Site Sponsors
Results 1 to 26 of 26

Thread: Influence of format size on a photograph

  1. #1
    Member AreBee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Highlands, Scotland
    Posts
    171
    Post Thanks / Like

    Question Influence of format size on a photograph

    Folks,

    I have read many times of the visual difference that a larger sensor returns when compared to a smaller sensor. Many photographers attribute "the Medium Format look" at least in part to the physical size of the sensor, be it film or digital.

    All else being equal, I do not understand why the physical size of a sensor should make the slightest bit of difference to what is recorded. As far as I am aware a sensor crops from the image circle of the lens mounted in front of it. No more, no less.

    In order for a comparison between sensors of different physical size to be made on a like for like basis, depth of field would require to be matched. In addition, the same lens should be used. It is probably not possible to normalise the difference in colour from a range of sensors, though I dare say that comparing cameras from the same manufacturer would help to minimise any difference that existed. However, as far as I am aware "the Medium Format look" has never been claimed to relate to colour - velvia on a Small Format camera returns the same colour characteristics as it does on a Medium Format camera, does it not?

    The thought occurred to me that it should be relatively simple to test for the difference in look, if any, insofar as it relates to sensor physical size for a range of formats. Has anyone ever carried out such a comparison? Is there any reason that such a comparison would not be valid?

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    183
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    The quick explanation:
    Larger sensors / film sizes mean that your lenses must provide a larger image circle. Larger image circles mean less DoF, more tonality, and higher possible sharpness captured in a single frame. You're basically shoving more information into a larger capture.

  3. #3
    Workshop Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Brooklyn
    Posts
    4,043
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    1253

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    for the same field of view, the larger sensor will record more data and with finer resolution

  4. #4
    Member AreBee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Highlands, Scotland
    Posts
    171
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    kzphoto,

    Quote Originally Posted by jzphoto
    Larger sensors / film sizes mean that your lenses must provide a larger image circle. Larger image circles mean less DoF, more tonality...
    Those who see a difference between format sizes often associate it with a difference in tonality, as you have noted. However, you refer to tonality as a function of lens image circle. Consequently, sensor size and tonality are independent from each other because a sensor is nothing more than a crop from a lens image circle.

    Apparently there is a dilemma because if the same lens is used in a comparison of sensor size, I would expect the result from the larger format to be identical to that from the smaller format over the area covered by both. Hence, tonality must indeed derive from the lens...except that, as noted above, many photographers associate tonality with the size of format.

    Which is correct, or am I missing something?

    kzphoto/jlm,

    Quote Originally Posted by kzphoto
    ...and higher possible sharpness captured in a single frame. You're basically shoving more information into a larger capture.
    Quote Originally Posted by jlm
    for the same field of view, the larger sensor will record more data and with finer resolution
    That the surface area of a larger format can capture greater detail than a smaller is not in dispute, but neither can it be relevant because:

    1. "the Medium Format look" is never mentioned in the context of differences that may be apparent when pixel peeping.

    2. Greater resolution does not a Medium Format look make. Will cramming 80MP into a Small Format DSLR return "the Medium Format look"? No, not to those that see a difference.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    598
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    There have been various comparisons made, which a google search would find out. In substance: the so called "MF look" is elusive. There are differences, but they are not big enough for MF users to recognize which is which at first sight in 100% of the cases.

  6. #6
    Senior Member malmac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    538
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Does God exist?

    Those who believe can't prove to those who don't believe that God exists.
    Those who don't believe don't seem able to prove that God does not exist either.

    Seems much the same re MF image quality.

    When they bring out a 500MP iphone with proven sharper image quality than MF, I won't be buying one cause iphones just swipe (rub) me the wrong way.

    The market place may then decide that the images I make are irrelevant and like a blacksmith of old I may have to change my profession but I will live with that when the time comes.

    So if you use MF and like the overall package, then you buy in, if you don't then you buy into what you like - seems as simple as that to me.

    No objective comparisons, just if you believe you believe, if you don't then you don't.


    Mal
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    276
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Think of Richard Avedon's use of a Deardorf to capture his American West images.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=aved...=2240&bih=1215
    Ciao,
    Giorgio Niro
    www.giorgioniro.com

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    1,198
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Quote Originally Posted by malmac View Post
    Does God exist?

    Those who believe can't prove to those who don't believe that God exists.
    Those who don't believe don't seem able to prove that God does not exist either.

    Seems much the same re MF image quality.
    It shouldn't be the same at all.

    You don't need to prove the non-existence of something. Replace "God" with "Santa Claus" or "The Tooth Fairy" or "The Flying Spaghetti Monster".

