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November 1, 2012
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The Film Era's leftover

:iconh3csc:
h3csc Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Student Interface Designer
From time to time I keep on stumble upon topics such as Optical viewfinder > Electronic Viewfinder, DSLR > Mirrorless, Full Frame > Cropped Sensor. All of these debates are evidence of the film era's leftover. Let's try to put down what you know in the past and start looking at these topics from another perspective. Let's start with the first one.

- Optical Viewfinder > Electronic Viewfinder
The traditionalist always tells me that what you see from the OVF is the "truth" and what you see from the EVF is basically a screen. And because of that, the OVF is the right way to go and EVF is an abomination.

This is obviously a leftover from the film photography's era. Back in the days OVF is the only way of actually seeing what will end up in your film and so it is regarded as the "true" viewfinder. However it is almost 2013 now, what laying behind your camera's lens is a digital sensor, what you see from the EVF is exactly what you will get at the end. And because of that, in theory, EVF is the "true" viewfinder of a digital camera. Of course, both viewfinders have their pros and cons, OVF is much more comfortable to use and reduce the power consumption of your camera while an EVF offers you a more accurate depiction of the final image and offers you handy features such as digital zoom and much more usable in low light. But the point I am trying to make here is the concept, a concept traditionalist refuse to accept because of their film era's logic.

- DSLR > Mirrorless
I don't want to get too technical here as I am not an engineer. I don't know about how the flange back distance can affect the sharpness of the final image. But from my personal experience, I don't see a reason how Mirrorless camera is inferior to their DSLR counterpart just because it lacks a mirror. With the advantage of a significantly smaller body and lens, I will pick a Mirrorless anytime over a DSLR.

Back in the film days, the only way to preview an image accurately is through the mirror box that reflects the image to the viewfinder, and that is the reason why DSLR exist. Rangefinder camera does not offer as much flexibility (as in lens' focal length) than a DSLR and so DSLR become the de facto professional camera.

But, things have changed. With the introduction of CMOS sensor that enables live view, the existence of a mirror box become an extra, like the appendix in our body. Imagine if you are able to look at your film without developing it, why would you still bother adding a mirror in front of the film? Some might argue because taking a photo with the OVF feels more natural, but that is simply because they have used to that method, a leftover from the film era. It is technically unnecessary, it is there just because people got used it.

- Full Frame > Cropped sensor
This is, among all three, the biggest leftover. Forget about the film era, imagine the 35mm film format never exist, then what is full frame?
In fact, any camera with lenses designed for a specific sensor is a full frame. Period. Back in the days when half frame camera and APS-C sensor was first introduced, people were arguing about Full Frame camera is the only way to make the most out of your lens. This is absolutely correct, because those lenses are designed for full frame. A sensor or film that does not capture everything from the lens is a crop sensor.

If you fit an APS-C lens on an APS-C camera, an MFT lens on an MFT camera, the sensor will utilise every single bit of the lens. In theory, that is no doubt a "full frame camera". Imagine if 35mm wasn't the standard during the film era, instead something like a 17.5mm film is the standard, people would have called the Micro Four Thirds a full frame camera while a 35mm camera will be considered as a "Medium Format".


So at the end, people should stop looking at digital photography with a film photography's logic. In my opinion, film and digital photography are 2 different things that can't be compared. Comparing them is basically like comparing a bicycle with a motorcycle. SO if you are still thinking OVF is Original and EVF is Evil, then you should start telling those who ride on a motorcycle that bicycle is good and motorcycle is bad.

I love film photography too. They definitely deserved a place in the world of photography. But we should always keep our mind open and look at the new stuff with a new perspective. Film and Digital photography should sit in parallel, not one on top of another.
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Devious Comments

:iconolda-g:
Olda-G Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Interesting commentary and I see you are getting several replies from exactly the sort of close minded people you are talking about.

