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Thursday, 18 June 2015


Not the camera for me. For a lot of reasons, not just the weight.

I just spent a good bit of time this morning reading through the TOP archives on soft focus and flare. I've gotten very good at getting images I like outta my Panasonic G3 with a lot of lenses, but my new Lensbaby soft focus optic is really kicking me in the seat of the pants. So I figured it was time to do some homework of the reading sort to see if I could narrow down what effects I wasn't liking, and why.

It's really hard to find discussion of things like veiling glare and why you might want it in an image elsewhere. Or why soft focus can be good, and how it's not automatically low resolution. Why soft corners aren't necessarily bad. How to work out how much you need to stop down for a specific effect.

I have a feeling working out how to put a hood on the silly thing is on the agenda. Also, doing some detailed comparisons of polarized vs hooded.

I don't feel too comfortable writing about cameras I never used, but I dare say the camera I would compare to a Mercedes S-Class would be something from Hasselblad, Mamiya Leaf or Phase One. Full Frame DSLRs are more easily bracketed together with the likes of Mercedes E-Class, Audi A6 or BMW 5 series. (Sinar, Toya and all other large format cameras being the Rolls-Royce and Bentley equivalents.) Which is not really that unkind, as those sedans have very high quality standards, eventually begging the question of whether the upper level models are really necessary. This also applies to performance: Full frame DSLRs are good, but better image quality can be achieved. It's up to you to decide if the smaller cameras reach the point of sufficiency.

Consider also some other advantages of high resolution sensors, besides printing larger:

* Increased ability to crop -

Both for changing the composition or aspect ratio, and "zooming in" on small/distant subjects, cropping can be a powerful tool. If you like square format, you've got to crop off 1/3 of your pixels right there from 2:3 format.

* Increased ability to improve the image quality when downscaling -

When scaling the image down for the web or a small print, the more pixels you start with when averaging them in a downscaling algorithm, the better the quality of the image - lower noise, higher dynamic range and tonal range, and better color sensitivity/depth.

* Ability to use lower-quality optics and sub-optimal apertures -

It sounds counterintuitive, but let's say a low-quality lens drops your max resolution by 50% wide open, or 30% stopped down. Well, if you start with a 50 MP sensor, you can shoot wide open and still get 25 MP of effective resolution.

This provides the ability to use older, smaller, and cheaper lenses, while still achieving relatively high resolution (albeit not maximum resolution) even at sub-optimal apertures.


So, there are other advantages to more resolution, besides just in printing, and they can actually be used in creative ways, not just for technical improvement. All of the above phenomena are not just my conjecture, by the way, they are well-studied empirically.

Besides, articles like this are published every few years when a higher resolution sensor comes out.

"No one's going to need 12 megapixels, 6 is enough for anyone. The files sizes are huge, and no one needs that much resolution except for making giant prints." ... etc.

"[M]aking a picture that's technically okay is where photography begins, not where it ends."

That should be on a t-shirt.

As far as I am concerned, the Canon 5DS is incrementalism (rather than innovation) at it's worst. Canon can't innovate it's way out a paper bag these days, and along with Nikon, can't think of anything else to do except increase megapixel count, something the vast majority of photographers neither want or need (see a poll this year by Thom Hogan regarding features most photographer really want).

The best definition of innovation I've heard is "the creation of a revenue stream that did not exist before". A great example is what the iPod, iPhone and iPad did for Apple. Each of those products created a revenue stream for Apple that previously did not exist.

Fuji did this with the X-system cameras and lenses, strategically and importantly moving them away from the declining point-and-shoot market, and Olympus with the excellent OM-D series.

All the 5DS offering does is to increasingly "fractalize" the market into increasingly smaller and smaller segments, none of which will recover Canon's catastrophically tanking DSLR sales.

I'm feeling that "point of sufficiency" right now. I'm getting used to a gx-7, and I can't think of a good reason to get another camera. More pixels? Well, I'm not likely to want to print over 11x14 or so, and the things I would like to have bigger I am comfortable stitching. Maybe I'd like less noise and more dynamic range at iso 3200, but it's not as though I need 6400 or higher.

