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Thread: Tech cameras and IQ.

  1. #1
    rpb
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    Tech cameras and IQ.

    Hi everyone,

    I am one of those photographers that visit Dante (rent MF) when needed, but are yet to dive in. I currently rent a phase system p40, p45+ etc with the phase slr. I shoot mainly automotive (studio and location), architecture and landscape. I have been reading this and other forums for quite a while and know the pros and cons of a tech camera, movements, IQ, slowing down of the process etc, etc. Does any body know and direct me to a direct comparison (IQ) between a tech camera setup and a MF DSLR setup. Is it a hugh jump in quality, I would love to see the same images taken with the best of both to see the difference.

    Cheers,

    Rikki.
    www.rikkipaul.net

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    it's not a question of quality only... but movements...
    there's a lot of shots that can't be done without it...

  3. #3
    rpb
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    I understand that it is not a question of just IQ, and that there are many other benefits of having a tech camera, but I am very interested in the IQ difference. Alot of photographers seem to be choosing something like the alpa TC, where they do not have the added benefit of movements etc over a DSLR. I suppose my question is, when it comes down to IQ is it a hugh step forward or is it striving for the best you can achieve, or both?

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Hi Rikki
    Even using the best lenses and perfect technique, the improvement in image quality from my Phase One 645 DF to my ALPA (SWA and TC) - using the same back - is not a huge step!
    For convenience and in difficult shooting situations (rain / snow / where speed matters) I'm very happy with my P45+ on the DF (since 2007).
    The lenses on the ALPA offer (as mentioned) other advantages, like shifting , stitching and tilt (not with wideangles though).
    If you shoot with flash, the new Schneider lenses for the DF are fantastic, you can sync at 1/1600!
    Generally speaking the best (digitally optimized) lenses for the technical cameras (Schneider and Rodenstock) do deliver even higher resolution than the Phase One (Mamiya) lenses.
    I'm very happy with my 2,8/80mm AF D, 2,8/150mm AF D and 4,5/300mm APO.
    The wideangles though ... I've sold all I ever tried with the DF as the ALPA is clearly better!
    I used 35mm AF (very disappointing), 45mm AF D (ok) and 28mm AF D (corners very soft).
    The Rodenstock Digaron 35mm and 60mm on the ALPA are outstanding (as are my 100mm Digaron and 180mm APO-Digitar).

    I actually ordered the new IQ180 after three test days. The image circle on the 35mm Digaron will not offer much possibilities any more.
    And of course lens cast is very pronounced (see threads...).
    But shooting wideangles on a technical camera, you will always have to correct the lens cast in post with Capture One, which works really well.

    To summarize, I shoot with a combination of both, but for the wideangles, I clearly favor the technical camera.

    The slowing down of the whole process reminds me of shooting with 4"x5", not a bad thing considering image content!

    Hope that helps.

    Jost von Allmen

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    It's not a *huge* step given two straight on shots compared directly. Most of the recent tech lenses designed for full frame are a notch better than the comparable MF lenses, but then the current mill of MF lenses are already excellent. What makes it so valuable is you can impart a little bit of movement for a more perfect composition and still maintain that optical excellence.

    Tech cams in general require you to work slower and force you to review your compositions more critically. If you do that with an MF DSLR and lens, you're going to generate excellent images too. What it really boils down to is eeking that extra few percent of ultimate IQ out of your images.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Tech cams in general require you to work slower and force you to review your compositions more critically. If you do that with an MF DSLR and lens, you're going to generate excellent images too. What it really boils down to is eeking that extra few percent of ultimate IQ out of your images.
    As a DF shooter who is trying hard to love his Alpa, the slower part still has me frustrated. I find myself passing up "possible" shots while hiking because it means I might not get to where I'm trying to get to if I stop. I'm kind of an "exploring" type of photographer, generally with camera on tripod over shoulder and I just set out on a road or trail and see what I can find. As you mentioned the alpa is a much more deliberate process ... just not fitting my style real well.

