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Thread: MF realities and limitations

  1. #1
    jmvdigital
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    Question MF realities and limitations

    I'm in a bit of a quandary. I have recently acquired a Canon 1DsIII, and it just hasn't been cutting it for me. I've had some problems with the AF, and several problems with lenses not being up to snuff. I'm tired of the whole "your copy is soft, try another one" crap shoot with Canon's quality. I don't see Canon being a realistic long term option, as their 1DsIV-V with 30+ mp will not have the lens resolution available. My 1DsIII already pushes my L glass.

    So here I am, staring down the barrel of a MFDB. I want a reality check. My main reasons for upgrading would be to increase overall image quality, better lens quality over Canon, and higher pixel counts for large printing. Convenience and durability would obviously take a hit with MFDB, but it is all about the image after all.

    I do not shoot in a studio, and don't ever use extra lighting (i.e., flash sync of zero importance); 100% available light. I shoot a lot of urban stuff, landscape, macro, abandoned buildings, etc. High frame rates and super fast AF is not important to me. However, my camera needs to be reasonably durable, as I often shoot on hikes, in the mountains, on dirt roads.. generally a walk-around type of shooter, not a carry around mountains of equipment and spend 30 mins. setting up a shot. It would be my main, do-it-all camera.

    Can MF handle this style of shooting?

    My current contenders are the Sinar Hy6 65, Phamiya w/ P30+, or the H3DII-31.

    Thanks for any input and help. I've been in touch with Chris at Capture Integration, and he's been helpful as well.

    -Justin

    PS: My first post here.

  2. #2
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Justin welcome to the forum. Bottom line you need a MF camera. It will do all that you ask and than some. I own a Phase One body and P25 Plus. I do love it and it is my main squeeze. pricing right now is good on all three systems. Obviously i lean towards the Phase systems because i like the high shutter speeds and focal plane shutters. The Sinar and Hassy limits are 1/800 shutter speed and leaf lenses . If your a outside guy than you want the Phase stuff since you can shoot wide open for effect and such. On the leaf shutter systems you will have to stop down or use ND filters if you want to shoot wide open. Right there are you most basic considerations. Than take it from there. Also all three of these backs have the same sensor and will perform pretty much the same . Difference will be functions and software. Whats your favorite software that you like is a consideration . Phase is mainly C1 , Hassy is Phocus and Sinar has there own forget the name , sorry.

    Now delve into the threads and do some research on all of them and we are also here to help answer any questions. We have experts here on all the systems, so the data you will gather here will be spot on.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  3. #3
    andershald
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Hi Justin.

    Welcome to the forum. I am relatively new here too and I am in the same situation as you, about to pull the trigger on a MFDB, for more or less the same reasons as you. I have been a 1DSII shooter for at few years and I long for better image quality and better optics, but also to differentiate myself from the competition. The last 5 years so many different photographers have been shooting their images using the same camera body, the same 3-4 lenses and the same software, no wonder why many photographers seem to have lost their style, to some extend.

    I also shoot location and a lot of available light stuff...but I don't hike (unless I can avoid it).

    I completely agree with your sentiments on the Canon quality, I am very fed up of my repeated trips to Canon for 'focus calibration'.

    I tested a couple of systems and you can read in detail some of my findings in the very long thread "Considering the H3DII-31" which is what I was considering first. In regards to your needs for convenience, I think it will be a step down from the Canon, nothing beats a DSLR for convenience, as for durability, I don't think durability or ruggedness is a problem with most of these systems. The ones I have tried (Contax, Hasselblad H and Phamiya) are all proffesional grade cameras, buildt as workhorses for pros and none of them feel particularly flimsy. I am happy with the build quality of all of them.

    I found that actually testing the various systems is really a must, you cannot deduct anything about an actual shooting experience from any amount of spec sheets and other peoples experiences related through posts in groups like this. It is really really important to try before you buy. But I must say that this site in particular is excellent because the group of photographers posting here are very knowledgable and willing to share their wealth of experiences.

    Good luck in choosing a system.

    Best regards,
    Anders

  4. #4
    Super Duper
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Justin

    Let me add my welcome to the forum as well.

    My history is shooting Canon 1DsII for landscape and knowing/feeling that something has to or was better thus I moved into the great world of medium format and never looked back.

    I currently use a Phase P30+ digital back on a Phase One 645 body and have been getting great results with my landscape. However it seems I want more (my wife says I'll never be completely satisfied which I have to agree) and I'm now looking towards a technical camera with better lens and a move up to a P45+. Michael Reichmann, an artist I respect greatly wrote about the inability of certain lens to meet the challenges of digital format; he also wrote about what he called "In Search of Ultimate Image Quality" which I strongly recommend reading. Bottom line is that if I were in the same category as Michael I too would consider the Linhof M 679cs for my landscape images; however (there's that word again) since I'm not, I'm currently considering a Cambo and a P45+ a system that is close and uses similar lens.

    Guy is right on the money regarding researching the threads on this forum as much has been discussed, and will continue to be discussed about this very same subject.

    Getting on my soap box - Just my opinion however I truly believe that medium format is much better suited for serious landscape work only topped by large format.

    Best of luck

    don

    I see that Anders added a reply just as I was about to which showed me that I missed a critical point - testing the equipment whenever possible; very good point Anders.
    Don Libby
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  5. #5
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Quote Originally Posted by jmvdigital View Post
    My main reasons for upgrading would be to increase overall image quality, better lens quality over Canon, and higher pixel counts for large printing. Convenience and durability would obviously take a hit with MFDB, but it is all about the image after all.
    SNIP
    Can MF handle this style of shooting?
    Yes it will, and in fact that is what MF excels at. There is no DSLR yet that can even get close to the net image quality of a 2-generation-old 22MP digital back. The DSLR will have better AF, faster frame rates and higher ISO performance, but given what you stated, it sounds like you don't need any of that.

    I would add one comment on the cameras you have listed as possibles. For the same or less money, you could get P25 or even P45 non-plus, an Aptus 22 or 75 non-S, a Mamiya ZD back, or a Hassy HD39 non-II. All of these are durable backs, and have larger sensors than the P30/A65/H31 backs do, and as such may be worth you considering. However, ANY of the backs mentioned will deliver superior image quality to the best DSLR.

    Welcome to the forum!
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  6. #6
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Justin,
    Welcome to the forum. You will find a ton of very good and straight-shooter info here, so as Guy and others suggest, pull up a chair and beverages for a long reading session or two ;-)

    I am in the same quandary you are describing. I have been shooting with a 1DsMkII since its release. I did not move up to the 1DsMkIII for many of the reasons you mention, so I keep making the 1DsMkII work more as I try to extract whatever I can from it. I will move to MF, but still not sure if it will be one of the systems mentioned, or waiting to see what the newly announced Leica S2 can deliver. The lenses promise to be interesting if not outstanding. The S2 also will accommodate your needs for both leaf and focal plane shutters, plus it is built more like a DSLR from the looks and descriptions. That may be attractive or not, but being smaller, more weather sealed, and maybe lighter, it might better suit needs you describe. Just have to wait and see on delivery, service, support, and most importantly, image quality. (I worry more about the first three than the last one.)

    From what you are describing, the Phase One 645 (Mamiya AFDIII) sounds like it could meet most of your present and future needs. I keep looking at it myself. I do like the other offerings from Sinar and Hasselblad, but there are things that are going to be more challenging....only leaf shutters that do max out at 1/500 or 1/1000 for Sinar stuff (PQ and PQS lenses respectively), or 1/800 for Hasselblad, as Guy pointed out. If you want to shoot wide open with really good glass, that can become a problem in bright light. You may not be a "studio person" or have a desire to use lights, but that is the really great thing about MF....it can draw you and your work into so many more directions than you might be expecting now, so you may not want to rule out that option in your choice. (Phase/Mamiya will be releasing some leaf shutter lenses for use on their focal plane shutter bodies, but there is only one now and no idea when the rest may come along, nor the pricing. Leica, with its S2 has both leaf or Central Shutter as they call it, plus focal plane shutter lenses in the works for delivery mid-2009.)

    So, if you need a solution soon, there are some very nice looking deals right now at the entry end of things. If you can wait a while, there may be even more interesting things coming along, like the S2, and possibly similar kinds of offerings from Canon and Nikon, though that still does not solve the lens quality issue from what we know now.

    There are some great folks here, and they are both very helpful and quite candid, plus there are excellent reps and vendors that can answer most of your questions, usually very quickly. As others have mentioned, do try to get you hands on things you are considering, as handling is quite different for each and all quite different than DSLRs for sure.

    LJ

  7. #7
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    I think one think should be pointed out immediately is MF and almost any back you choose will just beat any 35mm DSLR out there with regards to DR, Resolution , Tonal range and stuff like that. You jump up you really jump up above the 35mm curve. Believe i had every system in 35mm out there and even my lowly 25plus back will trounce about anything. Yes i will get more detail in the higher res backs but you may only need that with going really big on prints. I just shot the P25,P30 and P45 plus backs last week on our workshop shooting fashion and such. Honestly i could not tell the difference unless i actually compared them side by side to each other. My point here more than anything is your taking a quantum leap up in quality of files, so that part don't concern yourself too much about . Seriously there all great and honestly we never ever fight which maybe the better of the backs, because we all know there virtually very close in image quality.
    Our comparisons come down to software, functions, ergonomics and usability more than anything else. The service is awesome all around.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  8. #8
    Subscriber Member KurtKamka's Avatar
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Justin, I've been using a Phase MFDB for about 3-4 months. Before purchasing the back, I had a variety of DSLRs but hadn't ever tried using medium format. I found, however, that I simply wanted more resolution and image flexibility to print larger when I want to print larger.

    The caveat was that I wanted to be able to use the back in a variety of setting much like a DSLR. Since I don't own a flash system, I was concerned about how happy I'd be in available light settings at higher ISO levels. So far, I'm very pleased with my decision. Case in point, I was able to easily use the system over the past week for a trip to Vegas ... on the show floor, walking around at night for street photos and to capture some landscapes. I could have used different tools for each scenario but was comfortable using the MFDB in each situation. Different courses for different horses ... but it's working for me.

    Kurt

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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Kurt

    Good stuff. Were these taken at high ISO (800-1600). I believe you have the Phase P45+ but I am not sure.

    Very encouraging indeed.

    Woody

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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    I know you're all obsessed with MF digital, but from the sounds of the original poster, he might be best off with a Mamiya 7 and a few lenses (which on the used market would set you back maybe $4K for the lot) and putting the rest of the money in the bank. With the interest could probably pay for the film and scanning.

    To me MFD only makes sense for high rate of pro use (read lots of $ coming in from clients). Otherwise MF film is still very very good esp 6x7, 6X9 and 6X12 (read Mamiya, Fuji, and Horseman) and the gear is a steal (well maybe not the Horseman!). Also, to do wider stuff you get the full frame and therefore more depth. Most photographers I know shooting "art" are still doing so with film (many of them very very successful).

    Anyway, just something to think about. If you were to go MFD, I would wait for the Leica S2. To me that's the camera that makes a really nice bridge between 35 and MF. I'll never be able to afford it (esp with a kid on the way) but it sure looks yummy.

  11. #11
    Subscriber Member KurtKamka's Avatar
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Hi Woody,

    Here are the details. Sorry if you got the impression they were 800 ISO shots. Although, I've been more satisfied with 800 ISO on the P45+ than I thought that I would be with the P45+.

    Photo 1 ... 45mm/f2.8 400 ISO
    Photo 2 ... 80mm/f2.8 200 ISO
    Photo 3 ... 150mm/f8 50 ISO

    Kurt

  12. #12
    carbonmetrictree
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Hi Justin, welcome to the forums!

    I was in the same boat with the decision to move toward a MFDB. The 1DS-Mark III is a great camera with very good image quality within the DSLR line. However, when testing the P25+ and the P45+, I found that there was a significant boost in image quality compared to DSLR sensors. You do lose the function of high speed shooting capabilities, but I have been learning to gain a better eye in terms of timing, composition and framing because of the slower shooting style. Your work flow sounds close to how I shoot, and one of the most important features for me to use a digital back is the amount of dynamic range I can capture in a photograph. I do a lot of night photography and some day stuff for my personal portfolio and I need all of the dynamic range I can get. I was with a friend in an abandoned retirement home a few months ago and was shooting fairly quickly with the 1dsMk3. One of the major issues that I had when I got home was that I could not push or pull the files to where I wanted them to be. I also had to stop down to f/16 to get the image quality of a MFDB at f/8. I thought that a digital back might seem more fragile compared to the 1DS series of cameras, but after handling a few, I can now say that I am comfortable taking my camera to the same type of places I took the Canon (plus the MF sensor is WAY easier to clean ). The Phase 645, Sinar HY, and the Hasselblad H series cameras are all great cameras to use for your application if you need auto focus.

    Hope this helps!

    Andrew

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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Considering what you shoot I'd go with a Mamiya AFDIII for the focal plane shutter, and a P25+/P45+ for the micro-lens free sensor (in case you want to use it on a technical camera down the road) and the ability to shoot noise-free long exposures. JMHO.

  14. #14
    jmvdigital
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Thank you everyone for you kind welcoming and helpful words of wisdom.

    Here's where I'm at in my thought process...

    The Phamiya AFD with the P30+ is numero uno right now. I like the extra resolution of the P45+, but cost is a factor, and so is the extra stop of ISO from the P30+. Similar for the P25+, I like the extra res from the 30+ and the extra ISO. That of course assumes that the 800-1600 ISO from the 30+ isn't horrendously noisy. I can deal with some noise, in fact, I often add back monochromatic noise in my processing because I like the grainy textural look. My shooting is often about "old" and decaying subjects, like buildings, and smaller vignettes of found still life.

    I see the 30+ has microlens, which some of you mentioned. I'm not terribly scared of them, coming from the DSLR world where every camera has them. Should I be scared? I'm not exactly sure how they affect IQ (aside from using them on a view cam.); as from what I know, they are used for better light gathering. Thus with the microlens, and 1600 ISO, I might gain say 2 usable stops from the 30+ over the 45+ (for example). At this point in my life, I see no future move to a technical or view cam. Of course things can change, but I'd rather evaluate that when I get to it, and not make concessions now for something that may never happen.

    As for the S2... well it sure looks sexy. But $37,000 for the body alone is WAY out of my reach for now. At that price, lenses will be like $10k each.

    The Hasselblad line is nice indeed, but I am a little wary of everything you guy's have been saying in the "price drop" thread. I don't want to be caught up in whatever is happening there. I don't want the stress of wondering whether they can keep things alive with this severe price drop if sales numbers don't pick up. I also don't really want to be caught holding an H3DII if they are ramping up for H4D with completely new body/back styles and lenses. The Hy6 looks like a great camera, but with their news of "collaboration" with Leaf, I again don't want to be holding the bag if the MF market starts into a cycle of consolidation to keep alive. I don't feel that way about Phase/Mamiya. For whatever reason, they feel like a solid company to me. Not that Sinar and Hassy don't right now, I'm just cautious with an investment this large.

    The slow max shutter of the Sinar and Hassy were the main reasons I stayed away though. Almost all of my work (aside from landscape) is shot wide open. 95% of my shooting on 35mm is done wide open at 2.8 (and I recently acquired two 1.4L lenses), both for the shallow DoF and the increased exposure in difficult conditions. The later obviously wouldn't be a problem with the max shutter speed, but the former would. I'd rather not fuss with the variable ND and loss of the viewfinder if I can help it. I also don't envy the lens prices for Hassy.

    Charles, thanks for the alternative of film, but after shooting digital now for 5 years, I have absolutely no desire to go back. There are too many headaches with film, made far worse by the shrinking market of both film manuf. and lab processing.

    While I've got you all here, I'd like to discuss lenses. I am not AT ALL familiar with what lens choices are out there for the Mamiya, what can and cannot be used, what typically has the best quality, and what the trade-offs are for different types of lenses. I don't mean this in the basic sense, I have a BS from RIT in Imaging & Photo Tech, so optics aren't new to me. In the Canon world, everything is laid out for you, you choose what you wish from their line, they are all AF, and the L lenses are the best, period. Zooms are also typically poorer in IQ than primes, which I imagine holds true with MF as well.

    That said, can you guys give me a quick and dirty primer on Mamiya lenses (or alt lenses that will fit)? I had been shooting with a 24-70 (on the Canon 35mm), but recently sold that and moved to a prime line up of 35mm, 85mm, and 135mm, with an UWA like 20 or 24mm in the future. So that's where I'd like to start. I had cursory picked out the 45mm f2.8 AF ($1100 on B&H) and the 150mm f3.5 AF ($1200) with extension tubes (which I assume are available for MFDB?). I also thought about the 120mm Macro f4 MF ($2000) instead of the 150mm. From there, I'd add the 28mm or the 35mm f3.5 AF later on. Thoughts? Alternatives? The Mamiya zooms look enticing for ease of use, but the slow aperture and decreased IQ (I assume) would counterintuitive. IQ and lots of light are my primary concerns.

    That's all I've got for now. Continue the barrage of helpfulness. Can I tell you guys? This forum is such a huge change from the Canikon folks. Over at Fred Miranda and DP Review guys are so ruthless and outright rude. I keep waiting for someone to post here to tell me to f*ck off and go back to my little Canon.

    -Justin

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Re two usable stops over the P45+, I doubt it In all the comparisons Guy and I did, the P25+ or 45+ at ISO 800 looked just like the P30+ at 1600 --- and all of them give up detail over one stop lower. Also note, I took a P45+ file, under-exposed one stop at ISO 800 and pushed it one in processing for an effective ISO 1600; the result was impressive as I found it quite usable, albeit with less fine detail available than at 400, but then it also has more residual pixels than the P30+, so maybe a wash.

    On lenses for the Mamiya. Peruse this MF forum and you'll find tons of discussion. Without being repetitive, you can directly mount and shoot all older manual focus Mamiya 645 lenses on your newest Mamiya AF body, though they'll operate in stop-down mode, and can mount Hassy CF or F/FE lenses via an adapter for stop-down manual use. Some of these older manual lenses represent incredible bargains too: since you like shallow DoF, you should see Mamiya's 80mm f1.9 lens, maybe $250 used and Hassy 110 f2 F lens at around $1200 used. Lastly, the newest Mamiya 150 f2.8 D AF lens has paper-thin DoF and is razor-sharp wide open.

    A wrap-up of my current lenses: 35 AF, very good if stopped down to f8 or 11, soft-ish (but usable) corners when more open; 55 AF, excellent all over; 80 AF, excellent; 150 AF, excellent; 300 AF, excellent.
    Jack
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Justin,
    If you decide to go Phase/Mamiya, which is a very good option based on your comments and interests, you may want to look more seriously at the 150mm f2.8 lens for that system. Guy has been using it a lot, and it looks like quite the stunner. Not super cheap, but the extra speed for your shallow DOF, plus the overall optics look to make this an excellent choice to think about.

    LJ

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Well no one will tell you that here i can guarantee it. They would haveto go through Jack, Me and our mods. and we will NOT tolerate anyof that stuff.

    Anyway you certainly sound like a focal plane shutter , no question in my mind. That is your basic consideration right out of the gate. The difference between the P25,P30 and P45 plus backs is slight and the P30 has that stop advantage but also has that crop of 1.3.

    Now i noticed you like to shoot fast and wide open, I do also. Lenses I will just go down the list with quick thoughts. Budget is up to you but given you like wide open I can't recommend the 150 2.8 enough as you may have noticed in another thread but 3300.00 is the price tag and i think worth ever penny. Now you do get the 80mm in the kit and it is very good. Next the 28mm is a very expensive lens and I just bought one and only Hassy has one also. Nice rectilinear lens but sometimes a slight soft corners in some images. I think it has more to do with curvature of the lesn anyway it will be a 21mm 35mmFF on a P25 or p45 back and more like a 23 or 24 on a P30 . Need to do the math there.

    35mm is a nice lens overall. Again not the sharpest tool in the shed but getting it down a couple stops it does a real nice job.

    45mm current lens is supposed to real nice but a new D lens is coming

    55mm current lens is a sharp lens and can be bought used for 500 or 600 dollars . Buy it you won't regret it or get the new 45mm. I have the 28,35 and 55 but will sell the 35 and 55 and get the new 45mm since I have the 28mm now

    80mm new one great lens

    Old 150mm 3.5 this is also a nice lens but need to stop down a little the new 150mm is better at the wider apertures and at the same f4 f stop the new one is better, actually one of my favorites is the new 150

    210mm is a older lens but very sharp. i don't have that though Jack does and can comment better

    300mm 4.5 AF I bought used for 1800 and is a kick *** lens for a 300mm lens

    Zooms i will let others reply
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    I'm in more or less the same boat as Justine, but coming from Leica 35mm.

    One thing I noticed in using the Hy6/75 LV for a few days is that the decreased dof from 35mm is quite significant, perhaps some what mitigating concerns about the slow shutter speed of 1/1000 with PQS lenses. I found more difficulty getting large dof than narrow. This would be less true with the P30 or the Sinar 65 because of the smaller sensor.

    I found the Hy6 to be outstanding ergonomically and a joy to use. For me, it's best attribute is the viewfinder. I was only able to use the Waist Level Finder. I think it could significantly improve my picture taking process, making me more aware of all the nuances contained in the whole frame.

    I'm leaning towards the Hy6 65.

