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Thread: Technical Camera questions

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    Technical Camera questions

    I bought a Mamiya AFDII with a Sinarback 54m 22mp back as my first MFDB. Then, because the Sinar only shoots tethered, I got a Leaf Aptus II and my freedom. I decided to sell my Sinarback so I got it out cleaned everything up and thought maybe a technical camera would be kind of cool to use with the back because it really takes nice pictures, but I know nothing about what I need in a body or lenses, workflow, how to focus etc. So any little starting hints would be awesome. My wife already thinks I'm crazy so budget items would be best.

    Thanks
    Greg

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    Senior Member thrice's Avatar
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    "Budget items" and "Technical Camera" are not typically used in the same sentence, paragraph or book.

    I would suggest looking at something like the Alpa TC second hand or a Cambo RS of some kind. Each can be found around $1500 used.

    Native lenses are going to smash your budget though, with very few under $2000.

    In terms of focusing you can scale focus if you get a wide angle. Normals, teles and macro lenses you will want a groundglass, which will cost a pretty penny as well.

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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    I'll check them out.
    Thanks

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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    There is a quite okay second hand market for those on a budget.

    With a back without live view the first question to answer is if you can accept focusing on ground glass or not. If you can you can go for a view camera design which has lens boards instead of helical focus which makes up a lot cheaper lenses. However, the view camera body can be more expensive so it only evens out after a few lenses, so if you are only going to use one lens the "pancake" camera is typically the cheaper option.

    With a pancake camera you may or may not use ground glass. It's common to shoot "in the blind" even without viewfinder, which is quite feasible if you shoot wide angle, but is a bit of a mess for longer lenses. Some also not like the shooting experience not seeing the exact composition before the shot and prefer to use a ground glass anyway. If so you'd want a sliding back, which can add significant cost on top. With symmetrical wides you won't see the whole image at once on the ground glass anyway though, due to the strong vignetting (you need to move your head around to see the whole image), while with the longer lenses it's fairly bright and clear.

    The simplest system would be only one wide angle lens on a pancake camera (cambo or silvestri second hand for good price) shoot without viewfinder, always with hyperfocal or infinity focusing.

    If you want to expand into longer lenses in addition to the wides, like to see the image on a ground glass, having tilt/swing on all lenses etc I suggest looking into Arca-Swiss Universalis (or MF-two, which is easier to find second hand) or Linhof Techno, that is view cameras. But as you'll then making a larger system eventually it's a larger budget.

    These systems are very expensive, but it's a huge difference between a new Alpa MAX with a Rodenstock 32-HR compared to second hand Silvestri with a Schneider Digitar 35.
    Last edited by torger; 8th March 2016 at 00:05.
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    Subscriber Member jotloob's Avatar
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Chapel View Post
    My wife already thinks I'm crazy . . . . . .

    Thanks
    Greg
    Greg , the same here in my house .
    So the question is : aren't we all a bit crazy , we , the lovers of beautiful and expensive gear ?
    Regards . Jürgen .
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Save yourself from the various levels of hell and just buy yourself a Cambo/Arca/Alpa STC equivalent camera body and a Rodenstock 32HR or 40HR and you'll be set. You'll be broke but you'll be fully set up forever as basically there is no need with technical cameras to go beyond this combo. Heck, you'll rather crop these shots due to their insane acuity vs shoot with longer lenses.

    Just saying ... (now shooting the Phase One 35mm LS which is just as good but boy is it lacking movements!)
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    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Tech cam usage is often very focused on wide angles, and the typical professional use is various types of architecture photography. However there's also product photography (longer lenses) and various shooting styles that are less wide-angle focused.

    Here's a shot of mine, it was shot with a Schneider Digitar 90mm (costs about $1200 new, still some in stock, but can be found second hand too) and some tilt. I do a lot of tight nature shots and then wide angle is not really the thing, but movements and tilt (sometimes swing too) is very valuable to have. It's true that for longer lenses you can more easily live without movements, but I use shifting even on my 180mm from time to time to be able to get a viewpoint where I can align background and foreground elements in a way I want.

