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The base variations of digital output.
Old 04-27-2012   #1
Keith
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The base variations of digital output.

I can't say I've had a lot of digital cameras over the years but I have noticed that each one has been noticably different in it's output. My first which was a D70 made little impresion on me because I didn't really have a clue about raw format and only shot jpegs and wasn't really that into photography.

The M8 when I had it produced very sharp files with good colour but I never really got excited about the look from it's ten megapixel sensor and the X100 struck me as producing files that had nothing special either ... I never really liked my black and white conversions from either camera. My D700's sensor impresses me, it lacks the sharpness of the M8 but I really like the colour rendering and the files convert nicely to black and white and give a look I actually quite like.

Now I have a digital with a ten year old six megapixel sensor that produces files that I absolutely love ... and they convert beautifully to black and white with a minimim of effort and seem to lack the sterile look that haunts digital monochrome conversions ... for me at least!

So is digital going down the path that film seemed to take where we look back at the older, slower emulsions and wax lyrically about them. Will we regard ten and fifteen year old sensors in the same way ... missing their perceived characteristics that we now find lacking in the latest offerings?
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Old 04-27-2012   #2
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Keith,
I have had a similar experience. I still love the Canon 20d images from the camera at work but also like the original Canon 1d. It was truly "film like" to me. Sold it, the 1dsmk2, the 5d and all other dslr gear because i really prefer to work with RF. But each model seems to have a different look, kind of like film :-)
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Old 04-27-2012   #3
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I agree cameras do seem to differ in their digital output and sometimes older cmaeras give nice results. Software? Hardware? I have no clue in most cases. But I know what you say is true.

My first "real" digital was a D70s. I still have it and use it and I quite like the files it puts out. They are better directly from the camera than the D200 I also have. That camera makes nice images but they are a bit soft and the colors undistinguished when directly from the camera and I find they need a good deal of work in photoshop to bring them to where I want them. In this case I think it is mainly due to the D70s in camera processing which brings images closer to a final state where as the D200 does not being more for pros who are assumed to want to control thier own rpocessing.

I have an M8 and like you say find it can be very sharp and produce nice images - when I get it right but the process is more hit and miss. I struggle with manual focusing (combined with the some lenses back focusing more than others) and the dynamic range is fairly poor so its easy to get blown highlights.

The native files I like best are like you, from an older, in this case, 6 year old camera, ancient in digital years - the Panasonic DMC L1 (also sold at the time as the Leica Digilux 3. The color and sharpness are excellent. This camera is a real sleeper. And there are many who still use the Leica Digilux 2 which is similar and preceeded it. These JPG files are so nice that I seldom use its RAW capabilities - besides being an "oddball" camera its hard to find good software for converting its RAW output.

PS the other cameras that are said to produce very nice output is the Fuji Finepix S3 and S5. These cameras are built on Nikon DSLR chassis and use a special sensor that has additional sensor points specifically to deal with highlights. Thus it has excellent dynamic range. And the camera is tuned to produce especially nice skin tones. The camera was therefore said to be quite widely used by portrait photographers. Its sad that range has ceased as the concept was a good one. I have not owned one but have been tempted as they use Nikon galss and being a nikon shooter I am good to go.

Shot with the Panasonic L1 and an Olympus 35mm f3.5 macro lens


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Old 04-27-2012   #4
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funny, that is exactly why folks like me are drawn to the x100, because the rendering is so film like, especially its b&w files. perhaps, like almost everything else in photography, its mostly subjective...
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Old 04-27-2012   #5
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I think the Kodak 14n had the best color and the best BW conversions. It had some bad quirks that made it useful for a limited range of shots, but for what it did well, it did the best.




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Old 04-28-2012   #6
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I find for a digital camera not much beats the 5d line for tones and b&w conversions. My x100 is very good, but in a very different way, and I've yet to get good b&w conversions from it. Other people have shown insanely nice conversions with the x100 on this forum though, so it IS possible!
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Old 04-28-2012   #7
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I really love the in camera b&w jpgs that come out of my M9. Read Thorsten's blog about how good the Leica algorithm was and gave it a go. Have never converted a color digital file to B&W again.
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Old 04-28-2012   #8
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I actually like the modern films ... don't miss the old slow stuff at all, xp2 seems to me probably the best monochrome film ever ... so ... that means ... I need a digital camera ... that can't be right surely?
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Old 04-28-2012   #9
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Keith to me it seems you're returning your roots as RD1 shares same or very similar sensor of D70. what has changed is raw-processing and "photoshopping" during all these years.
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Old 04-28-2012   #10
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Colour and colour philosophy varies by manufacturer, just like with colour film stocks, I find, and can see why people prefer colour from a specific camera manufacturer. Its nice to find what you like, especially if aiming for jpegs out of the camera.

Black and white in my experience has been a different matter, and I have never seen a black and white image straight out of a camera that I did not feel was inferior to a film image or a good conversion in software. Best option I have found is feeding raw files into Silver Efex, which spits out really nice black and white images with the minimal of effort, I find. All of which really makes me wonder, if Silver Efex can provide excellent results just from simply choosing one of its film profiles, then why can't camera manufacturers do it also, and give us some great black and white options straight out of camera..
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Old 04-28-2012   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damien.murphy View Post
Colour and colour philosophy varies by manufacturer, just like with colour film stocks, I find, and can see why people prefer colour from a specific camera manufacturer. Its nice to find what you like, especially if aiming for jpegs out of the camera.

Black and white in my experience has been a different matter, and I have never seen a black and white image straight out of a camera that I did not feel was inferior to a film image or a good conversion in software. Best option I have found is feeding raw files into Silver Efex, which spits out really nice black and white images with the minimal of effort, I find. All of which really makes me wonder, if Silver Efex can provide excellent results just from simply choosing one of its film profiles, then why can't camera manufacturers do it also, and give us some great black and white options straight out of camera..
I have had several digital cameras that provide satisfying B+W jpegs for me. Right now, my X100 works for me. I can dial in flter effects, too. I suppose that is why camera models proliferate — something for everyone. So, my short answer to your question is, "They do."
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Old 04-28-2012   #12
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The ability to manipulate a raw file into an aesthetically pleasing image is a critical part of producing content. This is parallels darkroom production. So that's not new.

What is new is the breadth of opportunities and choices.

Keith is fortunate to have found a system that matches his aethetic goals with a minimum of post-production work. However it there is no shortage of talented, skilled people who can emulate any aesthetic look from a technically competent raw file.

Prints that accomplish the photographers goals and manifest their vision can be produced from dozens of different digital cameras. The key is to use the system that helps you do your best work. What happens after the shutter fires depends more on software than anything else. Every digital photograph starts out as a raw file.
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Old 04-28-2012   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
Now I have a digital with a ten year old six megapixel sensor that produces files that I absolutely love ...
The issue with older sensors is dynamic range (the lack of), so you are always very close to nasty blank highlights.

Concerning looks, you can add "grain" or contrast on your computer easily.

Everyone seems to like SilverFX for example.
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