    I'm tending to take the Alpa when I know the location and have a pretty good idea what I'm wanting to shoot, otherwise the DF. If I could have only one system, it would be the DF. In fact, I'm counting on the new IQ180 live view to make my life more pleasant with the Alpa or I may settle for the DF and sell the Alpa setup.
    wayne
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Ok folks, we get that it is not a "huge" step up in the image quality and that the step up in image quality is a small percentage....and we get that there is more involved and time consumed with the technical camera...and that some tilt/shift images cannot be obtained with the DF....but where both cameras can do justice to a scene...what is your sense of the percentage difference? 1%? 5%? 8%? What is your sense of "not huge" or "small percentage"? Hey, if it were easy to find out....there were be no need to ask.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by cs750 View Post
    ..but where both cameras can do justice to a scene...what is your sense of the percentage difference? 1%? 5%? 8%? What is your sense of "not huge" or "small percentage"? Hey, if it were easy to find out....there were be no need to ask.
    I am going out on a thin limb here to even attempt to quantify it for you but here goes:

    It will vary.

    Seriously it will, depending on the scene and focal length. Lenses longer than 80mm and no movements, IMHO you do not gain much, call it 5%. Lenses shorter than 50 you gain a lot, movements or not, call it 10% without movements and maybe 20% with. Lenses in the in-between focals fall, well, in-between.

    However!!! You need to nail everything with the tech cam in order to obtain the gains, and that is much easier said than done! It's really easy to make mistakes with the tech cam. And yes, the new IQ UI will make those easier to spot at the time of capture, but it still isn't fool-proof -- you need to develop a dedicated routine and follow it every time or you will screw up.
    Jack
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Using a tech camera can be excruciating slow at times however the payoff is big.

    My main shooting partner and wife uses a Canon 1DsIII and owns a tripod yet rarely uses it. We can be at the same place, see the same thing and she's just about finished before I've taken the first image. Yet the image quality is different and better in most cases with the WRS - if I do my part.

    Shooting landscape with a tech camera isn't for everyone. It's a very slow and deliberate process. The primary support for a tech camera is the tripod. Setting the tripod up can be a slow process. There's even more slow going once the camera is locked into the tripod. You must figure the focus (most landscapes I shoot is at or near infinity) then there's the f/stop (I shoot f/8 most of the time) then the shutter speed. There isn't a single automatic phase on the entire image capture, no auto focus, no program or aperture priority. Once you have everything set you still need to remember to remove the lens shade and cock the shutter.

    The step I left out is the lens selection. All the lenses that I know of for any tech camera are primes, there's no such thing as a zoom lens. The 3-lens I use are 35, 72, and 120mm.

    If working a tech camera is so damn slow then why do I use it? Not so simple an answer. I used a 35mm for my landscape work many years before progressing to medium format. Once I moved to medium format it took less than 18 months to move to a tech camera. The lenses being used today in a tech camera are still superior to any lens out there (the "standard" medium format lenses while getting better will in my opinion will never bridge the gap).

    I shoot landscape and attempt to make a living doing so. I also shoot and print large images (30x40, 30x60 etc). Many of my images are a direct result of multiple images merged into one.

    Shooting multiple images with a dslr type camera requires a huge amount of luck in finding the nodal point of the lens being used. I for one could get close however no matter how much I tried I never succeeded. I invested in the best that Really Right Stuff had to offer and used it for both by Canon and later Mamiya. The typical end result (and this is a direct result of taking even more time setting up than what I do now) is what I call a bow-tie or butterfly effect. Your images are merged and you have a higher end right and left than in the middle and you end up losing a lot of the image to a crop that works. Not so with a tech camera as the camera and lens is static while the capture point (e.g. digital back) moves around the rear of the lens; what is normally referred to as "flat-stitching".

    So the two major reasons I shoot with a tech camera are the lenses and the ability to flat stitch. I've been using a tech camera for several years now and would never think of moving backwards.

    As slow as the process is, once you get used to the setup it does speed up some - but will never be as fast as someone standing besides you with a dslr. If you need the speed then a tech camera isn't for you. I've found myself enjoying the slow somewhat leisurely setup as often times I see somthing else in reviewing what caught my eye in the first place.

    Sorry if this is a tad too long an asnwer.


    Don
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  10. #10
    rpb
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Thank you everyone for your response. Very much appreciated.
    Just what I needed, real experience in the field.
    The slow process is what I already do most of the time anyway so I don't think that will be a problem, time to start testing for myself.

