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Author Topic: LEAF: Here's what needs to improve on the AFi  (Read 10465 times)
Rune Werner Molnes
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« on: May 05, 2008, 03:53:49 PM »
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Hi,

This is not meant to be a review. I do not have the time for, nor the inclination for a thorough review.

However, I do have plenty of incentive to point out the aspects of the AFi which need to be improvement.

Before pointing out what needs to be fixed, I must first emphasise that in sum I do not regret buying into this system. Mainly because of the Schneider lenses which is extremely sharp/good quality and the Leaf Aptus 75s digital back, which as Leaf claim; "delivers the best image quality of current digital back regardless of resolution." I have to agree on that one. It's the thing in the middle that need improvement:

1. When using non- AFD lenses, the aperture setting on the camera does not match that of the lens. If I for instance set the camera to f/14, and push the cameras DOF preview button, the scale on the manual lens only shows f/11. (Firmware upgrade?)

2. The AE meter on the camera is very hit- and miss, mostly miss. This is probably du to (1) above. (Firmware update?) If it had not been for the histogram on the DB I would have been very lost with regards to correct exposure.

3. You should release a reference guide for the AFi. Currently there only exist a "Getting Started" guide, which frankly is not very good. It would be nice to be able to know how to change focusing screens, or that self timer cannot be used along with MLU. There seem to be automatic MLU when using self timer, at least judging by the sounds coming from the camera. A reference guide would be able to tell us these things. Also a overview of available focusing screens with their respective characteristics etc would be nice to have. When using the various extension tubes, which corresponding focusing ranges do the different lenses have? Etc..

4. The new AFD lenses: For some reason which I do not understand, F&H have chosen not to protect the focus scale on the lenses with glass, glass which you find on just about every other type of lens out there. In studio, this is no big problem, but if most of your photography takes place outside it could be a problem. If one drop of rain hits that scale and you then do some focusing, that moisture is dragged around into the lens and will stay there for quite some time. Also for some reason they have chosen to spray-paint the whole thing black, INCLUDING the parts of the lens which lock together with the camera. The lens mount should have been blank metal such as on the non- AFD lenses, or the Canon L- lenses etc. I already have paint peeling off the lens, and as you might expect these small pieces of black paint then travel into the camera, focusing screen, between lens elements etc..  

Yes the AFD lenses are sharp, with excellent bokeh etc, but these same qualities can also be found in the non- AFD lenses. I notice little or no difference, except the speed of the AF. AF is faster and more responsive on the AFD, but then again the AF of the camera is not that great:

5. The AF on the AFi is very accurate under controlled circumstances, such as focusing on a model sitting more or less still. However, having used the Canon 1Ds MkII for many years I miss beeing able to select focusing points. If I only could select the middle focusing point I would be happy. Currently the only option seem to be full time "omni focus" where the camera focus on whatever is closest to the camera. (Firmware update?)

6. Then there's the neck- strap mount(!) Most studio photographers probably never attach this one to the camera. As you understand, I shoot mostly outdoors, and carry the camera with me - sometimes by the neck- strap. The thing is, the attaching points for the neck strap is not fixed, and this leads to most of the cameras weight being carried by the digital back, and not the camera. The attaching points rest against the DB, and imagine just how much weight is carried by the two upper attaching pins of the DB when carrying around a front heavy camera with a Schneider 180mm f/2,8 lens attached. In my view this is a serious design flaw which needs to be fixed.

7. Mirror vibration. It is the same or worse compared to the Mamiya 645. This is of course just my somewhat subjective opinion.  A quote from your brochure: "The Leaf AFi’s mirror features an effective, specially-designed dampening mechanism that virtually eliminates camera shake, leading to sharper images." From this I would have expected the vibration to be much better/smaller, and not like the current "barn door" slap. For those of you being very worried by this: I do consistently produce better/sharper images from my current setup than from my previous Mamiya 645AFD/Aptus setup.

