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Thread: Contax 645 and Sinar MFDB Workflow

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    Contax 645 and Sinar MFDB Workflow

    I did a "job" today, for a friend of a friend, and ran into a couple of minor issues along the way which I would like to find some solutions for. The quotation marks around "job" mean that it was a dry-run for me, and I don't intend to demand money for it (which they don't have at the moment anyway), but I intend to do the job well, and to make it clear to them that I would be happy to hired again, with a proper contract the next time. I might still get some sort of payment, but that was of secondary importance today.

    First of all, the camera was rock solid, and the lenses too. Since I removed the Sinar-Contax adapter, cleaned all the contacts, and reassembled it carefully, I think I have had just one hang (with one exception; see below). So that old problem is now solved, thankfully.

    A little background: eletrical cars are making inroads into Europe, and fast, but there are almost no electrical "gas stations" yet. There are some Vattenfall stations and some RWE stations, but there are problems, and to my knowledge, neither use the now Europe-wide standard plug shape, so soon they will all need upgrades, meaning that the playing field is currently essentially even.

    The friend of my friend works in the field, and got his first station with the new plug, and now he must go to the various government agencies and businesses and sell it. For this purpose, he needed a series of photos, partly of a simulated reality nature (i.e. the station by the side of the street is ready to be used) and partly of a political nature (station in front of important government building).

    I resisted the temptation to bring either the Hartblei 45mm T/S or the Hasselblad 110/2, since I haven't spent enough time with the first to be familiar with the workflow and to trust it, and the second one has an adapter thickness problem.

    Therefore I used just the 35/3.5, 80/2 and 120/4 Macro lenses. I really wish I had also had the 55/3.5, which on two separate occasions would have made a shot significantly easier to get, but I haven't found one yet at a reasonable price, so I had to do without. The gap from 35 to 80 is too large. I might pick up a 45 if I need to do more stuff like this.

    I cannot post photos until the new year, since the station has still not been shown to the public.

    ---

    On to the issues:

    - The screen was too dim and too low-res, which I already knew. I used it more or less only to check the histogram and clipping. Even for composition it wasn't good enough.

    - In the middle of the day, the back filled up, and the camera refused to meter. It didn't start metering again until I had emptied the back of images, and the back itself was also acting a little flaky while full. It might have hung at one point, but given the trouble with the camera, I am not sure. I had thought that if I simply switch the destination to the CF card I could continue, but this was not the case.

    - When I copied the images from internal memory to the card, I had no way to check that they arrived correctly, which was a bit nerve-wracking, given how often cards have problems. I had no laptop there, which I could have used to do this. I could have brought it, but a lighter solution would be preferable.

    - My tripod was good, but the twist-thingies to open and lock it were killing my hands by the end of the day. I need to get a current Gitzo real soon.

    - A ballhead is not ideal for this work. In fact, it isn't ideal for anything that I can think of. I really need to get something else, and I will likely go to Calumet and test the Manfrotto 410 with my setup, once I have the Gitzo.

    - The Kata R-103 was perfect, except that it is hard to get stuff out of unless you put it on the ground... I am not sure what my choices are here, given that I don't want a shoulder bag (too hard on one shoulder with that much equipment for that length of time).

    - The Contax 645 metering was sometimes iffy. I have noticed this in the past. I think I will pick up a Pentax Digital Spotmeter, which for what I do would be pretty much perfect.

    ---

    Comments, solutions and tips welcome. I especially hope to find a more secure way of moving images around, which hopefully doesn't involve bringing my laptop.
    Carsten - Website

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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Contax 645 and Sinar MFDB Workflow

    Just one point: you should never completely fill the internal memory as some space is needed to buffer new shots even if you are saving to CF. I have never had a problem shooting to CF so with a proven CF card you should be fine to shoot straight to CF.

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    Re: Contax 645 and Sinar MFDB Workflow

    Aaaahhhh, so that is why it was refusing to cooperate. I didn't know that, thanks!

    I had a situation once where some images didn't write correctly onto a (known good) card, so since then I have been shooting to internal memory first, and then copying (which could be repeated if necessary).