    Thanks again.
    Rikki.
    www.rikkipaul.net

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Jack, Wayne, Don and all who responded and posted to this thread...THANKS! The effort to quantify the difference is most helpful because it gives some of us a sense of of the terms "not a huge difference" etc. I am hopeful of moving into a technical camera, and appreciate it's challenges; this thread has been quite helpful. I think I remember Jack saying he was expecting to take deliverY on an Rm3di and hope he can give us more insight into his experience with it. I have read a lot of the posts on Cambo WRS, Alpa STC & others and hope to revisit those posts before I get some hands on "exposure" at my dealer. I hope we get lots of posts from the technical camera folks on their experiences with the IQ180. 160, & 140. It is great to be a part of GetDpi. Thanks to all who contribute so much. Charles

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    My pleasure Charles -- I am (patiently) awaiting arrival of an RM3Di, hopefully this week. I have used loaners a time or two and really like the way the Arca is set up. I will be giving a more in depth review on it in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned!
    Jack
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    . . . you need to develop a dedicated routine and follow it every time or you will screw up.
    Ditto this and even following the routine it is still very easy to screw up.

    Two other factors that contribute to the slowing down of the process, at least for me. First is bracketing, both exposure AND focus. Often I will focus bracket quite a bit because I am unsure about the distance (an IQ screen might help with this). So, not only do I make several exposures in the field focus bracketing but then I also need to sort through those when selecting images. On top of that I sometimes bracket for the exposure as well so I can end up with many images of the same scene. And in dialing in the exposure, if I change the f-stop I should shoot an LCC for each.

    Second is note-taking. I keep a log for each shot because I cannot remember everything, especially movements (was that 3mm rise or 4mm rise) and I often need that info for processing.

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    Workshop Member Wayne Fox's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by cmb_ View Post
    Ditto this and even following the routine it is still very easy to screw up.

    Two other factors that contribute to the slowing down of the process, at least for me. First is bracketing, both exposure AND focus. Often I will focus bracket quite a bit because I am unsure about the distance (an IQ screen might help with this). So, not only do I make several exposures in the field focus bracketing but then I also need to sort through those when selecting images. On top of that I sometimes bracket for the exposure as well so I can end up with many images of the same scene. And in dialing in the exposure, if I change the f-stop I should shoot an LCC for each.

    Second is note-taking. I keep a log for each shot because I cannot remember everything, especially movements (was that 3mm rise or 4mm rise) and I often need that info for processing.
    Ditto the problem with remembering what you did ... haven't resorted to notes yet. Seems Phase could help with this by allowing metadata to be entered in the back ... lens choices, f/stops, etc.

    Other than infinity, I find focusing in general extremely challenging with the tech camera, although I have yet to get my HPF rings and laser which might help. Also hoping the IQ180 will make it easer to focus.

    I find exposure bracketing pretty simple with the tech camera, nothing other than clicking the shutter speed dial. Only problem is having to actually touch the camera ... rarely do images align perfectly. Not a big deal, software takes care of that pretty easily.
    wayne
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    I've solved one of my biggest problems, remembering which lens was used for which shot now that I have the P65. The IQ backs and the P65 (not certain if the P40 has this) allows for rating directly from the back - 1 to 5 stars. I have 3-lenes so I now use 1 to 3 stars which show up immediately when I open C1Pro.

    Bracketing is a must just as shooting that LCC is.

    I still carry a small tape recorder for the notes.
    Don Libby
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Libby View Post

    Bracketing is a must just as shooting that LCC is.
    Guys, FWIW:

    With the limited shooting I did testing the 43 over the IQ180 on Rod's RM3D, I did NOT bracket once for exposure or focus. Instead, I relied totally on the IQ's histo, focus mask and 100% review quality.

    FWIW,
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Guys, FWIW:

    With the limited shooting I did testing the 43 over the IQ180 on Rod's RM3D, I did NOT bracket once for exposure or focus. Instead, I relied totally on the IQ's histo, focus mask and 100% review quality.

    FWIW,
    Show off!
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Yeah, not all of us have IQ backs!

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    I never did direct comparison but did not miss anything in IQ with both systems.

    Using tilt with my Artec I found kind of hard to judge with the loupe on the screen. Shift I used all the time.

    I find it also a different approach, one system more planned/carefully composed image with the tech camera, often stopped down vs the more spontanious image with a SLR.

