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Author Topic: Interesting review of the infamous ZD  (Read 15407 times)
aaron
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« on: July 29, 2006, 06:33:04 AM »
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I have just come accross a review of the Mamiya ZD which was a little surprising as it conflicts greatly with the other scant bits of info out there on this camera. The review is in the british magazine 'Professional Photographer' which is a highly regarded publication on this side of the water.
Here are a few quotes from the reviewer Neil White:

"The tonal range is superb, the colour fidelity even better (using Mamiya software not Adobe Raw) and the definition, given a tiny tweak of sharpness in Photoshop, gave results outstripping the Leaf, the PhaseOne and the Hasselblad in their 22-megapixel formats."
"I was amazed at the quality, colour accuracy and white balance, which bordered on perfection"
"Suggestions have been made on certain websites that you might as well buy a 1DS or go the whole hog and look at Hasselblad or PhaseOne products, because there is no in between. I disagree completely with this view- the place for this camera is squarely in the middle of the high-end pro market, where it should sit unopposed at the moment. If the ZD fails it would be a travesty, and the new management would be worthy of being sent to Lah Lah land for eternity for their sins."

The review was not all rosy, he comments on the disappointing noise levels at ISO 400 and the "dreadful speed at which the buffer works".

The ZD when announced a couple of years ago gave hope to photographers who would love to get into (or back into) medium format but who couldnt justify the hefty price tag involved. When the ZD did eventually turn up it seems to have been poorly reviewed or even ignored by the 'photo press', I am just wondering if it could be a huge missed opportunity for some of us?
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pss
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2006, 12:46:08 PM »
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i would like to read the review...is it online, if so please provide the link....
unfortunately the camera never made it to the US and i haven't seen it or any raw samples...judging from the stats it always looked promising, the chip is well known and superb, the body seems a perfect size, the lenses are (IMHO) excellent, the price is good (was better when announced, now..ok)...i don't see why it shouldn't provide better results then the canons (much bigger chip, higher resolution....but it is still stuck at 12bit (or is it 14bit?) so it should be a step below the "big boys"...and it is just there, smack in-between the canons and the MF backs...has none of the pros of the canons (speed, high asa, handling) and not the quality of the MF backs...a compromise...my concerns with the camera when it was announced was not really the chip or the resolution, it was the fact that mamiya has never done this before and it is not that easy to put everything together, process the files and come up with good results (example kodak, who even built their chips, but got worse results then phase with kodak chips..) there is so much that goes into these things and it is hard to imagine that a (relatively) small company like mamiya, with no experience in imaging can pull off what all the others can't...but if they keep doing it, i am sure that the ZDII or III would be real contenders...i think that people put too much importance on price...yes everybody is happy to pay less for more, but someone who makes money shooting and buys equipment considers other factors and the desicion will probably not purely based on price alone...
has mamiya come out with the ZD back yet? i think that many people actually waited for that, there are a LOT of 645s and RZs out there and a 22mipx back for 10000 would tempt a lot of people...but again...from my experience i would say that the aptus 17 probably provides better files, shoots faster (or as fast), has higher asa and is a proven piece of equipment....and as a complete solution: the rollei digital bundle(with a P20) sells for 12000 now complete with camera and lens and i am pretty sure that these files comare favorably  to the ZD as well...
i would still like to see raw files and read the review and i still hope that mamiya hasn't given up...
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aaron
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2006, 04:30:15 PM »
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I understand what your saying about expecting quality to be lower on the ZD because its  12 bit rather than 16 bit like the Aptus or Phase One but I wonder if thats just marketing hype on behalf of the competing manufacturers.
From info i have come accross on this forum it seems that no medium format back is even close to full 16 bit capture. Kodak sensors are achieving contrast ratios of 4000:1 while Dalsa is 4000:1 -8000:1 which apparently is 'only' 12-13 bit max despite the back makers singing about 16 bit capture.
The review unfortunately is not available online, just in old fashioned print! but the reviewer clearly says that the quality (dynamic range included) is not just equal but outstrips the competitions 22 mp backs.
Can anyone say why the ZD is not available in The U.S.? if I was a Mamiya user I would be beating down my suppliers door demanding to know why.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2006, 04:42:18 PM by aaron » Logged
pss
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2006, 05:00:04 PM »
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i don't know if the numbers are hype...but i can tell you from having owned a valeo 17, canon 1DSmkII and P20, that there is a fairly big difference in the quality of the files...i contribute tis to the 16bit (maybe i am wrong) but when the canon files simply fall apart in levels or curves, the MF files aren't even close to showing any signs of abuse...dynamic range is another area where the MF backs are simply better...P20 files in C1 can be pushed or pulled one stop without any change in quality and that is just in processing...canon files are a lot less forgiving...and i am not even talking about color...
if the ZD had useable 400 asa and would go up to 1600 (even if it got funky) i would use it instead of canon, but the shooting speed and high asa quality of the canons is in a different league...and with the new canons coming out ( i don't know any secrets, but we all know there will be faster, better canons by the end of the year...)...the ZD just looks about 2 years old...again i hope mamiya comes out with a ZDII...keep the pixel count, just clean up the performance, make everything a little faster, shoot up to 800, 400 useable...and why not put in a 16bit (even if it is not really 16bit) version of the chip? oh..and release it in the US...
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yaya
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2006, 05:28:51 PM »
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The review unfortunately is not available online, just in old fashioned print! but the reviewer clearly says that the quality (dynamic range included) is not just equal but outstrips the competitions 22 mp backs.

