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Thread: First MFDB purchase question

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    First MFDB purchase question

    Hi,

    I'm looking to make the jump into medium format digital. I've been shooting mostly 4x5 film then scanning, but also started to shoot with a Leaf Aptus ii-12 while at graduate school. I have a Canon 5d mark 2, but it just doesn't give me the same results compared to my prints from 4x5 or the Leaf back. Plus, I don't enjoy working with 35mm format at all.

    I recently received a grant to go abroad for a year, but trying to shoot film, process it, and scan it just doesn't seem to be an option for me there. Neither is buying a 60/80mp back for financial reasons. I need a system that can get me similar results to what i'm currently doing, but I realistically know I'm quite limited due to my budget.

    Here are some options that i've been considering:

    Used P1 645df+,p45+,80mm LS, 120mm D around $10,500.00
    Used Mamiya 645df+, credo 40, 80mm LS around $10,000.00
    Used Hasselblad H3Dii-31, 80mm around $6000.00

    Everybody here seems extremely helpful and knowledgeable about these things, so any advice is greatly appreciated. I definitely need help with this decision.

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    Re: First MFDB purchase question

    Quote Originally Posted by chr029 View Post
    I recently received a grant to go abroad for a year, but trying to shoot film, process it, and scan it just doesn't seem to be an option for me there. Neither is buying a 60/80mp back for financial reasons. I need a system that can get me similar results to what i'm currently doing, but I realistically know I'm quite limited due to my budget.

    Here are some options that i've been considering:

    Used P1 645df+,p45+,80mm LS, 120mm D around $10,500.00
    Used Mamiya 645df+, credo 40, 80mm LS around $10,000.00
    Used Hasselblad H3Dii-31, 80mm around $6000.00
    First of all congratulations on your grant! I spent one month in Scotland and six months in Australia as part of my photo degree. Some of my best memories of college are during that time, and the effect it had on my growth as a photographer was enormous. It's also where I developed a taste for whiskey .

    Second: full disclosure, as it says in my signature I work for a dealer that sells Phase One and Leaf, but not Hasselblad (or Sinar/Leica/Pentax etc).

    All of those systems will produce great results.

    If you intend to use the back with a view camera or tech camera at some point in the future the 31mp sensors (whether the Hassy H3D-31 or Phase One P30/P30+) are not ideal. On the other hand if you shoot hand held in lower light the 31mp sensors have better performance than the 39mp and 40mp sensors at mid-ISO.

    Are you using Leaf Capture or Capture One currently with the Aptus II 12 files? Both the Phase/Leaf options would call for Capture One (you can't use the Credo 40 with Leaf Capture), so if you're already familiar with it and if it fits your needs that can be considered a pro.

    If you mix ambient/flash together in any significant percentage of your work you may find the extra stop of sync speed on the Phase/Leaf Schneider LS lenses useful (1/1600 vs 1/800). If you never use flash this doesn't really matter.

    If you shoot untethered the Retina touchscreen LCD on the Leaf is going to give you the highest quality in-the-field review. If you mostly shoot tethered the USB3 on the Credo will be the fastest to transmit images and (along with FW800) provides the broadest tethering compatibility.

    If you like the color of the Leaf, you'll almost surely find the closest color comes from the Leaf Credo (both in that they are both Leaf, and that they are both Dalsa sensors). Not that this means you wouldn't like the color from the Kodak sensors in the Phase/Hassy systems.

    I don't think you should feel especially limited by that budget range. It's a bit constraining, but perfectly possible to get a nice system in that ballpark. It's a selfish suggestion of course but you may want to consider the value of going through a dealer and getting a unit with warranty and support. My guess is those kits are for units without warranty or with only a limited warranty, and an unexpected repair can be debilitatingly expensive if out of warranty. Repairs are pretty rare, so it's unlikely to come up, but if you need one you may find it difficult to get such a repair on a student budget. A dealer (assuming they are good/knowledgable) also gives you a place to call with questions and a resource to get over learning curves without frustration, and would give you a place to try several relevant systems out to see how the intangibles line up (e.g. does an H body fit your hand better than a DF? Do you like the look of the Schneider lenses better than the Hassy lenses?)

