Good points! Tom mentions contrast could possibly be superior with Zeiss optics....Doesn't contrast and resolution-go hand in hand?
of course, using the same film and development etc., larger format takes the day-if image size is proportionate-
My question is-look at Suzanne's T.R. and Miss Blinky, taken with Leica using 90 mm. The frame is dominated by the facial portrait.
If she were to take the same portraits with her Mamiya using a "normal" say 80 mm, keeping the image roughly the same size as in the Leica 35 mm shot-croping and enlarging the facial image to 8 x 10 or 11 x 14, and enlarging the full frame of the Leica shot to 8 x 10 or 11 x 14-would the traditionally touted superiority of the Leica optics be evident?
I don't have a Mamiya rangefinder, nor have I done head-to-head comparisons between my Leica M and my Hassy (which essentially becomes a 645 when cropped), but there's a point at which the extra real estate of the larger negative has to trump even the best Leica lenses. That's simply the physics of the film coming into play.
I frequently make 11x14 prints from my Leica M images, and they almost always hold up well. But, I shoot mostly FP4+ or Provia in the M, except for night shots, so the negatives would be expected to hold up well. I have not, however, tried making 16x20s from the M negs, as I don't really like overly-large prints.
Given the difference in design and media characteristics, however, I'm not sure it's really productive to make narrowly-based comparisons of this nature. Each camera/format has its own sweet spots, and should be used accordingly, I feel.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
Comparing handheld shots done on HP5+ with my Leica M6 to those done with my Pentax 645 with the same film, Pentax wins every time. Comparing my Leica shots to my Mamiya C330 shots with ancient optics, the Mamiya wins every time. I print mostly full frame on 11x14 paper, sometimes cropped. Leica shots easily hold up well at these sizes.
Everybody makes good lenses these days. I know a lot of people consider Leica lenses to be superior to everything else. They are certainly good. But format size matters more. Personally, I don't consider Leica optics the reason to use my Leica cameras. I consider Leica cameras the reason to use Leica cameras.
"All lenses are better than most photogaphers who use them."--Lee Shively
This question (if I buy a Leica or a Hasselblad, will it be just as good as some larger format?) seems to come up on a number of lists, and it's interesting to consider what motivates it. I suppose that it's dissapointing to discover that one can get "better" results with a TLR (or Crown Graphic) that costs a few hundred dollars than with a Leica (or Hasselblad) that costs thousands, or that if one wants the results of a bigger camera, then one has to lug around a bigger camera.
But really, I don't think it's necessarily a useful comparison to make. A Leica is probably the best 35mm rangefinder camera, and 35mm rangefinder cameras do certain things very well. They're fast and quiet and have fast sharp lenses and can take 36 exposures on roll, and because of the format they are easy to prefocus and handhold and fit in a pocket or a small bag.
But there's no particular reason to use a rangefinder camera for landscapes or architecture, and they're really lousy at macro and telephoto work, and wouldn't be a great choice for still lifes. And an SLR or TLR is probably better for studio portraits. That's not to say that one tool can't serve many purposes, but there's always a tradeoff when you use a pipe wrench to hammer a nail. I like having a variety of tools and use them for what they do best, but sometimes I'll accept that tradeoff, like using a view camera for portraits. The view camera is not as dynamic as an SLR or even a rangefinder, but it produces a big retouchable negative with exquisite detail and lets me use classic lenses as they were intended to be used.
Depends which M lenses you use and of course the film too. I've found that using Kodak tech pan(soon to be discontinued) with a DR 50mm provides outstanding results with unbelievable resolution. Much better than the present day asph lenses which seem too contrasty on the whole for high resolution B&W. The much touted version 4 35mm f2 is excellent in this regard too. The DR 50mm is similar to the Rolliecord Xenar in look and feel which is another stellar performer at f8, much better than my late Rollieflex Zeiss Planar 3.5 although the 3.5 is better wide open. I dont believe there is a better looking lens for resolution than the 50mm DR summicron in the M line. The now defunct magazine Modern Photography listed the Leica DR 50mm as the highest resolution lens they had ever tested. Emile. www.deleon-ulf.com.