aaron,

In the same magazine and written by the same reviewer there were two other reviews. The one of the Leaf Aptus 22MP in July 2005 and of the Phase One P30 and P45 in early 2006.

In both cases, the results were "out-stripping" the competition.

Personally I would read ANY review with a polarizing filter...sorry...with a grain of salt.

Just call your dealer and ask to test the ZD, let me know if you'd like to run the Aptus 22 side-by-side on an AFDII with the same lenses.

Nothing better than a real test in your own terms and in your own environment.

BR

Yair
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Ed Jack
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« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2006, 10:10:49 AM »
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aaron,

In the same magazine and written by the same reviewer there were two other reviews. The one of the Leaf Aptus 22MP in July 2005 and of the Phase One P30 and P45 in early 2006.

In both cases, the results were "out-stripping" the competition.

Personally I would read ANY review with a polarizing filter...sorry...with a grain of salt.

Just call your dealer and ask to test the ZD, let me know if you'd like to run the Aptus 22 side-by-side on an AFDII with the same lenses.

Nothing better than a real test in your own terms and in your own environment.

BR

Yair
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72086\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

 That review was out a couple of months ago. I gotta say I was gob smacked too. What I would say, is that the author has little experience with digital back, he admits it himself in the review, saying he has never owned a back or used one in his work.
In other words, if you are used to driving a volvo,  suddenly being given a Porche (Mamiya) seems to be the drive of your life... unless of course you normally drive an AstonM or Ferrari (Leaf & Phase 1)

 See what I mean

Ed
« Last Edit: July 30, 2006, 10:12:13 AM by Ed Jack » Logged
pss
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« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2006, 12:26:15 PM »
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i would love to see a side-by side with the Aptus and the ZD...one thing i was wondering: both use a dalsa chip..is it the same chip? or does the ZD have a "lower grade" version...i am aware that the chip alone is just the first step and that so much more goes into getting the best results...
i think i saw somebody's comparison on the old rob forums, not sure anymore, but i think i remember at least a 1DsmkII and ZD..maybe the pics were taken from the article in the french magazine? anyway i would never really trust a comparison based on web jpgs..i have seen too many of those and i know from my own experience that the only way to compare is hands on with raw files, because that is were these cameras/backs really show what they can do...
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aaron
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« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2006, 02:52:23 PM »
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As far as I can tell Dalsa only make one version of the 22mp chip so I assume its the same one in the ZD as the Aptus, I am sure Leaf would be making everyone aware if their chip was of a 'higher grade'.
The reviewer in the article regularily reviews medium format digital systems so that must add some level of credibility to his conclusions as to the ZD being not just as good as but better than the Aptus and Phase 22mp backs.
Considering that the ZD is about half the price of its rivals, I wouldn't have expected it to perform at quite the same level, but if i thought it was even close i would be giving it a serious look at.  (if i could get hold of one that is!)
Surely some of you high rollers out there could get their hands on a ZD and give it the once over! Obviously they are pretty scarce in the U.S but they seem to be readily available in U.K and mainland Europe. Being on the little island of  Ireland myself, theres about as much chance of me getting to test one as there is of Angelina Jolie knocking on my door tonight  with a  pizza an a six-pack.
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mcfoto
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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2006, 12:18:39 AM »
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Surely some of you high rollers out there could get their hands on a ZD and give it the once over!