    I'd also say you shouldn't count out the possibility of shooting film and having it processed and scanned. Depending on where "abroad" you'll be there are good labs that can process+scan for you. Find one, do some back of the napkin calculations on what you'd end up spending over the year and give some thought to the pros/cons. As one pro, this is probably your last chance to spend significant time/effort shooting film (assuming you're going to school on a track to be a commercial photographer).

    It's probably helpful if you tell us a bit more about yourself. What do you shoot subject wise? What sorts of lenses do you favor? What do you like about what you get out of the Aptus II 12 and what do you dislike about using the 5D2? Where do you see yourself after this year abroad? Whereya going??
    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 MFDB purchase question

    If I were you, I wouldn't rule out the H3D22 or the P21. There is a whole thread on fat pixel" digital backs on this forum that you might want to consult. There is some sort of magic for me with them that is difficult to describe.

    Greg

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    Re: First MFDB purchase question

    Take a minute and read through this post on this forum. Quite a bit of info/ideas on this subject.


    http://www.getdpi.com/forum/medium-f...ack-worth.html

    Paul

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    Re: First MFDB purchase question

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    I'd also say you shouldn't count out the possibility of shooting film and having it processed and scanned. Depending on where "abroad" you'll be there are good labs that can process+scan for you. Find one, do some back of the napkin calculations on what you'd end up spending over the year and give some thought to the pros/cons. As one pro, this is probably your last chance to spend significant time/effort shooting film (assuming you're going to school on a track to be a commercial photographer).
    I agree with this sentiment, almost all somewhat modern countries have at least one pro lab somewhere. However, I feel it's pretty silly to say that you won't be able to use film anymore as a commercial photographer. Almost all the photographers I know and admire right now are, if not 100%, then at least using film for 90% of their work. And these are not veterans I'm talking about here, but rather 25-40-year-olds. It's all a matter of choice and style. Of course, they are not shooting products for catalogs though, that's an area where digital is a no-brainer.

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    Re: First MFDB purchase question

    You have already determined that MFD fits your needs by working with the Aptus back, and it obviously fits your temperament and shooting style coming from large format film. Plus, you've stated that you do not like working with a 35mm digital format (BTW, either do I).

    You seem to have a threshold of about $10,000 or so, including a base lens and a second lens.

    I think you could easily get a Hasselblad H3D-II/39 with HC-80/2.8, and a second lens for that amount rather than the H3D-31. The 39 is the larger sized sensor with a 1.1X lens factor rather than the 1.3X of the 31 meg back.

    I would seriously consider a 33 meg Leaf Aptus-7 (or Aptus-7S if you can find one), and mount it on a Mamiya RZ Pro-IID a whole RZ system can be had for $3K and the Aptus-7S should be $5K to 6,500K if that. I had this set up and it is a match made in heaven. The lens factor is 1.5X so the widest available would be the RZ-50mm = 75mm. No issues rotating the back since that's a feature of the RZ.

    Some cameras, lenses, and backs just seem to sing together, and this is one of them IMHO.

    - Marc
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    Re: First MFDB purchase question

    There are quite a few good suggestions here---and best to try before you buy to see what matches your needs and workflow.

    I'd give more serious thought to the Credo 40/IQ140 options if not for anything but the ease with which to tether via USB3 and Surface Pro.

    ken

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    Re: First MFDB purchase question

    Thank you everyone for the replies so far.

    Doug,

    Is there a way to use the backs on a 4x5 field camera? I don't intend to use the back on a tech camera anytime soon, but it's definitely my favorite way of shooting.

    I've been using Capture One with the Aptus, so I'm really comfortable with the software.

