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An Alpa TC goes to Africa

Woody Campbell

Workshop Member
I have recently returned from two weeks in Kenya. My primary camera on this trip was an Alpa TC and a Phase One IQ 180 back. My kit included three lenses, a 35mm Schneider Digitar XL, a 47mm Schneider Digitar XL and a 72 Schneider XL. My kit did not include a tripod - all exposures were hand held. All three lenses have high res focusing rings. I used a Leica Disto D5 for critical distance measurements.

The 35mm stayed on the camera most of the time. I know that this lens is a bit controversal but it renders beautifully and at f11 (as recommended by Alpa) it's flaws are not evident. The high res ring mosty obscures the depth of field scale - I 've figured based on focus mask result and examination of files that about 16 feet is reasonable for a hyperfocal distance at f`11.

Here's what the setup looks like with an Upstrap attached.







This setup weighs 1.9 kg - carrying it all day was not a problem. This compares to 1.4 kg for the Hasselblad SWC - I've put this kit together in search of a "digital SWC".

Here's what the SWC looks like:




Lens, back and camera perfromed flawlessly. The purpose of this trip was not game drives - we did that last year. I brought a GH2 and sundry lenses to be in a position to shoot game if we saw any, but this year I hoped to catch the landscape.

I'll post a couple of dozen images and comments in the following posts.
 
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Terry

New member
Oh boy, you are going to make me bang my head against the wall. I was going to take that combo with me to Kenya with just one lens but convinced myself I wouldn't have enough shooting opportunities that were at the wide end (and ended up selling my TC).

When you say not game drive but landscapes - were you shooting landscapes on game drives? Or you went out shooting specifically in more scenic landscape areas?

I'm going with the GH2/G3.
 

Woody Campbell

Workshop Member
Most of the following images were taken in Lamu, an ancient trading center on the Indian Ocean in Kenya. One of the the lessons drawn from this experience is that this combination excels to the extent that you are shooting classic landscape or architecture.





 

GrahamWelland

Subscriber & Workshop Member
Woody - excellent choice of companion. How did you get on with lower light? High ISO/sensor+? I love that first picture - very "Alpa" if you know what I mean - great shot!

Terry - I could be convinced to sell you it back at cost if you really really want it. :D
 

Woody Campbell

Workshop Member
I kept the f-stop at f11 whatever the circumstances were and used shutter speed and ISO to respond to light conditions. I limited max ISO to 400 - C1 can produce fairly good conversions at 400. Minimum shutter speed was 1/60. In other words this rig was used mainly in daylight. In poor light I looked for something to brace against at slow shutter spead or used sensor +.







 

Woody Campbell

Workshop Member
This camera was much less succesful at "street" and action, where my Leica would have served me better. We visited an orphanage and I didn't come away with a decent shot of an orphan. This issue is that between startup and trial and error focusing and exposure there is just too much latency for moving situations. Some misses:











 
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docmoore

Subscriber and Workshop Member
Woody,

Gorgeous pictures...glad to see that you are enjoying the TC and the 180.

Africa presents so many challenges to the photographer...looks like you have made great captures in spite of the challenge.

Good to know that you have returned safely.

Warm regards,

Bob
 

Woody Campbell

Workshop Member
More full frontal stuff from Lamu. One issue with this setup is it eats batteries. I'm still working on the optimal energy savings setup. I went out each day with a fresh battery in the back and three in my pocket, end ended up using at least two of the three. One mistake I made was bringing a small single battery charger (rather than the two batter model that came with the back). I had trouble keeping up with demand with the single charger.





 

docmoore

Subscriber and Workshop Member
This camera was much less succesful at "street" and action, where my Leica would have served me better. We visited an orphanage and I didn't come away with a decent shor of an orphan. This issue is that between startup and trial and error focusing and exposure there is just too much latency for moving situations. Some misses:
I would respectfully disagree with you assessment.....you are thinking more like a landscape photographer than a street photographer....


Both captures...while not critically sharp show wonderful movement...great colors and exposure. Ideally these depict the motion emotion of the orphanage. Well captured in my humble estimation.

