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Author Topic: Mamiya ZD back mini review  (Read 21229 times)
bcroslin
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« on: October 23, 2007, 11:11:51 PM »
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I was going to post this in the "Mamiya ZD camera Kit in Stock @ B&H" thread but decided to move it to a new thread.

I completed a lifestyle shoot Monday that was in conditions that were less than ideal (dark, dark and dark) for shooting the ZD back (or really anything but the newest backs or a DSLR) so with that said here's what I'm finding looking at my images today.

Shooting at ISO 100-125 noise in the shadows is minimal and not any more than I would have expected with a Canon or my Valeo 22. There's no color noise and zero purple blobs so Mamiya has definitely solved the problem.

Sharpness looks good - certainly better than my Canons and equal to my Valeo. Fabric moire doesn't seem to be an issue like it was with the Valeo. Where I did get some moire was in an area of sheer fabric curtains and it seems to be more of a pattern than color noise.

[EDIT FROM ORIGINAL POST] The ZD back with the hardware issues corrected seems to handle long exposures just fine. At 10 sec's there is some minimal noise but nothing that is a deal breaker. This is a huge surprise to me!

Skin tones look good and are predictable. The auto white balance is not very good but obviously correctable in the raw converter.

ISO 200 is usable as long as you realize there will be some noise. I will definitely use ISO 200 under lights again in the future.

I did hit the buffer a few times during shooting and I just had to slow down some. It gave me time to enage the talent and check to make sure I was nailing the shot. I can see the buffer possibly becoming an issue with a faster pace shoot. Time will tell if I can live with it.

I have not given tethered shooting a try but I'm going to figure it out in the next few days. My goal is to shoot through the Mamiya software into Adobe Lightroom. If anyone has experience with this I'd love to hear frm you.

My conclusion now that Mamiya has worked out the kinks is that the ZD back is a great value for the money. I decided to stick with the back to see if Mamiya could deliver and I believe they have. The ZD has limitations - don't get me started about the LCD - but if you can live with them I think the ZD back is a great product.

If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask here in the thread. I'll try and post an image or two from the shoot as I have time Wed or Thurs. I obviously can't post anything that's publishable but I may have a frame or two with my assistant testing lights that might be OK.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2007, 09:26:30 PM by bcroslin » Logged

Bob Croslin, Photographer
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david o
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2007, 12:13:16 AM »
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thanks. nice to have some feedback about the ZD.
myself I would like to see if possible the long exposure shot...
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Snook
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2007, 07:35:28 AM »
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Great to hear..:+}
Please do post some images if you get a chance even if they are of your assistant checking the lights..:+}
About the buffer? what pace were you shooting at?
Also have you searched really good in the shots to make sure there are no purple blobs?
Sorry but I ask because a couple of guys posted in these forums not noticing it themselves.?
Only after posting did I see them..
Congratulations on your buy and thank for your time to post.
Maybe you could show some 100% crops with out the models or peoples faces as not to have problems posting it here.
What other backs have you used personally to make the comparison to??
I am probably going P30 here soon and would love to see some comparisons to it or a Aptus 22 which is supposedly sporting the same Dalsa CHip??
Thanks again
Snook
PS. I plan on using mine for Advertising jobs and they can be slower pace than catalogue for sure.
I will using the Canon for catalogues as the paper and quality are just fine with the CAnon 1DsMII.


PS2:
i forgot to ask a while back but why if they use the same sensor, why is the ZD only 14 bits and the aptus 22 16 bits? anybody know?
thanks again
« Last Edit: October 24, 2007, 08:06:16 AM by Snook » Logged
bcroslin
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2007, 09:47:27 AM »
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Snook,

I've looked at several different frames from 2 different shoots and no purple blobs. My first back had them but this back does not. If it did have them I'd be asking for a refund today.

I shoot slowly with the MFDB and if I need speed I go with my Canons. I can get about 20 frames working slowly before I hit the buffer. The ZD has a 10 frame continuous buffer.

And....like I mentioned in the original post, I owned a Valeo 22 that sports the same chip. I can't do any comparisons as the Valeo is long gone to pay for the ZD back.
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JonTMiller2
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2007, 09:52:00 AM »
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Thanks for the mini-review.  Took the ZD back to Oklahoma for the weekend.  Took this shot in Witicha Falls TX in a 50s era hamburger joint.  I tried to upload the raw but it ws too big.  Here is the jpg for study of noise, etc.  Taken with the 35mm handheld.

