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Thread: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

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    Senior Member JohnBrew's Avatar
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    Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    First I want to say that I'm sure this question has already been asked a million times and I sure everyone is sick of responding. But here we go again: I recently returned from a workshop with Andy Biggs in Moab. He had a dandy looking Alpa STC and I really would like to move into MF territory - however, to those who have already been through this scenario - I shoot a Nikon D810 with Zeiss glass (ie: Otus & others) and I must say I'm getting pretty damn good results. Am I going to see a significant increase in image quality with the P45+? Also, am I just stroking my u-know-what as I only print to 24"?
    Thanks for all replies.
    John
    Last edited by JohnBrew; 29th April 2015 at 10:40. Reason: addition

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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrew View Post
    First I want to say that I'm sure this question has already been asked a million times and I sure everyone is sick of responding. But here we go again: I recently returned from a workshop with Andy Biggs in Moab. He had a dandy looking Alpa STC and I really would like to move into MF territory - however, to those who have already been through this scenario - I shoot a Nikon D810 with Zeiss glass (ie: Otus & others) and I must say I'm getting pretty damn good results. Am I going to see a significant increase in image quality with the P45+? Also, am I just stroking my u-know-what as I only print to 24"?
    Thanks for all replies.
    John
    John,

    The easiest way to answer this, with your own criterium and "is it worth it" scrutiny is to DO it.

    I'll be in Los Angeles in May and would be glad to spend an evening shooting your 810+Otus compared to a P45+ on one of our tech cams (Alpa TC, Arca Univeralis, Arca Factum, Arca RM3Di, Cambo Actus, Cambo RC400, Cambo RS1200, Cambo RS5000) with Schneider and/or Rodenstock lenses.

    We can help you process them to their best in Capture One, and you can do the same with your D800. Whatever you see or don't see will be a more accurate truth-for-you-and-your-needs than anything a forum could tell you.

    We could also bring a few other backs so you can see what all the rage is in tech-cam-world over the more recent backs like the Credo 40 which would offer a significantly improved user experience on a tech cam.

    Pure image quality is only one component. Having rise/fall/shift/tilt built in offers a new toolkit above an Otus on a Nikon D800; a toolkit you won't know you are missing until you've gotten used to having it, and then (for some users including me) can't live without.

    Having a tactile, slower, more traditional, more visceral shooting experience may also make it more enjoyable for you to shoot. Conversely you may find the slow, all-manual experience tedious, boring and frustrating.

    The point is, you really can't know without trying it.

    I'll warn you in advance this thread will soon fill with lots of highly-technical analysis of dynamic range or Delta E values or MTF curves or other such things. Those are important considerations. But they are only one small part of evaluating whether a camera system is going to be a good fit for you.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
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    Senior Member JohnBrew's Avatar
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Thank you, Doug. I'm in South Carolina so LA is out for me . I've been talking with Dave in Atlanta about some used equipment. You are so right that I need to try before I buy. I understand I can process these files in LR? I never could make Capture 1 work and I gave it two tries. I'd really like to break out of the Canikon mold and yes, a tech camera would certainly be nice, especially since the t/s options for 35mm pretty much suck (and I tried them all). Perhaps I should be talking to the people in Atlanta about renting something short term and then I could do all my experiments at home.
    Thanks for your thoughts on the subject and I am very familiar with your posts here and elsewhere.
    Regards,
    John

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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrew View Post
    Thank you, Doug. I'm in South Carolina so LA is out for me . I've been talking with Dave in Atlanta about some used equipment. You are so right that I need to try before I buy. I understand I can process these files in LR? I never could make Capture 1 work and I gave it two tries. I'd really like to break out of the Canikon mold and yes, a tech camera would certainly be nice, especially since the t/s options for 35mm pretty much suck (and I tried them all). Perhaps I should be talking to the people in Atlanta about renting something short term and then I could do all my experiments at home.
    Thanks for your thoughts on the subject and I am very familiar with your posts here and elsewhere.
    Regards,
    John
    O I'm sorry, I misread that as South California. I must have stopped at the C!

    You can process in LR and the results will be very good, but some of the secret sauce is in the combination of hardware and software built from the ground up to compliment each other (see a case study of this with the lengths to which C1's hardware and software team collaborate to get good color).

