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Thread: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

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    Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    Just a question for the group...
    My 35mm took a fall from a height of about 7 feet (it really WAS the cat!) and is dead. To replace it and the lens would cost about $3 - $4K. My primary use is for photos of my kids, grandkids and travel photography (which I do about once every 3 years for a couple of weeks where it's hard to use a tech camera on a tripod - think moving city on water...)

    Since I can't afford a Leica, is there any system that will give me sharp images hand held using my P45+? My guess is not because the dead 35mm had image stabilization in the lenses and performed well at high ISO, which kept the images sharp.

    Should I try my Alpa with viewfinder and Kapture Group single release cable? Maymia (is it sharp? Easy to focus? Accurate Auto focus? Phase One SLR?).

    But I just thought I would check the expertise of this group before going down the road of replacing what I had and getting MF exposures instead.

    Thanks in advance for any ideas,
    Bob
    Last edited by rga; 14th December 2011 at 05:39. Reason: added info

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    I think the P45+ might be overkill for informal kids/grandkids type of grab photos, though you could do so with a Mamiya/Phase platform, obviously later generation bodies are better.

    Maybe consider a 5D Mark II? I saw B&H has a $1999 sale somewhere.... here: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Ca...BL1215CA5D/N/0

    Nice combo set (complements each other) would be a MF digital P45+ set-up and a 5D II DSLR.

    ken

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    Senior Member David Schneider's Avatar
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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    MFD is overkill for you for your primary use.

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    Thanks Ken. That's the camera, along with the 24-105, that got killed...
    Appreciate the input,
    Bob

    Quote Originally Posted by kdphotography View Post
    I think the P45+ might be overkill for informal kids/grandkids type of grab photos, though you could do so with a Mamiya/Phase platform, obviously later generation bodies are better.

    Maybe consider a 5D Mark II? I saw B&H has a $1999 sale somewhere.... here: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Ca...BL1215CA5D/N/0

    Nice combo set (complements each other) would be a MF digital P45+ set-up and a 5D II DSLR.

    ken

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    Quote Originally Posted by David Schneider View Post
    MFD is overkill for you for your primary use.
    Thanks David. Kind of what I thought, but wanted to confirm with more seasoned photographers.
    Best,
    Bob

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    Shelby Lewis
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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    I say... if you like using it and it brings you happiness (and are happy with the results), do what you want. I shoot MF and 5Dii as well.

    I'd go with a simple Alpa TC and a 35mm lens (in terms of 35mm cameras) with your p45. Zone focus and have a blast. (and be ready for some "Artistically" focussed shots from time to time).

    That, or replace the 5Dii with a Sony Nex-7 and a few lenses.
    Last edited by Shelby Lewis; 14th December 2011 at 07:04.

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    I recently added a Phase One 645 DF and P65+ to my Canon 1DsIII system for landscape photography. While I love the image results, I hate the 645DF camera. It's certainly usable handheld - in fact I usually use it handheld during the day (when I'm mostly shooting "postcard" type images) but I always shoot on a tripod at sunrise or sunset.

    Compared to the Canon system, the firmware is buggy which causes the system to hang up occasionially (a real pain in the tuchas). The autofocus is another big step down. The 645DF can be configured with three or one focus point, but there's no focus point confirmation indicator such as in the Canon, so you're really guessing which focus point it decided to use as well as exactly where it focused. I tend to use manual focus most of the time just so I know for sure where it's focused.

    Of course, lenses are a consideration also. I originally looked at the IQ160 with the system, but ended up opting for the P65+ and more lenses, and I'm very happy with my choice. The camera is really just the tip of the money iceberg.

    Overall, I now use the Phase system 80% of the time and the Canon 20% or less. I mostly use the Canon anywhere where quick focusing will be needed, including most studio portrait work where I want to set the focus point on the eye. Weight and portability of the two is similar and mostly differs because of Phase One primes versus Canon zooms. When I really want portability (such as hiking) or for family snapshots, I use a Canon 7D with a kit 18-55mm lens.

    For me, I'd say the Phase One system is not a complete substitute for a 35mm DSLR for all situations, but it can be a great addition.

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    Thanks Craig.
    Just a couple of followup questions to your post.
    Do you know if the Mamiya AFD III fixes some of what you don't like about your current Phase One body?
    How is low light shooting? What ISO do you tend to shoot at if your just walking around taking street photos?
    It seems you first start out by saying you didn't like the Phase One camera but now you use it 80% of the time. What changed?
    Thanks again,
    Bob

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    Last question first - I put up with the camera's problems in order to the get the image quality result. There's a significant step up in image quality over the 1DsIII.

    I almost always shoot at ISO 50 which is why I only use it handheld in bright daylight. The P65+ is not a low light camera as noise really starts to show up above ISO 100. You can use Sensor Plus mode to increase ISO, but loose pixel resolution. My tests seem to say the P65+ in Sensor Plus mode is slightly better than the 1DsIII at the same ISO, but the difference is marginal.

