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Thread: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

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    Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    This thread is all about pixel peeping for high contrast landscape shots. It is not about studio shots. I do not mean to bash any existing exotic gear, but I simply cannot resist how the latest technology evolves.

    Ansel Adams never deliberately challenged the sun. He developed the "Zone System" to optimize exposure for dynamic range and pixel peeping. While he emphasized the importance of the film, I bet the sensor (or digital back) also plays an important part, at least as important as the glasses!

    Here is the Dante's Inferno I have just visited: Phase One IQ250, Alpa 12 SWA, Rodenstock 23mm HR, Rodenstock 40mm HR



    Below is my test shot at Durdle Door, UK. -6mm shift downwards was applied to the Rodenstock 23mm HR lens, with Rodenstock centerfilter (2.5 stops), Lee ND grad 0.6 (2 stops) and Lee Big Stopper (10 stops).

    https://500px.com/photo/92736199/



    This was a single exposure (no blending or bracketing) to stress test the dynamic range of the Sony CMOS sensor. The shadow recovery is as awesome as that of the Nikon D800 (similar Sony sensor technology)!

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Gearhead is all about taking pictures of what the others cannot easily take, and enjoying pixel peeping. I like shooting directly into the sun, not just because the light condition looks romantic and gives a visual impact, but also because it is a great challenge for the dynamic range of the sensor and the flare resistance of the lens. It is as exciting as exploring the uncharted lands!

    While the others were shooting star trails, I shot the sun trail: https://500px.com/photo/67886275/





    I was able to capture the trail of the sun by stacking a 77mm B+W 10-stop filter, a Lee Big Stopper and a Lee 0.6 ND Grad Hard.

    This is a single exposure of over 2 hours. Yes, it is processed from a single RAW file and there is absolutely no other external materials used from other exposures. It is not a stacking of multiple frames. No dark frame subtraction was performed to reduce the noise, and the battery life did not permit long exposure NR either. The sensor of the D800E is amazing in maintaining a control of hot pixels throughout the ultra long exposure. The sensor of the D4S looked so much inferior in terms of noise control, even for merely 45 minutes.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    I decided to enter the Dante's Inferno after I roughly compared a D800 (at ISO 100) against my friend's Phase One IQ260 (at ISO 50). Thanks to the anti-aliasing filter and the inferior glass of the D800, the details were totally overwhelmed by the Rodenstock lens. Yes there are lots of talks about larger sensor, 3D-look, etc. The advertisement says 1-hour long exposure capability, which seemed perfect for my kind of tastes. Okey, it is also the largest sensor (even slightly larger than the IQ280!).

    However the adventure was not full of excitement but also mixed feelings. I don't mean to bash the larger CCD sensors - they are great products. Perhaps these are just not fit for my purposes.

    The first thing I noticed about the Dalsa 60 MP sensor was the lithography partitions, which causes tiling issues:





    I noticed the vertical splits of the image where brightness differs slightly of the partitions. Just to rule out that I had a poor sample, I downloaded the official sample images from Phase One, and the other IQ260 shots also had the same issue when I tried to pull local micro-contrast heavily. So, this is a general issue for the larger Dalsa CCD sensors. An LCC shot cures it most of the time, but sometimes the problem is still there, especially true for B&W.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    The second thing I noticed is the poor Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) I get from long exposure shots of the IQ260. At ISO 50, yes the IQ260 produces clean images, with decent shadow recoverability. However, for long exposure shots, it is required to use a dedicated "Long Exposure Mode", for which the lowest possible setting is ISO 140! This is a nightmare for dynamic range, as it severely impacts the SNR in the shadow! When I compared it against a Nikon D800E side by side I was totally shocked:


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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    I was depressed and then I headed to compare other digital backs against the D800E. In terms of shadow recoverability, only the 44x33mm Sony CMOS sensor (e.g. IQ250) could match the D800E! The IQ280 simply has no shadow recoverability when long exposure builds up the heat. (Don't even think that I am telling lies. I have uploaded RAW files for you to study: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/imzk9yp3u...1vMQjX9Ka?dl=0)





    Just to rule out that I have poor samples of CCD sensors, I also downloaded RAW files from http://www.getdpi.com/forum/medium-f...-vs-iq280.html and also obtained the same conclusion that the IQ250 has obviously more usable dynamic range:


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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    To show how this SNR in shadow (usable dynamic range) affects real world pixel peeping, I have the following examples.

    Here is an IQ260 shot with a Lee ND grad 0.9 (3 stops) and a Lee Big Stopper (10 stops). As you could see from the histogram, I employed "Exposure to the Right" (ETTR) and the exposure was almost perfect. The highlight was almost blown, so that the SNR in shadow was optimized.


    Here is another shot with the Nikon D800E with No ND grad at all! It was aggressively underexposed to preserve the highlight details.


