Saturday, 10 October 2009

another ultra wide on 35mm compared to G1

as part of my previous 'photo shoot' to test the G1 against 35mm slide and negative I also took this image (which I just worked through how I scan and process a Neg in this page).

As mentioned in my other blog post, this was taken with a 21mm lens on 35mm film at f3.5 I also took a RAW image with my G1 using a 9-18mm zoom. With a little processing I turned that raw file into this:

Ok, sorry I can't get the colour to match perfectly, but the DoF is quite different too isn't it. Lets look at a close section

You can see two interesting things here:
  1. out of focus on the 21mm full frame looks very nice and gives great separation from the background
  2. the film image viewed at 50% looks similar to the digital viewed at 100%
Something people are easily lost on is all of the changes which happen when you change format size. To get the same Depth of Field look you need to keep the diameter of the lens "hole" to be the same. So the changes in focal length between 35mm cameras and most digital SLR cameras mean that to keep the same shallow Depth of Field you need a much bigger hole.

How big?

To equal f3.5 on the 35mm camera, a lens on a 4/3rds camera will need to be about f1.8

That's not going to be a simple, cheap or light lens anymore. So if you wanted shallow depth of field then you'll be better off with a larger format (like full frame digital or 35mm film).

Getting back to the extra detail in the film image, probably I didn't get the two cameras perfectly in the same place, and may have been closer to the flower with the film camera than the G1 ... it was quite close and so a small difference would have make a significant change.

But the negative image looks quite nice if you ask me.

You know, I've been looking at Digital VS 35mm since 2001 and way back then my view was:

I still really like 35mm though, as its a reasonable compromise between (large format) print quality and (digital camera) convenience and cost. Its not free to run like the digital, but its not expensive for most people. It has a wider range of lens options than most digital cameras have (and I already have them) and as well as using negative, I can expose positive film for making slides for projection something I do a bit of. I've had enlargements made up to 50cm wide that look good. I find that enlargemts look that bit better to me than anything less than the top shelf cameras like the Digital SLR's like the EOS D-60. A typical A4 sized enlargement is typically not expensive (about $15 where I come from in Brisbane Australia, and less here in Tokyo). I can take my negative into almost any reasonable photo processing shop, and then pick up a print in a few days with no fuss or investment in colour printers, inks, and futzing with Photoshop to get the colour balance "just right".

Back then an EOS D60 was a few thousand dollars and wasn't as good as a G1 is now.

So what would I say now?

I'd say that while I really like the look of full frame, it has a look that you just can't get on wide and normal views with any of the digital cameras (except full frame of course ;-), but scanning really does suck, it takes heaps of time and you'll need to invest in gear like scanners and invest in time learning how. You can always avoid scanning and have your negs put onto CD directly, if the company offers a system similar to the Noritsu it can give great results (see this comparison).

So I'd probably advise someone to consider it carefully, but would tend towards recommending the digital.

but I really do like the look of the full frame at 21mm ... more so than the G1

Costs: Since the 35mm options are second hand, and there are now plenty of used digital's lets compare something like a Olympus 510 with a Olympus 35mm film camera like the OM-10.

I just bought an OM-10 for $10, I bought a Olympus 21mm lens for about $200 (they're not cheap). I know you can get a E-510 body for about $200 and you'll need to pop another $400 for the 9-18mm zoom. So that's around $300 for a film setup vs $600 for a digital. So you can see why I don't think its as simple as it was 7 years ago...

Why not try something like buying the E-510 with its standard lens, put some "legacy" telephoto lenses on by adaptor and buy a OM-10 and a 21mm for less than the cost of the Olympus 9-18mm zoom?

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