Canon 5D MKII vs Mamiya RZ67

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by tony_black|1, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. I am currently using Mamiya RZ 67 and do a lot of night shooting. Exposure times are 2-4 min.
    I m thinking of switching to digital and wonder if Canon 5D MKII with good prime lenses can compete with Mamiya in terms of sharpness etc.?
  2. Film and digital work a bit differently with time exposures. Reciprocity doesn't seem to be a big issue with digital, so your exposures should be reduced at the same relative iso speed. I have shot RZ's in the past and now shoot both H and V system Hasselblads. I bought a 1dsmkIII and also have a 5dII. I ran a comparison test with my H system lenses, which I believe to be not only sharper than Mamiya lenses, but also V system Hasselblad lenses (I loved my RZ by the way, my switch was a need for the other features the H system offers). The comparison was at iso 400 film to iso 400 digital. The result, in fine detail, was that even though I might have felt the film has a bit better acuity, the lack of grain made the digital a more usable file and makes it appear a bit sharper. I compared these files at 100%, which was about a 2000 dpi scan of the 2-1/4 film and also resampled the digital file to 3200dpi, the size I scan my negatives. The result was the same in both cases--I use the Imacon scanner for comparison. I don't know that the result would have been the same with 100 speed film vs digital, but I was doing the test for aerial work where I need to use iso 400 most of the time with the MF camera.
    My problem with the digital cameras is more that they lose sharpness if you don't shoot them in the sweet center section of the f-stop range-most about f4 to f11/14. Outside this, they seem to start to fade a bit. This might be acceptable to many, if you make smaller prints, but it is not an issue you will generally see with the film cameras. Of course, because you will use small focal length lenses, your need to stop down as far will be reduced with the 35mm lenses.
    I carry my digital more now than my film cameras, MF or large, but I still take the film camera as well when I am doing landscape and certain other things. On the other hand, the digital cameras, with their abilities in certain cases, including high iso performance, have opened up areas I used to be more reticent to shoot. So, my thought is really one that you need to see if your use is better served with the film or digital camera--borrow or rent one would be my recommendation.
  3. I have an RB67, but I've only dabbled in long exposures with it. But I can say that my 5DII does infact out-resolve the 6x7 with a Sekkor C 90, but just barely.
    I think John's mention of digital losing sharpness is true, mainly because the sensor is a very thin single-layer device that is unforgiving of the minor focus errors film might tolerate as the light passes through the three layers. Not that I have any evidence, other than what I have read years ago about it, and just happen to remember.
  4. Thank you John and Ed. These are great explanations. I both hear you. I mostly shoot at f11or f16(iso 100) at night time. so i guess with this f stop canon will be ok in terms of sharpness.
    the only problem left out for me is, i do big size prints around 110cm x 140cm and i don think i can do that size prints with canon5dmkii(21million pixel at 240 dpi)
    My lab prints around 150dpi to 200 dpi with a lightjet print. Even with those dpi numbers, canon is far way form those dimensions i mention..
    Hasselblad digital cameras will be too expensive for me. So I still don't know...
  5. As long as you stop down the lens to f/2.8 or f/4 you should get extremely good night performance with the Canon prime lenses. Unfortunately, wide-open even the 24L and 35L lenses show pretty bad coma (wing-shape) distortion on point sources in the periphery of the frame. I had no such problems with my Mamiya 7, but I can't vouch for the RZ67 lenses, which might also have some coma wide-open.
  6. Prints from a digital camera do not have the same dpi requirements as film cameras. You would however be somewhere around 86ppi to 101ppi with the 5D MkII.
    The key is the viewing distance. These are large prints. They seem to be viewed at somewhat of a distance since you are saying that 150dpi to 200 dpi from film is good. So, it may be fine at 86 to 100 dpi. Don't get too cought up in the dpi count, do a comparison and see what you think.
  7. Tony, your last comment, about making large prints from these files, is actually a bad assumption! I have made 40x50 inch prints from the original 5d, which was only 14mp, and they were incredible. I routinely make prints this large and since my rip performs best at 300-360dpi, I resample my files up with no issue(from 60mb to about 800mb!). I even used to make Lambda prints, similar to Lightjet, which required 200dpi and never had issues with digitizing or pixelization making these large prints and resampling. I have found that even the basic photoshop algorythm is more than acceptable for the needed resamples.
  8. Tony,
    That size print from a 5D Mk II is really close to the same enlargement as a 100% crop viewed on screen. Find a native file from the camera that matches your quality requirements (after suitable post-processing has been applied, of course), look at it on your computer at actual pixels, and that's basically what you'll get out of a print.
    If you're happy with that quality, your lab should have no trouble up-scaling the file as appropriate to suit their printer's requirements.
    You might also check with the lab to see if they have a sample from the camera printed at that size, or if any of their clients have one they'll let you look at.
    I don't know your requirements, but I suspect the camera is in the ``good enough'' range where you'll want to take into consideration other factors such as workflow (no need to scan, wait to get a scan back, etc.) and ergonomics.
    Speaking of ergonomics...the 5D's live view function when attached to a computer has to be seen to be believed. Full-screen live view with exposure and DoF preview, focus control in the AF motor's smallest increment, full-screen 100% pixel preview, and the like. It's like a view camera on steroids. If you're shooting in a studio or can use a laptop in the field, that alone may well turn you to the dark side....
  9. To generalize, a number of the formerly serious film photographers I know of who have switched to digital seem to have arrived at a consensus that a particular digital format can probably produce IQ results in the range of the next larger film format. For example, cropped sensor DSLRs can equal (in many ways) 35mm film; full-frame DSLRs can compete with MF film; MF digital can compete with 4x5 LF. (There are differences that are not "recording media" based - e.g. lens performance - that don't translate quite this way.)
    I think that the notion that DSLRs lose sharpness at longer exposure times is bogus. Yes, I do a fair amount of night photography at multiple-minute exposure times.
    I also am certain that the generalizations about useful apertures are not quite on target. Yes, the very sharpest images will come from using a prime at whatever aperture provides either the sharpest center resolution or the best overall frame resolution - and I can understand why in different situations either might be better - but quite good resolution is available from a range of apertures. I regularly shoot at f/16 when I need the DOF and the results are very sharp.
    Having said all of that, for the print sizes you mention, I think that MF digital would actually be a better option. The people I know who do very high quality prints of landscape and similar subjects have mostly gone that direction. My feeling - and YMMV - is that a DSLR in the 5DII category can do good work at about 20 x 30 and perhaps a bit larger if you use excellent technique and equipment. Beyond that, I think I'd want MF digital.
  10. Maybe add a digital back to the RZ, that way no need for a whole new system. I use hassy & 5d but have not seen RZ digital results :)
  11. John, if you can make that size of prints then Im good to go.. But let me tell you one more thing. my dealer looks at the prints from an inch away. i hope they still look sharp at that distance.. ?
  12. Tony, I mentioned it in another thread here, but the issue with all of these cameras is that the resolution of the lenses and the mp resolution of current sensors are/have reaching their maximum. None will produce a file that looks perfectly sharp when opened at 100%, but the reality is that they, once they are ripped and printed, look great at the size we are discussing.
    I think you will find, and I don't really understand it, more distortion at the edges of the wide lenses on 35mm than you see with the RZ, but then you are going to be using more "normal' focal lengths if you stay with the equivalent of a 90 and it might not be a factor. I suggest renting and testing it for your use and requirements. As I said, I still prefer shooting my MF or LF for my landscape work, but find the 35 digital does a great job with other things. So, I think its ability to please you and your dealer is going to be an individual thing.
    I also find your comment about your dealer interesting. I was at a show where Richard Misrach had one of his massive beach photos on display, seemed like it was 8-10 feet wide. You could count the grains of sand anywhere in the image. I believe the print was $12000. Next to his was a photo, about 4-5 feet wide done by a woman who is known for her work in other media(I never had heard of her and don't even remember the name now). The image was one of her in studio doing an aerial summersault-there was trickery involved! The detail of the image was large, wood floor, bricks etc. Nothing in the image was close to being sharp and it sold for $50,000. Soon after that, I went to the Museum in town and there, on the wall not in the photography galleries, was a 6-8 fool landscape image. Again, nothing was close to being in focus and the image was again by someone I didn't recognize from the photo world. Of course, all this has to do with nothing except to point out how photographers seem to worry about these things more than others. Part of our DNA I guess.
  13. I will start by saying I have only shot with amedium format camera in college and didn't really spend much time with it. I shoot 35mm all the time with a Canon ELAN 7NE.
    I think your night photography with a Canon 5D Mark II will be much sharper than any medium format camera.
    The reason why is the technology behind live view. With Live view I am able to zoom in 10 to 100X this allows me to get amazingly sharp night time focusing. I have compared this to me focusing at night using my eye even with an 85 1.2L and just could not see well enough to focus sharp. The Live view zoom manually focus on something that stands out well at night and then zoom back out to recompose shot (obvioulsy without moving tripod) is absolutely wanderful invention.
    I have a sample in my portfolio here.
  14. focusing with mamiya rz67 at night is not a problem. it has an amazing viewfinder so that's not the question. the question which one will look more sharp and/or good in big prints?
  15. I don't know exactly what you're shooting but if it doesn't move you can also consider stitching several digital shots together, perhaps using a TS lens. Another point to consider is the availability of far longer focal length lenses for the 5DII. You can stitch several such shots together and create a massive image

    I don't think digital has the dynamic range of either color negative or especially B/W film. And what you use to scan is also part of the equation. A true drum scan mey change your thinking.

    Finally, don't forget the different aspect ratio. You may be wasting pixels.

    All that being said, I have both cameras and my RZ has been feeling neglected lately.
  16. Thinking a 20MP DSLR has more detail of 6x7 film Velvia is the same as thinking a 4MP digicam outresolves 35mm Velvia. It never stops to amaze me how people may arrive to these conclusions.
    When people see grain from 6x7 film, are they refering to prints of several square feet?
    Digital has more acutance with and abrupt drop. That is a tangible difference, but does not chenge the requirement for at least 200dpi for a quality print. Grain on film is a matter of preference and can be removed via software.
    OP, my advice is to rent the 5DII and take it for a spin next to the RZ before you make the move.

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