    I enoyed both. However I found the more spontanious and faster approach of a SLR (now the S2) to have a huge advantage: you can quickly react on the light/Sun, and its easier to include "living subjects" in the image.

    On the other side you choose your subject more carefully and you frame more carefully with the Tech camera.

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by cmb_ View Post
    Yeah, not all of us have IQ backs!

    ... Yet ...
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    ... Yet ...
    I'll patiently wait for Guy to trade up from his IQ160 to the IQ180 then I'll look at picking up his used back. What's your guess on that move - September, October?

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by cmb_ View Post
    I'll patiently wait for Guy to trade up from his IQ160 to the IQ180 then I'll look at picking up his used back. What's your guess on that move - September, October?
    My honest guess is that Guy will make that move BEFORE he even takes delivery of the IQ160! SERIOUSLY!

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    LOL

    I'm having lot of fun with the 180 the next couple days. This is just so sweet to work with.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Guy, how are you finding the 180's "speed" for your needs? I know that was your numero uno concern for your uses.
    Jack
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Actually was going to address this. Last time I had the 180 to shoot it felt a little slow in response to focus mask and actually shooting speed. Now this week with a Extreme Pro card it seems faster even though this card needs the firmware update coming. Oddly it seems faster but can't prove it since I am going by memory. Focus mask has consistently been 5 seconds to render and shooting speed is pretty dang good shooting on continuous. So my earlier concerns seem a little unwarranted as i was really worried about this. I feel much better about it now and obviously this new firmware coming that will support these Extreme Pro's cards and speaking to a few folks at Phase we are assuming things will get a little faster still so this is something we have to look at in the next firmware and also Phase will keep optimizing these backs as time goes forward as well.

    So honestly feeling much better here about this. Lets face it these are HUGE files pushing through these backs and if this was 10 years ago we would be drinking coffee between shots. LOL

    Also I helped Doug shoot his tests on a lot of lenses on the Cambo WRS 1000 and the focus mask is just killer. We take a shot and notice maybe front focusing than make small focus adjustment and bam right dead on the money. I was so into the focus mask I forgot about the 100 percent zoom
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    it is fast enough.
    It gets faster the more you want it.
    -bob

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    I was so into the focus mask I forgot about the 100 percent zoom
    That's where I got in my testing with the 43 after about frame 3. FM is accurate enough that 100% view becomes almost redundant. (I am now using a setting of 45 for FM.) However, I do use use 100% view to confirm criticality on important details in images, so I am *really* glad it's there too.
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    At 44 Jack. I agree perfect area
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    I am also using 44.

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    What settings do you use for Focus Mask in Capture One and does this then correlate to what you are seeing on the back?

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Me personally, I rarely shoot tethered and so typically don't bother with FM inside C1 -- I have my dual monitor set up with 5 individual 100% focus screens on the RH side for actual pixel confirmations on critical image areas.
    Jack
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    I shoot tethered more than half the time and use a focus mask of 250 which is the default.
    And since I also am usually at f/11 it works really well for me.
    Note that tethered, the 100% zoom does not work but the on-back focus mask does.
    -bob

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Today I confirmed that whatever your focus mask is on the back directly goes into C1 exactly the same as what you see on your LCD. Very nice
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    my c1 will not allow anything less than 200
    -bob

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Today I confirmed that whatever your focus mask is on the back directly goes into C1 exactly the same as what you see on your LCD. Very nice
    Let me explain this at default in C1 which is 250 whatever showed exact coverage of focus area on the LCD regardless of focus mask setting on back matched exactly on computer in C1 at C1s default setting of 250.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    What Guy is trying to say is that the Focus Mask setting on the back has no bearing on the Focus Mask setting in C1, and I think for the most part we all understood that.

    I think Charlie's question was more what FM settings on the back correlate to what C1 FM settings? My answer is I have no idea -- the setting values are very different in range and scope, probably specifically so they are not confused to correlate somehow; I suspect they are generated using different methods...
    Jack
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Thanks Jack sorry if I confused folks. 5 things at once and on the road. But it would be nice if they used the same numbering setup between the software and back. This way knowing let's say on location with back that 43 felt like a good number for example to use with a certain lens or scene when back at computer you could see by going up or down from that number how critical you where. Phase you listening hear. Also would be easier on user. My request was mentioned to Doug and maybe send this up the food chain.

    I think myself the lower the number for folks would be easier to remember so let's change C1.

    Unless there is a specific reason for the certain numbers and what it correlates to. I have no idea in C1

    Just a thought
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  38. #38
    Senior Member KeithL's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    I'd be the first to admit there are very real advantages to using tech cameras, both in terms of image quality and options.

    My problem when using them is that they suck the joy from the process and consequently my images suffer. I should add that I know many for whom the opposite is true.

    Each to their own.

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    I keep going back and forth on those exact thoughts. Just not my way or style of shooting. Honestly a TC and a 35 Schneider makes more sense as to speed of operation but I miss out on the other benefits. At some point I will figure it out but no hurry either.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by KeithL View Post
    I'd be the first to admit there are very real advantages to using tech cameras, both in terms of image quality and options.

    My problem when using them is that they suck the joy from the process and consequently my images suffer. I should add that I know many for whom the opposite is true.

    Each to their own.
    Keith,

    You are quite correct that there are two sides this one. I'm definitely in the camp where the deliberate shooting style required by a tech camera is a big element of my joy in using it and by extension contributes to the quality of images I capture (well, I like to think so anyway). The same was true with large format film.

    I don't think that anyone would disagree that shooting with a MF DSLR is a lot easier, faster, more versatile, or more efficient for a wider range of shooting situations.

    Since I shoot for pleasure, the journey is sometimes more important than the destination, so to speak.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

  41. #41
    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    But it would be nice if they used the same numbering setup between the software and back. This way knowing let's say on location with back that 43 felt like a good number for example to use with a certain lens or scene when back at computer you could see by going up or down from that number how critical you where. Phase you listening hear. Also would be easier on user. My request was mentioned to Doug and maybe send this up the food chain.

    I think myself the lower the number for folks would be easier to remember so let's change C1.

    Unless there is a specific reason for the certain numbers and what it correlates to. I have no idea in C1

    Just a thought
    Guy,

    Why not embed the focus mask value used in the EXIF data for the raw image and have C1 Pro sync with it on an image by image basis? That's the way the DSLR's handle in camera settings with their raw converters. For example, in the Nikon world I could set up a particular tone curve for processing RAWs for rendering the histogram/jpg image and download it in to the camera. When loading RAW images back from the camera Nikon Capture NX2 would take that tone curve information and use it to render on the computer with the same settings, which obviously you could change.

    I agree that the better approach would be to just make C1 Pro and the IQ backs match each other in terms of algorithm and settings. Have a legacy support mode for those who like the focus mask operation of C1 as it is today but otherwise move on ...
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Keith,

    You are quite correct that there are two sides this one. I'm definitely in the camp where the deliberate shooting style required by a tech camera is a big element of my joy in using it and by extension contributes to the quality of images I capture (well, I like to think so anyway). The same was true with large format film.

    I don't think that anyone would disagree that shooting with a MF DSLR is a lot easier, faster, more versatile, or more efficient for a wider range of shooting situations.

    Since I shoot for pleasure, the journey is sometimes more important than the destination, so to speak.

    That is exactly what I feel as well . Sometimes I get lost with my camera and the object and I forget all around myself , forget about the time and just feel happy . Pleasure . Yes .
    Regards . Jürgen .
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  43. #43
    Senior Member KeithL's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by jotloob View Post
    That is exactly what I feel as well . Sometimes I get lost with my camera and the object and I forget all around myself , forget about the time and just feel happy . Pleasure . Yes .
    Jürgen, that's weird, you were actually one of those I was thinking of who so obviously enjoy the process of using a tech camera!


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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Keith,

    You are quite correct that there are two sides this one. I'm definitely in the camp where the deliberate shooting style required by a tech camera is a big element of my joy in using it and by extension contributes to the quality of images I capture (well, I like to think so anyway). The same was true with large format film.

    I don't think that anyone would disagree that shooting with a MF DSLR is a lot easier, faster, more versatile, or more efficient for a wider range of shooting situations.

