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Monday, 26 September 2011


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That's a nicely strobed BMW photo. I bet it was taken with a Nikon D3x or Canon 1Ds mkIII; this web-size image would have looked so much better taken with an 80MP camera instead of the 20-something of the Canikons.

Comparing cameras with other stuff that is priced the same, is helpful for preventing stupid decisions.
I did a similar thing on my blog some weeks ago, when I got angry about the high prices for all this small camera equipment, we can't afford not to buy.
I compared my new biking-shoes with some lenscaps worth the same amount. It was depressing.


Scroll down for the pictures.

Of course your friends compared their digital back to a poorly scanned, shaky, unfocused 8x10 film image. Not even the film grain was sharp, it was a funky test. From a practical matter both are overkill for any application other than giant art prints. And their aura.

>>Any top ten or ten best list automatically implies a number 11.

You're good, Mike.

This is why I read and re-read TOP every single day.

Don't forget to include a Leica Lexus in your list of "most desirable."

80MP - a pixel-peeper's dream.

Am I the only one who sees a limp penile shape in the viewfinder prism? It's enough not to make me desire this camera body...

I read LL's 8x10 vs. 180 comparison and found the 180 shots to have astounding resolution. I recall, though, the analog-digital music debates as CDs made their entrance many years ago. As with this debate, it revealed that my powers of perception and my level of interest are lacking, at least when I view or listen in ordinary settings. I just don't see or hear enough well to care a great deal about the differences. With both music and photography, I usually care more about the subject matter than its technical resolution.

As a Wisconsonite, you no doubt remember the butter-margarine wars. To a degree, I learned from them that ignorance is often the best policy. Ignoring subtle differences can save me money, improve my overall enjoyment of life and keep me from losing friends.

It is most desirable to me! Especially mounted on my c.1965 Linhof Technika 70! Everything Old can be New Again!

The line between "35mm" and "medium format and up" seems much sharper now than it used to be. But maybe only because full-frame is still regarded as small, whereas with today's performance it's clearly out-performing medium-format film in a number of ways (including all the ways that matter to me).

Used to be, as a highschool 35mm photographer, I still had access to a Yashica D. And a few years later actually owned a Yashicamat 124G. Today, I don't know a single person with larger-than-FF digital (though I know a few names, from the Web).

I suppose if you can afford one, you can afford the other. Or lease. I wonder if Phase One (or dealers) offer a leasing program. Might make sense for a camera like this.

You can't be too rich, too thin, or have too many mega pixels!

That's kind of an unusual camera for Wired to review... all of the "see also" reviews are *much* lower on the food chain. (Though I must admit I'm not entirely certain who Wired's target demographic is these days.)

A friend of mine shoots medium format digital, and he's generally happy with a back that's 3-4 generations old. He picks 'em up 'pretty cheap' (his words, I don't call $5-10k cheap myself) off of eBay.

"nicely strobed BMW photo"

Aside from the "what's a BMW with Munich plates and non USA legal taillights doing on Sansom Street in San Francisco?" factor, there's something odd about that photo, Car and background taken with different lenses or the same lens at two different stops, or something. The reflections don't look like they match either.

And driving with the parking lights on?

"So if you want to have an irreproachable status symbol...."

No good. Carrying around and using this camera you are not likely to run into any of the very few who would know what it is and what it cost. (And they would be too polite to comment on it.) A few pesos less and much more recognizable a Leica M9 Titanium would fill the bill and you would have more than enough left over for a tricked out Vespa. You can show that you are both rich and trendy.

sharpness is a funny thing to be overly concerned with - but you do need to be somewhat concerned... Here are a couple of thoughts.

I'm not one of these guys where everything has to be sharp - in fact most of my favorite photos are a bit fuzzy around certain edges. What this comes down to is the intent of the artist. It's a great tool and I'm sure someone like Andreas Gursky can make a fortune with it - but probably not someone with a different aesthetic or even client needs. (as a fine artist I'm always interested in the "client" concerns versus the artistic concerns)

It all comes back to intent, sometimes intent is the right tool for the job sometimes not. But I'm willing to bet that a 8 x 10 photographer has a ton of reasons for wanting to stay in that format far beyond megapixels or "sharpness".

You (Mike) have mentioned in the past how formats are changing - it seems like high megapixel DSLR's are almost medium format, etc. I think this is one of those times that kind of proves this idea.

Mwah, isn't this just a crop sensor ?