    Here is a comparison between what you can get after processing in Capture One:





    As one can clearly see, noise reduction would only hurt details. The low SNR in shadow (less usable dynamic range) for the IQ260 results in less shadow details for pixel peeping! The D800E outperforms, simply due to the superior sensor technology in dynamic range, even with inferior glass!
    Last edited by voidshatter; 15th December 2014 at 15:16.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    With clear conclusions that the 645 CCD sensors can no longer match the Sony CMOS sensors in terms of dynamic range, especially in the long exposure territory, I then gave up all the fun to play with single exposure, and tried to do blending with exposure bracketing. I had no luck either (for pixel peeping).

    First of all, it is clear that the long exposure of the CCD sensor would rely on the darkframe noise reduction (also known as "black calibration" or "long exposure NR"). It works in the way that for each long exposure of X seconds, another exposure of X seconds with the shutter closed is taken, and any incremental hot pixel is then subtracted from the original exposure and removed. This is a disaster for sunrise and sunset, as the light condition changes rapidly, and while you wait for the darkframe you would have to always make a hard decision whether to give up the current frame by pulling out the battery to get the next shot for the decisive moment, or let the previous frame finish and miss the current beautiful light you have.

    For a long exposure sunset scenario, due to the limitation of the darkframe noise reduction, exposure bracketing can only be taken before the sunset without the ND filter to expose for the foreground (so that the darkframe does not occupy the beautiful moments). For very long exposure there is basically only window for one shot to capture the sky. This causes a problem that by taking off and putting on the ND filter, the angle of view of the lens changes slightly, and the very minor distortion introduced by the ND filter is non-linear. It is then a pain to try to align these two exposures accurately and perfectly in Photoshop. Yes for unlimited time and effort it is possible to align these layers close to perfection, but it is just too much harassment for me. Neither Photoshop nor Helicon Focus could do it automatically for me. I would have to do free transformation manually. A misalignment would cause drop of sharpness in the transition area. Also note that due to the nature of the digital pixels, any free transformation (e.g. distortion correction in post-processing) would result in a decrease in sharpness.










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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    After all, the Sony CMOS sensor is now in the top league for my applications, and the dxomark thing is telling the truth for me.



    The sensor in the D800, D800E, D810, A7R are all based on the Sony IMX094 chip, which is really a gem. Below is a picture of sun trail taken by a friend of mine, which is a single insane long exposure of 3 hours! (D810)

    Last edited by voidshatter; 15th December 2014 at 17:36.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    When the light is right for the CCD sensor, the Rodenstock HR lenses really outperform the 35mm format lenses. It is such a shame that the CCD sensor is now the limiting factor for the final output of a landscape picture (high contrast scene).

    To resurrect the dignity of the medium format in the long exposure territory, and renown what the Phase One P45+ used to bring us (that it used to be superior than the Canon and Nikon), I have finally made the decision to switch to the smaller sensor, the IQ250 instead. Yes, it is only 44x33mm in size, which is merely larger than the 35mm format sensors. People snorts that medium format digital starts at 49x37mm. I chose to ignore these and headed to the smaller sensor, because it is a Sony CMOS sensor!

    The first advantage about it is that you could immediately switch off the darkframe noise reduction by choosing "Aerial" in "Camera mode", and "Zero" in "Shutter latency". With these settings, each time you boot the digital back, starting from the second shot, you do not receive the darkframe NR count down. By disabling this you still get hot pixels but these are quite fixed in pattern and can be eliminated by sliding the "Single pixel" bar to "1" in "Noise reduction" in Capture One.

    With the CCD sensors you could of course do the same to disable the darkframe NR, but the images would be nowhere as usable as what you can get from the Sony CMOS sensor!

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    I went back with the IQ250 to test the same scene where the IQ260 was bashed hard by the D800E. I deliberately agressively underexposed the scene just to protect as much highlight details I can. Then I applied the following brutal adjustments in post-processing:

    +4 exposure
    -100 highlight
    +100 shadow



    Finally, with the help of the tilt-swing function (Scheimpflug principle) on the technical camera, and the really superior glass offered by Rodenstock HR series (in this case the 40mm HR), I am now able to defeat what I can get from the legendary Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art lens on the Nikon D800E! Here are the RAW files for you to do pixel peeping, so that you know I am not telling lies: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/hhgursjx0...KWCGPz0Da?dl=0

    The Rodenstock 40mm HR lens was tilted by about 1 degree and focused at about 5 meters away. The Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art lens was focused at the bicycle. Each lens was shot at f/11.











    As all can now clearly see, when the advantage of the technical camera (ultra high resolution glass) is combined with the Sony CMOS sensor (ultra high SNR and clean shadow), it is simply beyond what you can achieve with the 35mm format!
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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    One more test shot to demonstrate the pixel peeping for night scenes (long exposure + high contrast):



    I haven't optimized the shimming and HPF ring yet for this combo, and it is nothing short of jaw-dropping already. Finally I have a taste of the superiority of the medium format (with a very small sensor )!

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    My personal advise for high contrast landscape shots:

    It is probably best to wait 1-2 months until the rumored Sony A9 (46 MP - 54 MP in 35mm format) is announced. Then the prices of the current digital backs around that MP count would crash. If you have to get a high dynamic range medium format digital back now, then it is perhaps best to get the Sony CMOS sensor (IQ250, IQ150, Credo 50, H5D-50C, H5D-200CMS, CFV-50C, 645Z). Personally I would recommend the Hasselblad CFV-50C for the price being only around $10K in Asian countries (e.g. Japan, China etc). It offers live view and can be used on a technical camera.

    What to expect in the near future:

    a) According to a trusted source, Phase One already has a 120 MP CMOS sensor ready (in 54x40mm fullframe 645 format ). It is likely to be the same pixel density as that of the Nikon D7100 (also the rumored upcoming Sony A9). They choose not to announce it now as there is virtually no wide angle lens compatible with it (i.e. crosstalk-free and high-resolution), and they do not want to impact the sales of the current products. Note that Phase One has ended their Investment Protection Plan in September 2014 so try to estimate when they will announce the new killer digital back. If that new back becomes reality, then newly designed extremely retro-focus wide angles would be required. Perhaps Rodenstock will design new lenses in the Digaron SW (yellow-banded) range? I expect it to be even heavier than the current 32mm HR and it would perhaps employ Copal 1 shutter (or even just rely on the Alpa FPS platform?).

    b) Whether you like it or not, CCD has had its gold ages and eventually it will be replaced by CMOS. Leica now lists S Typ 007 as their new flagship, which means that they regard CMOS more advanced than CCD. It is interesting to see that Hasselblad (or B&H) now regard CMOS to be superior as well (i.e. a smaller CMOS is even priced higher than a larger CCD):





    If you really prefer CCD, then perhaps the H5D-40 is a good choice as it is now half-priced:



    Expect the same price crashs on the IQ250, IQ260 etc when the 35mm format sensor advances in the upcoming new year.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    One more example to show what to get from the IQ250 + 23HR combo (+6mm shift) You can't beat this now with IQ260 or IQ280 for such a 5-minute long exposure like this. This is a Sony CMOS sensor! ND grad is a no go, as it would cut the tree and if you attempt to recover details of the tree you would still rely on the dynamic range of the sensor. Trust me, for an IQ260 or IQ280 even the cloud above the sun would become noisy!






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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    This is all very useful - thanks for sharing!

    One comment I'd make, especially regarding some of your earlier image comparisons, is how essential it is to give equal exposure times (for a fair dark noise comparison) and equal exposure to light (for a fair shadow/shot noise comparison). This means that you should set the same shutter speed and f-stop, even if the ISO settings are different on the cameras.

    Now what I am saying may sound wrong - we are all trained photographically to automatically compensate a change/difference in ISO by a balancing change in aperture and/or shutter speed. And that's what our light meters do. But not in this testing scenario. So if your DB is best at ISO 50 and your DSLR at ISO 100, don't halve the DSLR exposure time with respect to the DB exposure time to make them "equal". Shoot with the same time and f-stop (and filters), to keep the test as "apples with apples".

    Ray
    Last edited by ondebanks; 15th December 2014 at 16:45. Reason: added "(and filters)"
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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Also, this caught my eye:

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    With the CCD sensors you could of course do the same to disable the darkframe NR,
    So it is possible to disable the darkframe in a Phase One CCD back? And that's just in the IQ series, not the P+, right?

    Ray

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by ondebanks View Post
    This is all very useful - thanks for sharing!

    One comment I'd make, especially regarding some of your earlier image comparisons, is how essential it is to give equal exposure times (for a fair dark noise comparison) and equal exposure to light (for a fair shadow/shot noise comparison). This means that you should set the same shutter speed and f-stop, even if the ISO settings are different on the cameras.

    Now what I am saying may sound wrong - we are all trained photographically to automatically compensate a change/difference in ISO by a balancing change in aperture and/or shutter speed. And that's what our light meters do. But not in this testing scenario. So if your DB is best at ISO 50 and your DSLR at ISO 100, don't halve the DSLR exposure time with respect to the DB exposure time to make them "equal". Shoot with the same time and f-stop (and filters), to keep the test as "apples with apples".

    Ray
    We had a debate about the "native ISO" a while ago, and we couldn't agree with each other

    I think the best thing to do is to look for the blown highlight in the whole picture, which can be done by Raw Digger. If you hover your mouse to a certain pixel of the picture, you get readings of the four channels (RED, GREEN, BLUE, GREEN_2). If you see that the level is approaching the limit (e.g. 65535 for 16-bit RAW file like the IQ250/IQ260, or 16383 for 14-bit RAW file like the D800E), then that means that area is blown and it is not possible to recover the highlight details there.

    Any sensor is limited to this, and a useful image would be to prevent any interesting area from getting blown out. Then you aim for ETTR to optimize shadow SNR. This is how you get full use of the dynamic range of the sensor.

