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Thread: First MF Digital Back musings

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    First MF Digital Back musings

    Gentlemen

    A pleasure to meet your acquaintance.
    This is hardly first thread of this nature, but the information I am after is so scattered, it seems to be better to summarise it here.
    Please feel free to ignore if you are tired of answering MF noobs..

    Basically, I own 2 film cameras - RZ67IID and GX680III. Initially I got 680 for landscape work and RZ for more street shooting (I use waist level finder to ninja the candids...). Both cameras are obviously great for model/studio photography, which I am to concentrate on more.

    With that in mind I am looking for a digital back which can be used on both cameras with as little caveats as possible (no infinity focus, limited shutter speeds, sync errors, etc).
    Additionally, since I am obviously not shooting commercially yet I can't quite justify top of the line items and instead trying to find balance between factors such as price, sensor size, performance, learning curve, and long run usage feasibility. PhaseOne P45+ obviously springs to mind first.

    I would sincerely appreciate if any of you monsters of art could point me in the right direction.

    Best Regards

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Welcome.

    You can certainly put a digital back on both of these cameras. The first thing I would think about is how wide do you want to go? The limiting factor for both these cameras is at the wide end.

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    I assume you mean focal lengths? Not wider than 65mm on GX680 or 50 on RZ. Perhaps that is already at the widest end....

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    What would you prefer? Landscape or street?

    For landscape I would prefer the P45+; for Studio or street, where you need "more Iso", I would follow Guy and would recommend a P40+ ( see here ).

    Or if you don't have "too much money", perhaps think about an older Leaf Aptus-back. But with this you have the same "Iso-problem" ( ground-Iso at Aptus-II5 is 25; but a really nice back ).
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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    At the moment I think I would use it for location/studio type shooting. More towards editorial/commercial photography - something that started drawing me in recently.
    In that type of work I would either like shots to be contrasty (meaning shooting with limited diffusion in direct sun light) or utilise a natural light (that of course will require ISO bump).

    Otherwise perhaps landscapes are of more interest. I would prefer to do street candids on film or digitally on something small fitting in a pocket (NEX-ish).

    I was under impression that Aptus-II though working with GX680III did not allow infinity focus and was limited to only few shutter speeds. All that through KG adapter?

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Quote Originally Posted by Krosavcheg View Post
    I was under impression that Aptus-II though working with GX680III did not allow infinity focus and was limited to only few shutter speeds. All that through KG adapter?
    The last thing is something I can't say exactly - but there are other people who shoot with adaptor. So there shouldn't be a big different if you find the right adaptor. For my technical camera there isn't any big different if I shoot with Leaf or Phase One.

    And there should be sometimes some other problems - but I didn't find something about focus that fast.
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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Christian:

    Thank you very much for the shared links. I recall reading Connecting a leaf Aptus back on a Fuji GX680 III (Fuji OneShot needed?). Seems like I didn't read it properly..

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Quote Originally Posted by Krosavcheg View Post
    I was under impression that Aptus-II though working with GX680III did not allow infinity focus and was limited to only few shutter speeds. All that through KG adapter?
    I've used Aptus II with GX680III and KG adapter and didn't notice any problems focusing to infinity.

    I think Aptus II is the best back on a budget.

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Actually, a new Aptus-II 5M (Mamiya?) is rather attractively priced. Half price of P45+ in fact.

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Quote Originally Posted by shlomi View Post
    I've used Aptus II with GX680III and KG adapter and didn't notice any problems focusing to infinity.

    I think Aptus II is the best back on a budget.
    Shlomi: What do you think about the tone and colour reproduction in comparison to P45+ for instance?

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Quote Originally Posted by Krosavcheg View Post
    Actually, a new Aptus-II 5M (Mamiya?) is rather attractively priced. Half price of P45+ in fact.
    Aptus II 5 is good only up to ISO 100. It starts having noise problems above 100, and even 100 is not perfect - 25 and 50 are perfect.

    The higher Aptus models have better noise resistance.
    If you could afford 8/10/12, the color is better too,
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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Quote Originally Posted by shlomi View Post
    Aptus II 5 is good only up to ISO 100. It starts having noise problems above 100, and even 100 is not perfect - 25 and 50 are perfect.

    The higher Aptus models have better noise resistance.
    If you could afford 8/10/12, the color is better too,
    There seem to be a lag in approval..
    The 7 is already over P45+ price wise...I don't quite dare to look at 12..
    (if we are talking new that is). I think 2nd hand might fall into P45+ price range in that case...

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    1) You're not limited to new. Especially the P+ backs had a phenomenal reputation and track record of longevity. A pre-owned p+ back could really help bring this into the affordable range for you.
    2) You can use our Focal Length Visualizer to see how your Fuji 680 and RZ lenses would transfer with backs of various physical sizes.
    3) [of the following im 90% sure, but the 680 is somewhat obscure and I'd want to double check this info before making a purchase based on it] An M mount back will focus infinity with the KG 680 M adapter. It is H mount backs which will not focus at infinity with the traditional KG 680 adapter. Kapture Group said they were working on a newer H-mount adapter for the 680 which would maintain infinity focus, but I do not know the status of that (already done? in progress? just a dream?).