PS: I like the reasoning about 11 being the new 10, but you'll end up with a baker's dozen in two years

Good points, Mike. And yes, that LuLa piece is interesting. (The Wired piece is crap for the hipster hair gel crowd...Wired's main audience.)

I've been a Phase One / Mamiya fan for a while, having recently updated from a P65+ to the new IQ160 back principally for the world-of-difference in usability features of the new IQ series. Even though my dealer gave me an excellent offer to upgrade to the IQ180 I chose to stay with the 60Mp sensor. Frankly, I really don't need 80Mp file sizes and also chose to stay with the larger pixel pitch. The dirty little secret: it turns out I chose correctly, as the 160 images may have a quality edge over the 180's in some situations.

Yes, these things are expensive. But, without going into a full "review" they offer features and options that 35mm-size dslr systems simply do not, not to mention resolution and dynamic range to satisfy any application. The Phase One system, in particular, offers an unequalled degree of configurability and adaptability. You want to stick a Phase One back onto your wonderful old Hassy? Can do. How about sticking one on a technical camera? Sure. Just examples.

I know that many of my fellow TOP regulars are middle-aged fellows who enjoy more contemplative styles of photography. Those readers should note that the introduction of the new IQ backs is precipitating a hail of trade-ins which, in turn, creates some outstanding deals for lightly-used backs in the P30 and P45 range. For the approximate cost of a new dslr you might be able to get into this remarkable system. And once you're in you'll never leave.

If you don't need the Phase One flexibility or its large image files I think the Pentax 645D or, even better, the Leica S2 are much saner choices for dslr-style medium format work.

It was shown some years ago by John Williams and by others that 35mm film, meticulously handled, is capable of roughly the same linear resolution as a typical 4x5 film image.

This is due to diffraction (larger format lenses have to be stopped down more to achieve the same depth of field), camera alignment, camera movement, focus accuracy, film flatness, and various other issues.

We already know that digital sensors have in many (though not all) technical aspects surpassed all but very specialized 35mm films. We also know that many photographers have compared high-resolution FF DSLRs to 4x5 with favorable results.

80 Mpx is a bit less than 2x the linear resolution of a 24 Mpx sensor. In film terms, this is a bit less than the jump from 35mm [24x36] to 645 [60x45]. (The IQ180 sensor is 40x53).

Hence, it stands to reason that doubling the linear resolution of a digital sensor in a well-constructed camera might offer better resolution than an 8x10, especially if it's a film-to-digital comparison, and especially if it's a reasonable field comparison: the 8x10 camera's IQ is going to get (comparatively) destroyed by even a slight breeze, and by its inferior alignment, mechanical stability, and film flatness.

For mural-sized images in skyscraper lobbies, a camera like this might be just the thing -- although one might do almost as well by stitching files from a 5DII with an excellent lens, and indeed, depending on the subject and the lenses used, one might do considerably better, albeit at the cost of convenience.

As another poster mentions above, the real question is: what is the meaning of shooting film in the present era? Or of hand-setting type in an era of offset printing, or of making stone lithographs, or knitting one's own sweaters, or baking one's own bread? For me the decision to continue with film comes down to an engagement with materials, processes, and workflow.

Let's see. An 80 megapixel back should give twice the resolution of a 20 megapixel sensor.

So, if one wanted to completely squander a minute per landscape image, one might slap a good lens on, say, a 5DII, take 5 portrait orientation shots in about 1.5 seconds, take twenty seconds to load the shots into PhotoShop panorama merge, crop a bit to 80 MP's worth, and then go out for a spin in that M3.

I suppose there might be a dynamic range advantage to the Phase One back. Guess one might have to put the 5dII in auto exposure bracket, and take 5 seconds to shoot the sequence, not 1.5 seconds. My bad.

BTW, the rumors are that the 1Ds MIV will be a 50 MP camera. ;>D

What to get when your rich uncle dies...

In that vein, a Phase One P45+ back and a Contax 645, please. To go.

...went to a new Hasselblad roll out in Chicago maybe five years ago now, and it might have been something in the low 30 megapixel range, my mind is going, but when I saw the 20X24 blow-ups, it was all over for film then, except for the fact that I couldn't afford the damn thing then or today either, but it truly looked great...

...so, I guess what I'm saying is that 80 megapixel just seems crazy, and of course, 44K just seems crazy as well..what the world needs is a 20 something megalpixel full frame 35mm digital body for 750.00, and a 30 megapixel something 645 digital back (to mount on my Hasselblad V), for 3,000.00...AND, 16 bit color...

