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Thread: Medium format cameras and their feel

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    Medium format cameras and their feel

    I had a contax 645 a rollie 6000 system and a mamiya 645 afd. Quitre frankly I never liked the feel of the mamiya is the 645 md 111 have a better feel. Or is it just a reved up 645. I loved both my contax and rollie systems only went to the contax when I started shooting nature. I am contemplating getting abck into meduim format so whose who have shot with the contax and mamiya what do you think.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by dseelig View Post
    I had a contax 645 a rollie 6000 system and a mamiya 645 afd. Quitre frankly I never liked the feel of the mamiya is the 645 md 111 have a better feel. Or is it just a reved up 645. I loved both my contax and rollie systems only went to the contax when I started shooting nature. I am contemplating getting abck into meduim format so whose who have shot with the contax and mamiya what do you think.
    It's been some while since I worked with a Rollei system, but remember them to be a bit cumbersome and finicky. The Contax is a sturdy workhorse, but the autofocus is a bit slow and they aren't in production anymore. I did recently test a new Phase One 645 AFD (Mamiya AFD III) and the new focus system is incredibly faster than the previous AFD and AFDII. The shutter lag has also been addressed and has gotten much less noticeable.

    The best way to truly test the camera is to find your local dealer and get a demo. That way you can test the camera as well as a digital back.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    I cant comment on the contax but only on the Rollei/Sinar Hy6 and I really, really like the handling. Even with a WLF you have all infos in the viewfinder and also additionally on the grip the f-stop and exposure information.
    I like the more traditional approach and MF-feel.
    Maybe its a little slower pace to photograph with it (or the Conatx) vs the Mamiya system.
    Personally I liked the option to choose and be able to change the viewfinder.
    One other great thing is-when you use a rotating back-very, very nice for shooting horicontal.
    I am not sure if I answered the question.
    Cheers, Tom

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    I agree with Tom -- the Hy6 seems to really bridge the Rollei 6008AF and the Hasselblad 203FE to me. That said, there are a lot of people here who just HATE the Hy6, which is totally fine too. It is a totally personal thing. I never warmed up to the Hasselblad H series or Mamiya AFD's, though I did like the Contax 645...go figure.
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    ddk
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by dseelig View Post
    I had a contax 645 a rollie 6000 system and a mamiya 645 afd. Quitre frankly I never liked the feel of the mamiya is the 645 md 111 have a better feel. Or is it just a reved up 645. I loved both my contax and rollie systems only went to the contax when I started shooting nature. I am contemplating getting abck into meduim format so whose who have shot with the contax and mamiya what do you think.
    This is very a personal question, I haven't found anything that has the feel of the Contax 645, I bought mine because I couldn't put it down once I held it in my hands. The Rollei and the AFi systems almost that special feel too but not quite the same, hard to explain. Mamiya never had it for me, not that there's anything wrong but with the camera, jut not my taste, and the new one might be faster with better electronics but not much has changed in its tactile feel. Then there are the lenses, if you want Zeiss or not, that should narrow your choice too. Again, nothing wrong with M glass just different.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    I have always felt that the Contax was like an air-cooled Porsche 911, just a hell of a great performing and feeling ride. You get the feeling of having some modern comforts such as AF,Metering, winder, etc., but still have the manual feeling of setting the aperture on the lens itself, not via a knob or wheel.It also just has that solid feel like older Hasselblads with the Zeiss lenses and build quality. Yeah back in the day it's specs were very respectable, but today they are not at the top compared to the newer technology dependent cars and out they are out of production, but are still running and producing great images.
    Did not have much experience with the Rollei but it had a great feeling as well, but was bulkier and did not have a great deal of digital options back then.
    The H series, Hy6 and Phamiya are all great systems, but lack the feel of the these cameras.
    Hey if you do not need all the bells and whistles of the newer bodies the Contax works very well and there are some good deals out there on new and used ones. I would recommend picking up a second body and if you see an accessory that you think you may like, buy it now because it may not be there later.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    IMO the Mamiya AFD, AFD2 and AFD 3 all feel pretty similar in the hand save for minor differences -- I would say if you didn't like one, you won't like the others. Sorry...

