rf vs slr image quality?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by RobC, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. RobC

    RobC Member

    Messages:
    3,901
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Difficult to quantify I know but how much difference in image resolution and sharpness would you expect to see when moving from a high quality 35mm slr system to a high quality rangefinder system. I'm thinking specifically of comparing contax/zeiss to zeiss ikon/zeiss image quality. Perhaps in terms of how much extra enlargement you could get out of the rangefinder before noticeable degradation of image quality compared to the slr.

    I fully realise there are many other factors to consider about the differences and use of the two systems and what they are best at doing, but for this specific question assume expansive landscape images and cameras on tripods.
    Will the rangefinder give noticeably better quality images at say 12 times enlargement.
     
  2. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

    Messages:
    1,504
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Westminster,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    It's all about the lens not the camera body. If the lenses are equal, you should see no difference.

    But for expansive landscapes shot on a tripod, I'd use my 8x10 sheet film camera over 35 mm.
     
  3. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,061
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The only optics instruction I got was phys101 about a million years ago, but it seems advantageous to have the rear element of the lens right up to the film plane, like on a RF, instead of a few cm away to accomodate a mirror assembly.
     
  4. isaacc7

    isaacc7 Member

    Messages:
    250
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2004
    Location:
    Yemen Baby!
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The generalized thought that wide angle lenses would be better on RF bodies isn't necessarily as true as it once was. Back in the day, it was impossible to make aspheric elements and retro-focus designs suffered in comparison to the wide angle lenses on RF, especially the Biogon. Nowadays, you will actually see RF lenses that are using retro-focus designs in order to minimize vignetting issues, but they are top notch performers. My guess is that if you use top quality lenses on both and put them on a tripod, the differences will be minimal. That said, there are some Leica M designs that are probably the best that can be had for wide-open shooting, but I think that has to do more with the particular lens than a generic RF/SLR difference. There may still be a slight advantage for hand held work with RF for some people due to the absence of mirror slap...

    Isaac
     
  5. isaacc7

    isaacc7 Member

    Messages:
    250
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2004
    Location:
    Yemen Baby!
    Shooter:
    Multi Format


    Ahh, but isn't it the inverse cosine rule that states that the closer you get to the film, the more vignetting you'll have? Light falls of at the square of the distance, there's no free lunch. Every thing that might optimize one aspect of performance usually will screw up something else... Lens design, and more importantly lens construction, has come a long way over the years. The newer lenses with retro-focus designs can be amazing. That said, I still do want to own biogon one day... :smile:

    Isaac
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,933
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There is the leaf shutter vs focal plane shutter and mirror bounce arguments that have to go into this against the TLR, but then the RF camera is hard on macro photography and parallax in general causing offsets in the image. All of the above posts are true as well. It is what you prefer.

    The Mamiya RZ has the best of both worlds as much as is possible. The low mirror bounce and a leaf shutter. The weight makes camera movement from the mirror very low.

    PE
     
  7. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

    Messages:
    825
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Salt Lake
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    At slow shutter speeds the absence of "mirror slap" in a RF body might give you some edge over an SLR but if optics are equal, noticeable differences in the image will be very small if at all. To me useing a RF is more about the way I shoot with it. RF shooters know what I am talking about, hard to explaine but I feel more freedom than with an SLR.
     
  8. RobC

    RobC Member

    Messages:
    3,901
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ok let me put the question another way. If I wanted the best possible image resolution and sharpness from 35mm film, which 35mm film camera and lenses would you recommend and why.
     
  9. Steve Bellayr

    Steve Bellayr Member

    Messages:
    106
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Leica M7 with the newest aspherical lenses. But, that would be "prohibitively costly"? Another way to go would be the M6 (M7) with the previous series of lenses. The benefit there is cost and size/weight. I believe they are a little smaller and lighter. Another series of lenses are the Zeiss Biogons. On that point you would need to compare each lens as per quality, weight, size, & cost. That would be a lot of homework but worth it.
     
  10. isaacc7

    isaacc7 Member

    Messages:
    250
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2004
    Location:
    Yemen Baby!
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well, I'm pretty sure that the current Leica 50mm f1.4 is the same design on both the RF and SLR mounts, so you could take your pick with either system. I personally would (and have before, and will again) go for a Leica M system, the lenses are all as good as it gets. I like to shoot wide open, and they are a revelation... Of course, if you can't focus accurately with the RF, or you can't focus at all (macro for example) it doesn't really matter how good the lenses are. In any case, use a tripod and shoot at the "optimum" aperture of a modern non-zoom lens and you are going to have some trouble telling lenses apart unless you really blow the images way up with super fine grain film.

    I suggest the current Leica 50mm f1.4, shot at f4, on tmax 100 or Delta 100 developed in a high sharpness developer like Rodinal, one of the pyro developers, or Buetler's (or DR5), focused at infinity, on a tripod, with a shutter release for the optimum sharpness/resolution available in 35mm. Not sure if anyone would be able to tell it apart from another good 50mm lens set up the same way, but that combination will get you as good as you can get in 35mm... Of course the easier way to get better resolution (and save some money) is to go up in format size...