I can't imagine what this is for...

@ John Krumm: Indeed, you can rent or lease Phase One backs and cams in most cities. It makes a great deal of sense for commercial photographers who only occasionally need such firepower, as they can directly bill the expense to the project.

@ robert55: Haw. Actually, no, the IQ180 and IQ160 are "full frame" 645 sensors.

@ Mike J.: "...the viewing screen is allegedly not as good as the best, although it's said to be improved from Phase One's previous series of backs." Ah, no more! The IQ backs have a rather iPhone-like screen with similar resolution and a touch/gestural interface. Zooming to 100% on a shot was a painful proposition on the earlier backs, but is just two taps on the IQ's screen. The back's whole operating system has been written from scratch specifically for processing images (rather than licensing and adapting Android, which was considered).


Consider yourself lucky in the USA. A BMW M3 in the UK costs considerably more than $44,000 when converted into sterling. There's more than a Nikon D3X of difference, and the wretched car had to sail past the UK to get to the States to start with.

The comparison holds good at other price points, though. My 2007 Nikon D200 is probably worth about the same as my 2002 Volvo, and both have considerable use left in them.

So far, you have had less comments on the Phase One than your blog on Waukesha. I guess more people can identify with getting lost, than spending $40M+ on a camera back.
But I agree with your choice for 11, and their price helps me and camera makers rationalize any price point by any other camera maker for 1 through 10.
I said "rationalize", which is not the same word as "justify" or "afford"

"I don't think I have ever once looked at a picture from 8x10 film and thought, "You know, what that picture really needs is a little more resolution." Just sayin'." -- MJ

Which doesn't mean that it couldn't happen. Not too long ago I wrote a piece for TOP about most-desirable image size, and suggested that even the biggest common photographic sizes might actually be a little small in terms of display. What the 80mp gets you, of course, is photos that are very sharp and very large. Looking at the trends in photo galleries, I would suggest that we are on the brink of an era when people will want their art photos to run 36x24 on the small side, and often larger than that -- and they'll want to be able to walk up to six inches from the photo and continue to resolve more detail as they do that.

For many uses, on the web and in commercial publishing, the 35mm-sized shots will continue to be just fine (in fact, even the Nikon 1 will do about as good as anything, for those purposes.) But, for the billboard sized shots that we're going to start seeing a lot of, 8x10 won't cut it anymore. Those huge shots are going to create a whole new aesthetic.

There better be $%#&^ XPan on this list, or I am going to unsubscribe from this rag..

Oh wait, wrong era.

I think the car looks rather handsome next to the phase one thing-a-ma-jig. *grin*


Chuck Kimmerle wrote:
> That's more than 1800 pixels for a dollar.
> Where can you get 1800 of anything for a dollar?

At today's rates, one US Dollar should still get you about 1800 Colombian Pesos...

MM, I hope that your 8x10 film shooting justifies itself by the results. Whether it's directly technical, or the way working in film affects your own interior process, is not my problem (and I hope it's your joy rather than a problem).

I'd say that I desire this back, and the camera and lens that must be appended to it. ("You need a house to go with this doornkob!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-GiRaHv9XQ, but I'd probably struggle with being methodical enough to use it properly. What's the pray-and-spray rate for medium format anyway, about a frame every five minutes?

Thinking of the Joe Walsh song:

"My Maserati does 185
I lost my license and now I don't drive"

I think the Phase I would have a longer useful life.
Photograph with it like you stole it. :)

Being a nube whose credit card balance is not for the faint-hearted, I have several exotic digital cameras staring at me from my camera cupboard. But what do I take out for pure pleasure? A Leica R7, a Summicron of some description and a roll of black and white something.

Of course my resolution is blown away by a medium-format digital back. But 35mm black and white film still has a soul that even the best conversion programs can't match.

I'm sure a Nissan Skyline trounces a Jaguar E-type in almost every way. But which has more soul? Which is the more fun?

80 Mpix is all very fine and dandy, but what about out-resolving 20x24" Polaroid. EH?

Yes, yes, but will it beat a good 11" X 14"? : )

I encourage everyone to buy this megawonder. Buy, buy, buy. Glut the market so the price falls big time, the used market saturates, and then maybe, just maybe, us mere mortal amateur photographers might be able to buy one used in a few years!

