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Thread: Aptus II Backs and Cold Weather -- A good or bad mix??

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    Aptus II Backs and Cold Weather -- A good or bad mix??

    Good day all,

    I currently own a P25, a Cambo WDS w/Digitar 43mm lens. I also have the Mamiya AFD II body and several lenses. I'm looking closely at an Aptus II-8. I've been reviewing many of these forums and I am sensing a theme or undertow of Aptus backs in general and below-freezing weather are not a good mix. And there in lies the rub ... If this is true, it would be a problem for me as much of my work is in the winter and in the deep freeze.

    What is the true story via fact or experience that you or someone you know may have had. If I go out and shoot at temperatures of below freezing (sometimes as low as -10F), will the back malfunction on either the tech camera or the AFD?

    Any and all help you can provide is very much appreciated!

    Take care and have a great 2016!

    Jeffrey

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    Re: Aptus II Backs and Cold Weather -- A good or bad mix??

    Quote Originally Posted by photographist View Post
    Good day all,

    I currently own a P25, a Cambo WDS w/Digitar 43mm lens. I also have the Mamiya AFD II body and several lenses. I'm looking closely at an Aptus II-8. I've been reviewing many of these forums and I am sensing a theme or undertow of Aptus backs in general and below-freezing weather are not a good mix. And there in lies the rub ... If this is true, it would be a problem for me as much of my work is in the winter and in the deep freeze.

    What is the true story via fact or experience that you or someone you know may have had. If I go out and shoot at temperatures of below freezing (sometimes as low as -10F), will the back malfunction on either the tech camera or the AFD?

    Any and all help you can provide is very much appreciated!

    Take care and have a great 2016!

    Jeffrey
    Leaf will never confess that there was a sample variation issue with the Aptus series, and it will be hard to pull out of a dealer too. What you can hear a dealer say is like the P+ series is the most reliable backs, and if they're reliable something else must be unreliable...

    I've had "three" Aptus 75 backs, first one, and then the same but all electronics except sensor replaced, and then a totally new one. The two first had severe issues in cold weather (even above freezing), the third worked without problems in -30C.

    Based on my experience and reports from other forum users -- some have no problems, some have quite frequent problems with the same model of back, the most likely reason is that there's sample variation of these things and you cannot really know if your particular Aptus will be reliable or not until tested.

    Another issue with the Aptus series is that it's sensitive on the CF cards, but if you just follow instructions there you're basically fine, although I'd say that something like 1 out of 1000 shots can be a write error, at least that's my experience.

    I haven't seen any indiciations that the Aptus-II series got any reliability improvements in the cold weather area compared to Aptus, and it's not strange as the electronics and chassis design is basically identical as far as I know.

    The Credo series however a new design and does not seem to have any of these issues, haven't tested it myself but many own those backs and I've never seen any reports like those for the Aptus backs.

    I could get an Aptus back again, it's great value, but not without pre-testing it for cold conditions.

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    Re: Aptus II Backs and Cold Weather -- A good or bad mix??

    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    What you can hear a dealer say is like the P+ series is the most reliable backs, and if they're reliable something else must be unreliable...
    Yes, un-apologetically this is what I would say. With 9 years of experience working in medium format sales and countless customers to back it up.

    The P+ was the most reliable, robust, and dependable back of it's generation by a good margin. It would definitely be my recommendation for cold weather performance. Here is a cutesy, but absolutely genuine, video of the head of R+D freezing one in dry ice, then removing it and immediately taking a picture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0SljqdzCNQ with the only caveat being he put in a fresh battery since LiOn batteries don't respond well at -110 degrees .

    The Credo and it's brother the IQ are also very robust and much more modern in interface/performance etc at the commensurate price.
    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: Aptus II Backs and Cold Weather -- A good or bad mix??

    torger,

    ...the P+ series is the most reliable backs, and if they're reliable something else must be unreliable...
    Less reliable, not necessarily unreliable.

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    Re: Aptus II Backs and Cold Weather -- A good or bad mix??

    Quote Originally Posted by photographist View Post
    Good day all,

    I currently own a P25, a Cambo WDS w/Digitar 43mm lens. I also have the Mamiya AFD II body and several lenses. I'm looking closely at an Aptus II-8. I've been reviewing many of these forums and I am sensing a theme or undertow of Aptus backs in general and below-freezing weather are not a good mix. And there in lies the rub ... If this is true, it would be a problem for me as much of my work is in the winter and in the deep freeze.

    What is the true story via fact or experience that you or someone you know may have had. If I go out and shoot at temperatures of below freezing (sometimes as low as -10F), will the back malfunction on either the tech camera or the AFD?

    Any and all help you can provide is very much appreciated!

    Take care and have a great 2016!

    Jeffrey
    Jeffrey,

    Forums are a good way for getting a feel of a product, just remember that the number of people who actively post negative experiences is likely less than 0.1% of the actual users out there (of any camera or any electronic equipment)...whatever the experience those might have.

    Generally speaking (from 16 years of experience developing and working with pretty much every Leaf back ever made) I can say that barring solid downpour, there aren't many weather conditions in which I would avoid shooting with the Aptus.

    Li-ion batteries can (and will, most likely) play up on most if not all cameras when used in extreme cold, and the Aptus is no different...

    And if you buy a back with warranty or insurance of some sort then unless you intentionally damage it you should be covered anyway!

    Hope this helps

    Yair
    Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Phase One | Mamiya Leaf
    e: [email protected] | m: +44(0)77 8992 8199 | yaya's blog
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    Re: Aptus II Backs and Cold Weather -- A good or bad mix??

    You are only covered by the warranty if the back fails above 0C, which I was lucky both did. I was very clearly informed that warranty would not cover if it failed at -1C, and sure most gear only have guarantee to 0C, the rest is goodwill. The thing is according to spec there's nothing wrong with a back that works 0C but fails below.

    You should also be aware that most MFD users don't shoot in -20C and colder so you need to check complaints in that group. A room temperature studio photographer naturally won't have any such issues.

    So I repeat my advice, if you're going to shoot Aptus or Aptus-II in cold temperatures, please check that the particular instance you buy will work in that condition. If it fails in -5C you have to trust in the goodwill of your dealer or Leaf, as there's no warranty for that condition.

    With say P+ or a Hasselblad I would take the risk, but not with an Aptus. I've just got too many indications that there really are sample variation issues with this back. If you get a good copy you will have no issues though.

    All I'm saying is that you need to have an ability to back out if the back doesn't work. Ideally you should have that for any camera gear as almost all gear is rated only to 0C, but we've become so used to that higher end camera gear works in tough conditions that we assume that it always does.

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    Re: Aptus II Backs and Cold Weather -- A good or bad mix??

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    ...] with the only caveat being he put in a fresh battery since LiOn batteries don't respond well at -110 degrees ...
    Yeah, I hate to admit it, but I'm not too happy at -110 either! -108, we can talk (I am in Chicago after all!).

    Thank you for the input, Sir!

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    Re: Aptus II Backs and Cold Weather -- A good or bad mix??

    You make some good points that also are part of other sales and electronic environments. The fact is that engineers do their best to build a good product, but bullet proofing it makes it far too expensive for most folks. Variance in each product lives in other brands too (Phase One to perhaps a lesser degree and Black Magic Cinema to perhaps a greater degree). It's one of the issues we must deal with.

    My P25 (non +) is a nice back and it works well 95% of the time. The read errors do happen, but I double or triple shoot, just in case. The early P series is also very, very selective on the CF that an be used too.

    Thank you for your comments and sharing your experience. I really appreciate it!

    Jeffrey

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by AreBee View Post
    torger,



    Less reliable, not necessarily unreliable.

    Good point there. In conversations over a forum it is easy to blur that line.

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    Re: Aptus II Backs and Cold Weather -- A good or bad mix??

    My development experience has been in producing, installing and supporting large software systems. I know what you mean re: reporting issues v. reporting successes. One of the things I like about this forum is that it's not all about '... tearing down Joes brand this or that...'. Most of what I see here is either constructive or sharing and issue with constructive suggestions on how to handle it!


    I do appreciate your comments -- Thanks for chipping in!

    jeffrey

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    Re: Aptus II Backs and Cold Weather -- A good or bad mix??

    All good points and that is a really good suggestion. The -20 is the exception, even here... It's cool to shoot though as the air gets very clear and the land takes on a very different feel and appearance. As my wife would say, "It ain't for everyone...", but I enjoy it.

    Jeffrey

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