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Thread: Optimal Matches between MF lens and MF digital backs?

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    Optimal Matches between MF lens and MF digital backs?

    With the recent buzz on this and other forums related to recent announcements by Hasselblad and Kodak of larger capacity backs and discontinuing of the 9 micron chips in favor of the new 6 micron chips, I'm left wondering about whether or not there is something like a "best" or "most optimal" combination of lenses and digital backs for medium format cameras.

    I've now read in a few places that simply having more pixels may not result in more detail because the lenses themselves may not resolve what the digital backs are capable of resolving (diffraction kicking in, the resolving power of the lens itself, the impact of technique/movement, impact of exposure, etc, etc.) There have been a number of posts on this forum and other forums by people trying out Rodenstock and Schneider lenses and other lenses that have been designed specifically for digital purposes.

    So the question from me is, aside from the "character" or "drawing" of specific lenses, is there such a thing as an optimal match between lenses and MFDBs? For example, I have a Contax 645 camera and the 45, 80, 120, and 140 lenses (lenses with a very good reputation). A few years ago, a photographer sold off this camera and lens collection after placing a 22MP back on it and then finding that, to his eye, the back outresolved the lenses. So, as I look at MFDBs, I begin to think that the 18MP Phase P21+ and my Contax lenses might just be a "best fit" with one another. Why would I want to marry ever-higher capacity backs on lenses that really can't leverage the resolving power of my lenses. And, of course, the point of this is that I would guess I have lots of company with others who own these terrific lenses but whose resolving limitations are starting to emerge. I'd really like some help with this, what am I not understanding? Thank you.

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    Re: Optimal Matches between MF lens and MF digital backs?

    Not sure I'm qualified to answer your question but my own experience with the Contax 645 and Aptus 75 S as well as with the Sinar e75LV leads me to believe that the Zeiss glass is up to snuff with regard to these 33MP backs.

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    Re: Optimal Matches between MF lens and MF digital backs?

    Thanks David.

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    ddk
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    Re: Optimal Matches between MF lens and MF digital backs?

    I've heard that about Contax lenses from two other photographers, both did/do fashion and product advertising. They both told me that they find Hassy lenses made by Fuji much sharper than their Zeiss Contax ones, I bought my first MFDB from one of them. He recently called me up to say that he switched back to Contax. He maintains that the H lenses were sharper but he prefers the drawing of Zeiss and the feel of Contax bodies better. I was told the same thing about the lenses during a Leaf seminar a year ago before buying my Contax system. I was also told that H series bodies were better suited to DBs as opposed to an analog camera like the Contax 645. Ironic, since I was there only because I had fallen in love with a Contax 645 and didn't want to shoot film!

    My own experience, I don't see any difference in sharpness between my Kodak back and my Leaf 22 with any of the Contax lenses.

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    Re: Optimal Matches between MF lens and MF digital backs?

    I'm not sure there is any "optimum," but feel relatively certain that having finer resolution on the sensor than the lens can supply is mostly going to be wasted...

    That said, I can "see" on my P45+ sensor where the 35 HR Digital lens falls off when I shift it. That particular lens is excellent, covering my sensor without visible degradation corner to corner, until about 10mm shift, after which the resolution starts to degrade. If there were an optimum, I would think one would see a harsh transition somewhere during the falloff as the optimum was breached. Instead, since all I see is a gradual fall-off, I suspect that the digital sensor response is not much different than film when it comes to resolution...

    Hope this helps,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Optimal Matches between MF lens and MF digital backs?

    Thanks David and Jack, I see both your points. I suspect that once I actually pull the trigger on it, I'll be delighted with the P21+. It's interesting that none of my clients who put my work on their walls has ever complained that there isn't enough detail or that the 'drawing' is obviously a Canon lens draw and should be improved. And this doesn't stop me at all from wanting to give MF a shot anyway, as I'm the one who does see it, particularly the difference in the look of the photographs between the two sizes. The look of the photographs is what gets my attention more than the resolution/detail.

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