8. No AWB. When will you let the back interpret the data coming from the cameras built-in RGB- sensor?

9. It would be nice if the Leaf Capture software for PC would work with Windows Vista 64bit.

The good news is that most of the above issues probably can be fixed through firmware update.

I'll finish off with some positive aspects of the camera: It is compact for being a MF camera, the battery capacity/power management have improved, start-up is fast, the lenses are stellar, the back is the best in the marked (my personal evaluation), the 45 degree finder is excellent (although some of the viewfinder info is difficult to see), the camera handles really well/ ergonomics are good, nice analogue/digital options for handling the camera.

For those of you who might mount a RRS plate on the camera, I have found the MPR-73 plate to be the best match for the camera.  

I hope some of the Leaf reps frequenting this forum can bring some of these points on to whoever does the software developing for the AFi camera. The mentioned hardware improvements would also be nice, but I guess these will be more difficult to improve, at least in the very near future.

Best regards,

Rune Werner Molnes
www.runemolnes.com
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bryanyc
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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2008, 12:07:21 AM »
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Rune,

This type of personal review is incredibly informative and useful.  It shows a "real" photographers insight into those everyday details that are actually important (like the black paint that peels off the lens mount and other observations).  I noticed on a quick handling of the camera that the 45 finder does not easily let one see the shooting data above the image- probably because it is a retrofit from the 6000 series.  I see you didn't seem to mind the fan in the back blowing gently in your face as someone else commented on.

Thanks so much for taking the time to post this mini review.
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bradleygibson
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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2008, 12:29:12 AM »
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Agreed!

Thank you, Rune,
Brad
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Rune Werner Molnes
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« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2008, 07:07:41 AM »
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You're welcome.

By the way, I forgot to mention that I find myself using the rotatability of the back quite often. (Yes even without a rotating adapter..) I find it very useful, even outdoors, as long as the weather permits detaching the back.
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BJNY
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2008, 07:13:38 AM »
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Rune, Is Leaf working on a rotating solution?
Billy

THANK YOU for your insights,
far more valuable & credible than any gratuitous review.
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Guillermo
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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2008, 07:40:44 AM »
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Hi Billy,

I do not know if Leaf has plans for a rotating adapter for the AFi.

Current rumor has it that there won't be one for the AFi, only for the Sinar version.

I have no big problem with this. A rotating adapter would have to be produced with a great level of precision to ensure that the DB placement does not deviate some fractions of a millimeter from what we have today with the fixed solution. It would be no problem with film, but as you know, tolerances with high resolution DB's is much lower. I might be wrong on this, but I'm a bit skeptical to the precision of a rotating attachment plate.



Quote
Rune, Is Leaf working on a rotating solution?
Billy

THANK YOU for your insights,
far more valuable & credible than any gratuitous review.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=193757\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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Henry Goh
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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2008, 07:41:09 AM »
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Slightly OT but since you guys are all using Leaf backs:

How much of a difference do you see between the optical quality of Schneider lenses and those of Mamiya?  I ask because I have never used Mamiya, only the old Hasselblad Zeiss.  Thinking of going with Leaf but using Mamiya AFD III when it come out in June.  Trying to figure out if I should stick with German glass.  Thanks.
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Graham Mitchell
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« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2008, 07:46:37 AM »
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Perhaps you should be directing these points to Jenoptik or even F&H. I'm not sure Leaf is playing much part other than reselling.

1, 2, 3, 8 and maybe 5 sound like they could just be fixed with updated firmware.

4 sounds like a good point. The contact points of the mount should be bare metal as with the older lenses. Not sure what you mean about the glass though. Perhaps you could attach a photo of this feature from another lens? I don't think any of my lenses have this.

6: I looked at pics of the Hy6 and didn't see any neckstrap fixtures at all. Are they hidden?
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Graham Mitchell - www.graham-mitchell.com
BJNY
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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2008, 07:52:38 AM »
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Quote
6: I looked at pics of the Hy6 and didn't see any neckstrap fixtures at all. Are they hidden?

from Sinar's Hy6 manual, which BTW has instructions for changing the focusing screen.


