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Thread: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

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    Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Here is my quandary over the choice of a 'travel' camera.

    This July/August I am visiting 4 islands of Hawaii with my two children for nearly 3 weeks, as a once in a lifetime holiday. When I return, I want to have memorable pictures with good IQ and no regrets for having travelled with an 'inadequate' camera set-up.

    Taking the Phase One 645DF, P45+ and 4 lenses/tripod etc is almost certainly a non-starter, due to weight/bulk. I currently have an M8 with 3 lenses (Zeiss 28 & 50 and CV 90mm) and also a Panasonic GF-1 with the 14 and 20mm lenses. I struggle to do well with and like the GF-1. Its days are probably numbered.

    My cheapest option is to go with the M8. Which then leads me to think what about selling it and getting an M9? The cost of this change is not insignificant, especially if I change a lens and leaves my biggest financial asset, the P45+ sitting at home....

    Enter the Alpa.... Even more expensive, but enables me to use the P45+ and I have been impressed with feedback from the fanbase of STC owners here. I still have a Schneider SS-110mmXL and so would need another lens, probably in the 40mm range. Logic for identifying the STC over the TC is the shift facility which I could use when back home too.

    The P45+ doesn't offer ISO much above 400 and focussing on Alpa isn't as slick as the M8/9 etc etc. I see little point in spending lots of money for the privilege of obtaining out of focus 39MPixel shots!

    There is of course the Canon 5D mkII or similar.... but somehow this seems too sensible as well as bulky. I've always preferred Nikon ergonomics and the unobtrusive nature of the Leica. Going this route, I would buy used and sell straight after the trip.

    Those of you who use, or have used either an M8, 9 or an Alpa (or similar) as a travel camera, please can you offer me some advice based on your experience? Can you please allay my fears about focussing the Alpa? I have read the threads here in Dante's and wouldn't want to take a laser rangefinder too!

    Playing devils advocate, the cost of swapping gear will almost certainly be significantly more than excess baggage for the Phase One 645DF system; might this really be my best option...?!

    The reason for posting this far ahead of my departure is that I would want to make any change leaving sufficient time to ensure I can use it optimally.

    Many thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Member thrice's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    If I could trade my M9 kit for an STC with a P45+ with two lenses I would in a heartbeat.

    The M9 is good, but the files cannot compare to what I've seen/downloaded/edited from the P45+

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    "Once in a lifetime trip with my children" ... is the key phrase here.

    In your opinion, which choice would allow you to freely and spontaneously participate in this experience, and enjoy being with your children, recording the experience, place and things you do together without turning every picture opportunity into a major production?

    Personally, it would be a no brainer decision ... I'd take my two M9s. However, if you get an M9, I'd hold onto the M8 as back-up and not sell it until you return ... and I would offer the same advice if you get the Alpa. You do not want to be without a "Once in a lifetime" back-up IMO.

    Your "to sensible" DSLR choice is just that, "sensible". With the Leica and the Alpa, you are limited in reach and lower light abilities, which you may or may not wish you had once you are there (depending on what and how you like to shoot). Take a look at the Sony A55 which is really tiny, takes Zeiss/Sony lenses, and is more fun than a barrel of monkeys to play with. Coupled with a Sony 50/1.4, it provides very low light abilities. Add on longer zoom and you have the reach ... if you think you'd use it.

    A cheaper route with lot's of flexibility could be your M8 and a Sony NEX5 with an M lens mount adapter, and a long zoom for the NEX. Back-up, low light ability, and reach in a small package. Small may be VERY desirable if you are traveling from one island to another over the three weeks. "Big" becomes a big PITA really fast when moving from one destination to the next.

    If I were traveling to this destination alone or with my wife, with the express purpose of making photographs, I'd take my MFD kit ... but if I was there to experience it all with my children, I would not. We all often feel compelled to use our best tools when an opportunity like this arises ... however, enjoying our families comes first IMO.

    My 2

    -Marc

    P.S., this doesn't take into account the desire factor ... if you have a burning desire for an ALPA, and think you could master it in time, then no amount of reasoned thinking or logic can quench that desire ... "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."

