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Thread: advice on a portrait setup

  1. #1
    Senior Member danlindberg's Avatar
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    advice on a portrait setup

    I am getting more and more requests for portraits and since I am utterly hooked on my Alpa tech cameras I do not have any other digital cameras at all. 99% of my photography is covered with what I have and would not change it for the world.
    However, the 1% remaining is the occasional headshot, preferbly in available light but also studio shots. I would probably not do this a lot, but it would be nice to be able to do it. Not the least to make some nice images of my two lovely daughters...

    I am not looking at starting to build on a new sytem, no, I am talking about 1 body with 1 lens. The perfect portrait lens!

    Since my Leaf Aptus II 5 is in Mamiya mount my idea is as follows:

    Buy a second hand DF body.
    Buy a converting ring for Hasselblad V lenses.
    Buy a Hasselblad Planar F 110/2 lens.

    The F 110/2 lens is one of my long time favorites and with my 48x36 sensor the bokeh shouldn't be far off a Noctilux on a M9. (for a fraction of the price)

    I need advice in that I have no idea if this is doable?
    If it matters what Mamiya body I choose, since autofocus is not on the agenda? (other pluses with DF body?)
    And maybe the most important question, how probable is it that focusing is accurate of what I see in the viewfinder? And if it isn't - can it be calibrated?

    I could glue this lens to the body, it is a fixed lens solution - if it works out!

    What do you say. Good or bad idea?

    Thanks
    Alpa FPS • MAX • TC | Alpagon 32Hr | Helvetar 75 | Schneider 120N | Leaf Aptus II 5 • Leaf Credo 60 | www.danlindberg.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Hi Dan,

    I've always been an advocate of a good DSLR to complement a MFDB system. Maybe it's the gear whore in me speaking too because it's also nice to have a good M4/3 camera too.... But if you really want to have a one or two lens MFDB DSLR portrait kit---it is definitely do-able.

    I use the DF body and IQ180 for portraits. My favorite portrait lens is the Phase 150mm f/2.8 D, followed closely by the Schneider 110M LS. Faster moving subjects get the Canon 1DsMark III.

    Autofocus on the DF is substantially better than previous bodies. Improvements in AF between the other bodies is slight; the DF is a noticeable improvement. There are several CF selections to adjust AF to taste.

    ken

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    If you choose to go with the V mount adapter and 110/2 then you really wouldn't need the extra cost & sophistication of the DF and could go with a MUCH cheaper AFD II/III body. The DF will give you LS glass support and better AF but with the V mount you wouldn't need either.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Senior Member danlindberg's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Thanks to both of you!

    I definitely want to use the Aptus, for its skincolours. (and because I have it)

    Yes, maybe in this case it does not matter which model of the body I choose?

    The important thing is that I can calibrate lens/body (if needed) to obtain accurate focus!
    Alpa FPS • MAX • TC | Alpagon 32Hr | Helvetar 75 | Schneider 120N | Leaf Aptus II 5 • Leaf Credo 60 | www.danlindberg.com

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    Senior Member Stefan Steib's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Dan

    why don´t you use your ALPA for the Portraits- probably with your 120mm ? generations of Photographers have shot portraits with viewcameras and made the BEST portraits, many not even reached today - see some here

    http://prettynpoppington.com/wp-cont...a_Garbo_03.jpg

    http://i2.listal.com/image/3627477/9...reta-garbo.jpg

    http://www.1zoom.net/big2/640/276916-zero.jpg

    http://www.1zoom.net/big2/283/277146-zero.jpg

    and so on. Why don´t you just try ? You will be surprised how much the images will gain when you "despeed/deescalize" the process.

    Regards
    Stefan
    because photography is more than technology - and " as we have done this all the time "
    facebook:hcam.de - www.hcam.de - www.hartblei.de

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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Dan,

    I would second the option of using the Alpa...add a background and light source.