    Agree with Lance's comments on the "feel" of the Contax -- one of the best MF cameras ever built IMO
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by lance_schad View Post
    I have always felt that the Contax was like an air-cooled Porsche 911, just a hell of a great performing and feeling ride. You get the feeling of having some modern comforts such as AF,Metering, winder, etc., but still have the manual feeling of setting the aperture on the lens itself, not via a knob or wheel.It also just has that solid feel like older Hasselblads with the Zeiss lenses and build quality.
    I love the comparison you are making, not only because I have the Contax (and don't need the features of the newer bodies, nor the pro support), but I hope to one day own an air-cooled 911, hopefully a '72 911T.
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    I like the AFDIII but the one thing bugs me a little is the grip is a little fat and I wish the release was more in front than on top. Some minor changes there it would feel better. Maybe slight 5 degree tilt going forward also. The Contax from memory does feel nice, too bad it is no longer made and been updated some.
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    A dream medium format camera would have been an updated Contax 645 with better AF, and more importantly bigger, brighter viewfinder.

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    DougDolde
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    If you use the waist level finder on the Contax 645 the view is pretty big. Very easy to focus with the magnifier flipped into place.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    I demoed the Hy6 and Hassy H.

    I loved the Hy6 and didn't like the Hassy at all.

    Part of it is I like the Hy6 waist level finder, but I also like the 45 degree prism as well. I think the Hy6 ergonomics are great including the adjustable grip, but also the button and menu system.

    As said before, it's personal. I don't think you can tell which you're going to like before hand. Spend as much time as you can with the systems you're interested in before buying.

    Best,

    Mitchell

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    I dont like the ergonomics of the 645 Mamiya / Phase body - at all. Two reasons:

    1. The grip is just not right for my hand;and
    2. The viewfinder is not as bright as alternatives;

    I dont like the fact that one has to take the body into a Phase dealer to have firmware upgrades. Thsi si a positive only for those who are close and trust strangers with their gear.

    I love everything about the Contax body - except:

    1. The viewfinder is worse than the Phamiya; and
    2. They dont make 'em anymore

    In hand the H series blad is very nice. I also love the H series body for its viewfinder. I dont like the 'look' of the body though - sorry it is downright FUGLY

    My favourite shooting experiences are with the 200 series body and the Mamiya RZ bodies I use - why? because you get a BIG FAT VIEWFINDER in WLF and 45 degree form and can compose a shot from a non slr perspective.

    On a tripod they are all the same.


    PS _ I would buy a Hy6/Afi style body that took a Phase One or H3D11-39 back faster than you can say gimme - but they are a closed system.
    Last edited by PeterA; 14th January 2009 at 00:00. Reason: PS

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    The Rollei 6008 system has so much to offers in term of accessories and compatibility to technical view camera system (X-Act2). Similar to the Rollei system, the Hasselblad V system also have the Flexbody and ArcBody. However, in my case I also use the multishot digital back and thus the electronic shutter is essential and the Rollei system also offer this feature as well. What set the Hasselblad V system apart from any other medium format is their Superachromat Telephoto lens. Up to date, these lens are the best long telephoto lens in the medium format system and even in the 35mm format system. But both of these 6x6 format systems have been the best I have used.

    I do not compare the 645 system since they are apple and orange. In the 645 system, the Contax 645 has been my favorite camera for several reasons:
    1. Mirror vibration dampening
    2. Waist level for landscape and product applications
    3. Great optics (Mamiya has made great stride in this department with the recent 150mm so Kudo to them)
    4. Comfortable hand grip (last but not least)

    I also use the Sinar m camera system (645) but since not too many forum users own this system I will reserve my comment here.

    Finally, The Leica S2 system will be very interesting as a step below (size wise) the 645 system. I look forward to this system as well.