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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Comparing Alpa and MFD with M8 or even M9 or even less comparable 5D2 or Nikon D700 is kind of strange.

    Going with kids (family) and using MFD or Tech Cameras is even more incompatible in my eyes (and due to my experience).

    If you want highest quality then Alpa would be definitely the best way to go. But I doubt it would be a good combination while traveling with family.

    Actually an M9 with some good glass would do perfectly, also for high quality shots, but I agree that the price point is really high for switching from M8 to M9 - reason I have NOT done this so far.

    Currently, after numerous investigations and tests, if I would have to go and shoot in such a situation, I would go for a E5 with some good lenses, of course best would fit the 14-35 and the 35-100, although a bit heavy, so maybe an alternative could be the 12-60 and the 50-200. The E5 delivers exceptional results up to ISO 1600 and while not comparable with MFD WRT MPs the pixel quality is for sure the sam, which is a result of the very weak AA filter used in the E5. I personally prefer meanwhile the results from my E5 to the ones from the M8 I owned and maybe the M9 is a bit better, but again all the mess with primes only and fine adjustment of lenses etc etc is what was not worth for me to get one.

    While it sounds strange that a 43 E5 might compete pretty well in the area of high IQ - even with some older MFDBs, I found this to be true. Test yourself, you will not be disappointed.

    Plus you could easily (while relatively cheap) get 1 or 2 high speed primes (Sigma, Leica) or even older lenses from the film days with a 43 adapter, which are really cheap. I thought I would never say this, but currently I am having lot of fun with an old 3.5/50 Zuiko Macro lens and 43 adapter.

    Plus you always can take a GH2 or GF2 as backup camera with maybe a 1.7/20 or something similar.

    Think through this, try it and then decide. I hardly could believe you would sell the E5 after the trip

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    "Once in a lifetime trip with my children" - pretty much rules out the Alpa unless you want to use it as a P&S. Too much time and effort to use effectively unless you're expecting to have time to spend shooting landscapes etc. Now that's not to say it can't be done but you're going to want the flexibility of higher ISOs with the tech camera outfit if you want decently short exposures at f/5.6 or higher to maintain image quality. Take a tripod. If you're not shooting off a tripod then you'll probably be zone focusing - nothing wrong with that so long as you know what you're in for.

    Personally, and this my totally biased opinion based on years of world travel with photography being a secondary reason for being there, I'd go with the Leica option. The 28/50/90 combo would work well with either the M8 or M9 and as Marc mentioned, keep the M8 and take it along as a backup. You couldn't get an STC and a couple of lenses for less than the outright cost of an M9 anyway so why tempt fate and sell the M8. The only thing I'd consider changing would be to add something at the wide end like a 21mm or so. I also always pack a Gitzo traveler tripod too btw.

    DSLR - sure. More flexible for low light and telephoto use. Bigger and bulkier to haul around than the Leica though and if you're prepared to go that route then you may as well bring along the Phase One system as the size & weight won't be THAT much different unless you're looking at smaller compact DSLR's and consumer glass.

    I'm sure you're going to get suggestions all over the map on this one!
    Last edited by GrahamWelland; 5th March 2011 at 03:27.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    My two cents, in no particular order:

    1. I would take the system that I was most comfortable and most familiar with. You surely have a camera that you automatically reach for first when you walk out the door. Mine is my D700.

    2. I'm not sure what you're planning to shoot (your family, landscapes, everything ...?), but I would also aim for the system that is smallest and most compact. Not necessarily your Panasonic though, since you don't like using it.

    3. If you're thinking of an M and can afford to upgrade to the M9, then why not? You get FF and no crop factor with your lenses.

    You mention its a "once in a lifetime" trip, and I understand you want maximum IQ, but a kit that's too unwieldy/too slow/too precious/etc may detrimentally affect your trip in its own way. Similarly, too much gear can do the same thing. I find that having less gear focuses your shooting while also taking a lot of pressure off so that you can relax and enjoy the trip itself.

    Finally, if it were me, I would take either the M8/9 or a DSLR. When I have my son with me I take only my D700 with 35mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.8. Unfortunately, my M6's are spending more and more time in my camera bag these days.

    The D700 is a solid, rugged body that is not too big (for me) and produces beautiful files of a manageable size. The prime lenses are really compact (especially the 35mm) and the fast apertures prove really convenient in low-light and for portrait shooting. In fact, I always shoot both lenses wide open at f/2. Always.

    Having just one wide and one long prime lens allows you to cover most things without cursing that you wish you had something wider/longer/faster, while also freeing you up from constant lens changes or fiddling with zooms.

    But this is just my personal preference based on my style of shooting.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Very much appreciate this post, as the dilemma is shared. Its hard to explain, but there is a struggle between having the camera that is a pleasure to use vs. one which fits the profile correctly. For longish travels, or speedy situations, the M8/M9 always makes good sense. Hard to resist. Its the "travel" camera of choice, esp. with family.

    I've taken to taking the MFDB solution as well on trips. Its size and weight are a PITA, but some of the most meaningful shots of the trip come from its (infrequent) usage. For most of the trip it hides in a compartment, with regret for bringing any other lenses for it (weight). But for a quiet 2 hour walk about shoot, its lovely. The secret is to use it only for specialness.

    Consider the M8 as the main family/shooting/travel camera. Bring the MFDB if you have room, keep it light as can be - not as a substitute, but rather as a special camera when/if you have time. That way, you don't need all the MFDB gear, or those extra lenses that weight so much.

    Are there more sensible options? Sure, and you know them as well. But if they don't give pleasure, or you won't like them, then don't use them. The M8 is a good travel camera, as it covers both the fun and simple events, as well as being able to make fine art. My lenses of choice are the 28 and 50, maybe as a wide if you want (CV 21 is OK, the CV15 is very good and cheap.).

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    This is a dilemma in everyday life. All I can say is you know how hard it is NOT to shoot my Phase gear at any given time knowing how great the files are. Almost impossible and anything less is just not worth my time. LOL

    Well obviously I get paid as well to shoot my Sony's but honestly the image quality is so much better in MF that it really is hard to downgrade. But given this situation maybe MF is not the best tool to use and compromise comes into play ( your married you know that word). The key here is use what will get the shots the easiest and fastest with your kids and maybe a M9 is good for you or not. Some have trouble going fast with a RF I do not so it depends on how quick you are and if not than maybe a small DSLR maybe better with AF like a Sony A55 or a Can/Nik setup but there mid range gear to keep the bulk down. In all honesty my Sony 850 and lenses are just as much work as my MF and weight and bulk so for me I try to go Phase all the way but the Sony has it's place. But on a vacation maybe a A55 or M9 would be better. I know one thing if i had life my way it would be my Phase kit and a M9 kit for these moments. I hate DSLR's 35mm any more but that is ME

    Now on workshops I do not waste my time with anything but MF. For commercial reasons it could be whatever is going to work best given the situation. So all these types of decisions are based on what I am doing or what I expect of the results. Vacation time in most cases I take nothing, its my vacation but Photography is my job too. All about whats best for you and your expectations with results and your style.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    S2
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    There goes his cash for vacation. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    S2
    Yep.
    can you loan one?

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    D3X

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Thanks for so many lengthy and well thought-out responses.

    One of the reasons for posting today is that tomorrow I am visiting focus the UK's big photo expo and wanted to identify products to investigate. Sadly Olympus and Leica will not be there (nor indeed I understand Canon), but I will be able to look at Alpa, Sony and some of the other suggestions. I've not handled an Alpa and want to see how big they get with viewfinder etc and how quickly they can be operated. I do envisage some point-and-shoot with it Graham, but would have a tripod with me too.

    Having recently come from 10 years of LF with Ebony, I am not worried about the workflow for a 'Tech' camera. Like Peter, historically I have struggled to justify the expense of the M9 over the M8 which is why I am opening up the playing field.

    Bulk-wise there is little to choose over the 645DF and D3X with Zoom lenses and I sold my D700 with the 3 f2.8 zooms 6 months ago since my 'go to' camera immediately became the 645DF.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    I am thinking if you take the MF gear you won't take as many shots as you really want to. If you can jump to a M9 and get a 35mm Summicron ASPH you won't be sorry. DSLR is so bulky you could have taken the MF with a Phase One/ Mamiya body and a lens or two and be free to shoot. A tech camera on a vacation isn't really practical unless you have a patient family.
    I just sold all my Nikon gear, got a M9 and a few lenses and it has worked out better than I ever imagined. The 75 Summicrom ASPH is a killer too. Hard part is getting the glass for the M9.
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    You have a Leica M8. It is a fine camera and perfect for your trip. Use that.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by baxter View Post

    Enter the Alpa.... I still have a Schneider SS-110mmXL and so would need another lens, probably in the 40mm range. Logic for identifying the STC over the TC is the shift facility which I could use when back home too.
    I have a bit of experience with the Alpa and it would be viable for landscapes on a monopod...not for family shots unless you want 40's era snapshots which can be compelling in their own right. Forget the SS-110XL - would need to be remounted and I doubt that you would save much money or get it mounted in time for the trip. A 45 Apo Artar or 47 Schneider would be great.

    However I think Marc is correct...M8/9 couple of lenses and my choice would be the GH-2 with adapter for your Leica glass. All of it smaller than your MF and one lens. The NEX would work also. This would allow intimate closeup and macro plus an occasional video of the kids.

    Took me years to admit that vacations are for others....workshops and photo trips for me.

    Sounds like a wonderful opportunity that your children will remember for a lifetime...minimize your kit so you can enjoy it with them.

    Bob

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Well pretty much everything has been said and said well.

    I don't personally think that IQ is the foremost quality one would look for in a "once in a lifetime vacation with family." Of course if you are planning to print very large I might change my mind.

    I would think the most important parameter is usability. The M8, which has extremely good files, with at most three lenses would get you all you need in this regard with no new expenditures immediately. Of course an M9 is better but at prints 8x10 or smaller there is not that much advantage. IMHO.

    The Alpa is simply too complex when dealing with fast moving children. With the appropriate lenses it may be the ultimate in landscape work for you but too many things to do before taking the shot and the shot you originally wanted may now be gone.

    I do agree with Marc Williams that a Sony A55 might be an ideal choice what with AF et al. But of course for you, this would mean investing in yet one more system.

    Just my thoughts on the matter

    In any event, with whatever camera(s) you choose to use, have the vacation of a lifetime and I bet that will be reflected in your images.

    Woody

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Last summer I made a conscious decision to leave my SLRs, pre MF, at home on the summer trip to the Oregon coast with my daughters (+1 friend). I know it is not the trip of a lifetime to Hawaii, but I chose to buy a cheap dunk-able P&S. It went everywhere with us. Did I miss my 1Ds or my 70-200? Yes. But I would not have traded having them with me to wandering through tidal pools exploring with the kids. Not worrying if my gear was safe was an added bonus.

    It probably helps that I prefer people pictures to landscapes, so absolute technical perfection is not needed. And I know that the audience for those images will see them as web sized images and not care what they were taken on. They will only see the girls having a good time in pretty places.
    Last edited by mvirtue; 5th March 2011 at 09:16.

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by baxter View Post
    I've not handled an Alpa and want to see how big they get with viewfinder etc and how quickly they can be operated. I do envisage some point-and-shoot with it Graham, but would have a tripod with me too.

    Having recently come from 10 years of LF with Ebony, I am not worried about the workflow for a 'Tech' camera.
    Bulk-wise the Alpa with a short lens such as a 35mm or 43/47mm can actually be pretty small and portable. (Btw, see Hiking with the TC + Aptus 5). It almost feels like an old press camera with this setup & VF. When you start adding anything longer such as a 90mm+ then very quickly you've got something that weighs and is almost the same size as the 645DF.

    Since you've shot LF then you'll be right at home with the shooting flow.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Vacation...
    tough
    I probably would take something light.
    I use my Panasonic micro 4/3rds now as my light cheap kit.
    But again, it depends on where and what I planned to do.
    If I were going say to New Zealand or Iceland, then I am sure that MF would be my main camera, Japan mainly in the cities, then the Panasonic would be all that would come.
    I USED to carry a Canon kit or a Leica rangefinder kit with me on vacation, but I now realize looking at thousands of images, the best camera is the one you are carrying usually and I adjust the kit based on the difficulty it might be to get it replaced or repaired on the road.
    -bob

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    A lot of good advice given already. I use both the M8 and an Alpa TC with the 47XL and P40+ back. For what you describe as the main purpose of the trip, I would take the M8 and the 28/50/90 combo. Do not sell the M8 for an M9, you do not get a lot of money for it and if you want an M9 keep it as a backup. If you will have time for detailed landscape work, the Alpa TC with a wide angle lens like the 35XL or 47XL is what you want. I know a lot of people are raving about the STC, and it is a wonderful camera, but for compactness the TC beats it hands down, it's also almost three times as light at 220g, and less bulky. Hyperfocal focusing is easy with the wides on the Alpa. You can still do panos with a RRS PCL-1 clamp if you like. As other have suggested, take a Gitzo travel tripod, it will be sturdy enough for the TC and a light lens.

    Enjoy your trip.

    Cheers, -Peter

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    The dilemma here is simply answered by what your priority is. Do you care more about the simplistic style experience and usability of the photographic process? If "yes" nothing beats the Leica.

    Do you care mor about file quality? If "yes" then get the PhaseOne.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    I would use the FF M9 for this trip. Perfectly capable of producing fairly large prints and being able to hold three amazing lenses in the palm of your hand! Bring an extra battery and a few tiny SD cards and you have the ability to shoot thousands of images. The JPG option will allow for even more "fun" pics that might not need the resolution for the larger prints. I use a Gitzo Gt1541T tripod and 1741QR head for the lightest combo with the M9 other than a monopod.
    It would be tempting to bring a Alpa 12TC too, with a P40+ and properly calculated hyperfocal focusing, you get the benefit of sensor plus, a point and shoot style, with lenses that aren't too cumbersome. Have fun!

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by leicashot View Post
    The dilemma here is simply answered by what your priority is. Do you care more about the simplistic style experience and usability of the photographic process? If "yes" nothing beats the Leica.

    Do you care mor about file quality? If "yes" then get the PhaseOne.
    I would add to that what is the priority of the images you are taking? Is your main concern getting images that will look great on the wall of your home in large sizes or is it more about the events and activities of the family?

    Pesonally I'd take the Phase setup, there is just too much to shoot in too short of time in a trip like that to mess with a technical camera. I feel it is more suited to return trips or occasions where you have time to scout and determine exactly what you are trying to shoot.

    I have a GF-1, and with a hoodman viewfinder on it, I would say it's much more usuable than a m8. M9 isn't a bad choice, but personally I'd take the phase setup to shoot the landscapes, and a canon s95 point and shoot for the family stuff.

    Or compromise and go with a canon 5dmk2 with a couple of good zooms ... think that might be your sweet spot to handle pretty much everything. I don't think the leica has any image quality advantages over it ... I own both and I only take the m9 when I want small and light (as in backup for the MF gear).
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Hikari View Post
    You have a Leica M8. It is a fine camera and perfect for your trip. Use that.
    +1

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    bring the phase with 2 lenses and the M8 with three. You can always leave the phase in your suitcase if it isn't what you find you need. on the other hand, if you find it is what you want you won't kick yourself for leaving it at home.

    i find squirelly kids are are a focusing crap shoot with my M8, should your targets be young ones

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    I would stick with the M8. I have gorgeous shots from the camera printed large. It is small and easy to carry. You already have it....and you will want to take more than landscape shots while you are there.

    If you've been a large format camera person before and you are looking at gear next week at Focus, I would not skip the Arca booth if there is one. While the STC is nice the Rm3di gives you more movements and tilt and isn't dramatically larger or Rm2D (no tilt and less movement). The Arca's aren't much different in size that Alpa when you add a handle to the STC.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Thanks again!

    The sensible head option is the M8, but then again....! there's no harm in looking, or asking is there? Terry I would love to see the Arca-Swiss options, but there seems to be no UK importer, Robert White, to whom I live dangerously close, don't stock them. Having seen the Alpa, assuming Paula from Linhof Studio has them at Focus will enable me to draw rough parallels from the data sheets and photos. Hardly ideal given the potential expense.

    Wayne, yes the 645DF is an easy and quick camera to operate. Will also look at the EVF on the Panasonic stand.

    Anyway enough conjecture, I'll be better informed in 24 hours.

    BTW my children will be 15 and 13 when we travel and there's just the 3 of us. They are keen that we get fab photos and are used to me taking pictures. Max, currently 12 considers the M8 'his' camera and it has been for the last 3 years!

  29. #29
    Senior Member stephengilbert's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Your choice seems to be getting easier: let Max bring his M8, and you can bring an MF camera.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Some of the most memorable family snap photos were taken by Polaroid, my 2 cents.
    Leica MP, M7, ZM21/4.5, Leica 35/1.4, 75/2

  31. #31
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    During my recent 3 weeks traveling vacation with an Alpa TC/P65+ (40 mm)
    and a Leica M9 (35 and 75 mm) I was amazed how completely different they are. So it really depends on the kind of pictures you like to shoot. The speed and versatility of the M9 will probably give you many more good pictures but none of them will have the stunning IQ the Alpa can produce when the circumstances are just right. The biggest problem of the Alpa for me was getting enough light: F/8 for DoF, 1/125s for handheld, ISO 50 for best quality. Compromise on these, and choose any combination of out of focus, motion unsharpness and noise to make it tough to beat the M9 IQ. I did miss my tripod but it would have meant check-in luggage which I try to avoid.

    Do you want to document the trip with lots of great pictures of your children in Hawaii? Then keep the M8 or better yet, get an M9.

    Do you like challenges and do you strive for that one picture better then anything you made before and that you can print 44" wide, never mind your children might not be in it? Get the Alpa, or reconsider your 645DF with the lightest lens.

  32. #32
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Alpa TC on a monopod. Sounds pretty cool to me
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Could also upgrade from the P45+ to a P40+ and have sensor plus. Or P65+
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  34. #34
    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Wow - you folks are good! You've got Baxter on the digital back upgrade path already.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    While the TC is marketed as the "travel compact", I do not think it is as comfortable in the hands, especially for extended use handheld, as the WA or the SWA. The new grip for the TC is an improvement over the previous finger grip but for me the WA or the SWA are much better for shooting handheld than the TC. Although I have not tried it, I cannot imagine that the STC would be a good camera for extended handheld use - but maybe it could work out fine.

  36. #36
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by cmb_ View Post
    While the TC is marketed as the "travel compact", I do not think it is as comfortable in the hands, especially for extended use handheld, as the WA or the SWA. The new grip for the TC is an improvement over the previous finger grip but for me the WA or the SWA are much better for shooting handheld than the TC. Although I have not tried it, I cannot imagine that the STC would be a good camera for extended handheld use - but maybe it could work out fine.
    Like the TC, the STC comes with no grips at all as standard. You can fit a single grip to the right side of the STC which pretty much means that if you want to shoot handheld then you'll cradle the camera in a similar fashion to an RF or SLR with your hand on the bottom or under the lens. Having two grips definitely adds stability. I haven't used the SW/SWA but I did used to use a Fotoman 45PS for a while and the two grips on that helped with stability significantly.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

  37. #37
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Baxter,

    Your gallery is wonderful! Can you shed some light on the cameras used?

  38. #38
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    "Once in a lifetime trip with my children" ... is the key phrase here.

    In your opinion, which choice would allow you to freely and spontaneously participate in this experience, and enjoy being with your children, recording the experience, place and things you do together without turning every picture opportunity into a major production?

    Personally, it would be a no brainer decision ... I'd take my two M9s. However, if you get an M9, I'd hold onto the M8 as back-up and not sell it until you return ... and I would offer the same advice if you get the Alpa. You do not want to be without a "Once in a lifetime" back-up IMO.

    Your "to sensible" DSLR choice is just that, "sensible". With the Leica and the Alpa, you are limited in reach and lower light abilities, which you may or may not wish you had once you are there (depending on what and how you like to shoot). Take a look at the Sony A55 which is really tiny, takes Zeiss/Sony lenses, and is more fun than a barrel of monkeys to play with. Coupled with a Sony 50/1.4, it provides very low light abilities. Add on longer zoom and you have the reach ... if you think you'd use it.

    A cheaper route with lot's of flexibility could be your M8 and a Sony NEX5 with an M lens mount adapter, and a long zoom for the NEX. Back-up, low light ability, and reach in a small package. Small may be VERY desirable if you are traveling from one island to another over the three weeks. "Big" becomes a big PITA really fast when moving from one destination to the next.

    If I were traveling to this destination alone or with my wife, with the express purpose of making photographs, I'd take my MFD kit ... but if I was there to experience it all with my children, I would not. We all often feel compelled to use our best tools when an opportunity like this arises ... however, enjoying our families comes first IMO.

    My 2

    -Marc

    P.S., this doesn't take into account the desire factor ... if you have a burning desire for an ALPA, and think you could master it in time, then no amount of reasoned thinking or logic can quench that desire ... "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."
    +1
    Bill

  39. #39
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Go with what you have and enjoy HI. How much would it cost to UPS or Fed-EX your MF gear? For three weeks, it might be worth it for the "business" portion of your trip.

    Steve

  40. #40
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    I also think what you have could work great and would bring the M8 (or M9 if you need more MP and want to replace the M8) but would also keep and bring the gf1. Why? You might have places where you dont want to bring the M8 (when walking on the beach with the feets in the water, when going out in a rubber boat, etc etc.
    2 years ago I brought the Artec, M8 and a small waterproof digicam (which also does poretty good video). I took few images with the Artec, many many with the M8 and was sometimes used the small waterproof Pana FT one.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Having visited Focus, the solution is straightforward - Alpa STC with IQ180 and four lenses...... Should my lottery funding not be forthcoming, I will travel with something other than the this!

    Absolutely loved the STC but with just a single lens, the Schneider 43mm the pricing is about 9000 inc VAT which is over 3x price of all our air fares.

    Thus I will be taking the Leica M8 which will be fine as is. I do see merit in investigating FEDEX or otherwise for the Phase 645DF, possibly not taking all 4 lenses. We've also got a little jpeg Panasonic compact which was going to get a 180 waterproof housing for beach use home and abroad.

    Another option materialised using a Horseman with the P45 and I might be able to borrow or rent one of these.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by johnnygoesdigital View Post
    Baxter,

    Your gallery is wonderful! Can you shed some light on the cameras used?
    Thanks for taking a look and your kind words Johnny.

    All the pictures on my website are made with an Ebony 45SU with a variety of lenses, from 58mm to 300mm inc some with the wonderful Cooke PS945. Mostly they are with the 110mmXL which I found suited me well. I processed E6, C41 and B&W film at home and scanned using a Flextight Precision II.

    The pictures I've posted on GETdpi are all made with the Phase 645DF and P45+ with 28, 45, 80 or 150mm lenses with adjustment in C1Pro and B&W conversions using Silver Efex Pro (mk1).

    I need to get around to updating my website, but am waiting to learn how to keyword properly in Expression Media 2 before adding the new pictures.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Baxter, I have just returned back home from my trip to Thailand, fantastic place for photography and I took there my ALPA SWA + Sinar 75LV with the 35mm. digitar and my Leica m9 with the Konica Dual 21-35mm. and 50 Lux Pre-asph.

    On the third day I noticed that I was annoying my company, looking forward to sunsets and calculating the sunrise time. I was not enjoying my well deserved vacation, I was thinking about "money shots" and places to put my tripod . I realized that and parked my Alpa set to the hotel room safe, the ALPA fortunately was not too big for the safe.

