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Thread: Photographers splitting their brains

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    Photographers splitting their brains

    All over the place, I read about photographers splitting their brains in half trying to figure it out if spending years of savings to buy a MFDB is worth it. The dilemma is if spending that kind of the money is, not if the IQ is superior to digital 35. I believe that no digital 35 will ever match the clarity and the hump of a MFDB. Capture size matters and always will.

    Because I recently inherited a very modest estate and I am single, I'm in the position to buy a used fine dback like the P45+ for my 500CM. That I can spend this amount of money, it doesn't mean I should.
    Recent dslr's make it to the equation even harder. It is a true nightmare thinking overnight about spending the price of several Nikons or Canons for a single used digital MF back just to find out that Canikon announced their own bigger than 35 camera with all the goodies and whistles for a third the cost.
    I know I shouldn't mentalize it this much. I'm trying to be impulsive for the first time in many many years. I'm almost 60 (third age crisis, lol) and I know if I don't do it now, chances are I will never do it.

    Currently I'm looking for a good deal on a used P45+. Even at these prices, it is insane for me (and too many) to spend this kind of money. But you only live once.
    Thanks for listening, it is a lot cheaper than going to the shrink.
    Eduardo

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Eduardo,

    What makes you happy? Do you enjoy shooting with your 500CM and the glass that you acquired no doubt over time and know well? Do you want to start again with a completely different system with different lenses, image form factor, completely different ergonomics, etc etc?

    I don't think that there's a simple answer to your question/concerns really as it is such a personal thing. Yes, medium format digital backs are expensive, even used items one or two generations away from the current backs like the IQ/Credo and no doubt whatever Hasselbald come up with next. However, so are cars, boats, jewelry, house remodels, vacations of a lifetime, and so forth. I have friends and family members who will spend more on a bracelet or watch or sink it into a boat, country club membership, or depreciate it away changing their luxury car every 18 months than I spend on camera gear These are all things that make them or their partners happy and so who is to say whether it's money well spent or wasted?

    As regards the latest highly capable cameras such as the D800, well yes they are very very good and I can completely understand why some people have transitioned from their medium format gear to these smaller format camera systems. However, and I can only talk about my three weeks of returning to a 35mm DSLR again after many years of previously shooting them, the shooting experience is different. Personally I'm reminded every time I use my D800 why I enjoy using my Alpa and even DF system. I don't mind the bulk compared to the smaller system and I do definitely see an image quality difference between my IQ160 files and the same scenes shot with my D800 & Zeiss glass. That said, I'm on the road this weekend and I've been shooting night images and have my D800 sat next to me here - I simply couldn't shoot the scenes with even my IQ160 (or a P45+ either), and for those scenes that I could shoot I'd have been sitting around for 5-10 minutes per shot waiting for the dark frames. The image quality is great and really not lacking anything (unless I compare like with like scenes) and the camera system is frankly better than I am. However, I much prefer using the medium format gear ....

    As regards the concern of buying today and then having something better, faster, bigger and cheaper coming along - well yes, that'll happen. However, do you want to be paralyzed waiting for the next version and giving up the one thing that you can't buy or replace - time to enjoy your life.

    Ultimately unless you are a working pro, photography is a hobby or indulgence and probably should be approached as such. It's very rarely an investment ...

    /ramble off
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"
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    Senior Member Stefan Steib's Avatar
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Eduardo

    I would say itīs about the same thing as buying an expensive car, a crazy mechanical swiss chronograph or maybe a a concert piano. Nobody really "needs" these things, but if you feel the lust to own it- well if you can do it !
    Money really means nothing compared to the shortness of life and the fact that you cannot take it with you when you die. So - spend it ! There is nothing like the happy gear collectors intimate moment when you have bought it and at home you unpack and try it out, touch it, clean it and look at it and you know itīs yours.

    And donīt worry, this is not an Age thing and it has definitely nothing to do with 3rd spring or compensation. Just stand to it and try it. Everybody has to do this at least once in his life. Itīs a very refreshing feeling.

