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Thread: advise please

  1. #1
    Jamesmd
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    advise please

    I'm looking forward to get in a short time a MF camera and digital back .

    What would be a suitable kit , the cheapest possible but for it to be good material ?
    Its not for studio work , I thought of Phase One perhaps P 21 or P21+ would be more than enough for me . I don't know the difference between them yet .

    And if its possible , could someone send the same pic with a MF camera of this type and a 35 ff camera ( I have A900 ) , it would be great to see the difference , I imagine there is a great improvement .

    Thanks

    James

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    Re: advise please

    Even though I will be killed again for saying so again, but I really think there will be no real improvement. You don't gain any resolution, you probably loose some. (In the end it will be equal, no AA Filter against higher res with AA Filter)

    Now I don't want to kill the MF dream, if you prefer working with one, go for it, if you don't need anything aboth ISO 400, go for it. If you want to put it on a large format camera, great. However if you are used to faster working speeds than you should try it before buying. I honestly don't really think it will be a big step up from the A900. If I had these spending limitations, I would invest in some top End glass before switching. ( As long as I don't need movements and such)

  3. #3
    Jamesmd
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    Re: advise please

    Thanks christopher , you probably are right . Perhaps for studio it would be a great idea but for me there is no sense , :-( .
    I bet the great difference I see is that they are good photographs with good lighting etc etc :-( it's better to spend time and money learning .

    Cheers

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    Re: advise please

    Please please please go see one of these systems yourself.

    All I will say, because I am short on time, is that nobody walks away from a demo with us saying "nope, sorry the quality isn't good enough"; price, features (very high ISO) etc will sometimes cause someone to demo and then not buy, but never the quality. Literally not one person in my 2 years with Capture Integration.

    If we can help in any way please let us know. We do, frequently, have out of country visitors combine a vacation and a evaluation or purchase, especially at our Miami office in the winter.

    There is a test here of a P21 and a 1Ds III: http://www.captureintegration.com/tests/comparisons/. There are some very good 35mm lenses; however, you need to put the quality/look of medium format lenses into this equation - the best medium format lenses are really something to see! Another difference between a 1Ds III and P21 is how well the file/quality holds up as you do editing. Push/Pull/WB-change/shadow-recovery/highlight-recovery/retouching/enlarging/image-distortions all hold up much better starting with a Phase raw file than a Canon raw file. This is something best demonstrated by going to a place (like our dealership) locally or using a vacation to shoot from absolute beginning (setting up the gear) to the final end (a retouched print or web image) YOUR style with YOUR retouching/post-processing.

    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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    Re: advise please

    I wouldn't base a buying decision on a single comment in an internet forum, especially a photo forum.
    I've done a side-by-side comparison of my P21+ with an A900 of a friend. Unfortunately we didn't store the files (why would we).
    I know the Sony/Minolta glass and owned some of the very fine lenses of this system for a while (e.g. the 1.4/35G, the 2.8/50macro, the 1.4/85G, the ZA1.8/135)… so I think I know what is possible with this great gear.
    First impression: A900 flat + digital, P21+ bold + vivid. After some editing in C1's color editor the A900 files were almost there. Still: we both had the impression that the P21+ files had more depth and visual presence and, yes, cleaner dark tonal values.
    The differences are not obvious, so this part of IQ might not be a reason to swap a A900 for a P21+.
    But - as always - it depends on what you shoot. MF lenses have a different look. If you shoot motifs with shallow DOF MF looks different… on the one hand smoother in defocused areas on the other hand with more "pop" in the focus plane. If you like this look this might be reason enough to use MF.
    Sounds strange but my feeling is that MF files work better when uprezzing. Maybe this has to to with CCD vs. CMOS as well, I don't know but I still have a small Sony A100 with CCD and a super thin AA-Filter and even these files hold very well when uprezzing.
    As to the downsides of digital MF: workflow overall is slower. The LCDs on the camera are literally useless. You have to shoot with faster shutter speeds when shooting hand held but at the same time ISO is limited. I like the ISO400 of the P21+ and even ISO800 is usable (though I don't use ISO800, I use ISO400 and underexpose due to better file handling in C1 - the noise is the same but at ISO800 there seem to be more NR in the background, i.e. ISO800 is softer than ISO400 underexposed … and I prefer to adjust NR separate for dark tonal values and bright tonal values on layers in Photoshop). Faster than ISO800 - no way! Note that a MF camera or digital back has no image stabilization as the A900 has.
    So my advice would be: try it out. BUT - under the circumstances you regularly shoot. And take your time to compare files to your A900 and try to adjust the A900 files so that they look like the MF files.
    As to the camera question: Contax. Great system, easily available at reasonable prices. And I think you should get a P21+ in Contax mount with a certain discount as these backs silently fade away and most likely there are only very few people who ask for this back in Contax mount today.
    As to the difference plus vs. non plus: the plus backs have higher ISO and the LCD is a bit better.

  6. #6
    Super Duper
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    Re: advise please

    From my point of view as a hobby user of D3x, M8/9 and digital MF (Hy6 with Sinar back) I feel that the MF files do stand out.
    yes, its harder to focus, slower etc.
    But I have not yet experienced any digital SLR which has satisfied me as much as the Sinar back does, specially regarding skin tones.

    The other thing is transition between tones but also between the sharp and unsharp areas in the image. much smoother withthe larger sensor IMO.

    Direct comparisons are allways difficult since there are so many paramters (lens, sensor, DOF, focus plane, converter, etc etc)
    A small mistake can lead to wrong conclusions.

    I second the advice to rent a MF-system and shoot with it for some days.

  7. #7
    Jamesmd
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    Re: advise please

    I'll have to try one , don't know if it's possible here in Madrid , Spain , I imagine there must be a place.
    What I though I would improve specialy is D range , this is true , no ?

  8. #8
    Super Duper
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    Re: advise please

    James - what is it you normally shoot and by that I mean product, landscape or portrait work...

    You ask for the cheapest possible while giving good results - one may not necessarily equate to the other. Cheapest may get your foot into the door but wind up costing your more in the long run. There are many less expensive used/refurbished digital backs on the market ranging from a low of a couple thousand dollars (US) all the way up to the price of a good used car. I've seen them here for sle as well as through my dealer.

    Will you see a difference in an image taken with 35mm vs. MF the short answer is yes. The longer answer is there's more dynamic range, the color will be different just to name two. Think also about the difference in sensor size and type of sensor totally different between 35 and MF; I also disagree about loss of resolution.

    I'm a landscape photographer that once used 35mm for my work (1DsII) who moved to MF a couple years ago and have loved the differences in image quality I've been getting. My first digital back was a Phase One P30+ prior to moving to a technical camera and P45+. That 1DsII sat in my closet for years not being used for anything other than an occasional wildlife shot or lightning; I'm using it again however only after I had it converted to IR. My wife shoots with a 1DsIII and I can tell the difference between the two images when compared to the P45+ and generally the P45+ wins each time. Yes I said "generally" and by that I mean so long as I hold up my end of the bargain and do thing right while taking the image.

    You've gotten two excellent answers from Doug and Thomas both of which I trust. It would be a real shame for you to not at least try medium format out first before making up your mind. It's been awhile since I've visited Madrid however I'm sure you can find a camera store there that will be able to help you - after all Madrid isn't a small city. I also just did a dealer search on Phase One's website and found Danish Photo S.A. in Barcelona (34-93-252-0600). This should at least get your foot in the door.

    Please don't give up so easily just because one person tells you he doesn't like medium format. It also doesn't matter which name brand you go for as in the end they are very near the same quality although I personally like and trust Phase One.

    Good luck in your search

    Don
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    Re: advise please

    The Sony A900 is one of the highest quality 35mm cameras ever created. It is however, still a 35 mm camera. On paper it gives up nothing to P21, but in print the differences are noticeable and real. 16-bit color makes a difference. Sensor size makes a difference. Pixel size makes a different. Of course the P21 gives up a lot to the Sony in many areas.

    The cheapest MF system is the one with the lowest long term costs. If you buy a system that doesn't quite fit your needs, and you go through several rounds of upgrades, that gets expensive fast. I would say that Mamiya and P21 is probably the most cost effective system because it is a good start, flexible and rental bodies and lenses are readily available.

