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Peter Walker

Comparing an SL image with the same shot from 15 years ago

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But I was interested in seeing how things have progressed, IQ wise.

 

I think that the answer is: enormously! In terms of our abilities to produce extraordinarily good images, there can be little doubt that we have fabulously good equipment available today. From my own point of view I would say that the size of gear to image 'quality' ratio is better than ever

.

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It's for reasons of this kind of imaging quality that I feel perfectly happy emulating the Hasselblad SWC by fitting a Super-Elmar-R 15mm f/3.5 lens on the SL, setting it to square format, and going shooting. Between that lovely lens and the SL's sensor/body quality, it's finally the digital equivalent to the SWC that I've been looking for and a lot less effort to pull work out without the necessity of processing and scanning 120 film... 

 

Leica SL + Super-Elmar-R 15mm f/3.5

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Thanks Peter and Ramarren for posting those examples. I have a 303FE (including the 110mm) and a 903 and am thinking of getting an SL body to use with my collection of R lenses (and now, my Canon zooms, via the Novoflex adapter!). Your posts were extremely helpful and interesting to me.

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Hi Peter, I can still remember being wowed by the combo you were using in 2001 -- photos of HK harbour where you could zoom in and see the antennae on the house boats, for example.  Case proven with the modern comparison.  Size, convenience, flexibility likewise.

 

Is it my eye or is the SL version higher contrast than the Hassy version, perhaps contributing to less haze for the distant objects?  Which would you say is closer to what you actually saw -- or is it too hard to call?

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@Ramarren (Godfrey) -- The SWC provides roughly a 24mm field of view in 35mm terms, as I recall, so your shooting in square format with a 15mm yields something it could never do.  I have shot a bit with an SWC using a P45X 39 MPx digital back.  It's nice, but a lot of trouble to get correct focus, the back aligned correctly, etc.  I think the SL with R wide angles is providing better results.  

 

scott

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@Ramarren (Godfrey) -- The SWC provides roughly a 24mm field of view in 35mm terms, as I recall, so your shooting in square format with a 15mm yields something it could never do.  I have shot a bit with an SWC using a P45X 39 MPx digital back.  It's nice, but a lot of trouble to get correct focus, the back aligned correctly, etc.  I think the SL with R wide angles is providing better results.  

 

 

The Hasselblad SWC is a 38mm lens on 6x6cm format. I never used a digital back on the SWC because they're all smaller than 6x6cm format and, to me, the magic of the Biogon 38mm is simply lost when you crop it down like that. 

 

Setting the SL to square nets a 2.54x2.54cm format. Using an FoV calculator to obtain SL to 6x6 equivalences nets the following chart:

 

Focal length in millimeters. H/V AoV and Diagonal AoV in degrees.

 

My Hassy kit is marked in red at 38mm, 80mm, 120mm, and 150mm focal lengths. As you can see, the SEM15 nets a bit wider than the 38 Biogon on the SL square format; the closest match is provided by the Tri-Elmar-M 16-18-21mm @ 16mm. That said, shooting with the SEM15 nets the opportunity for a bit more casual framing and can be cropped in to match the Hasselblad SWC exactly if you so desire. (The R24mm on the SL nets an FoV most similar to the Hasselblad 50 or 60mm lenses.)

 

As you can see from the table, I can also obtain the same FoV with the SL for all of my Hasselblad lenses ... R35mm nets the Planar 80, R50mm nets the 120 Makro, R60mm nets the Sonnar 150mm. Of course, what changes is the DoF at a given aperture: to obtain the same DoF look, you need to open up the lens on the SL by 2-3 stops compared to what you'd use on the Hasselblad. This isn't difficult since most of my R lenses are fast enough to do that and image well at near-wide-open aperture settings. 

Edited by ramarren

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@Ramarren (Godfrey) -- The SWC provides roughly a 24mm field of view in 35mm terms, as I recall, so your shooting in square format with a 15mm yields something it could never do.  I have shot a bit with an SWC using a P45X 39 MPx digital back.  It's nice, but a lot of trouble to get correct focus, the back aligned correctly, etc.  I think the SL with R wide angles is providing better results.  

 

scott

 

Not quite. The SWC has a 91º angle of view roughly similar to a 21mm lens on a 35mm camera. (0,55 x 38). A square 24 x 24 mm. with a 15 mm. lens calculates around 19 mm. eq.

(1.277 x 15)

 

Godfrey, sorry, you are first, the floor is yours. 

Edited by AndreasAM

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The Hasselblad SWC is a 38mm lens on 6x6cm format. I never used a digital back on the SWC because they're all smaller than 6x6cm format and, to me, the magic of the Biogon 38mm is simply lost when you crop it down like that. 