    In this way, there is no need to worry about the ISO, aperture, shutter speed etc. You just aim to retain the same amount of highlight details, then compare the shadow SNR.

    For example, in the above comparison we could see that the highlight around the light on the 2nd floor (1st floor in UK standard) is almost blown when you do pixel peeping with Raw Digger. That means they now have the same (or similar) highlight recoverability. Anything pixel captured brighter than that in the RAW file cannot be recovered. Then it is now a fair comparison on the shadow SNR, regardless of the aperture, ISO, shutter speed etc.




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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by ondebanks View Post
    to keep the test as "apples with apples".

    Ray
    Again, for the very first comparison between the IQ260 and the D800E, it is also fair, when you look into the amount of highlight details recoverable. For the same area on the pillar with that reflection, they are both almost blown out, i.e. almost 16383 for the 14bit D800E and almost 65535 for the 16bit IQ260. If you overexpose any of them, then they have no ability to recover the details in the area on the pillar. Then it is a fair comparison in the shadow area, regardless of aperture, ISO, native ISO, shutter speed etc.

    Keep in mind that the 23mm HR had a center filter on, so the IQ260 actually had an advantage in terms of control of vignetting. It was still beat hard. There is no doubt that the CCD sensors are no match against the Sony CMOS sensors. Have it a try yourself if you can!




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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by ondebanks View Post
    Also, this caught my eye:



    So it is possible to disable the darkframe in a Phase One CCD back? And that's just in the IQ series, not the P+, right?

    Ray
    I haven't had a chance to try it out on the P+ series. As far as I am aware of, this trick works on the IQ250 and the IQ260. I believe I have also seen reports that it works on the IQ160 but I am not sure if I remember correctly.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Thank you for taking the time to put this together.
    Pretty impressive stuff!

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Wow voidshatter, you alone made the most interesting and entertaiining Getdpi thread of the year. Thanks for the xmas gift!
    Eduardo
    P.S. I'm one of those boogers claiming that DMF starts at 48X36. ��
    Last edited by Uaiomex; 15th December 2014 at 21:29.
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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Thanks for these interesting tests. It's a bit cruel to the CCDs at it shows the CMOS where in the aspects its most superior. Strong backlit scenes and long exposures are still quite narrow use cases for the typical MF photographer, but indeed it's very relevant for us landscape photographers.

    Before getting too excited about Sony sensor shadow push capabilities I think one should consider tonality. Even if noise is low I think it looks like colors are dull, kind of brownish or otherwise going towards monochromatic, those pushed areas look like how old CMOS cameras rendered color, ie not that good. My guess is that there's too little signal (photons) captured to get good color. So what you still need is higher full well capacity, or non-linear response (which is coming by the way) so we can shoot with longer exposure times and capture more photons in the dark areas.

    Meanwhile it can still be a good idea to use grad filters, to get better tonality in those shadows.
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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Great thread, thank you!
    You've shown the area where the CMOS chip really shines.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Try the Rodenstock 40mm HR-W at f8, it's noticeably sharper at f8 than f11.

    Thx for posting such an extensive DR test.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Good Comparison.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Funny you should mention the Sony chip and tonality. I had a Sony A7r and sold it. It was a good camera and the 2 Sony lenses I bought for it (35 and 55) were very good but even though one could push the shadows it always looked "thin" to me which is perhaps what you have correctly named as a tonality problem. It was very good at a low ISO but as the ISO increased the file got "thin", in my estimation. Also the ability to push the shadows seems to encourage that which means a lot of photos are turning up with that extended HDR look which isn't to my taste either. The really big deal in the new CMOS backs is LIVE VIEW and long exposure. Now all we need are bigger chips that behave better with shifting.


    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    Thanks for these interesting tests. It's a bit cruel to the CCDs at it shows the CMOS where in the aspects its most superior. Strong backlit scenes and long exposures are still quite narrow use cases for the typical MF photographer, but indeed it's very relevant for us landscape photographers.

    Before getting too excited about Sony sensor shadow push capabilities I think one should consider tonality. Even if noise is low I think it looks like colors are dull, kind of brownish or otherwise going towards monochromatic, those pushed areas look like how old CMOS cameras rendered color, ie not that good. My guess is that there's too little signal (photons) captured to get good color. So what you still need is higher full well capacity, or non-linear response (which is coming by the way) so we can shoot with longer exposure times and capture more photons in the dark areas.

    Meanwhile it can still be a good idea to use grad filters, to get better tonality in those shadows.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Very nice work/thread.
    I've a background in DSP so kept smiling as I read all this.
    This thread should be made a sticky!

    BTW, ISO X on camera A is not the same as ISO X on camera B :

    As u move up or down in ISO, the number of stops on either side
    of it are usually not symmetric. Believe it or not, the translations
    are non-linear (try getting a real square wave out of an electronic
    circuit!). U can consider "BASE ISO" to be that ISO where there is
    close to symmetric behavior in terms of response to stops and a
    region where the noise floor is generally low (minimal variance).

