For some time I've been thinking about buying an Alpa STC or an Arca 3rdmi. I used to own an Arca 4 x 4 F metric.
Ok, aside from the outrageous cost of digital backs (I'm hoping Pentax will separate their new 50mg back from their new MF camera), here are key issues holding me back.
Composition, focus and tilt.
At age 54 tilting and focusing such a postage stamp image on ground glass is not going to work for me. About two months ago I attended a live view demonstration of a Phase IQ180 back. Frankly, it was a joke at best. Delay and noise were bad enough, but then the battery depleted in about 45 minutes. We tried reading tilt off the Phase back and it was very cumbersome due to live view drag and any sunshine made the back hard to see. Setting the costly 250 aside, really, why pay more for live view if it does not work? Seriously.
I've read that many users are disappointed with the Arca and Alpa viewfinders. And I understand the digital backs don't sync or tether with an Apple iPad. I understand Alpa has an HPF ring that attaches to lenses in an effort to bring in rangefinder reading of depth of field off the lens. I understand Arca has their disco/barrel/table methodology. Once you get past this, how are you computing tilt? And if you forego a pancake camera with tilts and shifts then you are unable to shift, which aside from tilts, are essential (to me). And there is substantial discussion about high f stops to maximize sharpness, but that seems to conflict with the artistry of inducing a narrow depth of field and the great bokeh that comes with shooting a Schneider or Rodenstock at low f-stop or when inducing narrow DOF through tilt contrary to Schiemflug. I have tried correcting perspective in Photoshop and it often creates a weird residual distortion. So many things to day are over promised and under delivered. Last, I rented a Canon with a shift lens and it felt very cumbersome, to me.
Whew, that is my rant. I'd love to hear from those who feel like they have an elegant, user friendly and reliable solution for lets say not more than about $18,000 for camera, back and one lens.
What is the closest equivalent in pancake Arca or Alpa setup that is closest to working with a Leica rangefinder - but with shift and tilt options? Or, is my question just ridiculous?
Should I wait to see if Pentax decouples its upcoming 50mg digital back from its medium format camera?
I enjoy photographing landscape and architecture. Thanks again for reading my combined question and rant.