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Digital images vs old school film.

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by EFMax, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. EFMax

    EFMax Mu-43 Rookie

    Mar 26, 2012
    Digital images vs old school film.

    Recently I have been using my new camera (1yr old) and really putting it through its paces but I am still not sure about a few things.

    Now it could be my eyesight or the screen on which I am looking at my images (24” LCD monitor) but I am just not happy.

    The kit is – Olympus EP2 + 12mm-60mm Zuiko Digital (this is like mega bucks and cost more than the bleeding camera) +17mm M-Zuiko Digital + 35mm-200mm Carl Zeiss Lens.

    Images produced at close up with any of the three lens are razor sharp, even with the lens wide open.

    Now I tend to focus manually (switch off the AF) and exposed on AP using my own spot metering from a grey card.

    BUT.. what I am finding on shots taken whereby depth of field is called into play (I work by the 1/3rd in front, 2/3rd behind rule) I am having issues.

    Just taking a series of shots whereby it can clearly be seen what is or is not in focus and also using the AF as a test shot, I just do not feel happy with what I am seeing.

    Take this morning, I stood on a hill, took a series of shots on the 12mm setting (which on an M4/3 format is around 24mm on a 35mm film) – went through from focusing at infinity down to using an imaginary DOF scale, aperture set at f22, ISO @ 100, on a good tripod, no wind as such – and on this hill are a series of cars with their number plated facing me and in the distance is the town centre… yet (and I not using RAW, just an 8.5MB jpeg file) I can clearly see the image is struggling to reproduce in any degree of clarity in the car number plates.

    The lens are all good, all clean, the sensors been clean and yet I am just not happy.

    I came home and photographed a walkway – there are paving slabs plus brickwork plus woodwork, so plenty to see what is in or out of focus and again, the distance stuff is by my opinion, a little fuzzy, especially the plants and the distance brickwork.

    I have tried things on AF, I have tried on magnified manual focus (I have an optical electronic eye piece fitted) and even though things look sharp in the view finder, on my pc screen, I am not happy.

    SO: Is this just a case of me expecting too much from digital, because I am sure my previous Contax 645 would have just snapped this lot up with out batting an eyelid.. could there be something wrong with the camera, as it is hard to believe that all three lenses have issues, especially when their close up skills are so good.

    Any help appreciated.

    Close up shot
    View attachment 202518

    Close frame shot
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    Normal shot

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  2. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    I think your problem was the f22 aperture on the last shot. Others can explain why ...
  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I think comparing a medium format film camera - contax 645 with the much smaller micro 4/3 sensor is a little unfair!

  4. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Don't push this format beyond f/8 if sharpness/resolution matters. And don't expect it to compete with medium format film.
  5. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Believe it or not, my m4/3 sensor, which is 1/4 the area of a 35mm frame, does not do as well as my 4x5 and 6x12 camera. I am sure that the comparison to a 6x4.5 camera is not really reasonable.

    Because of the format size, diffraction is not going to be pretty at f/22. You should be shooting at f/11.
  6. Liamness

    Liamness Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Yeah, on full frame it makes sense to shoot maybe f/11 for maximum depth of field. Some people say f/22 but that's excessive, you can have deep focus with larger apertures, as long as you're clever about where you set your focus. On m43, because of diffraction due to the small photosites on the sensor, most lenses perform best in the f/4-5.6 range, and tail off fairly quickly thereafter. Just as well that m43 (and smaller sensor cameras in general) give you deeper focus at the same aperture/focal length anyway, so there's no need to use tiny tiny apertures anyway.
  7. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    Others have excellently pointed at the too small aperture as main cause for loss of resolution, but I'd also add that iso 100 isn't the true base iso setting of :43: sensors. The ep-2 base iso setting is closer to 200, 100 being more or less an electronic ND filter that compresses the DR of the colors. Finally, the AA filter of the e-p2 is quite strong by today's standards, and is likely to be an additional cause of softness in the image. Later cameras have much weaker AA filters and better resolution for landscape imaging.

