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Author Topic: 1st DigBack Use in Ad Shoot & Learning Curve  (Read 2642 times)
Andrew_Milray
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« on: May 20, 2007, 04:14:21 PM »
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I will be doing a big budget advertising shoot soon and am debating whether to use a medium format digital back, which seems to be the standard for this kind of thing.  I have never used digital back before (actually, Iíve never used a medium format camera at all before), Iíve  been shooting 100% with a Canon 1ds MkII these days.

I will have a digital tech and full workstation on the shoot, and have the budget to rent a digital back setup.  The tech would run the computer and setup and hand me the camera.

My question is:  is the learning curve for the camera such that with one day of practice on my own before the shoot, plus my lighting day the day before with the digital tech, can a photographer can be ready to use the camera with digital tech support? (with the digital tech running the setup and software)

Or am I just asking for trouble changing my equipment like this.

I suppose a key element of this question is how much quality gain is there between the digital backs (let's say the 40+ mp top of the line versions) and the Canon 1Ds MrkII.  There will be *extensive* post-production involved using a high-end retouching shop for special effects so I need the most robust file possible to push the pixels to their limits.

Any thoughts/warnings/insights would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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RicAgu
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2007, 06:32:16 PM »
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Should be easy.

Also depends on whether you're on the H1/2 or the Mamiya 645.

The Hassy has quirks that you have to know about if it freezes which is simply taking the battery grip off.  But your tech should be no further than three feet from you at all times while shooting and a glance should be enough to call him over to the camera so the client doesn't get nervous.

The Mamiya is a pretty straight forward system but if you need the flash sync then you need the Hasselblad H.  You can also go the Hasselblad V or Mamiya RZ route which is just like shooting with it in the film days, but with a small cable from lens to back.

Which ever rental house is renting you the gear should loan you a body and lens with a film or polaroid back for you to play with it at home before the shoot.

If this is your first time, I would only use PhaseOne with C1Pro. It is pretty bullet proof.  With Leaf you're asking for trouble.  You just never know.  With Hassy you can have some issues as well, but it is more stable than Leaf and I have no experience with Sinar neither here no there.

The new P45+ backs are starting to become available and your AD client will appreciate the file of the size.  You can hand them the entire job with a version of C1 Pro DB so they or the post house can do what they want with the raw file.

Not sure what kind of work you do that your entire career has never required a Medium Format system.  But hey, more power to you.  Less headaches and BS to deal with.

Best of luck.


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I will be doing a big budget advertising shoot soon and am debating whether to use a medium format digital back, which seems to be the standard for this kind of thing.  I have never used digital back before (actually, Iíve never used a medium format camera at all before), Iíve  been shooting 100% with a Canon 1ds MkII these days.

I will have a digital tech and full workstation on the shoot, and have the budget to rent a digital back setup.  The tech would run the computer and setup and hand me the camera.

My question is:  is the learning curve for the camera such that with one day of practice on my own before the shoot, plus my lighting day the day before with the digital tech, can a photographer can be ready to use the camera with digital tech support? (with the digital tech running the setup and software)

Or am I just asking for trouble changing my equipment like this.

I suppose a key element of this question is how much quality gain is there between the digital backs (let's say the 40+ mp top of the line versions) and the Canon 1Ds MrkII.  There will be *extensive* post-production involved using a high-end retouching shop for special effects so I need the most robust file possible to push the pixels to their limits.

Any thoughts/warnings/insights would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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pss
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2007, 07:28:42 PM »
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congrats on getting the job.....
i would not change gear without knowing it inside out.......and one day will get you an idea, but you will have no clue about all the details.....which you can leave up to the tech....but that would be handing over almost all aspects of creativity to the tech.....

you got the job with the stuff you have been shooting....so why change now? they must have hired you because they liked your work, which was produced a certain way....you won't get that with a completely new camera, back, software,.....

in other words....if this was still the old days.....you shoot 35mm kodachrome saturated colors with shallow depth of field....so this is the look you would get hired for, no? if i needed a b&w 8x10 shooter, i probably wouldn't hire you......

shooting with a MF back is totally different then shooting with a canon....just the files alone are totally different....i won't even get into camera handling.....

annie leibowitz shoots mostly with a 1dsmkII these days and with her postproduction budget i would not shoot anything else either.....these guys can make a digital rebel file look better than a badly retouched P45 file.....

i would recommend shooting with the canon....get comfortable with a MFsystem and back when you have time....you should try C1 with the canon anyway, that will ease you into a phase workflow and make it easier to learn how to shoot with a MF back.....none f it is really hard, but a bit too much for a day and the pressure of an ad job the next.....

if it is about the "image"...rent the back, the camera, the whole thing (i would also go with mamiya and phase...avoid hasselblad) and if oyu can't deal with it, just switch to the canon and tell them: it just has a better look for this shot.....nobody will question you......
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SecondFocus
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2007, 09:29:03 PM »
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I went throught the same thing not that long ago. However I did not have a digital tech.

