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Thread: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    I have recently returned from two weeks in Kenya. My primary camera on this trip was an Alpa TC and a Phase One IQ 180 back. My kit included three lenses, a 35mm Schneider Digitar XL, a 47mm Schneider Digitar XL and a 72 Schneider XL. My kit did not include a tripod - all exposures were hand held. All three lenses have high res focusing rings. I used a Leica Disto D5 for critical distance measurements.

    The 35mm stayed on the camera most of the time. I know that this lens is a bit controversal but it renders beautifully and at f11 (as recommended by Alpa) it's flaws are not evident. The high res ring mosty obscures the depth of field scale - I 've figured based on focus mask result and examination of files that about 16 feet is reasonable for a hyperfocal distance at f`11.

    Here's what the setup looks like with an Upstrap attached.







    This setup weighs 1.9 kg - carrying it all day was not a problem. This compares to 1.4 kg for the Hasselblad SWC - I've put this kit together in search of a "digital SWC".

    Here's what the SWC looks like:




    Lens, back and camera perfromed flawlessly. The purpose of this trip was not game drives - we did that last year. I brought a GH2 and sundry lenses to be in a position to shoot game if we saw any, but this year I hoped to catch the landscape.

    I'll post a couple of dozen images and comments in the following posts.
    Last edited by Woody Campbell; 9th August 2011 at 17:20.

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Oh boy, you are going to make me bang my head against the wall. I was going to take that combo with me to Kenya with just one lens but convinced myself I wouldn't have enough shooting opportunities that were at the wide end (and ended up selling my TC).

    When you say not game drive but landscapes - were you shooting landscapes on game drives? Or you went out shooting specifically in more scenic landscape areas?

    I'm going with the GH2/G3.

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Most of the following images were taken in Lamu, an ancient trading center on the Indian Ocean in Kenya. One of the the lessons drawn from this experience is that this combination excels to the extent that you are shooting classic landscape or architecture.






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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Woody - excellent choice of companion. How did you get on with lower light? High ISO/sensor+? I love that first picture - very "Alpa" if you know what I mean - great shot!

    Terry - I could be convinced to sell you it back at cost if you really really want it.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    I kept the f-stop at f11 whatever the circumstances were and used shutter speed and ISO to respond to light conditions. I limited max ISO to 400 - C1 can produce fairly good conversions at 400. Minimum shutter speed was 1/60. In other words this rig was used mainly in daylight. In poor light I looked for something to brace against at slow shutter spead or used sensor +.








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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    This camera was much less succesful at "street" and action, where my Leica would have served me better. We visited an orphanage and I didn't come away with a decent shot of an orphan. This issue is that between startup and trial and error focusing and exposure there is just too much latency for moving situations. Some misses:











    Last edited by Woody Campbell; 9th August 2011 at 15:36.

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Woody,

    Gorgeous pictures...glad to see that you are enjoying the TC and the 180.

    Africa presents so many challenges to the photographer...looks like you have made great captures in spite of the challenge.

    Good to know that you have returned safely.

    Warm regards,

    Bob

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    More full frontal stuff from Lamu. One issue with this setup is it eats batteries. I'm still working on the optimal energy savings setup. I went out each day with a fresh battery in the back and three in my pocket, end ended up using at least two of the three. One mistake I made was bringing a small single battery charger (rather than the two batter model that came with the back). I had trouble keeping up with demand with the single charger.






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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Campbell View Post
    This camera was much less succesful at "street" and action, where my Leica would have served me better. We visited an orphanage and I didn't come away with a decent shor of an orphan. This issue is that between startup and trial and error focusing and exposure there is just too much latency for moving situations. Some misses:

    I would respectfully disagree with you assessment.....you are thinking more like a landscape photographer than a street photographer....


    Both captures...while not critically sharp show wonderful movement...great colors and exposure. Ideally these depict the motion emotion of the orphanage. Well captured in my humble estimation.

    Bob

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    I've had a chance to spend a lot of time with C1 - I'm climbing up the learning curve. Note to C1: It seems to me that it needs a gradient tool on the layers palette. It would also be a major time saver if the automatic perspective correction were implemented for this back.

    I'm quite happy with the way the C1 implements grayscale conversions, at least as viewed on the screen (I haven't tried to primt them yet).











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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Woody,

    Overall I would agree with you that the Leica or indeed a fast PS camera will many times fill the needs of one in this severe environment.

    All of my West Africa exposure has emphasized the need for multiple backup power sources or a very efficient camera. I tend to end up in areas with no power most of the day.

    However it looks like you have made the best of the opportunity.

    Bob

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Campbell View Post
    I've had a chance to spend a lot of time with C1 - I'm climbing up the learning curve. Note to C1: It seems to me that it needs a gradient tool on the layers palette. It would also be a major time saver if the automatic perspective correction were implemented for this back.

    I'm quite happy with the way the C1 implements grayscale conversions, at least as viewed on the screen (I haven't tried to primt them yet).
    Wow,

    I am seeing a lot of magenta cyan in these conversions...I know that C1 should be better than this.

    Great captures and perspective that need a better conversion!

    These really show the advantage of the Alpa TC and back...best of your series so far.

    Well done.

    Bob

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    My only quible with the back is that the cable comes out at a bad angle for use on a tech camera (you can see that in the first post in this thread). It came out at unfortunate times on three or four occaisions.

    More grayscales:





    This is one of the few times that I used the 72mm:


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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    A sunset in the bush in North Central Kenya.


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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    To recap. The TC + IQ 180 + 35 xl combination is intoxicating - providing outstanding image quality and results in a compact package when used within its limitations. I was looking for a digital SWC but I dare say (with risk of being flamed) that what's in the file is comparable to legacy film 8x10. Wow.

    Note that a larger landscape rig would not have worked in this context as a result of wieght limitations in bush planes and in terms of what I'm willing to carry.

    Some images from a village in Northern Kenya that we passed through on our way to a market (which I shot with my GH2).










    Last edited by Woody Campbell; 9th August 2011 at 14:35.

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Oh boy, you are going to make me bang my head against the wall. I was going to take that combo with me to Kenya with just one lens but convinced myself I wouldn't have enough shooting opportunities that were at the wide end (and ended up selling my TC).

    When you say not game drive but landscapes - were you shooting landscapes on game drives? Or you went out shooting specifically in more scenic landscape areas?

    I'm going with the GH2/G3.
    GH2/G3 is a great kit for game, especially with the 100-300. The convential wisdom that you need 400-500 mm 35mm equivalent is accurate.

    The 15 kg weight limit on bush planes is sometimes enforced and sometimes not. The GH2 kit is a godsend in this context.

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by docmoore View Post
    Wow,

    I am seeing a lot of magenta cyan in these conversions...I know that C1 should be better than this.

    Great captures and perspective that need a better conversion!

    These really show the advantage of the Alpa TC and back...best of your series so far.

    Well done.

    Bob
    Bob - thanks. I should have spent more time with the conversions but had to get images up on my blog. I'm still learning C1. I used LCCs for all images (including the 72), but was not consistent about taking an lcc exposure in every situation. When I have this problem in LR I just ease off the magenta and cyan saturation sliders a bit - but C1 doesn't have color sliders that I've found. The LCCs for the 35 probably press what can be done without compromising image quality. I've also heard on this forum that P1 is working on improving lccs for wide tech lenses.

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    BTW the level feature on the IQ 180 really came in handy. The bull's eey level on the Alpa viewfinder is not helpful if you want a level horizon but are willing to compromise on fore and aft tilt.

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Great stuff Woody!!
    "Creativity takes courage." ~ Henri Matisse
    Darlene Almeda, photoscapes.com

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Campbell View Post
    My only quible with the back is that the cable comes out at a bad angle for use on a tech camera (you can see that in the first post in this thread). It came out at unfortunate times on three or four occasions.
    Woody,

    Have you tried using a shorter cable. I know that my sync cable I use with my P40+ is a lot shorter than that one and doesn't catch on things or get yanked out.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Woody, wow. I really enjoy your work here and in other threads.

    I have a question. You were saying that determining exposure was slowing you down with more documentary work with people. Have you tried using a handheld meter with your camera to set shutter speed and aperture in these situations?

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Woody, how much of a problem did you find keeping the sensor dust free? Was this a problem when changing lenses or just dust finding its way into the camera?

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    I love your A55--in a Platonic way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Campbell View Post

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Woody, wow. I really enjoy your work here and in other threads.

    I have a question. You were saying that determining exposure was slowing you down with more documentary work with people. Have you tried using a handheld meter with your camera to set shutter speed and aperture in these situations?
    My kit includes a handheld meter but I rarely use it. I use the "sunny 16 rule": shutter = 1/ISO at f16 in sunny daylight. So at f11 and ISO 50 the right shutter speed is 1/60. The rule has a bunch of corollaries for different lighting situations. Here's a link to Wikipediea which covers the basics. Sunny 16 rule. I grew up shooting a Leica M3 so this "rule" has actually become second nature. It's faster than using a handheld meter (and more accurate in some cases) but it still requires fiddling with the shutter, f-stop and ISO controls. It's not as fast as semi-depressing the shutter button on a Canon 5D II.

    My Alpa setup requires frequent changes in ISO because the f-stop is effectively fixed at f11 and 1/60 is the minimum shutter speed. Of course changing the ISO requires going into a menu on the back.

    For really tough lighting situations I use trial and error.

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Woody,

    Have you tried using a shorter cable. I know that my sync cable I use with my P40+ is a lot shorter than that one and doesn't catch on things or get yanked out.
    My friend Lance Shad at Digital Transitions is sorting out a better cable option for me.

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Woody, how much of a problem did you find keeping the sensor dust free? Was this a problem when changing lenses or just dust finding its way into the camera?
    It was a minor problem. I blew off with a rocket blower every night which seemed to keep it under control. Most files required minor spotting in the skies.

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    I love your A55--in a Platonic way.


    Lamu is an island and it has no cars. All transportation is by donkey (so there are plenty of them) or boat. Power boat rides tended to be rough and involve a fair amount of spray. I carried a small plastic shopping bag to cover the camera in these situations.

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Here's a note on storage. I used Transcend 64 gb cards. Two cards were all that was needed for two weeks' shooting. When I changed cards I backed up to a Colorspace UDMA, which backs up the IQ 180 files but doesn't render them. I didn't carry a computer because of weight limitations.

    On the flight back to NY I tried doing a rough edit of the files on one of the cards on the back. I deleted some of the total disasters, defying conventional wisdom to the effect that you should never delete files in the camera. Well the conventional wisdom is still correct. Part way through the process I noted that the back wasn't showing previews of some files - it showed black frames with red x's through them. Not good. I turned the back off and got some sleep.

    When I got home I uploaded files from the Colorspace just fine.

    Three rules were reinforced:

    1. ALWAYS, I MEAN ALWAYS BACKUP. HAVE A STRATEGY WHEN YOU ARE TRAVELING TO HAVE TWO COPIES OF EVERY FILE STORED SEPARATELY.

    2. NEVER DELETE FILES IN THE CAMERA.

    3. THE MAIN RISK FOR CORRUPTED/LOST FILES IS OPERATOR STUPIDITY, NOT FAILURE OF A CARD. MANAGE YOUR WORKFLOW TO MINIMIZE THE RISK OF YOUR OWN MISTAKES.

    It would be really helpful in dealing the many "polaroid proofs" that are generated in trial and error focus/exposure/composition if Phase would implement the color coding scheme that's available in C1 in the back's firmware.

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Woody, thanks very much for this thread. Not only for the great work, but also for the feedback on your working method and experiences. I appreciate the insights.

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Woody, wow. I really enjoy your work here and in other threads.

    I have a question. You were saying that determining exposure was slowing you down with more documentary work with people. Have you tried using a handheld meter with your camera to set shutter speed and aperture in these situations?
    Woody,

    The VC II Meter is very fast...small and very accurate as a starting point. Do you still have it?

    Bob

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    I still miss my TC. Every time someone posts something about it my foot starts heading backwards and up aimed right at my butt. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    I still miss my TC. Every time someone posts something about it my foot starts heading backwards and up aimed right at my butt. LOL
    You'd be rocking with the IQ 160.

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    LOL.

    I know and its killing me.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Campbell View Post
    Here's a note on storage. I used Transcend 64 gb cards. Two cards were all that was needed for two weeks' shooting. When I changed cards I backed up to a Colorspace UDMA, which backs up the IQ 180 files but doesn't render them. I didn't carry a computer because of weight limitations.

    On the flight back to NY I tried doing a rough edit of the files on one of the cards on the back. I deleted some of the total disasters, defying conventional wisdom to the effect that you should never delete files in the camera. Well the conventional wisdom is still correct. Part way through the process I noted that the back wasn't showing previews of some files - it showed black frames with red x's through them. Not good. I turned the back off and got some sleep.

    When I got home I uploaded files from the Colorspace just fine.

    Three rules were reinforced:

    1. ALWAYS, I MEAN ALWAYS BACKUP. HAVE A STRATEGY WHEN YOU ARE TRAVELING TO HAVE TWO COPIES OF EVERY FILE STORED SEPARATELY.

    2. NEVER DELETE FILES IN THE CAMERA.

    3. THE MAIN RISK FOR CORRUPTED/LOST FILES IS OPERATOR STUPIDITY, NOT FAILURE OF A CARD. MANAGE YOUR WORKFLOW TO MINIMIZE THE RISK OF YOUR OWN MISTAKES.

    It would be really helpful in dealing the many "polaroid proofs" that are generated in trial and error focus/exposure/composition if Phase would implement the color coding scheme that's available in C1 in the back's firmware.
    Hi Woody,
    I have the colorspace UDMA also and it renders my P45+ files if I save them in camera as a TIF file rather than an IIQ file.
    The TIF file saved by the back is actually a raw file and acts exactly like a raw file in C1 (and other programs). So you may want to try that if you want to see them on your Colorspace UDMA...
    Best,
    Bob

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by docmoore View Post
    Woody,

    The VC II Meter is very fast...small and very accurate as a starting point. Do you still have it?

    Bob
    Bob - indeed I do. It's the meter I was referring to. It is small and accurate. I have a number of other meters from my legacy film days including a Weston Master V (still works fine!), a Minolta Flashmeter V (don't leave home without the instruction manual) and best of all, a Zone VI modified Pentax spotmeter, which works perfectly and which I will never part with. But on this trip I took the VC II.

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by rga View Post
    Hi Woody,
    I have the colorspace UDMA also and it renders my P45+ files if I save them in camera as a TIF file rather than an IIQ file.
    The TIF file saved by the back is actually a raw file and acts exactly like a raw file in C1 (and other programs). So you may want to try that if you want to see them on your Colorspace UDMA...
    Best,
    Bob
    For now the IQ 180 doesn't offer a tiff option. I'm ok with with that because the backup feature on the Colorspace is more important to me than reviewing the files on it.

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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Woody that should be on the back to set the file ext. Don't have back in hand but I had it on the P40 for sure. With the new firmware you can also use IIQs. More compressed raw
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    The IQ 180 offers only IIQ S and IIQ L.

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    I thought that it might be of interest to post to this thread periodically with my ongoing experiences with my Alpa TC and IQ 180.

    Let me know if you think this is a stupid idea.

    Anyway, here's a two frame pan stitch on Union Square with the 35mm XL. Stitched and perspective corrected in PS. This worked surprisingly well. It helps to start with a lot of pixels.



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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Woody, with all do respect , which IQ do you like best, from IQ180 or H4d-60? Thanks

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    Workshop Member Woody Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: An Alpa TC goes to Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by pipzz View Post
    Woody, with all do respect , which IQ do you like best, from IQ180 or H4d-60? Thanks
    They are both excellent. Really. Honestly. I have the IQ 180 because it s very well-adapted for tech cam use. I migrated from the H4d to a technical camera because a tech cam suits my shooting style better than an SLR on steroids. This is a personal, not a technical, issue. I loved my H4d setup - its a great system which, as a camera, I prefer to the Phase system. I don't own a Phase One or Mamiya camera.

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