    With sympathy
    Stefan
    because photography is more than technology - and " as we have done this all the time "
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Once you get over "the initial hump" of buying your first MFDB it gets much easier. There certainly is no need to upgrade with every body as with a DSLR ala Nikon or Canon. There are many quirks to be sure, but just as many workarounds too---something photographers have done for many years prior to the digital era of entitlement.

    Life is short. It's not a crime to take enjoyment in something you love. Some could just as well say money spent on expensive wines, boats, foods, golf fees, cars, vacations, cruises, etc. are just as crazy as an expensive MFDB. But honestly, I think you could easily spend much more than a MFDB rig in other pursuits.

    ken

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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    I was in your shoes at one point in time, especially with cameras such as the D800 looming around the corner, After testing a P45+ (on a H2 though) I instantly fell in love. It made me feel as though I was capturing what was in front of me with the best setup I could possibly be using (Love doing long exposures and the P45+ on a H2 is arguably the best setup to capture them)

    As for the initial cost, I am 20 and saving up the money to buy the camera wasn't easy. Luckily at this point in my life I do not have many bills, own my car, and have no debt, so I figured this was the best time to actually be able to purchase one.

    So far I have no regrets and am loving the camera. I honestly feel that I won't need to upgrade my camera indefinitely, except adding the occasional lens, filter, or other accessory to my rig.
    Rick Rose
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan Steib View Post
    Eduardo

    I would say itīs about the same thing as buying an expensive car, a crazy mechanical swiss chronograph or maybe a a concert piano. Nobody really "needs" these things, but if you feel the lust to own it- well if you can do it !
    Money really means nothing compared to the shortness of life and the fact that you cannot take it with you when you die. So - spend it ! There is nothing like the happy gear collectors intimate moment when you have bought it and at home you unpack and try it out, touch it, clean it and look at it and you know itīs yours.

    And donīt worry, this is not an Age thing and it has definitely nothing to do with 3rd spring or compensation. Just stand to it and try it. Everybody has to do this at least once in his life. Itīs a very refreshing feeling.

    With sympathy
    Stefan
    Quite a time ago, I had a very nice article about very expensive large-format printers in my hands.

    The question was: why should a guy that makes no money with photography (or not enough) justify the big expense for a expensive equipment.

    The asked guy answered: Others are buying a motorcycle to drive across the hills. Nobody then is asking if this expense coulb be justified ...

    This was the ignition for me to invest into medium format ... I simply do not need to justify anything, as long as I have the money to do so.

    S.
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Quote Originally Posted by Uaiomex View Post
    I'm in the position to buy a used fine dback like the P45+ for my 500CM.
    Eduardo, please make sure that your 500CM lenses do match or better than resolution of P45+ digital back.

    Also take into account, if you will want later to replace the 500CM with a modern camera, it is approx $1500-2000 for mount swap on the digital back.

    Evgeny
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan Steib View Post
    Eduardo

    I would say itīs about the same thing as buying an expensive car, a crazy mechanical swiss chronograph or maybe a a concert piano.
    ...
    Stefan
    Hey! Concert pianos hold their value!

    Seriously, still plan to go MF. Really....

    Matt
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Photography of just about any type is a slippery slope as there's always that new shinny system on the horizon. What makes you happy should be the only justification needed (so long as you can keep paying the rent and put food on the table and the wife/kids aren't being left out).

    The biggest thing is the initial investment from then on it's all down hill. The back you buy today can be traded for a better one next year. The camera gear (body & lenses) while adequate today might be next month or next year.

    You really need to speak to and set up a relationship with a reputable dealer. You needed to look for one that will listen to your needs and be there next week and the week after. Likewise you'll need to listen to what they have to tell you regarding how the back you're looking for may or may not work best for you. We've have these discussions before but I believe it's worthy of repeating. Just because you see the back of your dreams advertized by a non-dealer at what might be considered a substantial savings from a dealer it might not be so. The dealer will be there for you while Joe Friday just wants to sell his back and spend your money.

    Just my 2Ē

    Don
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    First of all, thank you guys. It was really nice to read your caring responses.
    Evgeny, I fully understand what you mean but there's no practical way to test them. I own a 50mm, an 80mm and a 150mm all CF lenses from back 1988 or so.
    I've read in some blogs, about photographers using 39mp backs with similar lenses and they seem to match the back (for this photogs).
    I know it is a downhill race after getting into DMF. I can foresee buying more lenses, perhaps a tech camera, etc.
    I main concern for the time being is if my current rig "matches" 39mp's of course. This is in part subjective and besides, new sharper glass will always deliver sharper results. So, the question is: Are my current lenses worth the price of a 39 mp digital back?
    Perhaps, impossible to answer but I'd love to hear more opinions and personal experiences. Thanks
    Eduardo

    Quote Originally Posted by evgeny View Post
    Eduardo, please make sure that your 500CM lenses do match or better than resolution of P45+ digital back.

    Also take into account, if you will want later to replace the 500CM with a modern camera, it is approx $1500-2000 for mount swap on the digital back.

    Evgeny

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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Quote Originally Posted by Uaiomex View Post
    So, the question is: Are my current lenses worth the price of a 39 mp digital back?
    Perhaps, impossible to answer but I'd love to hear more opinions and personal experiences. Thanks
    Eduardo
    This isn't what you want to hear but only you are going to be able to answer this question. I'd suggest you try them with the back to see if they can. Otherwise looks like you'll be looking for new lenses as well. Again, subjective and only you can answer if you like what you see.

    Best of luck

    Don
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Don, I'm sure this is your most honest response. So, this is what I want to hear, really. Thanks
    Eduardo

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Libby View Post
    This isn't what you want to hear but only you are going to be able to answer this question. I'd suggest you try them with the back to see if they can. Otherwise looks like you'll be looking for new lenses as well. Again, subjective and only you can answer if you like what you see.

    Best of luck

    Don

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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Eduardo your lenses are fine with even 80MP...and what if they're not the sharpest? Is that going to make your image less beautiful? And as Don says only you can be the judge...rent or borrow the back you're after and try it for a few days...
    If it doesn't work then you will have at least tried...
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Quote Originally Posted by yaya View Post
    Eduardo your lenses are fine with even 80MP...and what if they're not the sharpest? Is that going to make your image less beautiful? And as Don says only you can be the judge...rent or borrow the back you're after and try it for a few days...
    If it doesn't work then you will have at least tried...
    +1

    I often think that we're guilty of obsessing too much over the technical perfection of glass over the 'look' of the images, flaws and all. I know that in my own case that one of my most successful images is soft through moisture/grease on the polarizer I used but it matters not a jot when you see the result in print.
    Last edited by GrahamWelland; 16th July 2012 at 09:47.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Eduardo,
    I still think a hasselblad h1/2 would satisfy your urge. I own a Epson scanner that gets me to 95% of a digital image when I shoot film. Film has a unique quality that digital can never produce. The H cameras accept any MFDB with an H mount. The camera bodies are identical to the newest versions in an ergonomic sense. You can use an adapter to use all of your Zeiss glass on the H. You'll save thousands of dollars and have a camera that does both. I will PM you a list of recommended dealers that have good prices on MFDB. You'll be able to keep all you V gear and shoot with the ease of a 35mmdslr, when using the h1.

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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    +1

    I often think that we're guilty of obsessing too much over the technical perfection of glass over the 'look' of the images, flaws and all. I know that in my own case that one of my most successful images is soft through moisture/grease on the polarizer I used but it matters not a lot when you see the result in print.

    Couldn't agree more. I am halfway through editing a wedding and last night very nearly discarded an image for being out of focus before realizing it was a absolutely wonderful image, in this case precisely BECAUSE it was out of focus.

    I spent several years at the beginning of exploring photography assuming everything "should" be properly exposed, in perfect focus, and taken with excellent technique. That is often the case. But not always. For instance sometimes the message of the image is best told with an overexposed. Same thing with lens flare, subject movement on a semi-long exposure or even camera "shake".

    If the image "works" no one gives a damn about the technicals.