What I'm thinking most about is how willing I was to trade up from one feature crippled entry level camera to the next, eating the cost along the way. But since I got a good deal on a "enthusiast" camera, chasing tech doesn't interest me. It's like those entry level cameras are full of empty camera nerd calories, forever aggravating ones thirst for sweet, sweet, specs, instead of quenching it with useful features.

Maybe I will buy some lenses? I don't have many wants there, either. A short, close focusing, telephoto, a cheap consumer tele-zoom, maybe a wide angle or fisheye adapter for my kit zoom. I sort of would like to experiment with some legacy lenses for their own sake - for the sake of
seeing how different lenses render, but as you've pointed out before, that's a different hobby than taking pictures and making prints.

"technically perfectly sharp, perfectly true-color photograph under virtually any conditions. What then? That is, technical problems aside, what are you going to do with a camera? "

Well the obvious answer of course is to see how to push the perfect camera beyond its capabilities, or into an environment to which it is unsuited, or to just photograph something beyond human perception, ie photographing the unseeable.

Surf photography with a 8x10 camera for instance.

By the way, I find buy the idea that people view larger photos at greater distances. Go to a museum. People don't stand farther away from big paintings than they stand from small paintings. When I show a 30 foot wide photograph people view from just as close as for a five foot wide photograph, or a two foot wide photo.

I find that people will view from as close as the image looks sharp and they can just resolve the smallest features in the image.

I don't like printing anything larger than what is resolvable at arms length.
IPhone billboards aside

"...And, Does the D800 Have Too Many?"

Well, the D810 certainly does. I would call it the Rainbow Camera for what happens with tiny, repetitive detail, or perhaps the Moiré Queen.

I did some comparisons of the E-M5 II in High Res Mode to other cameras with high native resolutions using the standard test subjects on DPR and IR. I was floored by the really awful moiré effects of the D810.

Until someone comes up with a proper AA filter, an alternative, different color arrays and/or demosaicing algorithms* or a way to sense all colors at all sensel sites, without the drawbacks of Foveon or the Olympus multi-shot merge, the full apparent potential of such high resolutions on less than MF size sensors for general purpose work won't be realized.

Size, weight and price aside, I couldn't use a D810 for much of what I photograph.

* Fuji's X-Trans does not, as yet, address the AA/resolution problem.

Yes, but why would anybody want DSLR in 2015?
I told myself that 5d Mark 3 is going to be my last DSLR and thanks to Olympus/Panasonic/Sony I have means to stick to my plan. In fact I rarely picked up Canon when I had gh2. I got Oly with 'worst camera name ever' and did not touch my Canon equipment since. The only thing that Canon competitors are missing is a great RF remotely controlled flash system.


Have you heard of and/or seen Ming Thein's ultraprints? I'm curious on your take. I've seen one and thought it looked like a contact print.

Have you read Ming Thein's piece about his Ultraprints?

And inside every full frame camera is an APS-C camera waiting to be called.

The "pixel unit" (Canon's words) for the 5DS and the 7D MkII are almost identical making the 24-70 f/2.8, in a round about way, a 24-112 f/2.8 when used on the 5DS.

To come at the same point of "What then?" but from a different angle...

My dad was a distance runner - it was his solo thing, his meditation, his escape, his self-medication. He used to spend a *lot* of money on shoes in a family with a tight budget. Anyway, he used to say, "It's not about having shoes take me forward, it's about finding shoes that won't hold me back". He wanted them to not exist while he was running & spent a lot of money finding them. I've inherited much from him (including shoes when I was old enough), more than I care to self-analyse, but buying things beyond my ability (eg. photographic equipment for my own "distance running") is one.

It has to all come back to me and not the equipment. Credit is the premise, but blame is part of the thought process.

I'm not saying it's good or right.

More resolution (in terms of lp/mm) is wasted on me. I shoot stopped down. I shoot at f8 or f11 whenever possible, and I'm not afraid of f16 (I like lots of DOF)--and since I also shoot a lot of small product and macro, my effective aperture is often ridiculously small.

Still, more resolution (in terms of pixels) would be welcome. I do own an Epson 7900 and I do love to print (lemme tell you: when the 7900 is loaded with Hot Press Natural, it prints windows to other worlds, not photographs), but it's screen images that I'm really concerned with. I send out 3840x2400 or 6000x2400 images to friends and family, and I still see plenty of digital artifacts in them, including frequent moire (and I am baffled by the trend AWAY from AA filters). More pixels won't eliminate that problem, but it will give me more tools to deal with them. Massive downsampling can hide a multitude of sensor-based-sins, as I discovered when I was making scanographs in the 1990's and late 2000's.

Will I buy the 5DS? Maybe. By Canon's own account, it offers no dynamic range improvement over the 5D3 (which itself offered nothing over my 5D2), which is an enormous disappointment from a camera line that gets $1000 more expensive with every iteration. The deciding factor for me will really be how much longer my 5D2 holds out. It's five years old at this point, I work it very hard (I'm at about 200,000 exposures), and I don't baby it at all (it's been in every major storm to hit the area, including Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse, and Hurricane Sandy).

Last weekend I photographed a christening with a Nikon D750 and a D4. I left my D810 at home as it's a temperamental thoroughbred and I need workhorses. The D810 insists on a shutter speed of 1/320s or the images are likely to be less than tack sharp.

After the christening I wrote a blog to explain my process to a new photographer I am mentoring. Essentially, pixels are irrelevant and have been since the Nikon D70 (circa 2004) and it mystifies me that people are concerned about them. What matters, at least at a christening, is how you deal with people and how you solve photographic challenges like ugly backgrounds in a very short space of time. This blog may not appeal to those wanting an excuse to buy a new toy but if it succeeds in shifting the dialogue slightly I think nearly all types of photography will benefit.


I dont know...

To me it seems unnecessary, unjustified. At least with the Merc you're supposedly getting extra room and luxury.

With the Canon you get weight and bulk that you don't need, technology has made it... unnecessary. It seems to me the market is putting up with it for reasons that have little to do with the camera itself. Professional support, availability and variety of things to attach to it, rental market, used market, third party support like magic lantern etc.

"...making a picture that's technically okay is where photography begins, not where it ends."

I understand and can nod with your message here. But the reverse of this construction would be equally true. Consider something like, Good photography begins with concept and observation. It ends with technical sufficiency. Eh?

Well, the car beats out the camera! It comes in more colors for when it is out on the street on display or in use. I am tired of DSLR's following the early Henry Ford car color statement: "You can have any color you want as long as it's black". Um, that is whom I have been told said it.

The comments from TOP readers about Ming Thein's Ultraprints are particularly insightful and interesting because he is one of the few photographers I can think that actually has the shot and print discipline to make use of very high resolution sensors.

But, even he will tell you that more and more megapixels doesn't result in better photographs.

I seem to remember an article Mike wrote on TOP when this whole "lots of megapixels" thang came up some years ago...

Mike's conclusion from that article is as true today as it was then:: it's not how big a stick you have, it's how hard you swing it that matters.

" Imagine that you had a camera that can make a technically perfectly sharp, perfectly true-color photograph under virtually any conditions. What then?"

From the earliest days of photography, with the likes of Roger Fenton or Julia Margaret Cameron, to the present, no real photographer worth his or her salt has actually bothered with this question.

They get a camera, and start with "what now?"

As Ralph Waldon Emerson might have said, in photography, technology is the hobgoblin of small talents.

Following the car analogy, all Canon have done here is take the easy option - stuff a bigger engine in it.

I switched from a 5D3 to Oly OMD because after using the 5D3 and EM-5 alongside each other for a while, I found the Oly pics just looked better - better dynamic range, better color and much better B&W.

Of course I swapped all my Canon gear for an EM-1 system just before the 5Ds was announced, so was waiting with some trepidation to see the first samples and reviews. I'm both relieved and disappointed to see that the 5Ds is pretty much offering the same images as before, only bigger.

This is not an improvement - back to the car analogy, a big engine doesn't result in a qualitative improvement unless you also address the suspension, brakes etc.

This camera reminds me of the Nikon F6 when it as introduced. Technically probably the best of it’s kind ever made, but it’s a bit back to the future.

The styling of the Canon 5Ds reminds me of an Audi A8. Both have smooth elegant lines but they appear to be somewhat oversized.
If photography was my bread and butter I would not hesitate to buy this camera or one of its high end competitors. Even though they are heavy, look threatening and make more noise than a Mercedes or an Audi, they produce incredible images.

Well I have been very happily shooting with my nice new 5Dsr for the past couple of days! The files are absolutely fantastic. It replaced a 1Ds MkIII which has provided excellent service for the past 7.5 years. Using anything other than an SLR won't cut for me given nearly all the shots are taken with T/S lenses in a "studio" setting.

And this comments section is the reason I call in here every day. Not everyone agrees but you get lots of intelligent, meaningful discussion. BTW, if you ever get to that blog revamp that I haven't forgotten you mentioned a while back, some comment 'like' buttons would perhaps be an interesting experiment! And for what it's worth, the only reason I've ever have a full-frame now is so I could reduce depth of field; frankly though I'd rather save my money and my poor aching back. Oh, but I do drive a Jetta. Mercs, nice machines as they are, are just a tad flashy for my taste.

Somehow both things, car and camera, seems to be more like a compensation for other missing things... ;-)

Imagine that you had a camera that can make a technically perfectly sharp, perfectly true-color photograph under virtually any conditions. What then? That is, technical problems aside, what are you going to do with a camera? What can you think to use it for?

"virtually any conditions": - how about shooting at dusk, handheld, with an old telephoto Takumar ?

I don't think the Canon is that camera - instead, I'd suggest the Sony a7R II. (Sony, btw, considered putting more pixels on the sensor, and rejected it, as it would have compromised performance.)

What will I do with it ?
Get an adapter, and shoot my old M42 lenses in their native format. A stabilised EVF with magnification and focus peaking is a lot of fun, as I've discovered with the EM5 II. Should be even more so with the Sony.

And excess resolution can be a good thing, as Roger Cicala empirically demonstrated recently, irrespective of the quality of your lenses:

My beach photos are so much easier now with the invisible camera--Panasonic GX-7. I can move about freely and respond to changing conditions at will. More than enough resolution as far as I'm concerned--after all, how sharp is a cloud?

Given this article, I would like to see your view on the Sony A7RII.



John (Slaytor),

That was a great blog post on the christening w/very nice photos - the family must be happy.

You wrote above that pixels are irrelevant since the Nikon D70, yet on your blog, in your D810 review, you wrote:
"The depth of detail in images is bewildering and I realise this is a medium format camera. In 2005 I started off with the Nikon D70 and over time upgraded. This is the first camera that startles me with its ability to capture detail."

All around the web, wisdom that "3MP is all anyone needs" and the like is countered by rave reviews of high res cameras and sharp lenses. The truth is all of it all rolled together, somehow. And our society isn't one that was built on an embracing of sufficiency. When I watch a DVD, it looks great. When I watch Blu Ray, it looks better. (I've only seen 4k once a couple years ago, and found the compression too distracting, but in time, I'm sure it will be better still). I guess the big question is: does sufficiency have any relevance ?

I’m just a hobbyist photographer, but I agree. Megapixels are becoming less important when I look for a camera.

Over the last few years, what has become most important to me is the color and tonality of the files in Lightroom. This information is not available from the manufacturer. It is usually not available at all when a new camera is released. I wait for Adobe to support the camera, and for review sites to make sample RAW files available for download.

In the last year, I have also become very interested in how big the image on the EVF is. A number in mm for width or diagonal measure would work for me. This information is not available from the manufacturer ever. In order to get an idea of what the EVF will look like I need to do calculations with the viewfinder magnification and the sensor crop factor.

I did find an article you wrote in Luminous Landscape helpful in figuring out how to work with viewfinder magnification - thank you for that.

The point is that what I want in a camera and what manufacturers are trying to sell me are not the same, which is one point you are making about the megapixel count in the new Canon.

Still going strong with a D70 ;) Sufficient enough, except maybe in mid-winter when its absolutely too dark here. (doing my OCOLOY with a D70 and a 35mm DX.. at http://jeresnaps.wordpress.com )

But to the topic on hand. I agree that we are nearing sufficiency, albeit I think that will pretty much be the case when we see a camera with 40-50Mpix and great DR as well as good high iso. The A7Rmk2 seems to come close, but we shall see.

I think its great that hopefully we will move more and more toward talking about the art and not the tools as we have for so many years now. I loved the post by David DuChemin where he ranted about craft vs art and this quote by him really sums it up:

"When we have nothing interesting or important to say with our photographs, and I’m talking in broad strokes as a community in this particular place in time, all we have left is “look how good my camera is.”

In my opinion, the industrial arms race will eventually lead to more megapixals, whether we need them or not. I have a handy little Panasonic G3 (like one of the authors of a comment above), and it is a great little travel camera. All the recent offerings from Panasonic have also been 16 mpix, so my thought is always, "Why should I buy one of these new cameras? They really will not do anything optically better." But with more mpix, finally you can achieve a little better resolution, so this offers some minor increment of improvement. I think that will be the big marketing push. Fuji is in the same situation: their camera have been 16 mpix for 4 or 5 years. Why upgrade unless you need the different handling, wifi, etc. features?

I think it was Luminous_Landscape where an ex-insructer assigned his class to"show me something I've never seen before". With the perfect camera(s) now being available that could be the new starting point where we are right now.

Digital photography was designed and developed on "end use". I managed a big catalog studio for a large regional retailer at the dawn of digital, and I was approached all the time by manufacturers and printers, especially at trade shows, to look at samples of digital output in 100-150 line screen reproduction form. No one could tell me anything about file size vs. megapixels vs. prints vs. film vs. prints from film. All the engineers wanted to know is did it look indistinguishable from film at 100 to 150 line screen printing reproduction. I'm not sure even the engineers thought film as a high-end reproductive media would go away.

I've shot full double page spreads with a Nikon 12 megapixel, and it looked fine...reproduced in print form. I still think that large format film has a leg up on everything. But is digital "good enough" for what you're using it for?

It seems like 24 megapixel would be plenty of quality, even for larger prints. I couldn't care less if they stopped it there and developed other aspects of the sensor that would add to the quality of the image.

Want to know the closest thing to film I ever saw in digital? At the dawn of time, I saw a 3 megapixel, 24 bit color image, that looked exactly like the transparency next to it...soft, but contrast, color depth and everything closer to film. It pains me that some of the new CMOS 120 based sensor chips are dropping the color from 16 bit to 14 bit; they should figure out a way to raise it to 32 bit!

That's why a lot of times I now shoot 16 megapixel M 4/3rd's. Plenty of "sharpness" and QC for anything I'm getting reproduced in a magazine, annual report, or newspaper...

I've always thought he idea of capture the best you can, deliver what is appropriate made great sense.
The picture is always the first consideration , but if you have a choice use the best technique and the best technology appropriate in the situation.
Some kinds of photography allow moe freedom than others in this regard so it is clearly not a hard and fast rule for me, but more a preferred and proven method.
Technology generally raises the bar of what is possible over time. Standards change , tastes change and expectations change. Shooting
With the best technology you can is a way to increase the value of your archive.
It can't make your pictures better, but helps them look as good as they can for as long as they can.

"Making a picture that's technically okay is where photography begins, not where it ends"

That has to be your quote of the year!

It takes a surprising amount of extra effort to max-out the performance of extra pixels. Going from 12 to 36 was a bit of a chore.

You need a higher shutter speed for one thing - which means forever bumping up the ISO because you usually need more DOF than less. Pretty soon all that full-frame SNR and resolution goes down the drain in a fog of noise, camera shake and diffraction.

I also decided that DSLR AF accuracy is not up to high resolution sensors, unless you stop down, put the darn thing on a tripod, or use live view focus. That's a great way to kill any spontaneity.

It also turned half my lens collection into paperweights.

Deciding what 'enough' means is a vital first step in photography these days. If you have 'enough' pixels and 'enough' DR and ISO capability you can focus on more important things. Like mobility, AF accuracy and handling.

For me, 16MP is a sweet spot. Being honest with myself, I am most likely to print at A3+ size (19X13") for personal use because that's where my printer maxes out.

I can still make A2 size look good with a 1" border (23X16") at 210 dpi, at a sensible viewing distance of around 20" or more.