    - aLV

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    voidshatter,

    Finally, with the help of the tilt-swing function (Scheimpflug principle) on the technical camera, and the really superior glass offered by Rodenstock HR series (in this case the 40mm HR), I am now able to defeat what I can get from the legendary Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art lens on the Nikon D800E!...

    The Rodenstock 40mm HR lens was tilted by about 1 degree and focused at about 5 meters away. The Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art lens was focused at the bicycle. Each lens was shot at f/11...

    As all can now clearly see, when the advantage of the technical camera (ultra high resolution glass) is combined with the Sony CMOS sensor (ultra high SNR and clean shadow), it is simply beyond what you can achieve with the 35mm format!
    Not sure how I managed to miss this thread. Thank you very much for the time and effort you put into creating it.

    I would just like to note that the above comparison of MF to 35mm has not been made on a like for like basis because the former utilises tilt whereas the latter does not, albeit I appreciate that from a practicable point of view it is what ultimately can be achieved that matters.

    Frankly, I am astonished that, at the plane of focus for the 35mm setup, which is to say the bicycle and drain downpipe - the latter located virtually in the extreme corner of the frame - the difference between the two setups is, in my opinion, miniscule...and surely would be imperceptible in comparable prints.

    Clearly the MF setup increasingly stands head and shoulders above the 35mm setup away from the plane of focus of the latter because of the application of tilt.

    Thanks again.

    Kind regards,

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by AreBee View Post
    voidshatter,



    Not sure how I managed to miss this thread. Thank you very much for the time and effort you put into creating it.

    I would just like to note that the above comparison of MF to 35mm has not been made on a like for like basis because the former utilises tilt whereas the latter does not, albeit I appreciate that from a practicable point of view it is what ultimately can be achieved that matters.

    Frankly, I am astonished that, at the plane of focus for the 35mm setup, which is to say the bicycle and drain downpipe - the latter located virtually in the extreme corner of the frame - the difference between the two setups is, in my opinion, miniscule...and surely would be imperceptible in comparable prints.

    Clearly the MF setup increasingly stands head and shoulders above the 35mm setup away from the plane of focus of the latter because of the application of tilt.

    Thanks again.

    Kind regards,
    a) For parallax-free stitching by movements (i.e. a lens with a large image circle is in a fixed position while a digital back is shifted), the IQ250 / IQ280 easily gets you into > 100 MP territory. It makes a noticeable difference for printing.

    b) For single exposure shots where stitching is not applicable (e.g. long exposure with Lee Big Stopper), you are right the 35mm format is closing the gap. What I used here is the best 35mm lens in 35mm format (i.e. the Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art) so no doubt it is very close to the 40HR. The Tamron 15-30mm and the Sigma 24mm f1.4 Art might raise the bar for the 50 MP Canon / Sony sensor in 35mm format. However what you want for a wide angle is usually shift capabilities, and for that purposes the corner sharpness of the Canon 17mm TS-E is still not as optically good as the Rodenstock HR.

    Below shows the official sample image from Canon for the 5DS and the 17mm TS-E lens:


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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by fmueller View Post
    Funny you should mention the Sony chip and tonality. I had a Sony A7r and sold it. It was a good camera and the 2 Sony lenses I bought for it (35 and 55) were very good but even though one could push the shadows it always looked "thin" to mewhich is perhaps what you have correctly named as a tonality problem. It was very good at a low ISO but as the ISO increased the file got "thin", in my estimation. Also the ability to push the shadows seems to encourage that which means a lot of photos are turning up with that extended HDR look which isn't to my taste either. The really big deal in the new CMOS backs is LIVE VIEW and long exposure. Now all we need are bigger chips that behave better with shifting.
    I felt the same, but attributed it to the Sony compressed 11 bit+? files.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by algrove View Post

    I felt the same, but attributed it to the Sony compressed 11 bit+? files.
    All current EVF Sony camera bodies (including the A7R) does a lossy compression on the RAW files out of the camera. There are only about 1700 levels for each channel (equivalence of 10.7 bits). If you operate on B-mode, turn on long exposure NR or continuous shooting or other stuff such like silent shutter etc then there are only about 1400 levels for each channel (equivalence of 10.4 bits).

    The Nikon D800E RAW files are true 14-bit (full 16384 levels for each channel), and the IQ250 RAW files are true 16-bit (full 65536 levels for each channel).

    Lightening up shadow in post processing would reduce saturation is basics of digital manipulation. As a personal opinion such color issue is just subjective emotions. A couple of years later when the current Sony CMOS sensor becomes out-dated, my generation of users might also insist that we like the color / look of Sony CMOS sensors. It's just personal faith of religion.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Interesting thread - not sure how I missed it previously - that Sony sensor is really quite something.