    Generally, if I need the ISO I also need quick handling so I go with the Canon. The 80% figure may speak more to the type of photography I do most of the time. I've lised below my camera choices for various situations.

    Landscapes, golden hours, from a tripod, or highly controlled studio - Phase One

    Portraits or groups in studio or location, ISO above 100, telephoto - 1DsIII

    Hiking, family snapshots - 7D

    Simply sightseeing - Canon G10

    I don't know anything about the Mamiya AFD III. I believe you need a current camera (such as the DF) in order to use the new leaf shutter lenses.

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    Have you considered maybe selecting something much smaller but still with interchangeable lenses?

    I find that I'm using an Olympus E-P3 & 12/25/45 fast primes for lightweight travel (with Fuji X100 for preferred single camera walkabout). I wouldn't go on safari with it but it works for everything else I do that isn't using the MFDB big guns.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Have you considered maybe selecting something much smaller but still with interchangeable lenses?

    I find that I'm using an Olympus E-P3 & 12/25/45 fast primes for lightweight travel (with Fuji X100 for preferred single camera walkabout). I wouldn't go on safari with it but it works for everything else I do that isn't using the MFDB big guns.
    Hi Graham,

    Thanks for the thought. I have a Lumix G1 with 20/2,8. I'm pretty disappointed with the image quality except in bright light. Almost like the P45+, anything over 200 breaks apart.

    But this does get me thinking that, as was said by Craig, anything over 100 ISO with the P45+ goes beyond my limit of acceptability. That said, with an f4 lens on a Phase AFD (I'm thinking the 75-150 for travel), perhaps the autofocus will let me shoot at high enough shutter speeds to avoid high ISO for cloudy, overcast days.

    Which raises the question of whether this is right thinking and also whether the 70 - 150 is a good lens...

    Thanks for the input, Graham. Very much appreciated,
    Bob

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    Last question first - I put up with the camera's problems in order to the get the image quality result. There's a significant step up in image quality over the 1DsIII.

    I almost always shoot at ISO 50 which is why I only use it handheld in bright daylight. The P65+ is not a low light camera as noise really starts to show up above ISO 100. You can use Sensor Plus mode to increase ISO, but loose pixel resolution. My tests seem to say the P65+ in Sensor Plus mode is slightly better than the 1DsIII at the same ISO, but the difference is marginal.

    Generally, if I need the ISO I also need quick handling so I go with the Canon. The 80% figure may speak more to the type of photography I do most of the time. I've lised below my camera choices for various situations.

    Landscapes, golden hours, from a tripod, or highly controlled studio - Phase One

    Portraits or groups in studio or location, ISO above 100, telephoto - 1DsIII

    Hiking, family snapshots - 7D

    Simply sightseeing - Canon G10

    I don't know anything about the Mamiya AFD III. I believe you need a current camera (such as the DF) in order to use the new leaf shutter lenses.
    Thanks Craig.
    Do you think the autofocus (and I'm not talking for action shots) is good enough to shoot at f/4 or 5.6 as regards focus point accuracy?

    Bob

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    You can set the camera auto-focus to either Speed or Accuracy. On the Speed setting it's pretty fast, but doesn't take the time to fine tune the focus, so it may be off. I use the Accuracy setting which is accurate, even at wide apertures. The problem is that you don't really know for sure what it focused on since there's no focus point confirmation in the viewfinder. I'm not sure what you call it when the camera focuses accurately, but didn't pick the point you had in mind.

    I guess it's accurate, but not necessarily correct.

    You didn't ask, but the reason I use the 7D as a walking-around camera is that it's small, fast, weather-sealed, and with some care it can yield files clean enough to be accepted for stock usage (such as iStockphoto).

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    The 75-150D is an excellent lens. (I'm biased as I have one too). The only thing that I would consider is the bulk of the DF & lens because it's not shall we say the most petite of combinations. I always shoot mine off a tripod.

    The problem with shooting medium format is that once you are used to the quality of the files it is SO hard to accept smaller formats. My E-P3 produces nicer files than the Panasonic G1 & G3 that I had but it can't compete with a Leica M8/9 and certainly not with the quality of results from the Phase One or Leaf backs. This is assuming of course that you've got sharp images from the MF DSLR which certainly isn't a given if you're shooting handheld at low ISO. I'll admit that I'm useless with mine without a tripod.

    The other problem I know that I run into is that I'm so used to shooting with the Alpa & tech glass that shooting ANYTHING else can feel like a quality step down. (admittedly, at the wide end much more than normal/telephoto).
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    +1 to the E-P3.