"and then maybe, just maybe, us mere mortal amateur photographers might be able to buy one used in a few years!"

Ah, but by then you won't want one. By then ordinary DSLRs will have caught up and there will be further wonders tempting you at the high end....


I was pretty disappointed that they shot the film at f/32 and the digital at f/16 or f/11. Just eyeballing the size of the bits they cropped out of the test images, they seem to be crowding up against diffraction limits, which is probably where at least some of the visible softness in the film images comes from.

While it's obviously the case that the digital is either better or close enough where nobody sensible is going to worry about it, I'm always disappointed by apples to oranges tests.

I would take the 1 series M coupe any day. But it costs about USD95,000 in Australia.

"Aside from the "what's a BMW with Munich plates and non USA legal taillights doing on Sansom Street in San Francisco?" factor, there's something odd about that photo, Car and background taken with different lenses or the same lens at two different stops, or something. The reflections don't look like they match either."

The simple explanation for this is that it's not a photograph at all.

Some time ago, while lunching at Whole Foods in Santa Monica, I met a dapper gent named Ludovico. Ludovico told me he worked in 3D computer graphics, which in LA usually means movies (yawn).

It turned out his business was in generating product photography, mostly for cars. He informed me that 98% of car photographs we see today -- in ads, brochures, etc. -- are not photographs at all but computer renderings. The manufacturer uploads the car's CAD data to him and he is able to generate any image the manufacturer likes, in any context or lighting. If you want an image of someone driving your SUV in Kenya, it's a lot cheaper to computer generate it instantaneously than to actually ship it to Kenya and hire and insure a photographer and crew, who may or may not deliver what you need.

The image you see, then, is a platonic ideal, generated from the pure data used to manufacture the car. The car itself is an imperfect manifestation of this ideal, and any photograph you could take would be an imperfect rendering of that imperfect car. Why would anybody want that? Ludovico informed me that he's moving on from manufactured goods (easy) to food, and, eventually, human beings.

You can extrapolate a great deal about the future of photography from this.

This leads us inexorably to the conclusion that #1 on Mike's list of most desirable cameras: the most desirable camera, from a corporate standpoint, is no camera at all.

Here's an idea: When you get there, pick the Nikon V1 as #1 so we can all read another 685 comments about it.

Neighbor of mine took out a second mortgage some years ago to buy a full-frame Phase One of some kind. $17K or thereabouts. I guess it's a back, but really part of what looks like a Frankensteinian contraption, as he uses it.

He has a Copal shutter on it and uses Nikkors. His D300 bodies have enough pixels to make comparable-size prints but he prefers the tone of the Phase One. It's paid for itself (and the 2nd mortgage) but he'd never be able to replace it; his business has since all but dried up.

I guess this is the point where we remind people that a lot of people use 8X10 for not only the process of using conventional film and the craft of processing and printing it, but when shooting portraits of people, the actual impact that the process of using a large camera on a person has, i.e. the 'reverence' that the subject feels for the honor of getting photographed with such a thing, and the slowness of the posing, moving, and focusing...it sets a tone that changes the result of the session over someone hopping around with a smaller camera.

On the other hand, this info is just good to know, to be filed away for some future reference; altho I think I actually would have liked to see the back tested against a slow speed transparency film in a 120 6X7 camera with a top notch lens...call me crazy, but after years of shooting sheet film, I just think the smaller format might have been sharper, if grainier, on the edges...

I'm not all that sure 8X10 was never really meant to be blown up all that big, but this is a whole other discussion about the real uses of 8X10 by studio photographers, shooting in "pro", making quick 8X10 contacts for multiple printing, etc. etc.

Those huge shots are going to create a whole new aesthetic.

So did HDR, and look where this got us.

I really enjoy the aesthetics of images shot with an 8x10 camera. It's not really the resolution, rather it's more about the narrow depth of field you get when a 300mm lens is "normal". That said, if they ever make a digital back with an 8x10" sensor, I'm totally renting for a day.

I recently saw a video of Simon Norfolk's recent work in Afganistan, and was interested to see that he switched to medium format digital. Previously he'd done all his work on 4x5. Clearly he decided MF digital was up to the task, altho it takes a lot of guts to lug such an expensive camera around Kabul.

$40,000 is equal to the cost of shooting and processing 2000 sheets of 8x10 film. That's only twice the number of images Richard Misrach shot of New Orleans in the wake of Katrina--images which he shelved in favor of snapshots taking with a 4MP pocket camera.


