Site Sponsors
Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: MF newbie and Starter Digital Backs

  1. #1
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    13
    Post Thanks / Like

    MF newbie and Starter Digital Backs

    Hey All!

    I'm Bill and a part-time photographer. I recently picked up medium format as a side-interest but I would like to eventually use the camera more as part of my workflow!


    I currently own a Mamiya AFD II with the 80mm f/2.8 and the 150mm f/3.5 with two HM402 backs! I've had the camera for about 6 months now and I very much enjoy shooting film. Now, I'm looking to grow into a digital back. However, the price points for a digital back are pretty astounding! At the point of an editorial photographer, prices makes sense with leasing options etc but I don't expect to see that in my lines of work.

    I have some money set aside to invest in a back, about $2200, but I don't know which direction to go in. I know the pricing seems a bit low for an entry back. Is this price point realistic for a 'starter' back or should I continue on the film and save up more until I have more in my pocket to spend?

    Are there decent used digital backs that a 'starter' should be on the lookout?


    Thanks for your advice ahead of time!

    Bill

  2. #2
    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Carmel/Tucson
    Posts
    2,355
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF newbie and Starter Digital Backs

    Hi Bill,

    I would look at any of the P+ series of MFDBs (or just the regular P series from P25 and up). You'll need to at least double your budget. It's Christmas, though, and nothing better than buying yourself a present.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Little Rock AR
    Posts
    1,927
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    4

    Re: MF newbie and Starter Digital Backs

    I would agree with Ken, at least 2x your current budget to start with.

    Backs to consider, from Phase and Leaf are numerous. The older Leaf backs, produce some very pleasing colors, and as I recall are in the 33Mp range.

    On the Phase One side:

    P25+
    P30+
    P45+

    By far the best investment would be a P45+, as it is the only CCD back from that generation of backs, leaf or phase that can do 1 hour exposures. It also did them form the normal iso range, i.e. you did not have to move to the Long exposure iso range that the IQ260 has. The P45+ can produce wonderful files, I would say best used in the base iso of 50 to 200 range, 400 in a real pinch.

    Options for purchase are ebay, where you can expect a better price, get what you pay, no support. However I have seen some equipment sold on ebay by dealers.
    Dealer, expect to pay more, but also expect to have a good support structure behind you, and many of the used backs sold by dealers will be certified, to be up to current or latest specs. In the US, Capture Integration is a good place to start, based in Atlanta.

    3rd option, the getdpi, for sale forum, and Luminous landscape for sale. Most of the products are cross posted. But still pays to look both places. Here you can expect again no support but most of the users on either site are well referenced and you can expect that what they have to sell is a valid product.

    Lastly, and to me very important. I can only speak to Phase One, never having owned a Hasselblad back. It helps to work with a dealer, even with a good knowledge base on the products. Phase One, has really no local support setup, i.e. it's not like Canon or Nikon. You can't really just call Phase One. Instead you need to work through a dealer to interface back to Phase, even with a back out of warranty. If you get serious on this, I would recommend finding a dealer, (hint in the US, there are not more than 5 that I know of) and talk with them, ask for some sample files, etc.

    The good news, there are a lot of used backs, on the market now as more and more photographers with the older CCD backs are either moving to 50MP 35mm cameras, like Canon or 36Mp from Nikon, or Sony's new 42MP. So you will see a lot of the backs you are looking for, the key is getting one in good shape. Phase backs are very well made, and you don't read much about internal failures, sure it can happen, but the older P+ backs, are built to last and are still a great place to start.

    The P+ backs' main weakness, is the LCD, which is pretty much useless (to me). However you can still tether to a MacBook pro that has a firewire port, with C1. You can also use the C1 DB for no charge as Phase One allows any user of their backs free use of the DB version, (I believe I have that name correct). The Pro version works with other 35mm cameras and APS-C, but no other MF backs but Phase and Leaf.

    Paul C

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Melbourne AU
    Posts
    181
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF newbie and Starter Digital Backs

    Bill,

    Having trodden this path in the last 6 months and having arrived at the point of having a few hundred shots on the resulting back here's my perspective.

