1.31.2014

What format is this?

 

I've been playing a lot with the Sony RX10 camera for the last two weeks and admit I am a bit obsessed about it but I've been reading too many ill informed opinions on the web and the whole subject of shallow and deep depth of field are starting to drive me nuts. Everyone seems to consider so much aesthetic stuff in photography in purely binary or black and white terms. Something is either good or bad. Sharp or not sharp. In total focus or totally out of focus. Even when the rest of us see things in shades of gray, subtle gradations of settings and effects. Zones of focus...

The difference that most amateurs are perplexed and binary over is the idea that the depth of focus on all bigger formats is tiny, almost razor thin, while any camera with a sensor smaller than whatever sensor they are currently championing is only able to render scenes with an infinite range of sharpness. You can show people stuff and you can explain ideas to them but you can't understand it for them....

So, above is a shot of a sausage maker that we did in Elgin, Texas. Tell me which camera and lens you think I shot this with and why. If you've seen it in an older blog before please don't give away the technical details until people have had the opportunity to weigh in.  Thanks.

(edit: added a second shot. Take a guess at the camera and lens on the one below, as well...)


Have fun!

The reveal: the top photo, sausage maker, was done on a 4x5 inch field camera equipped with a 135mm f5.6 lens. The bottom image was done with a Panasonic GH3 using an 85mm Rokinon lens.







33 comments:

Craig Soars said...

The colours & tones remind me of slide film, but I doubt it's a 35mm scan - too smooth and rich. Maybe 120 or even 4x5 stopped down - not as if light was an issue for this staged shot.

Michael Weeks said...

When I saw the picture, my first thought was that you could take that picture with a micro four-thirds camera (e.g. one of the Olympus OM-D's) and a Panasonic 25/1.4 or an Olympus 45/1.8. If I had to choose, I would say Olympus OM-D and a 24/1.4. I confess, I looked it up, so I know whether my answer is correct or not.

Jim said...

Since DOF is primarily relative to the diaphragm opening (f/stop) and the diaphragm opening is relative to the focal length, the perceived DOF in the resulting photos taken at similar distances and the same f/stop should be roughly equal regardless of the sensor or film size. It's a mater of optics, not film or sensor size.

christian said...

Ha! You mean it's the image that counts!?

Dave Jenkins said...

The first one looks like a Pentax 6x7 shot on transparency film to me.

Dave said...

4x5 film

Michael Robbins said...

Cool, love guessing. G3 with 45mm for the first.
Gh3 with 25mm for the second. Actually I have no idea. They look fine but would prefer either more or less dof in the first I suppose.

Dave said...

Oh yeah... portia film and a 150mm lens, maybe 210(ish).

Anonymous said...

iPhone 5s

osc said...

right, but to obtain the same field of view between sensor formats, you need to change focal length as you change sensor - hence the dof changes too. or see it this way : when you increase the size of the sensor, you need to move closer to your subject if you want to keep the same framing. dof gets shallower.

Juan Carlos said...

I am thinking .... that it is not a medium format 6x4.5 camera -- the aspect ratio looks more like 4:3 to me. I wouldn't be able to guess what kind of camera you used since it has been shrunk for the blog post.

However, I will guess that the lens used was a normal focal length judging by the amount of space that is typically in a kitchen. I will also say that you stopped the lens down anywhere between f/4 to f/8 (depending on what kind of sensor or film you used) since the background is not that much out of focus.

Mike Rosiak said...

Assuming that you preserved the original proportion, I say 4x5, or 5x4 to some. Lens? No idea.

unforcederror said...

Your comment about depth of field caught my eye. Many people seem to believe you must have full frame, a focal length of 85mm and f1.2 to take truly artistic portraits. Is that one of the things driving you nuts?

Anonymous said...

Both shots were taken with "the camera you had in your hand at the time" - always the best camera for taking the shot ... regardless for whatever arsenal you own. They both did what you wanted them to do. The rest is academic.

John W

Unknown said...

I think you shot the image of the sausage maker with one of your earlier m4/3rds Olympus cameras, 25mm lens?

The second image was shot with a cell phone.

Alin Popescu said...

It doesn't matter which camera. Both photos are great, and only this matters. People are missing the entire point of this post ;)

Claire said...

Kirk, I remember seing this image before, and though I have no idea what it was shot with, I think I know exactly where you're going. So let me tell you this : YES, you can get pretty undiscernably similar scenes with anything from m4/3 to FF in terms of FOV and DOF, but *nothing* will change the fact that thinner DOF (and yes, I do believe it's a very important creative asset that I would certainly be totally depressed not to have) will always be easier to achieve with the larger format set-up ! It's not the quantity of blur that you can extract from any format that matters, it's the ease with which you can do so. If I am to reproduce a super thin DOF shot with a smaller sensor, I'm gonna have to start jumping over a collection of hurdles, very fast lens wide open, being close to the subject, subject being far from background, and all of this becomes just so much preparation and thinking, than taking a good picture is pushed back to the accessory status. While with FF (dont get me wrong, I currently consider APS-C as my own sweet spot) the shallower DOF comes built-in, I can either have or not have it, depending on my wish at any moment.
So while all formats are legit and useful, I find the whole "size doesn't matter" argument hypocrite and dishonest.