I currently use both full-frame and APS-C cameras, both dSLR and mirrorless. I even have a mirrorless medium format film camera lying around. Which camera-lens combination I use depends on what I want to shoot and how I want to shoot it. I use an OVF most of the time, but I use live view in situations where it is more useful. Despite what some are saying there is no format that is the "truth" or more natural. Cameras should be thought of tools for capturing images. Most of the time I pick up the tool that is going to be most useful (but sometimes I experiment). Most of us are more limited by our own skills and creativity than by our equipment.
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2012
Which of any two things is "better" always depends on the situation and on whether you mean better in one way or in another.
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:icondelahkel:
Delahkel Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2012  Professional Photographer
This, pretty much.
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:iconolda-g:
Olda-G Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Hence your comments on having multiple bodies with different strengths and different lenses for different purposes in another thread. I seem to have come around to that approach as well.
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:iconh3csc:
h3csc Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Student Interface Designer
It is always fun to see replies of people from both sides of the fence. For me I don't really care about those "I have a full frame and you only have an APS-C camera so I am cooler" statement. I don't mind being "lame" for having a cropped sensor as long as it suits my need.

I agree with what you said there. A good camera will certainly create a good photograph easier, but at the end of the day it is the skills and creativity that defines a good and a bad photographer.
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:icondelahkel:
Delahkel Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2012  Professional Photographer
For action and wildlife, I'd prefer to have the "lame" Canon 7D as opposed to even the 5DIII. ^_^
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:icon6x9base13:
6x9base13 Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Bigger sensor is better, all else being equal. A 70mm sensor digital camera would be amazing to shoot with (but large, heavy, and very expensive - making it impractical for many photographers and working environments). The 35mm format is popular in digital as in film because it's about the largest sensor area you can get in a camera while maintaining decent portability (in the "you can easily carry it on a strap over your neck all day while travelling" sense, at least).

As for optical vs electronic viewfinders, I prefer optical for three reasons:

1) No time lag. At all.

2) I like manual focus. Which you may argue is another antiquated leftover, but I find it more natural than worrying about setting focus points and modes. And a split-prism optical viewfinder is a far better tool for manual focus than anything I've seen done with an electronic screen.

3) When shooting with an optical viewfinder you're holding the camera against your head. In the case of an SLR, you're holding a relatively large and heavy camera against your head. This grants far greater stability than an electronic display that you look at on the back of the camera. As for the kind of EVIL cameras which have an eyepiece electronic viewfinder, I've never come across one where the tiny electronic viewfinder was anywhere near as sharp or contrasty as an optical viewfinder would be. Give the electronics people a few more years to work on super-high-pixel-density displays and that statement may change, but for the moment it's not yet a fully-mature technology.

And as for being a relic of "film", the SLR format was only one of many camera body designs for film photography. There were view cameras, TLRs, simple light-tight boxes that you aimed and focused by rough eyeballing or measurements and math, range-finders, and offset-viewfinder point-and-shoots. SLR won out as the near-universal format for non-niche professional photography because of good ergonomics and an easy to control and understand interface for composing and focusing images.

...but the SLR was in a sense born out of film in that the earlier glass-plate media didn't lend themselves to portability and thus didn't create a demand for flexible, portable cameras for the masses. Film made photography more accessible and made of the SLR a design that could be taken seriously as a useful replacement for the old large-format view cameras that were once dominant. Digital similarly gave rise to a class of point-and-shoot cameras far exceeding the capabilities of their film-based predecessors. But large-format view cameras aren't dead, because there are things they can do that SLR's aren't particularly well suited to. And, while the digital point-and-shoot is a far more powerful and versatile tool that the film point-and-shoot, it's never going to completely replace the SLR design for photographers who want a camera that favors image quality and good ergonomics over compactness of form.
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:iconsjphoto:
sjphoto Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Professional Photographer
You're 100% wrong about full frame vs. cropped. Full frame is better. Why? On full frame, 50mm is 50*1.6 for 80mm. On a full frame, that math doesn't apply. A 50mm is a 50mm. On medium format it's usually something like 50*.71 for a 35mm. So full frame is better. Not to mention those are "flagship" cameras packing the most features a manufacturer can put into a camera.
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:iconnprov13:
nprov13 Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012
Focal lengths don't change. a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens on whether you put it on a FF, APS-C, Medium Format camera. The size of the sensor/film doesn't change the focal length of the lens one bit. What does change is the equivalent Field of View between the different size formats.
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:iconstevecaissie-stock:
SteveCaissie-stock Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2012  Professional Photographer
Minor nit to pick: on medium and large format cameras, it would change the focal length, because the lens mount to film/sensor plane distances are much greater.
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:iconsjphoto:
sjphoto Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Professional Photographer
Did I say it did? I just described the math, and that is EXACTLY how the math works. Except for Canon, which you use the number 1.7. The FOV is effected by the focal length, and all focal lengths are determined by 35mm standards. So the lens still technically has the same focal length, the FOV is changed as if the focal length were different. It's math. All cameras are are a group of complex mathematical formulas.