Response:  ISO 100, F3.5, 1/80.
This back is two months old (from B&H, one of the first ones off the shelf).
To be honest, it is hard for me to see the blobs since they may be just
color cast from the bottom of the chairs.  I have examined the detail in ACR (the processor for this image, cnr 25) and I do see noise.  Prior to the ZD I had a Kodak back and expected some noise.

If anyone knows of a revealing blob test, it would be nice to know.

Just for "fun", I am adding the Magenta Channel only version of this photo,  I would expect blobs to stand out from mormal "random variable" noise.
Not sure I see it?
« Last Edit: October 25, 2007, 08:37:35 AM by JonTMiller2 » Logged
Snook
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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2007, 10:14:12 AM »
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Hey Jon thanks for posting. You clearly have the Purple Blobs syndrome, I think.
Look under the table against the white wall. Big Purple Blob! It is really clear...
You mind adding at what you shot.. ASA speed etc... I'd appreciate it. Also do you have a recently bought ZD or Older one?
Just wondering.
Thanks agian for the post . I noticed in the White over hang there is a little purple Blobbing going on there also.
In no means am I bashing, Just an Observation.
Thank you again
Snook
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Snook
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« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2007, 10:15:52 AM »
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Quote
Hey Jon thanks for posting. You clearly have the Purple Blobs syndrome, I think.
Look under the table against the white wall. Big Purple Blob! It is really clear...
You mind adding at what you shot.. ASA speed etc... I'd appreciate it. Also do you have a recently bought ZD or Older one?
Just wondering.
Thanks agian for the post . I noticed in the White over hang there is a little purple Blobbing going on there also.
In no means am I bashing, Just an Observation.
Thank you again
Snook
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=148395\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
PS....
The whole back wall around the Writing board has pretty much Purple Blotches also.
Not sure if you noticed it or not..?
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bcroslin
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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2007, 10:49:56 AM »
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I'm not totally convinced those are the purple blobs (mine were way more pronounced) but there's definitely something going on back there. Jon - any idea if the back you have is the most recent version?
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juicy
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2007, 12:00:23 PM »
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Hi!

Might be also heavy jpg-artifacting, the image is very compressed.

Cheers,
J
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marcmccalmont
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2007, 12:44:08 PM »
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Thanks for the mini-review.  Took the ZD back to Oklahoma for the weekend.  Took this shot in Witicha Falls TX in a 50s era hamburger joint.  I tried to upload the raw but it ws too big.  Here is the jpg for study of noise, etc.  Taken with the 35mm handheld.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=148388\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Too my eye the picture looks very natural like I was standing in the room. The dynamic range and colors seem to be well balanced. I'm considering the ZD back in the near future. Thanks for the sample.
Marc
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Marc McCalmont
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2007, 01:36:15 PM »
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Thanks for the mini-review.  Took the ZD back to Oklahoma for the weekend.  Took this shot in Witicha Falls TX in a 50s era hamburger joint.  I tried to upload the raw but it ws too big.  Here is the jpg for study of noise, etc.  Taken with the 35mm handheld.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=148388\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hi
What processor did you use. If you are using a Mac try a demo of RD which works very well for the ZD. Also your critical focus is on the  front of the chairs (most likely shot wide open). If you use the Mamiya software I found the files were not as clean as RD. Using RD made the files much closer to the Aptus 22. The Aptus 22 is 16 bit even though it uses the same chip. You pay more plus you get way better software. As for DR my ZD camera is far better than my 5D. For example when I shoot clouds I use the ZD as much as possible.
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Denis Montalbetti
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« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2007, 02:43:45 PM »
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Hi
What processor did you use. If you are using a Mac try a demo of RD which works very well for the ZD. Also your critical focus is on the  front of the chairs (most likely shot wide open). If you use the Mamiya software I found the files were not as clean as RD. Using RD made the files much closer to the Aptus 22. The Aptus 22 is 16 bit even though it uses the same chip. You pay more plus you get way better software. As for DR my ZD camera is far better than my 5D. For example when I shoot clouds I use the ZD as much as possible.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=148441\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

What is RD Processor and DR?
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2007, 03:09:11 PM »
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What is RD Processor and DR?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=148451\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

RD -A brand of Software for processing files called 'Raw Developer'

DR - Dynamic range - how much contrast the file holds before losing the shadows or blowing the highlights


----

THat file

Jpg artifacts and banding aside looks pretty typical of a first gen 22mp dalsa chip to me

(on my poor screen)

Exaclty the situation that needs a little 'fill' in IMO - not practical under these conditions I fully understand - a good example IMO of what these cameras are bad at

S
« Last Edit: October 24, 2007, 03:11:33 PM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2007, 04:06:16 PM »
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I looked seriously at the ZD back but was very underwhelmed.

I bought an Aptus 22 for Mamiya 645AFD at Photoplus and am blown away with the quality.

Just playing around in the studio today to get a feel for the back, software and everything.

Here is a strobe lit shot from today sent through Lightroom with a little extra spin in PS. I feel the files can certainly be 'bent' much more before breaking as opposed my Canons.

lab beaker

I strongly urge those interested in the ZD back who feel other backs are too expensive to look out for good opportunities in price, refurbs, whatever, on other backs that will exceed the ZD back in the whole experience.

The A22 is a pleasure to use in the studio. 30 sec exposures are also exceptional on the Aptus and the ZD back simply cannot compare in that respect.
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bcroslin
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« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2007, 05:35:25 PM »
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I strongly urge those interested in the ZD back who feel other backs are too expensive to look out for good opportunities in price, refurbs, whatever, on other backs that will exceed the ZD back in the whole experience.

And IMO that's the issue with the ZD back versus the other backs on the market - why should I have to jump through hoops and learn the secret handshake to get a competive price on a back. An Aptus 22 refurb is not worth $7k - $8k more than a ZD back IMO. I was in the market for an Aptus 22 refurb and was quoted a price of $16k. I decided that was just too much so I started looking at the ZD backs. Only after buying the ZD back did a mass email pop into my inbox one month later from the same dealer letting me know the Aptus 22 refurbs were now $13500 - still too high IMO but it might have swayed me one month earlier.

The new ZD back that Mamiya shipped me one week ago does what I need it to do for the money. The older backs had issues but they seem to be solved. No more lock ups and purple worms. It's all about what works for you.
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« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2007, 09:23:55 PM »
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Here's some images and one very pleasant surprise - noise at 10 sec's is actually usable! The blue channel doesn't look bad. I was seeing the xmas tree lights in the low rez previews before the 1:1 previews were built in Lightroom. I take back what I said about noise at long exposures - whatever hardware Mamiya replaced seems to have fixed several issues.

These are slices from images right out of the camera and run through Lightroom. The 10 sec exposure is ISO 100 and the other ISO 125.
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« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2007, 09:50:40 PM »
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Bob

Thanks for posting a few samples.

I gotta say,though,that I find the executive image a little 'scary'
All fine detail seems mushed together in a way that's not pleasing to my eye.

I look on your site and see examples such as the lead image in 'Survivors',
 'old school surfer,or 'new school surfer and am impressed with the level of detail
and definition even in a web version.

Do you feel,given your experience, that the ZD would be able to deliver a file with
equal, or similar, detail as the images referenced above?

Mark
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bcroslin
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« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2007, 09:57:56 PM »
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I just realized color noise reduction was set to the default of 25 in Lightroom. Turning it off completely results in some very slight noise in the dark shadows. At about 10 in color noise reduction the noise disappears. I've attached a 100% crop that shows the noise.
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Bob Croslin, Photographer
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« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2007, 10:02:11 PM »
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Mark,

I definitely think the ZD back will deliver similar detail. I feel a little uncomfortable posting raw and unprocessed images but I think it's worth it. The focus is off a little on the image I attached unfortunately. The light sucks as well. My retoucher is going to love me this month.

BTW - the survivor portraits were shot with a 1Ds MKII and the surfers were shot with a Blad and Kodak NC 160. They are far from raw images.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2007, 10:05:53 PM by bcroslin » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2007, 09:23:32 AM »
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Thanks for the background info,Bob

Appreciate your feedback on the ZD product

Mark
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