    Best,

    Mitchell

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    It's about a 2 stop DOF loss in MF so say F4 in 35mm is equal to F8 in MF
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  20. #20
    jmvdigital
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Jack/Guy-

    I'll have to revisit my thoughts on the 25+/30+/45+ after your remarks regarding ISO. Aside from no microlens and crop factor difference, is there any preference to the 25+ over the 30+? Chris at CaptureIntegration was leaning me more towards the 30+ for the ISO handling and increased resolution. The 45+ sounds like a stunner. Chris is expecting some new lower pricing from P1 next week, so let's see how that plays out. Right now, the 45+ is out of reach unless I can get a deal/steal somehow.

    Guy, I can't seem to find the 150 2.8 for sale anywhere. I found one on Calumet's site, but it's listed at $1600, so can't be the same (http://www.calumetphoto.com/item/MA1212/). Any ideas on when the new 45 D will be available, and a cost? The current 45 is like $1100 I believe.

    On a side note, is there ANY difference between the Mamiya-branded AFD-III and the P1 AFD bodies? the P1 seems just like a rebrand, but wanted to make sure there wasn't any worth to specifically getting the Mamiya.

    Back to my research....

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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    The Phase One body is a Mamiya AFD -III no difference except name. Chris and or lance have 2 150mm 2.8 in stock at CI . So you can get that in your packaging with them ,just let them know you want that also. I would maybe go P30 plus it is a little cheaper than the P25 and you get that ISO leg room. The Kodak 9 micron i think they are not making anymore in the P25 plus which i would not mind trading up to a P45 but just can't swing the money right now. I think there are deals on the P30 plus also right now they lowered the price. Check CI for that stuff. If you have no need for a tech camera than go for the extra resolution I would say.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Bottom line it will be vastly better image wise over the Canon but you will lose the speed of the canon. Not that it sounds like you needed it anyway.

    You should ask them to send it out for a demo and try it out a couple days. Tell them we said so. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    My .02 on image quality. Frankly, there is not a huge difference between even teh P25+ and the P45+. Guy and I noted this on the last workshop; since we were instructing, we'd grab and shoot whoever's camera and lens was tethered to the computer. So for every set we have a lot of side-by-sides with the P25+ and P45+. At the end of the day, even at 100% I needed to look at the exif to tell which back was used. My point here is that I don't think the resolution difference between the P30+ and P25+ or even P45+ is going to be as significant as having the overall larger sensor behind your lenses.

    For sure if you think you'll need ISO 800 or 1600 regularly, I'd go for the P30+. OTOH if you think 400 is plenty, and don't need speed, then the P25 or P45 non-plus would be relative bargains. P25+ or 45+ add an extra layer of features, higher res rear LCD and one stop ISO, which is why I chose the plus.

    As for the $1600 150/2.8, it is likely a manual lens -- Mamiya did make a 150/2.8 manual focus for the old 645. FWIW, they also made a manual 200/2.8 and 300/2.8 which are both stellar optics, but I don't know about the 150/2.8 manual focus version as I've never shot it.

    Oh, and I have sold my 210 AF since I had the 150 and 300, but it was a stellar optic, being very sharp wide open on down.
    Jack
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  24. #24
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    I have to preface my entry here by saying that the only MF I have ever used is my ancient Hasselblad 500C with its chrome 80/2.8, but I have been reading these threads a lot, and thinking about MF a lot, and it is not for everyone, and that includes 1Ds2 and 1Ds3 users who want more quality.

    I would highly recommend the exercise of going out with your 1Ds3, only ever shooting ISO 100, with lenses at f/2.8, and using a tripod and doing manual WB with a grey card or similar. You can use some backs at ISO 400 or 800, but if you want ultimate image quality, then why immediately compromise it? If you find that you can enjoy using the 1Ds3 in this manner for all your photography on an extended basis, then you might not regret the step up, but if you cannot, you may not be right for this.

    Here is a link to the blog of someone who made the same step and returned to a 1Ds3:

    http://www.pebbleplace.com/Personal/...rmat_Blog.html

    Finally, I am pretty sure that there are stronger systems out there than the Mamiya, so carefully evaluate lens systems and quality vs. price before you decide on this. The Rollei/Zeiss lenses are very good, for example. Someone will surely beat me up if I am wrong on this point, but reading between the lines of what has been said here, I don't see any contradiction.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Just as a matter of interest, is there any reason to prefer the Phamiya over a Hasselblad H1?
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Hi, Justin,

    Your story sounds familiar, as I went through this myself a couple of years ago. Small format wasn't letting me do the large (4ft x 12ft) fine-art nature prints that I wanted to do. Like you, I never shoot in a studio, and wondered how these cameras would do in the field under available light.

    Since then, I've been through a Phase One P45, P45+ and now have a Sinar eMotion75LV on a Hasselblad 500C/M, Mamiya AFD II, Hasselblad H2 and Sinar Hy6 respectively. And all this is after four+ years of research. (I was naive enough to think I could get it right on the first try...)

    I'd say that there is little substitute for actually handling these cameras. Honestly, if I were to do it all over again, I'd book a flight down to Atlanta and visit the folks at Capture Integration and Professional Photo Resources to be able to play with and handle each of the camera over a period of at least a few days. You won't find better dealers, and you'll be doing yourself a huge favor in terms of familiarizing yourself with the handling and specific image quality tradeoffs of each system.

    I can list pros and cons of each system as they stand for me, but that may have little relevance to you--let me know if you have any specific questions, and I'll be happy to answer.

