View Full Version : Phase One DF, P40+ and Sensor Plus Combination

Guy Mancuso
12th January 2010, 17:38
As most folks know here I received the new DF body and upgraded to the P40+ from the P30+ which at the time I did question my thought pattern on upgrading or just spending the money and get a Canon or Nikon. Which to some degree made a lot of sense but I am a very stubborn person as well and my desire to shoot 35mm again is null. I really like shooting MF and my biggest thing is if I am going to work at this until the box lid closes than I want to enjoy shooting and after 35 years of shooting I want as much pleasure out of it as i can get now. Okay that was the stubborn part and reality is it actually makes some sense at least to me it does.

Now after a heavy shoot in which let's face it shooting runway and stage work is not in favor of MF shooting. But you pick your poison and get to work and that I did with the P40+ and using Sensor Plus. I did not need 40 mpx to shoot these images but the ability to shoot 10 mpx on stuff like this led me straight in the direction of the P40+ with Sensor Plus since to me this makes a load of sense when I get a gig like this and with a switch of the ISO i can jump right into smaller files , faster processing and the ability to pick my resolution on what I am shooting plus the biggy get high ISO images with low noise. Even in the middle of this kind of shoot if I thought I needed the big honking files than it was a easy switch over.

Let's talk first about the DF camera over the AFDII and III models. Fast does not begin to describe the difference. Now i should clarify that statement it's faster for sure and for some folks it may not seem like a big difference BUT BUT BUT when you shoot very fast and rely heavily on timing the DF comes to the rescue. The shutter lag now is certainly a big improvement to me. When shooting this runway stuff I can actually shoot when one leg is in the correct position when the models are walking and this is very important in runway as it gives the body the correct lines. Before it was hard to nail it at will , now with the DF the shutter lag is so minimal it becomes a much more accurate and faster cam. The AF system has improved as well. Many shots here are shot with a Mamiya 300mm AF 4.5 lens on a monopod and focusing set for continuous and as a model comes out from stage right to the end of the T in the staging it's about a 75 foot stroll. The AF followed focus the whole time and never left me guessing I was nailing it. To me very much inline with what we are used too with Canon although slightly slower it still did the job and overall responsiveness is much closer to 35mm than MF now if you catch my meaning. The bar on speed has gone up

One nit that I found I did not like was trying to use the rear focus button, I found the button not big enough to always be using it . Now that maybe me and my personal preference but it is their for you if you choose to go this route. Also I have found great improvement with battery life on the DF and going far longer with the ni-cad batteries. I shot one day about 1400 images with review on for 5 seconds and the indicator never dropped down. I switched to a new pack the next day just because and not that I had too. Obviously I did not measure this exact improvement but it is there for sure and i also noticed my backs battery improvement as well over the P30+ so must be some energy savings going on with wake up and such as the P40+ and P65+ do handle that differently and maybe someone from Phase can answer as to why that is but the fact remains I see some battery improvement, all good in my book.

Overall on the DF with the grip improvement as well that it is really a winning cam now. But Like i said on paper it may not seem so but with shooting like this I really come to like it so much better over the AFD-III and can really feel the improvement. Personally I am a feel person with cams and they have to feel good both physically and mentally for me and this is punching my ticket very nicely so far. Could their be more improvement of course but i feel Phase finally has a cam that at least brought the bar up enough to feel more 35mm DSLR performance and that is a good thing.

The P40+ and sensor plus. I know much has been said about this and some folks feel it is a gimmick or maybe never use it. Well I bought it exactly for this technology and for jobs like this when i can run the ISO's high and not deal with 40 mpx files as well. I can do a lot of talk on this area alone but I think images are really the answer here. But to me I am getting extremely clean ISO 800 and the ISO 1600 have a touch of noise but in these shots would be the WORST case scenario as well. All tungsten lighting and very contrasty lighting with a lot of shadows and mid tones around that really would show the noise area's very much. At 1600 it handled this far better than I thought it would. In reality I shot all of the beginning of the show which are more groups like singers , dancers and team fashion at ISO 1600 because the light varied with each setup coming down the runway and all the single shots of models i used ISO 800 because the light was constant all the way through those events and even shot on manual in those and AE on the team stuff since the light varied. Basically I adapted to what was going on as we should do that and the combination of gear here handled all that very well. I shot handheld on all the team stuff with varies lenses 45, 80 and 150 and on the single runway shots used a 300mm on a monopod

Guy Mancuso
14th January 2010, 03:08
These are all ISO 1600 with Sensor Plus handheld under tungsten lighting. Lenses varies from 45d, 80d and 150d. All processed in C1 with noise levels at 20 for luminance and color at 60.











