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Thread: HD4/40: ISO 800 on the job

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    HD4/40: ISO 800 on the job

    As a follow up to initial impressions of the H4D/40, and to further explore the possibility of centralizing more and more work using MFD (following in the footsteps of Guy's quest to do the same :-) ...

    I've now taken the H4D/40 to a couple of higher-end weddings. This may be considered by some as taking a Glock 45 to a snowball fight, but with the proliferation of 35mm digital wonder-cams by everyone and his/her uncle Bob, I'm looking for a visible edge to wow potential clients on my 30" screens ... coupled with some newer lighting techniques made possible by getting the highly mobile Elinchrom Quadra.

    However, this post is about using the H4D/40 in available light situations as way of lessening or eliminating the use of 35mm DSLRs. The end objective would be to eventually use the H4D along with the M9. To do that the H4D/40 needs to perform at least on par with my Sony A900 at ISO 800 in available light ... and the Sony has improved at this ISO when using the newer Adobe RAW processors.

    At last week's wedding job, I took the H4D/40 with the 50, 100, and 210 lenses, (I never used the 210). The H4D was used exclusively in available light at ISO 800.
    I did some handheld work and some on a Gitzo Carbon Fiber Monopod. All the photos came out fine for utilization in a wedding album. BUT, and trust me on this, when pushing the extremes of hand-held MFD shutter speeds, the image IQ using the Monopod are like night and day, even if you have rock solid hand-held technique. I have a mirror delay set on the H4D to improve hand-held shots (which does work), but when possible the mono-pod is always better.

    My H4D/40 is set up so the stop down button has been assigned to manual White Balance ... which makes it extraordinarily easy to constantly set WB at a wedding where the lighting scenarios can dramatically change.True Focus is assigned to a rear grip button and was fast and accurate as hell. Even though Pro level DSLRs are still faster AF, the whole process of off-center, recompose AF is faster with the H4D compared to wheeling the 35mm DSLR's focus point to the edge and then shooting.

    I found the ISO 800 images to be a stop or more better than the H3D/39 in terms noise, like ISO 400 was, or even better... maybe closer toward 200. This is more than acceptable for this application. This also increased the opportunity to lift slightly under-exposed images that can easily happen when shooting a hectic paced wedding. More importantly, the color remained fairly true @ ISO 800 even when lifted a bit in post, and skin tones were quite natural looking.

    At ISO 800, the DR seems less affected than it was with my H3D/39. Very good tonal separations and less highlight issues. As Guy has mentioned previously, some images from the Kodak 40 meg sensor do benefit from a slight tweak of the clarity slider... but just a touch.

    Resolution and noise levels allow some pretty severe crops with this camera, for options when selecting and printing wedding photos, or designing an album.

    One thing I noticed compared to 35mm DSLRs like the D3X and Sony A900 I've used in similar situations, is that when applying perspective controls in PSCS5 (church interior shots with a wide angle) extreme PC manipulations are less destructive with the H4D/40 files.

    For fast paced hand-held work like this, the H4D/40 LCD image doesn't exactly inspire confidence. Compared to most any 35mm DSLR it is primitive. However, while the 35mm DSLR LCD image usually looks better than what was actually captured, the opposite is true with the MFD camera. When you load the real thing into Phocus (or LightRoom) the IQ is stunning ... and I always say to myself, "Damn I should have shot the entire wedding with the H4D : -)

    Based on experienced to date, I will continue to replace the 35mm DSLR for this application ... until hopefully it becomes the key tool, supplemented by the M9 and fast M lenses for lower light candid work. The next step is to see how the H4D/40 can do at ISO 1600 in real-world wedding applications.

    Here's few ISO 800 shots from last week,s wedding: squashed down from 24" wide to 1200 pixels One is severe crop. None are done yet ... I will finalize them in conjunction with other shots done with an A900 and some M9 shots ... so these are minimal work so far and not optimized for the final usage.

    -Marc

    Hmmm, in reviewing the downloads, it appears the shots have lost a bit of their "Snap Crackle and Pop" and the reds slightly increased. But this is about ISOs so take a peek for that aspect. The Prints look fab. Very 3D and realistic.

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    Re: HD4/40: ISO 800 on the job

    marc, good to see your report.
    i have not made tests of high iso, although it is high on my requirement list from this camera, simply because i want the flexibility with natural light. the thing is that it is a little bit pointless to do such tests on 1:1 monitor without more or less similar condition i would use it at 400-800 (or even 1600 iso). and most importantly - h4d-40 is to make Prints :-)
    the hassy guy during my initial test said that i will get 200 iso similar to previous backs 100 iso, and further on i will have at least one stop improvement . your report further indicates this, and im really glad to hear it. this makes the h4d not only IQ camera but a very flexible tool too... the main camera - the "do it all" system...
    mentioning what guy say about his pahse 40+... interesting how the two cameras take it differently at high-iso... one combines pixels which lowers the resolution to 10mp camera, while hassy keeps on with the resolution... again, personally for me, print potential, even at high iso is more important... so great to hear from u it delivers in those conditions.

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    Re: HD4/40: ISO 800 on the job

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Marc.

    I've been hesitating to brign the H4D-40 to a wedding... but after seeing your results I'm definitely going to give it a try, thanks for sharing the images.

    I've been using a monopod with this setup, it is an amazing tool, the custom bracket is really convenient for fast switching from portrait to landscape... what I don't like is that when I'm using the H4D+custom bracket you can't go unnoticed...

    I would love to hear your toughts on H4D-40 + Ranger Quadras on weddings... I've been using the quadras for wedding for some time now, I think they are perfect for most wedding scenarios...

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    while the 35mm DSLR LCD image usually looks better than what was actually captured, the opposite is true with the MFD camera. When you load the real thing into Phocus (or LightRoom) the IQ is stunning...
    +1

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    Re: HD4/40: ISO 800 on the job

    Quote Originally Posted by aldo View Post
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Marc.

    I've been hesitating to brign the H4D-40 to a wedding... but after seeing your results I'm definitely going to give it a try, thanks for sharing the images.

    I've been using a monopod with this setup, it is an amazing tool, the custom bracket is really convenient for fast switching from portrait to landscape... what I don't like is that when I'm using the H4D+custom bracket you can't go unnoticed...

    I would love to hear your toughts on H4D-40 + Ranger Quadras on weddings... I've been using the quadras for wedding for some time now, I think they are perfect for most wedding scenarios...
    Aldo, I've seen your monopod video before and that is a very nice and versatile rig. My issue is that I use a Camadapter hand strap with a QR plate that also allows use of a shoulder strap. The Camadapter Quick Release plate is a Arca Swiss type. This allows me to go from monopod to hand-held while using the hand strap to provide a steadier grip. The super light weight but extraordinarily stable Gitzo isn't as fast as the one you show, but changing height hasn't been a priority for me ... right now what I'm missing is the ability to go to portrait orientation while on the Mono-Pod. I need to investigate an L bracket that also allows use of a hand strap and a shoulder strap. Most of the time I can crop portrait from landscape for wedding applications since the the resolution is so high with these cameras. But it is giving away some of what I paid for ...

    When using the Quadra, I almost always shoot hand-held because the shutter speed is high (1/200 or so) depending on how much ambient I want creeping into the background ... and the flash duration freezes the foreground subject.

    I haven't noticed much difference in "subject awareness" when using the monopod and H4D, or just the H4D in hand, while shooting candid images. I think people are so preoccupied with what is going on at a wedding, that after a few minutes you become invisible. Personally, I believe the technique and mannerisms of the photographer has more to do with it than what is in their hands.

    Use of the Quadra:

    I use a classic two light set-up when doing formals ( lights on stands using two 60" reflective umbrellas) ... which I tend to shoot with the Sony A900 and Zeiss 24-70 zoom to adjust for various qroup sizes. If I can save up enough to get the HC 35-90 I can start doing these with the H4D also.

    Right now, I use the H4D/40 and Quadra as a highly mobile off-camera key light with fill being provided by an on-camera Metz speed-light. My assistant carries the pack over his shoulder and the little Quadra head is mounted on a Interfit Strobie boom arm. The light modifier is either a 33" translucent shoot through umbrella, or a Elinchrom 17" Soft-white Beauty Dish using the Elinchrom EL Quadra adapter. This has turned out to be very stable ... but I wouldn't go beyond a 17' dish.

    I also got a pair of 7" grid reflectors that will allow use of milk glass dome modifiers for broad coverage in a reception hall ... even though I haven't used them yet, I know they'll work because I've used the dome modifiers on Profoto heads to light large industrial areas on commercial shoots.

    Getting the "Quadra on a stick" mobile in this way, using an on-camera speed-light for fill, allows us to move quickly from one venue location to another ... but you DO need an assistant. I've included four posed shots using this technique as we moved from one room to the next. These were done with the 33" translucent umbrella with a 28mm and 100mm on the H4D/40. All but the Bride reclining on the couch are pretty severe crops done for an album, and the B&W of the B&G and couch is a crop from a lower res jpg because I'm too lazy to find the original ...

    This mobility factor is especially true if you use this Quadra and beauty dish set-up on the dance floor ... which was new to me, (and I now know how to refine it). I've included 3 un-cropped dance floor shots done with the Sony ... the B&W one of the Bride crying while dancing with her father worked better than my second shooter's on-camera flash version because of the directional lighting. The other two dance shots shows how using carefully placed directional lighting avoids blowing out the foreground subjects that happens so often when using a singular on-camera flash while focusing on a background subject. This way kept the lighting focus on the Bride in the background.

    Hope this helps with some ideas a little bit.

    Have you used the Quadra's with the H4D/40?

    -Marc

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    Re: HD4/40: ISO 800 on the job

    Inspiring photos, Marc. How long of a mirror-delay do you use for hand-held shots?

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    Re: HD4/40: ISO 800 on the job

    Great stuff. We just picked up a H3DII-31 for similar uses. Specifically for inbetween ceremony and receptions. We too use rangers and now the quadra. We are very much looking forward to using it along with the H3D.

    I got a bunch of photos here with the Rangers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/symbolphotography/

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    Re: HD4/40: ISO 800 on the job

    Quote Originally Posted by symbolphoto View Post
    Great stuff. We just picked up a H3DII-31 for similar uses. Specifically for inbetween ceremony and receptions. We too use rangers and now the quadra. We are very much looking forward to using it along with the H3D.

    I got a bunch of photos here with the Rangers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/symbolphotography/
    Check out this Kirk Grip with Arca type QR that I'm now using with the H camera. VERY sturdy and adds little weight while making it easier to hand hold more steadily ... also gives you a place to securely put the transmitter using a short PC cord to the H camera ... while still allowing use of the hot-shoe for on camera fill. Bottom has a Arca type QR plate built-in for mounting on a Monopod or Tripod. Sweet!.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Grip_for.html

    I'm also using a Carbon Fiber Gitzo Monopod with a high capacity monopod head from RRS which is also VERY sturdy but light weight and allows fast movements from landscape to portrait orientation with a MFD camera.

    http://reallyrightstuff.com/tripods/04.html

    Don't know how I lived without this stuff before. It has increased both the use of the H, and the keeper ratio at weddings.

    Both are highly recommended based on shooting weddings for 8 hours at a crack. I use the grip with all cameras ... swap out the H for my Sony A900 for dance shots and some candids using a Zeiss 24-70/2.8 and 85/1.4.

    -Marc

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    Re: HD4/40: ISO 800 on the job

    Quote Originally Posted by aldo View Post
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Marc.

    I've been hesitating to brign the H4D-40 to a wedding... but after seeing your results I'm definitely going to give it a try, thanks for sharing the images.

    I've been using a monopod with this setup, it is an amazing tool, the custom bracket is really convenient for fast switching from portrait to landscape... what I don't like is that when I'm using the H4D+custom bracket you can't go unnoticed...

    I would love to hear your toughts on H4D-40 + Ranger Quadras on weddings... I've been using the quadras for wedding for some time now, I think they are perfect for most wedding scenarios...



    +1
    Check out my other recent post on this thread regarding use of a Kirk grip for handheld H stuff, and mono-pod with a high capacity Monopod head from Really Right Stuff for lower available light work. Trust me, this stuff will not fall apart

    RE: use of a H in stealth mode ... I've found that it isn't the rig you are carrying, it is how you approach the subject ... sort of practicing the art of deception. I used to use a 203FE/CFV Back and big a$$ed Zeiss lenses with a D40 flash for fill to shoot candids, and clients commented that they never knew I was there.

