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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

"Never ever confuse sharp with good, or you will end up shaving with an ice cream cone and licking a razor blade."  

 

Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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Pixel Lust
Old 07-23-2019   #1
Bill Pierce
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Pixel Lust

Big megapixel sensors are on the rise - 100 megapixels in the Fuji GFX 100, and 47.3 in the Panasonic S1R (It’s rumored that the Fuji X-T3, the S1R and GFX 100 sensors are all cut from the same sheet. Makes sense if you look at the pixel numbers.) and 61 in the new Sony A7 R IV. There is no question that pixel lust has hit any number of otherwise sensible photographers. Really, you have to ask yourself, “Will I benefit from pixel increase beyond the envy of the other photographers around me?”

For openers, will that new, high pixel count reveal that your old lenses are not able to take full advantage of the new sensor? That’s a very real consideration. And if your lenses are good enough, are you good enough to take advantage of the advantages? Remember - no camera shake, no non optimum aperture, no misfocusing, no high ISO bailout.

And while we are just plain being nasty, how about the need for higher capacity memory cards, more storage capacity, and the large file slowdown of computers and imaging programs, plus the fact that the bigger pixels of a lower count sensor may improve low light and video performance (to a degree that always seems to be changing).

From my perspective, there are two undeniable advantages to high megapixel counts. One is the fine detail held in large prints. The Fuji GFX 100 can produce a print a little larger than 24 x 32 inches at 360 pixels per inch. At that ppi, you can press your nose against the print to examine the fine detail. Most folks feel conventionally sized prints don’t need more than 300 ppi. That would make a print a little larger than 29 x 38 inches. Realistically, if you are standing back far enough to see the entire print, 240 ppi is more than sufficient, and that produces a print 36 1/2 x 48 1/2 inches. So, for big prints a high megapixel camera delivers.

The second advantage is the ability to crop. That’s often desirable with news shots, but they are most often shown in a small size in print or on the screen. Where croppability really pays off is advertising and commercial shots that are being laid out by a crazed art director. I think I could use it with some of the pictures of my dog, but I don’t think I’ll go for the dollars.

Anyway, I think the advantage of many megapixels for me in a house whose walls are already covered with 11x14, 16x20 and 20x24 prints from a variety of cameras that all seem "sharp", doesn’t really exist. I think that may be the case for many of us even as we suffer from pixel lust when a new camera is introduced. I’d love to hear what you think - especially if you disagree with me.
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Old 07-23-2019   #2
Larry Cloetta
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The original brand of lust is more interesting.
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Old 07-23-2019   #3
Timmyjoe
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I'm a "bigger is better" photographer when it comes to film, but not for digital. For many of the reasons you have listed above, none of my digital cameras is over 24MP, and I only have one of those, and that one is a PITA because of how large the files are. I also love shooting two sets of rather old rangefinder lenses and even though I love the way they render, they were designed in the late 1940's and early 1950's, and I'm convinced they would not hold up on a 36, 40, 50MP camera, not to mention the 100MP one you discuss above.

But I feel very differently about film cameras, and have been slowly putting together a 4x5 set up, after having experimented with an old 2.25"x3.25" shooting sheet film. It's all B&W work, and I'm drawn to the tonal gradations I'm hoping to be able to get with the LF lenses and the large negative.

Best,
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Old 07-23-2019   #4
Bill Pierce
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmyjoe View Post
I feel very differently about film cameras, and have been slowly putting together a 4x5 set up, after having experimented with an old 2.25"x3.25" shooting sheet film. It's all B&W work, and I'm drawn to the tonal gradations I'm hoping to be able to get with the LF lenses and the large negative.

Best,
-Tim
Same here. The only film cameras I have are an 8x10 view with a 4x5 reducing back and a Speed Graphic with, oddly, a Zeiss lens.
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Old 07-23-2019   #5
Timmyjoe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
. . . a Speed Graphic with, oddly, a Zeiss lens.
Funny you should mention that. Been a Nikon guy for almost thirty years now, both my rangefinder sets are Nikon based, so naturally, what's the first two 4x5 lenses I acquire? Couple of Nikkor-W's. I know they're not rated very highly for LF, but they feel familiar, and I think they'll be good for starting out.

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-Tim
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Old 07-23-2019   #6
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I gues they all support small and medium RAW. 100 Mp files are not something to deal with daily.
Sure, some printers will able to print file this huge after some waiting time, but before this, storage and processing comes first. I don't think it will be easy peasy with recent Best Buy PC or Starbucks savvy Air Book from years ago. Even for cropping.
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Old 07-23-2019   #7
peterm1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
Big megapixel sensors are on the rise - 100 megapixels in the Fuji GFX 100, and 47.3 in the Panasonic S1R (It’s rumored that the Fuji X-T3, the S1R and GFX 100 sensors are all cut from the same sheet. Makes sense if you look at the pixel numbers.) and 61 in the new Sony A7 R IV. There is no question that pixel lust has hit any number of otherwise sensible photographers. Really, you have to ask yourself, “Will I benefit from pixel increase beyond the envy of the other photographers around me?”

For openers, will that new, high pixel count reveal that your old lenses are not able to take full advantage of the new sensor? That’s a very real consideration. And if your lenses are good enough, are you good enough to take advantage of the advantages? Remember - no camera shake, no non optimum aperture, no misfocusing, no high ISO bailout.

And while we are just plain being nasty, how about the need for higher capacity memory cards, more storage capacity, and the large file slowdown of computers and imaging programs, plus the fact that the bigger pixels of a lower count sensor may improve low light and video performance (to a degree that always seems to be changing).

From my perspective, there are two undeniable advantages to high megapixel counts. One is the fine detail held in large prints. The Fuji GFX 100 can produce a print a little larger than 24 x 32 inches at 360 pixels per inch. At that ppi, you can press your nose against the print to examine the fine detail. Most folks feel conventionally sized prints don’t need more than 300 ppi. That would make a print a little larger than 29 x 38 inches. Realistically, if you are standing back far enough to see the entire print, 240 ppi is more than sufficient, and that produces a print 36 1/2 x 48 1/2 inches. So, for big prints a high megapixel camera delivers.

The second advantage is the ability to crop. That’s often desirable with news shots, but they are most often shown in a small size in print or on the screen. Where croppability really pays off is advertising and commercial shots that are being laid out by a crazed art director. I think I could use it with some of the pictures of my dog, but I don’t think I’ll go for the dollars.

Anyway, I think the advantage of many megapixels for me in a house whose walls are already covered with 11x14, 16x20 and 20x24 prints from a variety of cameras that all seem "sharp", doesn’t really exist. I think that may be the case for many of us even as we suffer from pixel lust when a new camera is introduced. I’d love to hear what you think - especially if you disagree with me.
Bill, you mention the benefits of big megapixel counts for facilitating cropping.

Mainly because I have some difficulty focusing fully manually as in an M camera now that I am older, I recently bought a Leica Q with some reservations about one aspect of it - The ability to produce an image at full resolution or at 35mm equivalent or 50mm equivalent. I found that it is more beneficial than I thought as the native 28mm is a bit wide for my taste. But I also found that I did not really want to crop to 50mm as at 35mm the pixel count drops from 28mm at full res to almost 16 megapixels which is still perfectly fine - its the size of most of my other camera's sensors. By the time an image is cropped to 50mm equivalent I think only something like 6-8 megapixels are available (sorry - too lazy to get off my bum and check). This is a bit too much pixel loss for most of my purposes.

Then they brought out the Q2 which has almost a 50 megapixel sensor. And they now provide framelines for a crop to a 75mm equivalent lens in addition. You can work out the numbers on the megapixels available at each cropping mode but it is significant.

All of this is a long way of saying I found the crop mode to be somewhat better than I expected. Yes you can shoot full resolution anyway then crop the old way - in post but I found I liked having framelines for each crop point for, I suppose, obvious reasons once you think about it. In this sense it is better than shooting now and cropping later.

The second point I wish to make is that a 100 megapixel sensor with cropping mode would provide the opportunity to have an even bigger range of crops available and hence provide correspondingly greater benefits. I wonder if other makers of cameras - certainly fixed lens ones might adopt this mode more widely, after it should be far cheaper to implement than making a specialist high quality zoom lens. For this reason if no other I suspect it could become more popular in the future for certain camera types.

PS in the Leica incarnation of this mode, the pixels "cropped" are not actually cropped at all - at least if you shoot in RAW mode where they are preserved. This means that when you import the image into Lightroom, the full uncropped image is still available, with the framelines for the actual crop you elected to use before you took the image superimposed on that image but able to me moved around the larger image. Overall this is quite useful for recomposing a shot after you have taken it.
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Old 07-23-2019   #8
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Megapixels have far exceeded the point where I'm interested in them from a technical point. I don't print big and I rarely crop, so it's just not something front of mind. I was pretty content with my 10mp E-3 years ago, I'm very happy with my 20mp Pen F, and even the 'entry-level' 24mp full-frame sensors are positively swimming in pickles from my perspective.

As the pixel count grows, I do have two concerns:


- File management and storage. I'm not someone who upgrades my computer system every year or two, and I expect raw files from a GFX100 would be almost unusable on my current system. Likewise, I haven't figured out an effective way of archiving files when I run out of room. This is fine when high mp is limited to the top end models, but the entry-level count is creeping up too.


- Lenses. I genuinely expected high-performance lenses would become more compact as computer design and fabrication improved. I've watched in amazement as the new generation of 50mm f1.4 lenses have come on to the market (Zeiss Otus, Sigma Art, Pentax D-FA*, Panasonic S Pro, etc...) - far heavier, bigger, more complex and more expensive than ever before (the Panasonic has 13 elements, weighs almost 1kg and costs $3.5k). I think this is largely due to the increased demands of designing for sensors that will probably exceed 100mp before long...
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Old 07-23-2019   #9
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Does not affect me. Still using film, but I prefer to torture myself with 35mm half frame. Small prints from small negs, that's my motto. Also mess about with 10X14mm format 16mm film cameras. Ya want GRAIN! We got grain!

Sure, I mess around with 4X5, but only use photo paper as a negative, and my $25 basket case 4X5 was a DIY kit called the TruVue sold, if I remember correctly, by Calumet in the late 70's or early 80's.
Lenses are whatever I can mount, from a 1930ish 130mm f7.7 Kodak Anastigmat to a series 6 plus 5 (200mm) Tiffen close up lens.

Why yes, my standards are very low, how did you guess that.
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Old 07-24-2019   #10
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Manufacturers have to push the envelop to create new demand. Whether us consumers would buy it is another story.

Rumor floating around that the the upcoming RX1R III will have the same 61MP sensor as the A7R IV. That really is a bit to much to handle.
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Old 07-24-2019   #11
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Being able to zoom in and count someone's eyelashes is fine if that is what's required.

However, I suspect that the majority of people who buy a 60 pus megapixel camera could probably be quite happy with the files from my RD1 ... but they wont of course for the same reason they need a 250kph car to drive to the shops!
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Old 07-24-2019   #12
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I lent a young friend my Sony A7s so he could learn about using it for video (and save him the expense of buying one for a one-off project). Of course, the silly sausage loves it so much he then purchases an A7RII on credit (good discounts) and then has to buy a new computer as his isn't powerful enough or has enough memory to handle the files.

Not for me these large sensor cameras - I don't need the resolution for what I do and I've come to the conclusion that for 99% of what I do a crop sensor JPEG is very much big enough.
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Old 07-24-2019   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesDAMorgan View Post
I lent a young friend my Sony A7s so he could learn about using it for video (and save him the expense of buying one for a one-off project). Of course, the silly sausage loves it so much he then purchases an A7RII …..

I`ve had both of those cameras .
I still use the A7R2 almost daily along with a 24mp 5D3 and 42mp Sigma Merrills.


Advantages with the larger sensor …. cropping .
That`s important to me because often I simply cannot get any closer to my subject.
I also imagine that I see more fine detail in the micro contrast but that could be just me.
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Old 07-24-2019   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
Big megapixel sensors are on the rise - 100 megapixels in the Fuji GFX 100, and 47.3 in the Panasonic S1R (It’s rumored that the Fuji X-T3, the S1R and GFX 100 sensors are all cut from the same sheet. Makes sense if you look at the pixel numbers.) and 61 in the new Sony A7 R IV. There is no question that pixel lust has hit any number of otherwise sensible photographers. Really, you have to ask yourself, “Will I benefit from pixel increase beyond the envy of the other photographers around me?”
I think most of won`t benefit from it. It seems that right now it is all about showing off details at 100% on the internet...i.e. technology porn. Ultimately... a great photo is a great photo.

Quote:
For openers, will that new, high pixel count reveal that your old lenses are not able to take full advantage of the new sensor? That’s a very real consideration. And if your lenses are good enough, are you good enough to take advantage of the advantages? Remember - no camera shake, no non optimum aperture, no misfocusing, no high ISO bailout.
Most lenses are good enough unless you expect perfection. Camera shake can be mitigated in multiple ways. High ISO can be used and downsized to look better than low res images. At 100%, sure it`ll look bad...but a 100mp high ISO photo that looks bad at 100% will look ok when downrezed to 24mp.

Quote:
And while we are just plain being nasty, how about the need for higher capacity memory cards, more storage capacity, and the large file slowdown of computers and imaging programs, plus the fact that the bigger pixels of a lower count sensor may improve low light and video performance (to a degree that always seems to be changing).
Memory cards are cheap compared to cameras and lenses. And again, if you downrez 100mp files to 24mp, they will look great in high ISO too.

Quote:
From my perspective, there are two undeniable advantages to high megapixel counts. One is the fine detail held in large prints. The Fuji GFX 100 can produce a print a little larger than 24 x 32 inches at 360 pixels per inch. At that ppi, you can press your nose against the print to examine the fine detail. Most folks feel conventionally sized prints don’t need more than 300 ppi. That would make a print a little larger than 29 x 38 inches. Realistically, if you are standing back far enough to see the entire print, 240 ppi is more than sufficient, and that produces a print 36 1/2 x 48 1/2 inches. So, for big prints a high megapixel camera delivers.
Agreed...

Quote:
The second advantage is the ability to crop. That’s often desirable with news shots, but they are most often shown in a small size in print or on the screen. Where croppability really pays off is advertising and commercial shots that are being laid out by a crazed art director. I think I could use it with some of the pictures of my dog, but I don’t think I’ll go for the dollars.
Cropping is generally sloppy. If the composition doesn`t work at full size, I find that it still doesn`t work when cropped. I guess as a digital zoom, it could work. Maybe for commercial purposes it could work. Who knows? I`d have to try it before completely writing it off.

Quote:
Anyway, I think the advantage of many megapixels for me in a house whose walls are already covered with 11x14, 16x20 and 20x24 prints from a variety of cameras that all seem "sharp", doesn’t really exist. I think that may be the case for many of us even as we suffer from pixel lust when a new camera is introduced. I’d love to hear what you think - especially if you disagree with me.
I`m still at 24mp. I have used 42mp sensors in the past. I find that these two are enough for me and my photography. However, we always think enough is enough in technology and then we are proven wrong. I don`t stress it. These cameras are all really great and people are making great photos with cameras from the 1800s and from 2019. It`s still the photographer and not the camera.

On a side note, in the past 10 years, I have had a bit of perspective. When I lived in NYC and most of my friends (and I) had the latest and greatest digital gear (and of course film gear but that`s different). Nobody used really old digital gear other than maybe an Epson or Leica digital rangefinder because they are cool. Now I live in Chile and some people are still using 10 year old digital DSLRs with kit lenses, but are really good photographers. They aren`t concerned with high ISO, fast lenses, big MPs, etc. They use what they have and adapt to it. They only have one camera too... kind of refreshing (even if it is not for me).
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Old 07-24-2019   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post

PS in the Leica incarnation of this mode, the pixels "cropped" are not actually cropped at all - at least if you shoot in RAW mode where they are preserved. This means that when you import the image into Lightroom, the full uncropped image is still available, with the framelines for the actual crop you elected to use before you took the image superimposed on that image but able to me moved around the larger image. Overall this is quite useful for recomposing a shot after you have taken it.
Good solution for the RAW...
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Old 07-24-2019   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesDAMorgan View Post
I lent a young friend my Sony A7s so he could learn about using it for video (and save him the expense of buying one for a one-off project). Of course, the silly sausage loves it so much he then purchases an A7RII on credit (good discounts) and then has to buy a new computer as his isn't powerful enough or has enough memory to handle the files.
Are you sure of this? I post-processed 42mp files on a 5 year old computer a few years ago...
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Old 07-24-2019   #17
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I am old so my opinions based on MY experiences and practices!
35mm was invented by Oskar Barnack to replace the 5"x7" View-camera..
The depth of field scales on all 35mm camera lenses for 5x7 print..
We look at a small image in viewfinder, whether RF or SLR.
Or Phone camera. Image size of palm..
So truly we don't see "Cinerama" blockbuster murals.

Why these huge MP ?
Sales are way down for cameras and lenses, due to being overrun by phone cameras..
Selling less, need to raise prices and "voila" a magic trick.
Pull the walking talking ginormous monster lenses of unbelievable quality.

I did Fashion, Publicity and Advertising.
My best investment was "Softar" Filter by Zeiss.
My 180mm Mamiya lens for C-33 Twin lens was way too sharp!
I finally pasted scotch tape(transparent" over front element..

Why can Leica in M, have APO lenses of beautiful sizes? Why!
Yes at SL and so forth, enter the great whites, belugas, super sized whales.
Prices to match for Techno deep thinking "artists" making BIG BORING MURALS.

I bought a few weeks ago, my 1st DSLR 6MP because it had the Kodak CCD sensor.
My main cameras are point and shoot digitals.
Film remains a M3 (52 years in pro service).
Lenses 50mm Collapsible-Summicron, 35mm Summaron, 135mm Tele-Elmar (actually an APO). Never needed film faster than 400 ISO..
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Old 07-24-2019   #18
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With film and early digital I strived to get my composition in camera. As an event shooter I acquired a set of fast and heavy zoom lenses that allowed me to zoom rather than reposition in order to get the composition I wanted. Now I have reached "a certain age" where heavy zoom lenses are no longer very enjoyable to use. But a light prime on my high resolution body allows me to get the composition I want (via cropping) without the weight penalty of the heavy zoom. I don't print big, so cropping is my only reason for resolutions higher than 24mp, which I find to be the sweet spot in my shooting.
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Old 07-24-2019   #19
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Prices to match for Techno deep thinking "artists" making BIG BORING MURALS.
Well, in all fairness, I`ve seen huge prints in galleries for a long time ... and (as Bill says) a 100mp camera can print 24 x 32 inches at 360 pixels per inch. I see photos this size all of the time in galleries. People in the past used 8x10" cameras to make big prints at high res. Now we can do it from a handheld camera. While it is not necessary all of the time, I think it could allow some people to make interesting art. However, I`m not completely cynical about Art or digital.
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Old 07-24-2019   #20
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I think there is much less resistance to high MP around here now that Leica has introduced the Q2 with 47 MP.
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Old 07-24-2019   #21
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At present, the cameras I use are 16mp and 24mp. They are more than adequate, even when cropping. For the last year or so, I've printed almost everything 6x9 inches on 8,5x11 inch paper. I would print larger but I take a lot of pictures and print a lot of them so I print smaller for economy. When I post something online in a forum(I would post here but the process is too cumbersome) the resized JPEG image is something like 500-800KB in size. In the past, I've cropped an 8mp APS-C image in half and printed it 13x19 inches and received compliments for the quality.

I'm sure there are those out there who need these monster megapixels. Somewhere. Me? I'm okay now. If I ever upgrade to higher megapixel cameras it will be because of the inclusion of some features I feel I need, not because of the pixels involved.

I want to add--Forget The Rules! You can print beyond what the rules tell you if the picture is good enough. Way beyond. You don't need a lot of crap to make good pictures. To rephrase Capa, "If your pictures aren't good enough it's because they're not good enough."
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Old 07-24-2019   #22
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I don't suffer from "pixel lust" per se, but that said I'm very sensitive to how much resolution is required for a given subject and camera/lens combination used to capture quality images.

For instance, ultra wide field of view springs to life based on the exquisite capture of fine detail in the broad view context. This needs lots of resolution and tonal differentiation and is the premier domain for large sensor, large pixel captures.

Another example: Most long telephoto work has more resolution degradation from atmospheric and environmental factors than it does from anything in the image capture chain, so you generally need less resolution and tonal range for long long lenses than you do for normal and short lenses. The exception to this is photographing birds, generally small and highly detailed subject you cannot easily get close to, where exquisite detail of the plumage interacts with sensor resolution, given a very sharp lens and critical focus, such that you need more resolution to prevent moiré effects.