    In the end they all have their strengths and weaknesses and thus I own all of their strengths and ignore their weaknesses.

    Best Regards,
    -Son
    Last edited by PSon; 22nd January 2009 at 08:39.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by Pham Minh Son View Post
    .Finally, The Leica S2 system will be very interesting as a step below the 645 system. I look forward to this system as well.
    Best Regards,
    -Son
    I'm curious Son why do see the S2 as a step below? Is it because its a closed system or some other reason?

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by DougDolde View Post
    If you use the waist level finder on the Contax 645 the view is pretty big. Very easy to focus with the magnifier flipped into place.
    Actually, this leads into two criticisms of the Contax 645 system:

    1) The fact that it isn't a 6x6 WLF Okay, that wasn't fair, but although the WLF is quite decent, it feels squeezed to me, since I am used to a Hasselblad V WLF. It is probably better for DBs though, ignoring rotation of the back, as on the Hy6.

    2) The grip only really works well with the prism. This is probably common to Contax 645, Mamiya AFD* and Hasselblad H*. With the WLF (okay, the Mamiya can't do this trick anyway), the right wrist is a bit kinked.

    My perfect future 645 camera would be a Contax 645 with updated electronics and full support, a brighter screen, and a step-wise lockable grip, a-la Rollei 6008. A native version of the Hasselblad 110/2 would be great too.

    (By the way, I see a lot of people writing Rollie. Rollei is pronounced something like Roll-Eye, in American. Hard R and flat O (no diphthongs in German) for German pronunciation).
    Last edited by carstenw; 23rd January 2009 at 02:59.
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    I love everything about the Contax body - except:

    1. The viewfinder is worse than the Phamiya
    With "worse", do you mean darker, or something else? Would a Maxwell screen fix it?
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Son was referring to the sensor size. While it is true, in that a larger sensor will always have an IQ advantage, I am not sure how much of a difference it will make. Certainly Leica has proven in the past that they can overcome a minor size disadvantage (comparing S2 to 31MP MF here, not to the new 645-size Phase DB).
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    One thing I have found is that lenses are more important than sensors at these levels...at least at base ISO. This is why I am looking so forward to the S2...no one makes lenses like Leica. I know that is fanboy, but most of the Mamiya, Zeiss and Schneider lenses I have used are just not there compared to Leica lenses -- exceptions would be the mamiya 7 lenses (all admittedly slow), 110/2 planar and 80mm Xenotar. If Leica lives up to their word and these really are the best lenses they have ever made, this system is going to be something special indeed.
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    I'm curious Son why do see the S2 as a step below? Is it because its a closed system or some other reason?
    hi David,
    I was referring to the size of the camera. Based on all of the format systems, the smaller the format the more advances the features the camera can get. Thus, it would not be fair to compare these cameras in different format. What is interesting is that the S2 is a tweener (kind like Charles Barkley) and thus we may not notice the spatial compression when compare to the 645 format camera especially when the sensor size for the 6x6 and 6x45 cameras are all the same and are not at full frame yet. When shooting in film the differences in these camera will be noticeable.

    Best Regards,
    -Son

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Perhaps I'm a bit biased, but after handling the S2 both in Cologne and in Louisville, I much prefer the feel to the Mamiya and Hassy. I think that the S2, while being smaller feels more solid, less plastic. And that is just the prototype. The lenses are also just great in their feel and balance when on the camera. The manual focus (constant clutch) ring is perfectly damped and silky smooth. Think somewhere between a 90 APO R and a 180 APO R Elmarit. They also feel much, much lighter than I would have expected, even though they are all metal construction.

    For the final production model, I really, really want the same hand strap that came with the R9/DMR. For those that have used it, you know what I mean.

    Anyone going to PMA in Las Vegas in March? I'm sure Leica will be bringing the S2 and lenses to fondle. If not, I'll be blogging from the show.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    no one makes lenses like Leica. I know that is fanboy, but most of the Mamiya, Zeiss and Schneider lenses I have used are just not there compared to Leica lenses
    I hope I'm not asking for a flaming here...

    Before I comment I will hold my hand up and say that I've never shot a single Leica frame. Maybe that's what I'm missing! But I remember the photo magazines I used to get in the 70s and 80s, and whenever an M-series lens came up for testing I was always dumbfounded; they were shockingly expensive and technically awful compared to the Nikon and Canon slr lens tests that were published. Barreling, pincusioning, mediocre edge resolution - they had it all!

    Of course I appreciate that the look of a lens and the tech specs don't always correlate, it just sticks in my mind how consistently poor they appeared on paper. So why the massive following?

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    I don't know what is going on there (I was born in '78), but the 70s and 80s were apparently the weak time for Leica. They were in financial turmoil and they were using a lot of old lens designs. Though I am curious as to what lenses they were reviewing, because most Leica designs were still to a very high technical standard. (Particularly lenses like the 50mm summicron, 135mm Tele-Elmar, 28mm elmarit and so on).
    These days, there simply is not another manufacturer who makes lenses as technically perfect as Leica -- very low distortion, vignetting, extreme sharpness from center to edge. Nothing else like it, and it is backed up in the MTF, as well as real world shooting. I always try to be skeptical about it, but whenever I test it, the Leica lenses are simply better. That said, they may be 10% better but cost 4 times as much. The gain you get is not always worth the extra cash.
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    I can only say that I use many leica lenses from the period you describe and absolutely love most of them. Some of my favorites are the 85 Summarex, The 75 Lux, the 50 pre-asph and the 35 pre-asph.

    The most modern asph lenses are undoubtedly technically better particularly in terms of sharpness. Even a quick look at the MTF curves tell you what the differences are and should be. Point is that many photographers find delicious differences in the look and feel of the images from the older lenses compared to the newer (and sharper) counterparts. I am one of those.

    I commend Leica for their progress in lens design and construction. I am sure that for many types of image making these attributes are critical.But I personally find the attributes of the older lenses e.g. lower contrast, good to great micro contrast etc make for images more satisfying to me. However at the end of the day the Leica brand is at the optical end of my image making so hooray for Leica

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by dseelig View Post
    I had a contax 645 a rollie 6000 system and a mamiya 645 afd. Quitre frankly I never liked the feel of the mamiya is the 645 md 111 have a better feel. Or is it just a reved up 645. I loved both my contax and rollie systems only went to the contax when I started shooting nature. I am contemplating getting abck into meduim format so whose who have shot with the contax and mamiya what do you think.
    This is most certainly mondo personal opinion. Most of my MF shooting experience was with Hasselblad V cameras. When the Contax 645 became available with AF, it expanded the use of MF for my work and I added that system in a big time way.

    Unlike the V gear, I NEVER loved that camera. It was just a tool to get the job done, but in reality the AF was frustratingly slow or hunted to much ... which was the reason I got the camera in the first place. If I wanted manual focus, the V with it's big, bright viewfinder and manual focus designed Zeiss lenses was a better choice.

    While at Photo Plus in NYC, I handled a H camera and the low light AF was a revelation. It felt good in my hand. When Kyocera abandoned the Contax 645 system, I knew the AF would now never be improved. Bye, Bye Contax ... hello H.

    I have to admit that, for the most part, my likes/dislikes are directly linked to results. I loved the V because it delivered what I was looking for from a 6X6. Camera's that deliver tend to win my heart and affection ... and number of cameras that have, I can count on one hand.

    For my 645 work, the Hasselblad H delivered, the others didn't. That affects and taints my opinion with an aggressive bias. So, I don't particularly think it is ugly, or anything much negative about it ... and now after many years of delivering ... I'm actually begaining to have a bit of affection for it ... a first since the 203FE.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    hahah - the H isn't pretty lets put it that way - but it is my 'benchmark' system - nothing made by no body has come close to its total integrated quality and ability to get the job done...everything works - all the time. I love my H3D11-39 system and ever single lens in the H series I use.

