High ISO for Medium Format: Why?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by lobalobo, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. This may be a naive question, but I'm not sure I see the advantage of a CMOS sensor just announced for the new Hasselblad model. Why, for example, would high ISO be an advantage? Studio photographers control their light while landscape and architecture photographers shoot things that don't move. Who, then, will benefit from high ISO? Most uses that would are handheld, right? And isn't the advantage of a medium format sensor over a full-frame DSLR essentially lost when a camera is handheld? If the advantage of a CMOS sensor is not the higher ISO potental, perhaps it's the ability to multi-shoot for HDR. Just curious.
     
  2. Any landscape photographer who's ever had to wait for a lull in the wind to get their shot knows full well that motion in landscape is a frequent problem. Anything that increases the envelope of acceptable shooting parameters is going to find a use somewhere.
     
  3. because you don't have 100% light control in all situations and it is impossible in a few applications. cmos will also bring proper live view which is a big BIG + for tech/view cams.

    let's just hope Hasselblad will not comprimise color integrity by tweaking CFA filters for low light gain.
     
  4. There are a few street photographers that use medium format (I do occasionally) wedding photographers often have in the past also. The CMOS Hasselblad will appeal to a very large audience.
     
  5. I would be skeptical of actually achieving something approaching 50 MP resolution in an SLR without live view to give me magnified focus check. Typical SLR-type phase-detection auto-focus often induces some amount of back-focus or front-focus, and even with split-prisms and other focusing aids, I'm not confident that I can manually focus super-precisely. When you're talking about that much sensor resolution (and hopefully, technique, lens, and sensor resolution), even a small focusing error can be the limiting factor.
    As for landscapes and such--don't know about you, but I've shot some with exposures in the 20 to 30 s range. If wind had been an issue at those times, I would have really wanted to go from ISO 100 to ISO 400 or higher to cut the exposure times. The dynamic range and noise penalties can be an issue, though.
     
  6. Live View. Especially with techical cameras.
    Astrophotography. Film astrophotography with medium format trounced 35mm film; I know from experience. In the past 10 years those tables have been reversed with 35mm format CMOS. Now it's time for medium format to be king again (assuming the the recently announced medium format CMOS has noise levels on par with small-format CMOS). I personally cannot wait to see the results, and can only wish that I could afford to be on the frontline in acquiring them. It would be a mistake to assume that high ISO is purely the provenance of handholding - this is a case in point.
    Sports and Action. Yes, why not? The detail and subject isolation afforded by medium format can be brought to bear on any subject matter. It can heighten the impact. Imagine an available light shot of a boxing match or a horse race over hurdles where every hair, every sweating pore, every tortured sinew is revealed in hitherto unavailable clarity and colour naturalism.
     
  7. Great answers. I learned something. And of course, live-view on a technical camera has got to beat laser distance determination followed by re-shoots. And wind, of course. (Even near dawn, I tend not to shoot for more than a second, using large format film, and so hadn't thought of long exposures.) My inclination is to be a bit skeptical of hand-holding a medium format camera and getting results significantly better than on a full-frame DSLR (unless extraordinarily narrow depth of field is truly critical) but I'm not speaking from experience, so I defer to those who know.
     
  8. Don't forget marketing. Bigger, better, larger, zoomier, whatever. You don't try to sell something that is pretty much the same old thing with a couple of tweaks. Look at the old ads for the Edsel car. It was the same old stuff, a run-of-the-mill Ford of that era. Nothing terrible about the car as compared to the others of the era. But hugely over-hyped and came with a butt-ugly grill some people found vaguely obscene.
     
  9. There are two ways to increase dynamic range.
    One is to increase the upper limit, the other to reduce noise in the low readings.
    I guess they want to use that extra sensitivity to try the latter.
     
  10. Don't forget marketing. Bigger, better, larger, zoomier, whatever.​
    Well this was my suspicion when posting this thread; but the consensus seems to be otherwise.
     