    One of my favorite Portrait Photographers uses a Rolleiflex....and I have not seen many session photos that appeal to me more. Location or non static is a different thing but I am still enthralled with these:

    William Coupon

    Bob

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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Quote Originally Posted by danlindberg View Post
    I need advice in that I have no idea if this is doable?
    If it matters what Mamiya body I choose, since autofocus is not on the agenda? (other pluses with DF body?)
    And maybe the most important question, how probable is it that focusing is accurate of what I see in the viewfinder? And if it isn't - can it be calibrated?
    110/2 is hard to focus regardless of accuracy. Even an errant breath between focusing and shooting will result in being off by more than the DOF. You will have a lower hit rate than with most other lenses.

    None of that is to say you won't love the combination. Just go in with realistic expectations. Even a 1Dx with it's really great AF system cannot hit every frame with an 85/1.2.

    If the focus of the viewfinder does not match the focus on your back then it can be adjusted for free under warranty or for a nominal fee if out of warranty. If you buy your body from a dealer I would make the sale contingent on a proper match. I've seen very few bodies be sent in because of such a mismatch but it is possible, especially if the body was roughly handled.

    A lot of DF bodies will be coming on to the market as the DF+ starts to ship in October (I don't expect every owner to upgrade or anything, but for various reasons many will and e.g. dealer demo units will also be sold in order to have DF+ units to demo). So I'd wait until then if you're looking for a DF (or work with a dealer that is already looking to move their DF demo units).

    Also consider the Phase One 150mm / 2.8 D lens. It's rendering wide open is out of this world. The Schneider 110/2.8 LS is also really great regarding rendering and would provide you flash sync at any shutter speed up to 1/1600th (you'll need a flash with decent flash duration and an Air transmitter or hard cable to get it, but that's easy to do). Lighting is a huge part of what makes a successful portrait, and when it's not there in nature it helps to add/shape it yourself :-), working wide open you'll have shutter speeds of 1/800 and even faster even at ISO50 if you're working anywhere near daylite, so the fast flash sync would come in very handy, even if it's only to add a bit of fill.
    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: advice on a portrait setup

    The improvements to autofocus in the DF apply equally to the speed/accuracy/stability of the AF Focus Indicator when focusing with a manual focus lens.

    So even if you only ever use a manual focus lens you may find the AF improvement a big help.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183

  9. #9
    Senior Member danlindberg's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Stefan,

    Actually the Schneider 120 is producing lovely bokeh @f5.6 and is really sharp as well wide open. So, yes, that is a great lens for portraits.
    And it 'could' work if I stage a model carefully and almost make it a static scene.
    But.....try that with my 8 year old....not that I would be lightning fast with the 110/2, but in comparison I atleast have a chance.

    Believe me, if there was a workaround using the TC and the 120, I would look no further.
    Alpa FPS • MAX • TC | Alpagon 32Hr | Helvetar 75 | Schneider 120N | Leaf Aptus II 5 • Leaf Credo 60 | www.danlindberg.com

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    Senior Member danlindberg's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Doug,

    Thanks for your detailed answer. Really great to get info before I get into something that does not work as intended.

    YOU KNOW WHAT! Thanks to you guys here I am going to give the combo Alpa TC & Schneider 120 a serious go. I'm not totally sure exactly how, but if others can do - then I'll learn
    Alpa FPS • MAX • TC | Alpagon 32Hr | Helvetar 75 | Schneider 120N | Leaf Aptus II 5 • Leaf Credo 60 | www.danlindberg.com

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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    IMO a DF or Phase AF/AFDIII with the 150D would make an excellent combination. Having the ability when needed to use AF and the fact it doubles as a very nice manual focus lens (unlike some other Phase/Schneider lenses) its an excellent choice.

    The 150D is very sharp even wide open and has wafter thin DOF.