[attachment=6436:attachment]

Thierry, Please let me know if it's not okay to post these pages from the manual.
I will delete if instructed to.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 08:15:15 AM by BJNY » Logged

Guillermo
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2008, 07:58:59 AM »
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Quote
Not sure what you mean about the glass though. Perhaps you could attach a photo of this feature from another lens? I don't think any of my lenses have this.

[attachment=6437:attachment]
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Guillermo
Rune Werner Molnes
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2008, 08:04:28 AM »
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4. What I mean by the "glass", is the plastic covering the focusing scale on the lens. Like you for instance find on all Canon L- series lenses. On the new AFD lenses you have a opening and below you have the focus scale, this as you know rotates when focusing; dragging anything that lands on it (for instance raindrops) around into the lens.

6. The neck strap fixtures are triangle shaped, and clicks into place. However they are not particularly limited in movement, and thus rest against the DB like two small crow bars.
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Rune Werner Molnes
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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2008, 08:09:17 AM »
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I can see from Billy's "neck strap" post above, that the problem described by me is spesific to Leaf.

With Sinar, the neck strap fixtures does not seem to interfere with the DB at all.
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BJNY
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« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2008, 08:12:26 AM »
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Wait a minute....
I thought the ONLY difference between Hy6 & AFi camera body was the battery type?
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 08:17:12 AM by BJNY » Logged

Guillermo
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« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2008, 08:18:33 AM »
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deleted.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 08:19:12 AM by pprdigital » Logged

Steve Hendrix
Rune Werner Molnes
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« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2008, 08:26:10 AM »
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Hi,

Attached you will find a segment from a brand new user maual just sent to me by a Leaf rep.

As you can see from the bottom picture the "metal lug" has free movement 90 degrees backwards, conflicting with the DB which is much larger with Leaf compared to Sinar, where the DB has good clearance to the metal lugs.
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BJNY
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« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2008, 08:36:50 AM »
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Yes, Rune.  I can see there's more clearance with the Sinarback,
(and can imagine your crowbar comment with the 180mm lens attached)
but Leaf has a notch cut-out as well

[attachment=6439:attachment]
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 08:42:49 AM by BJNY » Logged

Guillermo
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« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2008, 08:39:36 AM »
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Neckstreps fixtures: see pdf document attached.

Thierry

Quote
6: I looked at pics of the Hy6 and didn't see any neckstrap fixtures at all. Are they hidden?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=193773\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

[attachment=6440:attachment]
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Thierry Hagenauer
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« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2008, 08:40:56 AM »
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That's VERY fine, Billy.

In the contrary, thanks for this.

Thierry

Quote
from Sinar's Hy6 manual, which BTW has instructions for changing the focusing screen.
[attachment=6436:attachment]

Thierry, Please let me know if it's not okay to post these pages from the manual.
I will delete if instructed to.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=193774\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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Thierry Hagenauer
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« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2008, 08:42:58 AM »
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Right, it does not interfere with the back.

Thierry

Quote
With Sinar, the neck strap fixtures does not seem to interfere with the DB at all.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=193779\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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Thierry Hagenauer
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« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2008, 08:53:49 AM »
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Quote
1. When using non- AFD lenses, the aperture setting on the camera does not match that of the lens. If I for instance set the camera to f/14, and push the cameras DOF preview button, the scale on the manual lens only shows f/11. (Firmware upgrade?)



Best regards,

Rune Werner Molnes
www.runemolnes.com
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=193654\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Good stuff Rune.

I would guess this issue will be resolved in a firmware update from Leaf.

One of my customers had the same issue with their Sinar e75LV/Hy6 and after uploading the 2.09 updater, the issue appears to be resolved.

The interesting thing about this project is that while the base camera is generally  the same, the AFi and Hy6 may evolve to contain differences, some hardware, but mostly firmware. Firmware updates will come separately - my Sinar 2.09 updater does not update our Leaf AFi unit. There are already some functional differences between the "solutions" and it appears that will continue.

Steve Hendrix
www.ppratlanta.com/digital.php
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Steve Hendrix
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