Hi
I use both the Aptus 22 ( RENT) and own the ZD. I recently did a job with the Aptus 22 and had to shoot an extra element for this job. I had no hestitation to using the ZD. Since I am a  Mamiya user having the ZD as a backup on a job gives me extra insurance. At ISO 50 I still think the colour is better on the Aptus 22. However when I have used the RAW processor with the ZD I got a file that was really close to the Aptus 22. I just have not got a decent colour profile with the RAW processor yet. We have just got a Quato monitor last week with the the Canon IPF 5000 printer thanks to DES. So I would like to try again and create one.
    Back to the ZD and Aptus 22 yes they are the same chip. On AD jobs I rent the Aptus and editorial I use the ZD. We also own the Canon 5D but the ZD is far better in tonality and dept than the 5D. When we shoot fast on Ad jobs that is where the Aptus comes into its own because of the buffer. For our stock work we use the ZD since it is so light and it is like a DSLR plus you can shoot jpegs.
  If I had a wish it would be that Mamiya teams up with Leaf on the software in the future. I hope this helps.
Thanks Denis
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aaron
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2006, 10:49:20 AM »
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Hi Dennis,
Thanks for that information, it sounds very promising. Am I correct in saying that the buffer in the ZD is your main reason for using the Aptus on some jobs? are you seeing much difference regarding the actual 'quality' of the files produced by both cameras such a difference in dynamic range- do you think the ZDs 12 bit capture hinders the camera when compared to the Aptus' 16 bit capture?
You mention that the colour on the Aptus is better at ISO50, is this due to the available raw converters for the ZD or do you think its a bit dept issue?
I would be using the camera comercially for studio portraiture and for personal landscape shooting so the actual speed of the camera would not be a deal breaker for me.
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alba63
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« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2006, 12:22:25 PM »
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For our stock work we use the ZD since it is so light and it is like a DSLR plus you can shoot jpegs.

Hi Denis, as you say "for stock" maybe you can also say something about the DR.

I have the Fuji S3 pro and the Canon 5d, and I often find the DR of the 5d to be quite limited in stronger contrast situations, it just burns the highlights very easily (compared to the Fuji which is very strong in that department, it just has not so much resolution).

Also the Canon colors need quite a bit of processing before looking close to the Fuji.
I remember having seen early examples of the ZD, and they did not look as if DR was a speciality of the ZD. Nevertheless MF backs are often cited for their superior DR and deep colors.

Thanks, bernie
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pss
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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2006, 12:34:55 PM »
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dennis, is there any way for you to post some raw files? would be great to see! you mention that the aptus files are a little better...we all know that the difference in quality cannot be 100% at that level...i would say that the canons provide at least 80% if a aptus provides 100...you always pay a lot to get that extra little more...and just judging by the numbers the ZD should be right in there at about 90%...
it will be interesting to see how it would hold up against the new canon (for those who are following the discussion here in a different thread)...camerawaest posted the new canon as arriving in fall with 22mpix..which would put it right up there with the ZD...cheaper, much faster, better asa....maybe at "only" 85% (of the aptus's 100) but....
time does not stop and the ZD is a 2 year old camera...the ZDII will be a much more important product for the future of the mamiya digital division....maybe that is why they haven't released it in the US? it would make sense to just wait for fall and release the ZDII (for $12000) and maybe also the ZD at a discount (at about $8000-9000) to directly compete with canon and buy some marketshare...
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ivan muller
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« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2006, 12:48:24 PM »
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.i think that people put too much importance on price...yes everybody is happy to pay less for more, but someone who makes money shooting and buys equipment considers other factors and the desicion will probably not purely based on price alone...

hi I bought my Zd on price alone, not only for the body but also for the lenses. I did not test any of the competitions digital backs simply because I just couldnot afford any of them. I only tested the ZD and I was happy with the results and i though I could live with the drawbacks. so far(1 month of ownership) I have done many commercial jobs ranging from kitchens, portraits, architecture etc. and have not been dissappointed once. I actually own a volvo  and recently took some of the more desirable competition ( BMW,audi)  for test drives and although they all drove bautifully in the end I stuck with my volvo. As for the bentlys and ferraris, well we can all dream a little!
Thanks Ivan
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mcfoto
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« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2006, 06:35:53 PM »
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You mention that the colour on the Aptus is better at ISO50, is this due to the available raw converters for the ZD or do you think its a bit dept issue?
I would be using the camera comercially for studio portraiture and for personal landscape shooting so the actual speed of the camera would not be a deal breaker for me.