Did I ever make an A0 sized print (33X46") with a D800. Yes, one. And it cost, mounted, around £250. I would like to make more, but my best pictures are generally the ones I take on my XE2. It just stays out of my conscious awareness when I'm shooting and I can focus on the subject.

Better image quality vs. better quality images. Tough choice...

(Not really).

If I were a Canon shooter I'd likely be tempted. I've a D800e and I absolutely love all those pixels.

I remember seeing, as a kid, a small collection of exquisite palm-sized daguerreotypes made not long before I saw them with a relatively modern (for the time) lens. We will have enough pixels (and enough dots, printer-making people) when I can see that again... in colour. At ten- or twelve-by sizes at the very least.

I don't like to think of myself as a genetic freak (and who would?), but I'm nowhere near satisfied with the resolution and acuity of printed photographs yet (other than contact prints, that is, and even they don't quite match those daguerreotypes for the visual equivalent of a tactile experience). I was blessed (for some value of "blessed") with horrible, progressive, but perfectly correctable (hooray for symmetry!) myopia early in life, which meant that I never ever had to settle for 20/20. These days, what with the presbyopia and all, I live far too much of my life in the 20/20 world, and I have to tell you this: 20/20 is a blurry mess devoid of detail compared to what my eyes are capable of. As I said, I don't think I'm a genetic freak with far more rods and cones than average; I think that people, in general, are nowhere near seeing as much as they should be seeing. Even with more floaters than I can reasonably expect to be able to shake a lightweight and highly manoeuverable stick at, and with the need to keep the place lit up to sunburn levels in order to read these days, I can still see individual hairs at six feet in real life with nary a trace of jaggies. There's no reason I shouldn't be able to see them in more or less the same way in a life-sized portrait at the same distance. Certainly, I can make an 10x15 today that 35mm couldn't have touched in its heyday, but it ain't my colour daguerreotype yet. Not by a long stretch. When it is, then we have enough.

And for a few of us, what we have now is "good enough" (i.e., perfect) for what we're doing.

With best regards,


what then

Interestingly, Michael Reichmann seems to have decided that re-imposing limitations (in this case by going back to film) is the answer to that question:

Pixels or not, the camera appears to suffer from the same very limited dynamic range of its older siblings, which is many years behind the competition.
I say this as a "convert", as I never paid much attention to this aspect until I acquired a D810.
The camera has truly broken new ground to me, and while I care very little for its resolution (actually... it hinders my post processing!), its wide tonal range, and impressive dynamic range make for pictures that are almost as real as reality. I just love to shoot it at iso 64 and marvel at the tones, the legible shadows, and the beautiful rolling highlights. It is a "photographic pleasure" I had never experienced before: for once, the camera disappears, it's not anymore between me and the scene.
No other camera has ever given me this feeling (not even Nikon's latest full frames), and this is why I can't quite fathom the reasons behind this new 5D.

The fact that I was ditching dSLRs and their clunkiness, weight, and fatiguing autofocus, leaving Nikon behind after many years, and stopped because of the D810, speaks volumes of how much impressive its image quality is. And of how it has convinced me that offering this level of image specific qualities (besides mere resolution) should be one of the key innovations pursued by camera companies.

This is a path the 5D curiously follows not. Wonderful resolution, but zero real innovation. No innovation in pure image characteristics, nor in body/functions. The biggest (for now), albeit not the brightest of dinosaurs.

My 2c, of course.

I absolutely and urgently need to know what Ctein thinks of the new iMac Retina! I "need" to replace an aging MBP and an aging NEC monitor and I feel almost ready to switch back to a "desktop" computer.

It would not be to display 5DS files though, I just sold the last EOS lenses that were gathering the proverbial dust on the proverbial shelf and I am not going back. I am shooting an OM-D E-M1 now and am looking at the (new) Fuji and Sony cameras.

The ELEPHANT in the room in your comment is that the image of the Mercedes is probably CGI. The world has a habit of passing us by especially technology.

Dear Nigel,

To put it colloquially, it's not the weakest link in the chain that determines the resolution of your system, it's the combined weakness of all the links. A chain with two weak links is less strong than a chain with one weak link.

Which is what Roger demonstrated.

