Myth?: Rangefinders give best image quality as lens is nearer to sensor/film plane


ricohflex

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Feb 24, 2005
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#1
(EDIT) Think I should leave brand (Leica M) out of the issue. Because the theory applies to any rangefinder (except for those old fashioned ones with bellows).

Recently heard a friend make this claim, as though he was expounding a Nobel prize winning theory; and that he is the one who knows everything.

Rangefinder lens give best image quality as the rear element of the lens is nearer to sensor/film plane. Because in the rangefinder design, there is no SLR mirror that would have needed more space in between


What is your view or experience?

Being an owner of more than 1 rangefinder, I doubt this claim.
I have not discovered such image superiority from my photos taken with the rangefinders.

I have not discovered such image superiority from my photos taken with all my other rangefinder cameras of various brands.

Conversely, I have not discovered that photos taken with film SLRs or digital SLRs are of inferior image quality because of the extra space needed to accommodate the SLR mirror. (EDIT)
 

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#2
Recently heard a friend make this claim, as though he was expounding a Nobel prize winning theory; and that he is the one who knows everything.
That sounds just like you, Uncle Ricohflex. Birds of a feather flock together? You just have to agree to disagree.

If this was true, then the US$2.5 billion Hubble telescope must give really lousy images.
Extremely "inferior quality" raw images in fact.

The first generation Nokia mobile phones integrated with built-in 640x480 VGA camera and fixed-focus lens (that you so despised) such as the 2002 Nokia 7650 probably has far better imaging capabilities such as resolution wise etc. etc.. It's all in the post-processing with a generous dose of false colour palettes, just so much an array of primitive radiation-hardened Charge-Coupled Devices (CCDs) developed in the 1970s and 1980s whose operating nature was described as experimental at best can accomplish.







If one starts seeing those white speckles in their images, GG to them.
 

pinholecam

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#3
IMO, nothing more than big claims from 'uncles' who linger in camera stores.

They always seem to be in 'Pinkerton Syndrome' mode with their 'German CZ/Leica glass is THE BEST" talk.

For me its one ear in one year out. :D
 

Halfmoon

Senior Member
Feb 26, 2005
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#4
IMO, nothing more than big claims from 'uncles' who linger in camera stores.

They always seem to be in 'Pinkerton Syndrome' mode with their 'German CZ/Leica glass is THE BEST" talk.

For me its one ear in one year out. :D
Ya... I think pin hole camera is still the best!!
 

Shizuma

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Mar 19, 2012
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#5
Wise man tell me,

"good quality image but poor skills - see crap photo in more detail "
 

cks2k2

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Feb 12, 2009
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#6
Recently heard a friend make this claim, as though he was expounding a Nobel prize winning theory; and that he is the one who knows everything.

Leica M lens give best image quality as the rear element of the lens is nearer to sensor/film plane. Because in the rangefinder design, there is no SLR mirror that would have needed more space in between

If this was true, then the US$2.5 billion Hubble telescope must give really lousy images.

What is your view or experience?

Being a previous owner of more than 1 M6 in the past (claimant above did not know I ever used M series), I doubt this claim.
I have not discovered such image superiority from my photos taken with the M6s.

I have not discovered such image superiority from my photos taken with all my other rangefinder cameras of various brands.

Conversely, I have not discovered that photos taken with film SLRs (including Leica R series) or digital SLRs are of inferior image quality because of the extra space needed to accommodate the SLR mirror.
IIANM fuji claims the same with their X-series cameras.

Specifically designed to maximize the mirrorless design of the body, the X-Mount has a short flange back distance of just 17.7mm. This means the rear lens elements are as close as possible to the sensor. The wide opening allows the lens to be mounted deeper within the body - up to 7.5mm (approx) from the mount surface - reducing the back focus distance of each lens to the minimum possible, thus achieving high resolution all the way to the edge of the image.
http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/x/fujifilm_x_pro1/features/page_02.html
 

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Yutaka Go

Senior Member
May 22, 2010
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#9
No one I repeat no one will ever dare to call you a poor photographer if you carry a Leica around your neck. :bsmilie:

No one!
True :bsmilie:

Anyone who can afford that over price camera is filthy rich photographer :bsmilie:

People who hang a $199 camera around their neck are poor photographer :bsmilie:
 

Edwin Francis

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Mar 24, 2006
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#10
I think your actual field experience is far more telling than any theoretical assessment of optical quality.

Your friend seems to be telling a distorted factoid that is probably popular among Leica users. It is true that the lens design of wide angle lenses for rangefinders is technically easier than for SLRs, which need retrofocus designs to accommodate the mirror. So there MAY have been a marginal advantage in the past. But I'd think that with vastly superior market shares, budgets and resources, SLR lens lenses have long since caught up (and probably surpassed) rangefinders.

