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Thread: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

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    Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    I know that the words 'digital medium format' and 'entry-level' (i.e. budget-constrained) don't really belong in the same sentence, nonetheless...

    If you were looking to do landscapes (mostly wide-angle), what DMF kit would you pick if the objective was to minimize cost while still being capable of better quality results than state-of-the-art 135 format digital (D800, A7R etc.)? By better quality, I mean essentially more dynamic range and resolving power at base ISO.

    Thanks!

    DH

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    You don't mention what I'd consider some of the most important parts of any landscape kit:
    - availability of movements (rise/fall/shift/swing/tilt)
    - quality of lenses (e.g. are the corners as sharp as the center)
    - enjoyability of shooting (obviously very subjective)

    Credo 40 on a Cambo Wide RC400 is one (of many) great examples of a kit that will blow away any 135 format system without getting into very high-budgets (relatively speaking of course).

    I'd speak to a dealer and get sample raws from a variety of relevant systems, then arrange to try/rent a system or two and compare based on how/what you actually shoot.

    Note my bias in my signature. There are many great systems (Phase/Leaf/Hassy/Cambo/Arca/Alpa/Pentax) you should consider before narrowing down. Cambo and Credo come to mind primarily based on price since you say that's important.
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by dhazeghi View Post
    I mean essentially more dynamic range and resolving power at base ISO.
    imho, there is little to no reason to "upgrade" from an d800/7r to dmf, just for the sake of dynamic range. you need to shell out big cash to get the latest backs, to get an theoretical better dynamic range.

    switch to dmf for pixels, movements, the bigger format or even the color.
    but dynamic range?... just get that d800/7r.
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    You can't find better DR in a technical sense. You might find slightly better midtones, but differences will be tiny.

    What you can get is more resolving power, movements and a lot sharper wide angle lenses. Tech cam is the way to go. View cameras like the Linhof Techno are a bit more expensive in terms of body, but cheaper lens mount, so with many lenses it can be more economical.

    I think the Credo 40 might be a bit too close in terms of resolution and actually slightly worse DR to really impress. A second hand P65+ maybe? Same DR, larger sensor more resolution.

    I use a Linhof Techno and a 33 megapixel Aptus 75 back with Schneider Digitar lenses, most components second hand. Quite affordable, but the back is a bit aging. Still competitive though, and thanks to lenses I generally get better single shot quality out of this system than I would from a D800/A7r. To me using the Techno is about enjoyment in the photographic process, and I really like having movements when making landscape pictures. I think you should think about that - how you want to make images. If it's all a race about image quality, it's going to get costly, and there's always something better around the corner.
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    i'd sniff around the new pentax
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    You can't find better DR in a technical sense. You might find slightly better midtones, but differences will be tiny.

    What you can get is more resolving power, movements and a lot sharper wide angle lenses. Tech cam is the way to go. View cameras like the Linhof Techno are a bit more expensive in terms of body, but cheaper lens mount, so with many lenses it can be more economical.

    I think the Credo 40 might be a bit too close in terms of resolution and actually slightly worse DR to really impress. A second hand P65+ maybe? Same DR, larger sensor more resolution.

    I use a Linhof Techno and a 33 megapixel Aptus 75 back with Schneider Digitar lenses, most components second hand. Quite affordable, but the back is a bit aging. Still competitive though, and thanks to lenses I generally get better single shot quality out of this system than I would from a D800/A7r. To me using the Techno is about enjoyment in the photographic process, and I really like having movements when making landscape pictures. I think you should think about that - how you want to make images. If it's all a race about image quality, it's going to get costly, and there's always something better around the corner.
    Hi

    I agree with Torger - a full frame sensor is much better for the wide, which if you decide to go tech - is where it really shines, (apart from the process) and with a 60 meg back, you can use the (comparatively speaking) the less expensive Schneider Lenses.

    It you go tech, then there are light weight bodies.
    Arca Swiss - Arca-Swiss Rm3d factum - an advantage of AS is that should decide later you want a view camera, you can use the AS mounts on a F line.

    Alpa - ALPA 12 STC - Small and light.

    Cambo - WRC - 400 - very nice - I have one

    All of the above give you rear movements (rise and fall - or shift) one at time - You rotate the camera for one or the other - this is nice for panos or changing the horizon.

    For swing and tilt - I believe the AS you have swing and tilt built in Alpa you can add an adapter for Cambo you have to get swing and tilt in the lens mount.

    The Linhof - has an a advantage as Torger says as you can put most any LF lens on just by mounting on a inexpensive lens board.

    If you do not want movements now or later and going wide is not a pressing concern - then from what I have read, the new (or second hand) Pentax is good value for the money.

    -- you will have fun!!

    best

    Phil

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Thanks for all the comments and responses. I should say that at this stage, my question is largely to gather information - I won't be buying anytime soon.

    At least a good part of my interest is simply due to the difference in format - I had great fun with a Mamiya 645 Pro TL a few years back, but film just isn't a whole lot of fun for me any more. At the same time, the results do matter, so they need to be at least comparable to the current smaller-sensor state of the art. For landscapes, that'd be Nikon's D800 and PC-E 24/3.5 (tilt-shift, although movements are not that significant for my use - mainly it's the corner sharpness that I value). I don't mind older/secondhand backs/bodies either. The technical cameras look like a lot of fun, but I do value the ability to shoot handheld, at least on occasion.

    From what I can tell, the Pentax 645D and 35/3.5 is one of the more affordable options (although I've read reviews saying it's not a notable improvement over the D800). Are there any other options with similar (or better) quality in that price area?

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Leica S2 maybe?
    Tareq

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    A Leica is only "budget constrained" if you're the government.
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    You can shoot on a tech camera.

    A few users on this forum do so.

    It's definitely not its core strength, but it's also not impossible.

    More to the point a digital back can come off a tech cam body and onto an SLR body in seconds.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    You can shoot on a tech camera.

    A few users on this forum do so.

    It's definitely not its core strength, but it's also not impossible.

    More to the point a digital back can come off a tech cam body and onto an SLR body in seconds.

    And which tech cam to go with? there are plenty, and each has its own pros and cons, so how can i decide on which one? leave the digital back later and also the lenses, just i am curious about the tech cam body only first
    Tareq

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    About the dynamic range the others had spoken; I think it's nearly all said.

    Quote Originally Posted by dhazeghi View Post
    Nikon's D800 and PC-E 24/3.5 (tilt-shift, although movements are not that significant for my use - mainly it's the corner sharpness that I value).
    You prefer the 24 PC for "sharpness"? I think, if this is right, than you should really think about the step to MF.

    I had a system with 22 MP (Mamiya ZD) and tested the 24mm from a friend. This is not comparable at all. The Nikon has "no sharpness" - not on 12 MP, even not on a 36 MP D800.
    The feeling with a MF is quite different: more sharpness overall, other DOF (ok.; if you are a portrait shooter with a 85/1.4 I would prefer the Nikon - but not for landscape), other sharpness in the structure and so on. And this starts with a Mamiya ZD with 22 MP.

    For landscape I would prefer MF every time. For portrait the Nikon-systems offers a 85/1.4 or 135/2 or 200/2, which you can't get with MF.
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by dhazeghi View Post
    Thanks for all the comments and responses. I should say that at this stage, my question is largely to gather information - I won't be buying anytime soon.

    At least a good part of my interest is simply due to the difference in format - I had great fun with a Mamiya 645 Pro TL a few years back, but film just isn't a whole lot of fun for me any more. At the same time, the results do matter, so they need to be at least comparable to the current smaller-sensor state of the art. For landscapes, that'd be Nikon's D800 and PC-E 24/3.5 (tilt-shift, although movements are not that significant for my use - mainly it's the corner sharpness that I value). I don't mind older/secondhand backs/bodies either. The technical cameras look like a lot of fun, but I do value the ability to shoot handheld, at least on occasion.

    From what I can tell, the Pentax 645D and 35/3.5 is one of the more affordable options (although I've read reviews saying it's not a notable improvement over the D800). Are there any other options with similar (or better) quality in that price area?
    If to compete with 645D pricing with other MF options there is only one way to go: second hand, and then you need to compromise a bit on the back or it's going to blow your budget.

    A Silvestri Bicam with Schneider digitar lenses and an Aptus 75 back could be similarly priced as a 645D system. With expectations set right you would appreciate the system. But with DSLRs being at 36 megapixels getting into MF att 33 may feel a bit low, even if your wide angle sharpness will certainly be superior. I shoot with an Aptus 75 myself. It's a good starting point.

    If you manage to get a second hand Hasselblad CFV-50 you'll probably find good price/performance there for 50 megapixels, or if you like wide formats an Aptus-II 10. At 60 megapixels 645 fullframe you have the P65+ quite easy to come by, but still quite expensive.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by dhazeghi View Post
    I know that the words 'digital medium format' and 'entry-level' (i.e. budget-constrained) don't really belong in the same sentence, nonetheless...

    If you were looking to do landscapes (mostly wide-angle), what DMF kit would you pick if the objective was to minimize cost while still being capable of better quality results than state-of-the-art 135 format digital (D800, A7R etc.)? By better quality, I mean essentially more dynamic range and resolving power at base ISO.

    Thanks!

    DH
    Hi,

    A Cambo WRC400 or an Arca FacTum would make a great platform. A Schneider 35mm Digitar and a PhaseOne P65+ would provide stunning image quality. Certainly much more resolution than what you can get with a top end 35mm outfit like a d800e or A7R. It is not close. That is the minimum setup I would try to go for.
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Schneider 35xl is a little problematic on P65+, due to crosstalk (desaturation of colors), but if shifting is not too large it's okay. Or if you use my crosstalk cancellation algorithm I currently develop ;-)

    The 35 is pretty easy to come by second hand though as many sell it when they switch to Rodenstock wides. I have a 35xl myself and I'm very pleased with it, as long as you know its limitations. The result is certainly better than a Nikon 24 PC on a D800, and it's virtually distortion free which is good for shifted lenses which is a bit messy to correct otherwise.
    Last edited by torger; 19th April 2014 at 07:48.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    On an IQ level to get real, noticeable improvements over the latest top 35mm gear you need to be looking at least P40/P65 generation gear and then ONLY paired with a tech camera/lenses. Less than this save your money as your chasing a rose tinted dream.

    On a sanity and usability level the minimum requirement you need to be looking at IQ140/160/180 generation or above paired with a tech camera/lenses for their usability improvements and comparable (ish) 35mm workflow.

    So unless you plan on spending considerable amounts on the MFD gear from the start or plan a pretty aggressive upgrade plan I'd hedge a bet you'll be selling it off again with in 12-18 months and moving back to the latest and greatest 35mm camera (Canon please).

    Nothing wrong with older MFD gear but the do require considerable effort and cost to get similar results to a D800/A7r.
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by gazwas View Post
    ....
    On a sanity and usability level the minimum requirement you need to be looking at IQ140/160/180 generation....
    Or the Leaf Credo series. Very capable, nice screen, less expensive, and USB3 enabled.

    There is also much to be said about "photographic enjoyment" using the equipment/tools/toys that you enjoy most, regardless of megapixels, capability, etc. I don't care how capable the 35mm FF sensor/DSLR segment has become---it's still format limited and just doesn't bring me that same type of photographic enjoyment as a MFDB.

    I shoot with a DSLR because it may be the best tool for certain jobs, but when done well, a MFDB is better, and provides me with oodles more photographic enjoyment.

    ken

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    As Ken said, different people want different things from their cameras. I think the process involved in shooting with a tech camera is a plus; the fact that it doesn't focus for me or decide what the proper shutter speed should be isn't a defect.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by stephengilbert View Post
    As Ken said, different people want different things from their cameras. I think the process involved in shooting with a tech camera is a plus; the fact that it doesn't focus for me or decide what the proper shutter speed should be isn't a defect.
    Like to call it old school and in its simplistic form its a wonderful way to enjoy photography. It's all about you as the shooter not a cam dictating to you what it wants to do. Ultimate control over your tools. I really enjoyed using a tech cam.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by stephengilbert View Post
    As Ken said, different people want different things from their cameras. I think the process involved in shooting with a tech camera is a plus; the fact that it doesn't focus for me or decide what the proper shutter speed should be isn't a defect.
    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Like to call it old school and in its simplistic form its a wonderful way to enjoy photography. It's all about you as the shooter not a cam dictating to you what it wants to do. Ultimate control over your tools. I really enjoyed using a tech cam.