 

Setting the SL to square nets a 2.54x2.54cm format. Using an FoV calculator to obtain SL to 6x6 equivalences nets the following chart:

 

 

Focal length in millimeters. H/V AoV and Diagonal AoV in degrees.

 

My Hassy kit is marked in red at 38mm, 80mm, 120mm, and 150mm focal lengths. As you can see, the SEM15 nets a bit wider than the 38 Biogon on the SL square format; the closest match is provided by the Tri-Elmar-M 16-18-21mm @ 16mm. That said, shooting with the SEM15 nets the opportunity for a bit more casual framing and can be cropped in to match the Hasselblad SWC exactly if you so desire. (The R24mm on the SL nets an FoV most similar to the Hasselblad 50 or 60mm lenses.)

 

As you can see from the table, I can also obtain the same FoV with the SL for all of my Hasselblad lenses ... R35mm nets the Planar 80, R50mm nets the 120 Makro, R60mm nets the Sonnar 150mm. Of course, what changes is the DoF at a given aperture: to obtain the same DoF look, you need to open up the lens on the SL by 2-3 stops compared to what you'd use on the Hasselblad. This isn't difficult since most of my R lenses are fast enough to do that and image well at near-wide-open aperture settings. 

 The table is quite handy, thanks!!

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 The table is quite handy, thanks!!

 

So is Godfrey's point about digital backs not filling the 56x56mm space.  Even the latest 100 MPx units cover 56 x 42 mm, not the full square.  My (older and smaller) back gives me about 24 mm focal length instead of the 21eff that would be produced on film with an SWC.

 

scott

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So is Godfrey's point about digital backs not filling the 56x56mm space.  Even the latest 100 MPx units cover 56 x 42 mm, not the full square.  My (older and smaller) back gives me about 24 mm focal length instead of the 21eff that would be produced on film with an SWC.

 

scott

That is one reason why I never bought a digital back for my 903SWC, although I considered it at first. What's the point, all the "romance" of a square SWA is then gone.  The other reason is, as I understand, that the Biogon 38 mm. doesn't play nice with the digital back's,

 

Let's see if Hasselblad will bring us a Mirrorless MF (digital-SWC?) at Photokina , as some rumors suggest. Would be tempted if it is as compact as my beloved SWC and of equal or better quality (MF) than the SL combo with the SWA R-lenses.

 

An SL is coming my way first.  I have a R - 15 mm./f3.5 already, so could also be going the route Godfrey is taking, with his exemplary pictures in SWC-style.

Although I can't and won't copy it, he created it and and is a master at it.

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Thank you for the compliment, Andreas! 

 

My enthusiasm for the Hasselblad SWC—the concept of ultra wide on square format—was motivation behind buying the Super-Elmar-R 15mm and Tri-Elmar-M 16-18-21mm lenses to use with the SL; I already had the Elmarit-R 19mm but it wasn't quite wide enough. I just love how this format/FoV works. The problem has been getting a lens sufficiently wide enough and with the quality right to the corners to match the Zeiss Biogon 38mm on the SWC, which is simply one of the most amazing lenses ever sold IMO. All three of these lenses does the trick well, which nets options in this realm, finally, that I haven't been able to obtain before. 

 

Technical quality is there now for this way of seeing the world. Shooting the SWC style well, without being boring or cliche, remains challenging; I have to work hard at it to get the results I want. I very much appreciate the compliment, whether deserved or not. 

 

A 'real' SWC photo of recent years that I just enjoy so much: 

 

Hasselblad 500 SWC

Ilford Delta 3200

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Thank you for the compliment, Andreas! 

 

My enthusiasm for the Hasselblad SWC—the concept of ultra wide on square format—was motivation behind buying the Super-Elmar-R 15mm and Tri-Elmar-M 16-18-21mm lenses to use with the SL; I already had the Elmarit-R 19mm but it wasn't quite wide enough. I just love how this format/FoV works. The problem has been getting a lens sufficiently wide enough and with the quality right to the corners to match the Zeiss Biogon 38mm on the SWC, which is simply one of the most amazing lenses ever sold IMO. All three of these lenses does the trick well, which nets options in this realm, finally, that I haven't been able to obtain before. 

 

Technical quality is there now for this way of seeing the world. Shooting the SWC style well, without being boring or cliche, remains challenging; I have to work hard at it to get the results I want. I very much appreciate the compliment, whether deserved or not. 

 

A 'real' SWC photo of recent years that I just enjoy so much: 

 

Godfrey,

 

The compliment is sincere, believe me.

For over 35 years, working in architecture, I have seen and commissioned a lot of photographers who shoot architecture with the UWA lenses, being it MF or 35 mm. But your take on using this end of the UWA spectrum is truly original, being it the subject choice (small, local, everyday neighbourhoods, 50's buildings and interiors, parks, deliberately void of people), composition (detailed and layered, using foreground subjects for framing the background, interesting use of DoF), tonal B&W quality ( rich tones, subtle but still with contrast), rendering and consistent style of presentation. This is truly inspiring for me and bit of a masterclass.

 

Although I own the SWC for some years, next to the R6.2 and R7, humbly mostly shooting my own projects, other buildings and interiors for personal reference, until recently on film, I am now re-entering the (digital) photoworld since a few years, striving to see the world through the VF not only with the eyes of an architect......, but for personal fun and creative expression.

 

Your work stands out as an example of individual style and signature. It struck a personal chord, loving and exploring the possibilities of UWA. Not with the intention of copying, but proving that it is possible to be personal and original amidst the current oceans of pictures.

 

So keep surprising me please,

love the shot of the 500SWC by the way....

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The question there is: Are you interested in viewing the photograph or the grain? 

 

Well the post was discussing the "resolution, colour and punch" of the two images. I saw the link in another thread referring to the PetaPixel article - which is titled "Analog vs Digital: A Look at the Same Photo Taken 15 Years Apart".
 
Now I assume that the Imacon scan didn't look as grossly terrible as what's called the 'original size' of the image on Flickr, but seriously, if threads like this and articles on PetaPixel are going to be taken even half seriously (which is admittedly a stretch for almost any PetaPixel post), then the film image should represent something at least moderately approaching how a scanned film-image actually looks. 
 
The jpeg compression of the film image is a joke: not only does it destroy detail, it also completely obliterates color fidelity and micro-contrast. So I'm not really sure what the point of your post is? If you mean we're supposed to judge the overall look of the two images from the small online jpegs, then I still prefer the film image. But as far as I can see, the main point of this thread was to compare how much 'better' digital images are in terms that were hardly supported by the posted examples. 
 

 

And obviously I'm not denying that digital files in general display more 'resolution' - but these examples weren't a good comparison, regardless of whether or not you think this single parameter is an important factor in your photography.

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I don't know that I'd take the intent of this thread as so serious as to pose a definitive example of the differences in quality between the two media. Any JPEG of a film scan posted to the Internet, unless at full resolution/maximum quality or in a lossless format, is going to look like crap when examined at the pixel level, IMO. And the grain resolution/quality of a scanned film image can be affected by so many things in the chain of events leading from capture to negative, to scanned positive, to rendered JPEG or print that definitive or absolute statements are mostly not credible without a huge amount of additional information. 

 

For me, the simple overall impression of the two images side by side is all I need to see here .... The vast majority of my photos, whether film or digital, will be seen in modestly sized JPEG renderings on websites and not expanded to pixel view dimensions. I strive to make them all look as good as possible ... As a photograph, not as a demonstration of grain resolution or pixel fidelity. 

 

If I were posting photos for the purpose of examining the pixel resolution, I'd present them very differently from the way these photos have been presented here. But, for the most part, I want people to enjoy the photographs and have no real interest in the specifics of their grain or pixel resolution. 

 

Things are quite different when I make a presentation print ... 

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Both shot on a clear morning.  Both handheld.  Both similar field of view (about 70mm)...

 

The Hasselblad body, lens and the Imacon scanner were arguably the best quality equipment ever produced for a portable film camera.  And, of course, the 6x6cm trannies have a much larger surface area than a 35mm sensor...

 

But I was interested in seeing how things have progressed, IQ wise.  So, I used LR's compare feature to find the same portion of the image at 100%.  Then took a screenshot of the two side-by-side.

 

The Leica image is on the left, the scanned Hasselblad image is on the right.  After 15 years, we can see that the 35mm Leica has surpassed the scanned 6x6cm MF transparency in terms of resolution, colour and punch. 

 

 

I don't see how it can be said that this thread was just about looking at the general impression of the two images. And since this post, it's become a whole petapixel article - with the express intention of comparing "analog and digital".

 

Anyway, I'm not bothered enough to argue about it. People seem to be pretty pleased to compare their SL against blocky, jpeg-destroyed images that don't even distantly resemble what a film scan looks like. Who am I to spoil their fun.

 

PS: just for clarity, I took my screengrab from a slightly zoomed 'original size' image from Flickr which was supposed to represent the state-of-the-art of film capture from 15 years ago, according to the Petapixel article.

Edited by plasticman

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