    Someone predicts the death of MF every so often, but I wonder if it will be the cause of its own demise? I mean, if I had that sensor in a 54 x 40 sized chip @ 80MP, would I ever upgrade again? Probably not.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    The Nikon D800E RAW files are true 14-bit (full 16384 levels for each channel), and the IQ250 RAW files are true 16-bit (full 65536 levels for each channel).
    No, there are no "true" 16-bit cameras on the market. The IQ250 is simply 14-bit (just like Hasselblad and Pentax that use the exact same sensor), regardless of the A/D converter Phase wants to put in their backs.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    No, there are no "true" 16-bit cameras on the market. The IQ250 is simply 14-bit (just like Hasselblad and Pentax that use the exact same sensor), regardless of the A/D converter Phase wants to put in their backs.
    My definition of "true" is from the number of levels you can find in a RAW file, not technical details under the hardware hood. To have almost 65536 (i.e. 2^16) levels for each channel, I would assume that you would have to do interpolation from 14-bit to 16-bit, if you insist that the AD converter of the Sony CMOS sensor is 14-bit internallly. I am looking forward to your evidence to counter my hard evidence for 16-bit below:


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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    voidshatter,

    For parallax-free stitching by movements (i.e. a lens with a large image circle is in a fixed position while a digital back is shifted), the IQ250 / IQ280 easily gets you into > 100 MP territory. It makes a noticeable difference for printing.
    Yes, I dare say it does.

    For single exposure shots where stitching is not applicable (e.g. long exposure with Lee Big Stopper), you are right the 35mm format is closing the gap. What I used here is the best 35mm lens in 35mm format (i.e. the Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art) so no doubt it is very close to the 40HR.
    For single exposure shots this is nothing short of astonishing - consider the cost differential.

    ...what you want for a wide angle is usually shift capabilities...
    Some do, others don't.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    My definition of "true" is from the number of levels you can find in a RAW file, not technical details under the hardware hood. To have almost 65536 (i.e. 2^16) levels for each channel, I would assume that you would have to do interpolation from 14-bit to 16-bit, if you insist that the AD converter of the Sony CMOS sensor is 14-bit internallly. I am looking forward to your evidence to counter my hard evidence for 16-bit below:

    Well, all my iPhone photos are 16-bit because I can encode them that way. Of course, my iPhone can't actually produce 16-bit worth of data, but I guess that does not matter as long as I can get the numbers...

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Well, all my iPhone photos are 16-bit because I can encode them that way. Of course, my iPhone can't actually produce 16-bit worth of data, but I guess that does not matter as long as I can get the numbers...
    But it matters to me when a 645D can actually produce 11.4-bit worth of data, while a K5-IIs can actually produce 13.8-bit worth of data.


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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    But it matters to me when a 645D can actually produce 11.4-bit worth of data, while a K5-IIs can actually produce 13.8-bit worth of data.

    Exactly. That is why my Phase p25+ even with its 16-bit A/D converter does not actually give me 16-bits of information, regardless of the level encoding. No camera gives 16-bits of information.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    No camera gives 16-bits of information.
    RED Epic Dragon can record more than 16-bit of information in HDRx mode.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Hi,

    Yes, the question is how?

    Best regards
    Erik


    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    RED Epic Dragon can record more than 16-bit of information in HDRx mode.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Yes yes everyone get samey looking CMOS sensors I'll sit back and enjoy the different look of my old inferior CCD.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by thrice View Post
    Yes yes everyone get samey looking CMOS sensors I'll sit back and enjoy the different look of my old inferior CCD.
    It will be interesting to see how the 007 cmos performs and how it compares to the Sony.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by ErikKaffehr View Post
    Hi,

    Yes, the question is how?

    Best regards
    Erik
    The same way I could get tons of DR and 16-bits on my 645Z with exposure bracketing. HDRx is basically a technique where the RED camera uses it's incredibly high capture speed overhead to alternate high and low exposures every other frame (via shutter speed), so if you're shooting 24fps for film, the camera is actually capturing 48fps with half the frames having a different exposure level. Obviously this doubles file sizes, but the benefit is that once you load the clip into REDCINE-X you can choose a blending method for the highlight/shadow transitions and have at it. The downside is that the shutter is altered for the different exposure levels, so you risk having blurry highlights if you don't pay attention to the speed for the brighter exposure before shooting.

    The Dragon sensor has a "mechanical" 20 stops DR and a usable ~16, so it's not like it really needs exposure bracketing to make use of 16-bit.

    Quote Originally Posted by RVB View Post
    It will be interesting to see how the 007 cmos performs and how it compares to the Sony.
    James Bond is taking way too long to come to market though.

    37.5MP is fine if we're talking about enormous DR and low noise, even by 645Z standards, but it's hard to compete with Sony purely on sensor manufacturing prowess. The spec sheet gives an ISO range of 200-6400, and ISO100 is curiously a pull setting. If the finer sensor process lets CMOSIS cram the electrical bits and produce bigger pixels than the 645Z, in addition to the lower pixel count in the first place, the S should have been capable of 25K ISO at the least. And why list DR as 13 stops? even if they're being extremely conservative, an MF sensor with 6 micron pixels and on-sensor readout should be capable of at least 15 stops or so.