Guy Mancuso
14th January 2010, 03:12
These are all ISO 800 with Sensor Plus with monopod under tungsten lighting. Lenses 300mm AF 4.5 shot at 5.6. All processed in C1 with noise levels at 10 for luminance and color at 30.









Guy Mancuso
14th January 2010, 03:14
These are all young models and actors trying to break into the business. I obviously have another 1000 images but hopefully this will give you a nice broad section on Sensor Plus and high ISO abilities.

Guy Mancuso
14th January 2010, 04:14
One thing I forgot to mention is the back is also faster in Sensor Plus mode, maybe Doug can address the speed difference between full resolution and sensor plus in speed gain of the back itself.

Guy Mancuso
14th January 2010, 04:18
I did not try ISO 3200 but I do have some underexposed 1600 that I can process up to normal and maybe give us some indication of those noise levels. I know 3200 is noisy from my earlier testing but for MF shooting I am very impressed we can get this high without jumping into a 35mm system which obviously will do a better job at much higher ISO but we are back to apples and oranges and i don't want to shoot 35mm again if i can help it. If the need comes than I will rent but at this point i don't see doing that anytime soon.

14th January 2010, 06:03
One thing I forgot to mention is the back is also faster in Sensor Plus mode, maybe Doug can address the speed difference between full resolution and sensor plus in speed gain of the back itself.

The tech specs state 1.2 fps for full-size 40 megapixel files and 1.8 fps for sensor+ sized 10 megapixel files. This applies to the DF body and 40+ assuming the 40+ has the latest firmware. However, I've not yet done a test specific to speed, especially sustained shooting speed to see how closely and consistently the real world performance comes to this spec.

For sure it is very fast in sensor+ mode compared to any experience I've had shooting medium format.

Of note: P+ backs very rarely hit a buffer in testing and even more rarely in real-world shooting. While a 5D mark II, for example, can shoot very fast frames-per-second it can only do so for a relatively short burst before hitting a buffer. My only test with a DF body and 40+ in sensor+ was about 40 frames in a row at uniform very-fast speed before I voluntarily stopped (it was the first unit in the country and I didn't want to crank up the shot count needlessly). Depending on what you're shooting you may long for the extremely fast frame rate of a high-end dSLR or you may long for the unlimited buffer depth and predictable/consistent speed of a 40+; neither is "better" they are just different takes on speed. This takes on an entire other dimension when you're shooting tethered since a P40+ shooting tethered is significantly faster and more consistently fast shooting tethered both in terms of sustainable frames per second and in terms of how quickly a rough and final preview appear on the screen.

Also of note: because of the way P+ backs handle noise by collecting a black capture there is often a slight delay after the very first shot at a new shutter speed. For most styles of shooting this slight delay would never be noticed, but if you're shooting something like runway and really need the most consistent fast speed possible you should set the body to time-priority and take a "test" shot first. Every shot after that will be at the maximum speed of the system.

I like notes: you'll want extremely (pun intended) fast cards if you're shooting sustained fast speeds.

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Guy Mancuso
14th January 2010, 06:38
Thanks Doug and yes i did run into some buffer issue with some old cards with 30mb transfer speeds. My feeling is Phase tuned this back to the newer cards with there firmware and I promptly sold my old cards and just purchased 3 new Sandisk Extreme Cards 16gb at the 60MB per second transfer speeds. I have not formally tested them but I did lay on the release for about 20 frames full res and no issues. Highly recommend at least these new cards at 60MB per second and you could even shoot the 90 ones

14th January 2010, 07:42
Those 1600 frames are amazingly clean -- in fact, at least in these onscreen jpegs, I cannot see much difference over the 800 shots. Impressive!

