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Looking for some advice! (tech cam advice)

TimG

New member
Hi Guys,

I'm new around here so go easy on me! :)

I spent around 6 years shooting landscapes 5x4 on a Linhof Technikarden and loved it, eventually my fridge full of Velvia 50 ran out and I moved to medium format digital (Pentax 645D) to be totally frank - I've had the Pentax for 2 years and I've just never gotten on with it at all, the lenses are poor and I miss movements so badly, I really want rid of it.

I'm about to buy either an IQ160 or IQ260 - however I'm totally torn between which technical camera to get, the three I'm currently deciding on are;

Linhof Techno
Arca-swiss rm3di
Alpa 12 MAX

On my old Technikardan setup the main 2 lenses I used to use, were the Schneider XL 72mm and Nikon 90mm SW, so I think the ideal main lens for me would be the Digaron 32mm,

A couple of questions;

I really like Linhof kit, but I've read quite a bit about the Linhof being very difficult to focus with wider lenses - I'll most likely be using live-view on the IQ so would this still be a problem?

The Arca seems to offer the most amount of function for the money - I like the way the back does vertical and horizonal shift and the focus mount looks really good,

The Alpa seems to offer a heck of a lot, but I'm not sure about having to buy a separate tilt adapter, and the vertical shift is on the front, with the horizonal shift on the back - so I'm not sure if it would be as good as the Arca for doing switching? (the Alpa also seems to cost a heck of a lot more, to make it do the same as the Arca)

Any thoughts or advice from you guys would be appreciated :)
 

Paul2660

Well-known member
I would strongly recommend you test "live view" on either the 160 or 260, especially in daytime lighting. I found it not really that workable a solution even with a strong ND filter, others have.

All three of the solutions for tech cameras are good, and there will be plenty of others here that use one of them and can give you more detailed feedback.

Also, unless you are after long exposures, the 160 may be a better overall back. Again, I would recommend you test the long exposures on the 260 to make sure you are satisfied with the results.

Paul C
 

TimG

New member
Thanks Paul,

I'll be sure to test it - my understanding is that "live view" on the IQ160 and IQ260 is pretty new, as in the older "P" series backs never did it, so I'll be sure to check it out,

Out of curiosity - why is live view not so great? is the quality of the image on the dispay rubbish compared to groundglass? or does it suffer badly in low light? just curious to know what it's short comings are,

Cheers,
 

Jeffrey

Active member
I shoot a Cambo WRS5000 and recommend you take a look at this body/frame. I shoot with Rodenstock 40mm and 70mm lenses attached to tilt shift plates.

As for the backs, wsee if you can find a dealer that will let you test shoot the backs before you decide which back you like the most.

Technical camera shooting is absolutely the most fun of all of my gear and the results will amaze you.

Good luck!
 

Wayne Fox

Workshop Member
The 160/260 are CCD based sensors, so LiveView is a real compromise. It will bloom/wash out in bright light, is pretty dim in weak light and looks pretty bad overall. Refresh rate is slow ( a couple of frames/second) so adjusting it requires a delicate touch and patience. A variable ND filter can be used to control the light and allow it to be somewhat useable, but a CMOS back is a real game changer, as the liveview is like current dSLR’s and mirrorless cameras.

Long exposures on CMOS backs are also substantially easier and better as well as shadow noise is improves dramatically.
 

Paul2660

Well-known member
Thanks Paul,

I'll be sure to test it - my understanding is that "live view" on the IQ160 and IQ260 is pretty new, as in the older "P" series backs never did it, so I'll be sure to check it out,

Out of curiosity - why is live view not so great? is the quality of the image on the dispay rubbish compared to groundglass? or does it suffer badly in low light? just curious to know what it's short comings are,

Cheers,
HI Tim,

Wayne's answer covers Live View perfectly.

With the tech camera (rm3di) I started with a 160, then moved to the 260. I knew up front what the Live View would be as my dealer was very helpful on the demo (Thanks CI and Steve Hendrix). Live View on the CCD backs, actually works well in low light as you don't have as much blooming, but just moving around the screen is a bit tedious. But the IQ interface in 2011 was so much better than my P45+, that I made the switch. I should have stayed with the 160 however as I never really saw much improvement with the 260 for my work. But the ability to view your shot at 100% on the IQ LCD and just tap the screen to move around the image was a huge advantage for me, especially since I was using a tech camera 90% of the time.

