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Author Topic: Leica M8 vs. Alpa TC vs. ???  (Read 10701 times)
gkramer
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« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2007, 04:31:29 AM »
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...Primarily, I shoot landscape and nature (NOT animals and/or birds!), with some architecture and minimal portraiture thrown in...'m looking for suggestions to move to a whole new system—what should I look for? I'd prefer digital, am comfortable with manual focusing primes AND decent zooms, am willing to spend REASONABLE amounts of money, even for a system with one good camera and one good lens to start. I've looked at the M8, the Alpa TC film camera and considered Canikons, but am not happy with either of their lens systems (Canikon, that is!).

I would REALLY like to keep the system digital, both for costs and workflow reasons...
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I don't do much landscape work (yet); primarily wildlife. But if I did, and were looking for a new system/camera, my main criteria would be:

1. Lots of MP, the more the better. Lots of MP enables larger prints, and also the kind of fine-detail resolution found in proper view camera print. The current below-$6K choice is between the 16MP Canon and the 12MP Nikon D2X, either of which would be a (slightly) better choice than the 10MP Leica M8. But Nikon is rumored to be contemplating a full-frame version of its D2X, which would scale up to 27MP or so; and Canon is also rumored to be contemplating something along these lines. I'd wait. (There is no advantage whatever, as far as I can see, in full-frame as such (assuming the avaiability of suitable lenses for either format); its only real advantage is more real estate on which to place more MP--at the cost of less DoF, often important for landscape work.)

2. Top-quality lenses with movements (shifts and, particularly, tilts). And, emphatically, mounted on a SLR. Schleimpflug (tilt) focusing with a view camera is an arcane, time-consuming art/science, and would be virtually impossible on a rangefinder like the M8; it's much easier on a SLR, with the ability to preview the image. The current selection of such lenses for a DSLR is limited (Canon has few more than Nikon; but since all automation is lost, it's no big deal to rig an adapter to remount a T&S lens on a different mount). But all currently-available T&S lenses date from the film-camera era, and hopefully will replaced by better-corrected ones more suitable for critical digital photography (the aftermarket Hartblei series, available in both Canon and Nikon mounts, is claiming to have already done so, though I haven't seen any tests yet).

I'd love to own an M8, for candid street and action-orented photography; but I think a large-MP SLR would be a better choice for serious landscape photography. As for lens quality in the Canikons, many of their older film-camera-era lenses don't really cut it with digital; but my experience with recent pro-grade Nikon lenses has been very good, and I'd take some convincing that any similar Leica lens offered any significant advantage (moreover Zeiss is about to come out with some (pricey) lenses for the Nikon mount).
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hankg
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« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2007, 10:20:52 AM »
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I'd REALLY like to keep the total system cost under $8,000, if possible and have considered these combos:
Leica M8 digital and the new 2.8/28mm OR the new Tri-Elmar (which pushes it nearer $9,000!)
Alpa TC film w/ 6X9 film back and Schneider Helvetar 5.6/58mm (Around $7-7500) and...
everyone else!  I would REALLY like to keep the system digital, both for costs and workflow reasons. Let the devouring begin!

Rob
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For film you can't beat the cost/quality of the Mamiya M7. The Alpa is great but is really a specialized super-wide, wide camera because of the lack of a focusing mechanism. In digital you can't beat the flexibility of the Canon with 3 tilt/shift lenses and a huge range of compatible lenses. The Canon 85, 135 and some of the other L long lenses are equal to anything out there and the Contax 21 provides Zeiss/Leica type quality on the wide end.
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Khun_K
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« Reply #22 on: January 24, 2007, 01:53:44 PM »
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Thanks for the information. I figured that using an Alpa is an unhurried process, regardless of whether it's with film or digital! IF I purchased one it would primarily be for either landscape or architectural subjects which normally don't require fast setup times. (With SOME minor exceptions!)
However, others who use the system say that, once you become accustomed to the "guess the distance" way of shooting (or, use a laser rangefinder like the Leica Disto) that actually setting up for a shot becomes a reasonably fast and relatively accurate process. Certainly not as fast as using an M8 with its framelines, but reasonably fast nonetheless!
I appreciate the input.
Rob W
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Even using film, I would still suggest the two system are not alike. Alpa is very much a handheld system but works at a slower path, much slower than M system. And again, M encourage the shooter to get close or move around the subject while Alpa is more set back. I can quite precisely focus the lens at a medium aperture at about 3 meters aways from the subject but getting closer will be very difficult to get acceptable focus without aided device.
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hankg
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« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2007, 10:30:52 AM »
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The ALPA can be used as a reportage camera and can be very fast IF you are in a situation where you can set the lens around f16, set the lens at the hyperfocal distance and shoot at an appropriate distance. It then becomes a big point and shoot. Here are 2 shots with the ALPA done that way:

http://www.hankgraber.com/archives/7832_1386689786/196266
http://www.hankgraber.com/archives/7832_1386689786/203247

This shot however required checking focus with a laser rangefinder:
http://www.hankgraber.com/archives/7832_1386689786/199435

The ALPA is unbeatable in doing what it was designed to do. But you have to understand it's limitations. I couldn't live with it if it was my only camera as there are so many things it is really unsuited for. If your looking for value, quality and flexibility in film I don't think anything can match the Mamiya 7.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2007, 10:35:09 AM by hankg » Logged

ddolde
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« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2007, 10:41:09 AM »
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Schleimpflug (tilt) focusing with a view camera is an arcane, time-consuming art/science,

Not at all.  You obviously are speaking from theory not practice.  With my Arca Swiss and Orbix it's a piece of cake.
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macdaddy
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« Reply #25 on: January 30, 2007, 08:32:33 AM »
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For those keeping track of this saga, here's an update: I purchased a Pentax K10D, with 12-24mm/f4, 16-45mm/f4, 43mm/f1.9 Limited and 100/f2.8 Macro lenses as my "walkabout" camera for this project. I have used Pentax in the past and am completely satisfied with their system for my uses. The short zoom ultra-wides have a good reputation for quality, as does the Limited and the Macro lenses. Early test shots with all of them have resulted in the "look" and quality I'm after when I did some 16 X 20 test prints. I may add the 31mm/f1.8 and/or 70mm/2.4 "pancake" or 77mm/f1.8 Limiteds to the arsenal later, after I'm comfortable shooting what I already have.
Part two of the saga will be what kind of medium format camera I get, and that won't happen until later in the year. "Stay tuned, film at 11!"
Rob W
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Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress.... But then I repeat myself.  -Mark Twain
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