    Since I shoot for pleasure, the journey is sometimes more important than the destination, so to speak.
    I don't use a MF DSLR because it is faster, easier, more versatile or more efficient than a tech camera. I use a MF DSLR because I believe that I can make better images with it than with a tech camera, and while the process of taking photographs is important, to me, the end goal is always to try to make a compelling image. I don't need a tech camera to slow down. I always shoot in a very deliberate fashion, using a tripod with the mirror locked up and at the lowest ISO. However, part of shooting in a deliberate fashion includes the careful composition of the photograph in the viewfinder. I need to see whether I am making effective use of the "canvas", including only those elements that contribute positively to the image and excluding all other elements. I need to see how the lens is changing the perspective of the elements in the scene. I can't imagine sacrificing a real viewfinder in order to obtain an extra 5% or so in IQ. I have a point-and-shoot digital camera without a viewfinder. I hold it up in front of me and "compose" on the LCD with Live View. I hate it. A tech camera does not even give you Live View.
    I also believe that the extra IQ with a tech camera is theoretical. In practice, unless you are shooting brick walls hyperfocally or with a laser, I think you can produce sharper images with a viewfinder and good autofocus. In many cases, you really need Helicon Focus, and a MF DSLR is much more effective for making focus slices.
    I used to have a Horseman SW 612 with a 55mm Rodenstock LF lens. It is basically a wide format tech camera that uses a medium format film back. No viewfinder; just a non-optical sighting device that sat on top of the camera. I probably put 60 rolls of 120 Velvia through it. Whenever I got a roll of film back, I would marvel at the IQ of the transparencies on a lightbox. What sharpness! However, the images sucked as photographs. I just had no idea at the time I was shooting what the film was capturing. I also disliked the wide format combined with the relatively wide angle lens. It captured everything and nothing at the same time.
    I fully accept your opinion as to what works best for you. I see it differently for me.

  45. #45
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by hcubell View Post
    I don't use a MF DSLR because it is faster, easier, more versatile or more efficient than a tech camera. I use a MF DSLR because I believe that I can make better images with it than with a tech camera, and while the process of taking photographs is important, to me, the end goal is always to try to make a compelling image. I don't need a tech camera to slow down. I always shoot in a very deliberate fashion, using a tripod with the mirror locked up and at the lowest ISO. However, part of shooting in a deliberate fashion includes the careful composition of the photograph in the viewfinder. I need to see whether I am making effective use of the "canvas", including only those elements that contribute positively to the image and excluding all other elements. I need to see how the lens is changing the perspective of the elements in the scene. I can't imagine sacrificing a real viewfinder in order to obtain an extra 5% or so in IQ. I have a point-and-shoot digital camera without a viewfinder. I hold it up in front of me and "compose" on the LCD with Live View. I hate it. A tech camera does not even give you Live View.
    I also believe that the extra IQ with a tech camera is theoretical. In practice, unless you are shooting brick walls hyperfocally or with a laser, I think you can produce sharper images with a viewfinder and good autofocus. In many cases, you really need Helicon Focus, and a MF DSLR is much more effective for making focus slices.
    I used to have a Horseman SW 612 with a 55mm Rodenstock LF lens. It is basically a wide format tech camera that uses a medium format film back. No viewfinder; just a non-optical sighting device that sat on top of the camera. I probably put 60 rolls of 120 Velvia through it. Whenever I got a roll of film back, I would marvel at the IQ of the transparencies on a lightbox. What sharpness! However, the images sucked as photographs. I just had no idea at the time I was shooting what the film was capturing. I also disliked the wide format combined with the relatively wide angle lens. It captured everything and nothing at the same time.
    I fully accept your opinion as to what works best for you. I see it differently for me.
    Precisely why both exist and freedom of choice is a good thing!

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    Precisely why both exist and freedom of choice is a good thing!
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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by hcubell View Post
    I also believe that the extra IQ with a tech camera is theoretical. In practice, unless you are shooting brick walls hyperfocally or with a laser, I think you can produce sharper images with a viewfinder and good autofocus. In many cases, you really need Helicon Focus, and a MF DSLR is much more effective for making focus slices.
    I know what you mean about the quality differences being minor. I think it's a fair point so long as you're fully in control of the shooting process and that means for me that AF is far from my list of desirable features - at least when it comes to the Phase One/Mamiya systems. I'm still a heretic and outcast as far as the Phase One camera fan club is concerned because I personally think that their AF stinks. I overwhelmingly shoot manually because I've yet to experience 'good autofocus' on that platform. Certainly at or around 100+ ft I can't rely on it to nail focus which I can do by eye manually.