    So do think about what you want to shoot, and how you want to shoot. Being on a budget I assume you're an enthusiast and then enjoyment of the gear is just as important as the gear being effective.

    Do you enjoy a workflow where you don't have a viewfinder, you shoot in the general direction and crop in post? Or do you prefer to frame on the ground glass and get a "finished" image directly out of the camera? Both ways are valid and it's a personal what you prefer or if it even matters at all. I suggest that you think carefully about it though as that may have a major impact on which camera that suits you.

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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    No sense unless the tech camera offers at least one axis of tilt and shift both ways. I guess the very minimum would be one axis of shift (alpa stc, maybe a Cambo version of that as well). I have used several ccd backs with basically unusable live view, setting framing by taking shots and moving the camera, setting distance using a rangefinder (Leica disto)
    Mostly I use rise/fall for framing, keeping the back vertical, and minimizing the foreground (important for wide angles, any shot wit verticals, like buildings).
    Tilt can be set by the numbers and by shoot and check. Backs have playback with a zooming feature, but the older backs have unbelievably crummy lcd's for viewing. A step up in price gets you into phase IQ, newer Credo, and blad. Another step up gets you a cmos back which does have real and useful live view.
    There is a used market with reasonable prices for these items but be prepared: used backs don't get the value they should, good for the buyer, disappointing for the seller. Also that market is frequently impacted by model changes and upgrades, with many trade-ins, so dealers usually have considerable inventory.
    There are several dealers who participate on this forum and might be a good place to start
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Off base from the OP, but very nice shot Torger!

    Paul C

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Save yourself from the various levels of hell and just buy yourself a Cambo/Arca/Alpa STC equivalent camera body and a Rodenstock 32HR or 40HR and you'll be set. You'll be broke but you'll be fully set up forever as basically there is no need with technical cameras to go beyond this combo. Heck, you'll rather crop these shots due to their insane acuity vs shoot with longer lenses.

    Just saying ... (now shooting the Phase One 35mm LS which is just as good but boy is it lacking movements!)
    For a moment when I first saw this graphic and Dante's levels, I thought Graham was about to disclose names....


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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Thanks for all the input. I have a lot more research to do. Nothing is as easy as it seems.

    Greg

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Quote Originally Posted by kdphotography View Post
    For a moment when I first saw this graphic and Dante's levels, I thought Graham was about to disclose names....

    I believe that you and Don are there right at level eight - it specifically mentions seducers, flatterers and sorcerers although I believe that Dante really meant "enablers"

    To the OP, I'd definitely take a look at something like a used Cambo RS as a starting point and perhaps Schneider 35XL for use with the Aptus II. A great complement for that would be the Schneider 72mm XL too which also will work well with the digital back and again can be found at reasonably affordable prices. Personally the one thing that I use more than anything with a technical camera is movements, specifically either rise/fall or shifts. Tilts really help with getting perfect focus and with my Cambo Actus I use them all the time but without great preview capabilities (good live view, ground glass, or tethering) they can be tricky to use unless you just go by the numbers.

    The challenge when looking at the Technical Camera offerings is finding a system that gives you everything you want in a single package. Alpa allows you to buy bodies with shifts (STC, SWA, MAX etc) and add tilts via adapters to their mounted lenses. Cambo has the equivalent of the Alpa Max with rise/fall & shift but you need to purchase dedicated lenses in a tilt mount which come at a price premium. Arca have a system with all shifts and tilts built in to the body and then common lenses. Affordability is all over the map but I would say that a fully equipped Cambo with tilt lenses, is not far off the price of a similarly equipped Arca. Alpa runs somewhat more expensive but primarily due to the expensive nature of each part that you assemble the system from. Buying used I would have to say that Cambo systems tend to be the most affordable.

    If starting out from scratch I'd definitely look at beginning with a small simple system with a single lens. Most people end up with a relatively small outfit of only two or three lenses. Personally I'd give one of the dealers here a call (CI and DT advertise) as they can take you through the options out there. The process is a bit like buying high end audio - you'll end up with trusted advisors that you can chat with and will steer you long term in the right place according to your current and future needs and budget.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    If the intention is to use that Sinar back, then the same problem will remain: how do you shoot the camera tethered in the field? Because the latest laptop doesn't offer enough current via Thunderbolt adapter, the setup will be unstable even if it works in outdoor situation.

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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    My Macbook Pro version mid 2012 has the firewire port so it can power the back and shoot straight into Captureshop. There is no live view on the Sinarback and I can't make it work on the Leaf so I'll have to focus with ground glass or do a lot of shots and adjust.


    Greg

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    Senior Member DougDolde's Avatar
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    I had my fling with a tech camera and had good lenses. Cambo WRS with an few Schneider Digitars. It really made the 40 Megapixel IQ140 shine. But I really didn't like the process especially the LCC shot and extra processing not to mention the inaccurate framing.

    I am happy now with the Phase One XF/IQ180 combo. The new Schneider lenses are great.

    Attachment 117062

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    Workshop Member Bryan Stephens's Avatar
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Save yourself from the various levels of hell and just buy yourself a Cambo/Arca/Alpa STC equivalent camera body and a Rodenstock 32HR or 40HR and you'll be set. You'll be broke but you'll be fully set up forever as basically there is no need with technical cameras to go beyond this combo. Heck, you'll rather crop these shots due to their insane acuity vs shoot with longer lenses.

    Just saying ... (now shooting the Phase One 35mm LS which is just as good but boy is it lacking movements!)
    Graham

    You forgot level 10. Join GetDPI, read about MFD and view all of the amazing images, and then.... dip your toe into the water, never to return again.
    Bryan

    “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” — Ansel Adams
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Doug, I love your XF.

    I think I'm going to stay the course with my MFDSLRDB setup for now. I'll probably sell my Sinarback and buy a lens.

    Thanks to all.

    Greg

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    Subscriber and Workshop Member MGrayson's Avatar
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan Stephens View Post
    Graham

    You forgot level 10. Join GetDPI, read about MFD and view all of the amazing images, and then.... dip your toe into the water, never to return again.
    We're now on volume 2, Purgatorio, where you sell all your MF equipment and buy Sonys.

    --Matt
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Quote Originally Posted by MGrayson View Post
    We're now on volume 2, Purgatorio, where you sell all your MF equipment and buy Sonys.

    --Matt
    Will that be the end? I hear that Santa CMOS is coming to Medium Format...

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    The best of both worlds - Santa CMOS made by Sony. Thus both you and Mat are vindicated.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan Stephens View Post
    Graham

    You forgot level 10. Join GetDPI, read about MFD and view all of the amazing images, and then.... dip your toe into the water, never to return again.
    As I believe you and I both know ...
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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

  22. #22
    Senior Member etrump's Avatar
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Man have you got right!!! Just spend all you have and enjoy the insanity.

    I am switching to the XF and IQ3100 but the first time I really need movements I know the buyers remorse will set in.

    I just need the longer reach and my prints are getting large enough these days the wide angle LCC correction is becoming obvious in prints.

    So the cambo kit is taking a back seat and I will probably cry when I sell the HR32 and HR40 but the 40-80 is calling my name.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Save yourself from the various levels of hell and just buy yourself a Cambo/Arca/Alpa STC equivalent camera body and a Rodenstock 32HR or 40HR and you'll be set. You'll be broke but you'll be fully set up forever as basically there is no need with technical cameras to go beyond this combo. Heck, you'll rather crop these shots due to their insane acuity vs shoot with longer lenses.

    Just saying ... (now shooting the Phase One 35mm LS which is just as good but boy is it lacking movements!)

  23. #23
    Subscriber and Workshop Member MGrayson's Avatar
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    Re: Technical Camera questions

    Quote Originally Posted by yongfei View Post
    Will that be the end? I hear that Santa CMOS is coming to Medium Format...
    There's a third volume - Paradiso

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