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    Re: advise please

    Well and here we go again. I don't even go into the discussion, because it often does not make sense. I never said the P21 is better. I am just saying the step up won't be big, especially if you look at the hassles it brings. I know what I'm talking about and while my P65 delivers unmatched quality with a Large format camera, compared to a fast DSLR system a LOT of people would say it is way to slow. I on the other hand enjoy setting up and working slow. (Landscape and Architecture) Now before I get into that stupid 16bit argument I will stop.

    However I want to add one more thing. Go out and rent the gear. You can only see if you like it and if it works for you by trying. It CAN be quite a shock coming from 35mm if you never had any MF experience, how sluggish all feels. On the other hand it can be quite some fun, to have such a nice big viewfinder. Just go out, try different systems and get the one YOU feel right with.

  11. #11
    Jamesmd
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    Re: advise please

    thanks all for your answers , I definitely are going to try one , a found a place here in Madrid .

    So , lets see what happens .

    Cheers

    James

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    Re: advise please

    Quote Originally Posted by t_streng View Post
    Direct comparisons are allways difficult since there are so many paramters (lens, sensor, DOF, focus plane, converter, etc etc)
    A small mistake can lead to wrong conclusions.
    yes and no. Of course if you want to take a hard look at resolution, dynamic range, noise or whatever this is very tricky. On the other hand: is this the way you shoot? Certainly not. So just take a picture as you would do it normally. Then take the ~ same picture with the other camera (crop the MF file down to the 3:2 format of the DSLR). Actually really simple :-)

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    Re: advise please

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas View Post
    yes and no. Of course if you want to take a hard look at resolution, dynamic range, noise or whatever this is very tricky. On the other hand: is this the way you shoot? Certainly not. So just take a picture as you would do it normally. Then take the ~ same picture with the other camera (crop the MF file down to the 3:2 format of the DSLR). Actually really simple :-)
    Exactly! I think folks over-analyze a lot of the time. My way of testing (as well I know Guy does this too) is to shoot a bunch of "normal" images as I would on any regular shoot. Then start comparing files macro and micro. Usually, you'll find that one stands out before you go in and pixel peep, usually based on color or tonality. Pixel peep to evaluate differences in noise, noise pattern, detail and micro-contrast. Now you have a more complete picture (ha!) and can make a decision based on all parameters, nit just the nits and bits.

    Problem is most of the high-end backs are all going to look great... So where does that leave you? IMO this is were is where the total workflow comes in, capture, conversion and output. Others may place more weight on the initial capture experience (camera build and ergos), however I personally will place processing and file management conveniences at the top of this list 8 days a week.

    Cheers,
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    Re: advise please

    I tested my old H10 (11mp) vs my Sony A700 (12mp). I'd say it's a fair analog to your A900 vs. P21 comparison, just scaled down.

    The A700 got the 35mm 1.4 at ISO100 f/8 or so, the Mamiya 645 got the 55mm MF at ISO50 f/5.6.

    Short answer: The H10 was noticeably sharper at the pixel level than the A700. I shot the A700 both RAW and JPG, and the images were more similar to eachother than to the H10.

    Just printed an 11x14 with it and it looks better than the A700. I'd say you arguably get twice the effective resolution out of the MFDB than the DSLR....but I'd have to really print at 20x30 to say that for sure.

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    Re: advise please

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesmd View Post
    I'm looking forward to get in a short time a MF camera and digital back .

    What would be a suitable kit , the cheapest possible but for it to be good material ?
    Its not for studio work , I thought of Phase One perhaps P 21 or P21+ would be more than enough for me . I don't know the difference between them yet .

    And if its possible , could someone send the same pic with a MF camera of this type and a 35 ff camera ( I have A900 ) , it would be great to see the difference , I imagine there is a great improvement .

    Thanks

    James
    Coming back to some of the comments here about DSLR quality:

    PLEASE DO NEVER COMPARE DSLR QUALITY WITH MFDB QUALITY. MFDB IS SOOOOO MUCH BETTER!

    I own myself the A900 and while it is a perfect DSLR and with Zeiss lenses is even better, it does not come close to any MFDB solution - Phase, Hassi or others.

  16. #16
    Jamesmd
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    Re: advise please

    I'm sure it MUST be better , if not , why would they do them ?