    Conversely, the difference between how a lens projects an image on varying sensor sizes is a simple matter of physics.

    Kind regards,

    A leprechaun.
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    551
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Quote Originally Posted by AreBee View Post
    Folks,
    All else being equal, I do not understand why the physical size of a sensor should make the slightest bit of difference to what is recorded. As far as I am aware a sensor crops from the image circle of the lens mounted in front of it. No more, no less.
    Why are some books 500 pgs long? Seems they could say it all in a few pages. The themes are more or less the same, everything else being equal.

  10. #10
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Shashin's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Florida, USA
    Posts
    4,501
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    141

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Quote Originally Posted by AreBee View Post
    All else being equal, I do not understand why the physical size of a sensor should make the slightest bit of difference to what is recorded. As far as I am aware a sensor crops from the image circle of the lens mounted in front of it. No more, no less.
    Light is a frequency. Its amplitude (contrast) varies with frequency. If you can image something at lower frequency, it can be better--larger formats use lower frequency. This is what MTF is about.

    BTW, cropping does other things like change DoF.

  11. #11
    Senior Member RVB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Amsterdam
    Posts
    807
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    The larger sensor increases spatial resolution,it is better at recording high frequency details and has better tonal graduation..

  12. #12
    Workshop Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    3,275
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    7

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    An image system is just that: a system.

    Discussing any single element (like sensor size) is entirely fruitless.

    Here is a partial list of factors influencing the technical rendering of an image:
    Lens coating > Lens elements (number/design/spacing/composition) > Aperture (blade design, blade quantity) > internal body coating > microlens design > Anti aliasing filter (found in 35mm but not in medium format) > IR filter > sensor photo well > bayer pattern (spectral overlap of R, G, and B filters) > sensor read-out (heat-sinking and/or active cooling very important here) > cables to A/D converter > A/D converter > (read-out of black calibration file from sensor recorded as adjunct to the image) > debayering algorithm, deconvolution / detail finding algorithm, noise reduction based on black calibration file > noise reduction based on image data > sharpening.

    The sensor size, in and of itself, is a factor in the final outcome of the image rendering. But the "look" of MF is always going to be a combination of all of the above factors.

    In general medium format engineers are less constrained by how their design decisions increase the cost, slow down the operation, or increase the physical size, of the resulting product. They are also often targeting a market which cares deeply about the look/feel of the image, and not just it's technical specifications or price. I don't think it's any surprise that many people thereby find the results of their design work (high-end cameras) to produce a special looking image.

    Apart from all that (technical) stuff you have the non-technical element - the human element - the impact on the photographer of using a system which is slower and requires more thought and for which they likely spent more time researching and saving up $$ for. In theory one can spend as much time considering composition/color/subject-selection/aperture/exposure etc etc with a point and shoot as with an 8x10 camera. In theory it should not matter if you spend $1 on a camera or $10,000 - you should put equal thought behind learning to use each to it's greatest capability. But people are not machines and the tool often influences the man. So the work produced by medium format shooters (or, for instance, Leica rangefinders) often feels deeper in subject matter, better thought out, and more impactful.

    In my opinion anyone who tries to isolate any photograph, or one camera system, down to one specific technical element is missing the bigger picture - pun intended.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183
    Likes 7 Member(s) liked this post

  13. #13
    Senior Member RVB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Amsterdam
    Posts
    807
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    "In order for a comparison between sensors of different physical size to be made on a like for like basis, depth of field would require to be matched. In addition, the same lens should be used."

    I don't think it's really possible to make such an exact comparison between sensor's,A sensor is only part of an imaging chain.. or system,and the best comparison may not be a sensor to sensor but system to system comparison..

  14. #14
    Member AreBee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Highlands, Scotland
    Posts
    171
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Jerome,

    There are differences...
    Would you care to mention them?

    Mal,

    Does God exist?

    Those who believe can't prove to those who don't believe that God exists.
    Those who don't believe don't seem able to prove that God does not exist either.

    Seems much the same re MF image quality.

    So if you use MF and like the overall package, then you buy in, if you don't then you buy into what you like - seems as simple as that to me.

    No objective comparisons, just if you believe you believe, if you don't then you don't.
    With all due respect I think an analogy between God and MF is a poor one.

    Belief or non-belief in God does not carry with it a financial cost; with MFD it does, assuming one purchased on the basis of belief in a look. Nor do I consider it sensible to approach the purchase of MFD, as I am, from the point of view of "...if you believe you believe, if you don't then you don't...". I would be astonished if any person shooting MFD had not made an objective assessment of it prior to purchase in order to make an informed decision.

    In starting this thread my hope was to determine if "the Medium Format look" exists in reality simply because it could eliminate one of the options I am considering - a Small Format camera. It was/is not to judge those who see a difference.

    Georgio,

    Think of Richard Avedon's use of a Deardorf to capture his American West images.
    I am sorry to say that I do not understand the point you make. Please can you elaborate?

  15. #15
    Workshop Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    3,275
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    7

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Quote Originally Posted by RVB View Post
    I don't think it's really possible to make such an exact comparison between sensor's,A sensor is only part of an imaging chain.. or system,and the best comparison may not be a sensor to sensor but system to system comparison..
    Bingo. You don't take pictures with a sensor. You don't take pictures with a format size. You take pictures with a camera system.

    It only makes sense to go take real world pictures with the various camera systems you are comparing and see which you prefer.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183

  16. #16
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Shashin's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Florida, USA
    Posts
    4,501
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    141

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    If we setup a camera and lens and then just swapped the sensor and took a picture. We then took those images and made prints of the same size and put them next to each other, what would be different:

    1. Different angle of view

    2. Different DoF

    3. Different apparent perspective

    4. Different apparent contrast

    Unfortunately, that does not actually show what the MF "look" is, if there is a clear look. All those show is what happens when you fix a bunch of variables, but that is not the way we use cameras.

  17. #17
    New Member Floyd Davidson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Barrow Alaska
    Posts
    11
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    If we setup a camera and lens and then just swapped the sensor and took a picture. We then took those images and made prints of the same size and put them next to each other, what would be different:

    1. Different angle of view
    True. But by selecting a lens focal length appropriate to the sensor size the exact same angle of view can be obtained. Therefore that cannot cause any character distinctive to MF.

    2. Different DoF
    Same as above. The exact same DoF can be obtained, therefore it is not significant to the character of MF.

    3. Different apparent perspective
    That is not actually true. Perspective depends on location, not focal length or sensor size.

    4. Different apparent contrast
    That is not true either. Two different sensors can have the same contrast even with different sizes. And one can have higher contrast than another that is larger or higher contrast than another that is smaller.

    Unfortunately, that does not actually show what the MF "look" is, if there is a clear look. All those show is what happens when you fix a bunch of variables, but that is not the way we use cameras.
    That is a valid analysis.

  18. #18
    Member AreBee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Highlands, Scotland
    Posts
    171
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Geoff,

    Why are some books 500 pgs long? Seems they could say it all in a few pages. The themes are more or less the same, everything else being equal.
    Please can you provide me with an example where one reader reads content that another cannot see, or where one reader infers a meaning that cannot be resolved by the rules that govern language?

    Will,

    ...cropping does other things like change DoF
    I had assumed that DOF was matched between sensors in order to eliminate the former as a variable. Is this not possible because a change in aperture will change MTF, thereby negating a like for like comparison?

    Doug,

    Here is a partial list of factors influencing the technical rendering of an image:
    Lens coating > Lens elements (number/design/spacing/composition) > Aperture (blade design, blade quantity) > internal body coating...
    I concede that aperture would have to change in order to match DOF. The other parameters you mention would be constant in a comparison and therefore could not be attributed to a difference in look.

    microlens design > Anti aliasing filter (found in 35mm but not in medium format) > IR filter > sensor photo well > bayer pattern (spectral overlap of R, G, and B filters) > sensor read-out (heat-sinking and/or active cooling very important here) > cables to A/D converter > A/D converter > (read-out of black calibration file from sensor recorded as adjunct to the image) > debayering algorithm, deconvolution / detail finding algorithm, noise reduction based on black calibration file > noise reduction based on image data > sharpening.
    The above can all be dismissed given that "the Medium Format look" existed prior to digital cameras.

    In general medium format engineers are less constrained by how their design decisions increase the cost, slow down the operation, or increase the physical size, of the resulting product. They are also often targeting a market which cares deeply about the look/feel of the image, and not just it's technical specifications or price.
    I fully agree.

    Apart from all that (technical) stuff you have the non-technical element - the human element...
    Any comparison will necessarily require elimination of "the human element", given how notoriously unreliable humans are when it comes to objective assessment.

    I infer from the same quote above that "the Medium Format look" is related in part to the time and care with which the photographer captures an image? This surely cannot be true.

    Please can you clarify?

    Rob

    I don't think it's really possible to make such an exact comparison between sensor's,A sensor is only part of an imaging chain.. or system,and the best comparison may not be a sensor to sensor but system to system comparison...
    I agree that a comparison made system to system would be less credible, and quite possibly meaningless.

  19. #19
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Shashin's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Florida, USA
    Posts
    4,501
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    141

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Quote Originally Posted by AreBee View Post
    Will,



    I had assumed that DOF was matched between sensors in order to eliminate the former as a variable. Is this not possible because a change in aperture will change MTF, thereby negating a like for like comparison?
    So, if you change the f-number to match DoF, then you are changing diffraction at the image plane which also changes the numeric aperture (entrance pupil) in the object space. So then you don't have the same optical playing field.

    And this really is the problem, no matter how many variables you line up, there are going to be some that get further apart.

  20. #20
    Member AreBee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Highlands, Scotland
    Posts
    171
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Will,

    ...if you change the f-number to match DoF, then you are changing diffraction at the image plane which also changes the numeric aperture (entrance pupil) in the object space. So then you don't have the same optical playing field.

    And this really is the problem, no matter how many variables you line up, there are going to be some that get further apart.
    Damn.

    Oh well. It was worth the discussion to me. Thank you all.

  21. #21
    Workshop Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    3,275
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    7

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    We all feel your pain.

    It would be easier if it was possible to distill the incredibly rich combination of technology/craft/art of a particular camera system down to a single variable.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183

  22. #22
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Shashin's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Florida, USA
    Posts
    4,501
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    141

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    I can tell you the influence on format size to the wallet...
    Will

    http://www.hakusancreation.com
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

  23. #23
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Irvine, CA
    Posts
    230
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    24

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    The larger the sensor the less magnification is required to produce a print of a given size. To make a 10 inch long side print with a 35mm sensor takes a magnification factor of 7.25X with a 54X40 sensor the factor is about 4.7X.

    assuming similar pixel density there is always more info in a given print from a larger sensor.

    jim

  24. #24
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Shashin's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Florida, USA
    Posts
    4,501
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    141

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Jim, if you take any object and reproduce it to a particular prints size, the total magnification is exactly the same regardless of format used. Just smaller formats use less magnification to begin with.

  25. #25
    Super Duper
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    3,623
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    I can't explain the physical reasons but I can tell that I do prefer the images I get out of the S-Systems over those from the M-System in regards of IQ, and those from the M over those I get from m43.
    How much comes from lens, how much from sensor size, how much from sensor type? I can't tell but I think the differences are clearly visible.
    I find to see a clear difference if you browse through the MF-image thread and then through an image thread of smaller formats-so I think it doesn't show only when printing big.
    Differences IMO are color, transition between tones but also transition from focus plane to out of focus areas and sharpness/detail.

  26. #26
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    598
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Influence of format size on a photograph

    Quote Originally Posted by AreBee View Post
    Jerome,
    Would you care to mention them?

    In a nutshell:
    -higher resolution. Many "reviews" try to have us forget that difference by publishing pictures reduced to the smaller resolution of 24x36 cameras, but one should not forget that digital MF resolution starts where 24x36 stops. MF is 40-80 mpix. If one needs that resolution for huge enlargements (and some people do), it is either MF or stitch.
    -better lenses at medium apertures. MF lenses are bigger (even considering the bigger image circles) and routinely use more elements. The reasons are mainly commercial: the manufacturer can charge more money and customers do not insist on very fast apertures on expensive lenses. The optical engineers can therefore optimize for better correction of aberrations at medium apertures and better corner sharpness.
    -different photographic practices: MF users often shoot in studio and control light better. Higher average production values translate to higher average quality in the public's mind (this is not inherently due to the cameras, but contributes to the idea that "MF is better" nevertheless).
    -better bokeh: that one is counter-intuitive. MF needs smaller apertures for the same depth of field. Moreover, MF users tend to use larger depth of field than 24x36 users for portraits. In the end, MF portraits may be shot at f/5.6-f/8 when 24x36 portraits may use f/1.4-f/2.0. Secondary optical aberrations are insignificant at the apertures used in MF practice, while they change the out-of-focus highlights shapes and color in 24x36 practice. Bokeh is very dependent on aperture.
    -slightly better color separation: 24x36 cameras are a different compromise which includes optimization for less noise at high iso, leading to less selective primary filters, a hotter adjustment of their meter and different choices in the internal treatment. MF manufacturers optimize for studio practice where there is plenty of light. The post processing chain is calibrated for more flattering skin tones, since this is part of their core market. The A-D converters and meter are set up to keep more of the information in the highlights (at the expense of worse shadow noise).

    There is nothing inherently different in a bigger sensor (except, usually, higher full well values for bigger pixels but MF does not always have bigger pixels, just more of them), but there are practical consequences in choosing a bigger sensor that leads to different choices as to lens, used aperture and calibration. These are, in turn, responsible for a slightly different rendering of MF.
    Likes 2 Member(s) liked this post

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •