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01-12-2014, 06:04 PM   #1
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Could Different Sensors Be Compared To Different Films?

It has occurred to me that the sensor not only replaces a film emulsion, but in some way, may mirror the effect different film stocks have on the final image.
The reflectivity, luminosity, edge sharpness, 'grain; (noise) characteristics, color rendition and many other qualities of film can be mimicked by post-processing apps, is somewhat reliant on the in-camera processing engine, user settings and of course, the lens used.
But, what if a certain sensor had film-like qualities to begin with?
My one known entry into a sensor-to-film comparison is the CCD 10.2Mp in the K10D and K200D. The warm, saturated (but not 'hard') colors, beautiful rendering and rich tonal range have often been compared to film, in a positive way.
But, what film?
My answer...Kodachrome. Yep, the dense, rich colors and incredible detail, fine-grain quality and luminosity all remind me of the glorious slides I would eagerly await in the mail, all those years ago.
Nostalgia and wishful thinking? Maybe, maybe not.
Anyone else notice a given sensor displaying the characteristics of a film type?
Ron

01-12-2014, 06:16 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by rbefly Quote
It has occurred to me that the sensor not only replaces a film emulsion, but in some way, may mirror the effect different film stocks have on the final image.
The reflectivity, luminosity, edge sharpness, 'grain; (noise) characteristics, color rendition and many other qualities of film can be mimicked by post-processing apps, is somewhat reliant on the in-camera processing engine, user settings and of course, the lens used.
But, what if a certain sensor had film-like qualities to begin with?
My one known entry into a sensor-to-film comparison is the CCD 10.2Mp in the K10D and K200D. The warm, saturated (but not 'hard') colors, beautiful rendering and rich tonal range have often been compared to film, in a positive way.
But, what film?
My answer...Kodachrome. Yep, the dense, rich colors and incredible detail, fine-grain quality and luminosity all remind me of the glorious slides I would eagerly await in the mail, all those years ago.
Nostalgia and wishful thinking? Maybe, maybe not.
Anyone else notice a given sensor displaying the characteristics of a film type?
Ron
In the digital era I think it all boils down to the algorithms the camera/post-processing software use to reconstruct the image from the bayer pattern. The sensor's job is to deliver a wide dynamic range and minimize noise to enable effective image processing.

Adam
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01-12-2014, 07:54 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by rbefly Quote
Anyone else notice a given sensor displaying the characteristics of a film type?
I don't know about 'film type' but the sensor in the k-3 is very different than the k-5 as far as how the image needs to be processed. After 2 years of k-5 images I had Lightroom import settings quite well dialed in. Those settings just do not work for the k-3 and I'm starting all over to learn how to PP images from the k-3.

Whether the difference is from the hardware or the algorithms I have no idea. I'm not sure it matters much as we cannot change sensors like we could change film.
01-14-2014, 07:14 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Snip.......I'm not sure it matters much as we cannot change sensors like we could change film.
Not true. When I shot film, at the end of the film era, I hade one film I'm my KX, one film in my Ricoh XR-2s and a third in my PZ1. What is the difference now, where I have a K5D, a K7D, a K10D and an *istD. Each of them behaves just as differently as the different films in my film bodies.

01-14-2014, 09:39 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
where I have a K5D, a K7D, a K10D and an *istD. Each of them behaves just as differently as the different films in my film bodies.
Lowell, that's my point exactly. I have 3 of the 4 cameras you mentioned (no *istD) and they're all different in rendering, contrast and saturation. So much so, I've used different sensors (cameras) to try for a different effect, while using the same lens. Now, whether it's the actual sensor or the processing in-camera, who knows? We see a Nikon with the same sensor as a Pentax body, deliver slightly different results. There, the lens probably makes a significant difference, too.
Suppose the sensor could be made interchangeable? What a concept!
Ron
01-15-2014, 05:40 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Not true. When I shot film, at the end of the film era, I hade one film I'm my KX, one film in my Ricoh XR-2s and a third in my PZ1. What is the difference now, where I have a K5D, a K7D, a K10D and an *istD. Each of them behaves just as differently as the different films in my film bodies.
That is not really the same for everybody though is it. When I had one SLR, I could put different films in it which would last from 24 to 36 exposures and then I could swap to a different film. If I could have afforded it I would have had two bodies, one for B&W and one for colour, each type still restricted to those few exposures. I now have one DSLR that cost upwards of 600; that is going to have to lat me a hell of a lot more exposures before I change it and unlike you, I cannot afford to have more than one camera.
01-15-2014, 06:36 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by redimp Quote
That is not really the same for everybody though is it. When I had one SLR, I could put different films in it which would last from 24 to 36 exposures and then I could swap to a different film. If I could have afforded it I would have had two bodies, one for B&W and one for colour, each type still restricted to those few exposures. I now have one DSLR that cost upwards of 600; that is going to have to lat me a hell of a lot more exposures before I change it and unlike you, I cannot afford to have more than one camera.
Really the only difference is that as I have upgraded, I saw that the money I could recover from the older bodies was minimal, and the benefit of having a second body far out weighted the return I would get from selling the old one.

With film, I shot two bodies, my Ricoh XR-2s and the KX. I got the KX used for about $150 .

I shot with these two bodies for 10 years before upgrading to the PZ1, at which time a MF film body was worth about $50 each so I kept them.

The same is true to a lesser extent with digital. When I got the *istD, it was very expensive, in fact more than double the price of any later body I got. But my the time the K10D came out, with enough features that made upgrading worthwhile (WR body, 10MP, SR, etc....) the *istD had a resale value of about 1/10 it's purchase price. There was no real point selling it, and the second body was worthwhile. Also, functionally, the *istD does some things on other pentax camera can do, (TTL and P-TTL flash, off camera HSS using the body camera as a master etc.) so I looked at it, and still do, as a part of a growing system. The *istD was also better at high ISO than the K10D.

Every time I have upgraded, it has always been the same , the resale value of the older bodies did not warrant, at least to me, keeping only a single camera. In addition, both of my children have used my older gear from time to time, so, the old bodies still get used regularly.

Perhaps if I had regularly resold all my gear I could have saved over time about $1000 in total, over the past 30 years, but that money represents in today's world the price of one extra new body, ok, my spares are all used, but I have more of them, and the different performance of each allows a lot more flexibility.

It is just a different way of looking at things.

Also, and I do not know how this impacts you, but you can still pick up an older body for a good price, if you want a specific and different look although it is likely that you can get perhaps most of the same results with post processing, although, I will not disagree that some cameras, especially those with CCDs like the K10 or *istD can produce images with a different look to those using CMOS sensors.

Today, my older bodies are used with manual lenses, and legacy lenses. The newer bodies with my more modern AF lenses. To that end, my two oldest bodies have split image focusing screens, and the K10 has the M42 adaptor basically permanently installed because the lens locking pin, and AF screw drive no longer engage.

Last edited by Lowell Goudge; 01-15-2014 at 06:42 AM.
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