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Canon 5d Mark II and PhaseOne P25+: Does a physical sensor size make a difference?

As promised, I run few in-studio tests to see if there is any noticeable difference in IQ between 35mm DLSR Canon 5D mark II and Phase One p25+ medium format digital back. This comparison makes more sense than the previous one between Canon 1Ds Mk III and Hasselblad H4D-50 I had earlier.

Phase One P25+ vs Canon 5D Mark II

canon 5d mark II vs phaseone p25 plus camera test
canon 5d mark II vs Phase One p25 plus camera test

Both, 5D and P25+ have 22 megapixel sensors, and the only difference is Canon’s 14 bit per color versus PhaseOne 16 bit and a physical sensor size.  The size of P25+ sensor twice as large as Canon: 48.9 x 36.7 mm vs 35×24 mm, pixel size are 9µm vs 6.4µm respectively. Larger pixels should have better noise to signal ratio, meaning better colors and less noise, especially in underexposed areas. Also, 16 bit per color should have better color accuracy and be better in  recovering underexposed and overexposed areas. The last major difference is that PhaseOne does not have Anti-Aliasing (AA) filter, which  potentially should bring more details on the output image (less blurry) and opens doors for moire issues.

Mine on the right:-)


Please also keep in mind that I’ve compared 2009 DSLR equipped with Canon top-of-the-line sensor against 5 years older and already retired P25+: I can’t find exact info for a “plus” model, but PhaseOne has introduced P25, (non plus) back in 2004. The same sensor was used in 25+ model.
That time P25+ cost was around $26,000, but now  it can be easily found used for $4500-$5000. This is still not the same price range with Canon 5D, but very much closer that it use to be.

Few notes about the test: I did not want to run a pure “isolated” sensor-to-sensor comparison, meaning to have both cameras on the same lens. In real life, I doubt that anyone will use Canon  with large format Schneider 120mm macro lens, and P25+ can’t be used with Canon lens at all. Instead, I’ve used the best Canon macro lens, 180mm F3.5 L macro and one of the best and sharpest macro lens (non-digital) for technical cameras, Schneider 120mm macro Symmar HM mounted on Cambo Ultima  D.

Yes, Canon macro lens has better liner resolution by it’s design, as it produces about 10 times smaller image circle at 1:1 magnification than Schneider. Not really equal comparison, but I always prefer real life scenario over the synthetic tests.  The question I was looking to answer was this: will I get better IQ from the Cambo + Schneider + P25 set than Canon can deliver with its best macro lens?

Now, the test scenario.

I’ve used Capture One (C1) software to shoot tethered with Phase One P25+ and to develop 16-bit uncompressed TIFF files which was converted in Photoshop CS5 into JPEG and then combined into one image with Canon samples (different layers of one file). Default setting on C1 converter were used.

For Canon I was using Adobe Lightroom for a tethered shooting and Adobe Raw Converter and Photoshop CS5 to generate  JPEGs. ACR was used with all default (except WB) parameters. Obviously, all the numbers are very relative, but I did not want to use ACR for P25+ images: only Capture one provides the best raw conversion for PhaseOne images.

Captue One settings: Adobe ACR settings (CS5)

CaptureOne sharpening values
CaptureOne sharpening values
Canon photoshop sharpening
Canon photoshop sharpening

















I’ve used Elinchrome RX  strobe lighting (comparison-review will be posted soon) was used for this test, and I was adjusting the lighting trying to match the exposure for each camera using histogram and highlights and shadows warning.

Canon had 1/160 sec @ F11, ISO 100.  P25+ was set to  1/500sec F11 ISO 50.

First test, the flower:

Canon 5d:


Canon 5dmkii full image test
Canon 5dmkii full image test

Phase One p25+

Phase one p25+ medium format back test full mage
Phase one p25+ medium format back test full image

According to camera’s histogram and Lightroom, Canon’s image has slightly less overexposed areas than PhaseOne. However, after RAW conversion PhaseOne shows slightly better details on petals than I see on canon’s image. There was no highlight recovery used on both images.

Let’s look closer:

100% crop


canon 5d mkII vs pahesone p25 22mpx sensors image quality testcanon 5d mkII vs pahesone p25 22mpx sensors image quality test

I see slightly more details on the PhaseOne image. Yes, the image is slightly larger,  but not significant to make a difference. This is Anti-Aliasing filter on Canon’s sensor does its “blurring” job:-)

Now, the colors.. Both cameras was set to ‘flash” white balance, and P25+ has delivered correct color right from the camera, no adjustments were necessary. I simply can’t see any different between PhaseOne image and how the flower looks under daylight.
As for Canon.. for some reason the center of flower become yellow instead of green. I’ve managed to partially fix this  by setting up white balance, but… it is sad that Canon was not able to deliver right color as-is. Yes, I could create a color profile for particular shot using X-rite color checker and it should fix the situation, but the whole process of getting the image from Canon won’t be that easy and seamless comparing to PhaseOne.