    Incidentally, I find it strange that DxO hasn't benchmarked the 645Z yet, despite it's popularity.
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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by RVB View Post
    It will be interesting to see how the 007 cmos performs and how it compares to the Sony.
    I'll be interested in seeing that also. Being different from the Sony's CMOS homogenization of all other MFD sensors could be a good thing. Choice is always good.

    I'm currently working with a S-006, and for what and how I shoot, I still prefer the "antiquated and inferior" aesthetics of CCD with its rendering that many feel has a pleasing "organic" look, rather than the "clinically correct" one favored by the data driven photo-nerds. Yet, I'll be wide open to the prospect of shooting with a S-007 also ... if it doesn't stray to far from the look I like.

    Admittedly, the S-006 is mostly using lighting (studio and location) which is why I got the camera in the first place, and why I used a Hasselblad H before that. However, even for shooting in natural available light, I prefer exposing at the right time, in the right light as seen, rather than as forced looking HDR looking torture tests with visibly weak color depth. Also, I freely admit that shooting "sun trails" isn't my cup of tea. That is not the "different" sort of image that others can't shoot I'm striving for.

    That, and the S/CS lenses are still the main reason for using the S system by a large margin.

    The possible addition of a CMOS sensor in an S camera would have a few operational/functional advantages of interest, and if it follows the CMOS image advantages of more DR (for the exceedingly few times I may need it), and higher ISO, then I'll use both CCD and CMOS S cameras in concert, perhaps enabling me to finally jettison all my 35mm Sony stuff ... since I have not come to love the look and feel after years of using their cameras. Call it belief, religion, or what-ever ... artistic perceptions are my guide, and when something fulfills one's vision then, in my experience, it's a good idea to stick with it.

    - Marc
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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    The S007 is the same underlying architecture as the M typ 240, expect similar DR, high iso and push/pull.

    The problem with all this pushing shadows in a backlit situation is that you're pushing poor quality light, despite the fact that you might get it up to appreciable levels and be able to add the contrast back it still lacks dynamism and realism. Just my 2c
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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    Before getting too excited about Sony sensor shadow push capabilities I think one should consider tonality. Even if noise is low I think it looks like colors are dull, kind of brownish or otherwise going towards monochromatic, those pushed areas look like how old CMOS cameras rendered color, ie not that good. My guess is that there's too little signal (photons) captured to get good color.
    Quote Originally Posted by fmueller View Post
    Funny you should mention the Sony chip and tonality. I had a Sony A7r and sold it. It was a good camera and the 2 Sony lenses I bought for it (35 and 55) were very good but even though one could push the shadows it always looked "thin" to me which is perhaps what you have correctly named as a tonality problem. It was very good at a low ISO but as the ISO increased the file got "thin", in my estimation. Also the ability to push the shadows seems to encourage that which means a lot of photos are turning up with that extended HDR look which isn't to my taste either. The really big deal in the new CMOS backs is LIVE VIEW and long exposure. Now all we need are bigger chips that behave better with shifting.
    Quote Originally Posted by thrice View Post
    The problem with all this pushing shadows in a backlit situation is that you're pushing poor quality light, despite the fact that you might get it up to appreciable levels and be able to add the contrast back it still lacks dynamism and realism.
    One can always call the CCD-look as "film grain" (low SNR), and the CMOS-look as "plastic, cheapo, artificial" (high SNR).

    It would be good to know whether your claimed lack of color / dynamism / realism is true from pushed shadows. I don't see such difference imo. Below shows the identical color / look / saturation etc from two bracketed exposures 2ev apart.

    Last edited by voidshatter; 22nd February 2015 at 05:38.

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I'll be interested in seeing that also. Being different from the Sony's CMOS homogenization of all other MFD sensors could be a good thing. Choice is always good.

    I'm currently working with a S-006, and for what and how I shoot, I still prefer the "antiquated and inferior" aesthetics of CCD with its rendering that many feel has a pleasing "organic" look, rather than the "clinically correct" one favored by the data driven photo-nerds. Yet, I'll be wide open to the prospect of shooting with a S-007 also ... if it doesn't stray to far from the look I like.

    Admittedly, the S-006 is mostly using lighting (studio and location) which is why I got the camera in the first place, and why I used a Hasselblad H before that. However, even for shooting in natural available light, I prefer exposing at the right time, in the right light as seen, rather than as forced looking HDR looking torture tests with visibly weak color depth. Also, I freely admit that shooting "sun trails" isn't my cup of tea. That is not the "different" sort of image that others can't shoot I'm striving for.

    That, and the S/CS lenses are still the main reason for using the S system by a large margin.

    Marc,its the S glass that keeps me in the system.. I love the IQ and sold my Hasselblad system after using both for a while,while I enjoyed the H sytem the S glass impressed more.