The only mistake I made, I believe is that 1.5 is a more common factor than 1.6. You're more than welcome to research and double check my math, but it's accurate and what I said is 100% true, all of the time. Unless the crop factor is different.
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:iconphoenix-enigma:
phoenix-enigma Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2012
> The FOV is effected by the focal length, and all focal lengths are determined by 35mm standards.

What? No.

Focal lengths are determined by the focal length of the lens. Full stop.

You can work out conversion factors to estimate which focal lengths will have equivalent fields of view on different formats, but that doesn't do a damn thing to the focal length itself. Field of view itself is measured as an angle, usually in degrees - it isn't indexed to 35mm focal lengths, except in the minds of people who can't get it through their head how to actually think in angles and are stuck in their 35mm mindset. Referring to lenses with a 35mm equivalent focal length is, as the OP clearly and correctly pointed out, a relic of 35mm film photographers.
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:iconsjphoto:
sjphoto Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Professional Photographer
Ignore the 1.7. I was trying to figure it out, I knew one used a wonky number and I thought it was 1.7. I was thinking of the 1.3 factor Canon *used* to use.
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:iconphoenix-enigma:
phoenix-enigma Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012
You're pointing out exactly the sort of thinking the OP is talking about, I'm just not sure if you're serious or poking fun.
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:iconsjphoto:
sjphoto Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Professional Photographer
He seems to miss the point. Full frame is a larger sensor. That is mathematically better. Photography is all about math. EVERYTHING on a camera can be broken down into a mathematical equation. I don't know them because I suck at math, but it's true. 35mm and bigger is more true to the eye. Just like a 50mm focal length is more accurate to the eye as well. Not to mention the thing I mentioned about the lens math and the reality that full frame cameras have all the bells and whistles.

It's not a "left over" in the sens the OP suggests. OVF vs. EVF is a "left over" because that is technology advancing. Full frame is math. Cropped is math. It actually will effect the outcome of a photo in a true physical manner.

I also want to point out 120mm was the "standard" for most of film photography history. 35mm is a really recent thing because mathematically it works, cheaper than 120mm.
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:iconh3csc:
h3csc Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Student Interface Designer
Yes, full frame offers better image quality, or the larger the sensor size is the better the image quality is.
However, the idea of 50mm has to be 50mm is not because a 50mm is a 50mm by math. It is because we use 35mm as a standard to count them. Let's say if a Medium Format camera today is the standard for "equivalent format", a 50mm is no longer a 50mm. Or a full frame today will be considered as a cropped sensor.

Why 35mm is a full frame? It is simply because of the history of photography.
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:icondelahkel:
Delahkel Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Professional Photographer
Sensor sizes: Why do you think people spend so much more for cameras with bigger sensors? They provide better IQ at larger prints. For example, the 7D is an overall better camera than the 5DII, in fact the 5DII was only better at IQ and cleaner high ISO...yet non action shooters preferred to pay the premium for the 5D2...some even pay the hefty premium for medium format..it's not cause they money lying around. APS-C is better for wildlife though, since it offers more pixels on target compared to larger sensors using the same lens.

