Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another "Tripey" Comparison

 Olympus Trip 35, Fuji Superia 400

Canon EOS 7D, EF 40mm STM Lens, Hugin Panorama

Canon EOS 7D, Exposure Corrected in RAW, Slightly Altered Crop

Here's another instance when I was at the same location with two cameras, and it's always interesting to make comparisons, isn't it? This time, my Trip 35 ($30 from Ebay) is up against my EOS 7D and the EF 40mm STM "Pancake" lens (total somewhere around $1500 brand new.)

With the Trip 35, I did a simple crop to provide the 6X12 Panorama dimension. With the DSLR, as the EF 40 lens is equivalent to 64mm I had to make a stitch panorama which I cropped to the 6X12 ratio. 

The clouds again captured my interest the most for this scene, and so with the DSLR I underexposed a bit to make sure the clouds came with their full glory. The Trip 35 is a default auto-exposure camera, with no easy manual option, and so it was shot at a normal exposure. I almost am loath to say this, given what I've invested in the Canon DSLR, but I think the little Trip 35 wins the day here. It is remarkably bright, sharp, and carries more exposure range than the 7D. Fortunately I shot this in RAW plus JPEG and so I had a very correctable RAW file, which I worked on, as seen in the third image, and not only did I brighten the image up overall, the clouds became even more spectacular with the correction.

Actually I'm not totally blaming the camera - it's me who is the problem this time. I frequently forget some of the laws of digital, such as "expose to the right", and adjust in post-processing to recapture the highlight detail. Thankfully, there was lots of latitude for correction this time. 

There is more happening here than mere exposure error however. I see this time and time again - SLR cameras, whether film or digital, it doesn't matter, never seem able to capture the "immediacy" of a well matched non-reflex focal system which places the  back of the lens closer to the film surface. This is usually seen in a certain "brick wall effect" in the foreground whereas the non-SLR camera has a far more inviting 3 dimensional foreground that actually lays flat. I've never been able to figure this out, except for the simple fact that with SLR camera, the lens is further from the focal plane, usually by about double, which makes the light from the lens travel twice as far - effectively turning the camera into a long tunnel.

To see what I mean, compare the foregrounds of the first and third image. Doesn't the first picture give the impression that you can walk right into it so much more than the third (or second) one? I've been ranting about this since way back here. I know that one single comparison proves nothing, especially with lenses of such different focal lengths, but collectively, from my own limited experience, and also from looking a thousands of pictures by other people, it appears true to me - the SLR camera has a big design flaw that has never been dealt with. So why did I just buy one not too long ago? It's because I need a magnificent optical viewfinder... it's like I buy a viewfinder that happens to take pictures too. Most premium digital compacts are going the route of eliminating the OVF, leaving us to compose with the rear LCD screen and (maybe) an optional Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). Why is this so difficult? It was accomplished almost a century ago with compact film cameras! In fact, my Trip 35 has an amazing viewfinder. I'm still waiting for the right camera to come along - if the Leica M Digital were $1000 instead of $10,000 that might do it for me.

But we all know that'll never happen!

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