    Ditto for the focus stacking. I find this MUCH easier with a manual lens on my Alpa since I can simply work the distance scale by hand. Other than measuring or focusing on the initial point of interest everything else in producing a focus stack is simply a mechanical shift in focus which I can easily replicate accurately on the helicoid of a tech camera lens. I'm surprised that you find it easier with AF as that's a trick I need to learn.

    Quote Originally Posted by hcubell View Post
    I fully accept your opinion as to what works best for you. I see it differently for me.
    As Terry mentioned, that's why we don't all drive the same cars, wear the same clothes, take the same holidays etc etc. Choice is definitely a good thing.

    As much as I enjoy shooting with the Alpa and the results I get from it, I also shoot the DF system as my primary DSLR outfit (and a Nikon system for low light/travel). I wouldn't want to be stuck with just one or the other for all of those good reasons I think we all cite for DSLR benefits. I'm happy to consider this all a case of 'horses for courses'.
    Last edited by GrahamWelland; 8th June 2011 at 16:15.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

  48. #48
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by hcubell View Post
    I used to have a Horseman SW 612 with a 55mm Rodenstock LF lens. It is basically a wide format tech camera that uses a medium format film back. No viewfinder; just a non-optical sighting device that sat on top of the camera. I probably put 60 rolls of 120 Velvia through it. Whenever I got a roll of film back, I would marvel at the IQ of the transparencies on a lightbox. What sharpness! However, the images sucked as photographs. I just had no idea at the time I was shooting what the film was capturing. I also disliked the wide format combined with the relatively wide angle lens. It captured everything and nothing at the same time.
    I fully accept your opinion as to what works best for you. I see it differently for me.
    I had an SW612 with a 55mm. One of my favorite cameras. I used it for documentary work, mostly handheld. It was a fast and accurate camera to work with. The viewfinder was great--bright and really quite accurate. And like you said, very high-quality images. And since the film had a consistent response, it was really easy to visualize the results. I did some of my best work with it.

    But like you said, different strokes for different folks. That is one problem about talking about camera gear, it is simply subjective bias. Statements are only true for the individual making them.

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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    Quote Originally Posted by hcubell View Post
    ...However, part of shooting in a deliberate fashion includes the careful composition of the photograph in the viewfinder. I need to see whether I am making effective use of the "canvas", including only those elements that contribute positively to the image and excluding all other elements. I need to see how the lens is changing the perspective of the elements in the scene. I can't imagine sacrificing a real viewfinder in order to obtain an extra 5% or so in IQ. I have a point-and-shoot digital camera without a viewfinder. I hold it up in front of me and "compose" on the LCD with Live View. I hate it. A tech camera does not even give you Live View.
    ...
    I use ground glass as my viewfinder. Always have even with my Hassleblad (I used a Flexbody) and LFs. So a TC can have a "viewfinder". Once you've calibrated everything, it can be extremely accurate.

    Additionally, I'm not concerned anymore (I certainly used to be) about having the image perfectly composed in my viewfinder (whether GG or other). I see the composition I want, but I tend to add a bit all around and crop afterwards if needed. Many times I've found that I've missed something in the viewfinder (a piece of brightness by the edge, a part of a branch, etc.) that if I had more room on the side I could fix it. Or the balance of the composition improves a bit because the viewfinder cut a part off that may have improved the image. But just to be clear, I do compose very carefully; now I just have more if I've missed something (which has often happened despite my best efforts). Nothing wrong with having a margin of error IMO.

    Now especially with 39MP to play with, cropping poses no real problem with getting a decent huge print. Having the extra real estate is a benefit to me.

    One final item, with a TC, as has been mentioned, you can shift (and on some shift AND rise/fall) without the lens moving. If you do that with a DSLR, your stitch will always need cropping. With a TC, it's all aligned. MUCH more real estate...

    Just my way of shooting and opinion,
    Bob

  50. #50
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    Re: Tech cameras and IQ.

    "TC" = tech camera, yes? My first reaction on seeing the reference was that the TC (i.e., ALPA TC) doesn't shift. Duh.

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