DSLR vs Mirrorless: sure, find me a mirrorless camera with fast reliable focus in low light, useable ISO 12k, and good lenses, and I'll use it professionally for my wedding work. My old 1Ds3 was too noisy when releasing the shutter.
That said, DSLRs are much better ergonomically, yes, they weigh more, but are much more comfortable in the hands.
Besides, a mirrorless only has an advantage with short lenses where it's actually pocketable...with longer lenses, the lens size pretty much negates the small gain in size for the body.

OVF vs EVF: This is a personal preference. TBH, only the latest versions of Sony's SLTs have useable EVFs, others have way too much lag.
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:iconh3csc:
h3csc Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Student Interface Designer
Hmm.. yeah the lag in EVF especially in rolling shutter does bother me sometimes. But the advantage of able to manually focus in low light keeps me away from OVF.

As for sensor size, what you said is entirely true. But the closed minded full frame shooter who disregards crop sensor camera do not accept the fact that Medium Format offers better quality than a 35mm full frame does. Kind of contradictive isn't it?
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:icondelahkel:
Delahkel Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Professional Photographer
Oh, definitely, EVF does have it's advantages, for sure. I'm actually thinking about buying a Sony SLT with few lenses for low light event coverage. I just really hate their flash mount system.

Yeah, I agree with you there. FF is great, but it's not the be all end all of camera sensors, it's simply not the best type of sensor for ALL types of photography, and some people refuse to admit that.
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:iconsjphoto:
sjphoto Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Professional Photographer
Whats wrong with the flash mount system? O.o I've never had a problem with it.
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:icondelahkel:
Delahkel Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Professional Photographer
I just hate that I need to buy an adapter for the flash triggers, looks really bulky above the camera. The adapter is only $10, but it's another piece of equipment that might fail.
That said, I really dig the way their flashes rotate, and change orientation, and still being able to use the built in bounce card.
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:iconh3csc:
h3csc Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Student Interface Designer
At least they finally learnt and use the standard flash mount for the latest series of Alpha!
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:icondelahkel:
Delahkel Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2012  Professional Photographer
I just checked the specs for the A99, and you're right! Sony's shaping up to be a very strong contender.
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:iconsjphoto:
sjphoto Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Professional Photographer
I just use the on body flash as a trigger. I place a piece of tape over it to prevent it from being over powering. But I don't like flashes and strobes, I prefer to use constant light like that from kino flos and soft boxes.
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:icondelahkel:
Delahkel Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2012  Professional Photographer
That's a way to do it...unless of course you don't have clear line of sight.
But either way, seems like they use standard shoe in the newest models. I guess they listened to the complaints of their customers.
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012
OVF versus EVF:
I was out on a fishing boat once, down in Florida, and I was trying to shoot a photo of a pelican that was circling the boat. This is the pelican: [link] The boat was shaking, rolling from side to side and bouncing up and down, the pelican was flying past, I was braced so I wouldn't be flung overboard, nothing was stable. I set my shutter speed as fast as I could get away with and kept trying to shoot this pelican as he flew past. Fortunately, he went around that boat over 100 times. I was using the screen to compose and that turned out to be a bad mistake. Every time I would get him in the frame and trip the shutter, I'd get a photo with half his beak running out of the frame. Turns out that there is a lag between when the subject passes in front of the lens and when it shows up on the screen. I had to lead him to get the shot. The screen absolutely does not show you what is in front of the camera, you see; it shows you what WAS in front of the camera a fraction of a second ago. I suspect that this time varies from camera to camera, but it will never be zero. Without time warping technology, I don't see how they will ever solve this one. On the other hand, it's easier to compose with an electronic screen in low light. That's the only advantage I have noticed.

SLRs/DSLRs/mirrorless/rangefinder:
SLRs and DSLRs use mirrors and because of this, the lens has to be farther from the film plane or sensor than is optimal with wide angle and normal lenses. Cameras with semitransparent mirrors that don't move can have the lenses a little closer to the film plane or sensor than those with mirrors that have to flip up out of the way, but they are still farther out from the film plane than is optimal for wide angle and normal lenses. They call the lens designs for SLRs and DSLRs retrofocus designs, because they focus the images farther back into the cameras than other kinds of cameras do. This doesn't work out very well for wide angle and normal lenses, which have to use extra lens elements. However, it IS optimal for telephoto lenses that are 135mm and over.