  11. There will come a time when High ISO capability is a God send no matter what format is involved. You can never anticipate when holding the camera for a shot will make a huge difference in quality.
    -O
     
  12. There has been a fad that has become practically a cliché to shoot water at long exposures rendering large expanses of water with chop, waves and just some surface motion into something more ethereal.
    That is fine if one is using a time exposure, but some photographers want to capture each nuance of a wave in all its full glory. Think of how oriental (Japanese/Chinese) artists portray waves in their art, full of tiny detail within the whole. Some photographers of waves may seek that detail, and it takes a fast exposure to capture that detail, especially when using a long telephoto lens as one frequently must, and especially when the light is not strong such as early morning or late afternoon. In those cases high ISO would be a blessing, and MF with high ISO would be very important.
    Even capturing wind patterns on water might be something that in low light would find itself better portrayed by high ISO with high shutter speeds, but one would still want the high resolution and detail expected of medium format, so I would expect in such circumstances that a high ISO medium format camera would be very helpful.
    If left to think for even a few minutes, and comparing my landscape experience with the needs for high ISO, I expect I could think of dozens of instances in which high ISO might come in handy. How about photographing mountain wildlife at or before dawn with telephoto lenses? And so forth? Owen O'Meara next above said it very well: 'there will come a time when High ISO capability is a God send (sic) no mater what format is involved.
    john
    John (Crosley)
     
  13. I suspect there is more to this than just higher ISO. Wouldn't a CMOS medium format chip be cheaper to produce by taking advantage of the CMOS process lines available from foundries?
     
  14. All things being equal, meaning outstanding color fidelity and all the image quality I've always found synonymous with Hasselblad, being able to extend ISO can only be a plus and there are always situations that benefit from it. Sometimes in low light you do not have lights available or do not want to use external lighting. Why wouldn't one want that capability if it was available?
     
  15. Don't forget marketing. Bigger, better, larger, zoomier, whatever.
    Well this was my suspicion when posting this thread; but the consensus seems to be otherwise.​
    Well why wouldn't you wait to you actually see some images from it before you dreamed up this whole rhetorical exercise? Why would anyone just assume its a marketing ploy? Especially without presenting any kind of facts to support it?
     
  16. If this extends the usable ISO range (i.e. if the quality is still good at the high end), it extends what we can do with our tools. So why ever not?<br><br>I would worry more about quality in the 'normal' ISO range. CMOS is cheaper to make (still) than CCD. Which may be the reason for the move to CMOS. Longer battery life perhaps still too. But is it already as good? These things cost a medium sized fortune. And for that money, it better be good enough to justify every cent we'll have to pay.
     
  17. Well why wouldn't you wait to you actually see some images from it before you dreamed up this whole rhetorical exercise? Why would anyone just assume its a marketing ploy? Especially without presenting any kind of facts to support it?​
    Apparently you are looking for an argument. I was just curious about the advantages of a CMOS sensor for a medium format camera as the obvious ones, at least to me, seemed less applicable to a camera on a tripod. There were lots of good answers and so I learned something (and perhaps other readers did too). Didn't have a position to "support" just a question. Didn't need to wait to see images either inasmuch as my question was about use not image quality. You need to calm down a bit.
     
  18. Oh god, no not trying to start something, but if you're gonna speculate about the IQ of a camera system that nobody has seen a photograph from it what's the point? Did you not say you suspected it was basically marketing? And yes you did say you learned something from the answers, That's good But its very funny to hear someone questioning the value of having a camera with higher ISO abilities. I've never heard anyone say, I wish my digital camera did not have better higher ISO performance. So I guess I'm questioning the question in a way.
     
  19. I live with ISO 50 with Velvia for landscape work. Low, late light conditions I live for too. So many times I've wished for extra stops for DOF, and to avoid reciprocity. Although I'm forced to continue to live with ISO 50, the extra stops are too expensive for me,
    The two most expensive things in life: Horsepower, and F- stops! Lol.
     
  20. Oh god, no not trying to start something, but if you're gonna speculate about the IQ of a camera system that nobody has seen a photograph from it what's the point?​
    With all respect, you need to read more carefully. Nowhere did I question image quality. Why would I? I have no idea what the image quality of the sensor will be. (Others worried about CMOS versus CCD quality, but I said nothing about that.) My point was simply that I wondered what the uses for the camera would be. I don't know about you, but I shoot at low ISO when I can control the light, when there is lots of light, or when the subject does not move and I can put the camera on a tripod. So I wondered about the usefulness of a new sensor if the primary advantage is high ISO. The responses pointed out that, despite my experience, lots of folks would welcome a high quality higher ISO to avoid long exposures. I guess folks shoot in darker conditions than I'm used to or go for effects that I don't. So I learned something. But I can't for the life of me understand your objection to the question.
     
  21. There's always an implicit relationship or concern about the effect of high iso on image quality. The test is where does high iso begin to effect and degrade several aspects of the image, chief one being noise. So kinda when ones speculates on the uses of high iso in a camera, the underlying issue is what does the image quality do under high iso conditions. So it really is a discussion of image quality in the final analysis. The main benefit of high iso is the ability of taking better clearer pictures under lower light. See what I mean? But no worries Lobalobo. Yes, a lot of people have looked to shoot in lower light. If one only shoots in controlled lighting situations or fully sufficient natural lighting, you're right, there's probably not much need nor any advantage to the high iso capability. But many people shoot in differing conditions as you've acknowledged. Also we can expand the conversation to think about what a MF size sensor with50 MP's could do for over all image quality which we will see when the thing gets released.
     
  22. Well, I like to take pictures of black steam locomotives in poor light. I need to stop down for DOF, and a tripod isn't practical because I have to work around people that get in the way. So I guess it will have its uses.
     
  23. Phase One has also announced a 50 meg 1.3X crop factor CMOS sensor DB. It is the same Sony sensor as the recently announced H5D/50 CMOS, albeit with their own in-camera approach applied ( just like with the Kodak or Dalsa sensors shared by Hasselblad and Phase One). If I recall, the price is a mere $33,000. To my knowledge, Hasselblad's pricing, including the H5D body, has not been revealed yet.
    Phase One has released a few preliminary images, specifically a few at ISO 1600.
    The notion of a CMOS based MFD back is supposedly to placate a growing number of possible customers that desire the functionality of the 35mm DSLRs they are familiar with. Faster shooting rates (limited by the camera itself), lower power demands, better LCD, possible Live View (evidently only when attached to a DSLR camera, but not to a view camera).
    In a way it IS a marketing ploy … if expanding the appeal of MFD to more possible users is a "ploy". More likely, it is a survival tactic.
    I'd speculate that the new 1.3X crop factor CMOS entries are aimed at well healed advanced amateurs and professionals in the fashion or people categories looking for a bit more versatility between using lighting and available light. The Landscape photography category isn't the only one out there.
    Personally, I have zero interest in a CMOS based MFD solution … far too many CMOS cameras have a homogenized look and feel out of the camera … where the CCD counterparts display a distinctive gestalt … IMO and direct experience.
    - Marc
     
  24. Personally, I have zero interest in a CMOS based MFD solution...​

    Each to their own. If I was doing photography that careerwise required and justified the expense of a digital MF camera, I would always be interested in what Hasselblad had to offer when evaluating a product before I just wrote it off. But that's just me.
     
  25. Well, the general thing is that if, say, you know how a big truck drives and behaves, you'll know that you needn't look at big trucks, any big truck, when you are looking for a car to win the Monaco F1 Grand Prix in. ;-)
     
  26. True, but if I was shooting certain kinds of photography including fashion, portraits, even product, etc. I would consider Hasselblad to be "in that race". Whether it used a 12 cylinder CMOS or a turbo CCD Not saying it's the winner, but lets say it has a (wait for it) track record in certain areas. :)
     
  27. A track record indeed, using CCDs. Those certain kinds of photography were well served using those thingies.<br>What we have to wait and see (and can, like Marc, give an informed prediction about) is whether this 12 cylinder CMOS is something that can compete with their turbo CCDs, or whether it indeed is also/mainly here to interfere with PhaseOne's marketing succes.
     