    I can only agree to what Steve and Guy say .
    I appreciate , that I can control , what my gear shall do and not the other way round .
    Regards . Jürgen .
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by Professional View Post
    And which tech cam to go with? there are plenty, and each has its own pros and cons, so how can i decide on which one? leave the digital back later and also the lenses, just i am curious about the tech cam body only first
    Too many points to cover, and many of them have been covered in rather deep detail on other threads.

    Our Tech Camera Overview is a pretty decent starting point, but
    1) We're biased (we choose to sell Arca and Cambo, and not Alpa)
    2) Nothing will substitute for putting one in your hands and playing with it
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    It can't be overemphasized how important it is to try these things. I was surprised by which choices I made, as I had not expected to find one system easy to use and another awkward. Other folks have the same response, but with the systems reversed!

    Enjoy,

    Matt

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Very true one system may seem to have the exact functions you want but once you get it in your hand it may feel awkward. Arca felt awkward to me, although a amazing system it just did not fit my brain and hands. That's me though as others love it and rightfully so. Its a great system. I went Cambo but I could go Alpa as well. It really does come down to do your homework on your wants and needs but than handle it for sure before you buy it.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    If you're satisfied with shooting a D800 or an A7r lens and workflow-wise, but just want higher image quality and at the same time have budget limits, then I think MF is a dangerous path to go. We haven't seen the end of 135 image quality improvements, so if you don't afford being in the MF frontline and follow the upgrades you may find yourself disappointed sooner or later.

    If you on the other hand from creative/stylistic reasons want tilt and shift on all you lenses and are not really pleased with the lenses available for that purpose in the 135 systems, then budget MF can work. To be competitive with current 135 resolving power you need no more than an Aptus 75 or corresponding, and if you just want to stay competitive with the current 135 best and buy backs second hand I think back cost can be kept reasonably low.

    You'll have to prepare to live without live view and 100% sharpness check though if you use old backs. The Aptus series is an exception and actually can do sharpness checking despite their age.
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    What is wrong with Fotoman?
    It seems that there must be some problem with it, but I don't know what it is.
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    What must be emphasized strongly is a good tech camera wide lens will be far, far sharper than an MF DSLR lens - be in Pentax, Hasselblad, Phase/ whichever. This optical fact, and movements, is why Tech cameras will survive the Z.

    Only you will know if you need movements and/or stitching ability. If you don't - i.e. you are a straight shooter, then something as simple as an Alpa TC would suffice, and they can be found on eBay quite affordably on occasions. A simple Cambo or Horseman also good - there's little in it is price.

    Lenses - only you know how wide you need, the best current generation of Rodenstock are truly fantastic lenses but $$$. Older Schneider/Roddy are pretty darn good, and a lot less $. If you are not stitching or shifting, don't forget the Rodenstock Digaron-S range too - excellent quality + price, and a stop faster than the Digaron-W range.

    The used back I would ideally recommend would be a P65+ which gets you onto the modern generation of CCD chips (not CMOS, so max of 100asa, but better at 50asa) and at 60Mp a big step up from 35mm FF, but those are not super cheap even now, 6 years after release. If you want long exposure night shots, then its a P45+. There are also good Leaf backs a bit under-appreciated and under priced.

    Capture One is free in 'Digital Back' mode for all Phase and Leaf backs. Learn how to use an LCC - you will need it, even if you think you don't right now.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Is it me or has this topic already strayed off into the realms of fantasy as the OP is asking 'entry-level' (i.e. budget-constrained).

    I'm sorry if this comes across as blunt but I'm a realist and like to be truthful and realistic with my advise. If you're after the romance of past picture taking experiences, want to impress friends/peers, think they look cool or just want to hang out in the MFD playground than all well and good I can appreciate that.

    However, if you feel unable to take full control of a modern, smaller format camera (focus, exposure?) and your argument is these cameras decide everything for you then you're either very biased with an agenda or delusional and I find that comment quite insulting to the millions of amazing photographers who use them.

    I think MFD is great, I love tech cameras and lenses but on a budget I still stand by my comment that based on IQ alone it will probably be a short lived and expensive visit.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by gazwas View Post
    On an IQ level to get real, noticeable improvements over the latest top 35mm gear you need to be looking at least P40/P65 generation gear and then ONLY paired with a tech camera/lenses. Less than this save your money as your chasing a rose tinted dream.
    Hmm... Okay. Well that cuts straight to chase. I admit to enjoying the occasional rose-tinted dream, but the budget constrains things a lot.

    Nothing wrong with older MFD gear but the do require considerable effort and cost to get similar results to a D800/A7r.
    Point taken. I guess to some degree I was spoiled when shooting film as all it took was an inexpensive folding 645 camera to fairly handily exceed the abilities of my 35mm camera, when it came to landscapes. While the folder and the Mamiya 645 Pro certainly required more effort than my Nikon (no AF, primitive metering, great complications loading and processing the film), it still wasn't particularly constraining. A tech camera would be several orders of magnitude more involving!

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by gazwas View Post
    On an IQ level to get real, noticeable improvements over the latest top 35mm gear you need to be looking at least P40/P65 generation gear and then ONLY paired with a tech camera/lenses. Less than this save your money as your chasing a rose tinted dream.

    Having moved from a D800 to a "budget" MFD camera, I do not agree at all to these claims.


    So unless you plan on spending considerable amounts on the MFD gear from the start or plan a pretty aggressive upgrade plan I'd hedge a bet you'll be selling it off again with in 12-18 months and moving back to the latest and greatest 35mm camera (Canon please).

    Nothing wrong with older MFD gear but the do require considerable effort and cost to get similar results to a D800/A7r.
    What is true is that MFD gear requires more effort. I enjoy the process more, but that is just me. Other people may simply prefer the convenience of a smaller and lighter camera and decide that the results are not better enough to justify the added constraints.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by dhazeghi View Post
    If you were looking to do landscapes (mostly wide-angle), what DMF kit would you pick if the objective was to minimize cost while still being capable of better quality results than state-of-the-art 135 format digital (D800, A7R etc.)? By better quality, I mean essentially more dynamic range and resolving power at base ISO.
    I am coming a bit late to that discussion, sorry. I did the following:
    -used a Sony A900 for the past 5 years. I still have it and still find that its 24 mpix and lenses are sufficient for most needs.
    -bought a Nikon D800 and some lenses about two years ago to test the competition. Found I did not like the lenses.
    -tried a Mamiya RB64 and film (but not for landscape). It is quite capable and very cheap for what it is, but I did not want to go back to the hassle of scanning film.
    -got a cheap, second-hand H3D-31. Found it to be already better than the D800. The resolution is the same, but the lenses are, to my taste, much better.
    -on a day of folly, decided to get another MFD with an H3DII-50 (second-hand again). On landscape (your question), I find that it runs circles around the D800.


    If you are on a budget, there are relatively cheap second-hand MFD cameras and lenses to be had. You can always get one, try it for a few months, and sell it back with little loss if you don't like it. But you are in no hurry: new cameras have been announced with a CMOS sensor, which in turn means that some second hand cameras will go down in price around summer. For example, I would expect used Pentax 645D to be had for little money...

    Now, to your specific questions:
    -more dynamic range: not really, but all cameras above have enough dynamic range for my needs.
    -more resolving power: for the sensor, you will need something in the 50 mpix range to make a difference with the D800 and that may be above your budget. For the lenses, MF lenses are simply better than most of what is available for 24x36 cameras, especially for wide-angles. From hearsay, the only lenses that may be at a similar level for landscape may be the Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 and 15mm f/2.8 and the Sony 35mm f/2.8 FE.

    Here and example comparing the Hasselblad HC 50-II with the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 G to give you an idea of the improvement.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    It can be said that some also see some "drastic" improvements in color and look with MF. This is rather individual though, some see it some do not. To me I just see "different", not necessarily better, ie not something I would spend lots of extra dollars for. Some do though, and if you are one of those it may be easier for you to justify the system.

    It seems to me that those look and color advantages are more often seen in portrait photography, than in landscape where most is about raw performance in terms of resolving power and dynamic range.

    To me the key advantage that made me go MF is movements, and availability of sharper lenses. I need movements for my shooting style. Tech cameras are quite expensive but I find their prices to be justifiable, and the instep cost is bearable. To anyone that has eyes for ground glass I recommend a view camera like the Techno as lens cost becomes substatially lower, and you get full movements on all lenses.