    Usually, if the subject is doing something interesting enough to shoot, they wouldn't notice you if you rolled up a 8X10 view camera on a dolly and took the shot

    -Marc

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    Re: HD4/40: ISO 800 on the job

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Check out this Kirk Grip with Arca type QR that I'm now using with the H camera. VERY sturdy and adds little weight while making it easier to hand hold more steadily ... also gives you a place to securely put the transmitter using a short PC cord to the H camera ... while still allowing use of the hot-shoe for on camera fill. Bottom has a Arca type QR plate built-in for mounting on a Monopod or Tripod. Sweet!.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Grip_for.html

    I'm also using a Carbon Fiber Gitzo Monopod with a high capacity monopod head from RRS which is also VERY sturdy but light weight and allows fast movements from landscape to portrait orientation with a MFD camera.

    http://reallyrightstuff.com/tripods/04.html

    Don't know how I lived without this stuff before. It has increased both the use of the H, and the keeper ratio at weddings.

    Both are highly recommended based on shooting weddings for 8 hours at a crack. I use the grip with all cameras ... swap out the H for my Sony A900 for dance shots and some candids using a Zeiss 24-70/2.8 and 85/1.4.

    -Marc
    I'm going to try just handheld at first. I've never been a fan of monopods. They just slow me down, personally. I've shot canon with the 200 F2 handheld, so weight doesn't really bother me. But we'll see.

    What H lenses are you using? I picked up a 35 so far. I'm thinking the next lens will be the 100 2.2. Would love to hear what you have to say about these. The reason i went with the 35 first is i usually need to shoot in such a manner that i also need to take the background in.

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    Re: HD4/40: ISO 800 on the job

    Quote Originally Posted by symbolphoto View Post
    I'm going to try just handheld at first. I've never been a fan of monopods. They just slow me down, personally. I've shot canon with the 200 F2 handheld, so weight doesn't really bother me. But we'll see.

    What H lenses are you using? I picked up a 35 so far. I'm thinking the next lens will be the 100 2.2. Would love to hear what you have to say about these. The reason i went with the 35 first is i usually need to shoot in such a manner that i also need to take the background in.
    My lens line-up is:

    28, 50, 100, 150, 210, 300 and 1.7X

    I had the 35, but sold it in anticipation of getting a 35-90 ... IF the darned economy ever turns around for local Pro photography.

    The 28 basically replaced the 35 when I went from a H3D/39 with a 1.1X lens factor to the H4D/40 with it's 1.3X factor.

    Most used lens is without a doubt is the 100/2.2 ... by a huge margin. My favorite people lens, followed by the 210/4.

    Just a note from shooting these MFD cameras for a looooong time ... it's a completely different discipline from shooting a 35mm with a lens like the Canon 200/2 ... especially if it's an IS 200mm lens. I also shot a Nikon D3X with a 200/2 VR and produced decent results hand-held ... but MFD is a whole other ball game ... where minor camera movement is magnified by quite a factor compared to 35mm.

    I'm not advocating a monopod specifically, I do use the H hand-held quite a bit ... but where-ever possible I go to the Monopod to preserve all the high-resolution detail rendering I paid a fortune to get in the first place. It's a balancing act between mobility and speed verses IQ ... the monopod set up I'm using now is pretty light weight and doesn't slow me down very much ... but obviously isn't as flexible as handheld if quickly shooting from lower angles.

    -Marc

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    Re: HD4/40: ISO 800 on the job

    Marc,

    Thank you for the valuable insight. While I've yet to get my H3DII-31 (It's being shipped from B&H as we speak), i'll certainly take your experience into account. I have no preconceived notions about these cameras other than the resolution for retouching is outstanding and the flash sync being 1/800 for outdoor stuff. That's what i really purchased this for.

    I'm really looking forward to using it for bridals and a little fashiony stuff outdoors. (Our primary business is Weddings, fashion is for fun)

    But for instance, this photo:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/symbolp...hy/4754351788/

    We had a lovely bride, our Ranger RX pack up on the rocks, and the sync speed was stuck at 160th. Pisses me off, i didn't have any ND handy and i ended up blowing out most of the sky and had to recover it in PS. Cost me a lot of work, and i'm hoping the Hassy sync speed will help me in situations just like this.

    -Brendan

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