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Thread: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

  1. #1
    felicidade1
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    Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Hi everyone! My name is Charles and I'm from Singapore. I am new to the world of MF after purchasing my 503cw not too long ago. I must say that I really enjoy shooting MF film so far.

    I am hoping to trade my near mint Leica M9 for a MFDB and might be able to secure a Phase One P30 with around 50k actuations and in exc++ condition (cosmetically)

    I would like to know the current market price for a P30 and how much it might cost me to eventually upgrade the P30 to a newer Phase One back like a P25+ or P30+?

    Also, is the P30 still considered a good "buy" in the current MFDB market?

    I still like film but wish to try out Digital MF without breaking the bank and coming up with extra cash.

    Thanks in advance!

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Don't do it. Any medium format digital camera you can get for the price of an M9 is going to be fundamentally less satisfying as a camera. Stick with film for medium format and the M9 for digital, at least until you can afford a more modernized, integrated mf digital camera, such as an IQ series, H4D, S2 or Pentax 645D. I learned this the hard way...people will disagree with me, but just remember there is not always an easy way. Medium format digital "without breaking the bank" is not something that is really possible. Or, at least, it is not really possible without making it pointless in that 35mm digital by now offers solutions that on the whole make more sense.
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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Last November I ended up trading a M9 and a couple lenses for a Phase One DF, 80mm, 150 and 300mm lens, I later sold the remaining lenses a couple months later. It helped that I already had been using a Phase One back along with a Cambo WRS for several years.

    It's now 9-months later and I still do not regret the decision. My main reason was the size limitation in finish prints that I could do and wanted more. Then again I'm a landscape photographer and normal prints are 40x30 and larger.

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    felicidade1
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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Thank you for taking the time to reply to this thread. As much as I like rangefinders, I just want to explore other types of photography. Of course, i would love to keep all the gear that I bought- who wouldn't? But I am simply not in the financial position to do so.

    I sold the M9 and a lens yesterday, took part of the money to buy some studio lights and a few more boxes of 120 film for my 503CW. Right now I am really enjoying myself shooting film but having the option to eventually switch between film and digital on a classic like the 503CW is something that I look forward to. I do see the value in a modern, well-integrated digital MF camera like H4D or Phase One, etc. As opposed to the limitations of an old design like the 503CW and the "outdated" Zeiss lenses. But having gone through so many DSLR, I think my photography is getting "slower" and more deliberate- which the 503CW is able to help. Without sounding too contrived I hope, I think for the first time, I am really seeing photography as fine art. So factors such as absolute sharpness from lenses or ease of operation of autofocus MF cameras do not affect me as much as before.

    I believe that a MF digital back will be a interesting and useful tool for me in the near future. I don't even need a 80mp back or even a 39mp one for the matter. A lower-end DB would suffice as an extra tool at my disposal.

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    It seems the question may be more ergonomic. The M9 RF vs a MF is just a world appart, take it from someone who has carried from 2 lbs to over 6 lbs around his neck, up and down 3,000 feet a day!

    At the VERY low prices that some backs have reached, a complete system with an old hassey V 555 or a Contax 645 with the P25 would run you less than $10k, and M9 plus one lens is more that.

    The MF look is really special and my old P25, even 16MP Kodak shots are rich and the latter quite film-like. That said the M9 isn't inferior, just different, and I have some panos that more than make up for the lower MP in the M9.

    I think you could find in a studio that the MF may be just a step up from the M9 in IQ, however for any mobile work, the M9 is just more convenient.

    Regards
    Victor

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by felicidade1 View Post
    Thank you for taking the time to reply to this thread. As much as I like rangefinders, I just want to explore other types of photography. Of course, i would love to keep all the gear that I bought- who wouldn't? But I am simply not in the financial position to do so.