I shoot with a variety of cameras that produce from 8 to 50 Mpixel resolution nowadays. The higher resolution cameras give me more options to work with and have capabilities that I barely stress most of the time, but are needed every so often depending upon subject type and the intent of the photographs.

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Old 07-24-2019   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
Bill, you mention the benefits of big megapixel counts for facilitating cropping.

Mainly because I have some difficulty focusing fully manually as in an M camera now that I am older, I recently bought a Leica Q with some reservations about one aspect of it - The ability to produce an image at full resolution or at 35mm equivalent or 50mm equivalent. I found that it is more beneficial than I thought as the native 28mm is a bit wide for my taste. But I also found that I did not really want to crop to 50mm as at 35mm the pixel count drops from 28mm at full res to almost 16 megapixels which is still perfectly fine - its the size of most of my other camera's sensors. By the time an image is cropped to 50mm equivalent I think only something like 6-8 megapixels are available (sorry - too lazy to get off my bum and check). This is a bit too much pixel loss for most of my purposes.

Then they brought out the Q2 which has almost a 50 megapixel sensor
I've always used the Q for street shooting, cropping the 28mm frame not only because it is a little wide but because my framing on the street is often a little hasty and sometimes awful on those occasions when I shoot without raising the camera to my eye. So, of course, I've sold the Q and am in line for the Q2 and am cursing Leitz limited production abilities.
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Old 07-24-2019   #24
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Sometimes the lager Mp from the sensor is not a goal, but just a byproduct.
I switched from Fujy X-T2 - 16-56mm F2.8 to a Sony A7R3 - 24-105 F4 nót because of the amount of megapixels but for IBIS and Eye-AF. 24 Mpix would have been good enough but the A73 was not available yet and this sensor really shines so I am quite content with this switch.
The only issue is that I have to by new USB drives for backup, since my 7 years old laptop can easily handle CAP1 with those 42 megabyte files.
Lots of good cameras around and choice is a good thing.
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Old 07-24-2019   #25
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I'm strictly an amateur/hobbyist photographer and I mostly shoot film these days. I have two old DSLRs that I use occasionally: a 6MP Nikon D40 and a 16MP Nikon D7000 (although my wife has more or less appropriated the D7000 so I mostly use the D40 when I shoot digital now). I have a 16″ x 20″ print from the D40 hanging on my wall that looks great even up close, so I'm not entirely sure what I would need a super high res sensor for. (I'm not saying nobody needs one. I'm just saying I don't need one.)


I also have absolutely zero interest in huge full frame digital cameras or optically perfect but enormous lens like the Zeiss Otis, etc. If I was willing to carry around something that big, I'd get a Pentax 67.



To follow up on Bill initial question, I'm curious as to how big a darkroom print photographers make from 35mm negatives, and at what print size would they step up to medium format?
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Old 07-24-2019   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
For openers, will that new, high pixel count reveal that your old lenses are not able to take full advantage of the new sensor? That’s a very real consideration. And if your lenses are good enough, are you good enough to take advantage of the advantages? Remember - no camera shake, no non optimum aperture, no misfocusing, no high ISO bailout.
This is a common misconception. If you take a look at DxO's "Perceptual Megapixel" resolution measurement, you'll see that ALL lenses benefit from higher megapixel cameras (higher sampling rate).

Sure, there are most likely "better" lenses out there that will give better results in terms of absolute resolution, but to misuse an aphorism, "A rising tide lifts all boats."
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Old 07-24-2019   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AAlfano View Post
To follow up on Bill initial question, I'm curious as to how big a darkroom print photographers make from 35mm negatives, and at what print size would they step up to medium format?

I remember one show of war pictures that traveled to a number of museums. It was not printed by the photographers, but the sponsors of the exhibit. I saw the exhibit when it came to NYC and my pictures were taller than me. They were color and that probably meant a fairly high speed color reversal material, not the “sharpest” film. But the pictures didn’t depend on sharpness for their effect.

After the show was over, the prints were returned to the photographers. I had no place big enough for storage. I know at least one other photographer had the same problem. I put mine on a NYC street on trash pick up day. Folks used to regularly sort through the trash and take items before they were picked up. I don’t know if that happened or photographic compost was the eventual end.

The point being that “sharpness” is not the only criterion for print size and, often, not even the important one. The size is usually determined by the use. Some exhibitions use very large prints. Nonetheless, collectors, public and private, tend to treasure prints that were made by or under the supervision of the photographer. As a rule, that means smaller prints. And not many people are putting up murals in their living rooms. Some of the best collections are the archives of publications that used photographs. Those are relatively small prints.

If your film work benefits from capturing small details or minimizing the effects of grain, you have a tendency to move up in format size without thinking about print size. The same picture can have lives in different sizes that are determined long after the picture is taken.
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Old 07-24-2019   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
I remember one show of war pictures that traveled to a number of museums. It was not printed by the photographers, but the sponsors of the exhibit. I saw the exhibit when it came to NYC and my pictures were taller than me. They were color and that probably meant a fairly high speed color reversal material, not the “sharpest” film. But the pictures didn’t depend on sharpness for their effect.

After the show was over, the prints were returned to the photographers. I had no place big enough for storage. I know at least one other photographer had the same problem. I put mine on a NYC street on trash pick up day. Folks used to regularly sort through the trash and take items before they were picked up. I don’t know if that happened or photographic compost was the eventual end.

The point being that “sharpness” is not the only criterion for print size and, often, not even the important one. The size is usually determined by the use. Some exhibitions use very large prints. Nonetheless, collectors, public and private, tend to treasure prints that were made by or under the supervision of the photographer. As a rule, that means smaller prints. And not many people are putting up murals in their living rooms. Some of the best collections are the archives of publications that used photographs. Those are relatively small prints.

If your film work benefits from capturing small details or minimizing the effects of grain, you have a tendency to move up in format size without thinking about print size. The same picture can have lives in different sizes that are determined long after the picture is taken.

Thanks for the reply Bill. I appreciate you putting things into context. What you are saying makes sense. I remember visiting an HCB exhibit at MOMA in New York about 10 years ago (when I was just getting into photography). I was a bit surprised that practically all of the prints were around 13″ by 19″ or smaller. Your post puts that into perspective.



I guess what I was asking, though, is whether there was a "rule of thumb" for how big of an enlargement you could make of a 35mm negative, similar to the 360/300/240 ppi guidelines you referenced in your initial post. For example, you can enlarge a 35mm Tri-X neg made with good light and a good lens to X by Y print size with good results.



To circle back to the original post, it seems the camera manufacturers are building super high rez cameras for a vanishingly small target market that really prints large enough to benefit from these sensors.
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Old 07-24-2019   #29
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A big implication for these big saucy sensors is a reduced need for lenses. If you can crop the file in camera then you don't really need that big zoom or another prime. In the old days lenses made money. i guess now people (cough, not me) upgrade the body much more...
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Old 07-24-2019   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benlees View Post
A big implication for these big saucy sensors is a reduced need for lenses. If you can crop the file in camera then you don't really need that big zoom or another prime. In the old days lenses made money. i guess now people (cough, not me) upgrade the body much more...
Yes …. they save you carrying more lenses .
With a high mp camera and a 135 I needn`t carry the large 70-200/2.8.
For me that's a big plus.
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Old 07-24-2019   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
I've always used the Q for street shooting, cropping the 28mm frame not only because it is a little wide but because my framing on the street is often a little hasty and sometimes awful on those occasions when I shoot without raising the camera to my eye. So, of course, I've sold the Q and am in line for the Q2 and am cursing Leitz limited production abilities.
Bill, Yes I have grown, if not fond of the cropping feature, then at least happy with its usefulness. More useful than I had anticipated. (Though if truth be known, I would prefer perhaps a 35mm lens on my Q with ability to crop to 50mm and 75mm or even better a 50mm lens with ability to crop to 75mm and say 90mm. Though I imagine I am in the minority there). The biggest challenge I have is changing my street shooting style to take better advantage of the lens that is actually on the camera. I should say that it is a very, very good lens and in my estimation entirely up to making the best of the Q2s larger sensor and maybe even sensors with an even larger megapixel count. (Though I have not seen others iews in this specific regard).

