Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/08/21

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Subject: RE: [Leica] competition results - leica v. digital
From: "Phong" <>
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2003 20:35:36 -0400


That was quite entertaining for both the responses
and your post below.  Thanks for the show.

- - Phong

Johnny Deadman wrote:
> OK
> The picture was, of course, from the 1Ds as anyone who looked at the 
> EXIF data would have known.
> (They would also have known that I got the focal length wrong and it 
> was shot with a 50mm -- the EF 50 f/1.8 in fact, and what a nice lens 
> it is too!)
> I did think about editing the EXIF data to say that it was taken with a 
> Leica M but was too lazy.
> The photographer just gave me the raw files in fact and I did the rest.
> The picture was shot in RAW mode @ 400 ISO and then converted to 
> grayscale using the Photoshop Channel Mixer with 50% Red and 50% Green 
> and no blue. The equivalent of a minus-blue or deep yellow filter, 
> which lightened the skin tones as Mark Rabiner spotted. It had 150% 
> sharpening @ 0.7 pixels with a threshold of 4 levels, which is pretty 
> moderate. I then monkeyed around with the curves to increase the 
> contrast in the midtones and give a nice shoulder to the highlights. I 
> also threw a lasso around the face, feathered it, inverted it, and 
> darkened the surrounding area using curves.
> The reason I posted it was because I was surprised how close I had got 
> tonally to my own personal BW gold standard of APX 400 in Xtol 1:3. 
> That combined with the shallow DOF and the nice bokeh of that 50/1.8 
> really made it look very, um,  traditional.
> The 'bad bokeh' that Doug complained about came from the Canon EF 28mm 
> f/1.8, which I happen to think has very nice bokeh and is a smashing 
> lens.
> Beyond the EXIF data the other giveaways in the image were:
> -- Lack of grain. Although the grain structure was quite similar to 
> scanned APX, especially the 'noise' in the shadows, there was way less 
> of it than there should have been. The grain is about equivalent to APX 
> 100, in fact, not 400.
> -- Aperture blades. Can't remember who spotted this (okay, I checked, 
> it was Gilbert and Doug) but the OOF specular highlight in the 
> background clearly shows a polygonal aperture rather than the nice 
> round aperture you tend to get from Leica lenses.
> -- Horizontal monitor raster line. This should have been diagonal for a 
> horizontal-moving focal plane shutter. (This only showed up in the 
> other pictures, which look more digital to me anyway).
> Anyway, I guess what I really wanted to point out was that NONE of the 
> comments centred on defects in what we regard as the traditional 
> photographic qualities of the image. In fact if I had posted the image 
> as a Leica image without labelling it a competition, I think I could 
> probably have gotten a few comments about the Leica glow and the nice 
> tonality of Agfa emulsions. Which tells us that many of those things 
> are achievable in other ways.
> In fact at least three of the comments basically said it was digital 
> because it was visibly superior to what you would expect from the 
> particular Leica combo I quoted... less grain, no dust & sharper.
> I certainly don't want to throw gasoline on the film v. digital fire, 
> although please feel free to take pot shots, but just wanted to point 
> out that you can achieve a very traditional 'look', if that's your bag, 
> using non-traditional equipment.
> Oh -- who won? I think it has to be Gilbert, who sussed it from both 
> the octagonal aperture blades AND the grain structure. What's the 
> prize... hmmm... have to think.....
> --
> John Brownlow

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