    I sold the M9 and a lens yesterday, took part of the money to buy some studio lights and a few more boxes of 120 film for my 503CW. Right now I am really enjoying myself shooting film but having the option to eventually switch between film and digital on a classic like the 503CW is something that I look forward to. I do see the value in a modern, well-integrated digital MF camera like H4D or Phase One, etc. As opposed to the limitations of an old design like the 503CW and the "outdated" Zeiss lenses. But having gone through so many DSLR, I think my photography is getting "slower" and more deliberate- which the 503CW is able to help. Without sounding too contrived I hope, I think for the first time, I am really seeing photography as fine art. So factors such as absolute sharpness from lenses or ease of operation of autofocus MF cameras do not affect me as much as before.

    I believe that a MF digital back will be a interesting and useful tool for me in the near future. I don't even need a 80mp back or even a 39mp one for the matter. A lower-end DB would suffice as an extra tool at my disposal.
    you'll enjoy the 503 even more with a digital back on it. The tactile side of using great medium format gear is often over looked by those looking for low weight or more convenient solutions. Personally I find the extra discipline of shooting crude medium format gear to be advantageous to the overall experience.. Having the instant feedback of digital and the fabulous image quality of pretty much any MFDB is a bonus. After having been on the megapixel gravy train I'd just say that even a 16mp MFDB is more than good enough to get the benefit from a good medium format outfit. Megapixels are overrated IMHO.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    I know I am outnumbered here, but I would say the exact opposite. 16mp on a digital back is just an exercise in masochism. Film resolves more, fills the whole frame (rather than having a 1.5 crop (in the case of a square 16mp back) and just plain works better with a V camera than does slapping an outdated digital back with dubious battery life, a tiny horrible screen, a bunch of cables sticking out of it like IV lines...it's not the megapixels per se, it is the beauty of working with something that was designed from the ground up to work together. For example, a 503CW was designed for film. It works best with film. The lenses were designed for film. They work best with film. Yes, they DO work with digital, and the body can work with digital, but it is a cobbled together solution. I base this on my experience as a long time medium format shooter. I shoot a Hasselblad 200 series camera, and I used to shoot the Rollei 6000 series. I even had the Hy6 with a Sinar 22mp back. I never got on with it, because even in the fairly highly integrated Hy6 setup, it still was a pain to work with (two batteries, poor LCD, viewfinder masks etc). The color and results out the back were quite poor, it was ISO 50 (though actually 25 in reality). Don't get me wrong, you could get high quality results out of it, but each image required so much processing and work that it really took the joy out of the process.
    Fast forward a year, and I got the M9. Despite being 18mp vs 22, I found the results dramatically better on the whole. The handling was of course so much better, the camera had great color and images right out of the box. About two years later I sold off all the Rollei kit for the S2 -- what a difference. It is what medium format digital should be. The camera is brilliantly designed, the battery lasts forever, the lenses and viewfinder are perfectly matched, the results out of the camera are nearly spot on almost every time. It is like night and day. I know it is a much more expensive camera, but it is not about that...it is about the experience of using something that was built from scratch to work in a certain way. That is why I would recommend something like the Pentax 645D, S2, or the H4D more than using an older back on a V system camera. Just because it can be done does not mean it should be.

    But like I said, not everyone looks at it this way...in fact most probably don't. I just wanted to expand what I was talking about...
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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Stuart,

    Speaking personally I get what you are saying. For some folks the process is as, if not more important than just the results.

    If ease of use and good results are just what you want then it's tough to justify larger formats than perhaps the D800 these days. The S2 & latest Hassys also make image capture a lot faster, easier and more consistent. Ditto the M9 and a plethora of other smaller system alternatives. Heck even my loathesome DF ( ) is a joy vs many of the older or simpler alternatives such as my technical camera. However, I much prefer shooting with my Alpa even if it only has a 22mp back on it vs my IQ160 on my DF system. I enjoy film for variety now and then but the post production side is a pain for me vs any digital solution. I can only speak for myself but shooting a lower res 1.1 or 1.3 crop back is still a pleasure and arguably a little easier in real use due to the extra DoF and lack of larger sensor complications.