Anonymous said...

"I've been reading too many ill informed opinions on the web"

You don't say? ;-)

"the whole subject of shallow and deep depth of field are starting to drive me nuts."

Why? I mean why is it driving you nuts? Is it really worth it?

"Everyone seems to consider so much aesthetic stuff in photography in purely binary or black and white terms."

Not everyone, mind you.
Just do your own stuff, and if you feel like sharing it online, all the better. You can't please everyone at the same time. Especially all the enginerds out there.

The first thought that sprung into my mind when I saw the first photo was "dangit, Kirk, now you made me hungry!" :)

I like the shot. The expression on he fellow's face, the sausages themselves, the colours of his clothes and the sausages, the skin on his neck telling about the heat of the oven and/or the hard labour, that's all the photo is all about. It tells a story.

Looks like the fellow is proud of his sausages, and man, would I want to have a taste of the sausages when I see the photo. To go a bit more technical, the background is clear and enough lit to give a hint of the surroundings, but not distractingly so.

What the sausage guy photo was taken with, who cares. Suppose a more or less similar photo could have been taken with anything from an iPhone to a number of different digital and film cameras. Hard to tell for sure, without knowing how it was lit and so on. But I think that's irrelevant, as the shot is all about the fellow and his sausages in a sausage factory.

As for the portrait of a spigot or whatever holder it is, well, again, a number of different camera and lens combinations could have created that kind of visual, so... I think I'll just go to fix myself some lunch. Maybe I'll even walk to the grocery store nearby to grab some sausages. :)

Robert Roaldi said...

It's a 2005 Cabernet, from grapes grown on a windy gentle slope with south by southwest exposure, where the soil was a tad too sandy, but definitely not in Argentina.

Oh wait, sorry, wrong site.

Before the interweb, we couldn't have this kind of fun. Thanks for your columns.

aurèle said...

i'd say Pentax 6x7 for the first, and either RX 10 for the second, or M4/3 with a Pen fast lens.

Michael Matthews said...

Mox nix.

Bob Travaglione said...

I would think the Panasonic GH3 with the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 lens set at about f/2.8

Brian said...

I have no idea what camera and lens. But I think both images are heat.

Gato said...

I remembered the first photo as a picture, but had no memory of the technical details. Which may be your point.

Seems like I would have remembered, since it was once my favorite portrait format (I cheated and looked it up) but only the visual stuck in my memory, not the technique. Had I guess I would have been very wrong.

I will not venture a guess on the second, though I suspect it may be near the opposite end of the technical spectrum. Will be watching for the reveal.

Ken said...

Are you having fun yet Kirk? By now you're probably chuckling, feeling totally justified in your observation about too much attention paid to the dogma's of format and DOF. PERSONALLY, I agree with you. I also feel that life is too short to play these guessing games, especially when similar images can be created with almost any format and lens. I recall seeing both images on earlier blog posts, but I'm not about to search for them. Think I'll just grab my camera and go shoot.

Ron Nabity said...

I would guess the answer is the opposite of the conventional wisdom that is flushing around the discussion boards these days.

First photo: large film format
Second photo: compact digital

It amazes me how much attention is placed on the blurry part of the image, isn't that the part that most people don't care about?

I recently saw a comment from a photographer who said, "I only shoot at f/1.4." wth

Anonymous said...

I would guess both are MFT.

The first one has amazing color, great sharpness and fairly large depth of field. The second looks like a macro lens, so no way to tell from the depth of field, except that it is not razor thin.

MFT has great lenses, so either one could be MFT. Neither could be iPhone, unless there is something I am missing about the lighting.

- Dave H. (sorry about the anonymous.)

ginsbu said...

I didn't have a clue about the first. Looked it up and can now see a few signs of medium, but less so format.

For the second, based on some of your past comments I'd have to guess a Canon G series, not that it shows distinctively in the image.

Wally Brooks said...

M4/3 configured for square. This is a SWAG- scientific wild ass guess cause that is the first thing that popped into my mind.

Ash said...

No idea on the camera or lens.

It is a good picture, can almost taste the sausage.

Neal said...

I'm going to guess 4x5 provia or astia for the top shot and Oly 4/3s for the second shot.



Mark G. said...

Sausage maker: appears to be 4x5 using a lens in the 150-210ish range. Metal bit: appears to be medium format, most likely with a macro lens, probably 80-110mm. Obviously, on the web, most anything can be most anything, but that's what these images appear to be, to me.

Dave Jenkins said...

So, Kirk. . .are you going to tell us the answers, or make us dig for them? :o)