Digital vs medium format film

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by miha, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Hi,
    after many (45) years of photography I 'd like to start taking pictures of people. I reactivated my Mamiya RB 67, put on a 180mm lens and a slide film in. I used my family as models and took some photos on our terrace - only antural light, no special background. I sent the film to a lab and had to wait about two weeks for the film. I was astonished by the quality of the photos. Even scanned on a flatbed scanner they still look good to me.
    I tried the same with my APS-C digital camera and 105mm f/2.8 lens but the transitions from sharp to soft are not the same. I understand I can not expect the same quality of the transitions with a small format, but buying a MF digital camera is out of the question.
    My question is: is it possible to get the same quality (or close enough) of photos with a full frame digital camera and a 85mm f/1.4 lens?
    Any ideas? Please share them. I appreciate any help.
    Regards, Miha.
    P.S. I'll try to attach some photos so youcan getthe idea what I'd like to achieve.
    00c97A-543496484.jpg
     
  2. Another one, cropped to square format, otherwise the same distance as in first photo.
    00c97B-543496584.jpg
     
  3. The third one, the whole picture.
    00c97D-543496684.jpg
     
  4. The smooth transition I'd like to achieve, 100% of the scanned slide.
    00c97E-543496784.jpg
     
  5. 85/1.4 on FF camera would give you about the same DOF as your 180 (f/4.5 I assume) on 6x7 film.
     
  6. I am very much interested in an answer to this as have been researching the subject for a few months!
     
  7. Is it possible for you to rent the 85mm & FF camera? That way you can try before you buy.
     
  8. 85/1.4 on FF camera would give you about the same DOF as your 180 (f/4.5 I assume) on 6x7 film.​
    Dieter, I'd say around f/1.8 to f/2 would give a closer match to the RB, based on some calcs.
    Miha, to match the RB results on an APS-C camera, my calcs indicate that a 55mm lens at f/1.4 would come really close. So if you have or can borrow such a lens, you might want to try it.
     
  9. SCL

    SCL

    I think Bill is about right re the APS-C, based on some portraits I did a year ago. The transitions were smooth and the fine detail and contrast were outstanding. I was using a Nikon D300 and the 50/1.4 lens. However I did need to stop down to about f/2 to achieve the clarity I wanted - AND use a tripod, as the DOF was really thin.
     
  10. I'd say around f/1.8 to f/2 would give a closer match to the RB​
    Correct, so f/1.4 on a 85mm on FF provides an even shallower one - I don't think the OP will mind. The OP indicates that a "smooth" transition is desired - which not only brings DOF into play (always a gradual transition) but also the bokeh quality of the lens.
     
  11. Don't have 85mm, but my Tammy 90/2.8 is on the same level....and likely exceeds the quality (on FF). What I mean is that the bokeh is rather creamy. Some of it's PP, as well. My other go-to lens for portraits is the classic 105/2.5.....both in Nikon mount.
    Here is an example of 100% crop from 90/2.8 (handheld) using aperture of F4.0
    Les
    00c9Av-543506284.jpg
     
  12. Thanks for the useful answers.
    I have tried the 50mm f/1.8 on APS-C but then I must come too close to the person (and not all people feel comfortably if you come too close). I have tried 100mm f/2.8 macro and also my 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom but I somehow don't like the results. I have also tried my old OM-2 with the 50mm f/1.4 Zuiko using an old Supermarket-brand film and I liked the results better than the digial ones.
    I mentioned 85mm (for FF) lens since it is the nearest focal length to 180mm on 6x7.
    As Dieter says, the DOF is not the only problem, it's the 'gradual transition' or the bokeh of the lens. If the DOF is too shallow one can always close the aperture. But I somehow feel the tonal results are better with the larger format. Or is it the digital - vs - film question? And the the digital picture is sometimes just 'too sharp'.
    I prefer the digital cameras for the technical work and I like the imediately usable results. But I would really like to get some good results also for portraits. I know I can learn a lot faster if I use digital camera(s).
    Unfortunatelly there is hardly a possibility for me to rent a FF camera to thoroughly test the combination. OTH I can accquire a manually focus 85mm f/1.8 quite cheap so it will not be a great loss if I try one (and I'm not satisfied). I will try to find a friend with a FF camera to test the lens for me.
    I intentionally don't mention the camera brand since this is not the main problem.
    I hope to hear some more opinions. Thanks again.
    Regards, Miha.
    P.S.: Would a softening of the digital photo in postproduction yield similar effects to MF? Ayone tried that?
     