    I'd ask if either of your "two tries" in C1 involved someone who was an expert sitting down with you and walking you through the mentality of the program. You don't need a human being to teach you every feature and function (in fact nearly nobody uses every function), but having a human walk you through the design concepts and the intended workflow, and then listen to what you need to get done and guide you through a good way to do those things in C1... that can save hours and hours of headaches.
    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: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    John,

    I would start with this thread that has some great thoughts on why folks went down the tech cam route:

    http://www.getdpi.com/forum/medium-f...chnical+camera

    Positives:
    Best lenses money, yes, money can buy
    You can go up to 80MP in resolution
    Full movements - not sure if you have shot with view cams, but this adds a whole other dimension on flexibility/creativity

    Negatives:
    Cost
    Auto anything

    Regardless of any of these, for me, the biggest difference is the workflow. Different state of mind and different results.

    Good luck, and looking forward to seeing how work out for you. BTW, couple of guys are trying to give away (almost give away) a P65+ and an Aptus 10 on the B&S!
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    Senior Member Dogs857's Avatar
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    John

    I did exactly what you are looking at.
    I was using a D810 (albeit with the new Sigma Art glass instead of Zeiss) and sold it all to go tech camera and P45+. I did this because I was using a tech camera before and really missed it.

    As for IQ no you will not really notice much difference except in the way you have to process the files. The D810 can really pull shadow detail far more than the P45+, and has a larger usable DR. You will also lose LV, accurate framing (unless you use a GG), accurate review (the screen on the P45+ is really not that good, I was surprised).

    You will need to embrace zen focusing, zen framing, much slower workflow, as well as a myriad of other little quirks that comes with using a technical camera. Check out the link Jagsiva posted.

    If I am looking at files from the D810 and the P45+ side by side (RAW) you won't see much difference at all.

    But my enjoyment is so much higher using the tech camera, and that is worth far more to me.
    Stop chasing gear, start chasing photos instead.

    Jeff, but my friends call me Dogs
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    Senior Member Dogs857's Avatar
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    If you would like a P45+ RAW file to play with then let me know.
    Stop chasing gear, start chasing photos instead.

    Jeff, but my friends call me Dogs

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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    From my perspective, the P45+ and a tech camera has positive and negative issues.

    Postive, the back will shift much better with lenses like the SK35, or SK43 or SK28, more shift with much less color cast issues. The chip is also void of readout lines, so you shouldn't have issues with tiling. The reason I mention the Schneider lenses, is that they have a lower cost of entry than the Rodenstocks.

    Concerns, the P45+ has a terrible screen, and will not tether in the field unless you have a full sized laptop with a firewire port. As you don't have a good LCD to view your shots on the P45+ using a tech camera could get frustrating. The ability to tether via USB3 and use a Surface 2 or 3 is a huge advantage especially to a tech user. You might want to consider the Credo 40 or IQ140 for this reason. Yes the P45+ will do up to 1 hour exposures, and odds are better than the IQ260, but you need to remember that outdoor temp's can have a huge factor. You can only get a 1 hour clean exposure with the P45+ in 69 F or lower temps. If you try in warmer more humid temps then noise will really become an issue.

    I used a P45+ for many years, and found on my back the iso range was 50 to 200 max, maybe 400 in bright light if trying to stop motion. But I could not push iso if wanted to use it in low light and use a shutter speed much past 1/15th of a second, it's just too noisy. I have seen images from other P45+'s that were shipped later in the life span, that seem to have much better signal noise image quality than mine did. I feel it's safe to say that during the manufacturing of the back, Phase continued to possibly tweak the back, or maybe some just come out better than others.

    As pointed out by Dogs857 the shadow noise recovery is nothing like the D810, I would say, really nothing as I often push my D810 files 2.75 stops at base iso to iso 320 with no increase in noise. I never could do this with the P45+, even at iso50, instead bracketing was always needed. I also noticed a tendency to blow out highlights. Here again the more useable screen of the IQ backs will give you a much more useable display of information. Everyone will have their own view on this as no two sets of eyes are the same. It's safe to say, CCD loves light and performs best in good light.

    You are working with a good dealer already so I would make sure to look at the Credo 40 or IQ140. These use the Dalsa sensor but have a 1:3 crop vs the 1:1 crop of the P45+. So 30% less than a full frame 54 x 40 CCD, and 10% less with the P45+.

    Good luck with your decision.

    Paul
    Paul Caldwell
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Doug,
    I may be interested in that LA demo. Can you send me a link?

