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Thread: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

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    IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    Hi there!

    The curious (me) is asking another questions about the IQ backs. I wanted to know how well the Sensor+ mode on the IQ backs compare to say 12MP Nikon or 21MP Canon. How well does it handle noise in higher ISOs around 3200. Is it even comparable to the DSLRs?

    Sorry if this has been asked before, but I didn't manage to find this in the search. Perhaps some examples even!

    Thanks!
    Po

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    Check digital camera reviews on the IQ160 by me
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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    Thanks, by going there I was also able to check out the thread called:
    Phase One IQ180 Initial Review and Impressions (With pics!)

    I certainly think it is an amazing inclusion to have the sensor plus technology, and noise although present, the image certainly holds up well enough and without cropping in, it's looks very good indeed.

    However, I won't go as far as saying it will replace a good DSLR, but on critical moments that you don't want to bring your DSLR, or your IQ is already at hand, it is very forward looking and promising.

    Guy you make a good argument to really have in my hands in different environments to evaluate it properly.

    Oh just a quick question here, your IQ160 review, you used a techcam but also with long lenses right? How about on the IQ180 review, I noticed at one point Jack had it on a Phase DF fr the B&W photos.

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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    As I recall, Guy's review was not with a tech camera, but a Phase.

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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    Thank you for the correction. I am multi-reading all at once, including the S2 review, it somehow confuses things, then again I am easily confused

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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    No tech cam on the 160 . That will be next week or so I start a new product review and image thread with a tech cam/160 combo. Playing with several lenses as well. Just something fun to read I hope. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    In my experience the IQ exceeds any dSLR at 800 (or below), matches the best dSLR at 1600 and is a tad behind the best dSLRs at 3200.

    At 6400 (max ISO with a 1 stop push) a pleasant looking high contrast black and white image with strong grain can be produced from an IQ180 (not unlike Delta 3200 film pushed a stop). The image is not suitable for commercial use, but for artistic/personal use it's an interesting look.

    A vast over simplification I realize, but since you're a bit overwhelmed with reading rich now I thought you might like a succinct breakdown.

    Unfortunately it's not really that simple. Because you also have to think about image stabilization (medium format doesn't have any), maximum aperture available, maximum aperture which is sharp enough for your needs, lens feel (sure you can shoot any lens wide open, but some look much nicer, and in general medium format has more lenses which look great wide open), and what focal length you'll need in each format.

    Don't forget when comparing these files to compare them at a given USAGE size. Reviewing them at 100% resolution on screen will mislead you as some of the files we are talking about range from 10 to 22 megapixels.

    And sensor+ isn't just for shooting higher ISO or faster. It can also be very useful when you need to shoot something that you know for sure you don't need much resolution for. E.G. A web-only product catalog for which you're not being paid a lucrative rate. You could of course switch to a cheaper camera to shoot it, but that requires having and maintaining two bodies, two sets of batteries, staying current on firmware with two systems, and keeping your knowledge of lens-looks/buttons/etc on both systems. Why bother, just push a button and you're shooting 20mp files rather than 80mp files.

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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    Hi Po,

    It's not a simple answer. I had a chance (thanks to Yat Lee convincing Phase One in HK) to try the 180 and 160 backs. I specifically tested the 160 and whilst the other chaps were taking pictures of a lovely model, I was taking pictures of them on the dark side.

    3200 was usable in a pinch. 800/1600 were fine, usable and at least on par with Nikon. As I only shoot prime lenses, at f2.8 you're down about two stops compared to f1.4, but, if like most journo's you use f2.8 pro zooms, you'll be fine. At f2.8 the Mamiya lenses knock the socks of Nikons 1.4 D lenses and look far, far, better than any pro zoom (which I despise and openly admit possibly irrational biases against zooms) imo.

    I realise I can't recall printing a large print from an ISO 1600 file, as the purpose is almost always events and when peeping the images (even with Nikon), many of the best images have numerous technical problems through movement, camera shake and so on, but in general it just don't matter for my subject matter.