    However I find digital back costs be unacceptable high, really well exemplified with IQ250 vs Pentax 645Z, the solution to that for me was to buy an as old back as possible which had satisfying image quality and resolution, in absoulte terms and in relation to current best 135, that made me land on a second hand Aptus 75, which is about $5k or so.

    If you like to stitch I think MFD value is more or less nullified, as very good stitching solutions exist for 135 and then you can get any field of view coverage and resolution you want, and youo can also simulate movements.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    Too many points to cover, and many of them have been covered in rather deep detail on other threads.

    Our Tech Camera Overview is a pretty decent starting point, but
    1) We're biased (we choose to sell Arca and Cambo, and not Alpa)
    2) Nothing will substitute for putting one in your hands and playing with it
    Wish we have a dealer for Arca/Cambo/Alpa here so i can test before i buy or even see them in close and carry in hand and see which is handling better or design good, performance is only by testing/using it, but i asked here because i try to depends on people reviews/impressions here more, pity in my region i can't go to test gear i am looking for, i even went to Phase One dealer and they were not helpful at all, i tested only P65+ and not sure which another DB, and i asked them to send me files from that P65+ or IQ180 i remember and they didn't sent at all, i went there to ask about IQ260 or that IQ2 series and they don't have, so i am not so willing to buy from them if i will have the budget, but then i didn't find any dealer for the tech cam to see/test in my area, so which one do you recommend me from Arca/Cambo if i am first ever to buy one?
    Tareq

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    I really don't have a horse in this race anymore, just a Leica S system I paid for with my government checks. Plus, I don't do landscape work all that much.

    However, I do have some experience with a full front/back movements studio tech camera, digital backs and view camera lenses. As has been mentioned, as soon as you get to that level of optics and that ability to correct perspective or control DOF (which is what I liked for both table top, and portraits), it is a whole new experience and level of image quality … but perhaps more importantly, new creative control to consider … if one is willing to step outside their comfort zone.

    It is simply a different realm of photography, an old-school one that challenges the user to master their tools and rewards those that do so. I'd also say that once you find the combination that fits you, and you master it, you can stop jumping from one lilly pad to the next in some quest to acquire some minuscule incremental gain in what-ever the highly hyped technical flavor of the month may be.

    Personally, I've found no advantage in any 35mm DSLR system other than a bit convenience. Conversely, I have vividly seen the "image qualities" advantage of working with almost any MFD kit over the smaller format cameras. For example, previously cited fast portrait lenses are not an 35mm DSLR exclusive advantage. There are plenty of faster aperture MFD lenses that when combined with the shallower DOF of MF provide the same subject separation (only with a nicer tonal roll off and better skin tones). The HC100/2.2 is like a 80/1.4, my S120/2.5 is like a 100/1.8, Contax 80/2, etc., etc., … and most of the longer MFD lenses do the job, save something like a Nikon/Canon 200/2 which are massively, hugely gigantic (had them) and usually had too much telephoto compression for portrait work for me anyway.

    As an example, A Leaf Aptus 75s on almost anything that provides precise movements, with a choice selection of view optics will provide its' own set of rewards and its' own set of unique visual properties to exploit for many years to come no matter what else comes along. I know some pretty accomplished landscape photographers that stopped at 33, 39 or 50 meg and see no compelling reason to move from there.

    - Marc

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    I know the original poster is just crowdsourcing opinions, but it really is impossible to say what constitutes a "significant difference". Some people will see something worth paying thousands more for, and others will see no difference at all. This is the realm of taste more than anything. Most people never print at all anymore, let alone large enough to see the resolution difference between a 36mp 35mm camera and a 37-80mp digital back. Dynamic range is a bit of a wash as well, as most people immediately squash that DR in their processing. Yes, it's nice to have a bit extra, but for heaven's sake, slides had a six or seven stop usable range and that is what most landscape photographers used for decades.

    From my own perspective shooting an S2, I still think there is a significant difference in the files between it and a D800, for example. I think the difference is more like shooting tech pan in a 35mm camera vs a standard film in a medium format. Resolution alone is really only a single aspect of the difference. In medium format the differences in focal length, aspect, handling, lens character and sheer sensor/film size look different than 35mm. It is not always better. It is different.

