Saturday, June 21, 2008

Subtle Differences

Differences which may seem obvious are often hard to quantify meaningfully.  Jerry Seinfeld had a comedy routine where he would mimic sprinters approaching the finish line.  The winner had his head forward at a 90 degree angle to his body.  89 degrees was second and the person with his head upright was dead last.  Seeing who won was easy, determining the qualitative differences between athletes is quite a bit harder

I look at some of my DP1 images and the differences between these and similar bayer type DSLR images is immediately obvious.  Quantifying what the differences are however requires more words.

The above image, taken near my home looks west over the southern part of the Puget Sound towards the Olympic Mountain Range.  I have taken many many many images from this spot so the images demand comparison.  Most of the images were taken with a Nikon D-80.  The 10mp chip in this camera is first rate and I have a collection of glass,  all quite good.  I have a handful of film images, chrome and negative from this spot as well.

What I have come to expect from digital is a "Snapping-up" of the colors in the sky, an unusual ring (brilliant yellow) around the sun and a complete loss of detail on the sun's disc.  I have tried many different exposure and filtering methods as well as Photomatix Pro HDR combinations.  None rock me.

The DP1 shot surprised me immediately with no yellow ring and cloud detail over the sun.  This translates quite well in a print.  Further study also made me realize that the colors are more as I remember them and the color transitions softer.  There are DOZENS of differences in color shade between the sun and the clouds and many more in the clouds themselves. 

The largest paper I have presently is 13x19.  When I print several images of this scene taken with both types of digital camera I notice that people will immediately remark "Oh Wow!" at the striking saturated colors delivered by my Nikon but always come back to this DP1 image with a "This is my favorite!"  Mine too.

On the both good and bad side.  I have begun to look again at my recent film images and am liking them a whole lot more than I thought I would,  (subtle colors, smooth transitions).  I was planning to sell the film gear...Oh well.


Ronald said...

I completly agree with your observations, and your image is a fine example. I also tend to compare my new dp1 images with my old analogue olympus mju (non zoom). I tend to think that they offer the same smoothness in skies like yours.. It is strange and hardly scientific to compare dp1 images with memories in your mind, but the mind is so strong i believe it is a true observation.

Charles Maclauchlan said...

good point about observations and the mind. I'm thinking that as digital imaging is so new, remembered qualities from film are quite valid.