    So sensor+ works for my usage, but the system itself might make other uses impractical, you need to consider your usage.

    fwiw, I ordered a 160. I'm unsure if I could dump the Nikon gear or not. But, it has hardly been used in the three months or so, since I got a DM33 back anyway, perhaps high ISO is less important to me than I imagined and I believe after testing, that the 160 delivers what I need.

    I hope the above considerations help you.
    Paul

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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    Sensor+ is just binning. Binning increases sensitivity by using a four pixel array. Sensitivity increases by 4x. So noise at 100ISO would be about the same as Sensor+ at 400ISO. There is no real direct comparison as binning also halves resolution (or quarters the total number of pixels) and obviously the processing is not going to be identical making noise hard to judge between two examples.

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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    I posted some 1600 S+ examples in my review of the IQ180.
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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    Guy, Doug, Paul Shashin, Jack,

    Thanks for your input to the thread, although I was able to go higher ISO with my D700 and 5D2, I rarely went above 800, even indoors, but my canon I could shoot my primes at f/1.2-1.4, so this was helpful and those L primes really added to the look. I am sure those MF lenses will render beautifully too if not more so.

    However, I'm finding it hardest to accept, or come to turns with digital backs not allowing me to shoot at ISOs above base, without introducing a lot of noise and effectively losing that crisp detail, and if the sensor plus essentially allows that to happen and render more beautifully than the DSLR counterparts, it is definitely a plus, and one thing less to carry!

    I also do agree with the idea of usage, but since I'm not shooting sports or moving wildlife, the sensor plus as an added option is great. My alternative thinking was that I heard the H4D systems were able to shoot upto higher ISOs like 800 and having similar noise control as DSLRs, which is low noise. Can anyone confirm this?

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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    From your other threads I also ready about shooting at least 1/500s and delaying the mirror time to effectively reduce shake. Outdoors or shooting with strobes with leaf shutter lenses or the like is great, but as always we (I) want to do it all, and then come less lighting and indoors and slower moving things (people) in those conditions? Well I'm ultimately asking can it be done, or are always looking for optimum lighting conditions to use MF?

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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    pophoto, I think you are stressing yourself out. If you take two images from a MFD and Canon with the same angle of view, shutter speed, and ISO and made the same size print, you would still be getting something better with MFD.

    Now I use a Pentax 645D--I bin with the scientific cameras I use. I have not found shooting with that really any harder than shooting with smaller DSLRs. I even shoot at ISO 1600--no binning in the 645D. I really like the results and it is still performing much better than smaller formats. The mirror in the Pentax is really well dampened and I shoot that 1/30s or 1/15 without much more of a problem than I would have with any other camera. (I am a shoot-in-bad-light-while-holding-the-camera kind of guy.) So, to answer your question, you do not need optimum conditions to shoot with MFD.

    What you need to be careful of is pixel peeping. MFD has so much information that when you view it at 100%, you are viewing it in conditions no one else will see the image--no matter how large you print. (Unfortunately, I sometimes think the abbreviation for medium-format digital is OCD.)

    I think you should see if you can rent a few systems and try it for yourself. That will give you a better idea. (One problem is photography is so subjective--image quality is not the same for landscape photographers as it is for documentary photographers, for example.)

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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    Yes we have to keep in mind with any of the MF systems shooting full resolution say to iso 800 and 1600 these are huge files to start with and less magnification is most likely needed anyway in these sorts of shooting. In many cases this is PR work or events and rarely would you get past say a 8x10 so this is very little magnification to begin with . Now on let's say a Canon you would be magnifying more than a MF even though it still a 8x10 for example.

    Simply put any one of these systems can do a full res ISO 800 shot pick a system and it can do a good job on it , some maybe slightly better at it but they are all acceptable results if not better. The sensor plus mode obviously do a little better but at a downsize size that compare very well to Canon/ Nikon and will do a excellent 1600 but let's face some hard cold facts and it's no secret CCD chips will NOT do high ISO images as well as CMOS . We really need to accept that fact, it is what it is and Phase found a way through binning to cheat at it. Maybe not the right word but this is us talking. LOL

    It's a very useful feature that I think Phase thought would get us out of some trouble when the light went to hell. I just found another use for it and that is to somewhat replace my 35 kit at least to a certain limit. I'm cheating like hell here, I figured why have two expensive systems when most of the time I can cheat with the Phase kit and press it into 35mm land . Why not I have the system put it to use. I think a lot of people are seeing that advantage. I still have a 35 small kit but not a 12 thousand dollar one.

    The results you have seen in my review and that will be the worst temp of light to deal with tungsten so if it will do a great job as you have seen under those conditions without getting into noise reduction software than life is grand , now in my case they are 15mpx image but the 180 will be 20mpx and as I have said that is very underrated the mpx count as they act far better than that by at least 5mpx.

    Honestly I have been shooting for so many years and when I hear people shooting at higher than ISO 1600 I start scratching my head WHY. I shoot a lot of PR style work and I would never go past 1600 or had too, okay that's Guys thoughts and understand others for sure on that but what light are they shooting under that I am not. LOL

    get a damn flash. I'm joking of course
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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    I also agree you need to get these bad boys in your hands you may pick up one of them and just hate they way it feels or love it. Seriously this is big money and you just cant sell it if you hate it like I do constantly with 35 gear. To much risk so getting a lot of data is awesome here with a lot of very fine folks with a lot of experience helping but the ultimate test will be you and your abilities and desires.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  16. #16
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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    Let's just be clear that we're talking the newer higher mp backs... my 28mp aptus II 6 does not hold up at higher iso ratings, even really when downsized. Sure... there's detail still there, but the color fidelity and all goes south in a major way.

    From what I've seen, I think you need to be in the 40 meg+ (60 is better) range before the resolution is huge enough that you can shoot at higher ISO and have the resolution "cover" some of the mess that occurs at the pixel level.

    (or have a back with sensor+)

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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    Yes and to clarify better the 6 micron although the H31 and P30 are very good at higher Iso. Some can't get past 200 the P45 which is a great back but not Iso
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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    Also let's see if I get this correct in Hassy the Kodak 6 micron H40,H50 and the same sensors in Leica S2 and Pentax 645 this is the basic sensor some add micro lenses to certain models

    H60 , P40, P65, IQ 140, IQ 160 use 6 micron Dalsa but H and P do different things to there backs.

    IQ 180 is a 5.4 Dalsa

    Than there is Leaf all Dalsa but diffrent sizes and microns depending on model. I don't know all the configs. But the Iq 180 and Aptus 12 share the same sensor as well as other Leaf and Phase backs share the same 6 micron.


    I should add since I know someone will point this out . Some share the same basic sensors but add there own twist to the final product with micro lenses and different software/firmware as well. I'm talking sharing in a more general sense here.

    These are the newer sensors here and have very nice higher ISO levels
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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    i thought only the H60, P65 IQ 160,180 were dalsa

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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    P40 and 140 also and all the Leaf backs
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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    Thanks for all the info, although I'm on the verge of system overload or just brain-pop, it has been very educational.

    It really seems like binning/sensor plus would serve well in those instances mentioned on the IQ series. You lucky people!

  22. #22
    rafaelrojasphoto
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    Re: IQ Backs: How good are the Sensor+ mode?

    [QUOTE=dougpetersonci;348078]

    At 6400 (max ISO with a 1 stop push) a pleasant looking high contrast black and white image with strong grain can be produced from an IQ180 (not unlike Delta 3200 film pushed a stop). The image is not suitable for commercial use, but for artistic/personal use it's an interesting look.

    This is really interesting, since I suppose that means the IQ 180 can be used at Iso 35 or 50 for quite a number of minutes if the end of the image is a fine art black and white image Michael Kenna style? (I am talking here about grainy film-like long exposures of images with minimum detail, trailing clouds and smooth waters, etc)?
    In other words, if you are not really after high Dynamic Range and colour, but black and white tones and minimal detail, a really long exposure at base ISO can still be more than decent?

    Doug, your answers are always so englightening!!!
    Cheers,
    Rafael

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