    That said, for many kinds of images technical perfection can greatly accentuate the things about the image that "work". Anytime you're looking to describe the intention of an image with "massive" "infinite" "sweeping" "wonderful texture" or "detailed" - whether landscape, interiors, product, still life, figure studies, or portraits, then better technical attributes of the image will often accentuate those attributes.

    But technical perfection can only amplify the image. If there is no message in the image then all the amplification in the world won't do jack.

    More over I have to say I still think the most overlooked area of image quality is "file flexibility". Just how well does the raw file hold up to the abuse of the post-processing you feel will best suite the image. I find myself over a lot of people's shoulders during post processing (because of the elements of my job that include software training and workflow consultation) and I often ask "is that as far as you wanted to push it" and I'm shocked how often the answer is "no, I wanted to push it further but I know it won't hold".
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Quote Originally Posted by johnnygoesdigital View Post
    Eduardo,
    I still think a hasselblad h1/2 would satisfy your urge. I own a Epson scanner that gets me to 95% of a digital image when I shoot film. Film has a unique quality that digital can never produce. The H cameras accept any MFDB with an H mount. The camera bodies are identical to the newest versions in an ergonomic sense. You can use an adapter to use all of your Zeiss glass on the H. You'll save thousands of dollars and have a camera that does both. I will PM you a list of recommended dealers that have good prices on MFDB. You'll be able to keep all you V gear and shoot with the ease of a 35mmdslr, when using the h1.
    "Save thousands" of course depends largely on the number of frames being shot and whether you scan/process yourself or send to a lab. The cost of medium format is high up front and relatively low per-image. The cost of buying/processing/scanning film is high per image (including time/frame) and nearly zero up front.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183

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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Doug,
    From my experience, shooting both film and digital in varying degrees of ratios, has saved me thousands. It's not all film or digital, but a nice balance of both. Certain wedding photographers are commanding much higher prices because of the use of film being incorporated into the flow. B/W film is obviously much easier to do at home, and adds to the feel of "Art" to my process. The beauty of all this, is that Eduardo has many choices, but if he wants a better camera to mate his V glass and still obtain the MFD look and save thousands, then I still think the H1/2 is a great bargain now. Also, the Mamiya RZ ProII is an amazing buy right now, with complete camera systems and a full complement of lenses around $1500. The Mamiya RZ also shoots beautiful MFD images and Mamiya glass is outstanding!
    Last edited by johnnygoesdigital; 16th July 2012 at 20:16.

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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Johnny, the reason I love the V is because it is totally different to 35 slr's. All manual, all mechanical is just fine with me and and WLF composing and focusing is what produce my kicks in MF. Thanks for considering the H for me. I've have too before but the "boxy" cameras like the V, the RZ and the Hy6 are the best cameras for me when contemplation photography is the order of the day. I just to work with a field camera in 4X5 and 6X9 and loved it. Somehow my results were best with the 6X9 back. For digital I think 48X36 is enough but definitely not smaller.
    I have located a used P25+ here in Mexico (still 2k miles away) which I'm considering seriously. There's not many offers in the used US market right now. Digital Transitions responded my inquiring email and said they would notify me as soon one gets in. For some reason, Capture Integration has not responded to my inquiries. It's strange because in the past they were very helpful and prompt.
    Thanks all,
    Eduardo

    Update: I just got a caring response letter from Dave at CI. Maybe I am a little impatient these days. lol!
    Last edited by Uaiomex; 16th July 2012 at 11:47.

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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Go on a PODAS
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    I spent several years at the beginning of exploring photography assuming everything "should" be properly exposed, in perfect focus, and taken with excellent technique. That is often the case. But not always. For instance sometimes the message of the image is best told with an overexposed. Same thing with lens flare, subject movement on a semi-long exposure or even camera "shake".

    If the image "works" no one gives a damn about the technicals.
    Yes, Doug... but many photographers just get it wrong and then market it... saying that it is "art" or "their style"
    That said, for many kinds of images technical perfection can greatly accentuate the things about the image that "work". Anytime you're looking to describe the intention of an image with "massive" "infinite" "sweeping" "wonderful texture" or "detailed" - whether landscape, interiors, product, still life, figure studies, or portraits, then better technical attributes of the image will often accentuate those attributes.

