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RD1 and the collapsible Heliar 3.5. Incredible!
Old 05-30-2006   #1
Gavin
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Talking RD1 and the collapsible Heliar 3.5. Incredible!

I've owned my RD1 for all of 4 days so I have much catching up to do with regard to the various issues raised in this forum. I could however not resist reporting on the extraordinary results obtained from using my Heliar 101 box set lens on the Rd1. Possibly more a reflection on lens quality, but the relationship between these two items is something to behold. Aside from the level of sharpness and lovely contrast management, the look of a "digital" camera sporting an extended chrome tube that harks from the 40's is itself a sight to behold. I will do my best tp post example images and a shot of the camera itself as time allows.

Could someone please point me to the best place to catch up on:

- when using my 40mm Nokton, the 35mm frame lines seem pretty much spot on. But when using the 50mm Heliar the 50mm frame lines are way off (the taken image extending well beyond the proposed framelines in the viewfinder).

- Why use the RAW format over the "HIGH" jPEG format? Is this not simply a factor of post processing in Photoshop?

- Is there a benefit in shooting with a physical filter vs the "digital" filter in monochrome mode?

I love this camera...
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Old 05-30-2006   #2
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A lot of us will be interested to see your Heliar pictures!

Some quick answers:

-- Framelines: The focal length of a conventional lens actually increases slightly (that is, it "zooms in") as you focus closer. That means that the framelines can be designed for a perfect match to the picture only for one particular distance. Epson, like every other RF manufacturer, chose to do this for the closest distance, at which the lens is "zoomed in" the most.

Why? Well, suppose they had matched the framelines at infinity, so that infinity focus the lines exactly matched the picture. Then, when you took pictures at closer distances, the lens would be more "zoomed in" and would crop out some of the things that were within the framelines. You might have carefully placed something at the exact edge of the frameline -- and then when you saw the picture, you found it had been left out. Naturally you'd be upset!

You can actually see this effect at work with your 40mm Nokton. Your lens and frameline might be slightly different from mine, but I've found that the 35mm framelines give pretty accurate framing down to about 8 feet. At closer distances, though, the framelines show more than what's in the final picture. That's because by that point, the lens has "zoomed in" enough that its effective focal length is too long for the frameline coverage.

-- Why use the raw format: It's not something that Photoshop processing can duplicate. When you shoot in raw, you're recording a full 16 bits of tonal data for each color the sensor records; this corresponds to a wider exposure latitude. Saving as JPEG knocks down the final file to 8 bits of data per color; it actually throws information away to make the file smaller. What this means in practice is that if you've got a scene with a very wide range of brightnesses, you can capture it in raw mode and then later adjust it with the raw-processing software so detail is preserved in the important areas; if you had shot the same scene in JPEG mode, the detail in some of the bright and dark areas would be "clipped" in the original file, and there's no way to bring it back later.

-- Shooting with a physical filter: There's no in-camera way to duplicate the effect of a polarizing filter; that's one that's still worth using. Another would be an infrared-passing filter, if you want to experiment with pseudo-infrared effects; without the filter, the non-infrared rays would overwhelm the camera sensor so much that you couldn't compensate adequately in post-processing.

For other filters, I can think of a few similarly extreme situations in which using a filter over the lens would still be useful, but they're unlikely to crop up in day-to-day photography; if you're simply interested in the pictorial effects of moderate filters such as green or orange, you probably can reproduce the same effect in software. Here, again, is an area in which shooting in raw is a big benefit; you're recording more tonal range to begin with, so you have more information to which to apply the filtering effect.
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Old 05-30-2006   #3
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Here are some of the advantages in shooting RAW:

1) RAW format is the data straight out of the sensor, thus, unlike jpeg, it has no compression artefacts

2) It has all the 36 bit per pixel recorded by the sensor, instead of the 24 of the jpeg file, this means that there is room to recover a slightly underexposed image (even shots underexposed by up to 2 stops can be quite well recovered during RAW processing, with Jpeg you just throw away the picture), remeber however that digital capture, like slide film, is not very tolerant to overexposure, if you have blown the highlights no amount of post-processing can recover them.

About the physical filter the advantage is that, with one on, the camera does a correct exposure with the filter on, that will lead to better quality image (less noise) than shooting without a filter.
To convert to B&W a colour image your software filters out some of the colors (red filter filters out Green and blue, yellow filter filters out mostly blue) and then the software needs to amplify the non filtered colours to get to the right brightness, unfortunately amplifying noise as well in the process.
If you had the phisical filter on at the time of shooting the amplification stage is not needed thus resulting in less noise.
That said I did not found the difference that big, and I usually don't bother with physical flters.
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Old 05-30-2006   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlw
When you shoot in raw, you're recording a full 16 bits of tonal data
The RD-1 sensor, like most of them, can only record 12 bits per colour, still this means 4095 levels for each of the RGB colours instead of 256, quite an improvement.
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Old 05-30-2006   #5
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Thanks for a thorough and very useful reply.
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Old 05-30-2006   #6
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Is it possible to buy the collapsible Heliar 3.5 without the set?
Someone considers it the sharpest lens ever, and I would not mind trying it.
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Old 05-30-2006   #7
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Don't think so. They only made as many lenses as Anniversary sets. CameraQuest has (had?) a set on offer for $1500. Would love to loan you my lens, but I'm in South Africa....:-(
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Old 05-30-2006   #8
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RAW is data straight from the sensor. It offers the most control via post processing. Jpeg data is processed by the camera.
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Old 05-30-2006   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fgianni
The RD-1 sensor, like most of them, can only record 12 bits per colour, still this means 4095 levels for each of the RGB colours instead of 256, quite an improvement.
However, those 4096 levels form a linear intensity scale, while the 256 levels in a JPEG file form a nonlinear gamma corrected intensity scale, so the loss of precision is less than comparing 4096 to 256 could make you think.