    There is no real need for a 5DII or 7D for kid portraits. Informal stuff can be handled by an E-P3 or Nikon 1, formal stuff reverts to the MFDB...
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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    Thanks Carsten, Graham and Craig. Perhaps an example of the type of travel photography I'd like to do is best shown by example. These were with the 1DsMkIII and the 24-105 mostly:
    http://www.rgaphoto.com/travel/index_2.html

    Graham, you are absolutely right that I am now spoiled by MF; felt the same way about MF film vs 35.

    So what I'm hoping is that, even though it's heavier, I'll be able to shoot images of the above sort. I think the answer is yes, but it's bulkier, not as flexible in the situations you can shoot (indoors, etc.), and has lower ISO, no image stabilization and therefore significantly lower shutter speeds...

    The dilemma for me is that these are most likely once in a lifetime trips. What to take has always been an issue.

    Just goes to show there is now perfect camera!!
    Thanks,
    Bob

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    I use a Pentax 645D for the same stuff--travel, street, etc. (Some are posted in the "Fun with MF" thread.) It is a great camera for that, even with manual focus lenses. Handheld, I can get sharp images down to 1/60 without much effort and I can go as low as 1/8, but I need to be very careful and there are hits and misses. The nice thing about the 645D is you can use ISO up to 1600 and get really nice results. Personally, I am a real advocate for larger formats for street and documentary work. The results will always have a technical edge in quality over smaller formats--aesthetics are down to the photographer.

    I also have an E-P1 in the bag, but mostly that is for dinner shots.

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    I'd suggest a Sony A900 or A850

    It's the only 35mm DSLR system with Zeiss AF lenses. Smaller/lighter than a 1DsMK-III, and IMO produces better IQ. Every lens you put on it is Image Stabilized, not just some lenses.

    AF is fast, but more importantly, it is deadly accurate. I use a pair of them to shoot weddings.

    I also use a 60 meg Medium Format digital, and a 40 meg Leica S2 ... along with a M9.

    My 35mm DSLR has to at least be somewhat close in IQ to these cameras, and the Sony has not disappointed.

    Just a thought.

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    Kids, grandkids and travel photography suggests to me that you would benefit from something small and light, but with good image quality. It is no fun to carry a heavy camera around with you all day on a trip, nor is it that easy or fun to try to get a child to sit still for a tech camera shot, or even just a regular MF dslr! If you go for an SLR again, you might consider getting something smaller -- a D700 or Canon equivalent is not that expensive, has a lot of flexibility with lenses, and has very good image quality. Even more compact are the Nex cameras and even moreso, the m4/3rds and Nikon 1 system.
    I understand the anxiety about not having the best quality you own with you all the time, but let's face it, there are very few situations where you cannot come away with a very nice print from today's crop of digital camera. Sure, an M4/3rds camera is not going to give you a sharp grain free 30x40 inch print, but you will get a good one up to about 16x20 I would say. Either way, I would look for a camera that you just like to shoot -- you will take that one along. For me, that is the Hexar AF -- it is a 35mm film camera, but I often take better pictures with it than with any other camera I own. It is a joy to shoot, and it is that kind of thing you should look for in the type of camera you described. Kids, grandkids and travel says it all -- it is about enjoyment...try not to let angst over quality get in the way of that.
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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Kids, grandkids and travel photography suggests to me that you would benefit from something small and light, but with good image quality. It is no fun to carry a heavy camera around with you all day on a trip, nor is it that easy or fun to try to get a child to sit still for a tech camera shot, or even just a regular MF dslr! If you go for an SLR again, you might consider getting something smaller -- a D700 or Canon equivalent is not that expensive, has a lot of flexibility with lenses, and has very good image quality. Even more compact are the Nex cameras and even moreso, the m4/3rds and Nikon 1 system.
    I understand the anxiety about not having the best quality you own with you all the time, but let's face it, there are very few situations where you cannot come away with a very nice print from today's crop of digital camera. Sure, an M4/3rds camera is not going to give you a sharp grain free 30x40 inch print, but you will get a good one up to about 16x20 I would say. Either way, I would look for a camera that you just like to shoot -- you will take that one along. For me, that is the Hexar AF -- it is a 35mm film camera, but I often take better pictures with it than with any other camera I own. It is a joy to shoot, and it is that kind of thing you should look for in the type of camera you described. Kids, grandkids and travel says it all -- it is about enjoyment...try not to let angst over quality get in the way of that.
    Hi Stuart,
    Sage advice. Thank you. I decided to get the same camera and lens that the cat destroyed. I was able to find the combo for just a bit more than I originally paid for the camera body. My reasoning fell much in line with what you are saying and also included, which you implied, not having to worry about damage to my most expensive equipment.

    Again, thanks very much,
    Bob

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    Re: Ideas on 35mm SLR Replacement

    If you already own a P45+ I think you should get a Mamiya or Phase DF to use it for photos of your kids. On the side get that new zippy little mirror less nikon for quick action and fun n games with the kids.

    You could dabble by getting an inexpensive used Mamiya AFD ii and a 150 3.5.
    It would be a small investment to take advantage of the lovely back you have.

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