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jlw
12-04-2004, 22:01
I'm a board member of a ballet academy, so I took the R-D 1 over there today and tried it out between classes.

Wow, it was great to be able to work the way I like to work -- in black-and-white, with a rangefinder camera and a couple of small, light lenses -- and still get the digital images that my current lifestyle seems to demand.

I picked out four images that I thought might illustrate interesting points about working with the R-D 1, wrote captions for them, and have posted them at:

http://homepage.mac.com/jlw/photo/R-D1_tryout/

If you click on the thumbnails, you can see the images at 100% size -- not so convenient for viewing, but handy if you want to examine individual pixels. (For example, you can see that my R-D 1 seems to have a "hot pixel" in one corner -- drat!) However, don't get too worked up about any JPEG compression artifacts you notice: the large images have been recompressed from the originals, which look considerably cleaner.

Another thing I seem to have noticed in these images, but haven't had a chance to explore or even think about fully yet: out-of-focus and soft-focus areas seem to "render" a bit differently on a digital imager than they do on film. I'm not necessarily saying they're worse, just different.

But what this may mean (depending on whether it's a real phenomenon or just my imagination) is that if you want to get a digital RF to capture the prized 'bokeh' of a particular vintage lens, you may not get quite the results you expect. Or then again, you might. As I said, I haven't had a chance to explore it yet, but it's a potentially interesting area...

BillG
12-04-2004, 22:24
very interesting stuff, thanks for the chance to see the RD-1 results

g0tr00t
12-05-2004, 05:21
What ISO were you shooting? The camera does seem nice. Was the crop factor ever a problem for you? What about overall speed? Was it acceptable?

TIA

jlw
12-05-2004, 05:59
Originally posted by g0tr00t
What ISO were you shooting? The camera does seem nice. Was the crop factor ever a problem for you? What about overall speed? Was it acceptable?

TIA

I think all of these are at 800. The images looked very clean to me in terms of noise -- probably a bit better than my Nikon D100, which has the same sensor. I haven't yet shot with the R-D 1 enough under varying conditions to make an overall judgement, but I was very pleased with the "look" of these particular shots.

The crop factor wasn't a problem for me -- partly because I've always been primarily a normal-to-tele shooter, and partly because I've been using the D100 for a couple of years and already am used to thinking of a 35 as a 'normal' lens and a 50 as a 'portrait' lens.

If by 'overall speed' you mean writing speed, yes, it was fine. Of course, I was shooting mostly in JPEG format (which is what I usually do.) When shooting JPEG files, the R-D 1 has no trouble keeping up with my thumb (remember, you've got to recock the shutter manually!)

In raw mode, I did find that I could only shoot two shots in quick succession before having to pause to let the data write to the card. The only times I shoot raw format are when I want to work slowly and carefully, so I don't see that as being a problem for me. But on, say, a fashion shoot, where you might be clicking away madly at some length, I can see how it might be an issue.

sfaust
12-05-2004, 07:01
jlw,

Nice images and a good first pass at an evaluation on the RD-1. I've been toying with the idea of an RD-1 for a while now, and almost bought one on eBay about three weeks ago. I still want one, but now with a possible job layoff for my wife, my business somewhat flat for the holidays, a D2x on order, a new backup D70, and looking at a MF digital back, I think the RD-1 will have to take a back seat for a while. But I want to keep abreast of whats happening with it, and your feedback will be invaluable for me 6 months down the road.

I'd really like to hear more about the cameras handling. Also, what about shutter noise? Same as a R2
or R3? Or is there a different shutter installed? Battery longevity? Any input greatly appreciated.

BTW, very nice images.


Also, a couple thoughts on B&W vs Color. Shooting in color for B&W gives you all the same advantages that you mentioned about shooting in RAW and having both color and B&W. The real advantage in shooting in color is that you can then sit in your digital darkroom and 'see' in B&W but with far more versatility and control. You will never say "Darn, I bet that would have looked great with a yellow filter", because you can experiment with whatever filter you so desire on the color image and get the exact results you want.

Consider this.

When you shoot B&W, you are seeing visually in color and mentally converting to B&W. Only during the film processing stage, do you actually ever get to see your B&W image. If you shoot in color on a digital camera, you are doing the same thing that you would if you had loaded B&W film into your RF. You wouldn't see anything in B&W until your film got out of the fixer and/or the negative was loaded into the enlarger and your got your first proof print. Or in digital terms, until you loaded your .Jpg or Raw image into Photoshop and did a conversion to B&W. So for me, the fact that I get a color image on the LCD only confirms my exposure information and color balance. I would have thought that you wouldn't have any problems working in color since you are so used to that pre visualization process from working in film. It could be the lure and instant gratification that's got you. It gets me too.

The only difference here now with the color>b&w in post (other than the obvious digital vs film), is that you have far more post processing control as you can apply a red filter, or yellow, orange, green, whatever for that matter, on the color image and have it act just as it would have if you were shooting film and added a filter over the lens.

Now I will admit that I sometimes do both, but mostly I only shoot B&W when I want to experiment with filters over the lens rather than digital filters, or when I am having a hard time pre visualizing how something will look in B&W (ie, I cheat! :) ). But I've have also found that a red filter over the lens in B&W is no different than shooting color and applying a red filter factor during the conversion. The results were the same with the Red and Yellow filters I tested and compared to digital filters in the final images. Further, I can use any amount of red needed to get just what I am looking for in the image. Kind of like carrying a set of 100 filters, each varying from 001 to 100 in red, yellow, green, etc.

IMO, thinking B&W, shooting color digitally, and converting to B&W in post is closer to actually shooting in B&W film than shooting digitally in B&W had having a B&W LCD image to view on site right after the exposure. It just seems like cheating to me :), but more importantly, it robs me of so much control over the final outcome. Much like telling a B&W photographer he can shoot B&W film, but he is not allowed to experiment with filters, developers, or processing procedures.

If you want to see how flexible converting color to B&W can be, load up a color image in Photoshop. Go to Adjustments, Channel Mixer. Click on monochrome at the bottom, then start playing with the slider. The red slider alone will give you a red filter conversion. Using all the sliders, you can see the tones in the image make dramatic changes in tonality. Its awesome!

jlw
12-05-2004, 14:32
Thanks for the thoughts re color>b&w conversion. Obviously it works for you, and that's great. I just can't get it to work for me.

My problem is that when I go out to shoot in b&w, I approach EVERYTHING differently from when I go out to shoot in color. I choose different types of subjects and situations to investigate; I look for (or create) different lighting conditions; and I develop the sequence of images differently as I work.

Yes, I can go back later and change the appearance of the final image in Photoshop, but there's no way to go back and change all those other choices that I made before, during and after shooting, which were determined by my initial choice to go for either color or b&w images.

As I said, though, that's just me. I'm sure doing it "in post" works great for a lot of people.

dmeledon
12-05-2004, 16:33
I read Stephen's post as suggesting you capture images in color while fully intending to convert them to black and white. This way you allow yourself to add color filters afterwords, or to tweak what sort of "b&w film" you shot with. Other than that, you are still making b&w image choices while you are shooting, your just postponing making the images b&w, rather than picking color images which you think will work well in b&w after you've shot them.

I hope that was somewhat followable. Also on the same note, silveroxide.com has some great photoshop filters that model the color sensitivity of a number of b&w films, so you can shoot digital tri-x, t-max, fp 4+, etc. Might be worth a look if there is a film you just love. If I completely misread your post, please forgive me :).

sfaust
12-05-2004, 17:10
I probably hid the most important point of my post discussing all the control you get shooting in color for B&W. And that is that you do nothing differently that what you just did with those images until you get to the Photoshop stage. And even there, you can just convert to grayscale and have exactly the same results you got shooting in B&W. But if you want more control, you can load the color image instead of the grayscale image and have it.

