Monday 26 March 2012

Medium Format V's DSLR

In the Golden Greats project, all the images were shot on my Phase One P65+ with Schneider lenses.

All that is apart from one.

When we held the private view somebody asked if they were all shot with Phase One?

I said one was not, and asked that person if he could spot it?

I was all too aware which was shot on a DSLR when the prints were being done....and I will come on to that a little later.

But could other photographers there spot it?

Every single one did, and it became quite a talking point, and I found myself, rightly or wrongly, justifying or even defending myself for shooting that one portrait on a DSLR.

Why did Lucinda and I shoot this on the Canon 5d MkII?

Well the idea was to shoot the portrait at F1.2, and this was the very first shot in the series, we wanted to shoot the image on the Phase but time just didn't allow it to happen.

Lucinda was in the Canon camp while I was in the Phase One camp......

We were, and still are, very pleased with the portrait of David Hemery who won gold in the 400 meters hurdles in Mexico 1968, check this YouTube video of his win out and see the margin by which he wins, setting a world record in the process.

I knew there would be a difference between DSLR and Phase One, but I must admit I was taken aback by the gap.

Let me make one thing clear this is not an attack on the 5dmkII.

And I'm not really being totally fair, two different sized files etc

But this is a real world comparison as to how two similar files look when printed BIG

It remains my DSLR of choice(5d MkIII pending, until my credit card gets over the pounding meted out by the purchase of the brilliant Canon C300)

A truly amazing and versatile camera, though don't expect it to hold up compared to a Phase One, particularly if you intend to make a print more than a meter wide.

I know it is not every day that one does this, but when you do what a difference.......

21 megapixels v 60 megapixels, are I believe only part of the story, the rest of the disparity coming from 16 bit capture and those Schneider LS lenses.

I formally used the Hasselblad 'H' System with various different Phase One backs and I made the switch to the Phase One system, a big part of the decision was the lenses, I feel the Schneider LS lenses outperform the Hasselblad lenses on every level, they are smaller and lighter too.

Digital fusion ran a series of tests which make pretty interesting viewing.

How would the Nikon D800 have fared? I would like to do a test at some point but suspect that even with more pixels than the 5D MkII that it would not be close.


Sequin Miner Photography said...

Having had a long standing love affair w our 5D2s (on our 7th body and counting) we haven't felt the overwhelmingly pressing need to convert to MF (nor even the 5D3 for that matter despite the AF) until.. we shot two 40 foot (they run everything larger than life over here) billboards for Exxon. So,... after uprezzing beyond where mere mortals fear to tread, an eight hour files save and an anxious night (or three) waiting for the prints later... Did it hold? Yes, Can my fingernails withstand another assault? Not a chance. Signed #newestMFconvert

Unknown said...

Hi Sequinminer,

Thanks for the comment, our 5d's are never too far away either, a great camera.

If a print is big enough( i.e. size of a house) it is not such a big deal, but 1.5 meter wide prints which can be viewed up close and the difference is there for the whole world to see.



p4pictures said...

Drew I think that it's not just a question of resolution, but the look of the image that's the way to spot the difference. On the Phase images it seems that the depth of field transitions from sharp to not sharp very quickly, whereas the 5d2 shot even at f/1.2 has a more gradual roll off from sharp to not sharp. It's the sharp transition that makes it so easy to spot as much as the resolution.

However you need a good sized print and a bunch of similar images to make the comparison and it's not often that all those conditions align, but for your great show they did.

Brian / p4pictures

Unknown said...

Thanks Brian

You do make a very good point.

It is about so many other factors than you resolution.

Sensor size is a big factor.



jadufy007 said...

I prefer the MFD has already been pointed out, they simply "have a look" that makes them fairly easy to spot.

Yet, having just finished my first shoot with the D800 (non E)...I'm blown away...much better than the D3X...and my lust for MFD is now merely a wimper. Cost for difference for MFD...sorry insane imo.

D800 with my 200 f2, 85 1.4G, 35 1.4G, Zeiss 100f2...all for a total investment of $9000.

P65+ is $40k alone. Schneider LS glass too?? Choking.

Some people drink $25,000 bottles of Montachet wine too.

All of the above "lifestyle" makes me "uncomfortable"...and end my comments here.

Unknown said...

I certainly get your point.

It is quite a hefty investment, and as I have said before, it's not what kit you have but what you do with it.

My main creative tool was a Canon 1DS MK1 and I jumped for a Phase One P25.

I say jump and indeed it was a 'leap of faith' major investment.

One that I questioned at the time, but have never regretted.