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Thread: Phase one vs Leaf backs

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    Phase one vs Leaf backs

    I am getting ready to buy into a medium format digital system. I do not shoot professionally but i am very serious about shooting. What factors should one consider when comparing phase one vs leaf backs. I shoot primarily landscape, some macro, very rare studio/portraits. I will be looking at a mamiya mount and down the road i would like a technical camera. I am considering a phase one P65+ or a leaf aptus II 10, but will look for demos to save some cash.

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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    I find it a bit odd that you are comparing the Aptus II 10 and the P65+. The Leaf has a 56x36mm sensor, which is unique (afaik). If you really want that aspect ratio, then it's a simple choice. If you prefer 4:3 then the choice becomes more complicated. The P65+ and the Leaf Aptus II 12 are more comparable, as the sensors are the same size and ratio (although the Leaf is 80MP). Do you want a 645-size sensor or is a crop fine?

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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    I went through a similar process, but was comparing the Leaf Aptus II 12 vs. Phase P65+ and IQ 180.

    Really it was between the IQ180 and Aptus 12, but I threw in the P65+ as it was very close in price to the Aptus 12.

    The IQ 180 was wonderful - Much better handling (screen, internal battery, integration with DF, speed of refresh, etc.); longer exposures compared to Leaf (I think 2 mins vs. 32S), and Sensor+

    P65+ at the same price as the Aptus 12, I ruled this out. The leaf interface was nicer, and I was getting the same sensor as the IQ 180, all for a very similar price.

    Leaf - Large, but not so good screen. Ironically this was the best screen out there until the IQ's showed up (barring perhaps the Pentax 645D). Image quality, from anything I could see was was as good as the IQ 180. C1 support, which was high on my list is great on the Leaf back (not sure I could have said the same a year ago), I don't use Leaf capture at all. Support, upgrade offers etc. are similar to Phsae. price was a huge factor as the leaf, for me, was about 15K cheaper.

    I went with the Leaf, as I could not justify an almost 50% jump in price to the IQ. Live view on the IQ was tempting, but if you're thinking of 5DII/1DSIII type usability, its not there (yet).

    My dealer sells both, as I believe most dealers do, and the level of support I have got from him has been fantastic.

    Good luck with your search. Whichever one you get, make sure that you go for the kit withe the AFDIII/DF body and SK80 lens. The kit prices are just a couple of K more, and you could easily sell these off for more if you dont need a DSLR body. Also, as Graham said, I would really not have the Aptus 10 in the mix here, go Aptus 12.



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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    Just a comment from the usability point of view:

    If there is a tech cam down the road, I'd definitely go for the IQ series.

    The only Leaf back I have used (shortly) was an Aptus 8 and this was before Leaf came up with the new UI. This interface was nice but zooming in was annoyingly slow (as was the startup time). I don't know if the current one is more snappy but on a tech cam, a speedy review makes things a lot more comfortable.

    Pricewise I was tempted by Leaf but there is no live view. The first time I used live view I thought, ok, it works but it's as bad as expected. I was wrong. Today, I think it is invaluable on a tech cam if you need precise framing (there is no point in comparing it to LV on a Canon as it's a different technology).

    IF Leaf would/could come up with another firmware update bringing live view view to its backs their backs would be a hard to ignore alternative to the IQ series.

    Chris

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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    Graham, I was just reading an old post of yours on color cast issues with the Leaf back. Have there been any work-arounds, firm-ware upgrades etc. that helped with this. The Aptus II-80 is at the top of my list right now.

    Bill

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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    The Mamiya DM80 (aka Leaf Aptus II-80) is often a great choice if you want maximum image quality (resolution/dynamic-range/color) but don't want to extend your budget to an IQ180. The P65+ is (as noted above) in the same pricing category as a DM80 so is a natural point of comparison as well.

    Couple things to be aware of in comparison...

    Long exposure is not as good with Leaf as Phase One. For many users this won't be an issue at all and for other users it is only an occasional inconvenience. The stated maximums are: IQ180=120sec, P65+=60sec, DM80=32 seconds, but I feel that in comparison Leaf overstates their longest exposure and anything past 15ish seconds is pretty suspect. Though of course the ambient temperature, subject matter, desired exposure (high key, low key, or average), post processing, and your personal tastes matter a lot here.

    P65+ and IQ180 have a mode with lower resolution which allows 2 stops higher ISO performance. An IQ180 at ISO1600 (20mp resolution) is really very good. A DM80 is not going to be very impressive at ISO400 and ISO800 is very mediocre. Again, for some users this is a very large practical difference and for others it won't matter in the least.

