Lumix Images as Good as Film? Markus Bollinger Wants to Know

Posted Dec. 31st, 2015 by Daniel J. Cox

Lumix Images as Good as Film?

Dear Dan

In the forum of finearterprinter.de (German language) I discovered an interesting discussion concerning the aesthetics of images produced by sensors with different size.

Dan taking a large 40x60 inch print off the HP Z3200 printer.

Dan taking a large 40×60 inch print off the HP Z3200 printer.

In his blog professional fine-art printer Roberto Casavecchia claimed that prints from FX-sensors have a more three-dimensionality film-like look, with clean and vivid colors, whereas prints from mFT-sensors have a more digital-look, appearing rather flat, lacking three-dimensionality. He also said that the more pleasant film-like look of FX cameras has nothing to do with pixel count, since the images out of the Nikon D700 with 12MP look better than the images coming from the Olympus E-M5 Mkii with 16MP.

As you know well both systems I would like to ask you if you can confirm that statement.
Can or could you distinguish (in a blind test) the aesthetics of prints from Nikon FX-cameras from those coming from the Lumix GH4, showing the same scene? (irrespecive of resolution, resp. of different pixel counts).

Thank’s in advance,
best wishes for 2016,
and kind regards

Markus

Markus,

My experience, based on having printed both formats in very large sizes (up to 24×36 inches), is that I certainly can’t see a difference relating to Roberto Casavecchia’s concerns of “images lacking film like look, clean & vivid colors,” It is true that prints made from MFT sensors do have more depth of field, especially when using the typical lenses that are currently available for this fomrat. That may explain the more so-called “digital-look.” As lenses improve regarding faster apertures, like the Leica Nocticron 42.5mm F/1.2, I think this misconception will change.

Additionally, the “film-like look” some photographers say they want, I have no interest in. Part of the film look we had with Kodachrome, Fujichrome, etc. had tremendous amounts of grain, especially at ISO’s we now consider low. I find it interesting that so many things technology is improving are criticized by a few for not looking like what that technology has replaced. I personally feel my Lumix GH4 produces images much better than ANY film I ever shot over my 40-year career; it’s hard to believe. We still scan a lot of my older images and I’m often astonished at how much work the files require to reduce noise, chromatic aberrations, etc. There is simply no comparison.

That’s just my two cents. Keep in mind this is just one man’s opinion, no more worthy than the opinion of Roberto Casavecchia.

 

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There are 2 comments on this post…
  1. Gert WeberOn Feb. 8th, 2016

    Hi Markus and Dean,

    in the year of 2004 I turned from film (Nikon F90 with expensive glass, Fuji slides at 100 ASA) to digital, then Nikon D70. I was warned, that digital files on CD’s would deteriorate – but they didn’t. I have some files on hard disk and CD and they are really equal.
    When I try to use one of the slides from 2004 I have a lot to do, though I also use a Nikon ED5000 – grain, dust and scratches need a lot of attention.

    With the D70 I usually did not use more than 800 ASA and that was much better than anything I could get with film.
    If I would be interested in grain I could add it by software – but I never even tried it.

  2. DeanOn Jan. 20th, 2016

    Dear Dan,

    Thank you for contributing to a better understanding of image printing. I, too, have noticed a tremendous improvement in prints made from today’s MFT gear compared to the old “state of the art” film and camera prints (including Canon 1Ds and Nikon D3X with the best glass Nikon and Canon had at the time). Scanning slides (most often Fuji Astia, Velvia, and Provia) with my Nikon Super CoolScan ED 5000 using SilverFast software, I cannot even get close to the images I am producing with my Olympus OMD E-M1, Pany Leica 42.5mm 1.2, and Olympus lenses! And, as you have observed, it takes waaaay less time in post-processing to achieve images with great contrast and absence of undesirable elements (noise, chromatic aberration, vignetting, etc.). While I still love my prints from my “ancient” files (kind of like listening to vinyl recordings), there is simply no contest when compared to the spectacular images obtained with the new MFT cameras and pro glass! And, I suspect that it will be even better when I print on my newly acquired Epson SureColor P800!

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