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Thread: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    I'm considering (dreading?) returning to shooting MF digital after a long hiatus away and I'm beginning to look at the P20+ & Mamiya 645 AFDII combo. I'm deliberately looking at the P20+ as my preference for MF has always been square or 6x7. Previously I used to shoot with a Kodak DCS 645M & AFD and enjoyed the format (square) but in the end went back to regular Nikon DSLR's due in part due to problems with the AFD/Kodak integration and too many locked up camera situations plus lack of lens wider than 35mm. There never was an issue with the image quality though and it's only now that my D3X that compares with it.

    My question is how does the P20+ compare with the rest of the P+ back range in terms of performance - noise, 16 bit colour fidelity & DR etc? I would assume that the larger sensors would actually be beneficial vs the higher pixel brothers with the exception of the Sensor+ models. Is this a vaild assumption? Would I be buying into the low end of the range that I'd regret vs saving towards one of the other backs & crop?

    Anyone else using the P20+ for landscape work?

    Thanks & have pity ...

  2. #2
    jmvdigital
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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    Graham, welcome back to MFDB! Is there a reason that you're looking at a 16mp MFDB when you own the 24mp D3X? Seems like an awfully big spend to make an almost lateral move (aside from the difference in image ratio).

    From what I've seen from various people posting about the various backs they own, the P+ backs put out all relatively close images (except for the new P65+) to each other at their base ISO. Guy (forum mod) was happily using the P25+ for a while and has posted many images on this board with high ISO comparisons. The backs do differ SLIGHTLY in color reproduction, DR, etc. but by and large these are simply differences or personal preferences, not something that makes one back better than another.

    I would be asking what resolution you NEED and what your budget is. Especially with landscape work, usually resolution is king. The P30+, for example, has double the resolution of the P20+, and the P45+ has even more. So it's hard to compare those abstractly in regards to color and noise; there's a far bigger elephant in the room. I'm hesitant to say that you would see a HUGE difference between the D3X and the P20+, especially considering the cost involved of investing in an entirely new system. Now, if we were talking about the P30+, P40+, or P45+ then things change. Though, off the top of my head, I don't know what the resolution would be of those backs if you cropped everything to a square. The P30+ might be around 22mp. The nice thing about shooting a non-square is that you have a little fudge room to precisely tweak how you make the final crop in post.

    That said, most of the backs begin to show their differences more as the ISO increases. The P20+ would be at a severe disadvantage using a higher ISO because your overall image is composed of less pixels, making noise more obvious at a given print or viewing size than would a much larger image. Your D3X would smoke anything above ISO 200 on the P20+ I would think. In other words, the signal to noise ratio is greatly increased. The same happens with all of the backs, but the noise would be much less noticeable in a 16x20 print if you had 39mp versus 16mp. The P25+ and P45+ both show similar noise characteristics at higher ISOs. The P30+ has microlenses on the sensor, giving it an extra stop of ISO (so the P30+ can do ISO 1600 with similar noise as the P45+ at ISO 800).

    This opens a whole can of worms. In short, I think you'd be happy with any of the P+ backs, IF you choose your needs and expectations carefully.

    -J

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    Member Clawery's Avatar
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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    Quote Originally Posted by jmvdigital View Post
    Graham, welcome back to MFDB! Is there a reason that you're looking at a 16mp MFDB when you own the 24mp D3X? Seems like an awfully big spend to make an almost lateral move (aside from the difference in image ratio).

    From what I've seen from various people posting about the various backs they own, the P+ backs put out all relatively close images (except for the new P65+) to each other at their base ISO. Guy (forum mod) was happily using the P25+ for a while and has posted many images on this board with high ISO comparisons. The backs do differ SLIGHTLY in color reproduction, DR, etc. but by and large these are simply differences or personal preferences, not something that makes one back better than another.