No way I'll ever even get close to one of these things, and it really doesn't faze me. Some of the most haunting, memorable and emotive photographs I've ever seen were taken with Holgas. And after recently seeing Doug Rickard's A New American Picture (rephotographed Google map images off his monitor screen) as contemporary wall sized prints, you'd be surprised how such fuzzy, artifact riddled images still hold up as photographs that can still be very well worth looking at and appreciated.


It was quite interesing, the comment by Curt Gerston about the PODAS workshop in the Palouse of Washington. Accidently, I was in the area and saw the PODAS vans heading up to Steptoe Butte.
There is one photo on the LuLa website about taken 20 hours before one I took with a Canon 5DII. I think my composition is slightly better, but the tonality range of the Phase One photo is outstanding. The 5DII is pushing my economics, but I had fun. I trust they did too.

80 megapixels is nice, but if the absolute maximum-length exposure it can handle is two minutes (and less than that in hot weather, of which we have plenty here in Arizona!), then the IQ180 won't work for me no matter what sort of magical image quality it might offer.

At least that's the rational I've used to convince myself not to upgrade my P30+ ... for the moment, anyway.

Dear Tom Kwas,

Okay you're crazy.


As a guy who spent decades testing these kind of products, I can tell you that the smaller format would definitely not have been sharper. Although it might have just squeaked in as "as sharp" in one of those hero experiments I talked about. But realistically, nope. When you start to pixel-peep medium format film photographs, they turn out not to be anywhere as sharp as you imagined.

My 4800 ppi film scans are frequently dismaying that way. What looks so remarkably good in a 16x20 print doesn't really pixel-peep as all that great.


Dear Andrew Moliter,

Not apples and oranges, comparably-realistic photographic situations. Most photographers stop down 8 x 10 lenses a lot more than smaller format lenses for two reasons:

First, depth of field is extremely shallow in 8 x 10 format. Working at f/32 is very roughly equivalent to working at f/4 in 35mm. As one of the commenters posted, one can use this extremely shallow depth of field to great effect, but more often you're fighting for more. That's the most important reason for the existence of swings and tilts.

Second, the typical large-format film holder doesn't hold the film anywhere near flat. Even a tensioned holder can't reduce the runout to much less than a millimeter; you really need a vacuum back to keep it flat. Hardly anybody uses a vacuum 8 x 10 back. A non--tensioned film holder can give you run outs of several millimeters. Note that at f/32, even a 1 mm runout limits your resolution to 30 line pair per millimeter; 2 mm drops up to 15. These are not uncommon numbers. There is good reason the folks using really big cameras stop down a long ways.

'Course, that's not gonna be true over the entire frame. There'll be sharp spots and soft spots. But the soft ones'll get awfully soft.

By the way, at f/32 the lens's diffraction-limited performance (and we can expect these lenses to be very close to that) would be in the neighborhood of 40 line pair per millimeter. So if you're thinking that even in those relatively low-resolution drum scans the 8 x 10 images were looking a little fuzzy, it's not due to diffraction effects in the lens. It's real-world behavior versus the limits of the laws of physics.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

If only image quality was directly proportional to meaning and interestingness, I might be tempted.

I note that, in the LL article, Zuber says, "Unfortunately, the sun continued to move ...". So much for his scientific credentials.

In resolution terms, if 80 MP is considered equivalent to 8x10 film, i.e 1MP per square inch then 1.33MP must be considered equal to a 35mm frame. Something which pro digital and pro film photographers would both consider to be nonsense.

If scanning filmgrain was reached at a measelly 745 dpi then why the %^#% am I using a 4000 dpi Nikon scanner to scan my Ektachromes and why the %^#% Hassy makes a near 7000 dpi scanner to do the same, come on i've seen these test from websites like the over and over, and yes a 40.000 dollar Phase One or Leaf Aptus or Hassy back are great to work with. But please stop compairing them to 8x10 camera's which in the right hands can turn out stunning photo's in their own right. Now I know about lpi as well and my experience and data shows that an 8x10 can hold as much as 3100 dpi in the film area thus resolving 3100/25.4/2 = 61 lp/mm (test done by Dutch scientist and photographer Dr. Bert Otten).


So, I guess given the right tools (and he used a flatbed scanner to scan and a microscope to determine resolution) I guess Steve Smith and I can start laughing and stop worrying (and drive of in our nice shiny new M3's).