    If you want to experience that on a budget, I would say the Pentax is your best bet. You can also look at used medium format cameras, but try to stick to the later generation if you can, otherwise you will have to deal with a lot of extra hurdles in usability -- anything from terrible screens and ISO performance to being forced to travel with a suitcase full of batteries and cables. Not all older MFD's have these issues, but many do, and the older you go, the more you have to deal with them. Some people don't mind, but if you are not used to it and ready for it, coming from the latest 35mm digital cameras might make you question your hair-shirt MFD trial.
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    To me the key advantage that made me go MF is movements
    Certainly, but no camera with movements is really "entry level for landscape", is it?

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by jerome_m View Post
    Certainly, but no camera with movements is really "entry level for landscape", is it?
    Cambo RC400 with 43XL lens and DB adapter is under $7k.

    You still need to add a digital back which can vary wildly depending on the resolution, interface, and recency. Portable 22mp backs with decent reputations can be had for under $5k. More modern backs like a Credo 40 would open a lot regarding quality and interface and give a full new-back warranty for $11495 (based on a promo ending soon).

    Whether that kind of kit qualifies as "entry level" for landscape I suppose is relative; I'd say it's not. Regardless it's many time more expensive than a D800, but several times less than an IQ280 on a full-sized tech camera with a 32HR and offers direct mechanical movements, lens quality that puts most other lenses to shame, is precisely built, and has a fun factor (obviously highly subjective, some people are going to find a tech camera a huge PITA, while others like me thinks its a ton of fun).
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    By "entry level", I was thinking about something a bit cheaper. Since the O.P. is in the US, I had the curiosity to check for completed listings in eBay US and found several H3D (I or II) with 31 and 39 mpix sold around 4000$ (obviously, one does not get the same level of service from a reputable dealer and from an unknown eBay seller, so the reputable dealer is expected to be more expensive). Earlier on, I suggested to wait for second hand Pentax 645D, they sell new for about 7000$ in the US at present, so the used ones should be a bit cheaper than that when the 645Z will ship. That would be another "entry level" option.
    Last edited by jerome_m; 21st April 2014 at 08:33.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    Every shooter's style is different, some like to narrow down their style to one or two focal lengths. However, I think this should be carefully thought through, if you due to economy reasons end up with only one lens, but your shooting personality rather would like to have many more, you may have chosen a poor path.

    I have 6 lenses to my Linhof Techno, and I'd like to have 2 more. I use them all. You can choose to fill in gaps by stitching and cropping and I know many do, but to me that's not a satisfactionary process.

    To me the utmost satisfaction is to frame on the ground glass, slide in the back, release the shutter, and get the perfectly framed image right out the camera, no cropping required. It's sort of a "hole in one" if I would play golf, alhough no-cropping required happens more often (hopefully). This also makes the 4:3 format great, I find it more workable than the 3:2 of 135, ie my end products is often (not always) in 4:3 format.

    I could go on and on with reasons I like shooting with the tech camera where none of them has anything to do with image quality. I would not have started to use MF if the only options would be to use SLR type of cameras (eg, Leica S, Hassy H, Phase One 645), although they would provide resolution they're just too similar to a high end DSLR from my point of view. But everyone's different, some find the large optical viewfinders of the MF SLRs to be a really big attraction and could get them almost only because of that.

    I like these discussions though, it's very interesting to see the many different reasons that make people choose (or not choose) MF, and hopefully Dhazeghi will learn something from it.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    It is possible to get into medium format digital 'relatively' cheaply - if you are patient. My Leaf Aptus 75 cost me £3,000 (on eBay). I then picked up an un-mounted SK 47mm Apo-digitar for £500 (also on eBay) and had it converted to Alpa mount by Alpa for £1,100. So, for £1,600 I ended up with essentially a brand new lens that retails for c.£3,800. A used Alpa TC can be picked up for around £800 So, £5,400 for a very capable system.

    I recently picked up a Horseman SW-D Pro II with a 35mm Rodenstock Apo-Sironar lens for £1,445. This lens is MUCH better that I had hoped for. It does give a lot of lens cast when shifted but I haven't tried an LCC yet.

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    Re: Entry-level DMF combo for landscapes

    You should get either a used 645D or
    Hasselblad H3d31 or H3d 39

    Both you could get for less than $6000 now, complete kits, on the second hand market

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