    Basically your MF solution (regardless of brand) is going to be bigger, heavier and slower. It'll have much more noise at higher ISO (with both Canon and Nikon with ISO 25,000 solutions the idea of ISO 400 being "high" seems almost comical these days, but 400's as high as I'll go with any of the MFDB's I've tested or owned for my fine art work, and even then only in a real pinch.) The workflow will not generally be quite as elegant (although there is a good degree of variation here in MF), and digital backs eat batteries quickly (300-500 shots), which becomes a consideration if you are on a trek for many days without power.

    AF is in the 1990's as far as a small format shooter is concerned. Relatively slow, one center (or a few) AF points and no ultrasonic. In my opinion, any claimed differences in AF performance between any of the above MF systems is splitting hairs between systems which are all poor relative to the state of the art in small format.

    MF lenses that have impressed me are the Zeiss FE line and the Rollei (Hy6/AFi) line (Zeiss and Schneider). Unfortunately the Hasselblad 203FE/205FCC has very limited digital back support.

    I must admit a bias for 6x6 solutions as I do believe cost of sensors will continue to fall (remember the debates about whether APS-C would become the new full frame for 35mm??) The handling of the 645's just isn't as elegant (especially with a waist-level finder). If that's not important for you, then you'll have an embarrassment of riches to choose from.

    My Sinar Hy6 body isn't quite as well built as a Hassy V body, but it is still quite nice. To my eye, the Hassy V viewfinder has a slight edge over the Hy6 finder, but beyond that the Hy6 pulls ahead in terms of performance (up to 3fps if the back can keep up), full electronic integration (no sync cables, which are a pain when changing lenses, or get caught on things out in the field), rotatable sensor solution (removing a back to rotate it is a non-starter for me in the field) and ergonomics (repositionable grip, programmable AF stop/start and now tilting screens are on the way).

    I think you can find what you're looking for in medium format, as long as the extra cost, weight, lower convenience and performance are worth the improvement in image quality to you. It's a very personal and subjective decision, but if you find a solution that pleases you, the small format solutions won't ever have the same appeal again. (I can attest to that! )

    And I almost forgot--welcome! I hope we can help you to find the right setup.

    Take care,
    Brad
    Last edited by BradleyGibson; 27th September 2008 at 12:16.

  27. #27
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Just as a matter of interest, is there any reason to prefer the Phamiya over a Hasselblad H1?
    Ben it is a leaf shutter setup. I think Contax and Mamiya are the only focal plane ones. In Justins case the focal plane sounds more the norm for him than the need for the leaf shutters. Although a leaf shutter lens is coming for the Mamiya very soon and more to follow. Than we have the S2 down the road which will have both also.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Justin one thing you need to remember when going MF is the lenses do NOT have to resolve as well a the DSLR's out there. The big sensor negates a lot of that. Yes great to have very nice lenses that perform well no question but it is not a prerequisite like the 35mm world. I am very happy with the Mamiya glass on my system and i am a huge lens whore.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  29. #29
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    here's my take - for landscape use:
    - Clean long exposure is more important than clean high ISO
    - Dynamic range, dynamic range, dynamic range - can never have too much
    - Compact lenses: a high quality compact f4 is more convenient to carry than a big f2
    - DOF scales are extremely handy, but are going out of style
    - MF doesn't have wide angles designed for crop formats, so a bigger sensor means a better WA selection
    - A standard hot shoe for the spirit level
    - Can you get an L bracket that won't block controls

  30. #30
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    This poster speaks my mind.
    I am liking my horseman more and more :-O
    -bob

  31. #31
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Here is a link to the blog of someone who made the same step and returned to a 1Ds3:

    http://www.pebbleplace.com/Personal/...rmat_Blog.html

    Finally, I am pretty sure that there are stronger systems out there than the Mamiya, so carefully evaluate lens systems and quality vs. price before you decide on this. The Rollei/Zeiss lenses are very good, for example.
    Interesting link, thanks for posting it. However, I find the moral of his story was that he had unrealistic expectations. He still admits that the 1DsIII is not up to par in the least to the P25 files: "Seeing how poorly the 1Ds Mark III files compare against the P25 adds to the unpleasantness." He is also considering another P1 back in the future.

    To me, this hardens my motivation to move away from the 1DsIII. Going through the Imaging & Photo Tech program at RIT was one of the best times of my life. Experimenting with 4x5, old scan backs, MF, pinhole, 35mm, panorama, high-speed strobes, darkroom work, etc. It was much more about the uncompromising art than the convenience and speed of popping a shot off.

    I got away from that after college; getting my first digital Sony psuedo-SLR that you mostly shoot from the LCD screen with. The technology and the convenience took over my creativity without me even realizing it. A few years later I got back into a real SLR, and my photography totally changed. I look back at the crap I captured with the Sony, and it was just crap. Poorly composed, crooked, unoriginal, video clips, horrid colors, etc. I'm at that point in my life again. I want to slow down, make an effort, and really think about what the heck I'm doing before I snap the shutter. The 1DsIII is so easy to pop off 5fps. In and of itself, that's not a bad thing, but for me, the speed and convenience handicaps ultimate creativity and thought in creating the image. I have so many images in my library right now that I've shot with the 5D for example, that I wished I'd noticed that crookedness, the misfocus, or the amateur composition mistake. Let's be clear, it's not the cameras fault. A camera is just a tool after all.

    I may come to a point in the future where a DSLR with its tight package and 25,000 ISO will be helpful. It would sometimes now, I admit. But are those shots even worth it? And can they have been done better by slowing down, using a tripod, and a MFDB? For me, I think the answer is definitely YES. I will still carry a P&S for snapshots and things.