    At the end of the day it's all about what & why you are shooting. It would be a boring world if we were all the same.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    I was going through a similar (to me) situation last night as I was about to buy a Leica M8.2 but got second thoughts. Suddenly, I was considering a Hasselblad SWC for the same cost. I was thinking that no digital camera can match a MF like the SWC.

    Then I went back and bought the M8.2. I simply needed the M8.2 more than I needed another MF camera.

    Do what makes you feel best and go with it. Different photographres may have different personal likes and dislikes and opinions.

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Graham, with respect, I don't think you quite got my point. Or at least, I did not articulate it well enough. It is not ease of use, it's pleasure of use. There is a big difference between the two. What I was trying to say is that using an old digital back on a film camera can bring you the worst of two worlds -- the slow pondering of some film setups along with the "I am working with a computer" aspect of digital. I found that these older backs tend to frustrate because they are slow and cumbersome, yet without any tactilely redeeming qualities. It is not the methodical pleasure of using a technical camera or view camera, but the "hold on, I have to wait while this boots up" of an old computer.
    I certainly enjoy shooting 4x5 or slower more meticulous film cameras, and I also enjoy shooting digital cameras, but I think a lot of the older digital backs can be frustrating to people who enjoy shooting film, as they add a fussy computer component and cobbled on feel to what is otherwise an enjoyable tactile experience. The newer digital backs and cameras remove a lot of this annoyance through their integration and better out of the box results.

    Clearly though, if you enjoy it, you enjoy it! As you said, it would be boring if we were all the same. I just would suggest that the original poster should try before they buy (and I don't mean just put it on the camera and make a few clicks...actually work with it and process the images etc). I know I lost several thousand dollars because what sounded like a good idea in principle (22mp with all my Rollei lenses!!!) turned out to be horrible in practice.
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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Stuart,

    Actually I fully agree with you that you need to try it out before jumping in!

    There's no fun in having a system that frustrates you at every turn and I certainly understand how annoying it can be if you end up fighting with a system that used to be the model of simplicity with film morphs into a complex hydra of cables, pre-release to wake the back, shutter cocking, external power packs, cropped composition in the viewfinder etc. You definitely need to know what you're getting in to.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    I agree with the try before you buy sentiment, but my own experience is the complete opposite of Stuart's. My P25 and Mamiya AFD has been the most enjoyable, rock solid, no fuss experience of all the digital cameras I've used over the last 10 years. I wouldn't trade mine for an M9 in a million years.

  13. #13
    felicidade1
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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    I can understand the "try before you buy" part but where I live (in Singapore), it is difficult to source for a trial unit.

    I have been putting rolls of Ektar, Provia, Portra into my 503cw the last 3 days and I was really, really happy. I even started using it to sync with my Profoto D1 strobes and I have to say that this is where a MF digital back will come in handy.

    A well integrated system like the Mamiya/Phase One DF would serve me well but that would necessitate extra financial commitment- something that I am trying to avoid at the moment. This is the reason why find the idea of just buying a V-mount digital back attractive.

    (Really, anyone letting go of a P21+ or P25+?)

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Hi, I used a Hasselblad V system for decades, and also used a digital back.

    I now use a H4D and Leica S2 ... and can say the experience is NOT the same ... the V cameras were and remain a special and most satisfying experience unmatched to this day by anything. In many ways, I miss the whole V system and the look and feel of the images with both film and digital.

    I'd suggest hunting down a CFV-II back ... it is the ONLY DB that does not require cords or anything to use. Slap it on, start it up and shoot. It cosmetically exactly matches the V film backs and is powered by commonly available Sony L lithium camcorder batteries. CFV backs are available in 16 meg square, 39 meg rectangle, and the still currently available new in a 50 meg version.

    I used a CFV-II/16 back on both a 503CW and 203FE camera, and there is just something about the "Fat Pixel" 16 meg files and Zeiss optics that barked right up there with the big dogs when it came to the look and feel of the images. I still marvel at the results from my CFV/16. So much so that I wrote about the experience for Hasselblad on their "Planet V" section of the web site"

    Planet V - Hasselblad.com

    BTW, I was never all that bothered by the 1.5X crop factor with the 16 back ... but I am not a super wide angle shooter and 40mm was fine for me. On the rare occasion I needed wider, I simply used a film back.