Guy Mancuso
14th January 2010, 08:08
Well if you have to save yourself you can although they are starting to go at 1600 pushed a full stop up in exposure they are holding on okay. Not sure i would do this on a regular basis but it will work. Both shot with the 150 D which also saves the day since it is so sharp. Visually it works



14th January 2010, 08:13
Guy, thanks for taking the time to post these. You've shown what the back can do when you're in a "live ammo" situation, and the targets are moving, the now-customary place for 35mm size DSLRs. I'm really very impressed. The focus looks terrific, the level of noise is really good too. And the look of the lenses themselves look really good too.

How much work did you have to do with color?


Guy Mancuso
14th January 2010, 08:23
Very little work on the color Ray. Pretty much just WB, now the lighting guy did throw in a few curve balls as you will see in a couple shots he had a underlining blue light happening on the single runway shots. This is not normal for a lighting guy to do and wondering what he was smoking actually . Usually it is a stage wash of white focused on the runway itself. Bozo was playing around with some blue and in the shadows you can spot some blue. Not much I could do there. Also in these last two he did not have enough white light going on so again he had some blue for effect and it does effect the colors slightly on these last two. I did not try and correct it though and left it as a group WB from the beginning which was set for tungsten on the back. I may have touched the kelvin for slightly warmer by 200 but sometimes perfect is not what you want either. Obviously lot's of ticky lighting going on especially on the groups or teams which looks great visually for the audience but can be a shooters nightmare. I cursed him a few times. LOL

Guy Mancuso
14th January 2010, 08:32
Here Ray is one where the lighting guy was getting a little out of control. Obvious blue light hitting the top of her head and at certain angles it would show up in the shadows under the chin. He did this for part of this section of what we call Fashion Runway for the competition. Here he was not my best friend.


Guy Mancuso
14th January 2010, 08:44
The underlining fact here is with some of the new backs and bodies we are approaching 35mm land and getting the speed of camera and back that we may have lacked in the past. As the technology improves it is becoming more apparent maybe to the OEM's that we are not just after MPX which we all know is not the main selling point, we need the speed and the ability in our systems to have this kind of flexibility. For someone like me that relies on one system obviously this is very important to me in the variety of shooting gigs I get, so having a system that can do many things and do them well is really a major plus. I really have to tip my hat to Phase on this for maybe recognizing these needs. Sure we all want more and more improvements no question and we just need to keep reminding the OEM's of our real needs. I went through 3 backs to get to the P40+ and i truly liked them all for what they did but this one is hitting some major check marks and i really like it so far.

14th January 2010, 13:24
Guy, Really pleased to hear that there was minimal work required from you on the color. Outstanding really, especially with the guy on the lights trying his hardest to make it difficult.

I'm pretty confident that I could not have done a shoot like this with my Contax equipment, it would have all been moving too fast for the camera to give me anything even close to what you were able to do. This is just so exciting, isn't it? Aren't you relieved that this camera/back combination is able to contribute results like this?

Can't wait for mine! Ray

14th January 2010, 15:50
Those ISO 3200 effective, pushed 1600 shots are amazingly clean...

Guy Mancuso
15th January 2010, 03:24
Guy, Really pleased to hear that there was minimal work required from you on the color. Outstanding really, especially with the guy on the lights trying his hardest to make it difficult.

I'm pretty confident that I could not have done a shoot like this with my Contax equipment, it would have all been moving too fast for the camera to give me anything even close to what you were able to do. This is just so exciting, isn't it? Aren't you relieved that this camera/back combination is able to contribute results like this?

Can't wait for mine! Ray

Yes very relived and i did test this back twice before finally deciding over the P30+ which is also a excellent back but that back I had to deal with full resolution. But still the only back that does 1600 at full resolution and it is pretty clean. It was a tough choice but sinking money in a Nikon or Canon system was something I wanted to avoid also and I think the P40+ is the best bang for the buck right now and for existing Phase owners a very cost effective upgrade. I'm very pleased so far and think it was a excellent choice what I did not count on was the DF at even the small improvements to it on paper meant a lot more in real world.

15th January 2010, 06:01
Guy, what I hear from you in your last post is that it seems like a couple of things are coming together in this newest generation of Phase backs and the new DF. It's like we finally don't have to pick between speed OR big sensor. Really terrific. Ray

Guy Mancuso
15th January 2010, 06:21
Exactly Ray you get both and make no mistake shooting at full resolution also is very very quick. The AF is still faster and the back at full resolution is one of the fastest backs out there and ISO 800 full resolution is very very good. I like the options you have in this back. Just makes the whole thing more flexible given your shooting situation. Hopefully yours is on it's way from Denmark.