    I spent quite a lot of time on research. Then I found a good local dealer and went and sat with him and his team for an afternoon to understand the pros and cons, from their point of view. They sell both Phase and Leaf. I was looking for a good quality back for a tech cam. They really invested some time, with no clear commitment on my part to do anything.

    Their advice to me, and it was advice I ultimately took, was that the sweet spot in terms of value and quality is 30-40MP. Their comment "People don't come to upgrade those backs because of image quality. They come to upgrade them because of a better interface, WiFi, etc."

    I eventually bought a Leaf Aptus-II 7 with the sum total of 115 shots on it! I bought it from the local dealer and I paid potentially more than I might have at around $4,400USD but the support and advice has been superb and the back works perfectly.

    I chose this back over a P+ series back because I liked the interface better...It's not in the same class as modern backs, but the Leaf was better, in my view than a similar age Phase back.

    Whatever you do you'll enjoy the hell out of it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    1,538
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF newbie and Starter Digital Backs

    It's a buyers market for many of the older backs now. Look in the forums what they sell for.

    An Aptus 22 you may/might get for $2200 and it's an okay back. There's always more risk buying private, if you get trouble with such a low cost back it's often cheaper to throw it away and get a another second hand back than repairing it. Or do stuff yourself, there's some dismantle guides in this forum of the Aptus backs if you need to change clock battery for example. If you're a Do-It-Yourselfer I'd suggest buying on the private market, if not you may want to use a dealer, but then it will cost more.

    The Aptus 22 is a bit hard to find these days though, Aptus 75 and Aptus-II 7 is sold more often, I see one Aptus-II 7 on LuLa for sale for €2800 ($3100) which is a reasonable second hand price for that back these days. The P+ backs are more popular so you can't have them as cheap, but I think the value is considerably better with the Aptus, probably the best price/performance backs in the private market. The drawback is that the Aptus backs are less reliable than the P+ in hot/cold weather and such things.

    Here in Sweden where I live the dealers have not adjusted their prices for the private market so the price difference on pre-owned backs is just too big, but I think it's better in the US.

    I used an Aptus 75 between 2012 and 2014 and was happy with the results, but my back had an issue in cold weather and as I shoot in cold weather quite frequently I had to repair it, which cost something like $4000 with a lot of messing with the local dealers and manufacturer. These things can happen, but if you buy most gear second hand you will save a lot of money in the end anyway. Just take into account that you're your own "insurance company" when dealing with these things. I now have a H4D-50 which I also bought second hand, and I've had no troubles with that so I've already with a wide margin saved more money than if I'd bought through a dealer, but I've had to sweat a bit for it.

  6. #6
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    13
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF newbie and Starter Digital Backs

    Thank you guys so much!

    I live in the Atlanta area and I'll definitely give Capture Integration a call. While the P series is definitely out of budget, I'll keep it in consideration and may get a few more shoots knocked out and shoot with MF film in the first half of 2016 and work with a dealer.

    Coming from an IT background, I've seen equipment break down and it's great having a dealer/manufacture to back me. I agree, I wouldn't feel that making a $4k+ investment without any guarantees of it working is very risky.


    Thanks again for all of the input guys!
    Last edited by bmphoto; 14th December 2015 at 06:48.

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    181
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: MF newbie and Starter Digital Backs

    Hi there,

    I do have an Aptus 22 in Mamiya mount that I might sell and which fits you budget. I am in Europe, though. Hence if you donīt mind an international transaction, send me a pm.

    Best,

    Oliver

    Quote Originally Posted by bmphoto View Post
    Thank you guys so much!

    I live in the Atlanta area and I'll definitely give Capture Integration a call. While the P series is definitely out of budget, I'll keep it in consideration and may get a few more shoots knocked out and shoot with MF film in the first half of 2016 and work with a dealer.

    Coming from an IT background, I've seen equipment break down and it's great having a dealer/manufacture to back me. I agree, I wouldn't feel that making a $4k+ investment without any guarantees of it working is very risky.


    Thanks again for all of the input guys!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •