Monday, December 20, 2010

Dis and Dat

Why Photographs Work is now out and orderable from the major online booksellers and instore at real ones too. It's gathering excellent reviews so apparently we're not the only ones who think it's a beautiful book. We're scrambling to arrange a reprint asap.

Mark Dubovoy had written an article for Luminous Landscape promoting the use of medium format. I don't disagree with what Mark says, but I do think there are some points that are important to make.

Pros use medium format because:

1) they often are asked to make huge prints
2) paying customers like to get noseprints on detailed lanscape pictures
3) the equipment is tax deductable
4) the equipment differentiates them from the masses - an important marketing tool (as opposed to an ego boost - pros are too busy for that nonsense)

And there are other reasons. Those of us who do photography for the love of it instead of putting food on the table can afford the time to stitch and blend our way to good photographs, and if the images look better at 13X19 than 40X60, who cares. That said, more than a few serious amateurs are going to be looking at the Pentax 645D.

One of the most useful and powerful tools for doing landscape and industrial photography is live view - totally absent from medium format. Mark talks of the problems of camera misalignment, yet he has to squint into a tiny ground glass if he wants to focus and tilt - while I simply move the magnified view to the corner and check the focus on the sensor, not a substitute - using live view. I think in a few years people will find it hard to believe people ever struggled with substitutes.

We live in interesting times - DPReview has rated the Pentax K5 as the top medium priced dSLR, topping both Nikon and Canon - we live in interesting times.

It's holiday season, Christmas for some of us. May you all thrive and find the images you want.


Tim said...

Amusingly enough, when I got my 60D with live-view *and* articulating LCD panel, within a week or so I thought the experience was getting close on my Hasselblad - rotate it 90ยบ and WLF 'r' us and we love it!

Eric Rose said...

I have a commercial client that is insisting on me using a MF digi back on my Blad. Did the stitch thing (23 separate images) and he wasn't satisfied. The cpu horsepower you need to do stitches of this size is really up there. I guess I need to switch to a 64bit OS. My buddy with a high powered Mac didn't do any better than I did. Both systems sucked. With the MF digi I should only have to stitch 4 images.

As far as DPreview, they are owned by Amazon so I would suspect their rating are influenced by Amazon's bottom line rather than anything technical.

You missed a great dinner last Tuesday. I would love to see your new book as well.


Eric Rose said...

I should clarify that the 23 image stitch was done with images from a full frame Nikon DSLR rather than the Blad.

Geoffrey said...

It's probably worth noting that Mark Dubovoy, like Michael Reichmann and Bill Atkinson, is so affluent that the cost of owning multiple medium format digital systems is basically irrelevant. Dropping $50,000 or more on a medium format system with a full range of lenses to eeke out a few more increments of image quality (visible only in huge enlargements) makes perfect sense...if money is not an issue. For the other 99.99% of humanity, with meticulous technique and careful stitching, you can print to virtually any practical size with wonderful results. Vision, technical competence and diligence will generally trump megapixels.
Just sayin, you don't have to feel like a second-class photographer because you can't afford to spend the price of a starter home on a medium format camera system.

George Barr said...

From all I read of people who use both the usual dSLRs and medium format digital, they can get similar results in normal sized prints, but it takes more work with the normal cameras - more work to tame the dynamic range, adjustments of local contrast.

I can live with more work if I can get the results I want, and I can stitch if I contemplate a really large print.

Print size is so difficult - I just made a lovely print of a portrait, 17X22 from a Panasonic FZ50, in essence a glorified point and shoot. Almost no landscapes would print this size without looking terrible - especially if there is fine detail like leaves and grass. Oddly rocks can stand a fair bit of enlargement.