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    Senior Member Stefan Steib's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    I have even another proposal:
    Forget the DF for Children. It is too slow for this.
    Even MF. For this buy a D800 and a 1,4/85 and a 1,4/24
    or a fast 24-70mm with stabilizer.
    All the rest you could do with the ALPA.....

    regards
    Stefan
    because photography is more than technology - and " as we have done this all the time "
    facebook:hcam.de - www.hcam.de - www.hartblei.de

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    Senior Member stephengilbert's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Just treat your 8 year old like a race car: focus on a point and hope she passes through it.
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    Senior Member stngoldberg's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    attach your back to the Hasselblad H4X and enjoy True Focus-just amazing for portraits-focus on the eyes Dan and recompose until you have what you want-be careful what you wish for because this camera can deliver it.
    Stanley

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Stan

    Dan has a Mamiya mount Aptus so unfortunately that would be an expensive option if only due to the Alpa adapter change (plus Hassy obviously).
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

  16. #16
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Go with your Alpa. Avadon and Newman did not do too bad when limited to view cameras. AF is just a crutch.
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Hi Dan,

    If you still have your GX680 kit you could always get an adapter from Kapture Group and be on your way. It would save you from buying into a new system and would work fine for the occasional head shot.

    Regards,
    Cory

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    No actually you could tie your kids to the GX680, which would act as an effective anchor to hold them in one place long enough so you could then fine tune your focus with the Alpa....


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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Quote Originally Posted by danlindberg View Post
    ...
    And it 'could' work if I stage a model carefully and almost make it a static scene.
    But.....try that with my 8 year old....
    I don't think you will be happy with any MF for fast moving kids and available light. Look into something that's better suited for it (plenty to choose from nowadays).

  20. #20
    Senior Member danlindberg's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    There is one factor that limits the GX680III. Mirrorslap! I need 1/250 to get it crisp without mirror lockup. With base iso 25 this is tough in ambient light.

    I couldn't sleep easy yesterday, thinking about this. I think I do have a quite good workaround....assuming that it really is little movement from the model.

    I could put my Alpa TC & 120 on a tripod, use it loosely on a ballhead for easy composition. And, here's my patent , put a flashtripod with a plate of some sort for easy focusing with the D5 outside the composition but exactly in line with the model.

    Atleast this is what I am going to give a try at.....I'll show you results....
    Alpa FPS • MAX • TC | Alpagon 32Hr | Helvetar 75 | Schneider 120N | Leaf Aptus II 5 • Leaf Credo 60 | www.danlindberg.com

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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    I love the 110mm f2 (Rollei mount) lens and use it frequently. If you shoot it wide open you do need good eyes and technique to avoid missing too many shots. When you nail it, the results are wonderful.

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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Ah, I missed the part where you said available light. Mirror lock up should help with mirror slap. I shoot with an RB67+ZD; at 1/60 or slower I use the MLU and get great results.

    I like that idea on how to focus for portraits with the Alpa. I look forward to seeing the results.

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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    If you want to avoid a big investment, an old AFD/I/II/III and the 150 3.5

    The 150 3.5 can be had for really cheap yet renders beautifully. I think I got mine for under $300 and it's nauseatingly sharp and very creamy bokeh. I can only dream of how good the 150 D is though.

    Also, if you go DF. The Paul C. Buff Cybersyncs can sync at full 1/1600th with no light loss as well (I'm sure others would cringe just on the name but they're inexpensive, and damn reliable and small, and not sold by the DMF dealers so obviously they'll tell you they suck haha)

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Quote Originally Posted by dizzyg44 View Post
    If you want to avoid a big investment, an old AFD/I/II/III and the 150 3.5

    The 150 3.5 can be had for really cheap yet renders beautifully. I think I got mine for under $300 and it's nauseatingly sharp and very creamy bokeh. I can only dream of how good the 150 D is though.

    Also, if you go DF. The Paul C. Buff Cybersyncs can sync at full 1/1600th with no light loss as well (I'm sure others would cringe just on the name but they're inexpensive, and damn reliable and small, and not sold by the DMF dealers so obviously they'll tell you they suck haha)
    Dan, this is probably the least expensive and most reasoned approach (this type of thinking doesn't belong in Dante's Forum...). No doubt it has more flexibility in different situations and be relatively easy to focus. It's just so much more fun to spend other people's money, albeit acquiring much more capable equipment.

