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Thread: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

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    Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    I took the A Series on the road with me for a work trip to San Diego, San Marino, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and Miami and wrote up a diary of the week including some of my thoughts.

    Here's a link to the full article:
    Phase One A Series - Roadtrip Diary

    Here are a few of the images (email me or PM me for raw files):














    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Doug, thanks for the post and the article.

    How did you find the in-camera LCC features, and how do they integrate with C1?

    Very interested in how Phase may evolve C1 in this area.

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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by jagsiva View Post
    Doug, thanks for the post and the article.

    How did you find the in-camera LCC features, and how do they integrate with C1?

    Very interested in how Phase may evolve C1 in this area.
    On the back is an option for Camera Mode. When you're using A Series Mode there is an option in the menu to select the lens you're using.

    Once you've done this (correctly) you can forget about LCC. The raw files come out pre-corrected for lens cast.

    The concept works really well for the A Series since it has no movements. Since I only had one lens with me on the trip, and it remembers the lens you're using between shooting sessions I gave exactly zero thought to LCC the entire week. It was pretty nice.
    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: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Very cool Doug. Does the camera take an LCC "behind the scenes" or is it going by some built in library? If the latter, any idea how aperture info is being passed?

    Here's hoping Phase don't limit this to "A Series Mode", as the functionality could be supported by any tech cam/lens combo when centred.

    Thanks again.

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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Doug - I knew we'd have you shooting Alpa at some point
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Nice, Doug, thanks!
    Bill

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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    "It is enormously restrictive, yet simultaneously freeing"

    Nice way to put it Doug. I have often said in posts that no focus, light meter, viewfinder or electronic anything may seem limiting, but to me it feels like all rules and laws have been discarded and I am free to create.

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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Nope.

    I'm not gonna let this one pass by without a comment.

    Doug. You are reviewing a camera without movements. A camera that has a highly focused and specific design, for highly focused and specific reasons.

    And yet you sign off on your review with...

    " In that case I'd recommend the Arca Swiss RM3Di as the "working photographers" equivalent of the A Series. "

    Zero objective credibility whatsoever. It's not the equivalent. AT ALL.

    Someone remind me what the price of the RM3Di is, compared to an Alpa TC please?

    You've just written a review where you can't even bring yourself to provide a direct link to your own information page for the the very camera you're reviewing, yet pepper the article with links to other pages on your website?

    Just incredible.

    Not at all surprising given the background to this of course, but incredible none-the-less.
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    I would have to agree with Gerald on this one.

    If you are going to write about a system shouldn't you have your summing up paragraph about that system, not about how awesome the Arca is?? Surely for someone buying into an A series their "working mans" alternative would be the Alpa Max.

    I have never really understood the appeal of the A series myself, but you should have kept your post to just that. Up until the last paragraph it was really informative.
    Stop chasing gear, start chasing photos instead.

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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    I think the A series is very obviously a luxury product rather than a photo enthusiast product. It does look very special and luxurious and shot from a tripod you get wonderful pixel peeping, I think it will have an appeal on the typical luxury customer that thinks Leica is too mainstream.

    If you're into tech cameras for real though you'd want movements. I've not understood why one would want to do handheld street photography with an Alpa TC, unless you already have a "real" Alpa body with movements and just have the TC as an extra.

    But I guess there's not a law against liking tech cams without movements
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by jagsiva View Post
    Very cool Doug. Does the camera take an LCC "behind the scenes" or is it going by some built in library? If the latter, any idea how aperture info is being passed?
    It looks like a standard Alpa body, even with lens synch cable, so I don't see how any aperture or focus distance information would be fed back to the digital back.

    My guess is that there's say a library of hyperfocal-focused f/11 shots, and that is used as a "good enough" match for any focus distance or aperture. I haven't tested recently but I would guess focus distance is a larger source of mismatch than aperture, but as long as you don't make macro shots I think the mismatch would be small enough for most to not notice. The lenses are also centered so the cast should be mild.

    I'm sure it won't bother the targeted audience, which probably have no idea of these issues anyway. I don't think it's a camera targeted at us "nerds", but more to the casual photographer that wants a special luxury product.
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    well i didnt like the article myself and i dont like the A system either, but to defend doug, anyone clicking on that article knew what it was about.

    its clear that this camera is very limited and i am far from being interested in that system but the recommendation for the arca in the end IS odd
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    What a curious 'review' - a sales pitch for the RM3Di designed as a review of an Alpa 'A' series camera.

    Generally, I'd prefer if retailers refrained from reviews ... however well intentioned, it's difficult to approach objectivity. Kind of like asking a chef if their food is any good.

    Better just to lend the gear to a 3rd party and have them review it IMHO.
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Probably better if a review stays as a review, or a sales pitch stays as just that. Mixing both can get some folks wound up. See above.
    www.gigi-photos.com
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    regardless of limited functionality, once you have held a TC, you will probably want one. a modern equivalent, with changeable lenses, to the hasselblad SWC
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    regardless of limited functionality, once you have held a TC, you will probably want one. a modern equivalent, with changeable lenses, to the hasselblad SWC
    I visited Alpa in October. They showed me everything. FPS, Max, all the lenses...

    I have an STC (4 years running). What did I walk away from that visit lusting for? A TC...



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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    I would have thought the Arca Factum would be a better comparison, as the rm3di has a lot more size/weight than a TC.

    Back to the review, nice to see that the built in LCC correction worked well. I assume that you don't even need to take the LCC frame anymore? The camera just uses a series of built in corrections.

    I do have to wonder how well such built in corrections will work 100% of the time. In the field, many times my LCC"s will take on a unique color cast, mainly to the yellow side, when shooting into or near into the brighter sunlight.

    Gave this a bit of thought and still can't see how Phase could work this to correct or movements, as each person would move the lens a bit more or less, at least on an Arca as there are no indents for 15mm of shift or rise / fall. Plus different apertures will create a darker or lighter vignetting when shifted, which I guess a auto correct setting would not be able to account for.

    But it's a start for sure.

    Paul

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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    Gave this a bit of thought and still can't see how Phase could work this to correct or movements, as each person would move the lens a bit more or less, at least on an Arca as there are no indents for 15mm of shift or rise / fall. Plus different apertures will create a darker or lighter vignetting when shifted, which I guess a auto correct setting would not be able to account for.

    But it's a start for sure.

    Paul
    Paul, I'm hoping it is an implementation that takes the LCC similar to how a dark frame is currently taken. So LCC take per shop automatically and seamlessly. Somehow they would have to find a way to do with without having an LCC card in front of the lens. Of course, we should have the option of turning the feature off!

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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    nice as the TC is, i would get a STC (not much bigger); no rise/fall is the bugaboo of the wide angle SWC

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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by jagsiva View Post
    Paul, I'm hoping it is an implementation that takes the LCC similar to how a dark frame is currently taken. So LCC take per shop automatically and seamlessly. Somehow they would have to find a way to do with without having an LCC card in front of the lens. Of course, we should have the option of turning the feature off!
    I guess it's a similar feature to what the Aptus-II has, described here:
    Aptus-Arca

    ...but only correction of cast, not vignetting, and no movements since the TC does not have any. Without vignetting correction and no movements you need only one file per lens, if you disregard from focus distance effects. Light temperature has some effect too, but generally only when you have a some crosstalk. For really high end I guess you'd want to make the boring LCC shot, one per scene, but this is intended more as a luxurious casual camera as far as I can see.

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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    The A Series represents the far end of the [simplicity vs. functionality] spectrum. In fact there is very little on the system that could be removed and still be called a camera (except the iPhone holder which I imagine many customers will remove). It is minimalism embodied. It is small enough to carry around with you, and eliminates LCC as a thing you have to spend any time or thought on. There is, as I wrote in the article, a real sort of freedom that comes with such simplicity.

    On the other end of the spectrum I see the RM3Di as the embodiment of functionality. Rise/Fall/Shift built in natively for rear-only movement, tilt on every lens, high precision viewfinder, ultra precise helical, option for rotation without removal, built in rail mount for nodal point use, optional distometer built in and coupled with the helical, optional in-system electronic lenses with remote control, optional modular focal plane shutter, native inter-compatibility with a view camera line, and optional sliding ground glass.

    There are many other good tech cameras in between, but those are, as I see it, the two extreme ends. In the same way that the A Series may be too reductive for some photographers it's inevitable that the RM3Di is too intimidating. My idea was that if you get through the article on the A Series and think "beautiful, elegant, sexy, minimilist, fun... but I need more controls and more functionality" then I wanted to introduce the other end of the spectrum.