Hi
I think the bit depth would have something to do with it plus the fact that Leaf has been making backs for over 10 years. When we shoot jobs we will shoot up to a 1000 images in a day quickly and that is main reason we use the Aptus 22 ..... speed. Other backs are not fast enough tethered maby except for Sinar E motion 22.
   But when we are shooting a magazine portrait I can work with the ZD buffer no problems. The best way to use this camera on location is to get the new JOBO portable viewer and shoot RAW/Jpeg. This way you are not wasting time looking at shots on the back of the camera. The size of the screen on the ZD doesn't concern me but it is useable on location.
  The camera weight is close to my Canon 5D plus my partner can easily hold it. Also the Mamiya lenses are light weight. What is great about this camera is you just turn it on and shoot. The software works on both PC and MAC. Processing time is 35 sec / 8 bit with a G5 2.3 dual/3gigs ram. If you use the RAW processor it is about 15 seconds. In comparison to the Aptus 22 it is about 1:30 sec.
   Our work we shoot people and if the Buffer is not an issue I would test this camera.
Thanks Denis
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Quentin
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« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2006, 03:12:53 AM »
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I purchased a ZD a few days ago, and used it for the first time over the weekend.  

When launched, the ZD was 7,000 body only plus VAT in the UK.  Now Robert White are offering it for 5,995 plus VAt with a free 80mm f2.8 lens (worth around 350), so an effective pre-VAT reduction of around 1,300.00.  The price reduction clinched the decision for me.

So far, so good.  Mamiya claim its 14bit capture device with 12 bit recording.  Detail and dynamic range are superb.  Noise is invisible at 50 iso but creeps in above that.  I personaly would not use it above 125 ISO unless I had no choice.  Its actually a sweet camera to use except for the poor rear LCD screen and slow buffer.  A portrait pro who botrrowed it from me for an hour was in raptures. The Mamiya software is also poor, but Lightroom and Silkypix will both decode the raw files, Silkypix doing a particularly good job.

So far, I'm pleased, but its early days.  Not read the review, but I'll look out for it.

Quentin
« Last Edit: August 01, 2006, 03:13:49 AM by Quentin » Logged

Quentin Bargate, ARPS, Author, photographer entrepreneur and senior partner of Bargate Murray, Law Firm of the Year 2013
ericevans
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« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2006, 03:37:37 AM »
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If the chip they use in it is like the one in the Aptus you should be fine at iso 100 as long as shutter sppeds are at 1/125th or faster . I use iso 25 and 50 for the longer exposures and get little or no noise depending on how well the subject is lit .
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mcfoto
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« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2006, 04:53:06 AM »
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the Aptus 22 it is about 1:30 sec.
 
Hi
I mean't 1:30 minutes for the Aptus 22.
Thanks Denis
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Denis Montalbetti
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pss
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« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2006, 12:19:29 PM »
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i keep hearing about the buffer? how bad is it? how many shots/sec or sec/shot? how many shots/minute? one of the advantages of the ZD should be fast shooting, why else would you want a compact, lightweight 12/14bit camera? the canon shoots very fast (and i am sure the upcoming top of the line 22mpix will not be slower)...if the canon can do it, the ZD should not be far behind...they have to process the same amount of data...my P20 can shoot 50-60frames/minute with no slowdown with the extremeIII cards and that is 16bit and is about as old as the ZD...for shooting people every missed moment hurts and i am looking forward to the extremeIV cards which might bring the capture to a solid 1frame/sec which is perfect, that is about as fast as the camera "winds" anyway...
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eronald
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« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2006, 02:26:09 PM »
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Has anyone used the Mamiya/Aptus 75 combo ?

How is reliability, focus, backfocus etc ?

Edmund
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mcfoto
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« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2006, 05:01:08 PM »
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Quote from: pss,Aug 1 2006, 12:19 PM
i keep hearing about the buffer? how bad is it? how many shots/sec or sec/shot?  

Hi
The ZD shoots at a rate of 1.2 sec which is a fast camera in the MF market. When shooting RAW you get 10 frames at this speed until the buffer fills up. However with my experience with shooting portraits and some fashion for projects, I rarely hit the buffer. There is a green bar in the viewfinder to show you the buffer level. I use extreme III cards however it depends on the card writer in the camera. I know the Aptus has the fastest card writer of any digital back on the market. Phase compresses the RAW file to get that speed. The ZD RAW files ( MEF ) are 36 megs each.
   On another note I just got an email from Brian at Iridient Digital and the next version 1.5.2 to be released very soon will have a much better profile for the ZD. I am very interested because this processor did such a good job with the P45 files.

Thanks Denis
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Denis Montalbetti
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