  28. If I was doing photography that careerwise required and justified the expense of a digital MF camera, I would always be interested in what Hasselblad had to offer when evaluating a product before I just wrote it off. But that's just me.
    I would consider Hasselblad to be "in that race". Whether it used a 12 cylinder CMOS or a turbo CCD Not saying it's the winner, but lets say it has a (wait for it) track record in certain areas. :)
    That's a lot of "ifs" Barry. I fully understand "track records", I've had 9 Hasselblad H cameras up to the H4D/60.
    The fast car analogy is an anomaly regarding Hasselblad … it took them a lifetime to get the H4D/60 out the door, and during its life cycle NEVER did offer the battery for it to use the back on a field camera … meanwhile disabling the ability to use their expensive Image Bank II on location. But that's just me.
    BTW, I did explain why I specifically wasn't interested in a CMOS MFD, which is the part you left out.
    I've already inspected Phase One files using the same sensor, and (for now) it exhibits color rendering I subjectively find lacking … one of the main reasons I prefer MFDs with CCD sensors.
    Besides, just how far need one go before they can get off this expensive merry-go-round? What I have does the job, I do not need any more. I know a number of other photographers that feel the same. This is not to say that others will think and feel differently … but I'm not one of them.

    In general, CCD or CMOS, I'm not interested in further MFD developments until the companies come to their senses regarding pricing.
     
  29. The fast car analogy is an anomaly regarding Hasselblad … it took them a lifetime to get the H4D/60 out the door, and during its life cycle NEVER did offer the battery for it to use the back on a field camera​
    Not to hijack my own thread, but I find this astonishing. How can a company charge $40,000 for a camera back and not include a battery needed to use it on a field camera? Wouldn't a large part of the customer base willing to spend that sort of money be a prime candidate to at least occasionally want movements that are unavailable on an SLR? Or to continue with a car analogy (without need of changing the price, remarkably), this strikes me like selling a convertible but not offering the roof as an option. Did Hasselblad finally get the battery out for the H5D cameras? Hope so. All this makes me less disappointed that I can't afford these things as an amateur (and that it's not in the cards for me to work in photography professionally). Those of you that can or do have my sympathies about this equipment.
     
  30. In all fairness, the MFD companies are serving a very small slice of the photo populace. They do not have the resources to respond quickly or meet every demand.
    That said, they should NOT promise something they cannot deliver at the time of the promise.
    I upgraded to a H4D/60 from a CF39 Mulitishot on a H2F which allowed the digital back to be used on a field camera @ 39meg single shot … because it uses a clip-on battery like the CFV back does. My decision to get the 60 was predicated on 60 meg single shot approximating the IQ of the multi-shot in one shot rather than four (which I confirmed with testing), and that it could use a clip-on battery for which it had mounting ports.
    During the entire time I owned the 60, the proprietary battery never materialized, The H5D was announced superseding the H4D, and it also is supposed to take a battery … my rep thought that battery may work on the H4D/60 but I have no idea if it ever materialized, nor whether it would work on the H4D/60. Moot point now as I have opted out of the Hasselblad H system altogether.
    So, forgive me if I do not take the word of any of these companies, and believe their promises. Nor trust a company that uses their resources to produce something like the Lunar, while reneging on previous promises already paid for in full.
    - Marc
     
  31. BTW, I did explain why I specifically wasn't interested in a CMOS MFD, which is the part you left out.​
    Marc, I left it out because really I'm not trying to argue the merits of the reasons you are not interested. I appreciate your opinions about CMOS etc. All I'm saying is I would wait to see what the camera actually can do, before I just dismissed it out of hand as a general proposition because my medium format experience all in film, lends me to always to at least take a look at what Hassy offers. Especially if I were in the market for a $30-40,000 USD system. It may be a brick, or it could be great. I don't really see the point of dismissing a yet to be camera because they've made other systems you didn't like without waiting to even see any results. If you aren't interested that's fine by me, I'm not trying to change your mind. Just presenting my perspective which seems to differ from yours and some others.
     