    I would be asking what resolution you NEED and what your budget is. Especially with landscape work, usually resolution is king. The P30+, for example, has double the resolution of the P20+, and the P45+ has even more. So it's hard to compare those abstractly in regards to color and noise; there's a far bigger elephant in the room. I'm hesitant to say that you would see a HUGE difference between the D3X and the P20+, especially considering the cost involved of investing in an entirely new system. Now, if we were talking about the P30+, P40+, or P45+ then things change. Though, off the top of my head, I don't know what the resolution would be of those backs if you cropped everything to a square. The P30+ might be around 22mp. The nice thing about shooting a non-square is that you have a little fudge room to precisely tweak how you make the final crop in post.

    That said, most of the backs begin to show their differences more as the ISO increases. The P20+ would be at a severe disadvantage using a higher ISO because your overall image is composed of less pixels, making noise more obvious at a given print or viewing size than would a much larger image. Your D3X would smoke anything above ISO 200 on the P20+ I would think. In other words, the signal to noise ratio is greatly increased. The same happens with all of the backs, but the noise would be much less noticeable in a 16x20 print if you had 39mp versus 16mp. The P25+ and P45+ both show similar noise characteristics at higher ISOs. The P30+ has microlenses on the sensor, giving it an extra stop of ISO (so the P30+ can do ISO 1600 with similar noise as the P45+ at ISO 800).

    This opens a whole can of worms. In short, I think you'd be happy with any of the P+ backs, IF you choose your needs and expectations carefully.

    -J
    Justin is correct. You need to figure out what resolution you would need and budget. That will give you an idea of what back you can afford. There is a great special on Phase One P45+/ Phase 645 body / 150mm. Take a look at our web site to read about the details:

    http://www.captureintegration.com/

    Keep in mind that some backs lend themselves to landscape over others. The P30/ P30+(31MP) is a great DB, but because of the microlenses it isn't recommended on technical cameras. The P45 / P45+ (39MP) as well as the P25/ P25+ (22MP) are almost full frame and are excellent candidates for landscape photography. Don't forget that stitching, either in camera or with software, is an incredible way to extend the image size. I would also consider the new P40+ (40MP) as well as the full frame P65+ (60MP).

    I've attached a chart to show you the full Phase One line to give you an idea of chip size and their specs.

    Please let me know if you have any questions. I am always available to answer your questions.

    Chris Lawery(e-mail Me)
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    Phase One, Canon, Apple, Profoto, Eizo & More
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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    I think for many uses (including landscape!) the sweet spot is still the P30/P30+ backs----and that's considering both performance and bang for the buck. If more cash is involved, than certainly the latest plus series backs should be considered... There is a substantial premium to buy the latest toys, er, tools....

    The P30 can handle slight movements (even with microlenses), and as long as you are not planning on using a technical camera (larger movements), is ideal for most types of photography. And, in the current economy, it's a steal right now. It has "just enough" resolution, produces a wonderful file, good in low light, fast----and forgiving. (mates well with your Mamiya body)

    Love the new P65+, but it does demand that you slow down and pay attention to the technical aspects of your workflow more. If budget is a consideration, I'd give Chris Lawery a call and get a P30/P30+ (Btw, the P30+ doesn't have much over the P30).

    ken

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    Super Duper
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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    I successfully used a P30+ for landscape work with an AFD with lenses as wide as the new 28mm. The only reason I'm using a P45+ now is the fact I'm no longer using the AFD and switched to a technical camera (Cambo WRS).

    The new P40 looks like it could fit the bill nicely for landscape work and not break the bank getting it.

    Ken is correct - call Chris and speak with him. Chris and CI are folks you can trust and totally rely on (end of commercial )

    Good luck with your decision and welcome to the wonderful world of MFDB!

    Don
    Don Libby
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  6. #6
    Optechs Digital
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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    Hi Graham,

    I am a big fan of the lower resolution, bigger pixel backs such as the P20/25. I think they have a "look" about them that is very pleasing. They also have a tendency to help make questionable lenses look pretty good.

