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Film, or Foveon ?

in Sigma , Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Ah, the eternal quandary of the dilettante art photographer: film, or digital ? And if digital, which kind of digital ?  For many, the ultimate expression of film in these End Days is Kodak Portra 400, with its oh so aesthetic transparent, lucid, indeed filmic quality. Or to put it another way, washed out. And that description is not exactly unreminiscent of the way Sigma Foveon digital sensors paint the world. So, which is “better” ? The two examples here offer no conclusion, are not a test, and make nothing other than an observation.  And they’re taken with completely different lenses, so obviously the framing and viewpoint are quite different (the sign on the wall at the left of the second photo can be seen on the right of the first, beneath the stairs).  But the scene, lighting and time of day are the same.

The first, on Portra 400 120 roll film, was taken using my Voigtländer Bessa III (aka Fuji GF670). It has an 80mm lens, so near enough 50mm in old money equivalence. It’s probably the last (serious) medium format film camera ever to be designed, and it’s probably the best fixed lens MF rangefinder ever. The rendering of the Porta 400 film was entrusted to Silverfast’s NegaFix tool, scanned at 5300dpi on the OpticFilm, which at this setting easily resolves grain.

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The second was taken using the quite remarkable (in several senses of the word) Sigma DP0 Quattro.  This has a Foveon Quattro sensor producing a file roughly equivalent, so they say, to a standard 39Mpix sensor. Which is quite big enough. More to the point, it produces absolutely gorgeous, natural, transparent, lucid, indeed filmic colours. In my opinion, anyway. In this case the lens is a highly corrected, good enough for architecture, 14mm, which is near enough to 21mm in old money.

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So which is best ? I don’t know. I’m happy with both. They don’t call me Indecisive Dave for nothing, you know. One might expect digital to be more convenient than film, but Sigma levelled that one with a (ahem) fabulous piece of mandatory software called Sigma Photo Pro. Of course, I could also have compare with my standard, sensible Olympus digital camera. But there’s no fun in being sensible.

 

 

Posted in category "Sigma" on Wednesday, January 06, 2016 at 07:23 PM

Silent Night

in General Rants , Thursday, December 24, 2015

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everybody who has visited here over the last year, and provided on- and off-line feedback, positive and less positive, a very happy Christmas, and a happy, safe and rewarding New Year.  I’ll be back soon with lots of riveting tales and uncannily fabulous photography.

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/rant/I’m absolutely Nondenominational, possibly atheist, but I really, really abhor this “happy holidays” nonsense. If somebody the concept of Christmas (the real one, that is) offensive, then I wouldn’t wish them happy anything. /rant>

Posted in category "General Rants" on Thursday, December 24, 2015 at 12:13 PM

Wandering aimlessly, part 2

in Photography , Wednesday, December 16, 2015

So, Day 2 in Venice.  A nice day, but not exactly breaking any photographic boundaries. I certainly took some photos, but they’re not going to win any prizes. Two positive points though - first, at long last I made it out to the San Pietro and Santa Elena areas. San Pietro especially is well worth a visit. This is a Venice a million miles away from St Mark’s Square and the Rialto.  Of course, most people would find it totally pointless. Not even a selfie-stick salesman in sight. Which is why “most people” don’t go there, and I do.

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the outer edge of Venice, San Pietro island

Second point, visiting Gianni Galassi‘s wonderful exhibition, Elogio della Luce, at the equally wonderful Wilmotte Foundation. His monochrome architectural abstracts look even better in print.

But, unfortunately, a large part of the day I spent comatose due an ongoing throat infection that just will not go away…

Posted in category "Photography" on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 10:05 PM

Back in the Crazy City

in Photography , Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Once again, I’m back in Venice. I arrived this afternoon after a 4 hour drive dodging trucks and insane Italians (all of whom - the insane ones that is - drive Audis, for some reason). The idea is some seriously needed rest & recuperation, wandering around Venice with a camera. Or five. Well, I did leave a few at home. With me are my brand new Sigma DP0 Quattro and Olympus E-M1, both the result of a recent what-the-hell retail therapy binge.

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A pseudo XPan shot from the DP0 in 21:9 mode

Things have not got off to a good start, really. I spend the late afternoon on a wide wander from Dorsoduro to Piazza Roma, Cannaregio, San Marco and back, generally fairly disconsolate and wishing I hadn’t bothered. I not exactly “in the Zone”. In fact I don’t even know where or what the Zone is. I’m not even getting the buzz of being in Venice.

I came here with a concept I’ve had in mind for a month or so. I’m not going to go into it now, in case somebody steals it, but I think it is a pretty good concept. Of some Artistic Worth, even. The problem is, although I can express the idea verbally, I’ve really no clear idea of how to approach it photographically. So, the pressure of this, added to the counter-attraction of playing with new toys (despite the fact that I really, but really don’t get much thrill out of that any more), and a general mental exhaustion after a fairly tough year, result in total creative block.

Later, after a chance meeting with another photographer (hi Daniele) - Sigmas are really good conversation starters - a later, a small but tasty risotto ai fungi porcinei, and a glass of prosecco, I started to feel a little better, and played around doing some night shots.

Maybe tomorrow will be a little brighter.

Footnote: since the only thing I seem to be able to put my mind to is playing around with gadgets, I suppose I can allow myself one little bit of geekery. Below is a 1:1 sample of the centre part of the image above, at the end of the passageway. Personally I find it pretty impressive…

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Posted in category "Photography" on Tuesday, December 15, 2015 at 10:40 PM

The Digital XPan ?

in Sigma , Thursday, December 03, 2015

Well, it’s here. The (maybe, possibly) “Digital XPan”. As I mentioned yesterday, I found that Amazon Germany was selling the Sigma DP0 Viewfinder kit for €780, if I followed an advertising link on an external site.  Going direct to Amazon, it was listed at €1000. Very strange, but I grabbed the opportunity, and they delivered. And it arrived this afternoon, and as soon as I could charge up the battery, I managed to escape from work for 15 minutes and took a couple of test shots, using the 21:9 aspect ratio.

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The camera has a very unusual shape, but I find it quite nice to hold. It’s built like a tank, like the Merrills, but perhaps with a touch more elegance. The manual is totally unnecessary: the controls and menu on the Sigma are second to none, and the QS “Quick Select” button brings up a page which is even improved on the Merrill version.  I accidentally shot at ISO800, which would have been a disaster on the Merrills, but it’s ok here. The Foveon colours are as delicate and realistic as ever.

So, is it an approximation to a digital XPan? My very, very, first impression is that it might just be.

Posted in category "Sigma" on Thursday, December 03, 2015 at 06:32 PM

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