    Look out for long exposure. Some backs can go for up to an hour, others struggle even with 30 seconds (and you can't cheat by using higher ISO as high ISO and long exposure don't mix well on most DBs). For landscape images at f/11 or f/16 with a graduated ND filter you can easily get into 30 seconds even before the sun has set.
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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Doug:
    Thank you very much for the tips.
    I assume that the shutter actuation affects digital backs differently from the case of DSLR, as there are no mirror movements and no curtains?
    I am looking at 2nd hand backs, but they surface rarely on local auction sites. I know few stores keeping affordable backs, but those are mainly new.

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Correct. The back itself does not have any moving parts (except brands that use a fan in the back for cooling). Condition and warranty should be strongly considered but shot count in and of itself does not matter.

    We always have several pre-owned backs and a steady stream generated by our large user base doing upgrades to more recent backs. And since this is all we do our inspection of the back is very expert and thorough and we warranty every back we sell.
    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: First MF Digital Back musings

    Doug: Well, there is no harm in having a look at a 2nd hand one.
    As a side note...the Dante's quote in forum description seem to fit rather well..

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    I just read through the thread, and since I went through the same process of choosing my first DMF recently, here are the info I gathered.
    If you can't afford P65+ (which I highly recommend) I would choose Leaf Aptus 75, Aptus II 7, Mamiya DM33 (all having the same sensor). Leaf Aptus 22 is almost useless over ISO 100, P45+ is overpriced if you don't need long exposure(and it seems you don't). P40+ is good sensor, but too small.
    You shouldn't be limited with the cameras you have, you should look at the whole kit. There are some good solutions like Hasselblad H3D 39, 50.

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Hi, since you are planning on using the back on 6x7 cameras I would suggest you go for the backs with the larger sensors like the P25+, P45+, P65+ etc. An even smaller sensor will just cut too much the angle of view of 6x7 lenses which are not really available in very short focal lengths to begin with. (widest on the RZ is a 50mm).

    I recently purchased my first digital back and the biggest difference from any other digital camera I have used (other than the resolution, but how big a difference depends on the one you choose and the lenses) is the color. The color depth, accuracy and just the way one can manipulate the files is just astonishing. (combined with capture one software). My back sees color differences/gradations and nuances that I even miss when I am there! It is just ridiculous.

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Due to the lens focal lengths on those bodies being really geared up for 6x7, you're going to struggle to get wide. On the RZ, the 110 is a fantastic lens, but 80 is really your normal length. You'll find you're always a little bit further back. Apart from the fisheye, the widest is 50mm and it's a f4.5 lens, which is pretty slow in shadow/low light. So I'd suggest you need a Phase back with Sensor+ to reach the higher ISO's, and echo the message above to get as large a sensor as possible. The Aptus II backs are lovely, but limited to 800 ISO, however with the latest version of capture one, ISO800 is definitely usable for street work and casual portraits. Here's a DM33/Aptus II 7 example at ISO 800.

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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    I asked a similar question about my GX680III a couple of months back, and had some excellent advice provided by those in know on this forum. I ended up renting a P45+ for a weekend, to get a feel for the system. I already had a Mamiya 645AFD adapter plate for the GX680III, as well as the OneShot adapter (Kapture Group). I was blown away with the resolution of the back, and found that the GX lenses are truly superb.

    I've since purchased a P30+. I haven't been able to use it yet, as it's in Hasselblad H mount, which has the same infinity focus issues you mentioned, and I don't have the new H adapter which allows infinity focus.

    As was previously mentioned, if you're planning on using the GX for wide-angle landscape work with a DB, you're going to be disappointed. I was using my 65mm on the P45+, which was definitely not wide.

    With the OneShot adapter/cables/etc, it's definitely not a 'run and gun' camera system!


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    Re: First MF Digital Back musings

    Thank you for all the feedback - great to see your kit and shots as well.
    While 50(RZII) and 65(GX680) widest I go, I tend to go towards 90 and up for landscape work. I actually shoot more 50mm for landscapes on DSLR.

    My interest though lies with the light and tone capture of the backs.
    To try to explain a little (I have a feeling I will brutally fail): I was working with 3D CGI in Lightwave before. There were concepts of volumetric light and radiosity - where light would bounce off surfaces to create even and gentle light gradation.
    I try to mimic this with my DSLR, but the transition within a tonal range seem to harsh for my liking.
    Now this of course can be attributed to the lack of PP skill on my part, but as it was agreed, you can't quite put something in an image that isn't there in the capture.

    I would appreciate any technical comments on the matter.

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