Site Sponsors
Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Results - The MFD $5k Challenge

  1. #1
    R Shaffer
    Guest

    Talking Results - The MFD $5k Challenge

    To save those who don't care to read my manifesto . I really really like the ZDb.

    Here's an update on the Mamiya Zdb back. As you may or may not know from my previous post I was after a medium format digital system for $ 5,000. As I had been shooting with a Mamiya 645 Pro for the past year and loving it, the choice of a used Mamiya 645 AFDII was pretty easy. I know the camera, definitely wanted to keep film in the line-up, I like the feel and have a couple of old lenses I could continue to use. As a side note, I really appreciate manufacturers whose new products can continue to use legacy lenses, it is why I went with Nikon several years ago. I purchased a used AFDII Pro Value Kit, from Adorama for $ 1304.55, including shipping. It was rated E and other than a couple of light scuffs on the body it was pristine. It came with an AF 80mm f2.8, film back, neck strap, and all the manuals in the original box.

    The choice of a digital back was more of a challenge, as what I could do with my limited budget and need to have some sort of recourse if things went south made for very few choices. I won't go back and relive the past of the original ZD back, but suffice to say that it caused me think long and hard. So on a leap of faith I called B&H who was selling the back new for $ 3,700. The salesman made it quite clear that unless the back was DOA, my only recourse would be through the manufacturers 1 year warranty. Can't say I blame them as they are selling the back for considerably less than anyone else I could find. So I got the ZDb back, extra battery & 3- 4gig Extreme III CF for a grand total of $ 4,021.41, including shipping. So my total investment in the system $ 5,325.96 which is close enough to my $5K budget.

    So I have been shooting with the ZDb back for almost a week. I've taken it out shooting a couple times at the beach, numerous shots around the yard and interior stills shot with window light. I have not had any previous experience with MFD, but I am pretty much blown away by the level of detail and general quality of the images. This really rocks!! I'm quickly discovering that how I exposed for my D200, pushing the histogram hard to the right, is not where I am finding the optimal exposure for the ZDb. It seems to prefer a more middle ground, as bringing the shadows up vs. pulling the highlights down, is giving me a more pleasing look. I have lucked into a couple of 'sweet spots', where lighting, exposure and lens aperture make for a wonderful image with incredible detail. I certainly have a lot to learn to get the most out of the ZDb, no different than learning a film and developer combination. It certainly likes plenty of light, even at ISO 400. But in low light and long exposures, I am finding it to be quite workable and definitely a huge leap above my D200.

    For RAW converters I have tried the Capture One V5, Light Room 3 Beta, Light Room 1.4, and the Mamiya Digital Photo Studio. Needless to say, C1 and LR3 are way better. LR1.4 has the well documented green tint which makes it pretty useless. The Mamiya software is like a blast from the past, while clunky by today's standards, for basic WB and exposure it does a fine job. C1 and LR3 beta are really nice. I give an advantage to C1 on color adjustments, but LR had better noise reduction.

    So while I try to be a test free zone, I had to see what sort of noise I got out of long exposures and high ISO. The result……………. Yes there was noise. My terribly unscientific method of evaluation was to adjust the image to where I was satisfied, exposure, WB, NR, whatever tweeks seemed warranted. NO attempt to adjust with identical settings, strictly make the best image I could out of what I had. I then printed the image at 11x14 which is pretty much as big as usually print on my Epson 3800. Both prints, ISO 50 @ 25s and ISO 400 @ 3s looked great. Nothing that even resembled noise was apparent in the print. Nice even shadows, excellent clarity, smooth transitions. I like the ISO 400 better, but I probably just did a better job in PP. The C1 handled the long exposure noise better than LR, but C1 left some nasty artifacts on the ISO 400. LR left no major artifacts behind on either image, but did not remove the tiny white speckles C1 eliminated. I used the LR conversions and in PP and was able to easily remove the speckles with the despeckle filter. Bottom line, I'll use ISO 50 when I can, but will not hesitate to use 400.

    Quirks and inconveniences. Well this back seems to have its share. It is not fond of my new Extreme III cards. I had to format them in my D200 before the back would recognize them. Also, when I change the battery with an Extreme III slotted up, it's not happy. It has none of these issues with my old Ultra I and Lexar cards. After I'm fired up, the Extreme III works just fine. Go figure. Occasionally when firing the shutter, I get a 'db err' message in the viewfinder. If I take my finger off the button and push again it works fine. If your into the 'decisive moment', then this could cost you your Pulitzer prize. Yesterday it decided I was 'Turning Japanese' ( I really think so ), no biggy, I switched it back over to the 'English Beat'. It takes several seconds after the capture before the preview, with histogram, blinkies and micro image, will show up on the LCD and then several more seconds before you can take a good long look at it. Longer exposures means a longer wait. I set the back to provide a 4s preview, but you really gotta be paying attention to catch the preview before it moves on. This could possibly drive you nuts if you are an incessant chimper or are trying to capture a difficult lighting situation. I have started measuring the light with my Seconic L358, to see if I can do better than the internal metering. So far neither of us stacks up to the Nikon Matrix metering. But for my slow and methodical shooting style, none of these really matter, as the captures are really grand.

    So, bottom line. I love the images. This back will certainly meet and exceed my needs as photographer. And as of today, I am thrilled with my purchase. I've attached a few photos and there are more in the gallery.

    Thanks again for all the advise.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Los Gatos, CA
    Posts
    340
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Results - The MFD $5k Challenge

    Score...all the way around. Keep us informed. And try out that back on an AFD if you see one in passing.

    Greg

  3. #3
    Senior Subscriber Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,306
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Results - The MFD $5k Challenge


  4. #4
    Workshop Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Houston TX USA
    Posts
    273
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Results - The MFD $5k Challenge

    Got a post in the wrong thread it think .....

    To the OP, have you done any studio work with the ZDb?

    Dave

  5. #5
    R Shaffer
    Guest

    Re: Results - The MFD $5k Challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by djonesii View Post
    Got a post in the wrong thread it think .....

    To the OP, have you done any studio work with the ZDb?

    Dave
    No I have not. I don't have access to a studio. I've only shot in a studio with models a couple of times in workshops. Most of the portrait shots I do are impromptu with natural light. Here is one of my neighbor I ran into on the beach. She was quite pleased with the print I gave her after. Although the dog butt is a bit much

    Robert

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    67
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Results - The MFD $5k Challenge

    Congratulations... You sound like a hobbyist and I think these camera are allot of fun for that sort of thing.

  7. #7
    tetsrfun
    Guest

    Re: Results - The MFD $5k Challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by pcunite View Post
    Congratulations... You sound like a hobbyist and I think these camera are allot of fun for that sort of thing.
    I agree, these cameras are a lot of fun for us hobbyists. I just wish that the old, no longer "prime time" DBs would be priced in a more hobbyist friendly manner. I wonder what happens to all of the upgrades and trade-ins?

    Steve

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •