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Thread: Considering the H3DII-31

  1. #1
    andershald
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    Considering the H3DII-31

    Hello Everyone.

    I am new to this forum and I can see that this is a very active forum for medium format digital. I am considering the Hasselblad offer on the H3DII-31, and I found that there is relatively few posts on the web about this particular camera. I have borrowed the camera from at dealer in Copenhagen for the weekend and I thought I'd share my initial impressions. I have posted the same at the Hasselblad user forum, so forgive me if you read this both places.

    My test is not a scientific or general purpose test of the camera, but a test of whether the camera is right for me and my way of working. I shoot kids, mostly, on location, mostly, in daylight, with reflectors, and occasionally with flash in a studio, but rarely daylight with flashfill (which is one of the things that make the lens shutters an advantage).

    Let me start with some of the things I expected to be issues: I have been shooting a Canon 1DS2 for a couple of years, I expected shooting speed to be horribly slow. It wasn't...or at least it didn't feel slow. I used to shoot a Pentax 67 and this feels way faster. Also the whole handling of a medium format system gives a shoot a slightly different pace than shooting with a dslr. The shooting speed is fine. I tested both my Lexar 133x cards and a Sandisk Extreme IV card and the faster cards are essential. Not only does the buffer not fill up, the frame rate increases with the faster cards. So if I buy, I will also buy a new stack of 8gb cards (approx 150 images/8gb).

    Battery life was ok, I got 300+ frames on the first charge and I presume the dealer gave me a freshly charged battery. Additional batteries will also be added to the shopping basket.

    Autofocus was fine, not dslr speed, but everything is a little slower on medium format, thus the focus speed didn't feel like it was slowing me down at all. Even for kids I am not worried, although if I am shooting kids moving around, I'd probably reach for the Canon again, as I expected.

    I was slightly worried that the crop factor of 1.3 with the 31 back would make the lenses feel slightly 'tight', that the 80 would feel too claustrophobic for a 'normal lens'. My first impression is that it is not an issue. The dealer gave me the 35, 50, 80 and 100mm lenses. I think the 50, 80 and 100mm lenses are the ones that gets me closest to where I'd like to be. It might be that I decide that the 100 is too close to the 80 which would make me look to the 120 macro, instead. Looking through the viewfinder at the 31back frame indication marks, I was surprised at how little bigger the bigger chips are. I am no longer concerned about the crop facter.

    In my work I like to shoot at lower apertures, I like low depth of field. That would be my main reson for going with the 100mm lens. Yesterday I couldn't figure out what was troubling me, but I realised today that on a sunny day like yesterday, I actually had to stop the lenses down and shoot at f8, f11 and quite a few frames at f22, at a 100 iso. The shutters in the lenses are not very fast compared to the Canon. This I actually find to go against the way I work. I tried to find the specifications on Hasselblads website, but oddly the product sheets didn't specify the max shutterspeed! The 100mm seems to max out at 1/800s. I am not so happy about that. On the other hand, higher depth of field means that my shots from yesterday were nice and sharp :-)

    One of the things that really attracted me to the Hasselblad was the nice big monitor on the back. Sadly it was so dim that it was more or less useless outdoors! Even trying to shade it with a hand didn't help much (while holding a heavy camera and operating the navigation button). There might be a way to increase brightness, at the cost of battery life, but I couldn't figure it out. (If anybody knows how, do let me know) That is really a shame, because it would be nice to have a useful screen. The tiny (by todays standards) screen on my Canon 1dsII is far more useful than the big monitor on the HD3II-31, simply because it is brighter.

    I am a big fan of the histogram on the handgrip, it is much easier to see than the monitor, and it'll instantly tell me if my exposures are good. Nice feature.

    All in all I found the camera to be really well built, nice to work with, intuitive to use. A few of the things I expected to be issues were not, and some of the things I expected to be great were not so hot. One of the really important things to realise about buying a MFD system is that when you don't have one, they are objects of desire. When you have them, they are a camera, a tool and just that. Using one for image making is not a 'religious experience' that will bring your image making to new and pleasurable heights. It's a camera. It'll do what other cameras do, record images. Hopefully in the hands of the photographer it will enable the photographer to do something that she or he wasn't able to do with another tool. But an expensive camera will not turn any photographer into a better photographer. This type of camera will actually require slightly more skill from a photographer, I think.

    There is one complication though. I am one of those odd photographers who feels compelled to withstand the Apple brainwash. Yes, I am a pc user. I am used to pc's and I will stick with my pc!

    So in order to view the wonderful files from this very expensive camera I downloaded...FlexColor. The latest version, updated recently and whoosh...it was 1998 again. Drag and drop is a foreign concept, files must be imported through a separate import window, zooming in on an image in the raw processer to see if it is sharp doesn't help you it will just enlarge the pixels of the thumbnail, so no checking for sharpness prior to processing. I kept my raw files in seperate folders inside a folder called 'hasselblad test' in the import window I pointed to the 'hasselblad test' folder, and it was empty...of course, I have to import from the specific subfolder that contains the raw files...argh! The raw processing tools of CS3 is complete science fiction in contrast to the, let me try to be polite here, BASIC, tools available in FlexColor. In my opinion FlexColor is not an option for a working pro. I use Iview Media Pro for editing, but not with Hasselblad files. I tried opening Bridge (which I never use) and the Hasselblad files were compressed to square images!?! Would I show these to a client at a shoot? No.

    I sat down and did my very best to work through a handful of images in FlexColor and it is actually doable. It takes forever, feels very primitive and was an altogether uncomfortable experience. I opened the processed tiffs in Photoshop (Whoosh back to 2008) and of course the files look great. As I expected. In fact I am sure that the image quality from any of these backs, Leaf, PhaseOne, Sinar or Hasselblad is great. The differences are marginal an mostly related to user preferences and camera preferences. I had a friend send me som raw files from his P31+ and P45 backs, I opened them in ACR (without travelling in time, adjusted them in my preferred raw converter) and compared them to the Hasselblad files. To my immediate impression the files seemed equal. I didn't do detailed analysis, I looked at them side by side at 100% 200% and 400%. I saw nothing that would make me prefer either back over the other. I did think that the higher resolution of the P45 back was so marginal that, for me at least, there would be no attraction to spend the extra money.

    I know Phocus is coming and I now that it is estimated to arrive in Q4 this year. But I am offered a deal that is available until August 31. Would I spend this much money on a system that forces me to use a piece of software that is not available for me to test now. In short, NO! I know all the arguments about software correction etc, but NO! I will not gamble on liking Phocus. I bought Capture One when I bought the Canon, as a lot of people like it, but I didn't and never use it (even after they matched the PC user interface to the Mac UI). The software is as important a part of the imagemaking proces as the lens and the back, if I am not happy with that part, it IS a dealbreaker. I don't use Aperture or Lightroom or Bridge...so the fact that Phocus is made to look like those, doesn't really impress me. I know, on this particular point I am a little weird, but it's my opinion and how I like to work. A Phase back would allow me to work the way I like to work. Hasselblad should make their rawfile format available to be processed in ACR, and the user could choose and decide on wether to take advantage of Phocus or not.

    I will continue to shoot today and tomorrow and I will add to this post any further impressions. Please note that these are only my impressions based on how I would use the camera. My findings are based on picking up the camera and using it without reading a manual or going through the various custom option. It is not unlikely that some of the findings are due to me not knowing specifics about the camera and the system, if that is the case, please don't hesitate to correct me. The things that I find less useful for me, could be a non issue for other photographer. I am also certain that using the camera and getting to know the camera as you only get to know equipment you own, will increase the quality of output from the camera, and the pleasure of using it.

    I am writing my impressions because I intend to buy a MFDB and camera system and because I am seriously considering the H3DII-31. I have not yet ruled this system out completely (Phocus for PC could come out in time and I could like it!), I could find things about the alternative systems that annoys me more than Flexcolor. But I have asked my dealer to set me up to test the Mamiya/Phase camera and a Phase back next week. I will also post my findings of that test here.

    Have a nice weekend.

    Best regards,
    Anders Hald

  2. #2
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Oh, I did find an image preview to check sharpness in Flexcolor, in the menu "Window" under detail.

    Anders

  3. #3
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Hi Anders:

    Welcome to the forum!

    In my comparisons, C1 does a superior job with the Phase files compared to ACR/LR, and especially the P backs without micro-lenses like the P45, FWIW... So as long as you're testing, you should at least open the Phase files in C1 and see if you like what you see over ACR/LR.

    Aside from that, I agree --- ALL of the current crop of digital backs are outstanding, and the main choosing points are going to be camera platform preferences and back UI preferences.


    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  4. #4
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Hi Jack,

    Thanks for the welcome. This forum is great!

    I'll find my C1 and try the Phase files in C1. At this point I don't want to rule out anything. If my experience testing the Hasselblad this weekend has taught me anything, it is that no poring over camera/back specs and opinions in forums can substitute an actual test of the system in a situation as close to a 'real' shoot as possible.

    Best regards,
    Anders

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Quote Originally Posted by andershald View Post
    Hi Jack,

    Thanks for the welcome. This forum is great!

    I'll find my C1 and try the Phase files in C1. At this point I don't want to rule out anything. If my experience testing the Hasselblad this weekend has taught me anything, it is that no poring over camera/back specs and opinions in forums can substitute an actual test of the system in a situation as close to a 'real' shoot as possible.

    Best regards,
    Anders
    EXCELLENT point --- and at the prices involved, it underscores the importance of testing out the cameras/backs you are interested in before you buy...

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  6. #6
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Oh, for those interested, my work is here: www.andershald.com

    Best regards,
    Anders

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Great first post Anders and should be quite informative for those considering that system. Looking forward to your follow up post. BTW, lovely images on your website.

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Anders. I have been shooting with the Hasselblad H3DII-31 since late December. I moved from the H2/Leaf 65. I am happy to offer you any of my opinions if you like. I have tried all of the Hasselblad HC lenses too. I currently own the 28, 50-110, 80, 100, 120 macro, 210, 300 and 1.7x TC, extension tube set.
    You posted a lot of good points in your post. One quick point is that you can increase the brightness of the LCD in the menu controls. I tend to keep mine below middle for battery life but on occasion turn it up. I never have trouble seeing the histogram even with the LCD on low. Here are some shots I took a week or so ago. These were mostly with the 50-110 and 28mm HC lens.
    http://www.pbase.com/markay/colorado_2008&page=all

    One other point, is that the crop factor does sometimes concern me. There are a few images that i wish I had just a bit more "room". I do like to take macros and sometimes shoot my kids in my house and the the ability to take really nice higher iso images is very helpful.

    I am a Mac user but before Phocus was available, I got used to flexcolor and did not feel it was that bad. There are still some things in Phocus that are not optimal but it is an improvement.

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    I wanted to make one more point. In my opinion the 100mm plus 1.7x TC is optically as good as the 150mm. It is just as fast since the 100 is 2.2 and the 150 is 3.4. The 210 is an outstanding lens and there is almost no loss of IQ with the 1.7xTC. Also in my opinion and those of others who have posted on LL, the 50-110 zoom is optically as good as the primes in the same range. It is big and heavy and primarily for tripod shooting

  10. #10
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Hi David & Mark.
    Thanks for the feedback.
    Mark you have some lovely images. I'll start looking for the brightness increase right away. I can charge the battery over night and still shoot tomorrow and see how much it affects battery life. But a slightly brighter lcd will be a great improvement. Thanks for the heads up. From what I have seen so far the lenses are great. In my work I use very few lenses, three is really all I ever use. On the Canon it is the 35, 50 and 85. So the 50, 80 and 100 or 120 would be it for me. I like handholding and low aperture, so the zoom is probably not for me. An extension tube or 'set of...' would be a handy thing to have but I never shoot long lenses so at TC is probably something I'd rent, should I need it. Can I ask you what you feel is still missing in Phocus? Since Phocus seems to be the only way if I am to be a Hasselblad owner, I am keen to know as much as possible.

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    I guess the thing i dont like about the hassy files is related to that I sometimes take multiple exposures of the same composition. I use different apertures or other parameters. perhaps with some of my macros, the wind is slightly blowing. I like to be able to take the CF card and blow up the file to see 100% view to determine which is the sharpest or has the focal point I really wanted. In Phocus or flexcolor, you have to convert the files first before you can really get 100% image. So i have to convert and then trash the ones I do not want. The other issue for me at least is that I never know which files I should keep. The converted phocus files are fine but what if i ever wanted to go back to flexcolor or make them dng. What if the hassy software becomes obsolete. If CS3 is ever able to open these files, will the files from the camera or converted files be the ones for CS3. So now many times I save both, and the psd or tiff, which eats up a lot of computer space.

    Also, I just got very used to CS3 controls, it just takes a little more getting used to.

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Andershald.. If you do not want to use a tripod, I would suggest the 100mm over the 120 macro. The later is much larger and harder to handhold in my mind. I love that lens but always use it on a tripod. I am not sure why you would consider this lens based on your needs. The 100mm is a bit better for shots greater than 5 or 6 feet, and it is fast at f2.2. At this aperture.. tack sharp

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    As a user for only two months of an H3DII-39 let me add some of my experiences to the mix.

    First I agree that the 120 HC is barely hand holdable (probably not a word) due to size and weight. It is a great macro lens but it works best only with a tripod.

    Secondly Anders Phocus is not coming in the fourth quarter........it is here now! Go to www.hasselbladusa.com and download. Whoops, you did say you were on a P.C. so you are probably correct that it is fourth quarter delivery. Sorry for the misunderstanding. My guess is that when it is released we should be seeing an update to add some new features. Phocus is great for what it does but the lack of recovery and other shadow and highlight controls limits its usefulness somewhat.

    I have taken a different workflow approach compared to many if not most. I import all of the 3FR files into Phocus with all settings at default. This allows me to make use of the DAC for correction of the HC lenses. Then I immediately export the files as DNG's. Now you can bring the files into C1 or Lightroom or Aperture or whatever your favorite raw converter. Now you can do much more work with converters that have been around a bit longer and have more processing power. The process of import and export is very quick so it is not a burden. You might want to try this.

    The other thing I might recommend to you is, if Auto Focus is not a super priority for you , then go to the used market and get very high quality V lenses at a fraction of the new cost for the HC equivalents. In particular I would recommend the V 120 Macro. Although it doesn't go to 1:1 without extension tubes, the tubes can be had on ebay for low prices compared to new. For product shots etc where shutter speed is not an issue since you are tripod mounted, this is a really inexpensive way to get image quality that in my opinion is superior to the HC 120. Also the lens is very light compared to the HC 120 (small also) so hand holding is a breeze. I find it one of the very attractive lenses for this system. Similarly you may want to look at the V 40 CFE IF for a no holds barred world class super wide angle. This lens just has to be used to be believed. Anyway, i could go on and on about the V lenses but suffice it to say that there was a reason why these guys were the state of the art for years in the hands of fashion photogs etc who must have the very best image quality.

    One accessory I would recommend is the Singh Ray Vari ND 10 stop neutral density filter. It comes as a 77mm screw in mount so it is ideal for the 100 2.2 HC. It is essentially back to back polarizers which can be rotated to go from a 1 stop ND to a 10 stop ND. This will take care of any concerns you may have about the maximum shutter speed of 1/800 second.

    By the way the 1/800 second max shutter speed is common to all lenses with the built in leaf shutters so it applies equally to the Rollei, Sinar and Leaf cameras. The way to get high shutter speeds is to go with focal plane bodies such as the Phase/Mamiya or the older Hasselblad 200 series bodies. The downside is that you can flash synch only at 1/90th second whereas you can flash synchronize all the way to the max 1/800 second with the leaf shutters. Phase/Mamiya have been talking about bringing out leaf shuttered lenses which they are clearly capable of doing. However their shutters, unless something very radical happens, will also be limited to 1/800 second or thereabouts.

    Applaud your decision to really research the subject before jumping in. Once in the price of the accessories you will need alone will be a very large number so you don't want to be accessorizing a system you don't already love.

    Have fun and enjoy the MFDB experience. It is heady stuff

    Woody Spedden

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Woody,

    Funny how we seem to wind up with the same accessories. I just picked up this filter and have been playing with it a bit. Do you like yours? What in particular are you using it for? Have you gotten step up rings to use it with other lenses?

    With regard to the Rollei lenses, I think the max shutter speed of the new PQS lenses is 1/1000 and the older lenses are 1/500.

    Quote Originally Posted by woodyspedden View Post
    One accessory I would recommend is the Singh Ray Vari ND 10 stop neutral density filter. It comes as a 77mm screw in mount so it is ideal for the 100 2.2 HC. It is essentially back to back polarizers which can be rotated to go from a 1 stop ND to a 10 stop ND. This will take care of any concerns you may have about the maximum shutter speed of 1/800 second.

    By the way the 1/800 second max shutter speed is common to all lenses with the built in leaf shutters so it applies equally to the Rollei, Sinar and Leaf cameras.

    Woody Spedden

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    Woody,

    Funny how we seem to wind up with the same accessories. I just picked up this filter and have been playing with it a bit. Do you like yours? What in particular are you using it for? Have you gotten step up rings to use it with other lenses?

    With regard to the Rollei lenses, I think the max shutter speed of the new PQS lenses is 1/1000 and the older lenses are 1/500.
    Hey David

    I have not yet gotten the step up rings but I intend to.

    Regardless of whether other brands of leaf shutters are 1/500 or 1/1000 they are not close to the max speeds of Focal Plane shutters which routinely go to 1/8000. Thus for me the reason to own the Vari ND. Plus I think that Dr Singh is a wonderful scientist and perhaps an even more wonderful human! He is the type of person in our industry who deserves our support as he continuously strives to bring what we need to the party. I have spent a number of hours with him on the phone and just love how he thinks and acts. As a fellow Floridian you may want to establish a relationship with him to influence the development of filters, especially for MF. His primary influences to date have been 35mm shooters, most notably Galen Rowell whose work I really admire (even if I am never going to the locations he used Tarzan antics to reach LOL!)

    Love this forum

    Woody

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Anders - well written initial post - and nice work (on your website)

  17. #17
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Welcome Anders.

    I am a long time H3D/31 shooter (and now have the H3D-II/31 purchased as part of the Hasselblad price promotion) ... which replaced a Canon 1DsMKIII for shooting wedding photography and faster action commercial work. So, our people shooting motives are similar.

    First of all, please check with your dealer ... but I believe that H3D-II/31 promotion has been extended until the end of the year. However, please double check that I am correct. This may allow you time to evaluate Phocus PC later.

    RE: Software ... Phocus is roughly similar to Lightroom in workflow. Like LR, it swiftly loads an overview of images to allow you to weed out the obvious junk, mis-shots, and badly exposed images. Like LR, this is not the stage for evaluating the merits of 3 similar shots. The remaining images are then imported and placed in a file that you create.

    Once loaded, you can swiftly toggle back and forth between similar shots. You can do this instantly because the files are already loaded. In this way Phocus is faster than Adobe Camera RAW. And, like Lightroom, you can select images to be in a "collection"

    Wether using Phocus or Flexcolor, at this point you have the option to convert any or all the images into DNG RAW files which Adobe Camera RAW recognizes and opens in the ACR processing software. The pure Hasselbald files remain untouched as a back-up which you can return to at any time. Adobe Lightroom also recognizes the DNG files. So, for now you can evaluate the H3D-II/31 with a more familiar software. For people work, and for the lenses you intend on using, the Hasselbald software corrections called "DAC" are somewhat irrelevant ... I rarely use them for wedding work shooting people.

    Now, if you do not use Photoshop CS3-Adobe Camera RAW or Lightroom2 ... you should know that Aperture directly opens Hasselbald H3D-II/31 files.

    There is a lot more ... but that's enough for now.

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    Senior Member yaya's Avatar
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Anders nice work on your site!

    As someone who shoots people and kids, speed should be one of the key features for you, and along with PC support, I believe that one of our Aptus S or AFi products should give you a very good solution, whether you shoot tethered or onto a CF card.

    Have a look at some of the names in this showcase: Dazley, Sam Barker, Stephan Ziehen and also Kelvin Murray, Julia Fullerton-Batten and Spiros Politis

    Good luck

    Yair
    Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Phase One | Mamiya Leaf
    e: [email protected] | m: +44(0)77 8992 8199 | yaya's blog

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Equal time, since the Hasselblad reps seem asleep at the wheel

    Hasselblad Masters 2008:

    http://www.hasselbladusa.com/masters...ners-2008.aspx

    Previous Hasselblad Masters winners:

    http://www.hasselblad.com/masters-2007.aspx

    Other users doing some "equipment stretching" work:

    http://www.hasselbladusa.com/user-showcase.aspx

    Marco Grob has some interesting people work if not somewhat "dark" in tone and manner":

    http://www.hasselbladusa.com/user-sh...arco-grob.aspx

    I love Kevin Lynch's "Before and After" shots of fighters:

    http://www.hasselbladusa.com/52062

    Check out this relatively new shooter in particular since he did a hands on comparison also:

    http://www.hasselbladusa.com/55603

    Rivalry is good. It keeps advancements humming from which we all benefit

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    I don't know guys... I haven't gone through the list but seems like Hassy and Leaf are both claiming Julia Fullerton-Batten. I thought she was shooting Sinar

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    Senior Member yaya's Avatar
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    I don't know guys... I haven't gone through the list but seems like Hassy and Leaf are both claiming Julia Fullerton-Batten. I thought she was shooting Sinar
    JFB doesn't own a DB but she regularly rents an Aptus from Peartree with H1 and 503CW (hence the Blad connection).

    Yair
    Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Phase One | Mamiya Leaf
    e: [email protected] | m: +44(0)77 8992 8199 | yaya's blog

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Just teasing Yair, but thanks for clearing it up. Whatever she shoots with she is a remarkably talented photographer.

  23. #23
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Hi Everyone.

    Thanks a lot for all the useful feedback and suggestions.

    Mark, I adjusted the brightness of the viewfinder and I now find it excellent! Thanks for helping me out. I increased brightness and contrast. Obviously it affects batterylife, but I don't know how much as I didn't exhaust the battery today. Extra batteries are an obvious must.

    Thanks for the suggestion of the ND filter, it will be a good tool to get, but I think that I need to choose a system that 'works' for me, without thirdparty accessories. But I think it would be nice to have one anyway.

    My dealer didn't inform me that the offer has been extended, but I'll ask him tomorrow. He did say that it was Hasselblad's intention to have a camera at this price level in the future and this offer was a test to see how the market responds. Appearently the market has responded very well and this is good news for all of us as the competition is obviously forced to follow suit. So it might be a good idea to keep chequebooks in pockets until Photokina, to see what news are in store for us.

    I am aware that I can use V-system lenses on the H-system, but I like the AF for my purposes, I shoot kids (and they move, quite often a lot). I don't shoot products and so only use a tripod with the older kids, when I need to. Tripod before increase in ISO.

    Fotografz, thanks for the info on Phocus. Hopefully the pc version will appear soon, so I can test it on the files I have shot this weekend. Aperture is strictly Mac, I think.

    Like Mark I also like CS3 a lot and that is my preferred workspace. So phase and Leaf files that open up in CS3 are an obvious bonus. I have been working with Flexcolor and I can use it but I would hate for that to be my only option. It's ok to process a handful of images, but I'd hate to have to complete a big commercial shoot, processing 50 or 100 files under time pressure in Flexcolor. I also like Iview media pro and again both Phase and Leaf files are supported.

    Yair thanks for reminding me of the Leaf option, would I go to Peartree to set up a test of the Leaf/Mamiya system? I handled the AFI briefly and I am sure it will grow into a great system, but I feel it's too early for me to buy into a brand new system. Funny you should mention Spiros, we used to print next to eachother at Rapid Eye when we were still shooting film, he is Danish too. CAV is the Leaf dealer in Copenhagen and I have bought a lot of Elinchrom gear from them, they give really good customer service. I guess I could give Kenneth a call. I downloaded LeafCapture 11 and a couple of raw files, processed them in both LC11 and CS3, both are great options! Bravo Leaf.

    One of the things I ran into today, shooting kids, and H3D/31 users, please comment, I used the 50 and the 100 a lot. The 50 is a perfect "35'er" and the 100 is such a lovely portrait lens, it sits somewhere around the 85/90mm mark, equivalent to 35mm. But the 80 I hardly used...when I compared it to my Canon, it was exactly equal to a 70mm lens, too tight for a 'normal' lens. This is a problem, the lens I use most now, working with Canon is my 50mm lens...and there isn't an equivalent in the H-system. I know I can buy a v-system 60mm, but that would be manual focus, so not for me. Or buy the zoom, which will not give me the low apertures. I am sure the zoom is great optically, but it kind of goes against my way of working. I know that changing system is also in a way changing style, but not having a 'normal' lens is not so nice. It might help to choose one of the larger sensors, but it seems that Hasselblad are phasing out the 22, and that leaves the 39, which is still quite expensive...

    Shooting with the Hasselblad today has convinced me that the camera is really very good. The ergonomics are great, the lcd is great, the autofocus and shooting speed is good enough and the batterylife is not as bad as I feared. So altogether a very positive experience. I just have a few concerns about software, being locked into Phocus, and about the lenses available in this system.

    I'll spend the next few days going through the files I shot today, looking at higher ISO shots etc. So more on that later.

    Thanks again for all the great suggestions, this forum is awesome!

    Best regards,
    Anders

  24. #24
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Hi again. Just fired off the last images that the battery would give. With the LCD set to values: Brightness 7 and Contrast 7, which makes the lcd useful in bright daylight, I got approximately 200 frames. When they where set ot 5 & 5 I got almost 300. So extra batteries is a requirement. Wouldn't it be great if Hasselblad would do a multicharger, that would charge say 4 batteries at once or in sequence, so that I wouldn't have to get up every few hours the night before a shoot to charge all my batteries :-)

    I think the Phase charger does two batteries at once, how about Leaf and Sinar?

    Anders

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    Senior Member yaya's Avatar
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Quote Originally Posted by andershald View Post
    Yair thanks for reminding me of the Leaf option, would I go to Peartree to set up a test of the Leaf/Mamiya system? I handled the AFI briefly and I am sure it will grow into a great system, but I feel it's too early for me to buy into a brand new system. Funny you should mention Spiros, we used to print next to eachother at Rapid Eye when we were still shooting film, he is Danish too. CAV is the Leaf dealer in Copenhagen and I have bought a lot of Elinchrom gear from them, they give really good customer service. I guess I could give Kenneth a call. I downloaded LeafCapture 11 and a couple of raw files, processed them in both LC11 and CS3, both are great options! Bravo Leaf.

    Peartree and CAV are two of our best dealers world wide and are both committed to providing the best service and support. I recommend choosing by where the back is going to spend most of its time.
    A call to Kenneth or to Lawrie @ Peartree is the best way forward, IMO

    All the best

    Yair
    Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Phase One | Mamiya Leaf
    e: [email protected] | m: +44(0)77 8992 8199 | yaya's blog

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Quote Originally Posted by andershald View Post
    Hi again. Just fired off the last images that the battery would give. With the LCD set to values: Brightness 7 and Contrast 7, which makes the lcd useful in bright daylight, I got approximately 200 frames. When they where set ot 5 & 5 I got almost 300. So extra batteries is a requirement. Wouldn't it be great if Hasselblad would do a multicharger, that would charge say 4 batteries at once or in sequence, so that I wouldn't have to get up every few hours the night before a shoot to charge all my batteries :-)

    I think the Phase charger does two batteries at once, how about Leaf and Sinar?

    Anders
    Anders

    Just a reminder that if CS3 is your preferred editing software that you can simply import the files into either Phocus or Aperture (Phocus preferred because it is free and has the DAC corrections) and then literally export them as DNG's immediately for use in CS3, Aperture, Lightroom, Silkypix etc. Since you are doing nothing but importing and exporting (i.e. no edit adjustments inside of Phocus) and since the import and export are batch functions so simple and quick, CS3 can easily remain your editor of choice.

    I would say thought that since AF is a mandate, and you want the high shutter speeds for your type of work, I think your choice is simple..........the Phase One (Mamiya) is the only modern focal plane body now on the market. Your criteria would seem to favor that above others. And if Mamiya do come through with a small portfolio of leaf shutter lenses for those that need them, you can do both on one body. I am a Hasselblad user as you know but I still hope that Hassy will come out with an H3 type of body with a focal plane shutter that can do all those neat tricks and allow use of the great FE lenses as well. Hell I would buy one just to make optimal use of my Hasselblad 110 2,0 portrait lens.

    Hope this may provide some additional guidance

    Woody

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Quote Originally Posted by andershald View Post
    Hi again. Just fired off the last images that the battery would give. With the LCD set to values: Brightness 7 and Contrast 7, which makes the lcd useful in bright daylight, I got approximately 200 frames. When they where set ot 5 & 5 I got almost 300. So extra batteries is a requirement. Wouldn't it be great if Hasselblad would do a multicharger, that would charge say 4 batteries at once or in sequence, so that I wouldn't have to get up every few hours the night before a shoot to charge all my batteries :-)

    I think the Phase charger does two batteries at once, how about Leaf and Sinar?

    Anders
    The batteries, like most batteries of that type, hold their charge longer once conditioned (fully drained and recharged.)

    The chargers are not that expensive ... buy two ... which is a good idea anyway no matter what kind of camera/battery you get ... chargers, like anything else, can fail ... one charger failing leaves you with one, with a single dual charger you are left with none. I've been there and done that, so has Irakly.

    As far as liking CS3 ... since you have the H3D-II/31 in hand, try using Flexcolor just to convert 3Fs into DNGs ... I think you will be surprised how fast the conversions are. I shoot weddings with the H3D-II/31, and dump up to 400 images into DNG file format so I can work on them in PSCS3 or Lightroom. Remember, you don't have to wait for Flexcolor to load ... it loads jpeg previews immediately without the Browser selection/import step of Phocus.

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    i have set my LCD to 5/5. Even in bright sun, I can see the histogram clearly and that is what I need to make sure I did not screw up the exposure. I do admit that once I turned it down, I was using the LCD image and not looking carefully at the histogram and overexposed shots with lots of shadows. Anyway, I easily get 300 or more shots and I do check most of my shots. I also make sure I turn off the camera while hiking if I think I am not going to shoot for a bit. I am not sure what the tradeoff is in terms of saving battery vs letting the camera go to sleep after so many seconds/minutes. I use two batteries and can shoot the whole day and fill up 16 gb of CF cards and not go dry. It is try what Marc says about the battery life improving after a few charge cycles. I also try to rotate my batteries on a regular basis.

    When I had a Leaf and H2, I had 6 batteries for my leaf back and that did not include the battery for the camera. The difference is that the hassy batteries are not cheap.

  29. #29
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Great news.
    - It appears that the H3DII-31 offer has indeed been extended until the end of the year, which will give me time to test Phocus for PC before I buy.
    - He also said that he has been given a Phocus PC Beta to test and that the intention of Hasselblad is to either announce a Beta or Final version of Phocus for PC at Photokina.
    - My dealer also gave me the Mamiya and a Phase P25+ to test, unfortunately only with an 80mm and a 28mm which is what he had available today.

    Best regards,
    Anders

  30. #30
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    fotografz, good point about the chargers.
    woodyspedden, I will try the DNG route, that could be the way forward, but Aperture is strictly MAC not PC.

    Anders

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    BTW Anders, I like your work a lot. I am not saying that just as a fellow photographer but as an advertising Creative Director ... that just now is creating a national magazine print campaign for Unilever Foods featuring Kids

    I hope your dealer provides you with the Phase One version of the Mamiya 645 camera ... according to reports from other people on this forum, it is faster focusing than the previous Mamiya 645AFD-II ... and to be a fair test against the H3D-II/31 for your applications, the newer Mamiya camera would be better.

    That Mamiya AFD-III, which was developed in conjunction with Phase One, comes with a better 80mm AF lens ... as far as I know it is the ONLY focal plane MF camera still in production today ... and provides shutter speeds up to 1/4000th, with a top strobe sync speed of 1/125th. The only other focal plane MF camera is the Contax 645 ... which may not focus fast enough for your applications ... and unfortunately is no longer made. However, my friend the Russian photographer Irakly Shandidze uses a Contax 645 with a Phase One P25 and produces spectacular results.

  32. #32
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Hi fotografz.

    Have you already got a photographer for your campaign? Otherwise give me or my agent a ring, mobile phonenumbers on my website. My agent can get a Portfolio over to you with FedEx right away, or you can download a PDF portfolio from my website (email me to get the link).

    I do indeed have the PhaseOne version, it looks brandnew to me. I have only spent about 20 minutes with the camera in hand (work gets in the way of playing with new cameras today) and my first impression is that autofocus speed is a little sluggish compared to the H3DII, and that the P25+ back is too slow, the framerate is considerably slower than the H3DII-31. But I need to test this in a proper shoot situation. I have been having trouble with Capture One 4 (latest version) crashing at start on my PC. I don't know what is going on, but I am deleting LeafColor and FlexColor to see if it me be conflicting with that. When opening the P25+ files in ACR I found that the colourtemperature default is 2700k...although the camera is set to Daylight. Which is a little odd. I will try my version of Capture One Pro and see how that works.

    More later.

    Best regards,
    Anders

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Anders, you have a good dealer. I wish I could get my hands on a couple of different choices to try for a few days instead of buying a "pig in a poke" and paying for it up front ... or having the dealer standing there tapping his fingers on the table and checking his watch every ten minutes, like has happened to me aduring some in-studio demos.

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    The more I read Anders' posts the more I admire his relationship, as you say Marc, with his dealer.

    Another commercial pro and Contax 645 user of some renown that you may wish to ping is James Russell over at Luminous Landscape if you decide to explore that option further.

  35. #35
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    fotografz & robmac.

    The dealer is Goecker in Copenhagen, (rep is Carsten) and they are great! Carsten is the rep for both Hasselblad and Phase One, which means that he can lend me both, doesn't really care which system I buy and I can have an good dialogue with him about the respective systems. I that sense he is very non 'salesperson'-like, which I like.

    I have handled the Contax system and i think it is a really nice system, but as it is discontinued and has been for so long that good parts are becoming expensive on ebay, I don't think that option is for me.

    I still need to play around with the Mamiya system some more, but I really liked a lot of things about the H3DII-31. It could be that I end up going with that offer and then just learn to live with the few bad points...ND filters for outdoor low aperture work, no good 'normal' lens and Phocus software (which I might like...as I haven't actually tried it yet). It could be that the Mamiya grows on me, and more so when I can try a full set of lenses and perhaps a faster back, the P31+ maybe? We'll see.

    Anders

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Quote Originally Posted by woodyspedden View Post
    The way to get high shutter speeds is to go with focal plane bodies such as the Phase/Mamiya or the older Hasselblad 200 series bodies. The downside is that you can flash synch only at 1/90th second whereas you can flash synchronize all the way to the max 1/800 second with the leaf shutters. Phase/Mamiya have been talking about bringing out leaf shuttered lenses which they are clearly capable of doing. However their shutters, unless something very radical happens, will also be limited to 1/800 second or thereabouts.

    Woody Spedden
    Very minor correction: flash sync on the Phase One and Mamiya bodies is 1/125th sec.

    Stay tuned to Photokina for a release schedule of those leaf shutter lenses for the Phase One body.

    - Doug

    Capture Integration, Phase One Dealer
    Personal Portfolio

  37. #37
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Hi Everyone.

    Just a quick update on my impression of the Mamiya/PhaseOne camera with the P25+. As I said I have only tried it with the 80mm lens, I also had the 28mm, but that is a lens that I would never use, so haven't really looked at it.

    I have only spent a short time with the kit, work got in the way, so my experience is not nearly as thorough as with the Hasselblad.

    My first thought is that the P25+ is too slow for my kind of work. The framrate feels a lot slower than the Hasselblad. This could be better with the P30+, which is more or less equal to the Hasselblad 31 back. So I will have to try the P31+ before writing off this system. Another thing is that the AF feels a little sluggish and a little less precise than the Hasselblad. It tends to hunt a little more. It is certainly noisier. Again I have only tried the 80mm lens and I couldn't make a decision before trying a broader range of lenses.

    Integration between camera and back is not as sophisticated as the Hasselblad, of course. I am not sure this is really a problem for practical purposes. You have to switch the camera and back on seperately, but that is not a problem. I did however miss the histogram in the handle of the Hasselblad. I need to push buttons on the back to see the histogram, a bit like on the Canon. Again, I am sure I could get used to this, but it is a nice feature on the HB. The dealer said that it is the intentions of PhaseOne and Mamiya to increase the integration between back and body on future models, and I am sure that this is a system with a great future, but the level of integration (my guess) might be less than the Hasselblad system as both body and backs must be open to other systems. Again, it's a matter of preference.

    The screen on the back is ok, it works. I havent exhausted a battery yet, so I can't say much about batterylife. It is obviously much better than the HB, but the battery in the back doesn't have to power the camera and AF. I guess it's a detail and what camera you own decides what kind and how many spare batteries to buy with the camera. You just need to buy 'enough'.

    I was a little surprised that the files from the P25+ with the WB set to daylight came out rated 2700K, with a strange colourcast. When opened in C1 Pro, they adjusted just fine, I was just wondering about that. Also I tried downloading a trial version of the latest C1 4 for PC and it keeps crashing before the software even opens. So I used the C1 Pro for my test shots.

    I wasn't so wowed by the bigger sensor size, the 80 feels less tight, but I guess that I need to try a more complete set of lenses before deciding.

    So my thinking on the PhaseOne camera so far is: Perhaps with the P31+ back and after more tests with a full set of lenses it could be an option. Certainly the faster shutterspeeds are an advantage.

    Probably I will now wait and see what Photokina brings. A Hasselblad HC65 f2.8 would certainly be a strong push towards HB, so would liking Phocus. That would leave me just needing to figure out how to work with ND filters :-)

    When I make a decision I will post my thoughts on what convinced me. Not in order to pass judgement on one system over the other, they are both competent quality tools, but more as a list of things to consider in relation to different types of photography.

    By the way, my wife thinks the PhaseOne camera looks better, more like a real camera and less like a videocamera from the 80s!!!

    Best regards,
    Anders

  38. #38
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Oh yes, one thing that I thought was a strange design choice is that the lcd on the top of the camera blanks out while the camera is writing to the back. That means that I cannot see shutter speed or aperture in the 'waiting time' in between shots. That is a little annoying.

    Oh, the Area Sales Manager from Hasselblad just wrote me and confirmed that they will present a final PC-version of Phocus at Photokina. That is great news. He also (sadly) said that there is no HC65 on the agenda. But he replied almost immediately after I e-mailed Hasselblad Products through the website. That is the kind of customer support I like to see, and again I am sure that the other companies also offer great customer service, I am just relating my experience.

    Best regards,
    Anders

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Very well balanced commentary - the type of input potential new users appreciate. Looking fwd to reading further.

  40. #40
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    I just spoke to the Leaf dealer in Copenhagen. He has offered to lend me both 28 mpx and 33 mpx backs to test on a Contax kit. He has a 55 and an 80mm lens. I will not have time to test this until next week, so more on that later. So far I get the impression that Hasselblads offer will be matched more or less by PhaseOne. When I asked about Leaf backs, he was more reserved. "Our backs are better" was the suggestion, but he didn't entirely rule out that he could 'get me a deal'. Hmmm. Ok, we'll see when I try the backs. Just "better" didn't strike me as a good argumentation, it seems that every system has it's advantages and they should be related to what kind of work you need them for. He also didn't fail to mention that Hasselblad backs "aren't that good"...and that they need the software to correct for lenses that are not very good either. Hmmm!

    I am sure the Schneider optics are awesome, they are also quite expensive. When I asked about the Leaf system, he said that there is no way that an AFI kit could be had at prices competing with Hasselblads prices. So I guess at least the AFI system is just 'to high quality' an option for me, at the price range that I can afford. And the question is, is a Hasselblad or Phase One system good enough for me, well from what I have seen so far, I am quite sure I will be happy.

    I will take him up on his offer to try the Leaf backs on the Contax system, although I am not too keen on buying into an obsolete system, but I am not prepared to rule out Leaf backs yet. I could love the Contax system, he might be able to find the parts I need second hand, who knows.

    The process is very long, but I enjoy getting to play around with the different systems.

    More to come.

    Anders

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Very well balanced commentary - the type of input potential new users appreciate. Looking fwd to reading further.
    Refreshing, please keep it coming, Anders.
    I, too, will be making my decision(s) after Photokina.
    Billy

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Quote Originally Posted by andershald View Post
    fotografz, good point about the chargers.
    woodyspedden, I will try the DNG route, that could be the way forward, but Aperture is strictly MAC not PC.

    Anders
    True about Aperture but until Phocus PC is released, you can use the (free) Flexcolor to do the same thing. Only thing you will be missing is the DAC corrections. Into Flexcolor as 3FR files and directly out as DNG. Now you can use CS3 or Lightroom 2 etc.

    Woody

  43. #43
    andershald
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Hi Billy.

    I share you opinion that HB should open their raw standard to other software producers.

    I emailed my suggestion of a HC65 to Hasselblad, through the website (specifying products). I got a prompt reply from them, that they were not planning a 65'er. WHen I later spoke to the rep about it, I suggested that with the number of Backs sold worldwide, particularly the 31 back, there might be a lot of users who would like to see a fast 65'er. The rep said that writing to Hasselblad was a good way to get them to listen, and they do, if enough people ask for it there is a good chance that they might make on. I was talking about numbers, I said if 500 people claimed a need for one that might be enough. The rep said that maybe 100 would be enough.

    So for that reason I would like to suggest a HC65 campaign! If you are a Hassselblad H system owner and feel there is a need for a fast 65'er, why not got to Haselblad's website and write them a brief email about it? You never know...

    Best regards Anders

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    A couple of positives worth mentioning:
    -the H3D's HVD90x prism (for 36x48 format) has higher magnification and no distortion compared to the original HV90x.
    -the ISO 800 performance is very good as demonstrated by PPR's Steve Hendrix, perhaps good enough to put off spending $10K+ on a small Nikon or Canon kit

    What I'd like is for Hasselblad to standardize on the DNG file format.
    Also on my wish list is:
    - a fast 60-70mm normal lens for the 33x44 sensor size
    - a TTL ringlight
    - fotografz's focal plane H body with a modern shutter that sync's at 1/200th and goes to a 1/6000th top shutter speed...this could make it game over for me.

  45. #45
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    The more I read Anders' posts the more I admire his relationship, as you say Marc, with his dealer.

    Another commercial pro and Contax 645 user of some renown that you may wish to ping is James Russell over at Luminous Landscape if you decide to explore that option further.
    We know that it is difficult for people to try these camera systems out in their own workflows since the dealer networks for medium format digital systems are spread out across the US.

    At Capture Integration if we are not able to personally demonstrate the system to you at one of our locations either in Atlanta or Miami , we do offer options to get a system in your hands. All it takes is a phone call. There are demo/rental options. With our rental option, we apply a portion of the rentals you have paid in towards the purchase price. All we need is a certificate of insurance to cover the cost of the equipment.

    Once we get the system in your hands we have a variety of ways to get you up to speed, either via the phone or remote access for your orientation.

    It has worked out well for many forum members and others.

    Also going on a GetDPI workshop like the Puerto Rico trip and the upcoming lighting seminar are a great way for hands on demos as well.

    Call me and I can go over all the options.

    L
    Lance Schad
    Capture Integration - Miami/Atlanta
    Direct: 305-534-5701 x1 | Cell: 305-394-3196
    Capture Integration
    [email protected]

  46. #46
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    My 2 cents give Lance a call. But try everything out first
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    I use my canon ringlight with my hassy... Only must use in Manual mode.

    Quote Originally Posted by BJNY View Post
    A couple of positives worth mentioning:
    -the H3D's HVD90x prism (for 36x48 format) has higher magnification and no distortion compared to the original HV90x.
    -the ISO 800 performance is very good as demonstrated by PPR's Steve Hendrix, perhaps good enough to put off spending $10K+ on a small Nikon or Canon kit

    What I'd like is for Hasselblad to standardize on the DNG file format.
    Also on my wish list is:
    - a fast 60-70mm normal lens for the 33x44 sensor size
    - a TTL ringlight
    - fotografz's focal plane H body with a modern shutter that sync's at 1/200th and goes to a 1/6000th top shutter speed...this could make it game over for me.

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    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Quote Originally Posted by mark1958 View Post
    I use my canon ringlight with my hassy... Only must use in Manual mode.
    FYI, the Contax 645 and Hasselblad H2F have built-in TTL flash meters.

  49. #49
    andershald
    Guest

    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Tomorrow is Leaf/Contax day. The dealer in Copenhagen didn't want to leave me alone with the kit...in case I have questions (!) so I am testing at the dealers space. He did offer to come along with me on a shoot and demo, but I don't feel comfortable with that. Not only would I not do an actual shoot with a new camera, nor would I do one with a camera dealer present.

    Anyway, he has both an A65s and an A75s to try on the Contax system. So in 24 hours I will post my impressions here.

    Any input as to what I should look out for in particular, good or bad?

    Best regards,
    Anders

  50. #50
    andershald
    Guest

    Re: Considering the H3DII-31

    Hi Everyone.

    Oh agony!

    My decision has not become any easier by testing the Leaf A65s and 75s on the Contax 645AF.

    First of all thanks Yair for giving Kenneth (Leaf rep in Copenhagen) a heads up to this blog, I think he was well informed on my specific needs and tailored the demo to my needs very well. He also knew what he is up against and I he suggested that he was the 'underdog', but I promised him that I had not ruled any system out, so was willing to try everything before making a decision. He was also able to actually lend me the Contax camera with an A75s back to take out and test (the A65s was not his, so could only demo at the store, which is fine).

    These impressions are my initial impressions from handling the camera and back for a few hours, but not an indepth analysis, merely some thoughts on the cameras suitability to my specific needs!

    Let me start back to front. The Leaf back took quite a while to go through, there are lots of settings possible, from colour profile to prenaming and pre adding of captions in the meta data of the file. Very cool and I don't remember half of it. Obviously a very sophisticated tool, I guess that these options can be used or not, as every preselection can be redone in post. The big screen and the stylus worked fine, I have no opinion on whether it is better or worse than the interface of the other backs, I think it is a matter of getting used to one or the other. I can see the usefulness of naming files in camera, though. Lots of clever features, I won't go into all of them, but one I thought was nice was the ability to get an overlay frame to match all the major 'formats', papersizes etc, but not the ability to define your own, if you are shooting to a layout.

    The LeafColour software runs very slow on my 2bg ram pc, and has also crashed twice in the first hour. It seems to contain all the necessary adjustment tools and I managed to process a bunch of files. The files are fabulous! I am not a pixelpeeper nor a digital tech guru, but I have printed all my own color negs for 12 years before going digital, and these files look beautiful! Quite neutral in colour and with a very nice tonality. I haven't seen any moire. The files I shot at 400 ISO look cleaner than the competition, less noisy, but with an obvious crispness. I would not hesitate to use 400 ISO in a tight spot.

    As I said previously, I think any of the major back makers produce fine tools that will all produce a good result. I haven't done any in depth analysis of the files from Phase, Hasselblad or Leaf, they all look nice, but so far I think the leaf files were the ones that impressed me the most straight out of 'the box'.

    The Leaf backs seem to have their own 'sizing' system, the A75s is 33mp and the A65s is 28mp. The rep suggested that the 'match for the Hasselblad 31mp back is the Leaf 28mp back. I don't think that it is a quite even match. I'd rather have 31 than 28mp, in fact I'd much rather have 33 mp! Although the rep has suggested some willingness to approach the Hasselblad price, but not match it, they are still more expensive backs.

    Now, the Contax... wow. It's a real camera, a proper camera and the lenses feel like Hasselblad V lenses with optional autofocus! The camera has all the manual feel of a 'proper' medium format camera. It feels like a proper medium format camera should feel. The autofocus is slowish, has a tendency to hunt, I can't say if it is more or less than the Mamiya/Phaseone camera but definately more than the Hasselblad. On the other hand, I ended up doing lots of shots with manual focus, and from what I can see, reasonably succesfully. The AF is too slow for anything moving around, for anything that is fairly still it feels more intuitive to manual focus...and quicker. But with the Zeiss lenses that feels great! I don't know if I can live without the faster AF or I would just use my Canon for those shots. The handgrip is too small for my paws, so holding the camera strains the wrist. Ergonomics on the Contax are not as good as the Hasselblad, it is also a much older system. The body does not take rechargable batteries, it does appearantly (I haven't run out of body battery yet) use a lot of these fairly expensive disposable batteries.

    For the Hasselblad I loved the 50 and the 100 mm lenses, they represent the two of lenses I use today the 35mm and the 85mm, there is no good match for the 50mm as the 80 is too tight. In the Contax system (please correct me if I am wrong) there is a 35, 45, 55, 80 120 (MF) and 140, around the area that I would need covered. So that would be the 55, 80 and 120? All a bit longer than I'd like. Unless I went with the A75s which would get me closer to where I'd like to be. Sorry if this makes no sense, feel free to make suggestions for a good lens line up to match the 35/50/85.

    In principle I am against the idea of investing so much in a camera system that is dead. The rep had two Contax bodies today, the one body was defect and the 140mm lens had a lose screw so the shade was rotating...inspite of this he was adament that Contax cameras were very sturdy and almost never broke. I am sure that is the case and that he was really unlucky today, but hey, it's a lot of money and a proffesional tool, I don't need no headache about equipment playing up due to old age. But the good body that he lent me, wow, what a lovely piece of kit...and the 80mm shot at f2.0 really soft but in a great way. Wow!

    So this combination has some good things going for it: Great files, fabulous camera with fast (aperture) lenses and great manual focus feel.

    And some things against it: Price, obsolete camera system, disposable batteries in the grip, slow AF.

    Something inside me tells me that, if I went with the Hasselblad, which I may do as it is the more affordable solution, something inside of me will always dream of that Contax. But I am still not sure if I have the guts to go with the obsolete system.

    Any input from current Contax users on repair times, availability of lenses etc? Perhaps input from Contax/Leaf users? Are there any?

    Best regards,
    Anders

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