I think you will enjoy the Q2. I got my Q at a good price in as new condition with some accessories (the grip and the Leica half case) because the owner was keen to get himself one of the first Q2s to come in. Good for him, good for me.
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Old 07-24-2019   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benlees View Post
A big implication for these big saucy sensors is a reduced need for lenses. If you can crop the file in camera then you don't really need that big zoom or another prime. In the old days lenses made money. i guess now people (cough, not me) upgrade the body much more...
For the reason you state I think camera makers will try to limit cropping sensor modes to certain parts of the market - e.g. for smaller "pocket" cameras with fixed lenses or it could destroy too much of their business model. And it makes sense - why have a cropping mode on a camera with interchangeable lenses where a longer or wider field of view is only a lens change away.
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Old 07-24-2019   #33
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Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
For the reason you state I think camera makers will try to limit cropping sensor modes to certain parts of the market - e.g. for smaller "pocket" cameras with fixed lenses or it could destroy too much of their business model. And it makes sense - why have a cropping mode on a camera with interchangeable lenses where a longer or wider field of view is only a lens change away.



Yes, it does seem unlikely they will paint themselves into a corner.
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Old 07-24-2019   #34
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Yes, it does seem unlikely they will paint themselves into a corner.

I forgot to add too that another point which counts against a croppable sensor for cameras with interchangeable lenses is that when you change a lens for a closer or a wider shot you are still getting the full benefit of all those megapixels available to you on that nice big sensor. Unlike with a croppable sensor where the effective pixels falls each time you crop.
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Old 07-24-2019   #35
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Could it be that the internet and related market aspects in the modern era have caused too many to be focused on numbers whereas in the "old days" the criteria was only "looks good to me".

Life was simpler back when visuals were evaluated on no more than how they looked.
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Old 07-24-2019   #36
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Could it be that the internet and related market aspects in the modern era have caused too many to be focused on numbers whereas in the "old days" the criteria was only "looks good to me".

Life was simpler back when visuals were evaluated on no more than how they looked.
Bob, I think that is a good point. We live in the time of "The Big Gulp" and the "Beef Double Cheeseburger" and the "All you can Eat Buffet Lunch". There is a kind of greed behind it all but in this instance I do not absolutely blame the camera companies who are driven to innovate in any way they think will work as once the public stop buying, the revenue stops rolling in, and the production lines cease rolling - most likely signalling the death of their companies.
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Old 07-25-2019   #37
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My two cents.
I like to have more megapixels, although I am looking for the right plateau. It might be at about 60 megapixels. Bu I also want them in a nice camera and not too expensive
1- I like details
2- I like to crop
3- I like to print as large as I can afford
4- I don't buy the outresolve argument. A nice thing of transfer functions is that they multiply. There are excellent prime vintage lenses like Leica R, Zeiss F, Minolta Af etc. Now suppose that at a certain point in a certain direction at a certain spatial frequency the lens has a tf=0.7. A poor sensor with say a tf 0.6 wil give a product 0.42, not ideal. A sensor with lot of megapixels may have a tf close to 1, with the result that the product is approximately 0.7, meaning that it will squeeze from the lens its maximum possible performance. I remember that I Leitz engineer, asked what sense does it make to put a fast film in a Leica, answered similarly, but of course with the role of the lens and sensor exchanged
5- As to storage I have worked in PS with files close to 1 Gb. Also memories are cheap and, as an amateur, I have very few lucky days that I can devote to shooting and, in addition, I tend to shoot film style
Certainly a pro shooting machine gun style (I never shot a sequence in my life) all day long every day might need a good deal of storage...
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Old 07-26-2019   #38
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Rumours of an increase in mp in the latest incarnation of the M10.
Just rumours of course but an M10 with the Q? sensor makes sense.

https://leicarumors.com/2019/05/06/t...sph-lens.aspx/
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Old 07-26-2019   #39
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Do I not remember these discussions being exactly the same back when cameras were moving from 6mp to 12mp? Does anyone think the discussion will change when cameras are moving from 250mp to 500mp at some time in the future?
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Old 07-26-2019   #40
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Do I not remember these discussions being exactly the same back when cameras were moving from 6mp to 12mp? Does anyone think the discussion will change when cameras are moving from 250mp to 500mp at some time in the future?
Ding ding ding... we have a winner.
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