I never worked with the ground glass, since I was mainly using wides and it was just too hard to focus accurately for me.

I forgot to mention in my first post, on the tech cameras, I would for sure demo both the Alpa and Acra as each has strong and weak points but both are top end cameras.

Paul C
 

Aviv1887

Member
I work with an Alpa Max and an IQ260 and love the combo. I use LV (in combo with ND filters)for framing purposes and use experience or Leica Disto for focus. The HPF rings on the lenses makes you able to set really precise focus. Your possible worry that the rise is on the front of the camera is not a bother since you have a rotating piece on the right hand corner for precise rise and fall. Ones you're used to this camera it's fast to use and a pleasure to use. That isn't to say that an ..AS or Cambo will do a great job too
 

danlindberg

Well-known member
Hi Tim & welcome to a wonderful world of digital tech cams!

I use Alpa Max and Credo 60 (CCD - no useable live view). With stitching adaptor the lens is stationary and simultanous horizontal and vertical movements on the back. Perfect for a 2:1 stitch and rise at the same time.

The tilt adaptor you may put on the lens side or the back side, so plenty of photographic freedom (tilt or swing).

I 'enjoy' composing above the camera without aid. I do understand this is not common and definitely not for everyone, but I feel more connected to the scene and have done it for so many years it really is 'easy' now. I have the groundglass, ovf, sportsfinder but still find myself most often without any of them.

With calibrated lenses and shimmed back, the HPF focusingrings are spot-on. I rely on a D5 distometre for closerange up to around 20-25 metres focusingdistance and for longer distances a golf/hunting distancemetre. I cannot recall a single frame out of focus for years, I'm dead on each and every time I never need to check anything out in the field.

The workflow suits me and the equipment inspires.

Adding the the amazingly friendly and serviceminded people behind Alpa, I am a very happy camper I went this route.
 

tjv

Active member
I use a Linhof Techno with a Leaf Credo 60. It's a great setup, but I never use the live view except for fine tuning framing on the fly. I find it totally useless for all else.

I love the Techno and don't find the GG difficult – in fact I enjoy it – although it really depends on what you want to do. If you're going to shoot walls all day long (rather than three dimensional scenes) or shoot with wide apertures a lot, then a pancake camera is a better option, as you can use a disto and simply dial in the focal point. I shoot most things between f11 and f16, so a certain amount of user error is inevitably masked by DOF.

Another thing that might sway you decision is where you live. If in the UK, Linhof Studio are absolutely fantastic with both Linhof and Alpa sales. Linhof representation is poor in the USA, I've heard. I live in the antopodies with no local dealers, so get everything from Linhof Studio regardless.
 

TimG

New member
Thanks for all the great replies guys :)

So maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree a bit with Live view on an IQ back - I'm highly rehearsed in using a ground-glass with a loupe shoved into my eye, on the back of a 5x4 field camera, under a lens cloths in the pitch darkness at 4am - so I know all about how to use a field camera in difficult conditions. The reason I mentioned live view is that I haven't used a ground glass with a smaller format before, with wide-angle lenses so I wasn't sure whether using the ground-glass would be an option,

So it sounds as though the way to go, is to use either the viewfinder or groundglass to compose, then 100% checks on the back in LV for movements and critical focus checking - I assume this would work ok?

Another thing that might sway you decision is where you live. If in the UK, Linhof Studio are absolutely fantastic with both Linhof and Alpa sales. Linhof representation is poor in the USA, I've heard. I live in the antopodies with no local dealers, so get everything from Linhof Studio regardless.
I'm actually in the UK and have bought things from Paula over at Linhofs (I only live 30 miles from them) so I'll probably pop in and have a go on an Alpa 12 max and a techno sometime soon, we also have teamwork in London who seem to stock the RM3DI

As for buying into CCD in 2016, I don't really think I have much option - a CMOS back is going to cost far too much money, as far as making images is concerned an IQ160 or 260 would do me fine, if I have to strike a compromise and not use LV and use the VF or GG - that's far more realistic than be getting an IQ3 or something.
 

voidshatter

New member
So maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree a bit with Live view on an IQ back -
There are CMOS backs in the IQ series e.g. IQ3 100MP, IQ150 etc, in two categories i.e. the 100MP 54x40 Sony CMOS and the 50MP 44x33 Sony CMOS. I'd strongly recommend you give it a try (take a test drive) and compare against the IQ160/IQ260 option you mentioned. It would be best to see the difference between these technologies in person. The CCD sensor is based on 2008 technology and the CMOS sensors are based on 2014/2016 technologies.

