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Technical Cameras: Questions

olafphoto

Administrator
Staff member
We are working on a featured interview with one of the producers of technical cameras. If you would like to drop a question or two, we may use it in the interview. Also, if you are working with technical cameras please let us know what would you like to see in future products. Thank you so much in advance for sharing your questions with us.

P.S. Once this major piece is ready, I will share answers to your questions here.
 

dchew

Well-known member
  • Live view, electronic shutter and the BSI sensor have dramatically improved the workflow of technical cameras in the last five years. Live view solved focusing and framing issues in spades, rendering Alpa’s shim design and Arca’s fine-focus helical irrelevant in the majority of situations. Electronic shutter allows us to ditch sync cords in most situations. BSI greatly reduces the need for center filters and LCC's. It used to be the “pancake” technical camera was the preferred design because of focusing hurdles. Now, with live view and other advances, the bellows-type design has seen a resurgence. Do you see a future for both designs, or is one going to eventually push out the other?
  • Rodenstock introduced the f/6.5 138mm several years ago, and it is just now shipping. Given the reported difficulties associated with manufacturing such a lens along with the relatively small market for technical cameras, do you anticipate any new lenses? Is there any chance that Schneider-Kreuznach would climb back into this market now that the BSI sensor handles color cast so much better, and therefore a rebirth of interest in symmetrical lens design?
  • Why not add a simple way to close out light completely with aperture units (for dark reference frames)? The most popular solution is the lens cap, but we often have a lens hood and/or grad filter assembly installed. This makes the lens cap solution rather difficult.
  • The XT release has been an interesting market test. It is a technical camera that essentially simplifies workflow in the field. Along with that, it has relatively limited movements with +/- 12mm and no tilt (at least you cannot have tilt and all the workflow benefits). Do you see this as a general direction of things to come in technical cameras, or is it just carving out another niche for photographers who didn’t make the leap to a technical camera due to the historic workflow hurdles?
  • Historically, one of the selling points of technical cameras was image quality and detail associated with excellent lenses, no focal plane shutter vibration and (possibly) the attention paid to manufacturing quality / tolerances. Other systems like Fuji have arguably caught up in their ability to extract image quality. Speaking for myself as primarily a landscape photographer, we are reaching a point of diminishing returns when it comes to detail at the current sensor size. Diffraction, wind, focus accuracy and other issues make photographers and their associated workflow the limiting factor far more often than equipment. The market has, at least to some degree, been fed by extracting more detail from a photograph than was possible a year ago. Will sensor size ever get larger? If not, where do we go from here? What is the long-term marketing story associated with technical cameras? Movements? Slow, deliberate, “organic” field workflow? Anything else?
 
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MartinN

Active member
The history repeats itself, I recall my GX680
The ’technical’ Fuji GX680
Movements - yes
Electrical convenience - yes
Large ’sensor’ - yes :)
Electronic shutter - yes
Waist level finder - yes
Eye level finder - yes
Focusing screen - yes
SLR - yes
 
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Geoff

Active member
  1. Do you see a future for tech cameras, and if so why and for whom?
  2. is it likely limited to product photography, or is there still a place for more general landscape use?
  3. how will the more general user be supported in years to come, with simple shutters and lenses not apparently available new?
 

dchew

Well-known member
In regard to future design features, that probably gets a bit specific to brand. I'm an Alpa perspective, but I will try to keep it somewhat generic:
  1. When the camera is in the bag, we debate between assembled vs disassembled. One of the disadvantages of breaking down the system is covering the back. The DB comes with a good cover for the sensor, but if you use that, you expose the camera's adapter plate and pins to other things in the bag. If we instead keep the camera's adapter plate attached to the DB, there is no real air-tight/dust tight cap to use. My sensor gets so dirty using Alpa's plastic cap. It would be nice to have a better dust-tight cap for the adapter-mounted DB. Or, a way to cover the exposed pins on the adapter so we can use Phase One's cover on the back, and protect the adapter. I'd prefer the former because keeping the adapter mounted to the back offers some depth protection when mounting the back. It is also easier on most systems to mount the adapter plate to the camera vs DB to the adapter plate. Gloves, rain, wind, etc.
  2. Mentioned above but I will repeat it here: A built-in, mechanical way to black out the light path in the aperture mount. Using the lens cap is fine if there is nothing mounted to the front of the lens, but filters and/or lens hoods make that cumbersome. Remember those simple viewfinder shutters on high-end film SLR's like Nikon/Canon used to have? Dark slide? ...?
  3. For Phase One: manually enter movement info? Tilt info? Don't act like you haven't heard this request before... :rolleyes:
  4. A new symmetrical-designed lens in the ~35-40mm range with an excellent 100mm IC. Similar to the SK35xl, but with better resolving power throughout the 100mm IC.
  5. Maybe this is too Alpa specific, but a "double short-barrel" option for longer lenses. Similar to what was done with the 138 float @ 51mm SB. That would open up better carrying options for 180mm and longer. 2x34 or even 3x34.
  6. A new longer lens option in the 200-300mm range. There are legacy solutions for this like the Zeiss 250 and 350 superachromats, but they are hard to come by and we have to hang that all off the front of the camera. See #5 above.
  7. A reliable, robust way to zero out tilt and swing settings / adapters. We are long past the sloppy, sometimes not all that accurate zero detent. In fact, if the detent is just a little off it can make things more difficult.
Dave
 

Shashin

Well-known member
A reliable, robust way to zero out tilt and swing settings / adapters. We are long past the sloppy, sometimes not all that accurate zero detent. In fact, if the detent is just a little off it can make things more difficult.
Dave
This. If there was a way to set the detent, then the detent could be used at any angle, which would great for a monorail with front and rear movements where you might want to tilt the lens and back after tilting the rail. And if there was error in manufacturing, the detent could be calibrated to a true zero.
 

Shashin

Well-known member
Another question, how do they see the future of different camera types? The monorail, flatbed, and pancake bodies. With more people using mirrorless cameras, do they think of technical cameras more of adapters/accessories between cameras and third-party lenses? (like the Cambo Actus) Do they see a need for systems type cameras where the tech cam manufacturer is providing the whole system: back, body, optics? (More like Alpa)
 
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algrove

Well-known member
As to Dave's point #1 in post #8, I have gotten to just leaving all mounted with my smallest lens attached-the S-K au 90. Since once I get to a location and decide composition I just change my lens at the spot unless in high winds, sand, etc. When that's the case I use my MF Fuji GFX.
 

vieri

Well-known member
As to Dave's point #1 in post #8, I have gotten to just leaving all mounted with my smallest lens attached-the S-K au 90. Since once I get to a location and decide composition I just change my lens at the spot unless in high winds, sand, etc. When that's the case I use my MF Fuji GFX.
Second that. That's the way I carry my XT in the bag, and IMHO that's one advantage of the XT (or factum, or smaller tech cameras in general) versus larger alternatives: the size makes it easier to carry it in the bag leaving both back & lens mounted on the body.

Best regards,

Vieri
 

vjbelle

Well-known member
This is very 'Actus' specific but a way to lock both tilt and swing would be a tremendous benefit. I have developed ways to check that the standards are in alignment while in the field but any movement while transporting can lead to image deterioration.

Victor B.
 

algrove

Well-known member
Victor,
As you have written and suggested many times I just do not know why Phase does not write this simple code for us who need it for every exposure we make. Guess they only now favor XT and XF customers which is annoying to me since our numbers are the ones who convinced Phase there were plenty of technical camera users out there.
 
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