    If you do go this route with the older generation Mam/Phase bodies, remember to use only Energizer Lithium AAs, as they for some reason address the slight power draw issue and last longer.

    For the DF, it's true---the Cybersyncs do work for high flash sync, but not bulletproof quite. Pita with batteries (coin watch type) which aren't as easily available, and extras should be packed along. The Einstein monolights do have a short flash duration so work well in this regard.

    ken
    Last edited by kdphotography; 26th September 2012 at 10:07.

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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    I also think the cheapest option would be an older Mamiya body AFD/I/II/III and a used MF 120 macro. I used that almost exclusively for portraits when I had a mimya/Leaf Aptus 22 setup.

  26. #26
    Senior Member danlindberg's Avatar
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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    I really appreciate all of your advice here. Excellent. Thanks!
    Alpa FPS • MAX • TC | Alpagon 32Hr | Helvetar 75 | Schneider 120N | Leaf Aptus II 5 • Leaf Credo 60 | www.danlindberg.com

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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Quote Originally Posted by kdphotography View Post
    Dan, this is probably the least expensive and most reasoned approach (this type of thinking doesn't belong in Dante's Forum...). No doubt it has more flexibility in different situations and be relatively easy to focus. It's just so much more fun to spend other people's money, albeit acquiring much more capable equipment.

    If you do go this route with the older generation Mam/Phase bodies, remember to use only Energizer Lithium AAs, as they for some reason address the slight power draw issue and last longer.

    For the DF, it's true---the Cybersyncs do work for high flash sync, but not bulletproof quite. Pita with batteries (coin watch type) which aren't as easily available, and should be packed along. The Einstein monolights do have a short flash duration so work well in this regard.

    ken
    I speak from probably being the most broke and cheapest guy in this section so I speak from what I've used

    Definitely agree on the batteries, Eneloops also do very well also.

    For the Cybersyncs, i disagree. I've never had issues with them or finding batteries. Wal-mart/BestBuy/local drug store/RadioHack etc all had them every time I've perused. I have three of them and only have had to replace 2 batteries in 2 years. The only thing I do not like is lack of a good battery indicator, usually you know it's dieing when your lights start randomly firing. The CyberCommander on the other hand has been a total PITA for me though it's one of the very first ones. Crappy made and only goes to ISO50 on it's meter. Hopefully the updated version is more reliable.

    btw, you can by 4 transmitters for the price of 1 profoto Air transmitter or a transmitter and a couple receivers.

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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan Steib View Post
    Forget the DF for Children. It is too slow for this.
    For chasing around an event or the house, I would agree. But for a formal studio situation, the DF does an excellent job with with childern, IMO.


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    Re: advice on a portrait setup

    I use an alpa with 35 and 60 mm lenses for landscapes and love the sharpness, colors and DOF.
    For portraits, I never reached what I get from my contax 645 and 45/55/80/120 mm lenses. Not only it is difficult to focus accurately with the alpa, I don't use the leica d4 laser on people, but even so, the contax gives a smoother transition between in and off focus areas, isolating the subject with a 3D look on the picture. I find portrait with alpa more "technical", less organic in general.
    I use the same back on both cameras (sinar 54 lv).
    I use the waist vf, that I really like for portraits. The 120 manual focusing is easy to achieve. I also noticed that the relation with people is more relaxed with this kind of vf.
    The only issues are that you take some risks when moving the back between cameras, and that you have to carry 2 cameras when you travel.

    I can get very nice portraits with the D3x, easier to use, higher iso, etc. But again not in the same league than the contax/sinar.
    Yes I can take 100 good pictures with the nikon in situations where the contax couldn't work, but the 5 pictures I make with contax are the ones I like to look at again and again.

    My 2 cents only.
    Oliver

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