15th January 2010, 13:17
Guy, I think in retrospect, the "responsiveness" thing is what I've been missing in the Contax. When my subject was standing still, I felt really good about what I could do with the camera and lenses, and I was very pleased with the product. The relative sluggishness of the autofocus and the need to wake up the camera after a few seconds, even though I got used to it, I wish it would have been otherwise.

Also, part of what I've been afraid about is how well the mamiya lenses will match up with my contax zeiss lenses, especially the macro, as my go-to lens is the macro. BUT, from what I've been seeing posted, and what I've read from you and others, the D lenses appear to be very good. Imagine that, I might be happy with the whole kit!

Guy Mancuso
15th January 2010, 13:33
Actually the Mamiya 120 Macro is rated maybe the best macro around. I read that somewhere and was a bit surprised since there are many very very good ones.

All the D lenses i have are very very good don't let that Mamiya reputation fool ya.

15th January 2010, 17:50
I hadn't heard the thought about the Mamiya macro, so that's great to hear, Guy. Really hope to get my hands on it soon.

7th May 2010, 09:59
Stunning set of photos, I like the composition.

11th May 2010, 08:24

At first I read through these threads thinking "why would I spend that kind of money on the P40+ when I have the equivalent in a faster and easier to pack DSLR?" Then I saw this on the luminous landscape site:


and I thought "Wow, f64 just like the founders....!"

It's clear that it's about glass and MF and when you want to capture a moment, image, vision, work of art, it requires some processing, glass and pixels to make it happen.

I won't be re-investing soon (my old Hassey still provides enjoyment while the silver oxide is still available), but I could get convinced. How about the new Leica S2?

Thanks for the knowledge, dialogue and camaraderie!

20th February 2011, 13:43
The Guy article is interesting (at least for me), it shows (wich is rare) a passerelle session at high isos with the 40+. No matter where the passerelle is or the designer's names, those are human beings and not another rock wich is what interests me.

I'd like to keep up on that. What I'll be talking below is strictly about commercial photography with human beings, I would not write that in other contexts like art photography, arquitecture etc...

The main reason why I wanted to add something on that thread is because of the back Guy choosed. a 40 MP. Well, IMO, 40MP is the perfect resolution for those kind of pictures and at the same time a limit on usability.

There is a dilema wich is the render of the fabrics and the render of the skin. On fabrics we want details, lots of details. On the skins we want softness.
Here are 2 pics that I unfortunatly can not (not allowed to) post 100% crops for obvious reasons.
2 types of skins.

This left one is a portrait of Karolina Kurkova right of the box
The right one is a portrait of Erin Wasson slightly retouched
Both images are shooted with the 1Ds MK3

This is exactly the skin render that we were looking for. If that had been acheived with a 40MP MF back, that would have been the limit. Guy's pics are showing a perfect balance between skin and fabrics (at the model's distance presented). The Guy's second pic shows the dress details and that you can not acheive with a 35mm, even visible on the web.
But 40MP is the limit because the resolution of high-end backs is so huge, and the amount of detail so important that the skins appear to be a medical experience, images for dermathologists while the render of the fabrics (important in fashion) is of course very good but the balance is broken. 40 MP is where the skins are still sensuals.

Karolina has a thicker skin and sligthly more oily wich is more problematic and reacts differently to light. (tend to enhance the reflections).

Even with the Canon's resolution and the 72ppp for the web, on Kurkova I'm in the limit of the skin detail. A P40 would have drawned the very last limit for this kind of images. (keep in mind that I'm talking about commercial here and the output was magazine. If that would have been a 2 meter print output then the P40 is not a limit at all)
Going high isos, despite being perfectly honorable with this back is not the right path either.

Going bigger sensor there would be a useless post production work to erase (yes you are reading well) details.
I found a trick, and I know that I'm not the only one to use it, wich consist in focusing on the hears to slightly soften, but this is anoying, it does not always work the expected way and it's not practical having to think about that in the middle of the work.

Shooting high-end backs in controled situation oblige to keep an eye and a breifing with the make-up artist to push a little further the lifting stuff. They are generally very resistant to this kind of demands. In general, a slighty mistake and you're off.

But, it's always better to have more room and then soften than the opposite, those pics with the 1D have a limit the P40 does not have. In that sense MF backs are IMO the very best photographic tools even for couture in certain situations. Now if you do crazy moving sessions like Peter Lindberg you'd better go 35mm. (Lindberg shoots MF as well).
In fact, it's knowing when to shoot one system and the other. IMO.

Guy's pics are, and I have to thank him because I've been barking so many times against the fences and garden pics when reviewing or testing gear, very good to show the potential of the 40MP+ in higher isos and the choice of a fashion défilé under uncontroled lights was indeed relevant for what he wanted to show. I personaly find the P40+ excellent and that would be my back for fashion in the Phase One line.


20th February 2011, 18:16
Regional, societal, and year to year trends in fashion/advertising all dictate differing amounts of skin detail vs skin smoothness. A high-res file can always be smoothed or downressed, but not the other way.

In other words I'd much rather capture a raw file which was high-res than use an underpowered camera simply because it captured less detail.

Not to mention that resolution is only one of several major differences between a 1Ds III and a P40+. As a frequent shooter of both Phase and Canon I would LOVE if Canon could finally produce a system in which the transitions of skin from light to shadow didn't produce a distinct and ugly red line. Using C1 instead of ACR helps a lot in that regard, but still doesn't come close to the smooth and organic transitions produced by the Phase.

Of course I'm hugely biased.

Doug Peterson (e-mail Me) ([email protected])

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21st February 2011, 00:46

Between 20 and 40 MP I'm happy. (again I'm strictly talking about editorials). You pointed the transitions and of course I can't disagree with you on that aspect and as I pointed in my post, the complex fabric render is also unbeatable with MF.

I don't think that the P40+ is underpower, my post was saying that 40MP backs (of any brand) are IMO the perfect balance for fashion/couture and above (again IMO) this balance is broken, it simply belongs to other kind of photography.(better said, to other kind of needs)

It is not desirable to use an underpower camera, as well as using an overpower tool. I think that there are "right tools" for each needs. If I'm doing a work in the line of Crewdson, I even like backs to be over the current 80 MP barrier, but if the ouput are magazines this is like killing a mosquito with an atomic bomb. It just depends.

Yes, and I also pointed it, it's better to have more datas and soften if required because the opposite is impossible. But this is not all about resolution. I'd like to stress that this tendency of MP counting is not observing the overall parameters. There are many other factors like sync speed etc...and some of them are commercials.
I see a clear tendency in high-end fashion that has to do with a circunstancial panorama. Delivering dates are much shorter and people in command are not as demanding while the costs are going down. In other words, we have less time available in post prod and we are paied less. We have to be fast, in the shooting and in studio.
Keep in mind that when lightning is under control, and it generally is, we do not necessary want to shoot raw files but jpegs and by-pass the raw step. Again it depends on many factors.

If the Pentax could tether, it would have haunted the studios because of its cost and resolution that is "right on the money". I personaly prefer a Blad or Phase system but...

I'm not an expert with Phase one equipment, I certainly had many times some raw files from many Phase backs and uses C1 even for the 35mm Canons and cropped sensors. The main MF system in Spain remains Hasselblad, mainly because of history and a very good distribution (all available).

The P40, to take a Phase product, is a great balance, the 1Ds is also a great tool and each have a reason to be depending on the kind of shooting planned. I personaly would mainly work with a MF system even in circunstances where the natural choice would have been a lighter and faster tool. But remember, I'm not the one who write the checks.

16th March 2011, 08:14
Also of note: because of the way P+ backs handle noise by collecting a black capture there is often a slight delay after the very first shot at a new shutter speed. For most styles of shooting this slight delay would never be noticed, but if you're shooting something like runway and really need the most consistent fast speed possible you should set the body to time-priority and take a "test" shot first. Every shot after that will be at the maximum speed of the system.

Doug - jeez, what-the, wow, what's going on? I thought I knew how the P+ backs operated, but this info really threw me! By "handle noise by collecting a black capture", do you mean a full dark frame? Does every "real" frame have a dark frame subtracted before its RAW is written out? I thought it was only the seriously long exposures which would require that!

Is this documented anywhere? I can see nothing on the Phase One website about this.