Bob
 

Woody Campbell

Workshop Member
I've had a chance to spend a lot of time with C1 - I'm climbing up the learning curve. Note to C1: It seems to me that it needs a gradient tool on the layers palette. It would also be a major time saver if the automatic perspective correction were implemented for this back.

I'm quite happy with the way the C1 implements grayscale conversions, at least as viewed on the screen (I haven't tried to primt them yet).










 

docmoore

Subscriber and Workshop Member
Woody,

Overall I would agree with you that the Leica or indeed a fast PS camera will many times fill the needs of one in this severe environment.

All of my West Africa exposure has emphasized the need for multiple backup power sources or a very efficient camera. I tend to end up in areas with no power most of the day.

However it looks like you have made the best of the opportunity.

Bob
 

docmoore

Subscriber and Workshop Member
I've had a chance to spend a lot of time with C1 - I'm climbing up the learning curve. Note to C1: It seems to me that it needs a gradient tool on the layers palette. It would also be a major time saver if the automatic perspective correction were implemented for this back.

I'm quite happy with the way the C1 implements grayscale conversions, at least as viewed on the screen (I haven't tried to primt them yet).
Wow,

I am seeing a lot of magenta cyan in these conversions...I know that C1 should be better than this.

Great captures and perspective that need a better conversion!

These really show the advantage of the Alpa TC and back...best of your series so far.

Well done.

Bob
 

Woody Campbell

Workshop Member
My only quible with the back is that the cable comes out at a bad angle for use on a tech camera (you can see that in the first post in this thread). It came out at unfortunate times on three or four occaisions.

More grayscales:





This is one of the few times that I used the 72mm:

 

Woody Campbell

Workshop Member
To recap. The TC + IQ 180 + 35 xl combination is intoxicating - providing outstanding image quality and results in a compact package when used within its limitations. I was looking for a digital SWC but I dare say (with risk of being flamed) that what's in the file is comparable to legacy film 8x10. Wow.

Note that a larger landscape rig would not have worked in this context as a result of wieght limitations in bush planes and in terms of what I'm willing to carry.

Some images from a village in Northern Kenya that we passed through on our way to a market (which I shot with my GH2).










 
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Woody Campbell

Workshop Member
Oh boy, you are going to make me bang my head against the wall. I was going to take that combo with me to Kenya with just one lens but convinced myself I wouldn't have enough shooting opportunities that were at the wide end (and ended up selling my TC).

When you say not game drive but landscapes - were you shooting landscapes on game drives? Or you went out shooting specifically in more scenic landscape areas?

I'm going with the GH2/G3.
GH2/G3 is a great kit for game, especially with the 100-300. The convential wisdom that you need 400-500 mm 35mm equivalent is accurate.

The 15 kg weight limit on bush planes is sometimes enforced and sometimes not. The GH2 kit is a godsend in this context.
 

Woody Campbell

Workshop Member
Wow,

I am seeing a lot of magenta cyan in these conversions...I know that C1 should be better than this.

Great captures and perspective that need a better conversion!

These really show the advantage of the Alpa TC and back...best of your series so far.

Well done.

Bob
Bob - thanks. I should have spent more time with the conversions but had to get images up on my blog. I'm still learning C1. I used LCCs for all images (including the 72), but was not consistent about taking an lcc exposure in every situation. When I have this problem in LR I just ease off the magenta and cyan saturation sliders a bit - but C1 doesn't have color sliders that I've found. The LCCs for the 35 probably press what can be done without compromising image quality. I've also heard on this forum that P1 is working on improving lccs for wide tech lenses.
 

Woody Campbell

Workshop Member
BTW the level feature on the IQ 180 really came in handy. The bull's eey level on the Alpa viewfinder is not helpful if you want a level horizon but are willing to compromise on fore and aft tilt.
 

GrahamWelland

Subscriber & Workshop Member
My only quible with the back is that the cable comes out at a bad angle for use on a tech camera (you can see that in the first post in this thread). It came out at unfortunate times on three or four occasions.
Woody,

Have you tried using a shorter cable. I know that my sync cable I use with my P40+ is a lot shorter than that one and doesn't catch on things or get yanked out.
 
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