Lan and I decided to shoot a couple of new avatars for ourselves today since the ones we have been using are 3 years old and we don’t really look the same (I’m now a little fatter and a LOT balder, but Lan is mostly just older). For fun, and because we were curious, we decided to each shoot the other on different cameras but in the same light and with the same settings, especially to see the difference between competing lenses (NOTE: we know this is not at all scientific). One of us was shot on the 5D mark III with 85mm 1.2L II and the other on the D800 with 85mm 1.4G. Both were shot on JPEG Large Fine in monochrome with the sharpness turned all the way down and contrast in the middle. Camera settings were ISO 1600, f/1.4, 1/250th. Using Aperture we edited the photos and resized them to 5000px tall (so they are both downsampled, not just the D800), then did a slight crop in PS CS6 to make them the same since the aspect ratios of the cameras are actually a teeny tiny bit different, and output a JPEG for each which were uploaded to Flickr.

Vu Bui PortraitLan Bui Portrait
Can you tell the difference? If so, how? I can, but not just by looking quickly, and until I understood what to look for I couldn’t. So then if you can’t really tell the difference, does it matter even a little bit? And I’m not just talking about the difference

There’s lots of great attitude going around about the FACT that it’s not the camera or lens, but rather the light and subject and direction (we are especially keen on this right now having been a part of the recent amazing documentary series Revenge Of The Great Camera Shootout). It’s not a new idea, but I think people need to be reminded of it now and then. And by people I mean us too. I obsess over gear. But then I look at some of the images I’ve shot on the iPhone or Fuji X100 or Holga and I remember that the camera means very very little.

Here are the large images, you can click through to Flickr for the original full size exported JPEG images which are 3330x5000px:

Vu Bui PortraitLan Bui Portrait
A little BTS photo of our setup for anyone interested. We threw up the closest lights we had on hand… a LitePanels Inca 6 bounced off a Photoflex reflector for the key light and a LitePanels 1×1 with a Fast Flags 2-Stop Artificial Silk (24" x 36"). Both lights are on Westcott lighting stands. Took about 10 minutes to set up! BTS photo was taken with iPhone 4S with Ollo Clip. 🙂

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