Second test: a cosmetic brush hair

Canon 5D mark II 100% crop, mouseover to see P25+ version:

canon 5d mkII vs PhaseOne P25+ 22mpx canon 5d mkII vs PhaseOne P25+ 22mpx

In general, both images almost identical. The only difference I see is on the upper part, where brush hair becomes white. There was a very slight overexposure warnings on both cameras, but again, PhaseOne did a better job delivering more resolution. 16 Bit per color and lack of AA filter made possible to achieve slightly better  result even on a low resolution lens.

The last image came from other tests I did previously, and here I simply shot the same subject with PhaseOne back. Not exactly the same angle, but you’ll see the difference in IQ. More images of the same subject can be found on comparison between canon 5DMKII  and 1DsMKIII I had earlier.

Canon 1Ds Mark III VS P25+

Canon 1DsMKII vs PhaseOne P25 22mpx sensors detailsCanon 1DsMKII vs PhaseOne P25 22mpx sensors details



I was not surprised by the results at all, as it confirmed what I already know. I’ve got few photo-sessions with my Cambo Ultima system and I clearly see the superiority of old MF sensor. Not only the resolution, but amazingly correct colors is what I did not have with Canon systems.

Another review you may want to read: Luminous-landscape review

UPDATE: If you’d like to check RAW files from this review, feel free to grab them here.

What next? I am working on a very cool tutorial about the shot you see below where I’ll explain the whole process of getting the image. Step-by-step, from getting first strobe set till the final  composition. Do not want to miss it? Subscribe for the updates now via blog’s RSS feed or articles can be delivered to you by email.
Also, a video from my latest masterclass is ready to be released, next week is a deadline.

If you want to learn about studio photography more, check out our Pro Corner and online store, I have many intersting things for a serious photographer:

Benjamin Franklin:
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”


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56 responses on "Canon 5d Mark II and PhaseOne P25+: Does a physical sensor size make a difference?"

  1. Hey Alex. Thanks for the compare. I’ve been shooting on Canon 5d mk2 but for fashion and commercial work have been hiring MFDB usually with a p45+. I think ultimately the sensor size is the key element. You can afford to crop as you wish and waste some pixels and still end up with an acceptable file size. Also I find C1 slower in processing than light room. However C1 is better on rendering tonal areas. Still somewhat shocked by price difference between MF and 35mm.

    I appreciate your taking the time to review and selflessly conduct comparison. Surprised how negative people can be.

    Thanks again.

  2. if i find i site with which i don’t agree i do not loose my time writing to it many times… maybe just to show (to others but mostly to me) how good and competent i am!
    VERY interesting and right to the point comparing an accessible mf (also if rather old) and a good dslr!!!
    i would to here more from about colour depth, dynamic range (shadows) etc. from the photographer point of view.
    high iso is not important in studio work, and only field use for a mf is daytime landscaping, i think…
    again, very interesting review. i am a scientist, and i am very used to scientific studies and papers, and i find your review really excellent and to the point!

  3. Alex,

    Despite the earlier trolls, I thought I’d post a note of thanks for the comparison as I totally understand why you were comparing the two.

    I currently shoot mostly landscape and architecture type stuff with a Canon 5D and assortment of prime lenses and am thinking a lot about making the switch to a Mamiya 645 with an old digital back (like a Leaf Aptus 22). This post certainly helps steer me towards digital medium format. Thanks again!

  4. Thanks Alex i allways wanted to see the claims of bigger sensor/same res higher quality put to the test, this is a nicely put compression that shows the benefits of a bigger sensor size even at simlar resolutions, i agree with the conclusion fully (i own a p30), my only wish would be that the Canon 5d system would have been compared to a more simlar, common user friendly, popular system… such as Mamiya 645 AFDIII & lens with Phase one 25+ or simlar setup of the 25+ with Hasselblad & lens…. Those systems have modern features, newer glass and simlar handling to the Canon 35mm.
    Even thogh this is a test for the back only the glass sharpness and quality matters as well as and other factors that might come into account when someone is contplating purchasing a 35 mm versus medium format systems, since Symmar HM mounted on Cambo Ultima is not really somthing anyone is looking to purchase or using as a work horse theses days…

    • Maya,
      You know, I compare what I have to compare:-)
      BTW, technical cameras are widely used by many studio product photographers these days, with 60-80 megapixal backs. They are true workhorses, but nobody shares such info.. usually:-) Talk to Bill Cahill to see what he use:-)
      I agree that this is not a common comparison, and I think it has more value because it is rare.
      BTW, thank you for stopping by, love your portfolio!