I wanted to try out a Leaf back with a Mamiya 645afdII. And I had the right ad shoot to really take advantage of it for the client. So I contacted my dealer, Samy's Camera, my rep from MAC Group for Mamiya and Leaf and they set me up with the gear.

The day before the shoot I got a quick in person lesson on the camera with the back and the Leaf software at Samy's Camera. Then the following morning before the shoot I got another quick lesson again from the Leaf rep at my hotel.

Then it was off to the studio for the shoot. It did take me little work to remember the instructions on the software but I pulled it offf without too much problem. And that was shooting tethered.The back and camera itself were easy to use. Very simple and intuitive.

To make matter a little more complex, I also used my new Profoto lighting gear for the first time.

Now with all that said, I did have a very competent assistant to move things along. And I had all of my other Canon gear and a substantial amount of my other lighting gear on hand. I did have to make one call to the Leaf rep just to get one thing right.

If you have the budget for a digital tech and gear you might look into the companies that not only bring out the digital tech with the computers and such with a medium format back and body. They could get you up to speed and work with you though any tough spots. Take a look at http://www.imagemechanics.com they come well recommended, and there are others. Or contact your dealer. This is where it pays off not to ask about price all the time but look at service first.

The first ad from that shoot just hit the magazines, it is for BodyBuilding.com which is the largest bodybuilding and fitness resource in the world. It is in the just released issue of Oxygen magazine.
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Ian L. Sitren
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Andrew_Milray
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2007, 02:35:36 AM »
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Thank you very much for such thoughtful replies.  And congrats SecondFocus on your successful experience.  I'll probably get one to play with for a day and decide from there -- thanks for the warnings about the Hassy and the suggestion on the Phase.  If I do use the MF back, I'll definitely have the tech/workstation/camera come as a package.  And I'm good at picking up new technology quickly.

But with the Canon feeling like an effortless extension of my hand, that option has it's strengths  And it is my style that I was selected for, so that may be the deciding factor there if the digital backs really have a different look.  Though a lot of my look comes in post, and I will be overseeing post here as well.

The reason I'm considering the mf back was not any difference in the "look" (which would be a negative to me), but the detail for billboard/busstop or other big format end uses.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2007, 02:37:38 AM by Andrew_Milray » Logged
RicAgu
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2007, 09:44:22 AM »
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You will have no problem using the Canon for Bus Stops and Billboards. One of my first digital shoots for a record company in Jan 06 was shot with the Canon 1Ds Mark II and twelve year old lenses.  The images were used for a billboard in London that was six stories tall with no problem.

Unless the client is asking for larger files then I wouldn't worry.

Best of Luck,

RA




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Thank you very much for such thoughtful replies.  And congrats SecondFocus on your successful experience.  I'll probably get one to play with for a day and decide from there -- thanks for the warnings about the Hassy and the suggestion on the Phase.  If I do use the MF back, I'll definitely have the tech/workstation/camera come as a package.  And I'm good at picking up new technology quickly.

But with the Canon feeling like an effortless extension of my hand, that option has it's strengths  And it is my style that I was selected for, so that may be the deciding factor there if the digital backs really have a different look.  Though a lot of my look comes in post, and I will be overseeing post here as well.

The reason I'm considering the mf back was not any difference in the "look" (which would be a negative to me), but the detail for billboard/busstop or other big format end uses.
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robert zimmerman
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« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2007, 12:33:50 AM »
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when you work as an advertising photographer it is very important to talk with the ad agency on their specific file needs. these needs can vary and are sometime very difficult to meet, for example if the client  requires several different formats (extreme vertical and horizontal formats) and large file sizes for one single image (which may force you into stitching several shots together). in general, if they require huge file sizes for specific production needs, then you'll know exactly what you have to use to meet these requirements.

it's good, i think a must, to know the camera plattform you'll be working with, not the digital back. you can hire a 1st assistant and a digital tech. to handle the technical side and you'll be fine. but i'd definitely take a little time to get to know the camera (esspecially the h2).

if you have a trustworthy 1st assistant who's familiar with the camera plattform you'll be using, and the job permits you the luxery of working at a slightly slower pace, then a day actually might be enough to grasp the basics and be okay on the shoot.

what i wouldn't suggest is risking not getting the shot if you know in advance the job requires fast paced working - it's obvious you need to know he equipment in this kind of situation.

best of luck
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