    The M9 and the Konica as a daytime lens and my 50 Lux for everything in the evenings were used for the rest of the vacation. I felt naked without my ALPA for a while, true. And I was worried that I was loosing the opportunities for great prints in the future. But as a whole it was a very liberating experience.
    Leica fits much better when traveling.

    Yevgeny

    PS
    Very good landscapes on your site.

  44. #44
    Senior Member thrice's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    And now I am trying to figure out how to afford an Alpa STC, P45+ and 43/5.6.
    If anyone wants to trade for an M9P and a couple of lenses let me know
    My Tumblr
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  45. #45
    Senior Member Tim's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    If this was me, I'd sell off the m43 kit and use the money to add a VC 15mm to the M8 kit. I'd leave the 90mm home though. I'd use the wides more, others may differ. Less is more IMO.

    Also have you ever used the Phase while on foot? To me this is the limiting factor, it would be too heavy while traipsing about the islands. How about a third option and take the Phase P45 with just two lenses? Taking all 4 seems a lot of weight. Could you pare it back to two? For me even this would not be light enough though.

    I think I would also pick up something... say... like a Sony RX-100 or perhaps a NEX6 with short zoom. Something to go into a pocket when going out to dinner. Then you'd have no excuse to have something with you all the time.

  46. #46
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Two different purposes: people, fun and a trip - something small and light. M or something of similar size.

    Then there is the chance to do photography, which is slower, larger, more demanding, and contemplative - thus MFDB.

    There are some solutions for mixing these two together, and their satisfaction depends on your criteria. But in general, MFDB don't do the family shots as well as something smaller and quicker. The better ones of the smaller cameras (M9, RX1, X100) are quite satisfying, but there is often the need for both approaches: the image quality from the MFDB is special, and worth hauling around for the more serious work.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    My answer would be : get an Alpa TC, forget about shift, but get a tilt adapter. For those shots you don't get, those ones that do come out are worth all the ones that didn't.

    But thats me. Its vacation, you have the whole vacation to take pictures, missing the photo of that one squirrel jumping off the tree isn't going to kill you. However, lets say you go on that hike to the top of the mountain you've been thinking about the whole trip, you finally get to the top and everything is perfect, you will DEFINITELY regret not taking your MF gear. To come home, remember the moment and recreate the photo with the IQ and color rendition of MF isn't even faire to compare to 35mm.

    As I said before, it really depends on you. Personally I would always prefer 1 perfect picture, instead of 2000 mediocre photos.

    I know that my next vacation, I will be purchasing an SWA instead of a TC because its more beautiful and I love the balance

    My 2 cents

  48. #48
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    Take the M8 or M9. Though some do use it handheld, alpa is very much a tripod camera.

    This is not just advice, but I actually went through this. Eventually replaced my TC (& Max) by a view camera but still have my M9.

  49. #49
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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    btw, I've printed images for professional photographers from all of the cameras you mention, none are inadequate.

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    Re: Alpa STC (or other) vs Leica M8/9 dilemma

    This is clearly a very special holiday so I would leave the big kit at home and do this:
    Take the Leica with one lens only and document the whole trip from the day you wake up and travel to the airport to the day you return home.
    Along the way collect objects that you feel mark moments on the trip, tickets, sea shells, bird feathers, the bill from that awful meal you had etc etc. The children could add to the collection as well.
    When you get home print small jewel like images onto fine quality watercolour paper and create a hand made illustrated journal of your travels, non of that on demand online book nonsense (too slick) but a personal glue and paper job.
    To this you could add the items both you and the children collected on the trip as well as the fantastic tales that went with them.
    What you will then have is a valuable and beautiful record of that holiday which can live on your bookshelf, rather than lost on a hard drive or as a box of large prints under the bed.
    No way am I a gear Luddite, I use both Phase P45+ and Mono 5x4 film in a darkroom for goodness sake but this is a great opportunity to simplify your options and involve the kids.
    The files from the M8 will be more than adequate.
    Have a great trip.
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