      • Yes Alex, you are right i didnt really think of technical camera from a product photographer point of view I do know many use them in that field…. my point was just popular medium format system that has simlar handling as the canon…. I do think ur note regarding the Anti-Aliasing filter is another important ingredient regarding the sharpness in fine details I am exited to see how the new Nikon d800 full frame 36 mega pixel is gona measure up especially considering it will have also hd video and optional model d800e without the low pass Anti-Aliasing filter… I would love to see a comparison of this one to the simlar resolution medium format backs ones the Nikon becomes avalible especially considering the price mark will b a fraction of medium format systems around $3000…. this could really change the whole game around and maybe force the medium format systems to lower their outrageously high pricing.

        PS. Thanks for the compliment on my portflio i also have a blog although its not hardly as educational and informative as yours! (i placed the link under my name :))keep up the great work!
        Maya Guez

        • Maya,
          Yes, I’ve read announce about Nikon D800/E and agree with you, it will be a killer studio camera! For its price, sensor size, no AA filter and magapixel count it has no 35mm competitors for now. I have too much with canon, so I’ll wait for their counter-proposal:-)

          Thank you for the blog link, you’ve got one more reader:-) Are you on Google plus yet? If not, come and join us. Very nice community there, and I’d love to have you in one of your “Studio Photography Insights” hangouts!

  5. Hi Alex,
    I’ve experienced the same outcome as you have with your test, but using an even older PhaseOne back. Years ago I owned and shot commercial work with a Phaseone Lightphase (H5), their original digital back. When I purchased a canon 5D to better shoot fashion and humanitarian work, I contemplated moving all my shooting, including product work to the 5D because it was faster than the Phaseone/Hassy and produced files of a similar size. After shooting the Canon exclusively for a number of months, I abandoned it for shooting product – not due to sharpness issues but due to color ones. One of my clients, Badcock Furniture, has some furniture pieces that were dark cherry or some that were vibrant colored neither photographed well with the Canon. Almost all the images I shot of stained wood were too yellow to some degree. I was spending so much time color correcting images that it negated the speed at which I shot them.

  6. Hi Alex,
    I appreciate ALL you do. ! I came across a Youtube vid you did with Einsteins…Thanks…I am 3-4 years into studying a life long passion..Had a 35 year delay with life…I am SURPRISED you get hammered sooo hard for this..anal beings..Keep up the good work !

  7. Dear Sir,

    First a large and kind thanks for sharing your “do it yourself battery box” It has been an interesting inspiration in building a box with 3 x 7,2 Ah 12v batts and the Samalex 300w inverter, made with double cable overall. All is working outstanding:-) 6 hours and 600 shots with 2x 500ws and 1x 250ws Elinchrom on lowest settings. GREAT:-)

    For you exellent comparison of the P25 and the 5DII, and will just ad that it puts your mind to work and give the inspiration to search for more info. Did I expect an exact science test no, and I support you choice of method.

    Thanks from


  8. small addendum for clarity:

    when i’m talking about “looking with your own eyes” though experiment, the important thing is that the observer is NOT moving. We just “cut” a bigger or smaller hole for him to look through. So the “feel” (perspective, shape) of the pictured objects stays exactly the same. Only the “window” changes.

    So it’s strange that it’s normal to say that 50mm is “standard” for 35mm, but “equivalent” to wide for medium format. Yes, it’s wide because it gets more objects in-frame, but it’s the same considering perspective. And all the wars about sensor size are REALLY ABOUT THIS. But nobody says that, they just keep on shouting about resolution, noise levels, low-light ability and DOF.

    Cinema 35mm is “different” from home video _not because_ the DOF is smaller!

  9. Alex, with all due respect, why don’t you, like many other photographers on the web, mention the completely different perspectives of different sensors?

    I am very surprised and baffled (and continue to be for about 2 years) that no one writes about it plainly. Basically, as i understand it, smaller physical sensor gets smaller optical picture (literally cropped). So with 50mm lens the perspective stays the same no matter what the sensor size – you just SEE MORE with medium to large format.

    Of course, you can correct for that using different lenses and techniques. But EVERYBODY knows and feels that different focal distances have different character, different perspective. And it’s not about distortion correction, resolution, DOF. It’s just perspective – the thing that’s easiest to “feel” even if you’re not a professional.

    So people look at medium-format shot and say “it breathes” or “it’s so ‘big'” even if it’s postcard size – because the “window to the world” of large sensorfilm is really “bigger”.

    Let’s say you were looking with your own eyes – they say it’s close to 50mm lens for 35mm camera. You literally have a “hole” to look through. So if you switch to a Hasselblad, the “hole” gets bigger. It’s completely different picture!

    I know it doesn’t matter that much with product shots, ’cause there’s a lot of playing with size and perspective in macro. But for real-life scenery it’s both obvious and glaringly important. Yet nobody talks about that. Everybody wants to talk about resolution and aberrations.

    It’s not a critique, just a thing that buggers and puzzles me for a long time. Would be glad to hear your take on the matter!

    • Ayur,
      Thank you for the comment! I am 100% agree with you, and I simply did not think about this difference between medium format vs 35mm. I know what you are talking about, and there is a visible difference in perspective. It mostly visible on an architecture images, where 35mm lens on MF camera makes distortion-free image with correct perspective and overall “feel”, while 17mm (same angle of view) on 35mm camera produces drastically different result.
      The difference is on any focal length, but wide angle is most noticeable.

      Thank you again, you’ve added a missing piece to my review:-)

  10. Hey Janne & Alex, This may be a little off topic but since this is my last comment I will express a final point of view in hopes of a better understanding between the three of us. Thank you for a balanced comment Janne, there is an old proverb which goes like this – As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17 It takes iron to sharpen iron. Sharpening a knife requires iron at least as hard as the knife. Once sharpened, a knife is bright, sharp, and ready for much more productive service. Alex is not a “religious” person as I understand, I am not “religious” but I do have a faith in God. So to me the Proverb makes sense. I have many faults and failings which means I’m an imperfect human being and will be so till the day I die.

    Alex is a Uke aka Ukrainian I am a Polack aka Polish. Both known to be bull headed and stubborn at times. I’m sure this applies to other nationalities as well. Alex was born in Kiev and I was born in Montreal. We go head to head sometimes just like sparring in a gym, not necessarily wrong. I have aired my grievances with Alex and he likewise with me about some of the comments made on his blog (a public forum), regarding aspects of photography as a business and the process itself, probably not the best thing to do so I see. Besides my yapping away on this blog I have also communicated with Alex through his personal email.

    We have on occasion discussed a number of things through private email correspondence – you know things like life, business and family. Just to set the record straight I do not intend to air negativity or anything else on his site, so you won’t hear a peep from me……..as of this day forth my presence on this site will evaporate into thin air, my lips are sealed.

    So I shall now bid you all adieu. Thanks it’s been an interesting experience.
    To both of you Happy Trails, Tom

  11. Hey Alex,

    A lot of heated discussion and what could be described as trolling going on here.

    Without taking a strong step to either side, sheesh, give Alex a breather.

    This is his blog and it’s not meant to be a serious front-end of his business. It’s something where he can vent his “behind the scenes” stuff.

    This is something by the way that for example I am really, really grateful, so thank you Alex for being open and lifting the curtain for us ordinary folk to learn something.

    On the other hand I can read between the lines that there is an advice for Alex in Toms and Richards messages, but the way they put it here is definitely not the way to get someone to listen to it.

    Frankly Tom and Richard are coming off as the stereotypical “pro” photographers who have been in the business for ages, did the time in the darkroom and “discovered the secrets” of photography and lighting which would make them do well in the industry.

    All the while being pretty much alone and probably quite set in their ways “not taking constructive criticism” at all.

    I don’t know if it is your goal, but the undertone of your comments is pretty much that you are mad at Alex for sharing his knowledge (which in part is probably a part of your knowledge as well).

    I’d like to welcome you both to 2011 and to smell the roses.

    Everything in photography (even though you make your living off of it) can’t be kept a secret, well actually it can, but I myself believe more in Alex’s way and also Chase Jarvis comes to mind here.

    Don’t underestimate the power of connections, reputation as a nice guy willing to share and of course being good at what you do. It can open up opportunities which you just can’t buy with money.

    Finally a bit of constructive criticism to Alex.

    As a moderately young person reading a lot of stuff from the Internet, I tend to have a pretty good grain-of-salt filter, so even though there are technical mismatches etc. in your post, I did get the bottom line.

    For example the MF back gives you more accurate color rendition than the 5D MkII, it’s as simple as that. I also get that this wasn’t an actual review or comparison of the two specific cameras but a comparison between your tools and which is better suited for each job.

    The only gripe I have is the last comparison picture lent from your earlier post. That just doesn’t show or prove us anything because the focus is not in the same place. So that kind of things you should avoid, they don’t go down even with the biggest grain of salt :D

    But all in all, keep the posts coming since I think there are a lot of people who want to see more and maybe even read through Toms and Richards comments again with time and try to find the “between-the-lines” info in them.

    Best wishes from Finland


    • Janne,
      Agree with you about the last image. I’d better not to post it it at all. More information is not always better, but the quality of the information are. Lesson learned:-)
      I glad to found that we think the similar way, as I feel that you understand what I was trying bring in this discussion.

      Thank you!

  12. For all of you bloggers who disagree with my comments please feel free to express your opinions and email me I will be more than happy to hear your comments …….if you so desire. email me here [email protected]

  13. Alex, For someone who came from a communist country to the shores of a nation of great freedoms which happens to include free speech. You really, really just don’t get it do you? Your thin veneer is cracking and reveals something quite different. You need to start at the beginning again and read all your comments over again. As for contributing anything substantial it would just be shot down because it’s your blog and ‘you don’t care’. Even your statement about “I am sure you have something more valuable than the “constructive criticism”. shows a lack of real understanding. Some comments are tongue in cheek and others not. You have missed the whole point of the exercise Alex.

    Thank you

    • So, you are ready to write a guest post about a shot you had, explaining how and why you did such and such? It would be really great, just let me know when it will be ready.

      • Alex, I read your subtle sense of sarcastic humor. My advice and written input is free, if you want to learn my lighting secrets and shooting techniques that will cost you $$$$ or anyone else who happens to want to know. I place a great value on my time and effort when it comes to the execution of photography and my fee starts at $1000.00 payable in advance and goes up from there.

        I’ve been around too long to give up my knowledge for free. It is not a profitable venture. That’s what schools are for and paying your dues working as an assistant in a studio. You are more than welcome to see the final product just like anyone else and that is for free. But how I did it, technique, lighting equipment, modifiers is not for free. Sorry but my time and effort is worth money. There are many so called ‘free photography learning sites’ who tried it and bombed.

        I am an assignment photographer who charges for my services, not a teacher in a school or college. If you want me to do an assignment for your blog that’s what it will cost and goes up from there. There is a silly notion out there that we are just one big happy global village of photographers helping one another. I had to learn the hard way, the hard way is this – You only pay your bills by earning an income from your business and investments and every business I know uses that formula. Some things are free like the air we breathe.

        If you had to put a dollar value on how much time and effort you have already put into this business venture of yours and how much profit you have derived over the past two or three years, it’s a losing proposition all the way. If you have to add larger facilities and more staff and equipment are you going to dig into your personal finances to support the business. If you want to know what you are worth on paper talk to a venture capitalist or your bank manger and see how much they are ready to back you up without putting up secure collateral.

        The bank wants your 2 to 3 dollars for every dollar they will lend you and it has to be secured. Count the cost before you build the house. This blog is a hobby for you that you want to turn into a business venture. Prove me wrong with a financial statement from your accountant that you are making money from this blog that can support you and your family without your other job and then I’ll believe you have a viable venture. Until then sorry, but something for nothing, not happening.

        Advice is free, constructive criticism is free, air is free. Just so that I don’t come off to cynical or sound too harsh, if it was a one on one, you and I in a studio and you needed help with some aspect of lighting or setting up a shot I would have no problem with that. But Broadcast over the internet I’ll leave that up to you and the other guys out there.

        It’s Canada day today and I’m going out to enjoy the day and have a nice dinner with my beautiful wife.

        Maybe sometime in the future things might change, I really hope you are not running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off wasting a lot of time by trying to do too much at once.

        Really do wish you the best even if you don’t believe me, Tom

        • I understand you, Tom.
          My life is different: Everything I’ve learned was not hard, it was very interesting and fun. The last time I worked hard was in 1997, when I was working as a waiter in a restaurant, right after my BD graduation :-)
          I know that these days to be successful I need to give more than receive. This simple formula makes my my life an easy and pretty exiting journey, surrounded by like-minded people.
          I value my time not less then you do, believe me. My rates might be higher then yours. But I know that not only $$$ has a value in my business, there are other things I can utilize to get where I want my business to be.

          All the best, Tom. Do not work too hard:-)

  14. You know, I have a Bentley and a Model-T Ford in my garage. I took them out to see which gets better gas milage. I drove them each 10 miles and then filled up the gas tank on each car. It cost $44.90 to fill up the Bentley but it only cost $7.50 to fill up the Model T Ford. Model-T Fords must get better milage, right? Who….Cares?
    The point is, Cambo + Schneider + P25 Compared to Canon. Who Cares? Just how many people have that combination of equipment or plan to purchase that equipment? Or, can afford it. Few if any, but Who cares?
    Alex, please stick to what you know and do best,…photography. There are alot more people who are interested in the “How to” create a photograph than a comparison of a couple pieces of equipment you are using. Just how many people in your audiance has the combination of equipment you are supposedly testing, and how many people do you think are going out to buy it?

    What has seemed to make your blog successful to date is you willingness to share “How” you create a shot. I personally find it very interesting and helpful. I don’t use the same equipment that you do, but when I see how a shot was put together I can use my equipment to see if I can duplicate it or even do it better. It’s a real learning tool and I thank you for it.
    For example, for years I studied Ansel Adams’ Zone system for black and white photography. I did all the calibration and testing development N+1, N-1 and densitometry but, you know, I could never get to the quality of image he had in many of his prints. Don’t get me wrong, I have some great quality images but not near what he had. Why? Well, it was some years later that I read an article by Jofeph or David Muench ( famous photographer of Monument valley, Utah/Arizona) where he mentioned that it was the 253rd time he visited Monument Valley. 253 times! I was shocked! Then the light came on. Just how many images did he make of the valley on each visit, and how many did Ansel Adams make of Yosemity Valley? How many years did Ansel live at Yosemity? How many of their images are famous images? Few in comparison! Also, Ansel was photographing using an 8×10 or 5×7 view camera most of the time. All his negatives were each hand processed and post processed very carefully.(He even admitted some where really terrible!) I was shooting 2-1/4 x 2-3/4 roll film negatives with an RZ-67 and processing my film in Nikor tanks, time and temperature. No way was I going to get similar results! I began looking at my gallery of images in a new light and then smiled with contientment at my achievements. You did good grasshopper!

    The point is that it wasn’t the equipment we used but it was the learning experience and striving to perfect the image to a known standard that I learned to create great B&W Images using the zone system. I believe this is the same experience your readers will be able to experience if you stick to the, “How I created this shot” or, “How can I do this better, send me your shot and tell my how you did it.”

    Unfortunately, over the last few months you have seemed to lose focus as to who your target audience is. Please re-evaluate your readership and what they would like to know, then give it to them. You might try a survey to get your focus.
    I hope for your continued sucess.

    • Richard,
      I am working on a new online project where I’ll share my “How I did a shot” information. BTW, for a last few month my blog got +30% subscribers: this is the best indicator of popularity for me. I know how it is cool to read “how to” stuff. However, I want to have a separate project for this, where we’ll have not only mine , but other photographers behind the shot info, prepared the same way as I did mine: interesting and without holding anything back. I think it will only benefit my readers.
      Right now information gets buried too fast, and newcomers start asking the same questions again and again, as it is hard to dig in the right shot. new project will address this issue.

      I only wish I could have 5 more hours in a day and few more hands to type and shoot:-)

      Thank you for the feedback, Richard!

    • Richard, I concur with you on many of your points, especially this point you made “Alex, please stick to what you know and do best,…photography”.

      I think with due respect to Alex some things are just way,way over his head. You and I bring spark to this site and controversy it challenges Alex and he has to defend his stance. Good thing if done in an intelligent way. His readers also learn from us Richard, so we helped increase the subscribers.

      Sometimes Alex is reasonable and level headed and sometimes he behaves like his ‘little daughters’ cute as they are. Problem with Alex he started out wanting to be the best photographer in the world, read his bio, I think he’s all over the place now, but time is the best teacher. If you go back to the beginnings of his blog you will find that he contradicts himself unfortunately. Not taking constructive criticism that easily anymore. The old expression you and I are familiar with Richard – ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’.That should increase his heart rate by a few points and some fodder for the blog. Nice meeting you Richard.

      • Tom,
        What you and Richard do is often called trolling, and I am not sure if this has any value to blog readers. As for me, I appreciate any comment.
        BTW, if you’d really like to bring more value to our little community here, you can do a guest post instead: a walk-through of the shoot, or something interesting about technical side of photography that will be interesting to share. You and Richard are experienced photographers, and I am sure you have something more valuable than the “constructive criticism”.
        Think about this, I’ll be glad to provide you a room for the article.

        Thank you.

    • @Richard,

      “The point is, Cambo + Schneider + P25 Compared to Canon. Who Cares? Just how many people have that combination of equipment or plan to purchase that equipment? Or, can afford it. Few if any, but Who cares?”

      I for one do care. Am I going to go for a used medium back setup of a new smaller sensor? The prices are becoming similar, and there are not many comparisons out there. Possibly thanks to people like you, who for some reason see it as their task to: 1. First read something they deem uninteresting. 2. Make the time to write the writer that it shouldn’t have been written because they weren’t interested. What gives? Alex have written and presentened in a clear and distinct manner exactly what he did. It might not be your cup of tea, but luckily we don’t all share your taste.

      Thank you Alex, and do continue the good work! Never mind the small and fearful people.

  15. Alex, Frank Sinatra sang a song called “That’s Life”. I guess you’re singing the same song. Alex – everything to everyone? give it a listen.


    Good luck, tom

  16. To all who have read this blog post and like to read about equipment tests. You need to be scientific minded and not be influenced by what apprears to be scientific evidence when some one does a test. You need to ask if the test is valid.

    For example this is an Interesting blog post, and I’m not surprised at the results. However, the test is invalid and does not follow any scientific working methods. It has compared apples and cherries. The only thing it has in common is that they are fruit, and grow on trees or in this case are camera equipment and are used to creat photographic images. There are FAR too many variables that affect the results and unfortunately it makes a test like this impossible and consequently invalid.

    Nice try, and it makes for a good blog post, but don’t try to get it published in any scientific journal as a comparitive analysis.
    Here are some of the most obvious variables that are affecting the results:
    Sensor manufactures
    physical sensor size
    Pixel size
    Manufacture and quality of lens used
    Bit processing software
    your image processing software
    Image processing technique.
    and the list goes on…

    For a test to compare sensor size and image quality then just use two sensors that are similar Phase One or Canon sensors and “eliminate” as many other variables as possible. For example, Is the xxx Phase One better than xxxx phase one and should you pay the extra $10,000 to use it for your product photography considering the end user and where it is going to be used?? (After all, we are not looking for life in deep space) Now, you have the same camera equipment all by the same manufactue, all the same bit processing and post image processing and even the same lens. Now compare image to image and at the same magnification using all identical techniques.. Does one justify the $10,000 extra expense?

    Now if you want to “cross lines” like the blog post has then you need to still compare apples and apples. For example, Who does a better job, Canon or Phase-One, when comparing 24 x36 mm 25 mega pixel sensor from each manufacture when used with each manufacture’s equipment?
    Now you are not just comparing each sensor but the whole gamut of hardware and software that produces the image when “that partiicular” size sensor is compared.

    To compare the actual “sensor” you would have to remove them from their equipment and bench test them in some other way using some sort of special equipment that the highly sophisticated R & D departments of these companies only can afford to have.

    Now, knowing the above can you ask: Canon 5D Mark II and Phase One P25+; Does a physical sensor size make a difference?

    • Richard,
      All you have said is correct and I would agree with you you at most of the points. However, I compare apples to cherries because I am gonna eat both of them, and i do not care about what is inside. Can I said at the end: I like cherries more than apples?

      I’ve got 2 very different sensors, both will be used to shoot images, and I wanted to see the difference in image quality. Simple like this:-)
      And scientific-correct tests I’ll leave to scientists… I am a photographer, and I care about the end result – the image.

      Thank you!

      • @Alex Koloskov, Under proper testing, (please consider proper and accurate testing conditions) the P25 Rocks and using MFB is more versatile for studio work i.e. camera body types, product photography and portraiture and fashion unless you want a machine gun for a camera. Professional Models and photographers have a symbiotic relationship when the camera and the strobes are firing. A mutually beneficial relationship. You have an audience you are responsible to when doing testing – like it or not. My Not so happy comments below.

    • @Richard, Richard you’re right. And what’s up with the friggin out of focus flowers and petals and lighting difference in the background of both images. First off where is the macbeth color checker shot. Why is he not using a prime lens, and why does he not stick that p25 on a hassy body with a prime just to start with. Why? Because he is not experienced enough to understand how a test should be done. Sometimes Alex tends to live in his own world and then after some controversy comes out to deflect and debates what’s not even on the table. I don’t give a crap about what Alex thinks about my comments in this case because his test is ridiculous. Even with that hairy brush test. So If you want to see a real test visit this site – I’ve posted it here before Apples to Apples test.


      Do not take these tests lightly they are performed by extremely knowledgeable photographers which has nothing to do with earth, wind and fire.

      Alex if you have the balls go rent a hassy body stick the p25 on the back and match your 5D with prime to hassy with matching prime throw in a macbeth color checker and then fart around. Please get rid of the ridiculous flowers and hairy brush. I know what you are going to say highlights, shadows, contrast, resolution, blah, blah, blah just like Karl Donk’s blog full of s..t.

      I am in a very angry and distressed mood. Oh. please don’t tell me it’s because that’s the equipment you use at least do it right and I will have respect for your ability to run a test. Might as well shoot a brick wall from 6 feet half in the shade, half in sunlight. Then go shoot a full moon and howl. Your turn Koloskov.

      BTW that test does nothing to show image quality. white out of focus petals, poor lighting on top of it. Oh ya how about taking a flat white piece of paper folded like a paper airplane and shoot it. Then you can pick out the paper fibers. Also your previous test with the hassy doesn’t count either. Don’t confuse the amateurs and you are not fooling the professionals who are in the know.

      If you care about end result at least do a proper test. All my love Tom.

      • @tombako, correction non macro lens, something like a flat field lens.

      • Sorry, Tom. No proper testing, no “right stuff” here. This is my blog, my personal diary. I write about stuff that I do and I do not really care if it is right or not.
        Tom, have you ever had a diary? If yes, who you write it for? You mother, your friends or for yourself?
        All the best, my friend.

        • Alex, Maybe I was to harsh on you, and I apologize if I was but you call yourself a professional photographer, do product tests and then say you do not really care if it is right or not. I don’t write for my Mother she is dead, my friends don’t really care one way or the other and as for myself, yes my standards are high, not the absolute best but very high and I have done product testing when purchasing equipment.I respect myself, the information I give out and that trickles down to my clients. They are my audience they pay my bills.

          My standard is high first for myself, then that translates to my clients who will have a firm understanding based on confirmed facts. I do not want to mislead people with false or inaccurate information, that is what is wrong with this business. Many spout off with limited or no knowledge of what they are talking about. This tends to confuse the uninitiated. In your case although you are doing tests for yourself I personally and your bloggers expect more from you because of the bold statements you make about yourself and your blog. So,IMHO you still have a responsibility to those who are not so enlightened, those who are enlightened just pass through. So show some respect for that part of the business and the people who read your blog.

          I’m giving you good advice you can take it or leave it. As for your photography I think that is where you excel and I believe that you should continue doing what you do best. There are too many amateur bloggers on the net so don’t you start behaving like one.

          You are first and foremost a programmer. If you treated your boss,company with the same attitude it wouldn’t get you very far as a programmer. If I was to give misleading information to my clients it would not be very long before they would start doubting my professional ability. I’m sure that I’m not the only one on this blog who believes this. This is your personal diary blog, yes it is.

          Consider your readers, do just a little more research and present a professional accurate blog and you will continue to grow, keep up the photography which is why most were attracted to this site in the first place. I hope that will continue it is in your best interest.

          I do appreciate your efforts, just try a little harder on the testing side it will give you much more credibility instead of saying you do not care.

          As always, hope this helps, tough love. Tom :-)

          • oh, Tom. Sometimes you remind me my little daughters: I need to tell them the same thing different ways before they will get it:-)
            Please read my post again. I’ve even made that phrase in bold now:

            The question I was looking to answer was this: will I get better IQ from the Cambo + Schneider + P25 set than Canon can deliver with its best macro lens?

            If I wanted to test P25+ with HC 120mm lens then I would do so. But it was not interesting for me, as the answer is obvious. I did what was interesting to me. I’ve got my answer. Then I’ve shared it. Can it be done more precise and accurate way? Yes. I’ll leave it for my readers who does not like how I did this test.

            Please remember that I present things how I see them, and the only responsibility I have for my readers is to deliver authentic and honest opinion on things I care about.

            Thank you, Tom!

  17. As above I think the comparison is rather unfair. You have not taken into account the cost of the camera or the lens which would push the overall cost difference even more. In which case the Canon is a bargain.

    Also I would have liked to see the petals of the flower matching before I started to look at the coloured centre. On my colour corrected screen there is a significant difference between them and I think at least one element of the picture should match. The brush just confirms what a fantastic camera the Canon is of its type – not so useful when you want movements, though. As has been said before it’s horses for courses.

    Finally the comparison between the F1 and the P 25 is false because the focus points are different. While the P25 is on the eye and lashes the F1 seems to be closer to the nose and the lashes are just out of focus.

    Anyway, thanks for making me happy about my decision to equip with Canon .

    • Martyn,
      You can download raw files from both cameras and see the whole picture.
      BTW, canon lens has almost the same price as Schneider I’ve used.. $1500. However, that Canon macro has much more linear resolution as 35mm sensor than large format lens on a medium format sensor, so this works against p25+.
      I never said Canon a bad camera. It is truly fantastic camera, especially considering the cost of the whole package, as you said: Image quality is slightly better than 1Ds Mk III, for 3 time less price.
      You know, I compare what I have and what I am interesting to see the difference in, never looked at the price:-)
      Thank you!

  18. Thank you, Alex.
    Nice review, but not surprising at all.
    Sorry, but you compare not comparable cameras.
    More than $20K different in price put those cameras on different shelves, but depends of you business goals.
    Most photographers will never see different in results, neither understands difficulty of landscape shooting with medium format.
    For studio – medium format win, win and win.
    For landscapes? Arbitrary – after using 1DMIV I decide to sale 5D, since for my goals 1D fit better.
    Wildlife? – Hard to imaging medium format here…
    Again – right tools for eight jobs

    • Alex, p25+ cost $5000 now, 5D is $2500. Still a big gap bit it was not ten times difference like you said. 2004 v.s 2009 is a huge gap , and it is against PhaseOne.
      Right tools for right jobs, 100% agree. This is why I do not plan to sell 5D :-)
      thank you!

  19. Not surprising results. It would be interesting to put on a medium format film back and compare the results from that with both. $4000 is still a fair bit for a 25MP dig back but MF film cameras are about $600 and you get amazing results from the equivalent of about 65MP. I use a 5D2 but 35mm cameras pale in comparison to 645.

  20. Alex have you ever come across MAMIYA?

  21. Good job Alex – as usual your lab produces the real-world information needed by the photo community. Two take-aways from your article that may be valuable for others who are evaluating these two platforms:

    1. Medium-format captures in 16-bit (versus 12 or 14) and has 400% more information than 14-bit – that is not quite so apparent in the initial captures above, but much more when images go into retouching, the flexibility of the histogram is significant on the final image quality (lack of distortion, posterizing, etc.)

    2. The maturity of medium-format over the past ten years means that as a solid-state device, one can pick up a second-hand, pre-owned medium-format digital back (or system) for about half of the current new models (if your budget won’t support having the latest feature set.) The P25 above continues to produce beautiful capture 6-7 years after it was born, as do scores of older Hasselblad digital, Sinar, and Leaf systems, thus making the quality leap of medium-format within reach for a greater # of photographers.

    John @ hotwire-digital

  22. Hi,

    Nice test. I would suggest you to covert Canon raw files in Capture one same as you did with PhaseOne and than compare files.
    My experience is that you can get more details and better colours from Capture one than from Adobe ACR.

    Best regards

    • Lovrenc, I had different experience: I found that canon files converted in C1 looks sharper but has less details than if I use ACR to convert them.
      Anyway, I have uploaded RAW files from both cameras, see the update on the bottom of the article.
      Thank you!

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