Would you buy an 8 year old computer? Even a current iPhone can give more computation power.
 

TimG

New member
There are CMOS backs in the IQ series e.g. IQ3 100MP, IQ150 etc, in two categories i.e. the 100MP 54x40 Sony CMOS and the 50MP 44x33 Sony CMOS. I'd strongly recommend you give it a try (take a test drive) and compare against the IQ160/IQ260 option you mentioned. It would be best to see the difference between these technologies in person. The CCD sensor is based on 2008 technology and the CMOS sensors are based on 2014/2016 technologies.
Well I'd love an IQ3 100MP, but I don't have £25-30k to spend purely on a back, so whilst I have no doubt that the whole thing is better - my budget for a back is closer to £10-12k so, it's not really worth the comparison, I'd rather just make a few compromises, considering the quality of images being shot on IQ160/260s, I certainly wouldn't be complaining,
 

voidshatter

New member
Well I'd love an IQ3 100MP, but I don't have £25-30k to spend purely on a back, so whilst I have no doubt that the whole thing is better - my budget for a back is closer to £10-12k so, it's not really worth the comparison, I'd rather just make a few compromises, considering the quality of images being shot on IQ160/260s, I certainly wouldn't be complaining,
You could also try the IQ150 option (with a crop factor) and compare it against the IQ160 option (fullframe). These two should be very similar in pricing.
 

TimG

New member
You could also try the IQ150 option (with a crop factor) and compare it against the IQ160 option (fullframe). These two should be very similar in pricing.
Yeah, I've already looked at some of the comparison images, I'd probably prefer the larger sensor as I'll be using wider lenses most of the time so I'd rather get the full use of the image circle, rather than crop - the difference in image quality between the 250 and the 260 is indistinguishable to me, so I'd be more concerned with full frame and a few compromises with features, rather than a crop sensor with more modern live-view and other stuff, considering I got by for 6 years with regular 5x4 GG, the overall image quality of a 160 or 260 would always be more than enough, if I can get by without relying on the more modern features - I will,
 

Geoff

Active member
An alternate view - a Techno with a Credo 60 back. Earlier use had been with an older Leaf back, primarily on a sliding stitching mount with GG. Lovely to focus, and easy to use. You mount the largish plate, and its easy to go back and forth from GG to shooting. But for a smaller profile and perhaps a more relaxed style, the Credo 60 allows for direct mounting on the Techno (or any camera) and limited live view.

For folks coming from the land of "real live view", its highly compromised, and perhaps off-putting. But coming from the "want less pieces", the live view (for me) is just fine. Sure it can't handle highlights and blooms. Fine - stop it down, or use the 100% and look at a darker part of the image. Its good enough for me to do fine focus (great feature, needed especially with the Techno), and for composition its OK. Sometimes its better than others - likes cloudy days and not super-high contrast scenes. But if you have an image in your head, it allows checking the composition (edges, alignments), and then you can zoom in for focus. So, for me, its fine. Actually very good, as it allows CCD use, a non-crop sensor, and one more piece of kit (the stitching back) left home. With the back firmly mounted to the Techno, the whole setup is more compact and can be moved around (modestly).

Different folks have different shooting styles. Some like the stitching back and easy GG. Some use a GG back, take it off, and then put on the digital back (how do they avoid dust, don't know). I prefer back-on-the-camera, with all movements at hand. Its probably best at the medium and greater distances - haven't used it for closeups, and its probably limited for extreme use, but good enough to check tilt. Again, use patterns vary. Just thought another viewpoint might be useful.
 

