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View Full Version : R-D 1 vs. DSLR: the score


jlw
04-07-2005, 22:33
I just finished a marathon of rehearsal photos for our local professional ballet company: three nights of dress rehearsals totalling more than 800 photos. I shot them using both my R-D 1 (all with 35/1.7 Ultron) and my Nikon D100 (alternating between 20/2.8 AF Nikkor and 24-70/2.8 AF Sigma.)

If this lens selection sounds odd, it was; this production was in a 'black-box' theater, meaning I had to be unusually close to the stage and forcing me to use much wider lenses than I normally would. In fact, that's why I brought the Nikon in the first place: I don't own any lenses wider than 35 for the R-D 1, and I felt the zoom's flexibility in framing would be a plus since I didn't have much space to roam around.

Also, the lighting was terrible -- pools of light, pools of darkness, backlighting, etc. -- so I figured the Nikon's spot meter would be a big advantage. And, of course, it has motorized advance and autofocus, useful for this type of fast-paced shooting.

Anyway, I shot about equally with both cameras -- probably somewhat more with the Nikon because of its motor wind -- and over the three nights I pretty much lost track of what I had shot with what.

Tonight, though, I sat down with the artistic director, and we went through the whole take and picked out 17 shots to put on CDs (which I'm burning now) to include in press kits for tomorrow night's opening performance. Later I looked at the EXIF data and found that of the 17 "keepers":

--14 were shot with the R-D 1
-- 3 were shot with the D100

Overall, the R-D 1 shots were drastically sharper, and in general they were better exposed (hmmm, I guess having to think about exposures works better than blindly relying on a meter reading, duhhh...) I also was much more successful at catching the peaks of action with the R-D 1.

This probably doesn't prove anything except that I personally shoot better with an RF camera than an SLR... but I thought the group would find the "score" interesting!

I'll attach one of the R-D 1 pictures (small version:)

Fedzilla_Bob
04-07-2005, 22:48
I really like that shot. The Color in her skin, the costume and the lighting are very nice. The clarity of the image is also wonderful. I am sure that is what the director was seeing.

I can imagine it is somewhat easier to get in closer to your subjects with the RD-1. I think people are too well keyed to the appearance of the DSLRs. With the dancers I think they are less likely to notice since they are focused on their performance.

tajart
04-07-2005, 22:57
nice shot, good timing, color, pose. like it a lot.

Huck Finn
04-08-2005, 01:57
Beautful picture, JLW. Did you use flash with either camera? What kind of film did you use? Thanks. - Huck

Pherdinand
04-08-2005, 02:18
What kind of film did you use? Thanks. - Huck
Hehh. :D I think your text attached to the picture has proven to be way too long.

Nice result, nice results.

Huck Finn
04-08-2005, 02:38
OOps! :o Old habits die hard. I'm obviously a Luddite, so I guess digital cameras don't use flash either?

Sean Reid
04-08-2005, 04:40
jlw wrote:
"Overall, the R-D 1 shots were drastically sharper, and in general they were better exposed (hmmm, I guess having to think about exposures works better than blindly relying on a meter reading, duhhh...) I also was much more successful at catching the peaks of action with the R-D 1.

This probably doesn't prove anything except that I personally shoot better with an RF camera than an SLR... but I thought the group would find the "score" interesting!"


I've generally had the same experience. I worked with film rangefinders and SLRs for about 20 years but the immediacy of digital makes the differences in the pictures more readily noticeable. Some things I've noticed:

1. RF focusing is often much more accurate than AF
2. The better RF lenses perform much better than many SLR lenses, zoom or prime
3. The lack of mirror slap truly does reduce blurring at slow shutter speeds
4. My pictures hit their marks (with respect to shutter timing) much better with the Epson than with my DSLRs

As you mention, some of this comes down to how well a camera and photographer are matched.

Cheers,

Sean

jlw
04-08-2005, 05:14
Beautful picture, JLW. Did you use flash with either camera?

Thanks for all the compliments on the photo. I should've included a bit of tech info:

-- No flash with either camera -- most theaters don't allow it, even in rehearsals (could throw the dancers off balance; I've seen it happen) and it would wipe out the effect of the stage lighting, so I never use it.

-- Was shooting in JPEG mode -- raw would have given better image quality, but I couldn't afford the time to stop and change memory cards every ~40 shots, OR to do 800+ individual raw-file conversions before we could review the images to select ones for the press CD.

-- Both cameras were set to tungsten white balance; I find the gels on stage lights tend to throw off the auto-white-balance function of almost any camera.

-- The first night I shot with the R-D 1 in AE mode, and for the changing lighting would adjust the exposure compensation from scene to scene based on a quick peek at the LCD. After I got used to the lighting, I usually chose shutter speeds manually based on the combination of lights used for each scene.

(Theater photography tip: rather than trying to eyeball the level of illumination, which can be deceptive, look up and notice what lights are on for each scene. Lighting designers often will use the same "presets" over and over, so once you learn to recognize a specific combination of lights, you can use the same exposure every time they appear.)

Jim Watts
04-08-2005, 05:32
Excellent picture, jlw
"-- Both cameras were set to tungsten white balance; I find the gels on stage lights tend to throw off the auto-white-balance function of almost any camera."
Do you find that you have to make any further colour balance and/or density adjustments in photoshop when shooting under Gels in this way?

jlw
04-08-2005, 05:54
Excellent picture, jlw
"-- Both cameras were set to tungsten white balance; I find the gels on stage lights tend to throw off the auto-white-balance function of almost any camera."
Do you find that you have to make any further colour balance and/or density adjustments in photoshop when shooting under Gels in this way?

I often have to do some minor tweaking with Levels, to get a visually pleasing balance between highlight and midtone areas. The eye can see into shadows better than a camera imager can, so scenes that are lit "dramatically" for the eye often look a bit too dark when photographed.

Usually I want to retain the effect of the gels, but sometimes I'll adjust color balance slightly. The color wash across a stage usually isn't perfectly even, so sometimes people momentarily will get into a spot where one gel is stronger than another. This creates an effect that's different from what the eye registers when viewing the scene overall, so I feel it's justified to adjust it back toward what I feel is visually correct.

berci
04-08-2005, 08:30
"Anyway, I shot about equally with both cameras -- probably somewhat more with the Nikon because of its motor wind -- and over the three nights I pretty much lost track of what I had shot with what."

D100 motor wind? what is winded by that motor?

Pherdinand
04-08-2005, 08:31
:)) a good one, berci.
I think we all are quite stuck in the film world.

JonasYip
04-08-2005, 12:14
D100 motor wind? what is winded by that motor?

The shutter is automatically cocked.

With the R-D1 you have to throw the ol' wind lever in between shots.

Very nice pic, BTW, jlw.

j