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Originally Posted by Dave Wooten
I could dig around and see if I have a tight portrait from the Mamiya, I think I do, to compare prints. But I would agree that the Mamiya negs would probably have a bit more impact at the same size compared to the Leica work. I think the extra real estate on the neg will make the medium format negs much easier to print bigger too, especially up to 16x20. I tend to print images at the size they really want to be. I have a landscape that I would like to try at 16x20, but most of the portraits, even those with the Mamiya, I find are better at smaller sizes.
I have found that for my work, the rangefinders are great. I'm interested in keeping my back healthy, and not carrying around really heavy gear, and as someone mentioned, they are very fluid to work with. When I first started to shoot with the Mamiya, it just seemed so much easier than my big overcomplicated SLR, and that's why I also wanted the versatilty of a 35mm rangefinder to complement the Mamiya. None of these cameras are cheap (even used, frankly), which is the big bummer, since I'd still like at least one more lens for each. But having a couple of different formats is really the best way to have the tools for as many situations as possible.
Now if I decide to add large format to my 'tool kit' it'll be the lightest weight field camera I can find!!
Thanks again Suzanne,
Re: the real estate, I am saying to compare the optic quality difference, eliminate that variable by printing only from a 35 mm size out of the 120 film from whatever camera to compare.
I agree and concur with all of the above posts. I like the look of 35mm for a lot of work and of course the ease and speed of using. Short of scientific tests ( Emile mentions the tests on the DR 50) what is the mystic? is it really there- the secret formula for the Leica/Contax? Can we actually see it and compare.
I like to look I get with my old nikon 35 for my street and I am still shooting with 30 year old Pentax bodies and lenses-for other work I use 8 x 10, and I will own a Leica one fine day.
I don't see the point in doing this. Yes, the Leica lens probably compares better when printing the 35mm vs. the cropped 120, but why would you ever want to crop down that much outside of such an experiment? The biggest variable isn't the lens quality between 35mm and 120, but film size--wouldn't a better test be to use the same lens design on both 35mm and 120 and then blow those up?
Originally Posted by Dave Wooten
Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!
I positively hate the negs from my pentax 28-70FA and no longer use the camera. I thought sooms were poor until I use even the relatively cheap 28-135 canon IS. Totally different league, esp as I can use the IS to drastically reduce camera shake, this being such a major and often overlooked factor in image sharpness. I would think that the Canon and similar pro series lenses are stunning and the charts bear this out. Zooms today are not the same as zooms even 5 years ago.
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
Yes and no (in that good contrast gives the appearance of resolution being better and poor contrast will mask good resolution) . Also, we can work on contrast in the darkroom thankfully. AA commented that some of his older lenses had poor contrast, not that you would know looking at some of his later prints which exhibit very high contrast.
Originally Posted by Dave Wooten
I agree that that off a tripod at f8 with acros at 16x20 a Leica would shame my canon, but handheld at f8 at 1/60 with TriX, the contest would be close. A £100 Rolleicord would make both look positively agricultural. On the subject of the Mamiya 7, the lenses are so sharp that they are up to the challenge of 35mm primes (I beleive the 50mm hit over 115 lpmm at about f5.6 in a test by Perez).
The other issue here is to get 35mm to look like MF, you have to use films like Acros and be very careful all along the way. Personally, I dont particularly like the look of these modern T grain type films and it seems awfully restrictive to only have a few narrow options to get the creamy results. If I want fine grain and tonality, I would rather grab the 'Cord and any film I choose, with the flexibility of any developer I choose with room for errors. A related point is that the worst 5x4 lens I had was was indistinguishable from the best on anything less than a 16x12 and even then you had to touch the print with your nose! The real estate did all the talking at this size.