That said, I still recommend RAW since it preserves all the information your camera is capable of capturing which is often a considerable advantage in post processing. The ability to change the white balance and contrast curve without unnecessary loss of quality is worth a lot.
(Also: if it should happen that new improved demosaic/bayer-interpolation algorithms are invented in the future old RAW files could be reconverted.)

Cheers,
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Old 05-30-2006   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndersG
However, those 4096 levels form a linear intensity scale, while the 256 levels in a JPEG file form a nonlinear gamma corrected intensity scale, so the loss of precision is less than comparing 4096 to 256 could make you think.

That said, I still recommend RAW since it preserves all the information your camera is capable of capturing which is often a considerable advantage in post processing. The ability to change the white balance and contrast curve without unnecessary loss of quality is worth a lot.
(Also: if it should happen that new improved demosaic/bayer-interpolation algorithms are invented in the future old RAW files could be reconverted.)

Cheers,
Anders
You are absolutely right, I forgot to mention your point and that the gain from shooting raw is definitely less that the 16:1 ratio that the simple comparison of number of levels suggests.
It is also true, as you mentioned, that there are significant and visible advantages is shooting raw.
BTW raw, unlike JPEG, is not an acronym, so it should not be written in capitals (I too make this mistake very often as you can see from my previous posts)
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Old 05-30-2006   #11
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The special edition Heliar is sometimes for sale on eBay.
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Old 05-30-2006   #12
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The Heliar in Nikon Rangefinder S-mount is available from Stephen. It is non-collapsible. All you need then is an Orion adapter or its clone. The clones do show up from time to time.

Pictures with this combo are lovely, and the S-mount Heliar is a striking-looking lens. It has been dubbed the "molehill Elmar", as it bears some resemblence to the Mountain Elmar in miniature. Here itt is on a black chrome M4.

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File Type: jpg S Heliar.jpg (63.7 KB, 196 views)
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Old 05-30-2006   #13
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MY heliar is the gold standard that I use to compare other lenses to. I didnt use it for the first four months of owning my R-D1 as it was part of my Anniversary set and wanted to keep it mint. After finally trying it, I was blown away. It is by far the sharpest lens I have ever used. I've pixel peeped fine detail down to 1 pixel which is about 8 microns?
So much for keeping it mint

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Old 05-30-2006   #14
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that's our dan (i'm not a dealer)!

good luck in the sale dan tho i doubt you'll need it.

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Old 05-30-2006   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meleica
Joe, Joe, Joe.... I bought the Nikon HS Bessa set so I could use the R2S body...why cant I sell the lens at a GREAT price to members here without being labeled a "dealer."

Hell, you have sold more equipment here than me...

Hugs and warmest regards to my friend to the north,

Dan
i just get all tingly when we get along like this.

but your point might be true, i'll have to investigate further.

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Old 05-30-2006   #16
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There's an excellent description of raw format for imaging on Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAW_image_format
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Old 05-31-2006   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndersG
However, those 4096 levels form a linear intensity scale, while the 256 levels in a JPEG file form a nonlinear gamma corrected intensity scale, so the loss of precision is less than comparing 4096 to 256 could make you think..
Hi Anders, this is an interesting point. The recommendation to 'expose to the right' is to allow the maximum number of levels possible, with consideration to the digitization. Do you know how the gamma curve affects the number of levels in each tone? Looking at the curve (in EPR) it would seem the gamma curve expands the shadows and compresses the highlights, but I haven't done the math.

btw, that brings up another thing about using RAW - on the one hand you can recover about a stop of highlight detail, but also you can expand the shadows without getting banding. It's this latter property that I think is emulated by the gamma curve. The highlight recovery, AFAIK, is only possible if you shoot RAW.

Your comments welcome...

ps has anyone posted some pix from the Heliar? I'm very curious...
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Old 06-01-2006   #18
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by rvaubel
MY heliar is the gold standard that I use to compare other lenses to. I didnt use it for the first four months of owning my R-D1 as it was part of my Anniversary set and wanted to keep it mint. After finally trying it, I was blown away. It is by far the sharpest lens I have ever used. I've pixel peeped fine detail down to 1 pixel which is about 8 microns?
So much for keeping it mint

Rex

Having kept my Anniversary set in the box for months I reached the same dillema. I solved the dillemma as follows:

"If you're the kind of guy to buy a new car and drive it with plastic on the seats, then you sure as hell don't deserve to use the sharpest lens in the world..."
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Old 06-01-2006   #19
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I really want a Nikon Adapter now!

Meleica,

Can't commit on the Heliar S immediately, keep in touch and talk to me after 10-June ( [email protected] ).



Will
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Old 06-01-2006   #20
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I am tempted by the Nikon one, but then I would need an adapter, and it will have to be an adapter machined with the narrowest tolerances otherwise most tof the sharpness will vanish.

I think I'd rather wait for am M mount one to come along (also I like the collapsible one more)
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Old 06-01-2006   #21
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I will just use it on my contax one, is f/3.5, then you might stop it further down...

If I have a 2nd M body, I might just adjust the RF to suite, as Brain done to his Nikon S2 to use contax lense..

Well, was gunning for the dead S2 on Evilbay 2 weeks ago...
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