Either way, you will still see your subject in B&W! Still visualize how you want the final image to look in B&W! Shoot and expose it just as you would in B&W! Basically, you do everything exactly the same as you did in those images you posted! Don't do anything differently than you would if you had a roll of TMAX loaded and the R-D1 was actually an R2. There is no difference at all in what you do before, during, or immediately after your exposures!

Except...leave the camera in color mode, but continue to think and shoot in B&W! that's it!

When you upload the photos, batch convert them to grayscale if you wish, and the images will match exactly what you shot and uploaded here. Color images with the color discarded and the luminance information used. that's basically all the camera does. Only if you wish to have more control, or want to change the tonality do you load the color version and use the channel mixer.

But again, it doesn't change anything about how you should shoot the images. You still concentrate 100% on B&W images. Its strictly a after the fact darkroom process, and doesn't affect anything up front. I think color or B&W as appropriate for each subject and image I shoot. I just delay the actual change until the Photoshop stage where I can make the decisions on my B&W tonality and not the automation of the camera. Is basically the same reason why so many photographers are shooting raw for both color and B&W.

I just offered it as a suggestion to give you more control over your tonal values than you would with a stripped grayscale version done by the camera. I'm not trying to convert you, but wanted to clarify that it doesn't change your up front process. Only the back end, and only if you want it to.

sfaust
12-05-2004, 17:19
dmeledon, we seemed to have crossed posts. Yes, you got the gist of what I was suggesting;

Leave color on, but shoot as if you had B&W loaded.

Doug
12-05-2004, 17:25
I like what jlw said about shooting the RD1 with RAW output, which is what I understand Epson expected users to do. Apparently, RAW shot in B&W mode still captures the color data, so those filter effects can still be used in later image processing. As said, "you get it all."

I too have to be in B&W mode mentally for it to work for me; I need to think either "color" or B&W" when out shooting, and not mix or switch. (If a color composition "hits" me when in B&W mode. that shot might work ok but messes up my thinking from that point)

jlw
12-06-2004, 17:55
Originally posted by sfaust
I probably hid the most important point of my post discussing all the control you get shooting in color for B&W. And that is that you do nothing differently that what you just did with those images until you get to the Photoshop stage.

Yeah, I thought it over and now I think I understand what you're saying.

I realize now that a lot of my problem with this "think in b&w but shoot in color and convert" approach is that my previous digital cameras didn't help much in this regard. If you were shooting color, you also were looking at a color image on the LCD -- which negates one of the few (IMO) advantages of shooting digitally, the ability to view images as you shoot and see if they're what you wanted.

The R-D 1 solves this problem: when you're set to b&w mode, the LCD displays in b&w, but you've still got a color raw image to which you can apply all kinds of conversion tricks when you get back to base with it. (For example, the raw plug-in does include preset conversions that simulate various filters, so you can try different ones and see how they affect the image. You also can apply different combinations of edge enhancement, noise reduction, etc.)

So, as long as the situation permits using raw-file mode, I can keep shooting the way I'm comfortable AND still take advantage of sfaust's suggestions about post-processing. Definitely will have to give this a try!

I think this illustrates the extent to which -- except for a few irritants such as the semi-invisible 28mm finder frame -- the R-D 1 has really 'nailed it' in terms of being a digital camera that appeals to traditional-think photographers such as myself!

Kinda funny that it took a printer company to do what so many camera companies have not...

jlw
12-06-2004, 18:03
More on using Epson's raw format:

My favorite product for taking my digital images through the workflow is iView MediaPro, which handles downloading, 'contacting,' light editing, generating HTML galleries, etc.

One glitch introduced by my R-D 1 is that iView doesn't recognize its raw file file format, so I emailed iView's support address to whine a bit.

Somewhat to my surprise, I got an almost immediate reply saying that if I'd send them a couple of files in Epson raw format, they'd take a look and see if they could add support for it!