  8. Psus4

    Psus4 New to Mu-43

    Apr 4, 2012
  9. EFMax

    EFMax Mu-43 Rookie

    Mar 26, 2012
    Ok... seems like I am learning from others and that f8 is more of an optimal setting on the M4/3 format and I need to kick my old school think of smaller f-numbers = sharper picture (which is does on the bigger formats)..

  10. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Mauve, it actually is explained by the different format size rather than a difference between film and digital sensors. Ie, diffraction is an issue with 135 format film at f-numbers which are much lower than where diffraction becomes an issue with large format film.

    Some explanation can be found here: Equivalence
    • Like Like x 1
  11. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    Thanks Amin, I've learned a lot. I stand corrected,

  12. dd1

    dd1 Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 9, 2011
    Even on 35mm f22 is not optimal, most lenses on 35mm see their optimal performance between f11-f16.
  13. Paul Amyes

    Paul Amyes Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 27, 2011
    Hobart, Tasmania
    I think there are a number of issues that have to be addressed here. They are not a failing of digital, but rather aspects to be aware of if you want the best quality images.

    - I think to compare film and digital is a little misleading. They are two very different capture methods and require a different approach. With film capture you have to get the image sharp at the taking stage. With digital because of the anti-aliasing filter even though you focus correctly at the taking stage it will still need some post processing sharpening.

    - As others have mentioned diffraction rears its ugly head a lot earlier in m4/3 than it does in larger formats and this will soften images.

    - The inbuilt image stabilisation can also cause some softness in images, so it is best to use it only when it is absolutely required, and when using adapted lenses make sure you set the focal length for the lens correctly.

    I really like my EP-2 and I find it my most reached for camera, but when I use it I have to be aware that in certain situations I'm going to have to work a little bit harder to get the best quality out of it.

    This shot was just a snap shot with the 17mm and it prints very nicely, the quality is definitely there.

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    This one certainly shows the EP-2 is capable of rendering very fine detail, look at the patterns in the kilts. Taken with the 35mm f2.5 Color-Skopar lens by Voigtlander.

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  14. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    Right. Try f64 on a 35mm --- or even 645 --- and see what happens.
  15. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    "Equivalency" is the new religion. But like most religions, does not do to well when faced with reality. And this is where they really fall down:

    It is rather a pointless statement and has caused so much confusion. It is a neat mathematical trick, but it really shows no one understands "variables." Photography is not strict relationship, but but a collection of factors that impact a system. And even with the neat mathematics, it ends up not working.

    (The other problem with equivalency is the folks that practice it don't understand what they state are "equivalent lenses" are only equivalent at a particular object distance, usually infinity. The lenses will not be equivalent at another object distance.)
  16. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Hikari, I don't like to even link to that Equivalence page because it's been used to push an agenda to the point where visiting the 4/3 and MFT forums at DPR can be an exercise in getting beaten over the head. However, the discussion of diffraction there is a good one.
  17. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    There is a lot of good information on diffraction and the relationship to format and a bunch of other stuff. I just get nervous when a page on equivalency comes up because a lot of folks use it to justify conclusions and positions that are really not true. Sorting out the wheat from the chaff can be hard in articles like this.

    Personally, I think this is one of the best things on the web covering depth of field and diffraction:

  18. Crdome

    Crdome Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 11, 2011
    West Central Indiana
    Base ISO Setting?

    Could you go into this more. Can you tell me what the base ISO is for the GH2?

  19. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    The GH2 does not have a ISO 100 setting, so the base ISO is 160, it's the lowest ISO on that camera that does not compromise DR - you're not clipping the highlights to get a lower ISO.
  20. Paul Amyes

    Paul Amyes Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 27, 2011
    Hobart, Tasmania
    Base ISO is the true sensitivity of a sensor, it delivers the least noise and most headroom on a RAW image. Any other ISO setting is to put it crudely a method of altering the signal off of the sensor via amplification which introduces set problems. The base ISO for the GH2 is 160. There are ways to test for this to prove it for your self. Each manufacturer has a slightly different idea of what the characteristics of base ISO should be.
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