    Most of the work I've been doing is split between natural light and using a strobe. So I shoot both tethered and untethered depending on the situation. I do like the the Leaf color, but not so much where it is going to weigh heavily on my decision. I like the idea of going with Credo because it's newer and has the nice touchscreen LCD, and the one thing I dislike about the Aptus II 12 is how bad the LCD is. The cropped sensor is a concern though. I'm so used to the large senor on the Aptus that I'm not sure how the smaller sensor will affect my shooting. That's also why I've been considering the P45+ since the 1.1 crop is closer to what I've been using. The P45+ kit that I'm considering still has a warranty for awhile, while the others don't appear to have one.

    I still prefer shooting film. Luckily, where I live, I can process large format color film myself and don't have to worry about sending to a lab. I was very stubborn in grad school and shot film all the way until my last semester where I switched to the Leaf back. I didn't really like using it at first, but as my work changed I also started to really enjoy shooting with it. I think it just really depends on what I'm working on. Sometimes the 4x5 is a better fit, other times the MFDB is the way to go. I mostly do a combination of landscape, portrait, and still life. So in the studio, there is no better option for me than MFDB tethered to a laptop.

    What I really like about using a MFDB is how similar the approach is to shooting 4x5 for me. I've also been making large fine art prints, so I need to keep the quality consistent, and my 5D doesn't get me there. It's great for certain things, but I've never been much of a 35mm shooter.

    I'm going to the middle east, Oman specifically. Finding a lab to process 4x5 color film is challenging. Most importantly, I really like what switching to a digital back did for my work in grad school. It pushed me to try new things that I previously didn't do before. That's one of the main reasons for me wanting to make the transition to a MFDB.

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    Re: First MFDB purchase question

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    You have already determined that MFD fits your needs by working with the Aptus back, and it obviously fits your temperament and shooting style coming from large format film. Plus, you've stated that you do not like working with a 35mm digital format (BTW, either do I).

    You seem to have a threshold of about $10,000 or so, including a base lens and a second lens.

    I think you could easily get a Hasselblad H3D-II/39 with HC-80/2.8, and a second lens for that amount rather than the H3D-31. The 39 is the larger sized sensor with a 1.1X lens factor rather than the 1.3X of the 31 meg back.

    I would seriously consider a 33 meg Leaf Aptus-7 (or Aptus-7S if you can find one), and mount it on a Mamiya RZ Pro-IID a whole RZ system can be had for $3K and the Aptus-7S should be $5K to 6,500K if that. I had this set up and it is a match made in heaven. The lens factor is 1.5X so the widest available would be the RZ-50mm = 75mm. No issues rotating the back since that's a feature of the RZ.

    Some cameras, lenses, and backs just seem to sing together, and this is one of them IMHO.

    - Marc
    Yes, a H3DII-39 would make more sense than a 31. I've used a RZ a couple times before. That could be another possible option. I currently have a Hasselblad 500cm, so even getting a back for that could be feasible.

    The only downside to my situation right now is time. I have to leave for my grant in less than three months, and don't want to wait until the last minute to purchase new gear. I've done that before, and it was not a good experience. So I'm kind of at the mercy of what's immediately available, and have to make the best possible decision.

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    Re: First MFDB purchase question

    Quote Originally Posted by chr029 View Post
    Thank you everyone for the replies so far.

    Doug,

    Is there a way to use the backs on a 4x5 field camera? I don't intend to use the back on a tech camera anytime soon, but it's definitely my favorite way of shooting.

    I've been using Capture One with the Aptus, so I'm really comfortable with the software.

    Most of the work I've been doing is split between natural light and using a strobe. So I shoot both tethered and untethered depending on the situation. I do like the the Leaf color, but not so much where it is going to weigh heavily on my decision. I like the idea of going with Credo because it's newer and has the nice touchscreen LCD, and the one thing I dislike about the Aptus II 12 is how bad the LCD is. The cropped sensor is a concern though. I'm so used to the large senor on the Aptus that I'm not sure how the smaller sensor will affect my shooting. That's also why I've been considering the P45+ since the 1.1 crop is closer to what I've been using. The P45+ kit that I'm considering still has a warranty for awhile, while the others don't appear to have one.

    I still prefer shooting film. Luckily, where I live, I can process large format color film myself and don't have to worry about sending to a lab. I was very stubborn in grad school and shot film all the way until my last semester where I switched to the Leaf back. I didn't really like using it at first, but as my work changed I also started to really enjoy shooting with it. I think it just really depends on what I'm working on. Sometimes the 4x5 is a better fit, other times the MFDB is the way to go. I mostly do a combination of landscape, portrait, and still life. So in the studio, there is no better option for me than MFDB tethered to a laptop.

    What I really like about using a MFDB is how similar the approach is to shooting 4x5 for me. I've also been making large fine art prints, so I need to keep the quality consistent, and my 5D doesn't get me there. It's great for certain things, but I've never been much of a 35mm shooter.

    I'm going to the middle east, Oman specifically. Finding a lab to process 4x5 color film is challenging. Most importantly, I really like what switching to a digital back did for my work in grad school. It pushed me to try new things that I previously didn't do before. That's one of the main reasons for me wanting to make the transition to a MFDB.
    I wouldn't normally suggest medium format for a student, but it sounds to me like you're a pretty clear exception.

    Mounting on a field 4x5 is pretty easy if it has a Graflock adapter. Shoot me an email and I can send you a summary of the options. Deciding between sliding back options (larger/heavier/more-expensive) and live-view adapters warrant an informed conversation. And the focal lengths common to 4x5 tend to be quite long for medium format backs (see our focal length visualizer tool). It's more common to use view cameras with digital backs for macro/table-top/still-life than for interiors/architecture/landscape where tech cameras are more common.

    If you can borrow the Aptus II 12 still you could do a shoot where you crop into 1.3x of the image and that will give you a good idea of how lenses, DOF, and framing works on a Credo 40 back. But better if possible to hook up with a dealer to try a Credo 40 itself (again, that's a selfish suggestion but I think an objectively sound one).
    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 MFDB purchase question

    Quote Originally Posted by chr029 View Post
    Yes, a H3DII-39 would make more sense than a 31. I've used a RZ a couple times before. That could be another possible option. I currently have a Hasselblad 500cm, so even getting a back for that could be feasible.

    The only downside to my situation right now is time. I have to leave for my grant in less than three months, and don't want to wait until the last minute to purchase new gear. I've done that before, and it was not a good experience. So I'm kind of at the mercy of what's immediately available, and have to make the best possible decision.
    The Hasselblad 500CM is a good camera and many lenses are still quite capable with a nice look and feel to how they render but the downside is that it can't really be used in portrait orientation unless you get a digital back that allows you to remove and rotate it (not ideal out in the field), or has a rotating sensor which would be cost prohibitive I think.

    Personally, I loved the way the Aptus 7S rendered color and some of the RZ lenses just have a special look to them. The RZ 210 APO is right up there with some of the best.

    I understand the immediacy issue. Perhaps post a WTB (want to buy) ad in a few places?

    - Marc

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    Re: First MFDB purchase question

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    The Hasselblad 500CM is a good camera and many lenses are still quite capable with a nice look and feel to how they render but the downside is that it can't really be used in portrait orientation unless you get a digital back that allows you to remove and rotate it (not ideal out in the field), or has a rotating sensor which would be cost prohibitive I think.

    Personally, I loved the way the Aptus 7S rendered color and some of the RZ lenses just have a special look to them. The RZ 210 APO is right up there with some of the best.

    I understand the immediacy issue. Perhaps post a WTB (want to buy) ad in a few places?

    - Marc
    I'll definitely keep my eyes open for the Aptus 7 and take a look the WTB posts in different forums. Thank you for your advice!

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