    Carsten - the Phamiya/Contax viewfinders aren't as bright as the Hasselblad viewfinder. I wont try and compare any 6X6 viewfinder with the DSLR types - for obvious reasons - everyone should have a 6X6 camera in their kit - such fun to use with film or digi.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by woodyspedden View Post
    I can only say that I use many leica lenses from the period you describe and absolutely love most of them.

    The most modern asph lenses are undoubtedly technically better particularly in terms of sharpness. Point is that many photographers find delicious differences in the look and feel of the images from the older lenses compared to the newer (and sharper) counterparts.

    ...personally find the attributes of the older lenses e.g. lower contrast, good to great micro contrast etc make for images more satisfying to me.

    Woody Spedden
    Thanks Woody, I suspected this must be the case.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    I always try to be skeptical about it
    That's always a good approach in my book

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by woodyspedden View Post
    I can only say that I use many leica lenses from the period you describe and absolutely love most of them. Some of my favorites are the 85 Summarex, The 75 Lux, the 50 pre-asph and the 35 pre-asph.

    The most modern asph lenses are undoubtedly technically better particularly in terms of sharpness. Even a quick look at the MTF curves tell you what the differences are and should be. Point is that many photographers find delicious differences in the look and feel of the images from the older lenses compared to the newer (and sharper) counterparts. I am one of those.

    I commend Leica for their progress in lens design and construction. I am sure that for many types of image making these attributes are critical.But I personally find the attributes of the older lenses e.g. lower contrast, good to great micro contrast etc make for images more satisfying to me. However at the end of the day the Leica brand is at the optical end of my image making so hooray for Leica

    Woody Spedden
    Ditto Woody.

    For years I shot with a Pre-ASPH 35/1.4 Summilux ... a very compact lens that produced delicious images ... and I lament trading it away for the ASPH version I now use. The best scenario would have been to have both.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Marc

    I suspect that in your hands the 35 pre-asph was a real winner.

    The beauty of the older lenses is that they have a very unique signature, and those that know how to use that signature to their purpose can produce unique images. With the more modern, very sharp, low distortion lenses, you get a superb rendition but to me it is less than unique.

    So I try to use the Summarex, Hexanon 50 1.2, and the pre-asph 35 and 50 Lux to get images i don't see in many places. I don't always succeed to be sure, but that is a function of my progress as a photographer, not the characteristics of the lens. I will keep trying and guys like Marc and Chuck Jones continue to get the really great shots.

    JMHO

    Woody

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    I've been shooting Mamiya AFD II for about 4 months now and while I love the results I am getting, my major issue is the subtle, but very definitely present, shutter lag. I was shooting a 203fe with CFV back and there was no discernable shutter lag.

    I hope to try out an AFD III for comparison.
    Anyone have comments on AFD II vs III shutter lag?

    Eric

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    With "worse", do you mean darker, or something else? Would a Maxwell screen fix it?
    Who would want to buy a dead system and then have to buy a special glass to make the viewer brighter?

    Although the lenses have had some problems (ok a LOT ) the M system keeps bring out more lenses, at least. And Phase will likely help them...

    Who in the wporld would want a defunct system (ok, so Zeiss designed glass) where you can't even be sure of service.

    Who would stick with a system with somewhat slow AF, new systems have GOT to be what, maybe up to 10% faster by golly...

    Who would want to buy a system know it has no future improvements..




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    me

  33. #33
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by faneuil View Post
    I've been shooting Mamiya AFD II for about 4 months now and while I love the results I am getting, my major issue is the subtle, but very definitely present, shutter lag. I was shooting a 203fe with CFV back and there was no discernable shutter lag.

    I hope to try out an AFD III for comparison.
    Anyone have comments on AFD II vs III shutter lag?