    I have made some edits based on the much appreciated feedback, especially at the end. Thanks for reading!
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    I think the A series is very obviously a luxury product rather than a photo enthusiast product. It does look very special and luxurious and shot from a tripod you get wonderful pixel peeping, I think it will have an appeal on the typical luxury customer that thinks Leica is too mainstream.

    If you're into tech cameras for real though you'd want movements. I've not understood why one would want to do handheld street photography with an Alpa TC, unless you already have a "real" Alpa body with movements and just have the TC as an extra.

    But I guess there's not a law against liking tech cams without movements
    Wow, that was really condescending.

    But to answer your question about why use something like a TC for street photography because of the simplicity matched with the quality. A camera like this is very fast to shoot, quiet, and unobtrusive. Which is why the "new" Alpa is not really new--cameras like this have been produced for a really long time. For example: Ermanox - Camera-wiki.org - The free camera encyclopedia

    As for the TC being a technical camera, it is not. Not everyone wants a technical camera, even the so-called technical cameras built today--the original technical cameras were metal flat-bed view cameras, built by Linhof, Horseman, and Wista. Those were "real" technical cameras. Some folks are just looking for the optics and the back in a compact package and don't need movements.
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Yes, there sure must be an interest or else they wouldn't make the product. I'm being a bit categoric of course. I do think they will attract most interest from people wanting luxury rather than the utmost photographic tool, nothing wrong with that though.

    The special thing here, unlike the older cameras of similar format, is that this produces resolution rivaling or even exceeding 4x5", and it costs, well, quite a lot. The lenses are designed for "large format" applications, ie small aperture with large image circles. It will be difficult to get all that sharpness in a hand-held shot with the shutter speeds required, but then at least you don't get aliasing. I don't think it's a discrete camera either, it looks special and will probably draw some attention.

    A TC frame is a lot cheaper than a Leica M though, so it can be a nice option if you already have an Alpa system. And if the A series bundle actually had a rebate (ie would cost less than buying all parts separately, which it don't) it could be a good buy for one investing in an Alpa system.

    And what's up with putting an iPhone on top? Couldn't they at least have a proper viewfinder, Alpa actually makes them. That would make the camera look a bit more serious to me. They could have it look like this:

    (...and this version obviously also works without digital back battery and flash sync cable too, that's cool!)
    Last edited by torger; 21st January 2015 at 10:06.
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    The special thing here, unlike the older cameras of similar format, is that this produces resolution rivaling or even exceeding 4x5", and it costs, well, quite a lot. The lenses are designed for "large format" applications, ie small aperture with large image circles. It will be difficult to get all that sharpness in a hand-held shot with the shutter speeds required, but then at least you don't get aliasing.
    I found 1/60th to be enough with careful support and shooting technique and 1/125th to be enough shooting with a "normal" style. Given the IQ250 can shoot up to ISO6400 and the lens is beautifully sharp at f/5.6 (albeit with very shallow DOF when viewed at 100% resolution) maintaining a minimum hand holdable shutter speed was the least of my concerns. The lack of a mirror and the near-zero vibration from the shutter undoubtedly have a lot to do with that.

    That's for 50mp with the 35mm where ISO100 is the base.

    For the 80mp A Series with the 70mm lens where ISO35 is the base I would expect minimum hand-holdable shutter speed to become significantly more of a limitation. Then again, I think the 50mp is the appropriate choice for handheld/spontaneous shooting for several reasons.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Yes the 50 sounds like the perfect match, as it has high ISO good for hand-holding and it also has live view, which can be nice if you don't get the viewfinder. I would surely get that viewfinder, I think Phase One should put it in the accessory list in the brochure (it's not there now).

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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    i gotta ask...but doug, are you holding the camera at arm's length and looking at the live view (chimping), then closing the shutter and shooting? all handheld? certainly doable, but seems like it would get clumsy fast.

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    Re: Phase One A Series - A Roadtrip Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    i gotta ask...but doug, are you holding the camera at arm's length and looking at the live view (chimping), then closing the shutter and shooting? all handheld? certainly doable, but seems like it would get clumsy fast.
    Holding it around my belly button, shooting without live view, and reviewing the image on the iPhone which I have angled up toward my face for after-the-shot review.

    Like I said in the article, it's more zen than exact science. It's Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star with his targeting computers off.

    If you're looking for perfect framing or a 100% hit rate then it's very clumsy. If you're relaxing and "letting it happen" it's rather freeing. I wouldn't shoot a paid wedding with it, but carrying it on a wedding I was simply attending was rather enjoyable.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183
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