    There may be stronger systems out there than the Mamiya. There always is. "Best" is relative and subjective. For me, a fast shutter I think beats out the ability to flip the Sinar back or the Hassy's stylish integration. Cost is also a factor. I would like to shoot Zeiss/Schneider or Hassy lenses, but at 2x-4x the price, it means the difference between me shooting or not at this point. My pro art career is just barely getting off the ground. I only have work in one gallery currently, and a few competition/exhibitions. Maybe in 5-10 years I will be able to justify getting the best. On the other hand Guy and Jack seem to get along just fine with Mamiya. Time will tell I suppose.

    -J

  32. #32
    jmvdigital
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Good point Guy. I'm still thinking in the 35mm world where pixel-peeping is the norm, and you study MTF charts with your morning coffee. I'm looking forward to leaving much of that stressful techy stuff behind and focusing more on the photography itself.

    Guy, got any extra lenses I could maybe take off your hands?


    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Justin one thing you need to remember when going MF is the lenses do NOT have to resolve as well a the DSLR's out there. The big sensor negates a lot of that. Yes great to have very nice lenses that perform well no question but it is not a prerequisite like the 35mm world. I am very happy with the Mamiya glass on my system and i am a huge lens whore.

  33. #33
    jmvdigital
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Brad-

    Thanks for the warm welcome and huge response. I'm digesting everything you wrote.

    In the meantime, can anyone post a few comparisons of 400-1600 ISO shots from any of these comparable backs. Just so I can get a feel for what levels of noise we are talking about. That Pebbleplace article, for example, he says "As for ISO 200 - forget it."

    Jack, you mentioned "usable" shots at 1600 with your 45 I think. Care to post a sample? I just want to make sure my expectations are in line with reality. Only having 100 ISO be truly usable would be a heartbreaker for my style, but that's not the impression I've been getting from what you guys are saying.

    Thanks again everyone,
    -J


    Quote Originally Posted by BradleyGibson View Post
    Basically your MF solution (regardless of brand) is going to be bigger, heavier and slower. It'll have much more noise at higher ISO (with both Canon and Nikon with ISO 25,000 solutions the idea of ISO 400 being "high" seems almost comical these days, but 400's as high as I'll go with any of the MFDB's I've tested or owned for my fine art work, and even then only in a real pinch.)

    And I almost forgot--welcome! I hope we can help you to find the right setup.

    Take care,
    Brad

  34. #34
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Check this out towards the end it gets better http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2055
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  35. #35
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Hi Justin, Welcome.

    Check out this thread to give you a feel for ISO performance. There are others as well.

    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2055

    I have a Phase One P25+ and find no issues with ISO 200, and 400 is fine in many cases as well. As a mostly landscape guy (with this system anyway) I tend to shoot at ISO 50 to 200, but have not been disappointed with results at higher settings. The article is not consistent with the observations of many other users, especially with the current offerings of backs.

    Cheers,

    Dale

  36. #36
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Heehee. Guess I shouldn't have taken time to semi-proof read, Guy. Ya beat me!


  37. #37
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Search a thread on stage lighting all ISO 800 stuff
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  38. #38
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

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

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  39. #39
    jmvdigital
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Holy moly! Guy, fantastic work with the ISO comparisons. I've been trying to school myself back through the pages here, but didn't get to this yet. This is just what I needed to see. ISO 800 (and presumably 1600 on the 30+) is TOTALLY usable for my work needs. Damn I feel good now. IMHO, the noise present here is entirely comparable to the Canon DSLRs that I've used; especially when you consider the shear size of these images, combined with the added DR and sharpness of MF. Sure, you loose some detail and add some "texture", but I don't think many folks realize how noisy their 35mm DSLRs are when you view a RAW/JPEG without any NR. Software has gotten so good in regards to this. Neither here, nor there, but my personal favorite right now is Dfine from Nik Software.

    How the Pebble dude can say that ISO 200 is unusable is beyond me, unless the 25 non-plus was just that much worse.

  40. #40
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Quote Originally Posted by jmvdigital View Post
    Brad-

    Thanks for the warm welcome and huge response. I'm digesting everything you wrote.

    In the meantime, can anyone post a few comparisons of 400-1600 ISO shots from any of these comparable backs. Just so I can get a feel for what levels of noise we are talking about. That Pebbleplace article, for example, he says "As for ISO 200 - forget it."

    Jack, you mentioned "usable" shots at 1600 with your 45 I think. Care to post a sample? I just want to make sure my expectations are in line with reality. Only having 100 ISO be truly usable would be a heartbreaker for my style, but that's not the impression I've been getting from what you guys are saying.

    Thanks again everyone,
    -J
    My pleasure, Justin.

    I really should have kept my high ISO test shots, but I didn't ... Guy's posted shots do echo my own experiences though--you can definitely use those as a guide.

    I try to avoid making statements about how much noise is too much noise (unless I'm speaking about my own personal needs). I think Mr. Pebble Beach's assessments are quite close to my own, but with two exceptions:
    1) I can work with two stops of amplification (in his case, ISO 200) from my MFDB, whereas he found it unacceptable.
    2) I've found MF *can* function as a replacement for a small format camera (with patience) and the image quality improvement has been worth it for me.

    Glad to hear that the ISO noise is a non-issue for you. Now you're in real trouble! .

    Happy to shoot some high ISO for you if you would like to see more--just let me know. Otherwise I'll assume Guy's pictures gave you what you were looking for.