    DM80 and IQ160/180 are going to give you good tools to evaluate focus in the field. The 100% review on each is quite good, though the IQ screen is brighter and the DM80 will take longer to load the 100% view. The P65+ has no real means by which to accurately judge focus in the field. All three backs do a great job showing a useful and accurate histogram; if anything the DM80 has the best histogram options as it allows you to check the exposure of a specific point within the frame ("is the shadow on the model's face hard clipped or just dark?") and provides a hardware button to bring up the histogram even quicker than can be done on the other two backs.

    All three are very well built and durable/reliable, but I'd give a slight edge to the two Phase backs for the heftiest feel of construction. With the DM80 you'll want to format your CF cards in the computer in advance of using them in the camera, but once you've done that once (and written "Leaf" on that CF card and only use it in your Leaf/Mamiya back) that will never be an issue.

    Startup time (as mentioned above) is better with the two Phase options, but - of note - the startup time and review-at-100% speed has modestly improved with the new UI.

    To be clear and not create any undue expectations I think it can be safely said that Leaf will not ever bring Live View on the LCD to it's current line of digital backs. This is much more than simply a "feature" to be added via firmware. There is a reason that the IQ series is the only digital back made with live-view-on-LCD; it really needs to be designed from the ground up to include it.

    Most repairs/service for the Mamiya/Leaf backs can be done in the US, whereas almost all repairs/service for the Phase backs require a trip to Denmark (via shipping to the US office of Phase One in NY). I think most people get this one wrong; they think if they aren't a pro they don't have to worry about service turn-around times. I don't agree. Repairs for medium format are pretty rare - few moving parts and rugged construction, but many non-pro shooters only get a few times a year to really focus on their shooting. If you are like many of our landscape shooters you may only take a handful of trips each year and if your back requires service then getting it back in a few days versus 2-weeks can mean the difference between being able to take your preferred camera on that trip or not.

    For landscape work Leaf also has a bottom-loading battery bay which means you can use one of the double or triple sized batteries. While it's kind of ugly it's a great option to reduce the number of batteries you're carrying/charging/changing. Though in general I think you'll find the battery life (for standard sized batteries) of Phase to be better (this obviously varies a lot based on how much you use the LCD and how often the back is capturing/idling).

    The P65+ is the most likely of the three backs to show up in pre-owned digital back inventories as many 65+ owners have upgraded to IQ backs.

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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    Quote Originally Posted by lenslover View Post
    Graham, I was just reading an old post of yours on color cast issues with the Leaf back. Have there been any work-arounds, firm-ware upgrades etc. that helped with this. The Aptus II-80 is at the top of my list right now.

    Bill
    That particular issue has been solved with a firmware update, but just today I had 2 new issues pop up. This particular back is not ready for production, to be honest.

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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    with respect to wide angle lenses, either on a phase one DF body or technical camera which back, P65+ or leaf patus II 12 would be better suited to wide angle landscapes?

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    I'm not sure that "better suited" really applies to either of these backs. It's certainly the case that the II 12 with it's 5um sensor is going to be tougher on wide angle lens performance, and definitely so when it comes to technical camera use where LCC's are required. (I personally went with an IQ160 to avoid some of the grief that people have had with some non-retrofocus tech camera wides).

    Remember also that when comparing the P65+ and II 12 that it's more than a simple resolution difference. Users of the 80mp sensors report finer colour tonality and a slightly different 'look' as a positive side effect of the extra resolution for the same sized image. We poor 6u sensor shooters just have to put up with only having phenomenal performance vs phenomenal++ I guess.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    Yes us lonely IQ 160 folks just sitting on the steps waiting to actually step on the porch with the big dogs. ROTFLMAO

    I'm happy to ride the pine. Lol

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    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    Here is a color and tonality comparison between the P65+ and the IQ180. These measurements come from DxO, and are consistent with what you would expect in theory. In general, given similar technology, the larger the individual pixel size the more fidelity it has for signal capture. These charts show that the P65+ actually gives "measurably" better color and tonality per pixel when compared to the IQ180 at the same effective ISO. However, this does not always translate into something that can be be seen to be visibly better, but it certainly is not any worse.
    Last edited by David Klepacki; 30th June 2013 at 21:29.

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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    Gee Graham, that's a horrifying bit of news. Could you elaborate a little? What were your new issues?

    Thanks,

    Bill
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    Quote Originally Posted by lenslover View Post
    Gee Graham, that's a horrifying bit of news. Could you elaborate a little? What were your new issues?

    Thanks,

    Bill
    He's posted images on this thread:

    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=31379

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    Re: Phase one vs Leaf backs

    There are definitely ghosts in the machine between the Leaf backs and certain CF cards. My gut feel is this comes from the open system anarchy that prevails in non-Apple types of systems.
    Has anyone found a brand of CF card that seems more compatible?

    Bill

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