    Now the image quality has been improved from the 503CW/CFV files. All of the Zeiss lens profiles are included in Adobe LightRoom.

    Happy hunting!

    -Marc

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Agree with Marc on this. I had a P20 back with those lovely (and simple) fat pixels. Something wonderful about that. But Stuart has a point - the earlier backs were a bit less than friendly with some of the earlier cameras, and the ability to handhold and focus well was problemmatic.

    Update of gear to more current back and body made the whole experience tip over the edge to eminent workability - a combination of probably a faster stop in the back (Leaf II 7), focus confirmation, and less mirror slap and probably more disciplined user technique. All to say that if you do the V series and CFV back (a wonderful and seductive combination - still enticing), make sure it works for you and that you can use it as you plan. The size and simplicity are wonderful - but focus and mirror slap can be an issue.

    OTOH, the weight and size of MFDB can be a factor. Can't give it up.... but then again, sometimes hauling this gear around does get heavy. Hauling heavy gear around in 90 weather all day is not ideal.

    In short, know what your shooting goals are and pick accordingly. Take your time, and when in doubt, let excellence be your guide.

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Hi, I used a Hasselblad V system for decades, and also used a digital back.

    I now use a H4D and Leica S2 ... and can say the experience is NOT the same ... the V cameras were and remain a special and most satisfying experience unmatched to this day by anything. In many ways, I miss the whole V system and the look and feel of the images with both film and digital.

    I'd suggest hunting down a CFV-II back ... it is the ONLY DB that does not require cords or anything to use. Slap it on, start it up and shoot. It cosmetically exactly matches the V film backs and is powered by commonly available Sony L lithium camcorder batteries. CFV backs are available in 16 meg square, 39 meg rectangle, and the still currently available new in a 50 meg version.

    I used a CFV-II/16 back on both a 503CW and 203FE camera, and there is just something about the "Fat Pixel" 16 meg files and Zeiss optics that barked right up there with the big dogs when it came to the look and feel of the images. I still marvel at the results from my CFV/16. So much so that I wrote about the experience for Hasselblad on their "Planet V" section of the web site"

    Planet V - Hasselblad.com

    BTW, I was never all that bothered by the 1.5X crop factor with the 16 back ... but I am not a super wide angle shooter and 40mm was fine for me. On the rare occasion I needed wider, I simply used a film back.

    Now the image quality has been improved from the 503CW/CFV files. All of the Zeiss lens profiles are included in Adobe LightRoom.

    Happy hunting!

    -Marc
    Marc, reading this one wonders why you do not use a CFV-back yourself?
    Cheers,Tom

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    when I first got into MFD, I was shooting with an Aptus 17 and Hassy V body. I loved it. I only needed 1 cord to go from the lens to digital back. It's not complicated at all. After a few years, I switched to an H4X with a P30+ back mainly for autofocus. But there simply isn't anything like shooting on the V series. It just feels so nice and inspiring. I would recommend trying to find a good condition Aptus 22 or Phase P30+ or one of the others you mentioned in a V mount. Talk to some of the dealers that sponsor on here. I'm sure they will be able to help you out. Most people are not going to be able to afford an IQ or Credo back when they start out in MFD. Of course, if price wasn't an issue, the newest gear would be great. But I don't think you have any reason to think that the older backs aren't good enough.
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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Paratom View Post
    Marc, reading this one wonders why you do not use a CFV-back yourself?
    Cheers,Tom
    I need AF, and IMO the H4D AF with True Focus is the best out there.

