, another GREAT portrait lens, and I'd like to experiment with it a bit on MF too
    Jack
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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    wow, ektar rocks. i just could not figure out how to mount it. i wish i had someone who could machine custom lens adapters

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    wow, ektar rocks. i just could not figure out how to mount it. i wish i had someone who could machine custom lens adapters
    I am thinking of just mounting my LF lenses in Mamiya body caps; the Mamiya caps appear flat enough, though I may need to fabricate a shim spacer. I can buy sheets of opaque plastic, cut the appropriate mount hole in them and epoxy them to the cap if I need to. Also looking at mounting pin-holes this way
    Jack
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Also looking at mounting pin-holes this way
    Can I start a new thread for MF 45mp pinhole samples?

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    this is a great idea! now i have to buy all contax body caps before someone else will figure it out
    i am a bit apprehensive about digital pinhole photography... dust will get sucked right in and land on a sensor, i mean, IR filter...

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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Quote Originally Posted by tom in mpls View Post
    Can I start a new thread for MF 45mp pinhole samples?
    Be my guest!
    Jack
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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    this is a great idea! now i have to buy all contax body caps before someone else will figure it out
    i am a bit apprehensive about digital pinhole photography... dust will get sucked right in and land on a sensor, i mean, IR filter...
    The way I see it, dust is so easy to blow off a MF sensor to begin with, that with pinhole it should be a relative non-issue
    Jack
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    Senior Member EH21's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Definitely and advantage of having a shutter in camera instead of lens..... I have experimented with my Rollei using your body cap method, Jack, and it works fine (at least with the limited auxiliary shutter the Rollei has which can do approx 1/60 only). The rollei body caps are like 5mm thick plastic, and I mounted a Rodagon 90mm APO using a Zork MFS to get tilt. It worked surprisingly well actually.

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    Workshop Member lance_schad's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Quote Originally Posted by gogopix View Post
    It would be good for Lance to pipe in on the raw of the Phase backs. The noise suppression and sharpening can be totally turned off in C1 , but that begs the questions what IS done in the back.

    Real raw would be quite a burden for most to comprehend; the current levens from each of the bayer matrix pixels will first need interpolation to RGB at each site, and the over all WP, BP and WB or historgram are needed. I assume Sinar pack stop about here, but we know other systems go on to process, at least for the LCD, but also can show pixel level in the back.

    Then there are dead lixels, black level adjustment (for long exposure noise suppression that Leica does and some phase.

    It is why as Ray says the next level of improvement may be at the system board level where the back gets better. Sinar will then need to decide, as will Phase and Leaf, where to put the processing; in the back or in the SW.

    I am quite axnious to compare the sinar processin to Phase, and will likely rent a 74LV to try

    With Contax 645 mount, of course.

    Victor
    Victor,
    The Phase One NR is applied via CaptureOne. What is performed in the digital back is a black calibration file that is then sent along with the RAW file to CaptureOne to use the NR process. This is why sometimes the display looks noisy on the digital back because no NR has been applied.
    You are correct you can disable sharpening and the noise suppression can be set to low.

    L

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    305-394-3196 cell | 305-534-5702 office
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  29. #29
    DougDolde
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    I am thinking of just mounting my LF lenses in Mamiya body caps; the Mamiya caps appear flat enough, though I may need to fabricate a shim spacer. I can buy sheets of opaque plastic, cut the appropriate mount hole in them and epoxy them to the cap if I need to. Also looking at mounting pin-holes this way
    Mark Tucker uses Liquid Nails for this sort of home brew stuff. Remember his Plunger Cam?

    http://www.marktucker.com/plungercam/

  30. #30
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    LOLOL! I have been saving an old RB67 Chimney finder and this is a great idea for it. It even has it's own focus mount
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    I've only used them for custom lens caps, but SKGrimes makes custom lens mounts: http://www.skgrimes.com/ It would be worth calling them to see about modifying lenses for MF use.

  32. #32
    thsinar
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    Re: Backs with best low ISO performance and lowest noise?

    Hi Lance,

    can the "Noise Suppression" be disabled completely?

    Other than this, which tonal/contrast curve is set by default, respectively can the files be given an absolute "linear" curve?

    Incidentally, do you know above which levels the highlights are clipped, respectively how it is done?

    Thanks and best regards,
    Thierry

    Quote Originally Posted by lance_schad View Post
    Victor,

    You are correct you can disable sharpening and the noise suppression can be set to low.

    L

    Lance Schad
    Capture Integration - Miami/Atlanta
    305-394-3196 cell | 305-534-5702 office
    Capture Integration
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