    Eric
    You can shoot a Phase One AFD (same as an AFD III) head to head with your AFD II at a Phase One dealer. Shutter lag is a very tactile attribute, so shooting it yourself is the best way to answer your question.

    However, my two cents are:
    AFD II Shutter Lag: Moderately High
    AFD III Firmware version 1.0: Moderately Low
    AFD III Fimware version 1.4 and higher: Low/Very-Low


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    Capture Integration, Phase One & Canon Dealer | Personal Portfolio

  34. #34
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    As a Phase AFDIII shooter I agree with Doug the shutter lag in version 1.4 is greatly improved.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    As a Phase AFDIII shooter I agree with Doug the shutter lag in version 1.4 is greatly improved.
    It would want to be - because as it is - it sux.

  36. #36
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    And next version there will be none, improvements Peter. At least they are trying to make them with a older style body. Next will be something new. Believe me the Hassy H3 is not perfect either nor is the Hy6. And the Contax can't change. It's called picking the poison that will not kill you fast. Also I think if your shooting it than have the firmware upgraded . There are 6 members here that helped Phase make the 1.4 improvements and Phase fixed every suggestion made.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    - hahah you are so right Guy - none of them are perfect .let me know when you come across a perfect camera ok?

    looking forward to the 'new' camera system..or whatever it is going to be.

  38. #38
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Quote Originally Posted by gogopix View Post
    Who would want to buy a dead system and then have to buy a special glass to make the viewer brighter?
    Do you use the stock screen? It is good, but somewhat dark, I find.

    Although the lenses have had some problems (ok a LOT ) the M system keeps bring out more lenses, at least. And Phase will likely help them...
    Yeah, well, the M lenses... some are good, others go to Tim Ashley Even Jack got a bad 45D. Mamiya seems so hit-n-miss, which at this price really bothers me. If at least one could count on getting a really good example with a bit of patience, but it seems like some of the lenses are just not that great. And the Phase T/S, at 3x the price, and 1/3 the quality? I have no words...

    Who would stick with a system with somewhat slow AF, new systems have GOT to be what, maybe up to 10% faster by golly...
    I don't use AF most of the time, and the rest of the time I use it to get in the right ballpark, and then do the rest myself. The speed is no issue for me. None of the MF cameras are A900s anyway, in the AF department.

    Who would want to buy a system know it has no future improvements..

    me
    Me too
    Carsten - Website

  39. #39
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    Fulldoscosure;

    I use a Maxwell screen (2 stops by my impression)

    AF is slow and can hunt. So does every other one. Until we link to the human brain, AF will suffer;

    Oh forgot, there IS a focus system made to link to the human brain

    It is called MANUAL FOCUS (guess that's why I like Leica so much)

    On the 'won't change' accusation on Contax; ok not perfect but I have a microware-Quasar don't make any more--has the BEST humidity sensor, has lived thru empy high 3 min runs, and is over 20 years old.

    Many of the recent improvement beyond what Contax has I just don't think are necessary. and the hasselblad lens adapter works with focus correction without any special electronics needed for Focus confirm of Leica on Canon for example.

    and BTW exposure, even with flash is spot on with both hassey and Contax lenses (AND Leica Visio! lenses.)

    I see the 'can it be fixed 'question, but the 'it isn't going to improve' has no validity-many of the recent changes are to plastic, more electronic dependence, closed systems, less flexibility in using older glass and, as Tim Ashely finds, a serious lack of quality control (PS also revisit Reichman's exploding Hassey lens, and the "M" glass 28mm OOF discussions on LL)

    Improvements? Maybe we are better off with putting money where it matters-in improved MF digital back

    and yes, that's what I did with my "New MF system" money-I got the P65+



    Victor

  40. #40
    DougDolde
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    Re: Medium format cameras and their feel

    One thing I recently discovered about the Contax 645 with the waist level finder is that you CAN use it for verticals if it's on a tripod. You just have to look into the finder from the side instead of the top. Saves switching finders just to go vertical.

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