So I did. Nice to deal with such a responsive group, and it will be even nicer if they can do something for us. (This is more critical for Mac than PC users, because Epson supplies a batch conversion utility only for PC; the Mac version includes an excellent Photoshop plug-in, but no batch facility.)

sfaust
12-06-2004, 18:30
Jlw. Yes, shooting in raw definitely gives us the best of both worlds, and is a great advantage for serious photographers. Most cameras will act this way in Raw and B&W mode. It takes all the important decisions out of the camera, and puts them where it belongs. With us!

For those that aren't digital savvy yet, here is a good visual example of what you can do with a raw image file, and what we were discussing in visual terms.

The top two images are the standard color and B&W images that you would get from the camera in color mode (left), and B&W mode or a color image converted to grayscale or desaturate (right).

All the following images are just a few of the variations that you can get by applying color corrections in the channel mixer during the conversion to B&W. They all mimic the same effects you would get if you were shooting B&W film in a camera and adding the referenced filter to over the lens. And these are just a few of the hundreds (thousands?) of variations one could achieve.

I'll probably make a similar chart for my daughter so that she can use it to start visualizing what will happen in her black and white photography as she uses the different optical filters. Only after she gets accustomed to 'seeing in B&W' will I tell her about the channel mixer and digital images. But not before :)

wlewisiii
12-06-2004, 20:26
Originally posted by jlw

Kinda funny that it took a printer company to do what so many camera companies have not...

Not a real surprise to me: as a printer company they are far better attuned to what comes out in the end rather than during the intermediate points of the process. As you mentioned elsewhere, the previous products from them seem to be "me too" done the same as everyone else. With this camera they stepped back and said "how will it look when all is said and done?". This, I think, is critical.

Now I have a hard time seeing wide angles - my favorite lenses have been 50/85/135mm lengths. Have you done anything with longer focal lengths yet? Or am I not seeing something :)

William

sfaust
12-06-2004, 21:06
If you want to see a lot of lenses tested with the R-D1, check here;

http://ferix.cocolog-nifty.com/range/rd1/index.html

There are images from just about any lens you can think of, in all kinds of conditions. I've been comparing these against the Nikons with the same sensor, and the results are almost identical.

Gordon Coale
12-06-2004, 21:59
That's a pretty amazing list of lenses. I was surprised to see the Jupiter 12 in there. Good to see the Soviet lenses represented.

RML
12-07-2004, 03:15
Did I see they shot the RD-1 with a Leica Visoflex? Aren't those used for macro shots with a Leica? Kinda neat it fits on the RD-1.

jlw
12-07-2004, 04:02
Originally posted by wlewisiii
Now I have a hard time seeing wide angles - my favorite lenses have been 50/85/135mm lengths. Have you done anything with longer focal lengths yet? Or am I not seeing something :)

I'm the same way about focal lengths, but haven't had a chance to experiment with the R-D 1 much yet. I'll be interested to see the page referenced above!

The other thing about longer lenses on the R-D 1 is that there aren't finder frames for them: the only ones Epson (or Cosina) put on the camera are 28, 35 and 50, which "equivalate" roughly to 40-ish, 50-ish, and 75-ish. (Personally, I wish they had paired that nearly-useless 28mm frameline with a line for a 75mm lens, but nobody asked me...)

So, my next play is to await the arrival of the 35-200mm Tewe auxiliary finder that I bagged on eBay the other day for 35 bucks. THEN we shall see how the R-D 1 gets along with the 85/1.5 and 100/2 Canons, plus whatever else I can scare up to hang off the front...

jlw
12-07-2004, 07:06
Originally posted by sfaust
Most cameras will act this way in Raw and B&W mode.

Maybe I've just been missing out because the R-D 1 is the first digital camera I've ever owned that has both a b&w mode and a raw file option!

The Olympii (C2020 and then C4040) had b&w, but no raw. The Nikon D100 has raw but no b&w.

So this is my first chance to see "how the other half lives..."

sfaust
12-07-2004, 07:37
I never realized the D100 didn't have a B&W mode. All the prof DSLRs I've used have had it, so I just assumed it was a standard feature. Thanks for the update.

Although I was well aware the consumer digitals rarely offer raw, but they do ofer solarization, sepia, mosaic, and many other useless stuff :)

I really hope you like your R-D1, so that you can convince me to get one!!!

DaShiv
12-07-2004, 09:47
Originally posted by jlw
Maybe I've just been missing out because the R-D 1 is the first digital camera I've ever owned that has both a b&w mode and a raw file option!

The Olympii (C2020 and then C4040) had b&w, but no raw. The Nikon D100 has raw but no b&w.

So this is my first chance to see "how the other half lives..."

If you do more research, you can find the other digital cameras that offer the B&W + RAW option. My Canon 20D, for example, handles B&W + RAW the same way the R-D1 does--B&W jpeg with color RAW (if I have both B&W selected as the color option and JPEG + RAW selected as the file-write option). I don't do much preview or reviewing on the LCD screen though, so currently I just use RAW-only (no JPEG) to save memory space and convert to B&W later. IMO Photoshop can do a better job at B&W conversion than any in-camera algorithm can.

Still saving my pennies for the R-D1 so that I can join in the fun! :)

jlw
12-11-2004, 15:36
Originally posted by DaShiv
If you do more research, you can find the other digital cameras that offer the B&W + RAW option. My Canon 20D, for example...

Yeah, but that's an -- ick! -- SLR...

sfaust
12-11-2004, 18:06
[quote[Yeah, but that's an -- ick! -- SLR...[/quote]

I know how you feel!! I feel the same way when a Ferrari passes me while driving my MiniVan......

ick!....its a Ferrari :D :D

Kin Lau
12-11-2004, 19:05
Originally posted by jlw
Maybe I've just been missing out because the R-D 1 is the first digital camera I've ever owned that has both a b&w mode and a raw file option!

I believe all P&S digitals withe a RAW file option can also do B&W. As for DSLR's, I think only the newer 20D and Pentax *ist DS offer a b&w option.

As for thinking differently in b&w, that's true for me also. I haven't been able to "think" or "see" in b&w with my DReb yet. It's still FP4+ or HP5 for b&w for me.

sfaust
12-12-2004, 03:51
I know the Fuji S2 DSLR offers B&W .Jpgs and obviously in raw mode. There are a couple other DSLR's, but I don't remember off hand which ones they were.

sreidvt
12-12-2004, 18:09
I worked all Sat with the Canon 10D and all today with the R-D1 (both for black and white pictures) at ISO 1600 in RAW mode in difficult existing light. The Epson files look better and the B&W workflow is much easier to deal with - much more fluid. I'll reiterate what I said in the review that the Epson recipe for B&W is beautiful. I used a 24/2.8 on the Canon and the Voigtlander 21, 25, 28/3.5 and 28/1.9 on the Epson.

Cheers,

Sean

sreidvt
12-12-2004, 18:22
Also, the R-D1 files stand up better to "push processing" during RAW conversion. The Canon can shoot at ISO 3200 but the files look terrible. I shot both cameras at 1600 and then pushed the ISO in RAW conversion to anywhere between about 2400 and 3200 ISO. The Epson files held up better to that abuse, probably because there noise is mostly luminance and not chrominance.

Sean

sfaust
12-12-2004, 19:03
In the raw images, you'll find that most of the noise is in the blue channel. Its very typical in video cameras as well. If you eliminate the blue channel during conversion, the results are much better.

sreidvt
12-12-2004, 19:19
Yes, I know but I like to keep information from all of the channels. Thanks for the tip, nonetheless.

Cheers,

Sean

sfaust
12-12-2004, 20:07
I was mostly throwing that out there for those that are not aware. I save the blue channel info by cleaning it up separately and adding it back to the others, typically at a reduced level. I find I usually reduce the bluce channel when I use the channel mixer for conversion anyway, so its just as good that all the high frequency noise resides there! I wish I could do that with video, but rarely is video shot in B&W :)

sreidvt
12-13-2004, 08:02
That's a good process, I like that.

Sean