    But technical perfection can only amplify the image. If there is no message in the image then all the amplification in the world won't do jack.
    More over I have to say I still think the most overlooked area of image quality is "file flexibility". Just how well does the raw file hold up to the abuse of the post-processing you feel will best suite the image. I find myself over a lot of people's shoulders during post processing (because of the elements of my job that include software training and workflow consultation) and I often ask "is that as far as you wanted to push it" and I'm shocked how often the answer is "no, I wanted to push it further but I know it won't hold".
    Yes, Doug - when in the studio you have control over the lighting... exposure and contrast ... but for landscape the ability to manipulate the image is paramount, and with software like phocus and good big files we can make transparencies look sick.... and do they ever try to assess this ability in camera reviews?

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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Quote Originally Posted by Uaiomex View Post
    First of all, thank you guys. It was really nice to read your caring responses.
    Evgeny, I fully understand what you mean but there's no practical way to test them. I own a 50mm, an 80mm and a 150mm all CF lenses from back 1988 or so.
    I've read in some blogs, about photographers using 39mp backs with similar lenses and they seem to match the back (for this photogs).
    I know it is a downhill race after getting into DMF. I can foresee buying more lenses, perhaps a tech camera, etc.
    I main concern for the time being is if my current rig "matches" 39mp's of course. This is in part subjective and besides, new sharper glass will always deliver sharper results. So, the question is: Are my current lenses worth the price of a 39 mp digital back?
    Perhaps, impossible to answer but I'd love to hear more opinions and personal experiences. Thanks
    Eduardo
    Hi Eduardo,
    Earlier this year I tried what you are now thinking about doing and was very disappointed with my results. I also have a 500C/M and my lens selection is a 50mm Cfi, 100mm CF and a 250mm SA. What I bought was a P1 P30 back.
    Here is a list of item I didn't like:
    1. There is a mask for the ground glass that shows the sensor size for both horizontal and vertical. I had a hard time getting use to it. I think the P45+ has a larger sensor so this might not be a problem for you.
    2. Focus is VERY critical! I have a Acute-Matte focusing screen and use a magnifier and still had a hard time with focus. The LCD screen on the P30 is useless for checking focus but I understand the + backs are better.
    3. You need a rock solid tripod for long lenses to prevent camera movement blur. With my 250 I released the mirror and had to wait several seconds then gently press the cable release. Hand holding with any of my lenses was a real crap shoot even at a fast shutter speed.
    Adding all these problems together made using the camera a real challenge! The good news is when you do everything right, the images are excellent! I only had the camera for a couple of months so if I would have stuck it out, I'm sure my results would have improved.
    YMMV.
    Good luck,
    Mr.Gale
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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    "I only had the camera for a couple of months so if I would have stuck it out, I'm sure my results would have improved."
    I meant to say back, I still have the camera. I bought an adapter to attach my Hasselblad lenses to my D800E, snapshots look good but I haven't tested them seriously yet.

    Mr.Gale

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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Medium format lenses on a highly packed 24X36 sensor doesn't sound too provocative to me. Interesting experiment though. If they do good on the D800, they could be good too with the IQ180, at least at the center. Please let us know your results.
    Eduardo

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Gale View Post
    "I only had the camera for a couple of months so if I would have stuck it out, I'm sure my results would have improved."
    I meant to say back, I still have the camera. I bought an adapter to attach my Hasselblad lenses to my D800E, snapshots look good but I haven't tested them seriously yet.

    Mr.Gale

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    Re: Photographers splitting their brains

    Eduardo,
    I understand that relationship with the mechanical aspect. I always choose a mechanical camera on hikes or remote locations. Nothing beats the wlf either for composing IMO.
    The hasselblad v backs are limited in the 6x6 format, but perhaps the p25+ in a RB would give you the extra sensor you need for your style of photography.
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