    -Marc

  19. #19
    Shelby Lewis
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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    Are H3Dii-22 (or H3D-22) cameras still available anywhere?... it seems this forgotten and out-of-production model would be a good place for 35mm shooters wanting to jump into MF. 22mp on MF would be an interesting alternative to an m9 and still somewhat hand-holdable. I know my old 28mp Aptus wasn't a huge step up, mp-wise, from 22mp (or 18mp M9). But the look was so much nicer than conventional 35mm. I would take an h3d22 in an instant for my d800 kit if one were available...

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    I've seen the H3D-22 turn up quite a few times recently. The original has a tiny LCD but the II versions seem to be better from an image review perspective.

    If you want one then I know where there's one for sale:
    Pro Photo Supply - Used Photography Equipment, Used Cameras, Used Video and Used Lenses in Portland OR
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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    The H3D11-22 is a particularly rare beast. Very few were made before the sensor was discontinued.

    I searched for over a year before I found mine.

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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    I frequently see people overstate the "cost of entry" to MFD. It doesn't have to be $10k or anything near it. Digital backs are well made and seem to last and last, so don't fear buying used. Two years ago, a total of $3.5k got me a Mamiya 645AFD and 55-110 AF zoom from KEH, plus a just-serviced 16.7 MP square Kodak Proback 645M from a private ebay seller with a good rep. This was the first of the truly portable DBs - tethering is an option rather than a necessity. I already had a bunch of other low-cost M645 manual focus lenses, and I'm still adding more. Happy as a pig in the proverbial, ever since.

    So I'm glad to see the 16MP (actually closer to 17 MP) backs getting the praise they deserve. I like square images and when you think about it, a square crop from my other camera (a Canon 5DII) has lower MP! In 35mm/APS format you have to go to 24MP and above to equal or exceed the MP of a square image from these square backs. There are still only a handful of 24MP 35mm/APS format cameras and only one (the D800) with more than 24MP. And all these sensors have smaller pixels (we keep talking about the "fat" 9 micron pixels for a reason)...and then all but the D800E have an anti-aliasing filter to boot.

    If you prefer rectangular images to square ones, substitute any of the 22MP backs for the 16MP ones and the same arguments and advantages apply. (One small difference is that DBs are of 4:3 aspect ratio while 35mm/APS is 3:2).

    Now sometimes we 16-22MP MFD users can feel like the poor relations in a place like GetDPI or LuLa, crammed with 40-80MP MFD users...but I prefer to focus on the sensor area than the MP. Sensor area is correlated with how much light you're capturing overall, and how hard your lenses have to work for a given MP count. Again, you have to go to 60MP before you find a back/camera which gives a greater square crop area than the 16MP backs, and 56MP before you find a back/camera which gives a greater overall area than the 22MP ones.

    So all this is to say, the P30 you're interested in would be a really nice choice. It's one of the few DBs with microlenses, so it has a genuine extra stop of ISO sensitivity. The P30+ is the same with some tweaks, principally in long exposure ability. If I had a P30+ I'd probably wish for nothing else in MFD; at least out of the current or previous backs on the market, none would suit me better.

    Ray
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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    I really agree with Marc, the H4(x or D) camera's true focus is really amazing. Especially when you are shooting portraits with the 100 2.2 at f/2.2. The ability to re-compose and keep the eyes in focus is a dream. It was more accurate than my D800E with a vertical focus point on the eye.

  24. #24
    felicidade1
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    Re: Trading Leica M9 for Phase One- Please help!

    I did consider the H bodies for a while- literally. I think it is quite difficult for me to get over the "new" Hasselblad look compared to the classic V styling. the CFVII/16 back is really a good suggestion since I can still "do square". Of course, I am perfectly fine with rectangles since I still have the option to shoot squares with my film back.

    I just got back 4 rolls of developed 120 film I shot last week- the cost of processing film (inclusive of scans) is quite significant. I suppose if I have a MFDB, I and use it for colour and shoot solely B&W on film- that should save me quite a bit of money in the long run.

    The Phase One option is great because of the longer exposure I can make with it although if a Leaf comes along at a right price- I will seriously consider.

    Thank you guys for all your input- I will continue to check back here until I finally get hold of my digital back.

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