TimG

New member
Interesting perspective Geoff, :)

I'm glad you mentioned the sliding digital back, as I've seen some folks compose with the GG - then physically remove and replace it with the back, I'm struggling to see the practicalities of doing this on top of a mountain in a strong wind etc, so was interested to hear about the sliding backs - which I've seen but never used (I just used to use V50 quickload :D )

It seems as though your experience of live-view is roughly what I expected, you can just about get by for checking critical focus etc, but for the actual image composition itself, you're relying more on experience and what you have in your head - rather than having a perfect image shown to you via good live-view, which is pretty much how I'm used to operating,

I might have to look into a credo 60, I assume it's the same sensor as an IQ160 -

An alternate view - a Techno with a Credo 60 back. Earlier use had been with an older Leaf back, primarily on a sliding stitching mount with GG. Lovely to focus, and easy to use. You mount the largish plate, and its easy to go back and forth from GG to shooting. But for a smaller profile and perhaps a more relaxed style, the Credo 60 allows for direct mounting on the Techno (or any camera) and limited live view.

For folks coming from the land of "real live view", its highly compromised, and perhaps off-putting. But coming from the "want less pieces", the live view (for me) is just fine. Sure it can't handle highlights and blooms. Fine - stop it down, or use the 100% and look at a darker part of the image. Its good enough for me to do fine focus (great feature, needed especially with the Techno), and for composition its OK. Sometimes its better than others - likes cloudy days and not super-high contrast scenes. But if you have an image in your head, it allows checking the composition (edges, alignments), and then you can zoom in for focus. So, for me, its fine. Actually very good, as it allows CCD use, a non-crop sensor, and one more piece of kit (the stitching back) left home. With the back firmly mounted to the Techno, the whole setup is more compact and can be moved around (modestly).

Different folks have different shooting styles. Some like the stitching back and easy GG. Some use a GG back, take it off, and then put on the digital back (how do they avoid dust, don't know). I prefer back-on-the-camera, with all movements at hand. Its probably best at the medium and greater distances - haven't used it for closeups, and its probably limited for extreme use, but good enough to check tilt. Again, use patterns vary. Just thought another viewpoint might be useful.
 

voidshatter

New member
I'd probably prefer the larger sensor as I'll be using wider lenses most of the time so I'd rather get the full use of the image circle, rather than crop -
You could pick the Rodenstock 23mm (70mm image circle) for the 44x33 sensor for a wider angle of view than that of the Rodenstock 32mm (90mm image circle) for the 54x40 sensor.

Likewise, you get a wider angle of view with the Voigtlander 10mm f5.6 E-Mount Hyper Wide Heliar + A7R-II than any medium format or large format wide angle setup.

the difference in image quality between the 250 and the 260 is indistinguishable to me
If you push the shadow then you would notice a real difference regarding dynamic range (shadow noise) between a Dalsa CCD and a Sony CMOS. This is particularly profound for long exposure though. link
 

TimG

New member
You could pick the Rodenstock 23mm (70mm image circle) for the 44x33 sensor for a wider angle of view than that of the Rodenstock 32mm (90mm image circle) for the 54x40 sensor.

Likewise, you get a wider angle of view with the Voigtlander 10mm f5.6 E-Mount Hyper Wide Heliar + A7R-II than any medium format or large format wide angle setup.
23mm with the 44x33 sensor would be ok, trouble is - with any of the longer lenses with image circles of 90mm-110mm I'd losing out of image circle again and not getting value for money on the lenses. Also that Voigtlander is way wider than I'd ever need, I need movements more than I need super-wide angle,


If you push the shadow then you would notice a real difference regarding dynamic range (shadow noise) between a Dalsa CCD and a Sony CMOS. This is particularly profound for long exposure though. link
Trouble is, in all the examples where the shadows are being pulled out on either back - the images tend to look totally ghastly and awful and end up resembling that of a computer game, rather than a natural scene - which is the sole objective of my photography, as natural as possible, :)
 

voidshatter

New member
23mm with the 44x33 sensor would be ok, trouble is - with any of the longer lenses with image circles of 90mm-110mm I'd losing out of image circle again and not getting value for money on the lenses. Also that Voigtlander is way wider than I'd ever need, I need movements more than I need super-wide angle,
You also get more room of shift of the 44x33 sensors for the 90-100mm image circle lenses! Likewise, you also lose value for not being able to fully cover the 90-110mm image circle with the 54x40 sensors!

Trouble is, in all the examples where the shadows are being pulled out on either back - the images tend to look totally ghastly and awful and end up resembling that of a computer game, rather than a natural scene - which is the sole objective of my photography, as natural as possible, :)
If you regard silhouette as natural then it's your personal preference! Good luck with your choice :)
 
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