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Thursday, 02 November 2017


"...unstinting in its generosity..."? Hmm. I actually scrolled back up to the top to see if I had somehow missed the usual (SA)* disclaimer. Still, it made me laugh, as did "bepimpled littermates"!

Sony is going to make me go bankrupt upgrading their cameras this fast. I don't miss the days of waiting 5 years for a new canon though.

Just a little nit-pick. Pixel shift wasn't invented by Olympus, or by Pentax. It has been featured in some digital backs for at least a decade. Sinar, for instance, calls their implementation "multishot."

I'm sure it's of great use to its intended audience, namely those who shoot fabric and other fine-detailed items in a studio. As you point out, the technology has very little use outside of the studio.

Pros will jump on the new one, of course. Huh? Not the pros I know. Pro cameras tend to be bought by Doctors, Lawyers and camera-club members. Broken Record says pros buy things based on ROI—not bragging rights.

Before I retired, for most product shots, I used some sort of a Canon 1Ds or 5D, tethered to C1 and mounted on a Foba camera stand. Other times I used a hand-held xxD with only a memory card. If Pixel-Shift had been available on Canon cameras I would never have used it—magazine and catalogs do not have 40 inch by 60 inch pages 8-)

Not sure what the profit margin is on current high end digital cameras but I think a lot of dollars are spent in the development and start up phase. I just won't spend thousands of dollars on camera bodies and good optics and yes I can afford to. The question I always ask myself is will I get t what I spend in dollars returned in enjoyment or a difference in image quality or a difference in prints no matter what size they are. The answer is always no, so for me it's use what I have until it breaks, spend the money on travel, create a flickr page, post your work and at the end of the day nobody cares about resolution or how fast the image writes to the SD card, last time I checked no reader of this site was printing billboard size prints.

Wow, good timing on the post from Peter Wright, I am in the last phase of my DSLR film scanning experiment. I am using my SONY A7 with my old ROKKOR macro lens to copy my 35mm film negatives, mostly B&W. I have tweeked the file and will soon print on my EPSON 3800 using the advanced B&W mode. I am anxious to make a print to determine for myself if this approach will convince me to go back to shooting film and get out of my "Not happy with digital B&W results".

I use this feature on my OM-D 5.2 to photograph studio interiors and paintings.
I prefer the 64mp raw file to the 36mp raws from my D800E (4/3 format vs 2/3, sharper image, better camera ergonomics), of course the Olympus needs to be on a tripod and including a human is pretty much forget about it.
One interesting item is that the camera produces three file for each exposure.
1. the 64mp blended raw
2. a 40mp blended Jpeg
3. a 16 mp single raw, this is useful if there was movement between sensor shifts, like insurance.

Rumor has it that the new Panasonic G9 has this feature as well.

I’d like to hear more about Peter’s technique for “scanning” film...

"I’d like to hear more about Peter’s technique for “scanning” film..."

Me too, including the lens and other attachments necessary to do this sort of work.

Maybe it will give me a reason to justify a E-M1 Mark II. :-)

"impressing their bepimpled littermates"

I have an A7RIII on pre order but haven't decided whether to get it or the A7RII.
The pixel shift will be really good for copying negatives, and it has a PC ( Prontor Compur not personal computer or whatever the alleged president is always railing against ) connector on it.

On the other hand my old A7 naught or whatever the original is called works more than well enough for copying, with already more dynamic range and resolution than the originals need, and the limitation I have taking photos of trees is that they move too much already so the IBIS and pixel shift wont help there. The same problem for landscapes where air turbulence and diffraction limiting are the tech problem dejour. I should point out that I'm making gigapixel composited images where I'm having real problems getting objects a half mile and 20 miles away adequately sharp.

I do need some IBIS for casual shooting, and the A7RII seems like it's worth spending the money on.
So the real question is: get an A7RIII or A7RII and replace my iphone 5 or get another $800 disposable car or $800 worth of sandwiches.

I have no bepimpled littermates, my contemporaries seem to still be surprised that I have been using digital cameras for the past 20 years.

you have a way with words: "bepimpled littermates".

"It's fantastic that Sony is continuously improving this wonderful and popular family of cameras, unstinting in its generosity with its latest updates."-Mike

This is one of the problems with written rather than spoken communcation: Without the context of "body language", I honestly can't tell if you're being serious or facetious, Mike. ;-)

Regarding pros jumping on this update. I'm with cdembrey on this one. Most pros I know are usually a generation or two behind the latest and greatest, that whole ROI thing being the determinant factor. For pros, cameras are simply a means to an end, a tool to deliver product. If the current tool works, there generally has to be sound business reason, like, um, increased profitability, to upgrade to the latest and greatest.

His comments about "camera club members" buying one are spot-on, too. I attended a wonderful seminar by Art Wolfe in June. Wolfe was talking about "seeing", "vision", and "art" and all he got from the audience was questions about what camera he was using or, did he use a circular polarizer for that photo, or if he was going to buy the (new at the time) Sony A9, and if not, why not? Wolfe kept trying to tell them that all the gear now is so good, it didn't matter, what mattered was "vision" and having a solid background in art and art history, but the majority of the audience still didn't get it...at all. They were just focused on gear.

There is a lot of information out there on how to scan film with your DSLR. I would recommend a full frame sensor camera. The key is to make sure film plane and camera sensor are exactly parallel. There are many solutions to accomplish this but my system is very, very simple and effective. The light source should be diffused, don't use your iPad as a light source it does not work! I will keep you posted on my printing results if Mike will be gracious to let me post my findings in a couple of days. I'm not saying I never get decent B&W results from my digital cameras but they are few after many years of shooting digital and they still do not look like film B&W prints.

For the people who want to know how to scan film using a camera, here's a nice post with video: http://jamiemphoto.com/blog/

I’d like to hear more about Peter’s technique for “scanning” film...

Yes, particularly which lens(es) he believes are capable of capturing real 169-megapixel "scans" from film, say, 4x5 or 8x10. The rest of that process is relatively obvious, such as illumination evenness, original/sensor plane alignment, etc.

Peter Wright and Peter komar's posts really struck a chord with me.
I got an EM5-11 and also the Lumix 30mm f2.8 macro for the purpose of salvaging my Tri-X negs and Kodachromes from the mid sixties and seventies. Using my long dormant LPL D6700 enlarger with the dichroic head upside down on the baseboard as the light source and carriers and a level for alignment.The Lumix macro shines as well.
Once converted all of the gifts found in photoshop CC and lightroom are at your disposal. For me spotting for the Tri-X and Olympus One Touch White balance for the Kodachrome. The high res feature of the camera is key.
Thanks, Bill Shannon

Slide duplicators have been around forever, e-bay should be littered with them. The Nikon F-mount duplicators should work with present F-mount digital cameras. Minolta with Sony A-mount, The Canon duplicators are D-mount, not EF. A lot of them were interchangeable T mount. These were made for Full Frame, you would need to use a zoom with APS-C/DX cameras.

There are lots of inexpensive attachments available on Amazon that will work with all digital cameras. Here's an expensive Novoflex on Amazon (see the also looked at items below) https://www.amazon.com/Novoflex-CASTEL-MINI-CASTEL-WQ-CASTEL-II-CASTEL-COP-DIGI/dp/B000NDAZMW

It's not just billboard size prints but also decent (still very large) size prints from fairly severe crops - it's sort of a reverse digital zoom. It makes the small 35 mm lens / body combination even more useful - larger than an RX1R2 (who comes up with the names?) - but with a lot more battery life and "improved" ibis to boot. Still not sure I NEED one though. Oh wait, I'm a lawyer...

If I may be allowed to add a note of disagreement here:

The original idea of the Sony A7 series was wonderful: A small, light full frame interchangeable lens digital camera with a nice viewfinder. I still use my A7r on a daily basis after four years, and I haven't seen anything yet that really compares with it. I can't help but wonder if Datsun 240Z enthusiasts felt like I do back in the 70s when their beloved small, light, quick little sports car grew heavier and more cumbersome and more loaded with "features" until it was nothing like the original.

The second-generation A7s were larger, chunkier, heavier, and just not worth the improvements IMHO. I'd had hopes that with the A9, Sony would bring the A7 line back to its small, light origins; a new A7r with the same dimensions and weight, a nice, quiet shutter and better power management would have been perfect.

Alas, they went in the other direction, and now all of its full-frame mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses are destined to be these big, heavy, thick things that weight down the hand and the neck. Perfect for checking off the boxes and people who go places to shoot and then put their gear away...useless for those of us who simply want a small, light, everyday shooting camera with that lovely sensor.

So when the time comes and my A7r is broken beyond reasonable repair, I will either try and find another one on the used market, jump over to Fuji, or rob a series of banks to afford a Leica M10 (and do a series on prison conditions afterwards, no doubt).

To me, the “main improvement” of the A7RIII over its predecessors in most practical terms is the new, longer-life battery. The A7R and A6000-series cameras have really struggled with the same batteries, which they drain quickly. That would probably be the main attraction for me to upgrade. But, frankly, it’s not likely to be enough FOR ME. I’ve invested heavily in a bandalero full of these batteries, so I’m good for a while.

A fully implemented touch-screen system, ala Fuji pr Panasonic, would really help tip me over the wall of resistance. But it looks like Sony has merely implemented the rather weakly facilitated touch system of the A6500. Nope.

The other headline features regarding better burst shooting and focus tracking aren’t on my wish/need list. Ditto the new shutter system. So I’ll be passing on this upgrade, fwiw.

As several have noted above, pixel shift is perhaps most useful on smaller sensor cameras like the Olympus.

One thing I learned using it with my EM5-II is just how much detail the virtually antique (and pleasingly tiny) Kodak Ektar 50mm f4.5 enlarging lens resolves when adapted as a taking lens.

It continues to surprise me that Sony doesn't encourage the XQD card format by actually using it in its own cameras.

The comments to this post show an urgent need to cover the topic camera scanning of film (negatives and slides). Unfortunately most of the experienced commenters gave only veiled hints to important details (“With the right lens and technique”, “There are many solutions to accomplish this but my system is very, very simple and effective”) but without going into details.
Several years ago the topic “film scanning” was in TOP, but unfortunately there seemed to was a tendency in the direction camera scanning is of bad quality, it can never work because of the Bayer sensor, sensor-film-plane-issues etc.
I once dove into this topic for several months (scanner versus camera scanning) and I am now in the process of camera scanning around 100 000 negatives (35mm and all formats in 120), which is the output of my lifelong photography until now.
The quality I get with camera scanning is very good and fast. If I would use a scanner I would have to live twice to accomplish this work, now it will takes me approximately 2 years of my spare time, which I can stand.
I have to agree, the most difficult part of the process is the sensor-film-parallel-alignment, because we are dealing with fractions of millimeters. Levels are way to imprecise, the best thing until now is the mirror-trick, but this is still not perfect. I’m contemplating about some laser device, once used to align an enlarger.
Now to the main point of my comment: I do think that the readers of TOP are a very qualified and experienced community. It would be great if Mike would consider a new crowdsource about this topic, an update of the current technological situation.
By the way: after testing several Macro lenses, I consider the Rodagon D 1:4 / 75 mm as the best lens for 1:1 reproduction, but most dedicated Macro lenses are respectable and usefull. In special cases, for most demanding quality, I use stitching . I couldn’t ask for more quality and all this with quite reasonable gear. For quick film scans in MFT I use the autofocus Olympus Macro 3,5 / 30 , but the corners are not perfect with this lens but usable in most cases (film grain is important for me).
This hybrid approach makes my current and future photography with film, especially with real medium format (and not the so-called medium format in the new cameras from Hasselblad etc.), very enjoyable, flexible, inexpensive and of very high technological quality.
Don’t forget the crowdsource ….

It remains to be seen whether the upcoming A7RIII will be a better camera for my purposes than the original A7R.

As it turned out, upgrading to an A7RII would actually have been a downgrade, because even before the "star eater" issues surfaced, its performance with the type of low-light, low-ISO, long-exposure, late-night photography I like to do (and which reviewers rarely test or comment upon) proved to be not as good as the original A7R's performance.

I had high hopes this wouldn't be the case with the A7RIII, but the fact that Sony is using the same sensor as it did in the A7RII isn't very encouraging. (sigh)

Do y'all think this IBIS might benefit a shooter who is struggling with an ever increasing hand tremor?
I'm 'only' 63 but I got the shakes.

Hasselblad announced that the XCD lens range has been expanded to a total of nine lenses my in-box said this morning http://www.hasselblad.com/lenses/x-system

The Sony A7R III [657 g] weights a measly 9% (68 grams) less than Hasselblad X1D [725 g] (*inc. batteries and memory card). A trifle. When the X1D shows up on Hasselblad's Certified Pre-Owned page it will be hard to resist. The X1D with the newly announced 21mm (=15mm FF) lens would be a great walk-around camera. The X1D with a XCD MACRO 4/120mm (= 85mm FF) would be a perfect studio or portrait lens—but I'm retired and never shot portraits, so why would I need one? But the 120mm f/4 could be a great lens for Mike 8-)

For "scanning" 35mm negatives I am using an Omega C670 enlarger converted to point source lighting and a Olympus 80mm bellows macro lens with a bunch of aluminum tubes to hold everything together. It's ergonomic for someone with muscle memory from 30 years of darkroom work, YMMV.
The point source hack is so that I can get the benefits of using the central part of the lens IE greater DOF but without the diffraction caused by stopping the aperture down. I actually have it set up so that the condensers project an image of the LED I am using at the point of the aperture of the lens. There is a theoretical improvement I could make by switching from a white led to a point source RGB led* but the there is no chromatic aberration that I can tell in the system and I am getting nice images of the grain anyway.

I don't recommend the Omega C760 , it took a lot of fiddling to get aligned. I do recommend the Olympus OM Zuiko 80mm lens as it is one of the few 1:1 lenses you can get at a reasonable cost ( not for long now ) Micro Nikkors don't hold a wet candle to it, Printing Nikkors are the best but usually cost an arm and two legs. There are a bunch of them on ebay at the moment. Most high end lenses with "printing" in the name are good, they were originally sold for making prints of movie films and were priced accordingly. I suspect that there are a lot of optical printers being scrapped at the moment. I really ought to pick one up.

A 3 watt led is WAY WAY WAY too bright, I have a ND filter on top of the condensers. I need to get a dimmer, smaller led.

*if I had a chromatic aberration problem a light source with only three wavelengths would be much sharper after correcting the aberration in software because it would be three sharp images instead on three smeared images.

Oh, and secret to hanging a camera off an enlarger is a M42 pentax thread reversing macro ring attaching the lens to a to a m42 to m39 LTM adapter attaching to the lens board of the enlarger and a bunch of extension tubes where needed. Easy Peasy™

My simple solution to camera parallel to film plane is as follows: I do not use a copy stand because I think solving the parallel challenge is too much for copy stands to achieve. I built a small box out of wood with a small rectangular LED light source with a sheet of diffusion glass. I then made a film carrier out of black polystyrene plastic, from AMAZON I think. I then purchased a wide angle metal lens hood that fits my macro lens, 55mm. Here comes the simple but effective part. I cut a piece of plastic PVC tubing, pipe or a fitting. This tube can be easily cut using a mitre saw, electric with a circular blade large enough to cut the fitting in one cut. This cut PVC fitting should be a large enough diameter so the wide angle lens hood sits on the top of it. The length of the fitting/tube allows me to use the lens focus to rack the camera up and down to fill the frame and achieve critical focus. You are basically shooting through a tube/chimney apparatus. The inside of the PVC is of course spray painted black, if the PVC tube you cut is a 90 degree cut and if it sits on the glass you are quaranteed a parallel shooting plane, trust me it worked. The tube cut is the key, I used a PVC fitting since it was a heavier gauge than piping, I recall it was a 4" coupler.

Just a little information on using a digital camera to 'scan' 35mm slides or negs. With m43, since it's imaging scale is 1/2 of 35mm, you can use autofocus. With FF 35mm, you can't as you need to move the body (or slide) to focus at the required 1:1. So m43, with pixel shift will give you somewhere around a 50 megapixel image with no bayer artifacts (no moire, etc.); you will get pretty much everything available out of a 35mm slide and have autofocus as well. Makes for speedy slide digitizing with little fuss. Put a 45/2.8 or 60/2.8 macro lens on an Olympus EM-1 Mk II and you have about as good a digital copy with a minimum of effort as is available. I've been using this, and the EM-5 MkII before it for a while. The Sony A7rII or III can't do better, and it's slower by about half, because of the manual refocussing required for top quality.

I forgot to add that I have tested a whole range of options, and among other things have a Leitz Aristophot that a University let go. It came with 25/2.5, 50/2.8, 80/4.5 and 120/5.6 Photar lenses as well as a Zeiss Orthoplanar S 60/4, which are hard to beat for micro or macro photography. The point is that lenses such as the Panasonic 45/2.8 and especially the Olympus 60/2.8 slightly stopped down are a match for those Photars and the Zeiss in the range for slide digitization, so trying to top those for such use is futile. I do, however, use the Aristophot stand for the duplication, as it is probably earthquake proof. A home made Lightbox and film holder complete the setup.

Just wondering if Peter Wright could go through his technique for using the EM1 as a slide scanner. My next camera (panasonic or olympus) will have pixel shift.

Refering to my former (mirrorless) camera scanning comment I want to add that I consider it very important to use the electronic shutter to avoid even the slightest shutter shock issue. The used macro scale which is close to or at 1:1is very sensitive in this respect.
Depending on camera model and shutter speed I experienced a slight but visible decrease in sharpness by using the mechanical shutter and continuous light. Apparently his is caused by the multiple action of the mechanical shutter (close, open, close, open). My first few thousand camera scans I illuminated with flash and mechanical shutter which was very fine. But the workflow was not fast enough because of the constant switching between flash and pilot light for the positioning and focus check of the next frame and the lack of autofocus (Bowens Illumitran Copier). Continuous light and autofocus is much faster, but you have to take care of the shutter shock issue.

Mike says "the main feature that's been added is called Pixel Shift Multi Shooting" ... but from the collection of enhancements I can see over the A7R2, Sony really wants the A7R series to be good option for wedding / event photographers. The larger battery and improved responsiveness point in this direction.

The A9 is Sony's pitch to wildlife and sports photographers.

The Pixel Shift tech in the A7R3 is aimed at photographic reproductions (from artwork to film "scanning").

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