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Thread: MFDB - system advice

  1. #1
    David Robertson
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    MFDB - system advice

    My first post here on these forums. I've been lurking for a while and reading many fascinating threads - you guys are a wealth of information!

    I need some help with some equipment choices because I seem to be going around in circles. My clients and agencies demand digital but I am no longer satisfied with the quality of my Canon 1Ds MkI and some clients are requiring larger files.

    I could buy the 1Ds MkIII or the new 5DMkII but I'm not convinced that Canon's wider lens are good enough. I could buy the new Zeiss glass, but this will deepen my financial commitment to a system that I do not particularly enjoy. I feel this is a good time to leave DSLRs behind. I love WLFs, large focusing screens and revolving backs. I shoot 99% of the time with a tripod and like vertical images. Manual focus lenses are fine and I like distance scales. I shoot scenics, cityscapes and buildings. I leave studio and people photography to others.

    Previously, I shot 6x7s with a Mamiya RB and have a brace of the latest lenses. I just love this camera and if I could shoot wide, and digital, with it, I'd be laughing. A Leaf or Sinar is my ideal camera from todays offerings but they are out of my budget, at least buying into the whole system is.

    I'm looking seriously at a Mamiya ZD back on a AFDII which seems the cheapest entry point into the MFDB world (5700 in the UK, roughly US$10500, for camera, back and 80mm lens). The camera does not excite me, but I think that I will have to make compromises here. I've read the back is not the best but I'm thinking it would be a huge step up from the 1Ds and an improvement again over the 1DsMkIII/5DMkII options. Am I right? Having the best or biggest is not necessary for my work, but I need better than I have with the Canon.

    I have some other gear that may or not be useful to me using a digital back and I'm planning on selling what I cannot use. I have a Silvestri S4 (shift camera), an Ebony SW45 and 6 lenses - Schneider 38XL, 47XL, 58XL, Super Angulon 75, Apo Symmar 135 and a Nikor M 200mm. I also have helicoil mounts for three of the Schneiders. I know that I can mount a DB on a 5x4 camera but are my lenses any good? Are there any smaller and lighter bodies that can take some of these lenses and a DB? Using the S4 or Ebony is an option but not as my main camera, it's just too slow for me.

    Thats probably enough questions for now!

    David Robertson

    www.scot-image.co.uk

  2. #2
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MFDB - system advice

    Hmmm you actually have two things going on here a digital camera body that you need but you are also sitting on all those tech lenses which you can use on some other system or a Silvestri Flexcam or Bicam. i am assuming the S4 is 4x5. I would say buy a system you can use the back for both setups. Is that what you would like to do. Or get rid of everything and start with just a digital camera and back
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: MFDB - system advice

    Why turn down one system that doesn't excite you but consider another system that doesn't excite you?

    You could probably afford the same setup I have right now, and then swap the 6008 body for the Hy6 (which is what you seem to want) when finances allow. Then you have not invested in the 'wrong' system. (This is my own long term plan too).

    The 6008 gives you the WLF in portrait mode, which you seem to want. If you come to Tallinn on Easyjet, you're welcome to try it out

  4. #4
    David Robertson
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    Re: MFDB - system advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    I would say buy a system you can use the back for both setups. Is that what you would like to do. Or get rid of everything and start with just a digital camera and back
    A digital camera and back is the priority for general shooting. If I can use the lenses on some other body for shift/tilts then that would be a bonus. I enjoyed using the S4 (yes its 5x4 but I used rollfilm) because it had no bellows, just fixed extension rings and helicoil focusing. If my lenses are good enough then I could still use it for stitched panos and architectural shots. It will take my 47mm but thats not so wide with a DB. I see that Mamiya are to produce a 5x4 adapter for the ZD back, does it allow for stitching?

    The Ebony is a relatively new purchase, bought in a fit of nostalgia. A big mistake really. I find the whole process really frustrating, far too slow and not enjoyable at all.

    I'll take a look at the other Silvestri bodies you mentioned.