    OK they are thought for different type of work , but I'm sure its better .

    And after the thread I can't wait to try one

    Thanks

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    Re: advise please

    They MUST be better, because you pay more ?
    They MUST be better because people who one them say so ?
    Most of them are probably better, still there are some current DSLRs which could be very close or even better. Well just one current DSLR.

    One thing you all have to keep in mind. We see what we WANT to see. In many aspects it is very close to audio. Blind tests are often very shocking. If both is processed right and printed at the right size, nearly all people won't see the difference between MFDBs or DSLRs. As LONG as you don't tell them which is what. I have done it enough times, to be very certain of what I am saying.

    Note at the end. No question that you get more resolution out of Sensor with NO AA Filter is very clear. I would't say twice, but certainly a bit more. If everything is done right ;-)

    We should always look what we need, and can afford. I don't care what I want, the other two aspects are much more important. If you can just shoot with a MFDB and don't need a DSLR besides, it's great. If you need both and can afford both it's great again, however I would never give up on something which I would need from time to time, just to afford another thing which is a little better at 70% but can't do the other 30%. (Just for example, high ISO, fast AA, fast shooting, long lenses, very wide lenses)

    Oh James, I don't know what you shoot, but if it is static, don't try a real Large Format camera with expensive lenses, even though Phase lenses are great, you can get very addicted from it. ;-)

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    Re: advise please

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher View Post
    If both is processed right and printed at the right size, nearly all people won't see the difference between MFDBs or DSLRs. As LONG as you don't tell them which is what.
    Do you see the difference?

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    Re: advise please

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher View Post
    If both is processed right and printed at the right size, nearly all people won't see the difference between MFDBs or DSLRs. As LONG as you don't tell them which is what. I have done it enough times, to be very certain of what I am saying.
    An interesting point, Chris. I could say the same thing about RAW vs. JPG. RAW gives you added headroom and error recovery over JPG, but you usually don't need it for a properly exposed shot that won't be tweaked much.

    You could say the same thing for MFDB vs DSLR.

    Of course, the workflow with a MFDB is normally more regimented, and therefore for most people not likely to produce a lot of "slightly off" shots that need recovery, so maybe that benefit is less important than shooting RAW on your DSLR. I haven't enough experience with my MFDB to appreciate the added ability I have to push/pull shots to my liking.

    Greg

  20. #20
    Jamesmd
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    Re: advise please

    Audio is a good compare , I work with audio and I'm 100% with you Christopher.

    As I said at beginning , I'm sure the great difference comes when a MF ( well, any camera )is in hands of a good photographer ,and as with every thing, the higher you go ,you need to know more too to get all the best out .
    For me its only a hobby , but when I see those photos , so sharp with all that dynamic range , those colors , I can't stop thinking in one

    It happens the same with audio equipment , but , I live of that.

    So Christopher you probably are right , but I will try one or hire one for a day or two .

    cheers

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    Re: advise please

    We could say the same thing about...
    10MP APS-C is ~the same as 12MP APS-C
    14MP APS-C is ~the same as 12MP FF
    … and so on up to the the statement that you can't tell a G10 from a P45+.
    I should have sticked with my Polaroid AF660 land camera…

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    Re: advise please

    As long as I know the image I see a difference. Pretty simple huh ? As long as one shot and processed the image you will always be able to "SEE" the difference.

    I bet that at an normal print size (for the G10), framed hanging in a gallery nearly all of us couldn't tell the difference between a G10 and P45. However, I don't buy a P45 to print A4 or A3 sizes ;-)

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    Re: advise please

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher View Post
    I bet that at an normal print size (for the G10), framed hanging in a gallery nearly all of us couldn't tell the difference between a G10 and P45. However, I don't buy a P45 to print A4 or A3 sizes ;-)
    That's fine. There were always people who couldn't tell an Agfa Pan from an FP4plus, an Ectachrome from a Kodachrome or a Fuji Sensia, Baryt paper from PE semigloss and so on.
    I am getting asked periodically if I shoot large format film (in part certainly due to the motifs I shoot... however) - this happens when I show my small prints in DinA3 I print to carry arround in my portfolio.

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