    Thanks,

    John

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    Senior Member JohnBrew's Avatar
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by Dogs857 View Post
    If you would like a P45+ RAW file to play with then let me know.
    Sorry I missed this and would have liked to have seen it, but I'll have my own to play with on Monday. Here is what is being sent to me: ALPA SWA, 72 APO Digitar, P45+ and all assorted goodies to make it work.
    My plan: Shoot my D810 w/Zeiss 55 and same scenes with ALPA @ f5.6, 8, 11 & 16 apertures and stitching on both setups. I will also do some focus stacking on single images. Process files to the best of my ability and then print one from each on my Canon 6400. Put both on wall and evaluate. Ask friends to come over and give opinions. Then I'll make a decision.
    I have three days to carry out these experiments so I'll take my time and make certain I do everything correctly.

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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrew View Post
    Sorry I missed this and would have liked to have seen it, but I'll have my own to play with on Monday. Here is what is being sent to me: ALPA SWA, 72 APO Digitar, P45+ and all assorted goodies to make it work.
    My plan: Shoot my D810 w/Zeiss 55 and same scenes with ALPA @ f5.6, 8, 11 & 16 apertures and stitching on both setups. I will also do some focus stacking on single images. Process files to the best of my ability and then print one from each on my Canon 6400. Put both on wall and evaluate. Ask friends to come over and give opinions. Then I'll make a decision.
    I have three days to carry out these experiments so I'll take my time and make certain I do everything correctly.
    John

    That should be an interesting test. Looking forward to your results.

    Paul

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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    John, we'd be happy to help you out through our Atlanta CI location. I know that they'd love to have you in to the office to try any of the gear you'd like (I know we have several P45s right now) as well as possibly making a trip out to you. Having the gear in your own hands is heads above reading reviews on the net, but I've also tagged our sales team down there to help you out as well.
    Chris Valites
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    Senior Member JohnBrew's Avatar
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Chris, thanks, I'm using the Atlanta office. Dave, Cam & Sam have been most helpful and my rental is on the way.
    Regards,
    John

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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Sounds like a great test.

    Good luck with it and I look forward to seeing how it goes.
    Stop chasing gear, start chasing photos instead.

    Jeff, but my friends call me Dogs

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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    you can also consider an Arca RM3D and a leaf Aptus II7...


    Leaf Aptus II7, is better than the P45 for color rendition, the tactile screen isn't really good, but far superior to the P45 one.
    the P45+ is only far superior for long exposure.

    Arca RM3D was my choice... really well built, ultra precise, and you can use a sliding back with it, in order to frame on a ground glass.

    Cambo is also a good choice.


    Have fun !

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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrew View Post
    First I want to say that I'm sure this question has already been asked a million times and I sure everyone is sick of responding. But here we go again: I recently returned from a workshop with Andy Biggs in Moab. He had a dandy looking Alpa STC and I really would like to move into MF territory - however, to those who have already been through this scenario - I shoot a Nikon D810 with Zeiss glass (ie: Otus & others) and I must say I'm getting pretty damn good results. Am I going to see a significant increase in image quality with the P45+? Also, am I just stroking my u-know-what as I only print to 24"?
    Thanks for all replies.
    John
    "Am I going to see a significant increase in image quality with the P45+?"

    Short answer: No.

    Long answer: Maybe

    Most of the newer tech cam lenses are MUCH better than anything in the SLR world (specially the wide angles) and quite a few allow for significant lens/back movement which is very nice to have.

    Regarding the back. Depends. The newest backs with the Sony 50MP CMOS sensor perform better in ALL situations compared to a D810 but do not allow as much lens/back movement as the older backs (with CCD sensors) that have some limitations in regards to high iso and long exposure performance (and noise/dynamic range) compared to a D810 but still perform very very well. Some of the CCD backs do offer more resolution capability since they are available with 60 and 80mp.

    Think of the back/body/lens as a system. One can be assembled that is right for you. That is where a dealer helps greatly since the possible combinations are almost endless.
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Unless your are interested in using movements, I'd say, there is no point in going the tech cam route. I haven't used the the D800 or D810, so I have no experience with this camera and the files it produces. What I have lots of experience with is an Alpa Max, first with a P40, then an IQ140, now an IQ250. I had tested a P45 before deciding in favour of a Dalsa sensor: looking at and working with the files it was a nobrainer to go with a Dalsa sensor. But - this is a personal thing. Re IQ backs: the interface does make a huge difference. Once you have used an IQ back, I can't image that you would like to go back to a P-back. Now the IQ250 is an entirely different beast. You loose in some areas (I'm using Schneider wides - yes, you can do this!) and you win in other areas. You have to know what you can't do with your lenses and this back but using an IQ250 on a tech cam is different as night and day. But: as much as I love using the Alpa Max and this back and the 4:3 aspect ratio of the files (!), I think there are many situations when a Sony A7 combined with Canon's TS lenses and a Cambo Actus will make more sense both from a usability (usage speed, weight etc.) and a financial point of view.

    Chris
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    did you consider pemihan's used IQ160?

    http://www.getdpi.com/forum/gear-fs-...-warranty.html
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    Senior Member JohnBrew's Avatar
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Yes, I did, but I sorta put a max dollar amount on this project and that back would blow almost the entire budget.

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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    John, have you played with any P45+ files yet? I know from my own experience that the processing for ccd files is entirely different to the Nikon. I was processing files the same as the D800 when I switched over but it wasn't until I stripped back, started again and really experimented that I was really won over. If you haven't had time with the files then I don't think you'll get the best from them with a D810 way of working.

    I will be interested to read your thoughts, I think the P45+ with good lenses will be amazing in optimum conditions and the process is really pleasing with a tech cam if you like that sort of thing but I suspect that the Nikon is so much easier in so many different conditions that it will be hard to beat overall. I think they compliment each other, the tech cam for when you want the experience and the Nikon for everything else.

    Good luck with the testing!

    Mat

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    Senior Member JohnBrew's Avatar
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Mat, like your thinking there. Very familiar with CCD - Leica M8, M8.2, M9-P, Nikon D200, etc. which may mean nothing in relation to a MFDB.
    Frankly, I always liked the colors from CCD and you are correct - they take a different point of view in PP. I know right off the people renting me the DB are going to rag on me for not using Capture 1, but I never could understand that software worth a darn and for me it is a matter of terminology. After 12 years of PS I suppose I'm just an old fart who is resistant to change - I really never got on with LR until LR5.
    The unit arrives tomorrow so time will tell...

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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Well have fun with it all John, nothing better than new toys to play with!

    Let yourself be tempted by C1 if you can, on Nikon files it is a revelation after LR, the P45 will also be a lot better. I would be using it in a heartbeat if the Leica was properly supported, I find portrait stuff is better in C1 even without the lens profiles, I just can't match it in LR, but then you probably have lots more experience and there's a lot to be said for a tried and tested workflow.

    Anyway, enjoy and report back.

    Mat
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    To see the best possible details, and to my eyes colors from the P45+, I would look at C1 also. You can download it for 30 days for a trial or re-install it with just the DB (digital back) version which is free.

    C1 V8 has some excellent enhancements that has had me going back over a lot of my older P45+ files.

    Also, if you are going to use the tech camera, you will need to be shooting a LCC and C1 has this process down to perfection. I briefly tried the LR tools for this, but did not find them very good for the LCC process. It very well may have changed as I have not looked at it since LR V 4.x.

    I use LR and C1 about 50-50, but always use C1 on my Phase files. I may tweak a tif in LR from phase, but I just find C1 makes a better conversion.

    Paul
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrew View Post
    I know right off the people renting me the DB are going to rag on me for not using Capture 1, but I never could understand that software worth a darn and for me it is a matter of terminology. After 12 years of PS I suppose I'm just an old fart who is resistant to change - I really never got on with LR until LR5.
    Have you ever taken a class on C1, or just tried to struggle into on your own?

    We have Capture One Training that I promise would greatly increase your understanding of not just specific features/functions but the underlying themes/concepts on which the program is founded.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrew View Post
    Mat, like your thinking there. Very familiar with CCD - Leica M8, M8.2, M9-P, Nikon D200, etc. which may mean nothing in relation to a MFDB.
    Frankly, I always liked the colors from CCD and you are correct - they take a different point of view in PP. I know right off the people renting me the DB are going to rag on me for not using Capture 1, but I never could understand that software worth a darn and for me it is a matter of terminology. After 12 years of PS I suppose I'm just an old fart who is resistant to change - I really never got on with LR until LR5.
    The unit arrives tomorrow so time will tell...
    The big thing with Capture One that I like to tell people is that while Adobe's engineers (and, therefore products) are American in nature, Phase One's engineers are Danish. The mentalities and design sense are very different in scope and way of thinking. Once you crack that C1 is way more procedurally driven, rather than by priority (tabs and tools are ordered in logical procession instead of by most commonly used in C1) it starts to make more sense.

