Comparisons of Some Canon DSLRs for my Digi-View

San Diego — I’ve had so much fun experimenting with the latest iteration of the Digi-View camera using the Wista SP 4×5 Technical Camera as my foundation I got curious as to just how much gain I would have by upgrading my DSLR equipment.  The question is, in a quest for the best final output from the digi-view would I gain a lot by upgrading DSLRs.  Whoa… sounds like a test coming up to me… Oh darn…

Test subject showing the area to be cropped for review

I was also curious to see the results since I have long contended that the difference between the cameras from 12 to 20 megapixels that was perceivable by human eyes on normal prints would be very small.

So I gathered my own 5D (12.8 megapixels) and 1Ds Mk II (16.7 megapixels) along with a borrowed 5D Mk II (21 megapixels) and headed back to the patio.  I decided that the shots would all be tripod mounted and shooting my Canon 85mm 1.8 lens at f9 to give  them all the benefit of a really sharp lens.

To the right is the full frame shot.  It was the same for all of them since the tripod never moved during the test.  Of course I knew they all look good full frame so I cropped out the small portion inside the yellow box and that gave me the detail shots shown below.

All of them can be clicked on and enlarged for a full screen review.

Cropped section from original 5D (12.8 mp)

Cropped section from 1Ds Mk II (16.7 mp)

Cropped section from 5D Mk II (21 mp)

Pretty clear choice… huh???

The wrench in this approach to demonstrating differences lies in the output.  Each successive camera yielded a larger file.  But in order to display them here, they were all shrunk to precisely the same size and resolution effectively minimizing, if not totally eliminating, the differences between them at full resolution and size and as they would print.  For reasons I completely do not understand, the 1Ds II actually got a little softer!!! (Probably some form of cockpit error if the truth were told…)

After seeing them post sizing for the blog I almost decided it was pointless to show them but after thinking about it I realized there is some point to it.  And that is to tell you to be very wary of comparison shots you see online.  I could have made any of them look better or worse easily, but the processing is exactly the same for all three and all three were reduced to 100 ppi (so you could enlarge them) and 1,000 pixels high.  But as the files came from the camera bigger and with more resolution, here they were all squeezed down into nearly identical files.  The truth is there is no way to truly show you the difference online unless there were HUGE differences which there are not.

For a print, the 5D II had slightly better resolution than the 1Ds II but I mean SLIGHTLY better.  For me, to use on the Wista where that slight difference would accumulate as the frames were added i think it is a good thing.  But if the goal were to produce shots for online display only, my original 5D is all that is needed.

Once I saw how the shots from single frames compared when reformatted for the web i was now curious how a shot from the 5D Mk II would look mounted on the Wista Technical Camera for an internal panorama.  This time however I wanted to hone in on the selected area from the tests above.  But several hours had passed, afternoon was getting on, and I had to settle for a slightly different view and a very different contrast than the shots above shot around noon.

The shot below was taken with  a Linhof-Selected Schneider 270mm.  The shot as shown was cropped to about  75% of the original but was still a 614 megabyte file in Photoshop.  It was glorious at full resolution but, following the experience from above, less so when reduced in size and reformatted for the web.  This shot has had no extra processing and other than the crop is how it came out of the camera and photo-merge function in Photoshop.

Cropped from shot taken with 5D Mk II DSLR mounted on a Wista SP 4×5 Technical Camera using a Linhof Select Schneider 270mm lens.  This is about 75% of the original capture.

Close… close.  But I remember looking at it and “feeling” the warm glow from the flowers and the contrast of the green and magenta vibrating in the sun.  And in my mind I saw it as if it had been taken with the famous Imagon lenses of the past with their halation effect.  So I decided to simulate it and came up with this as a final.  I tell students to worry far less about what they “see” and far more about what they “feel.”  i thought i should take my own advice.

“Imagon” version of the shot above.

And now I’m anxious to go shoot it for real and also perhaps to compare it to some sheet film while I’m at it.

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About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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