Through the lens: Very Good versus Excellent

MBB 0618 Breviarium Mayer van den Bergh

Mayer van den Bergh Breviary, MBB 0618, Folio 2R

Each manuscript reacts differently during photography. As a result, the first question to ask when starting the digitisation of manuscripts is which setup to use. For the digitisation of the of the famous Mayer van den Bergh Breviary, we compared the results of two lens and camera systems,each fitted with a Phase One IQ180 digital back: a Phase One DF+ camera in combination with a Phase One 120mm MF Macro f/4.0 and a Cambo Actus DB fitted with a Schneider Macro-Digitar 120mm f/5.6. See also this post: Looking past the curve

For your information, all the images below were made during a test prior to digitisation, so color balance and custom color profile was not yet fine-tuned. The screenshots show fragments of approximately 2,1 by 2,1 cm in real life.

On a general level the images look similar, however diving deep into the files, pixel peeping at 100%, interesting details and differences become apparent. Fine structure and subtle tonal differences are more pronounced in the images on the right and the image looks much crisper.

Please click on the images to see a larger version.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 15.45.09

MMB 0618, f 002R, left Phase One MF 120mm, right Schneider Macro-Digitar 120mm

While the Phase One 120mm is considered to be a fine lens, it is outperformed by quite a margin by the Schneider Macro-Digitar 120mm.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 19.39.35.png

MMB 0618, f 002V, left Phase One MF 120mm, right Schneider Macro-Digitar 120mm

Not only the lens is performing much better, the fact that the Cambo Actus DB has an electronic shutter and is lacking a mirror virtually eliminates the unsharpness due to camera shake.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 15.43.45

Time to invest in a new lens!!

(On a different note: what does an image look like made with an uncalibrated lens? See below on the right, the problem was quickly solved by the wonderful service of our Phase One dealer Servix.)

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 15.48.43

MMB 0618, f 002V, left Phase One MF 120mm, in the middle Schneider Macro-Digitar 120mm, to the right an uncallibrated copy of Schneider Macro-Digitar

Capture and processing through Capture One, moderate unsharp mask (Amount 180, Radius 0.8, Threshold 1)

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