Mirrorless cameras and rangefinders have lenses that are located much closer to the film plane or sensor and these work better with wide angle lenses and with normal lenses. However, you've traded one problem for another; now the lens placement is not optimal for telephoto lenses. It is why very high-quality rangefinders never have lenses longer than 135mm. The manufacturers don't make lenses that long for rangefinders -- but they will for "mirrorless" cameras. What they are calling a mirrorless camera now is not a new concept. This is a mirrorless camera that used film: [link] They have just added a screen viewfinder and a sensor. Contax used to call their versions "electronic rangefinders." Actually, they are technically called ranging cameras and they have been the most common form of camera since the invention of lenses that focused. In the old days, you could use an accessory rangefinder to focus one or you could make a guess at the range and rely on depth of field to compensate for error. Now they use a sensor to focus them (thus Contax's designation of electronic rangefinder). In the film era, these were the lowest budget versions of the manufacturer's cameras; that's where the prejudice against them on the part of film photographers comes from.

"Imagine if 35mm wasn't the standard during the film era..."

During most of it, it wasn't. 120/620 was the standard for most of it.
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:iconh3csc:
h3csc Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Student Interface Designer
Thanks for the very informative post. I have just registered my Deviantart account not too long ago and was surprised at how open minded people are over here. I have seen people in DPreview forum get very pissed off about the fact that people are not using the camera they are using.

I was particularly interested in the film mirrorless camera you were showing. How do they compose their shots accurately?

I am quite optimistic about the EVF future though. With the ever increasing processor speed, the time that it takes to process the image to the EVF will certainly reduce over time. Low battery consumption on an OVF is something I am jealous of though. I have seen my friend's DSLR taken well over a thousand photos without having to worry about the battery.
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012
"How do they compose their shots accurately?"

In the viewfinder, like everyone else did. Do you mean focus? You eitehr used "zone focusing," which meant you guessed the distance and used depth of field to compensate for error, or you used an accessory rangefinder, to measure the disatance accurately. If you meant getting a correct exposure, you used a hand held exposure meter or you used the "sunny 16" method. In the sunny 16 method, you set the shutter speed at the ISO/ASA number or as close to it as you could, and on a sunny day, you set your aperture at f/16. If the day was hazy, you set the aperture at f/8. If the day was cloudy, you either set the shutter speed one slower or the aperture one wider, and so on. There were ways of taking photos before digital cameras and built in meters came along.
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:iconh3csc:
h3csc Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Student Interface Designer
@recoat: You do have a point there. Even different monitor displays the image differently.

@Mr-Java: Yes, sure it is. The point I am trying to make in this post is not how one is better than another, but instead, trying to tell the traditionalist it is all down to the photographer's personal preference. There are still many traditionalists out there who regard non-DSLR (MFT, NEX, Fuji X) as a "toy" just because they don't have a mirror box and not a "full frame".
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:iconmr-java:
Mr-Java Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Student Photographer
I personally don't care what kind of camera people use as long as you can take a great photo. I say this because I've seen amazing photos come out of the top tier D4 style cameras, basic entry level DSLRs with the kit lens, point and shoots, hell I've seen great photos come out of Holgas and all those little Lomo style cameras.

Personally I think anyone that would look at a photo and judge it based on what camera they use has totally missed the point of photography.
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:iconrecoat:
Recoat Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012   Photographer
You won't ever be seeing the exact same image when using an electronic viewfinder or your LCD back. Neither look through the lens, they look through a sensor above/to the side of the lens and transmit the image. OVF is truth when it comes to an exact image.
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:iconmr-java:
Mr-Java Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Student Photographer
Full frame, Crop frame, Half frame, FX, DX, 35mm. Its all just the way things have evolved as far as the language and terminology of photography is concerned and I wouldn't get too bent out of shape about it.

And all the other stuff about gear just comes down to personal preference doesn't it?
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