There really is no such thing as "excess resolution," not at the current level of digital cameras. Even if you don't do any cropping ... and why shouldn't one be able to do so! There's no moral virtue in insisting on using the full frame.

pax / Ctein

I think I have finally found happiness with a DSLR. It is a Pentax K5IIs. As I sit here, right now, typing this message, I honestly can not remember how many megapixels the camera has. In fact, I do not think I could accurately state the megapixel count of any camera I have, or have had.

It is kind of like the various motorcycles I have owned-vintage and modern. I could never recall the HP for any machine. If I could have any of them back, it would be the 1957 BMW R60/2. I am not sure, but I would bet it was the least powerful of all the bikes. Yet, it was the best.

In my quest to obtain an old Pentax M42 58mm 2.4 lens, I wound up having to buy one that came with an ancient Asahi Pentax FP SLR camera. While I was happy to get the lens, that happiness has been eclipsed by my fascination with the perfection of the old camera. It still works. I'd be willing to bet, in the right hands, it could be used to create photographs to rival those produced by any modern camera. I wish I was one of those photographers. I need to get to work....Maybe there is still time.

What does time teach us about technology? We spend too much of our time absorbed in technology.

Half OT, but I have to say that this post made me look up the original (linked) post to Juan's visit at TOP Headquarters. Usually I try to appreciate or even admire what cool people do, instead of envy. But hey, this guy works for Hollywood, manages to practice street photography en passant (maybe as it should be done - and exceptionally so), and goes for a 1.5 year (!) trip with his wife, who's daddy lends them his S-Mercedes. Anything else...?

Any 4 x 5 camera is the answer to your 1990s so-called thought experiment. The 5DSR doesn't even come close to 6 x 7 film, much less 4 x 5 film. Enough with the teeth gnashing about large prints, Megapixels, and whatnot. Anyone who wants the ultimate should look to large format film, and be done with it.

[There are actually lots of limitations with 4x5. The fastest speed film you can use doesn't reach half of ordinary digital imaging ISOs; typical lenses have maximum apertures of f/5.6; either tripod or flash is usually required for best image quality; and film flatness in ordinary film holders is impossible to achieve. Then add the expense and the natural limitation on the amount of exposures you can shoot on a single occasion. 4x5 is good for some uses, but those uses look increasingly specialized by today's standards--they impose an imposing array of limitations on what you can photograph. Read Charlie Cramer on the subject for more. --Mike]

Dear Ctein,

There really is no such thing as "excess resolution," not at the current level of digital cameras. Even if you don't do any cropping ... and why shouldn't one be able to do so! There's no moral virtue in insisting on using the full frame.

I'm pretty sure I have at least a couple of lenses for which 42MP would be 'excess resolution', but I take your point.

My point about 'full frame' is that I have a decent number of old Takumar lenses which I've been using on 'cropped' sensors. I'd like to recreate the experience of shooting 35mm, soft corners and all.
Moral virtue doesn't come in to it.
(And like Wayne, I have an old Asahi 58mm, which I'd be very interested to see on the new Sony with an appropriate adapter.)

I shoot with a pair of much loved 1Ds Mk IIIs having been bemused by the 1Dx 'upgrade' on offer. So would I upgrade to a 1Dx Mk II with 50MP sensor? As soon as clients start mentioning that the resolution of 64MB TIFFs are only just adequate...

Dear Ed,

There's no nice way to say this. If your photographs with a Canon 5DSR don't even come close to 6 x 7 film, you're using it wrong.

If you're saying this without having used the camera, there's no point in discussing this, because you're talking from prejudice, not knowledge.

'Cause I can tell you that my Olympus OMD is superior to 6x7 format film, and it's a distant second to the Canon in whatever measure of image quality you want to invoke.

You can say you like film better. That's inarguable, just the way people can like Kodachrome better than Fujichrome. When you say it's objectively superior, then you're in an indefensible position.

pax / Ctein

Dear Nigel,

Oh, good. I hate photographers who claim moral virtue!

Your lenses might surprise you. Even the crappy ones. The sensor has to be resolving at least twice as much as the lens before you can't see much benefit from an even sharper sensor. That's a lotta pixels.

pax / Ctein

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