    We do offer hardware and software support and training, which you can view here: https://www.digitalback.com/product-...port-training/

    I've sat in with Josh Booth, our software training specialist, both while he's given our Serious Technical Training, and while he's gone one-on-one with a customer via webcam. He's knowledgable as it comes, and even for me, having used Capture One Pro since 2006 or so, I've picked up a lot from him.
    Chris Valites
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Hi,

    I am shooting a P45+ on a Hasselblad and I have posted a lot of samples here:
    http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/Ar...ernardSamples/

    That link may work or it may not. I have some problems with my ISP and myself right now.

    My experience with the P45+ is in short:

    • I would think I have a pretty decent sample, because my friend (on the net) Paul Caldwell says so.
    • There is a definitive resolution advantage with the P45+ over my 24 MP Sony Alpha 99, but that is honestly the only difference I see.
    • I wouldn't say I can tell P45+ and Sony Alpha 99 apart on screen or up to A2 prints. Going past A2 (16" x 23") I feel the P45+ wins.
    • I would say the P45+ is a capable back. But, I am not sure I would say it is preferable to a modern 36 MP CMOS sensor.

    Best regards
    Erik

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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Valites View Post
    The big thing with Capture One that I like to tell people is that while Adobe's engineers (and, therefore products) are American in nature, Phase One's engineers are Danish. The mentalities and design sense are very different in scope and way of thinking. Once you crack that C1 is way more procedurally driven, rather than by priority (tabs and tools are ordered in logical procession instead of by most commonly used in C1) it starts to make more sense.
    Further to Chris's point about the workflow, one nice thing about C1 is that if you don't like the organization of the tools within the product then you can customize where and how most of the various tools are displayed. If there are tabs or other stuff that you don't ever use then you can remove them.

    Task / Preference orientated Workspaces are a wonderful thing ...

    You can't beat the assistance that a C1 class can provide, be via a GetDPI workshop, CI/DT training or others. I personally got a lot from the training video series that LuLa put together with David Grover although it's getting a little old now. I still use their workspaces though.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

  28. #28
    Member marktomaras's Avatar
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    There is something special about a tech camera that cannot be measured in resolution alone.

    Before digital, I was shooting with Mamiya 6x7 as well as a 4x5 field camera. The Mamiya yielded amazing negatives, loaded with detail, and printable quite large. Sure, the 4x5 had more, but the Mamiya was so good.

    I think this is similar to your situation. The benefit of the tech camera is not only resolution. Of course, the large format lenses are amazing. That is one of the reasons I have a tech camera. But the other benefits are excellent as well. Lens movement is a huge plus. So much so, that even if you were not planning on using it al the time, once you have it, you will use it more than you expected!

    One of my favorite things to do is multi-frame stitches within the incredible 150mm image circe produced by the Schneider 120mm lens. Talk about resolution and detail!

    But more than that is the experience of working with a tech camera. It slows you down in a similar way that working with the 4x5 camera does. I find this to be helpful. The slower pace makes me more careful, more attentive, and I hope, a better photographer.

    Another benefit is the modularity of the system. You can upgrade your back, you can add a t/s adapter to a lens, and you can use your back on an MF SLR. It is great to be able to score a used MF SLR that may be a generation behind for a relatively low price to augment the tech cam.

    All this to say, I am a fan, and I recommend it. But it depends on what you are after. If you ONLY want to increase resolution from the Nikon 810 & Otus, you will have to spend a lot of cash to do so. That is a classic diminishing return scenario. But if you are attracted to all of the benefits of the tech cam, then I say go for it!

  29. #29
    Senior Member JohnBrew's Avatar
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    Thanks everyone. I've posted some images and you can see what you think. No, I see no advantage over my D810 & Zeiss 55. I can see what MFDB should do but the P45+ isn't the back for me. Critical focus was difficult to attain even with a Disto. The LCD seems worse than the one on my M8.2, although they have the similar specs. I can see if I want to go MFDB I will have to save many more shekels as I feel LV is a must. But I did have fun .
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  30. #30
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    Re: Considering an Alpa w/P45+, please help

    If you want to have live view for easy and fast focusing, I'd say there is no alternative to the current CMOS backs (IQ or Hasselblad). Live view on the IQ140 or 260 doesn't compare to the CMOS backs. Another advantage of the latter: you can use LV in a bright environment without using a ND filter.

    Chris
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