Greetings, Ed

Dear Ctein,

I was basically just doing the usual back of the envelope calculation of f/32 gives you "dots" of a bit less than 30 microns, and the samples looked like maybe 15000 microns across. I concur that there's a lot more going on in there than just diffraction, but I do think they're in the zone where you should be able to see some softness creeping in from that effect. That's what I was trying to convey with "crowding up against"

More importantly, though, I realize that the sensor size is enough smaller that "equivalent" apertures are going to be in the general area of what they used (I think of this thus: They're going to have to enlarge the digital image by about 5x to get to the "sensor" size of the film, so they SHOULD be using a more open aperture for apples-to-apples). So, I was just wrong ;)

It's still not apples to apples, but it's a better approximation than I thought the first time thinking it through, and it's still (obviously) ample evidence that the digital back is as good as the film for any practical purpose.

And then people use it in cameras with no wiggles.. What now? This thing is BEGGING for a tiny little view camera rig. Of course, I can have such a rig custom fabricated for me for quite a bit less than the cost of the back..

Dear Steve and Ed,

Please read my featured comment as well as the later one to Andrew Moliter. It explains the errors in your reasonings.

pax / Ctein

I'm all for more resolution wars that keep the majority of photographers head down narrowly focused on quantifiable meaures of quality, distracted from observing and relaying beauty. Leaves me more room to play.

Dear Andrew and Ed,

Hopefully Mike will tolerate one last (I promise) technical comment cluttering up this thread.

Andrew, you are right that diffraction does take something from the final resolution. But, because blur circles combine as the square root of the sum of the squares, the effect isn't as large as one might intuit. For example, a really excellent f/32 lens can deliver 40 line pair per millimeter. If focus errors/film plane run out limit the resolution to 30 line pair per millimeter, the two combined will yield a final resolution of 25 line pair per millimeter. With larger film plane runouts, the difference between including diffraction and not becomes even smaller. That's why I said it didn't matter much for the purpose of this experiment.

Now, for maximum sharpness from the system, if I were running the test, I would probably have opened up the view camera lens a stop. But I'd have similarly opened up the smaller camera lenses by 1 to 2 stops and also would've seen increased detail. In other words, this doesn't represent the absolute best that either system can do. But it's not atypical of how this equipment would actually be used in the field.

Ed, I took a look at Bert's test results, and they are positively amazing. This guy is good; he can run tests for me any day! He is managing to get, on film in an 8 x 10 view camera, better than 80% of theoretical diffraction-limited resolution. And that is after losses due to the film itself and the inevitable focus/runout errors, which he has managed to keep down to a few tenths of a millimeter. I don't know how he did, but the guy is truly impressive.

This is exactly what I meant about a “hero experiment.” Get everything absolutely, positively perfect, and you can obtain amazing results from any format. But out in the real world, those are not the norm. Essentially they are laboratory demonstrations of perfectibility, not demonstrations of practical photography.

You will occasionally see results as good as Bert's. You won't see them routinely.

pax \ Ctein

[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

If given the budget by my imaginary rich whoever, I'd definitely go for the car.

I doubt you can use the PO back mounted on whatever kit you have while driving the M3. For this purpose, any tiny cell phone camera is better than the phase one, but if I do get a phase one, I'd probably end up photographing an M3 with strobes anyways... but that's just me :)

What I often see missing from these resolution tests are the actual viewing experience. Of course this is subjective. I have yet to test a Phase One back against medium or large format film personally, but too often (but not always) the images I see created digitally appear to have less volume. That is they feel flat - two dimensional. Whereas photography (images created on film) seem to have more volume, more depth.

This is not always the case though. On occasion I've seen digitally captured images with excellent depth. More often in BW, but at times in color too. I attribute this to the scene, the light, the lens used, and the post work - aside from the resolution.

Another fascinating aspect is perception (and perspective). I've had discussions with other image creators (often with only digital experience) who can not see the differences I (and others) see between the two mediums. Why this is I can only guess.

I would have liked to have seen a test of color negative film vs the scanning back. Color negative film seems to have a greater tonal range than transparency film. Unfortunately it picks up more noise in the scan.

With regard to lens diffraction @ aperture, lenses are unique. They handle both resolution and diffraction @ specific apertures differently. A specific Rodenstock and a specific Schneider of the same focal range may have absolute sharpness at different apertures.

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