Lens quality

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by eggshell, May 19, 2008.

  1. eggshell

    eggshell TPF Noob!

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    Hello to all. I've been doing B/W film photography for some years. Thinking of migrating to digital. Many questions, but I'll start with a few here.

    1. Is the image quality made with current small format AF zoom lenses as good compared to fixed focal lenses?

    2. Modern digital cameras comes with more than 10mp. Does this mean images produced from these cameras can match (or surpass) that of medium format film images? If choice of lenses is a factor, which brand & model (includes independent lens makers) do you recommend? Has anyone run tests on this? Or could you point me to a reliable website that gives information specific to 35mm camera/lens vs medium format tests?

    Many Thanks
     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Wow, just a quick easy question there! ;) I'll offer my $00.02, your opinions may vary:

    1. No, a zoom lens will never be as good as a prime lens. That said however, is the difference going to be visible to the average person? If you're using a good zoom lens, probably not.

    2. Absolutely not. 10, 12, and even 20Mp Dx and Fx cameras produce excellent results, but if you magnify any digital image you will lose detail more quickly than film. Again, you're not likely to notice the difference unless you're into making BIG enlargements.

    As to lenses, there's no real answer. Every company makes good lenses, generally speaking the camera bodies manufacturers glass is better than third party glass, but often not by much, and is almost always more expensive. Every company also makes dogs, and your best bet is to decide what type of lens you want, and then go down to your local camera store and try different makes on your body and see which you like better.

    There are dozens, if not hundreds of review sites on-line, but I'm not aware of any which have compared 35mm to MF. Hopefully someone else can help with that.
     
  3. eggshell

    eggshell TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your response. Appreciate it!
     
  4. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Absolute hogwash. This is entirely dependent on the lenses you compare. Sure the cheap kit lens on the Canon 300D will not compare to the 85mm f/1.2L, but there's plenty of very crap prime lenses (50mm f/1.8 especially the Nikon) which are outperformed by zoom lenses (18-70mm Nikkor f/3.5-4.5 is a very very sharp zoom which outperforms the 50mm f/1.8).

    However a zoom lens will never be have a low aperture as an equivalent priced prime lens.
     
  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Completely true; I was taking it as read that we were comparing two equivalent quality lenses. Let's say a couple of gold-ring Nikons or top-end Canon's. The difference may be slight, in all likelihood mainly unnoticable, but I am willing to lay odds that in a lens resolution test the prime will win.
     
  6. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As for the resolution argument... that's subjective, as the grain in film when enlarged is more "pleasing" looking then the grain\pixels in digital.

    However as far as discernible detail goes: 35mm VERY fine grain film is equaled by a 8mp digital. Medium format has about 3 times the detail of 35mm, so that would equate to a 24mp digital.

    One major difference to consider when moving from film to digital is the FAR lower exposure latitude in digital. In my experience I have 2-4 times the amount of exposure "wiggle room" in post with film then with digital... many film guys will use this as an argument for film being more "detailed," which is true but a bit misleading as most people think of resolution not "depth" when talking about detail.
     

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