    Of course if you really need big resolution then these backs may not be the best choice. However, the landscape work that I have done never really goes very big and i am always very happy to work with a Phase P25/Aptus 22 type back.

    If you are interested in a demonstration please contact me, I would be happy to show you any or all backs from the P20+ to the P65+ and some Leaf alternatives as well on my next trip to Portland.

    Best Regards,
    Paul

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    Thank you folks for the very helpful information on the comparative merits of the Phase backs up the line - that's exactly the kind of information I'm looking for.

    As regards the D3x, I'm not changing that but I am thinking about adding a simpler 16 bit landscape oriented outfit with upgrade potential. It would be a slower more considered complement to the DSLR - maybe something like the Alpa might be better than the AFD actually. I think I must have 'square eyes' because it's very much my preferred compositional layout vs 3:2, even to the degree that I used to use a custom VF on my old D2X's with square framing lines. As mentioned, a stitching option would work for me to add resolution for wider compositions or for more resolution with longer glass - the 'more resolution' argument for some of the higher end backs is slightly moot for me if I crop square although obviously the extra crop choice is beneficial.

    Lot's of choices these days!

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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    i use a P20, loving the sq format; 36.9 wide(sq), 16Mp
    next step for me would be the P45+, also 36.9 wide, but taller 39Mp if rectangular, 30 Mp if cropped sq.

    If I wanted really big files and square, I would need a 2x2 frame stitch with the P20, lets say 33% overlap, giving a 80Mp sq image. this would have those luscious 9micron sensors
    Or two stitched frames from the P45, overlapped to sq, giving 7216 x 7216 with 6.8 microns sensors

  9. #9
    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    I knew I shouldn't have started heading down this particular cul de sac and pre-spending my bonus ... this might even send me down the path of radically culling my Leica M gear. (Hmm, that's sounds familiar around here doesn't it?)

    The P20/P20+ looks like a very affordable way to get started, particularly if 'square' is your thing. However, the more I look at it, plus the very helpful comments above, the P30/P30+ might be a better solution so long as I don't want to use it with movements. A lot more MP plus more flexibility in terms of format, albeit at a greater startup cost.

    Hmmm.

    Thank you all VERY MUCH for the helpful input so far.

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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    Hi Graham,

    Great advice here already, but I'll add my 2 just to muddy the water.

    I own the P25+ and I like if very much. If the economy were being kinder to me I'd have the P45+, but that will have to wait. Frankly, I don't really need the higher resolution, but would like to have it for really large prints. I like to print close to native size and the P25+ handles 16x22 just perfectly in that regard. And stitching or uprezzing are easy too.

    The point I want to make is that many here have really enjoyed the P30+ (and still do) and I can sure see why. It makes beautiful files, like the other Phase One backs. But as a landscape guy, bear in mind that the P30+ is a "cropped sensor" back. This means that wide views are a challenge which is why many P30+ owners have gone for the Mamiya 28mm lens. In my case, 35mm on the P25+/P45+ is normally wide enough, the cost of the 28mm lens would go towards an upgrade in my back first. The 28mm is listed at B&H at $5700 currently; one can buy a 35mm f/3.5 for around $650 used or $1500 new. I'm simply suggesting you do a little sensor / lens crop math, and consider the cost of the glass to complete an appropriate kit for your needs.

    Sorry for the convoluted reply. I'm sitting in my apartment in Bangkok, sick with the flu.

    Good luck with your process.

    Dale
    Last edited by Dale Allyn; 20th July 2009 at 19:11. Reason: Oh, the typos

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    Thanks Dale - all information is helpful.

    I'm aware of the cropped sensor and I managed OK with the 35 AF lens on the AFD before, although you wouldn't believe my frustration waiting for Mamiya to release their forever promised vaporware 24mm lens back in the day! There certainly were times when I wanted wider and stitching isn't always possible. The 28mm would be my tool of choice although it is a chunk of change I admit. It is a very valid consideration on the total package though and introduces further options in terms of perhaps putting more into the sensor up front, or not (back prices/values go down, lens prices/values go up ... etc).

    Now I know why Jack & Guy quoted Dante on this particular forum.

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Now I know why Jack & Guy quoted Dante on this particular forum.
    I think a new Arca Swiss Cube would also look good on your new MFDB rig....



    p.s. Never had a problem with the crop of the P30.... Just a really great all-around MFDB. Even with the "wide shots" I used the P30 and Mamiya 35mm to great success stitching panoramas....

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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    Quote Originally Posted by kdphotography View Post

    p.s. Never had a problem with the crop of the P30.... Just a really great all-around MFDB. Even with the "wide shots" I used the P30 and Mamiya 35mm to great success stitching panoramas....
    Ken, I know that you've had great success with that kit, and I wasn't suggesting that it couldn't or shouldn't be done, just that it was a factor to consider.

    For me, it's a deal breaker without owning the 28mm (and I'm not sure I want it). Some folks love stitching (and I do it sometimes too), others not so much. My preference is to capture any image in a single frame if possible. (I have a personal aversion to too many assemblages ) As you know, depending on the scene, even a single capture can be a challenge as one waits for movement to stop (i.e. foliage, etc.) or where one wants to show both movement and fixed elements. For me, stitching is a last resort, or at least a planned process.

    Having said that, I'll add that a couple of single row stitches that I've done (4 vertical shots, stitched horizontally) to produce a wider view with the 210 have created spectacular files. The resolution is wonderful, the compression can work, etc. There's just so many ways to slice it, but for me the crop is a factor to consider.

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Dale Allyn View Post
    Ken, I know that you've had great success with that kit, and I wasn't suggesting that it couldn't or shouldn't be done, just that it was a factor to consider.

    For me, it's a deal breaker without owning the 28mm (and I'm not sure I want it). Some folks love stitching (and I do it sometimes too), others not so much. My preference is to capture any image in a single frame if possible. (I have a personal aversion to too many assemblages ) As you know, depending on the scene, even a single capture can be a challenge as one waits for movement to stop (i.e. foliage, etc.) or where one wants to show both movement and fixed elements. For me, stitching is a last resort, or at least a planned process.

    Having said that, I'll add that a couple of single row stitches that I've done (4 vertical shots, stitched horizontally) to produce a wider view with the 210 have created spectacular files. The resolution is wonderful, the compression can work, etc. There's just so many ways to slice it, but for me the crop is a factor to consider.
    I agree with you Dale---it's a personal decision. I just happen to like the 35mm lens being as wide as I want to go perspective wise. I admire the Mamiya 28mm---and know that Don Libby simply loved that lens (maybe not so much as taking a shower with it, but that's a different thread.... ) and made some beautiful images using the P30+ and the 28mm lens. And yes, you're right---the "crop" can be a factor. For some it can even be a deal-breaker. I subsequently went the other way with the P65+, getting away from the crop, and to really be able to use the FF and true focal length of the lenses.

    And, of course, I'm still having fun with single row stitched panoramas....

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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    Yes, Ken, Don sure seems to know how to wine and dine his gear.

    I love the idea of the P65+ being essentially full-frame and getting back to the true focal lengths. And I'd love to see a sibling in the form of a "P50+".

    Like you, I find the 35 wide enough for most single captures (and actually shoot the 55mm or 45mm more often), even on the slight 1.1x crop of my back. I still use some filters such as ND and Polarizer and the 28mm is not so filter-friendly. That's part of the equation for me as well.

  16. #16
    Super Duper
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    Re: Potential Phase One Newbie - P20+ Question

    As much as I loved the 28mm P30+ combo I knew I wanted better...

    Oh and before I forget - I got a lot of single image files with the 28 that looked as good and often better than a multiple image stitch.

    I'll also muddy the waters a little more by suggesting a technical camera; of course this means going away from the P30/P30+. If you are looking for the "ultimate" landscape kit then IMO a technical camera is the route to go. Better lens, movements when you need/want them are just two of the considerations.

    Don
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