Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Get 4x5 Quality With A DSLR
Using a stitch-together method, you can get a large-format look from your regular digital camera
About two years ago, things changed. With the advent of automated photo-stitching software, which first appeared in Photoshop CS3 and other programs, I now use a technique that stitches three digital vertical images together to create a horizontal image, or three horizontals to get a vertical image, the size of which rivals 4x5 resolution. Photoshop does an amazing job at easily stitching these images. Typical stitched file sizes converted to 8-bit range from 110 MB to over 150 MB from my Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III camera. I know that from a pixel-peeping point of view, I can get more resolution from a drum-scanned 4x5 transparency, but what I’m excited about are the results I can see in an actual print. In comparing large prints, the sharpness of the three stitched images is every bit as good, if not better, than a scanned 4x5. Now, of course, there are other qualities in a print besides sharpness, and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine someone liking the “look” of a 4x5 print better, but if you’re looking for that sharp, almost 3-D type of “pop” that a large-format film or medium-format digital-back file can achieve, I think you’ll be very pleased with the three-stitch file.
Capturing a scene using the three-file method works for about 70% of the landscape and floral images I typically shoot, but two circumstances can cause me to forgo the attempt. One occurs when there’s motion that causes elements such as leaves or other objects to move from one exposure to the next, making it difficult for Photoshop to match up. However, I can sometimes compensate for this by manipulation in Photoshop. A more serious problem occurs when a scene I’m shooting is changing rapidly as does, for example, one with moving people or ocean waves. At times like these, I find it almost impossible to set up a three-image capture.
Recently, because of my absolute devotion to producing a sharp, detailed print, I considered purchasing a 39-megapixel digital back for a medium-format camera. I even had a representative from the manufacturer come to my office with the camera, and we spent a few hours taking sample images. After he left, I felt certain I was going to purchase this camera. However since this was such an expensive acquisition, I decided to compare a file we shot that day with a three-stitched image from my Canon.
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