    Isaac
     
  11. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Contax G2 shooting the 45/2, and here's why. This also happens to be a very compact and inexpensive system.
     
  12. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

    Messages:
    779
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've seen people shoot with leica rangefinders that (I felt) my contax slr has out-performed and I've paid half the price. I also like having the option of really good bokea from my 35 f1.4, 50 f1.4 and 100 f2 along with the fact that you can use extension tubes to take macro or vignette photos of needed. The versatility is always there and even though these are high-end ziess lenses, they're still half the price. It depends how well you use them. If you're thinking of doing more landscape-type stuff you can always consider a higher format, but it will obviously be heavier.
    What it boils down to (I think) is budget, what you're willing to carry and your style. If I were 45 and had back problems and liked to shoot 5x7 prints for albums I'd go with a rangefinder. However, I love to experiment, I'm 24, semi-strong, have the stamina to lug lots of stuff around, do all my developing and printing myself, shoot all kinds of things with all different styles and make all sizes of prints. Although, if I had the money, I'd buy a rangefinder in a second for the convenience when it's needed.
    I dunno if this helps at all. It felt more like a rambling than an informative statement.
     
  13. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

    Messages:
    825
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Salt Lake
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I'm 44 with back and knee problems. I pack an 8X10 all the time in the desert and cary a Leica around the city. Maybe I am doing it backwards.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I'm 46, have back problems, and like to shoot 5x7" for albumen prints. I shoot LF, except when I decide to take a rangefinder 35mm - or a 4x5" - or when I decide to "travel light" with only MF. I often bring a MF camera with me anyway, just as a backup.
     
  16. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,341
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2005
    Location:
    Dearborn,Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It is ALL up to the Operator.

    Your eye is more important than your gear, Edw. Weston proved that decades ago. I'd lean toward new Leica rfdr stuff myself, but stopping down to f/8 or f/11 will tend to throw away the advantages you've just paid thousands of pounds to acquire. Stop down to f/16, and it really doesn't matter what you use, diffraction is killing the image anyway.

    Developers and immaculate technique are important, and then there is the enlarger. A great enlarger and poor camera always makes better images than a bad enlarger and perfect camera.

    What are you using ? What works well for you ? Have you wrung all the potential from it ? Or are you looking for magic ?
     
  17. RobC

    RobC Member

    Messages:
    3,901
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Lets not presume we know the reason for the question. Just because I ask about one particular aspect of a camera/lens system doesn't mean thats all I'm interested in about the system. It just meanss thats what I would like to know about at this time.
     
  18. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Or, as suggested in a earlier post, replace the 35mm with an 8x10.

    I shoot 8x10 with a Schneider Super Symmar XL Aspheric 150mm/5.6, and I shoot a 6cm x 7cm Mamiya 7ii. My 7ii Mamiya WA lenses are Biogon type designs and the 80mm is a Planar type design, they all produce superb images.

    To be sure, I still shoot with my M series Leica Rangefinders and my ZM Zeiss M mount rangefinder.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2008
  19. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,341
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2005
    Location:
    Dearborn,Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Context is helpful to establish a meaningful answer. Photography is a system, changing one component has little influence on the outcome.
     
  20. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

    Messages:
    467
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2004
    Location:
    Arlington, M
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
  21. NormanV

    NormanV Member

    Messages:
    198
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    Location:
    Falkland Isl
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Does the "art" of making pictures rely on the sharpness (or whatever) of the lens, or on the mind of the photographer? I use quite good equipment and scan the negs, I don't care if I have the ultimate in "quality" but I definitely like the pictures that I produce.
     
  22. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    photodo site needs work

    Carl the photodo site needs a lot of work. The lens finding capability is poor and so are other aspects of its site navigation.

    If you want Zeiss or Leitz lens resolution information, IMO, it is more effective to visit the Zeiss and Leitz websites.
     
  23. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Other things being equal - i.e. assuming you're not trying to shoot macro or telephoto with the RF and know how to take care of the sirror slap on the SLR etc - you'll see NO difference in the general quality of optics. At least no difference that matters outside photo forums! So, system choice should depend solely on other factors and goals.
     
  24. sanking

    sanking Member

    Messages:
    4,813
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    Greenville,
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Of course not.

    But that is an aesthetic issue, and not the question of this thread, is it?

    Sandy King






     
  25. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

    Messages:
    467
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2004
    Location:
    Arlington, M
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    That's why I referred the OP to photodo - seems the interest is technical. If I wanted more resolution or larger prints, I'd just go with a larger format myself.
     
  26. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would be tempted to use a newer Canon or Nikon with a macro lens or one of the super teles, such as a 300mm or 400mm f/2.8.

    ...but why set resolution and sharpness as the main points toward which to strive? How about timing and composition? The best lens in the world doesn't count for anything if you don't get the shot. This is not even bringing up "concept".

    My point is that while the super teles may be among the "best" lenses ever made, they are quite specialized, and thus rather restrictive.

    If we are talking the most sharp and highest resolving "normal" (or thereabouts) lens, I would make an offhand guess that it would be a macro lens, either around 50mm or around 100mm.

    That is just a guess, though.