    This was back in the days of troublesome connections between the back and adapter though, so maybe the issue is now gone? I will try to shoot directly to CD for a while and see how it goes.

    Which cards do you use? I have SanDisk 8GB Ultra II and 4GB Extreme III cards.
    Carsten - Website

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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Contax 645 and Sinar MFDB Workflow

    I'm using a 16GB Adata 350x

    By good card, I meant a card which is known to work in your back, not working in general.

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    Re: Contax 645 and Sinar MFDB Workflow

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    A ballhead is not ideal for this work. In fact, it isn't ideal for anything that I can think of.
    What exactly was the problem?

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    Re: Contax 645 and Sinar MFDB Workflow

    At least with my RRS BH-55, when I look through the viewfinder and want to set the angle, 1) I have one degree of freedom too many, as I have to control it left-right and forward-backward at the same time, and 2) once I set it, if it is slightly off and I need to correct, I have to start over, instead of tweaking. For what I do, I think a geared head would solve both these problems. I know that the ballhead is faster, but I don't need that personally.
    Carsten - Website

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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Contax 645 and Sinar MFDB Workflow

    Carsten, if you have a ballhead like the Arca Swiss Z monoball (which I use) there is a separate pano control near the base allowing you to just rotate the whole head without unlocking the ball. Perhaps you would find this more useful?


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    Re: Contax 645 and Sinar MFDB Workflow

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    At least with my RRS BH-55, when I look through the viewfinder and want to set the angle, 1) I have one degree of freedom too many, as I have to control it left-right and forward-backward at the same time, and 2) once I set it, if it is slightly off and I need to correct, I have to start over, instead of tweaking. For what I do, I think a geared head would solve both these problems. I know that the ballhead is faster, but I don't need that personally.
    I see.
    I don't have these issues with my Gitzo ballhead. The friction control is really good and you can fine adjust without any play. But, of course, if you don't need a ballhead and want to buy something new, the Gitzo won't be the solution.

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    Re: Contax 645 and Sinar MFDB Workflow

    Carsten's BH-55 also has the separate pan-lock, Graham. It sounds like he really wants the control of only forward-back, or left-right (horizontal angle) adjustability without affecting the other. Jack has mentioned, and perhaps Thomas can confirm, that the Gitzo head is a bit better in allowing this controlled "forward-back" or "vertical angle" adjustment without materially affecting the horizontal angle when the head is tensioned just right.

    I can related to the frustration that sometimes accompanies the use of ball heads, but I also feel there are compromises when using non-ball heads. Sadly ($), I think the A-S Cube is quite attractive for precision tasks when time is precious.

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    Re: Contax 645 and Sinar MFDB Workflow

    Carsten, I shoot to CF card rather than internal memory to avoid the problem that Graham mentioned above. Another advantage to making this selection is that it's not uncommon for me to "overshoot" the card's capacity, in which event, I can continue to shoot and the images will automatically rollover into internal storage. When this happens I go into the menu system and "Move" all the images to my next CF card. This takes longer than I'd like so, depending on the situation I may delay doing that until after the shoot. If you do decide to "Move" images stored internally to the CF card you should be aware that there is a little red light inside the CF card door which indicates that the images are being moved. It took me a while to find this and, on a few occasions, I removed the CF card before the Move was completed. The only disadvantage I've found to shooting to CF card is that you can't manually white balance the shots if, for example, you've taken a shot of a grey card and recorded the image on the CF card. I can't recall whether you can take your first image of the grey card to internal storage and then switch over to CF and be white balanced from there on. FWIW, I use the BH-55 with my kit and really like it... just a matter of personal preference. If you can find the 55mm at a good price I'd encourage you to get it, it's a great lens. Another option is the 45-90 zoom, but this won't be inexpensive and it's BIG With regard to the Contax metering... are you using a WLF. If so, it's not uncommon for stray light to find it's way in and mess up the metering (not a problem with the Hy6). I've not had any problems with the prism finder. Feel free to drop me a line anytime if there's anything else you have questions about.

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