    The possible addition of a CMOS sensor in an S camera would have a few operational/functional advantages of interest, and if it follows the CMOS image advantages of more DR (for the exceedingly few times I may need it), and higher ISO, then I'll use both CCD and CMOS S cameras in concert, perhaps enabling me to finally jettison all my 35mm Sony stuff ... since I have not come to love the look and feel after years of using their cameras. Call it belief, religion, or what-ever ... artistic perceptions are my guide, and when something fulfills one's vision then, in my experience, it's a good idea to stick with it.

    Using both CCD & CMOS in your toolbox is a good plan,Leica claims 1stop of extra Dr for cmos and I like the base ISO of 200,a friend is using an IQ280 for portrait work and the base of 35 is very light hungry,the 007 base of 200 is also pretty good for handheld shots natural light.

    Another dynamic in the IQ will be the CFA,will it produce a different color response to the M240?

    - Marc
    P.S the 3.5fps could be useful

    Rob

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by thrice View Post
    The S007 is the same underlying architecture as the M typ 240, expect similar DR, high iso and push/pull.

    The problem with all this pushing shadows in a backlit situation is that you're pushing poor quality light, despite the fact that you might get it up to appreciable levels and be able to add the contrast back it still lacks dynamism and realism. Just my 2c
    I think this is the crux of the situation. It is shooting in "unbalanced" light that is overly poor to start with.

    While it is amazing what can be pulled out of these files, as a whole they ring false or unrealistic to the eye, lacking the organic nature of light that the human eye is used to seeing.

    Maybe it is just taken too far to demonstrate the DR abilities of the new CMOS technologies?

    It is not dissimilar to using lighting and over-doing a back-lit scene by adding too much light to the foreground subject and ending up with that fake "flashed look" even if exposed correctly ... the balance has to be natural looking to the eye, not just numerically or technically balanced.

    What would be of real interest is how the DR/Noise is with these CMOS backs when shot at higher ISOs. Perhaps that may be the more useful attribute since shadows really start plugging up, and the color goes all wonky as the ISO goes up?

    - Marc

    BTW, thanks for the S-007 info.
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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by Kolor-Pikker View Post
    The same way I could get tons of DR and 16-bits on my 645Z with exposure bracketing. HDRx is basically a technique where the RED camera uses it's incredibly high capture speed overhead to alternate high and low exposures every other frame (via shutter speed), so if you're shooting 24fps for film, the camera is actually capturing 48fps with half the frames having a different exposure level. Obviously this doubles file sizes, but the benefit is that once you load the clip into REDCINE-X you can choose a blending method for the highlight/shadow transitions and have at it. The downside is that the shutter is altered for the different exposure levels, so you risk having blurry highlights if you don't pay attention to the speed for the brighter exposure before shooting.

    The Dragon sensor has a "mechanical" 20 stops DR and a usable ~16, so it's not like it really needs exposure bracketing to make use of 16-bit.



    James Bond is taking way too long to come to market though.

    37.5MP is fine if we're talking about enormous DR and low noise, even by 645Z standards, but it's hard to compete with Sony purely on sensor manufacturing prowess. The spec sheet gives an ISO range of 200-6400, and ISO100 is curiously a pull setting. If the finer sensor process lets CMOSIS cram the electrical bits and produce bigger pixels than the 645Z, in addition to the lower pixel count in the first place, the S should have been capable of 25K ISO at the least. And why list DR as 13 stops? even if they're being extremely conservative, an MF sensor with 6 micron pixels and on-sensor readout should be capable of at least 15 stops or so.

    Incidentally, I find it strange that DxO hasn't benchmarked the 645Z yet, despite it's popularity.
    The Leica Bond edition.. ;-)

    Leica have said they will be applying changes to this sensor compared to the M240 based on what they learned from that sensor so I'm optimistic and may keep my 006 for a while just in case..

    Rob

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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Quote Originally Posted by RVB View Post
    The Leica Bond edition.. ;-)

    Leica have said they will be applying changes to this sensor compared to the M240 based on what they learned from that sensor so I'm optimistic and may keep my 006 for a while just in case..

    Rob
    I'm optimistic too, if only for curiosity's sake, as I've already bought the Z. The lower price, higher resolution, proven sensor characteristics, tilt screen and many other bits and bobs it has have cemented it as the way to go for me, but if Leica can knock things out of the park on the image quality front, it'll be all the better for those who invested in the system.
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    Re: Backlight landscape photography realized - say no to silhouette

    Its gonna be a sad day when all high end cameras/backs use similar Sony CMOS Sensors even if they are different sizes. Imagine if back in the day there was only one film available.

    Anywho. Nice comparisons. For those landscape situations without using ND Grad filters you are definitely at the very cutting edge of what today's sensors can provide in regards to dynamic range. I would say around 14 stops is close to the minimum required to pull those shots off but 15-16 might be ideal. Where you set exposure is also critical obviously to maximize that dynamic range.

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