  13. Well, "too sharp" can be dealt with in post - one can always "soften" things up a bit. And, to answer another question - there are also options to impart the bokeh of certain lenses onto an image. How well those work I don't know - I guess it depends on how much time one is willing to spend, one's skill and also what quality one expects. Digital vs. film is of course an issue too - though there are enough programs now that try to mimic film looks for digital.
    The advantage of "better tonality" for FF over APS-C is often cited - and applies here to; medium format will have a similar advantage. "Close enough" is "good enough" for some (many) - but not for others.
     
  14. I have tried the 50mm f/1.8 on APS-C but then I must come too close to the person (and not all people feel comfortably if you come too close).​
    Hi, yes, a 50mm lens on APS-C will need to be a bit closer to the subject, and the f/1.8 aperture is not wide enough to mimic the out-of-focus characteristics of the RB-67's 180mm f/4.5 lens.
    If you were able to find a 55mm f/1.4 lens, as I suggested, I think you would find the characteristics on an APS-C to be nearly identical to the RB 67. I'm pretty confident in my calculations; I've worked with this sort of thing before, so I'm not just guessing.
    Here's some specifics on distances, etc., if you care to dredge through it:
    ------------------------------------------
    A few specifics from my calcs (They are based on the width of the film/sensor, RB-67 = 57mm, and the APS-C sensor width = 15.7mm):
    On your first shots with the RB, I estimate distance from (roughly front of) the lens to subject at about 5.5 feet, covering a subject width of about 18.5 inches (the coverage is an estimate, but used to calculate distance). For the other cameras, I keep the same coverage width as the aim reference.)
    RB 67 180mm lens_to_subject distance ~ 5.5 feet
    APS-C, 50mm lens_to_subject distance ~ 4.75 feet (this is the one you find too close)
    APS-C, 55mm lens_to_subject distance ~ 5.25 feet
    If you try this with your cameras, covering a subject width of 18-19 inches, I think you'll find that these distances are pretty accurate (they are properly measured to the front principle point of the lens, but just using the front should be fairly close).
    I really doubt that you are going to see a significant difference in the out_of_focus performance in the lenses unless you have a distant background with bright spots/lights in it. (I'd avoid these anyway for portrait work.)
    Out of the lenses you mentioned, the 100mm macro and the 70mm end of the zoom just don't have enough aperture to match the blur of the RB.
    If the 200mm end of the zoom stays at f/2.8, this WILL nearly match the RB's blur (on the subject), but the long distance of 14-15 feet means that the perspective will look a bit odd (compressed).
    The OM-2 with 50mm lens at about f/1.8 should also match the RB's blur, but the very close distance of about 3.5 feet will also give a bit odd perspective (exaggerated).
     
  15. I can't quite handle the math of the DOF changes for formats, but the advantage of APS-C cameras (at least mirrorless
    ones) is the ability to mount almost any lens. Why not remove a variable by mounting a very wide aperture lens on the
    APS-C camera, like maybe a Kyocera/Yashica Contax 50/1.4. Great lens, cheap and adapters available for most
    mirrorless cameras. Might be worth a try. Or if there is an adapter maybe you can mount that MF lens.
     
  16. To my eyes, medium format film portraits have a look that I have not yet been able to duplicate with a digital camera. I shoot Rollei 6000 series and Hasselblad 501CM in square format with 150 and 180mm lenses. The closest that I have found in digital is the Pentax 645D, but I am still addicted to the square image for portraiture. I use digital cameras for many things, just not portraits.
     
  17. Here is the theory: Human eyes provide stereoscopic vision. Located at slight distance from each other, our eyes provide slightly separate images. However it's important to note that having vision in both eyes (stereoscopic or binocular vision) is not the only way to see in 3D. People who can only see with one eye (monocular vision) can still perceive the world in 3D. Photograph can also reproduce 3D image, even though it was taken with a single lens. In this case the diameter of the lens is the thing, that matters. The lens of the similar to a distance between our eyes diameter produces the image, that can be recognized by our brain as a stereo image. The focal length is important too. That is why images, taken by the large format cameras ( I mean those, with the huge brass lenses) look different. And that is what makes images, taken by medium format cameras look a little different from the images, taken by 35 mm cameras.
    There is another interesting fact: people with Myopia (Nearsightedness) can focus on the image at the distance, equal to the focal distance of the lens it was taken with. This makes it possible to see the image in 3D. I'm nearsighted myself and I can prove that.
    Please, don't throw the stones at me, if I'm wrong. It is not my theory.
     
  18. Myopia (Nearsightedness) can focus on the image at the distance​
    I can't see how this can be true: it must depend on the degree of myopia which is highly variable from one person to another and also does not take into account lack of accommodation with increasing age.
    People with monocular vision do not see in 3D, but they learn or understand the world in 3D due to all the other clues about perspective that can be gained from head movement and the behavior of objects and other objects (overlapping, obstruction etc) as well as simple knowledge about the world - objects small are far away etc etc. But it is not the same as seeing in 3D.
    I don't understand what you mean about the diameter of the lens. Surely you are talking about the angle of view of a lens and how it relates to the angle of human vision, which is dependent on focal length not on the diameter?
     
  19. Robin, again, it is not my theory, I can't tell what is correct or what is wrong in it, just interesting thing to discuss.
    Both of my eyes are -1.75, not too bad, but I'm wearing the glasses when driving. I see everything, that is at least 30 feet away from me slightly blurry, but on the other hand, I can focus both of my eyes at the subject, that is at least 2 inches from my eyes, I can easily see a microprint at the bank notes. I can place an image, taken by the 135 mm lens on the instant film at about 135 mm distance from my eyes, and I can clearly see the stereo effect. I do not know, maybe that is just one of those optical illusions, or it has some other explanation?
     
  20. I can place an image, taken by the 135 mm lens on the instant film at about 135 mm distance from my eyes, and I can clearly see the stereo effect. I do not know, maybe that is just one of those optical illusions, or it has some other explanation?​
    Hi Denys. I think that you get a strong sense of "realism," as though you are there, but it is not actually a 3D effect. Rather it is a result of using the "correct viewing distance" for a print. This idea seems to have been well-known in older photographic literature, but not so well to today's internet photographers. So I'm glad to hear that someone else understands the effect. In case you don't realize it already, the important part is the viewing angle, from eye to print, so that you could, for example, enlarge the print 10X and the ideal viewing distance would also increase by 10x.
    I've mentioned that effect before, in this thread for example (toward the last part): http://www.photo.net/portraits-and-fashion-photography-forum/00bzUT?start=25
    I simply quoted from a book by Rudolf Kingslake so that I would not have to waste my time arguing; if any of the wizards of photo.net want to argue against it, they can argue againt Kingslake, not me.
    You can read part of the book here, if my link works(see chapter 1 on"Perspective"): http://books.google.com/books?id=hc...age&q=optics in photography kingslake&f=false
     
  21. I agree with you Bill. That makes some kind of sense.
     
  22. >>> Photograph can also reproduce 3D image, even though it was taken with a single lens.

    Really? So I can look at a photograph with a subject in the foreground against a background, and details
    of the subject initially hidden will appear and disappear, as I move left or right and up or down? Same with details of
    the background directly behind and initially blocked by the subject?
     
  23. My question is: is it possible to get the same quality (or close enough) of photos with a full frame digital camera and a 85mm f/1.4 lens?​
    Check out the work of Phil Sharp, a British portrait photographer who uses a Canon full frame DSLR: Eos 5d mark III and an 85mm f 1.4 lens. He has lots of examples of head shots at f 1.4. The look similar to your examples of your medium format shots.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/hog/with/11064891786/
     

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