7 posts in this topic
This past week I have been working on a variety of projects for Ford South Africa again. Monday's shoot was all about a local guy and his amazingly well restored '73 Ford Capri. This is my favourite shot from all the shoots I have done for Ford in the past year and it wasn't easy to get, I'll tell you that much!
Here I'm sitting in the back of a car being driven by our content producer, pointing the camera out the window, using f/18 (yes, on a mirrorless m4/3 camera) with a shutter speed of 1/18 second, trying to get the right framing and all while trying to communicate to the driver of the Capri what speed to go at as well as communicating the same with the producer. After several runs on both sides of a short public road outside the Durban airport I got this one which I am happy to share with you all.
I've converted it to B&W because while my iMac is in for repairs I am forced to edit on the dodgy Dell monitor that has been the subject of an article here on FZ (also why I am using an old method of putting my copyright on). I think the conversion looks good. Thoughts?
I have been on record in complaining that digital killed B&W as a truly viable monochrome end-product (unless created by extremely skilled practitioners, of course), with the interpolation of Bayer sensors and the algorithms written for "removal of colour" changing what was once a guttural, organic look that film gave to a B&W image replaced with a smoothed-out "plastic" looking image with the colour removed. the tonal response was now linear, as opposed to the "S" curve response of B&W (silver halide) film.
So on Saturday, with the winter sun shining and not a cloud in the sky, I tracked down a few static subjects filled with contrast and tonal gradations, packed my two Sigma Merrill Foveon cameras along with the Fuji X-T1 and my Mamiya RZ67 film camera, along with lenses for the Fuji and Mamiya that would roughly equal the AOV of the DP1 Merrill (19mm) and DP3 Merrill (50mm) with the intent of setting up a tripod and shooting the same scene with Foveon, X-Trans and T-Max in turn, just to verify that my satisfaction with the Fuji, as far as its monochrome rendition goes, wasn't just mere wishful thinking over the battle I had had in getting a B&W result that pleased me with all my previous Bayer sensor cameras. I also threw in the Sigma Merrill cameras to confirm that while they did to a degree reproduce the classic digital "plastic" look, the tonal gradation and acutance with which they did so comes as close to matching or even exceeding a print up to 20x24 from a 5x4 film negative.
As I no longer have a 5x4 camera I couldn't do a direct comparison, but I was keen to affirm that the little Merrills definitely surpassed the medium format Mamiya, which a mere decade ago was still up there with the Hasselblad, Pentax 6x7 and Rollei as the standard equipment for professional use.
As they say, the best laid plans...... well, don't necessarily follow suit with preconceived outcomes.
While the overall expectations were partially confirmed, it was the performance of the once-professional Mamiya RZ67 and the T-Max TMY (400 ISO) film I had loaded which gave me one heck of a jolt as to just how far digital from relatively tiny APS-C-sized sensors has come, and while I was hoping to prove that film still does B&W "better", I have to concede up-front that this is no longer true, and by a surprisingly huge margin at that. I still prefer the "look" of the non-linear tonal response, but that's where it begins and ends.
So my quest to find a good used Fuji GSW 690 film camera and start shooting hand-held location and street on film again died a swift and permanent death when the scans started coming off the scanner. I think I'll put the money to far better use in buying either another lens for the Fuji X-T1, or maybe even a new Sigma DP0 Quattro. Thank you all the greedy bastards on eBay who were asking way too much for a 25+ year old obsolete film camera with absolutely nothing other than a fixed lens with inbuilt mechanical shutter, a range-finder viewfinder, a place to put a roll of film, and a shutter button and a crank to expose and wind on the film. You just saved me hundreds of dollars. Much obliged.
For me, aside from maybe (very) occasional use of the RZ & RB67 cameras to consume the film I still have left in the freezer, B&W film is dead.
So, to the results:
I still think maybe that B&W film "looks" better, but IQ-wise the difference now is so great that no matter how good it "looks", you wouldn't intentionally use it instead of digital if you owned either a Fuji X-trans or a Sigma Foveon. The Sigma is still challenged with blowing out highlights and bedevilled absolutely awful software processing support, but the Fuji is none of that - the results are superb, the dynamic range more than adequate, and the equipment itself is a joy to use. I love holding and using that camera as much as I loved holding and using my Hasselblads over a decade ago.
All photos cropped to roughly the same dimensions, resized to 1600px high, so you'll have to "click up", and better still, hit the "Click here to view full size" button after clicking up, and save them to a folder on your desktop so you can flick through them to really appreciate the differences.
First image (shadow/highlight detail on a mainly monochrome subject) :
Mamiya RZ67, TMY (400 ISO) film, 50/4.5 lens, f/16:
Sigma DP1 Merrill 19/2.8 lens, f/11 @ 100 ISO
Fuji X-T1, 10-24/4 lens @19mm, f/11, @ 200 ISO
Second image (shadow/highlight detail, colour differences, vegetation and image resolution):
Mamiya RZ67, 50/4.5 lens, f/16 TMY
Sigma DP1 Merrill, 19/2.8, f/11 @ 100 ISO
Fuji X-T1, 10-24/4 @ 19mm, f/11 @ 200 ISO
Third Image (separation of many different colour shades tonally, shadow/highlights, fine detail retention)
Mamiya RZ67, 180/4 lens, f/16 TMY
Sigma DP3 Merrill, 50/2.8 lens, f/11 100 ISO
Fuji X-T1, Zeiss Touit 50/2.8M lens, f/11 @ 200 ISO
Method & conclusion:
I used the digital cameras at their native resolution - the Sigmas because increased ISO is purely and obviously an amplification of the signal which adds noise, and processing the top layer only of the three-stack sensor for cleanest results distorts the colour response to that of the full three-colour layers when converted to B&W as a whole. Likewise I used the Fuji at 200 ISO to completely kill any possibility of the DR function kicking in as it can at higher than 800 ISO to dramatically increase dynamic range. The object was to see if film really does still have that legendary DR advantage. (No, it doesn't! )
I used T-Max 400 film as (1) I have the most of it left in stock ,
and (2) I assumed that the huge area of the 6x7 format would enjoy an unfair advantage over the minuscule APS-C sensors if used with finer-grain T-Max 100. (Wrong again! )
As I have already indicated, even allowing for the fact that a scanned negative won't be as good as a directly printed one, fact is that this is the way most negatives will be put to use these days - scanned and an inkjet print - at least that most certainly is the way that my negatives would be put to use. I have absolutely no intention of resurrecting my wet darkroom for printing, even though it is still fully assembled and operational. I've done more than my time under the amber lights over several decades, so never again......
I reckon the Fuji overall blitzes the field here - combining just the right amount of "organic" look with the superb resolution of the Fujinon and Zeiss lenses. I will now stop lamenting the past and start actively pursuing B&W again without thinking that "this would be better done with film". The Sigma can't be faulted for finesse in resolution and smooth tonal transition, but it really is hobbled by the lack of software support and its propensity to blow highlights. The Mamiya - well, that's just an antique, obsolete, collectible curiosity now.
From this little exercise, I will now shut up forever about the superiority of film B&W.
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By Luc de Schepper
I'm sure a few people on this forum went on a Canal Cruise while visiting Amsterdam.
Not so many people know the Amsterdam Harbour is also very scenic, especially if you're a fan of shipping and industrial activity.
Last Friday I went on a Harbour Cruise operated by Stromma. It was kind of a private cruise as a friendly English couple and I were the only passengers. In fact, we were outnumbered by the crew!
This series was shot with an Olympus E-M10II + Panasonic 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 lens and Nikon D5500 + Nikkor 70-200mm f4 lens.
Olympus images processed from RAW in Lightroom, Nikon images from Jpeg in Lightroom (D5500 RAW's not supported in my version of Lightroom).
1. Our ship for the cruise
2. River Cruise Ships (I'm sure Mike G can tell us more about these kind of ships)
3. More ships moored at the Piet Heinkade
4. View on Filmmuseum EYE and A'DAM Tower
5. Detail of A"DAM Tower (this image was shot from the opposite side of the river IJ). At the right the swing of the "Lookout Experience"
6. Loading or unloading of bulk carrier
7. Amsterdam Marina
8. Damen Shiprepair
9. Former Russian submarine, at one time meant to be converted to party boat. That plan didn't work out
10. Amstel Botel
11. Tugboat, in the background Calvin Klein office en Moxy hotel
12. Lots of activity, great to watch and photograph
13. Fertiliser Factory
By Luc de Schepper
A series of images shot at the IJ area in Amsterdam-Oost. The IJ is the river which separates the old city from the new Northern part of town which used to be quite desolate and unpopular. But as house prices are rising at an alarming rate the once unpopular areas are redeveloped and taken over by youngsters and are again becoming fashionable.
The houses located on the city side waterfront are mostly converted warehouses, only affordable for expats or double income households.
I like this part of Amsterdam as it is less flooded with tourists than the city centre and provides some great photo opportunities.
All images Olympus E-M10 and E-M10 II + Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 and Panasonic 35-100mm f3.5-5.6
1. Java-island (an artificial island on the Northern part of town)
3. Odessa Yoga ship
4. Renovated Warehouse
5. Bridge of Passenger Terminal Amsterdam PTA (for cruise ships)
6. Front of PTA
7. Bim (music) house, Music Building at the IJ
By Luc de Schepper
Steigereiland is a new built area of Amsterdam which is kind of a modern floating village with houses built on water.
Quite an original idea but I would not want to live there. No garden and very close to a lot of neighbours.
This series was shot when the surrounding waters were frozen.