    Best regards,
    -Brad

  41. #41
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Justin the big key on high noise and trying to avoid it in most cases just being dead on with exposure is the main key . But i should add these MF files do have a lot of pushing around to them. Maybe keyword for most all the systems is robust files. I know Jack will slide in a ISO 800 and push it and i have also with nice results. There not noise free but they are good and C1 with the Phase files is the best program for them. So don't overlook that part get C1 and you will with your back. This will also be alot about subject but tungsten usually is the worst and those stage lights are all tungsten. My results made me quite pleased and not even looking at a DSLR system anymore.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  42. #42
    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    I am not sure that I need higher frame rates. Something about 1-2 seconds per frame seems to be ok for me.
    It takes me a bit of time to frame focus and push the button. I have a D3, and it can certainly shoot at a high frame rate, but if anything I think it hurt my style rather than helping it.
    -bob

  43. #43
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    My .02 on image quality. Frankly, there is not a huge difference between even teh P25+ and the P45+. Guy and I noted this on the last workshop; since we were instructing, we'd grab and shoot whoever's camera and lens was tethered to the computer. So for every set we have a lot of side-by-sides with the P25+ and P45+. At the end of the day, even at 100% I needed to look at the exif to tell which back was used. My point here is that I don't think the resolution difference between the P30+ and P25+ or even P45+ is going to be as significant as having the overall larger sensor behind your lenses.

    For sure if you think you'll need ISO 800 or 1600 regularly, I'd go for the P30+. OTOH if you think 400 is plenty, and don't need speed, then the P25 or P45 non-plus would be relative bargains. P25+ or 45+ add an extra layer of features, higher res rear LCD and one stop ISO, which is why I chose the plus.

    As for the $1600 150/2.8, it is likely a manual lens -- Mamiya did make a 150/2.8 manual focus for the old 645. FWIW, they also made a manual 200/2.8 and 300/2.8 which are both stellar optics, but I don't know about the 150/2.8 manual focus version as I've never shot it.

    Oh, and I have sold my 210 AF since I had the 150 and 300, but it was a stellar optic, being very sharp wide open on down.
    Hey Jack and Guy,
    So at what print size would you notice a difference between the 25 and 45 (non plus) at iso 100 and 400?
    I know I can bin the 45 to tone down the noise, and it allows me to be sloppy.....
    thanks
    Brian

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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    I will let Jack answer this one since he prints way more than i ever will. My guess would be after 20 x30 though the P45 will show it's stuff better
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  45. #45
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    I'd like to dip further into this subject.
    I'm planning on going into digital MF soon. My own brainstorm revolves around wether P25, P25+ or P45.
    I like to print big, mainly 24X30". I understand the +series can take longer exposures. One minute (daylight with neutral density filter) would be enough. What would be the smartest way for me. Yes, money matters.Thanks
    Eduardo

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    I will let Jack answer this one since he prints way more than i ever will. My guess would be after 20 x30 though the P45 will show it's stuff better

  46. #46
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    I a would lean towards the Plus if you can. Wish I had a chart of the differences between the Plus and non Plus. Doug you out there
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  47. #47
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Ok here are the features of a Phase One Plus back vs Non-Plus


    •1 Hour Exposure - The patent pending XPose+ technology enables noise-free exposures of up to 1 hour. Create fantastic images using extreme light painting or capture great architectural designs at night time.
    •Live Preview - The scalable focus window supports an effective workflow on large production jobs between the photographer, the art directors and the stylists.
    •Level Meter - The unique and patented high precision level meter ensures a perfect horizontal setup.
    •Extraordinary color reproduction - Opticolor+ is a unique image processing algorithm delivering high color accuracy in deep shadows and perfect skin tones.
    •Noise-free capture - The Dynamic+ technology ensures less noise at all ISO settings and break limits on the ability to work in very low light.

    The Plus series of backs feature an extra stop of ISO .

    Note some of the non-plus P21,P30,P45's have live preview enabled.

    L
    LANCE SCHAD - Digital Transitions - Phase One,Mamiya | Leaf,Arca-Swiss,Cambo, Profoto
    direct/cell:610-496-5586 office:877-367-8537x224
    http://www.digitaltransitions.com email:[email protected]

  48. #48
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian304 View Post
    Hey Jack and Guy,
    So at what print size would you notice a difference between the 25 and 45 (non plus) at iso 100 and 400?
    I know I can bin the 45 to tone down the noise, and it allows me to be sloppy.....
    thanks
    Brian
    The 45 will print a 33x44 with the same detail as the 25 prints say a 24x32. At ISO 100 and 200 I doubt you will see any difference between a plus and non-plus; you *might* notice a bit of a difference in larger prints on noise at 400.
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

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

  49. #49
    jmvdigital
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    I'm stuck on the 30+ or 45+. I like the extra stop from the 30+, which would be a benefit for me. I like the extra pixels of the 45+, the lack of microlens for future use, resale value is also higher, and reduced crop factor. What to do... what to do... Not sure if the 45+ would be a wise move for ISO alone, at the same time not sure if I should skimp to the 30+ and regret it later when I'll want that extra bit of quality.

    Guy/Jack/Brad... would you guys say there is any visible difference between the 800 ISO of the 25+ and the 45+? From the physics of it, he 45 has smaller photosites, ergo more noise. But then again, I think the 30+ has the same photosite size as the 45.

  50. #50
    jmvdigital
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    Re: MF realities and limitations

    Something I hadn't thought about either... how much does the 1.3x crop of the 30+ affect the depth-of-field versus the lesser 1.1x crop of the 45+? I assume the 45 has a slightly shallower depth-of-field for the same FoV... but how big is the difference visually?

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