Even the old 'prime lenses are better than zoom lenses' argument is being challenged now, with some (admittedly costly) zooms performing as well or better.

For me, there are a lot of things to like about rangefinders -- tiny, simple lenses, quiet operation, unobtrusive size. Useful for street photography. Image quality was never a major concern.

At the expensive end of the Guy-With-Camera phenomena you'll see hobbyists who are more concerned with irrelevant minutiae than actually making good images. I once met a rich hobbyist with a $40K limited-edition titanium Hasselblad who said he bought it because it reproduced blue colours more accurately than other cameras.
I have yet to hear of a professional photographer losing a job because his Nikon/Canon/whatever couldn't reproduce blues to the customer's satisfaction.

Being a previous owner of more than 1 M6 in the past (claimant above did not know I ever used M series), I doubt this claim.
I have not discovered such image superiority from my photos taken with the M6s.

I have not discovered such image superiority from my photos taken with all my other rangefinder cameras of various brands.

Conversely, I have not discovered that photos taken with film SLRs (including Leica R series) or digital SLRs are of inferior image quality because of the extra space needed to accommodate the SLR mirror.
 

Shizuma

Senior Member
Mar 19, 2012
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#11
No one I repeat no one will ever dare to call you a poor photographer if you carry a Leica around your neck. :bsmilie:

No one!
there is a difference (not mutually exclusive though) between a rich photographer and a good photographer. :)
 

ricohflex

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Feb 24, 2005
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#13
Think I should leave brand (Leica M) out of the issue. Because the theory applies to any rangefinder (except for those old fashioned ones with bellows).

I have edited the original post.
 

ArchRival

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Sep 17, 2006
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#14
Extremely "inferior quality" raw images in fact.

.... It's all in the post-processing with a generous dose of false colour palettes, just so much an array of primitive radiation-hardened Charge-Coupled Devices (CCDs) developed in the 1970s and 1980s whose operating nature was described as experimental at best can accomplish.

If one starts seeing those white speckles in their images, GG to them.

I don't think these images show an inferior quality CCD. In fact nowadays astronomical CCD images commonly look like these.
Hubble uses false colour because of its narrowband filters, not to hide any CCD flaws. Instead of taking images through RGB, it takes HSO. Unfortunately, both hydrogen alpha and sulphur are red, whereas oxygen is greenish-blue. Commonly people will assign H-a to red, but since S is even redder than H-a, hubble tends to assign S to red, H-a to green, and O to blue. Sort of to assign reddest to red, bluest to blue.

For comparison, these are shots from a modern-day Class I CCD camera:

Dark frame:


Flat field:


Raw image:


Result of stacking 10 x (Raw image - Dark frame)/Flat field
 

cks2k2

New Member
Feb 12, 2009
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#15
I don't think these images show an inferior quality CCD. In fact nowadays astronomical CCD images commonly look like these.
Hubble uses false colour because of its narrowband filters, not to hide any CCD flaws. Instead of taking images through RGB, it takes HSO. Unfortunately, both hydrogen alpha and sulphur are red, whereas oxygen is greenish-blue. Commonly people will assign H-a to red, but since S is even redder than H-a, hubble tends to assign S to red, H-a to green, and O to blue. Sort of to assign reddest to red, bluest to blue.
Ah I thought HSO was another colorspace like HSV/HLS.
 

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ed9119

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#16
Think I should leave brand (Leica M) out of the issue. Because the theory applies to any rangefinder (except for those old fashioned ones with bellows).

I have edited the original post.
thank you for your consideration

thread title changed accordingly
 

#17
I don't think these images show an inferior quality CCD. In fact nowadays astronomical CCD images commonly look like these.
Hubble uses false colour because of its narrowband filters, not to hide any CCD flaws. Instead of taking images through RGB, it takes HSO. Unfortunately, both hydrogen alpha and sulphur are red, whereas oxygen is greenish-blue. Commonly people will assign H-a to red, but since S is even redder than H-a, hubble tends to assign S to red, H-a to green, and O to blue. Sort of to assign reddest to red, bluest to blue.

For comparison, these are shots from a modern-day Class I CCD camera:
Point taken. My context in that is, it was rather "inferior" when compared to modern day CCDs but of course it was "breaking edge" technology when the largely experimental 800x800 radiation-hardened CCD imaging sensor (CCD has never been wildly used for such a purpose yet and such technology was even classified Top Secret by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) who operated the KH-11 Kennan / Crystal reconnaissance satellites similar to HST) for both the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 1 & 2 (WFPC 1 & WFPC 2) was custom designed and fabricated by Texas Instruments (TI) Inc. and Ford Aerospace & Communications Corp. / Loral Corp. in the 1970s and 1980s.

Of course, there was a massive improvement in imaging capabilities with the recent introduction of Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) during STS-125 / HST-SM4 in 2009. Cheers.
 

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