  32. Fair enough Barry.
    In reality, I'm not dismissing the achievement or advancement if it turns out to be that … which it may well be. In fact, I was served well by my H system and wish Hasselblad every success … with the hope it sells to photographers in that $30,000 to $40,000 systems camera category.
    Just dismissing it for myself as not enough difference to warrant such a massive on-going outlay, with such a steep deprecation, in such a short time.
    IMO, it is too little, too late, relative to conditions in the marketplace and the growing competition which do provide more of a difference for the work I, and many others, do.
    BTW, it is not just a matter of price alone, but price to value ratio as it applies to the task at hand. 4 years ago, I moved to a Leica S2P with a full set of leaf-shutter optics which was hardly inexpensive. The S camera provides dual shutter versatility with sync to 1/1000 OR focal plane to 1/4000; it shoots to two cards, and I can use any Hasselblad HC/HCD lens, or Contax 645 lens on it with full automatic functions via Leica made adapters.
    Today, I'm not sure that price to value ratio would even apply to my S2P system despite its versatility (but that's Leica for you) … the whole MFD pricing model has become even more questionable, and perhaps unsustainable IMO.
    All the best,
    - Marc
     
  33. Interesting discussion, especially the tangent prompted by Marc, whose comments are always interesting (to me). Speaking of CCD vs CMOS, Steve Huff gives the opinion that the M240 and M9 are equivalent, and that the M240 does not give anything away to the M9. I have used neither camera but so far I like the results from both, although I haven't seen a mass-market digital camera that can easily handle challenging lighting.
    It seems to me that photosite size (and Bayer colours) is more important than chip technology. For curiosity: the Phase One P25, which produces 22Mpx files, has 9 micron photosites. This no doubt helps it stay quite relevant, even in 2014. Some would choose it over a modern small format DSLR if the application allowed. I make no claims but I'm always up for a discussion on those matters. Fun reading.
    I'm going to play around with MFD eventually. It seems quite an interesting product segment.
     
  34. Photosite size is only one thing among many. DALSA has a rather good, brief explanation of the difference up on the web.
    But since we're dealing with a visual medium, how these things these machines produce look is the most important factor. No matter photosite sizes and all that.

    That is, indeed, until we have to empty our bank accounts at the check out. Then it appears that cost plays a major role. Hence the continued succes of Canons and Nikons (which found the way back up with the D 800), and the continuation of the precarious situation MFD manufacturers are in. The 35 mm based digital competition should be tackled, not in the first place by offering high speed sensors, but by offering the MF digital machines for a more competitive price. Can be done.
     
  35. "Speaking of CCD vs CMOS, Steve Huff gives the opinion that the M240 and M9 are equivalent, and that the M240 does not give anything away to the M9. I have used neither camera but so far I like the results from both."​

    I've used both, and do not agree with Huff in that it takes a ton of post work to get the M240 file to have the "snap" of the M9 at ISOs up to 640. Sean Reid said something similar when testing the two including samples with richer shadow rendering from the M9 at lower ISOs.

    In my initial tests, the M240 also exhibited IR contamination greater than the M9 does (but less than the M8). According to "experts" this was due to accommodating certain M WA lenses with a thinner filter. This IR contamination results in exaggerated skin tones which are hard to tame in post … it can be done, and many have it down using new profiles, but not easily. Some M users, including myself, are still not convinced of the M240 color. I remain skeptical … which has saved me $7,000 : -)

    The M240 is a better camera in terms of functionality, versatility with an EVF, a better rangefinder for focusing/framing and a higher ISO ability (with banding possible on some 3200 files, and more prevelant at 6400)
    "For curiosity: the Phase One P25, which produces 22Mpx files, has 9 micron photo sites This no doubt helps it stay quite relevant, even in 2014. Some would choose it over a modern small format DSLR if the application allowed. I make no claims but I'm always up for a discussion on those matters. Fun reading".​

    There are pluses and minuses with the 9 micron pixel backs … usually related to being older tech so any ISO is okay as long as it is 100. Moiré is also a caution.
     

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