Monday, February 4, 2013


I’m not sure if the word ‘cropability’ is in the OED,  however it is a useful term to describe the extent to which a file from a digital camera can be cropped and still retain useful technical or aesthetic information. It is a bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string’ issue admittedly and obviously depends on a wide range of factors. I think however, that it is one of those  ‘you know it when you see it’ things.
Obviously  X100 files do not have anything like the cropability of the 5D3 or DP2M, however it is the significant difference that I see between the 5D3 and DP2M files that is most interesting.
Anybody who reads this will I reckon, already know about the differences/advantages/disadvantages of Bayer and  Foveon sensors, so I’m not going to go there.  Suffice it to say that the 5D3 has 22 MP and the DP2M has, erm, well is it 15.3? 24? 30? 36? 46?
Because the sensor designs are so different, numerical comparisons are invalid in my view, perhaps more telling is the size of the RAW files with the typical 5D3 CR2 coming in at  between 20 and 30 MB whilst the DP2M X3Fs are between 50 and 60 MB . There is an awful lot more information in these files assuming that half of it is not redundant.
Much is made of the apparent greater sharpness in photographs presented by the Foveon files compared to Bayer, with some commentators saying that the Foveon files do not look ‘natural’ because the detail they show appears to be greater than would be seen with the naked eye, while the (allegedly) inherently ‘fuzzier’ Bayer files are more like the unaided eyes level of resolution. This is not so silly, I reckon there maybe something in that, however my eyesight is rubbish and so when I look at distant foliage all I see is a mush of green anyway.
Whatever, this incredible (unreal?) amount of detail does mean that the Foveon files are extremely cropable , in fact, when viewing on a monitor they can actually look much better cropped ( to show the detail) than when seen as a 100% image.
Or, I find it is sometimes possible to get three or four separate photographs out of one single file!
Now I hear people saying that this may be ‘all smoke and mirrors’ and that this ‘look’ may be emulated in PP with any half decent high res file ( like from my 5D3?). Well I’d love to know how that’s done because I’ve spent a lot of time trying to wring every last little bit of clarity out of those files and not succeeded in getting anything like the detail that’s in these X3F’s. Oh dear, ‘clarity’, ‘detail’, ‘res’, I know I should be making some clear and scientific definitions. Get over it!

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