  5. #5
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MFDB - system advice

    David are those lenses in the same mount as the Bicam and Flexcam take. These things will take hassy, Sinar I believe, Phase and leaf backs. Now just need to find the right back combo. Since WLF maybe what you are after than Sinar, Hassy and leaf have that some rotate and some don't. Sinar i know does but Hassy i believe does not and leaf is the as the Sinar and Rollie i believe , folks can correct me on this part. You can also still do Phase with the old RZ camera which is cheap to get into but more studio like. Depends on what you are doing here but that is WLF also. You have a lot of options
    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: MFDB - system advice

    Mamiya just released an adapter plate to mount the ZD back (or any other Mamiya AFD mount back) directly to the RB camera. Since you already own the RB system, and since the 50 would be about a 35 equivalent, maybe that would be wide enough for you? If you need even wider, you could go pretty cheap and get a used AFD1 body for under $800, and add on a 35 AF lens for maybe $800.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  7. #7
    David Robertson
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    Re: MFDB - system advice

    Quote Originally Posted by foto-z View Post
    Why turn down one system that doesn't excite you but consider another system that doesn't excite you?
    Yes, that's whats bugging me.

    You could probably afford the same setup I have right now, and then swap the 6008 body for the Hy6 (which is what you seem to want) when finances allow. Then you have not invested in the 'wrong' system. (This is my own long term plan too).

    The 6008 gives you the WLF in portrait mode, which you seem to want. If you come to Tallinn on Easyjet, you're welcome to try it out
    This sounds like a plan Graham. I've not even thought about the 6008, never seen one either. But I will soon. Tallinn is new to me too!

  8. #8
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MFDB - system advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Mamiya just released an adapter plate to mount the ZD back (or any other Mamiya AFD mount back) directly to the RB camera. Since you already own the RB system, and since the 50 would be about a 35 equivalent, maybe that would be wide enough for you? If you need even wider, you could go pretty cheap and get a used AFD1 body for under $800, and add on a 35 AF lens for maybe $800.
    Than add the Phase back to the Silvestri stuff. Keep asking questions a answer will come in time. LOL

    I think the key is salvaging as much as you have
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  9. #9
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MFDB - system advice

    BTW a new ZD back was announced at Photokina which is faster and you can shoot tethered with it. Have to find that info.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  10. #10
    David Robertson
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    Re: MFDB - system advice

    Guy - I need to check on the lens mounts fot the Silvestri options, but I would guess they all take the same bayonet. The Hassy does not rotate while the Sinar and Leaf do. I've used RB in the field for years and haven't worried too much about the weight, but I'm not getting any younger.

    Jack - Yes, I knew about the ZD/RB adapter. The 50mm isn't really wide enough. Are RB lenses OK with DBs?

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I really need to investigate the 6008 option

  11. #11
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: MFDB - system advice

    Quote Originally Posted by David Robertson View Post
    Are RB lenses OK with DBs?
    The newest ones are the same optical formulas as the RZ lenses and the RZ lenses work great, especially with the 9 micron sensors, so I would say "yes"

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

  12. #12
    David Robertson
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    Re: MFDB - system advice

    Graham - The 6008/eMotion LV is just going to cost too much by the time I buy some glass. Its nice but I just can't afford it. I should investigate used prices but I think it will be just too pricey.

    Jack, there's an offer in the UK which throws in a AFDII with a ZD back. Add a 35 AF lens and its still very affordable. But, I have to carry two systems around, one of which is heavy enough as it is. I have reservations about the RB50mm, Mamiya never updated it and I always thought it a bit soft. My other RB lenses are all the latest type. I'm trying to get my head around the crop factor using the ZD on the RB and coming up with a 35mm comparison.

    Guy - The Silvestri Bicam can use all my Schneiders but it's a modular camera like the S4 and while I'd be happy to use it for a specific project, for general shooting its not really an option for me.

    It's late now, so I'll sleep on it.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: MFDB - system advice

    Quote Originally Posted by David Robertson View Post
    Graham - The 6008/eMotion LV is just going to cost too much by the time I buy some glass. Its nice but I just can't afford it. I should investigate used prices but I think it will be just too pricey.
    Yes, I should have mentioned. To achieve that system at around your budget, it will be used. Perhaps the back will be a refurb unit. Regardless, you'll be building up to the system you actually want.

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