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Author Topic: Much Anguish About Focus  (Read 11617 times)
David Grover / Phase One
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« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2010, 05:11:49 AM »
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Quote from: vandevanterSH
First off there is a fair bit of tolerance in V system kit. Shoot a ruler running away from camera (on a tripod) and see if where you think you are focusing is what is sharp on screen.
*********
I did a quick ruler shot with a Lens Align which I had purchased for my Nikon.  203 FE, 110 F/2 and CFV back.  Shot at about 10 feet and images significantly cropped.  Not sure what it means but looks as if at f/2, there is slight front focus and at f/5.6 and f/16 slight back focus??

Steve

Optimum focus shifts a little dependant on aperture, which could explain what you are seeing.  Something adjusted automatically for in the H system.

I guess you didn't touch the focus between captures?

D

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David Grover
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vandevanterSH
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« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2010, 10:43:52 AM »
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Quote from: David Grover / Hasselblad
Optimum focus shifts a little dependant on aperture, which could explain what you are seeing.  Something adjusted automatically for in the H system.

I guess you didn't touch the focus between captures?

D

I re-focused before each shot...I suspect that if I did multiple attempts, that the lens-body-back combination would be close to "neutral" focus at all f stops..  From my experience in checking my Nikon lenses, experimental error can be a significant factor.  

Steve
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Gilles L
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« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2010, 09:19:29 AM »
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Quote from: John R Smith
Folks

I'm just looking for some general guidance here. Since Christmas, I have been shooting digital for the first time on my beloved Hasselblads using a CFV-39 back. I suppose that there are not that many people in my position, where I am using exactly the same cameras, lenses and accessories which I have used for many years, and now instead of a film magazine there is a 39MP digital device hung on there instead. Well, only users of Hasselblad V-system and Contax 645, perhaps.

By now I have shot about 150 frames I suppose (the CFV had to go back to Denmark to be fixed under warranty, so I lost a month). And I am having so much trouble with focus and depth of field it is driving me insane. Where before, with scanned film, I would reckon to get at least 90% or more of my shots correctly focused and with adequate DOF, now it is about 50% if I am lucky. My DOF seems to have disappeared - using the DOF scale on the lens is pointless, and hyperfocal focusing (which I used to use a lot) is a total write-off. The other crazy thing is how sensitive the camera has become to camera shake - I am even getting blur from camera shake when shooting off a tripod, unless I am terribly careful and use the mirror pre-release religiously.

The really annoying thing is, that some shots are absolutely perfect, even hand-held at lowish shutter speeds. I try just as hard to get the focus pulled on every shot, but my results have become completely inconsistent, so I will get one brilliant result and the next frame will be pants.

Are digital sensors really so demanding?

John

I'll admit I rarely post on forums but I do learn a great deal from them. I thought this thread would be a good opportunity for me to share my experience.

Like John who started the post, I am shooting a CFV-39 with a 503CW, and focusing can be very much of a problem. In the past, I've owned a Mamiya AFD + Aptus 22 and an H3DII-31. I've always loved working with the V system with film and thought I would give it a try with a digital back, although I did suspect the large digital sensor would perhaps be too demanding for manual focusing.

I purchased the system with the idea to shoot it primarily in the studio on a tripod. I am actually getting very accurate results using an Acute Matte D screen and a the built-in magnifier of the waistlevel finder. I also use a chimney and go back and forth with the latter. The Acute Matte D screen has the split image and microprism combo. I like the microprism very much but find the the combination of ground glass/microprism/split image a bit too distracting. I have been thinking of ordering a screen from Bill Maxwell with just the microprism or actually none of the central aids. Does anyone have any experience with Bill Maxwell's screen and digital-V?

While I am getting satisfying results in the studio, shooting handheld outside is another story... At first, the keeper rate was null; every image was blurry, either from focusing or from what looked like motion blur. I am now starting to get better results, but the keeper rate is barely above 50%. I found that focusing just with the waistlevel finder will not do it. I definitely need to use the built-in magnifier or a chimney. I also find that the DOF is very shallow, and feels even more so than with film.

I took the camera yesterday to do some random focusing test. These are simple shots with no great contents, and just for illustration.

This shot was taken handheld at ISO 100 f8 and 1/250. It is a good example of how sharp the image can be. I've done very minimal editing in Phocus and exporting the file to full-size with quality of 10 to reduce the file size a bit. It is still 10MB so make take time to download:



I got a number of other images which were quite acceptable in sharpness. Again, this is handheld, probably stopped down a bit, around 5.6:



However, the greatest part of my images were more or less blurry. If I pixel-peep, I would qualify these as unacceptable and would send the file straight to the trash. But I dug through scans done at similar pixel size with a Creo scanner, and I was surprise to see that what I regarded as blurry shots were pretty close to what I was getting on film.

Here are two examples:

1. film, probably Ilford HP-4 ISO125:
2. CFV-39:

We know that the CFV-39 is capable of much better results, but I think that this image could actually make a very good print if I compare it to the film shot. This a crop at 5000 pixels image. Downsized for screen viewing or for an 8x10 print, you could probably not tell it is blurry.

This is another shot I took from about 6 or 7 ft away at f2.8. The pebble measures about 1in. The DOF is very shallow, yet I was able to shoot this handheld:



Digital is definitely very much more demanding. I think the choice of camera comes down to ones preferences and goal. Comparing H to V systems having owned both, my keeper rate was much greater with the H3DII-31. I actually I don't remember focusing handheld was ever a problem. Yet I like the body and lenses of the V system much more, and since I primarily shoot on a tripod and take my time to compose images, I find the V more suited for my photography. In an ideal world, I would love a back which would fit both V and H systems, or any other AF systems.  

Gilles

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Rob C
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« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2010, 04:19:52 PM »
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Before you do lose your minds, you should know that in the days of the 500 series Hass used to send out a news sheet. In one of those, they were very honest and presented side-by-side shots of two images of the same thing, one with MU and the other not. They (Hass) pointed out, reasonably, that ALL single lens reflex cameras are faced with the problem of mirror bounce. Their message was: always use MU and a tripod if you can.

Anecdotal experience: on my very first outing with my spanking new 500C I was under the illusion that I was using a new version of my old Rollei TLR. I soon discovered that I had not been doing that: the number of 'soft' images was a revelation. It became clear that I had bought an excellent studio camera that loved electronic flash. Hand-held available light people shots was never going to be a sensible option; far, far better off doing that sort of work on the Nikon F!

Horses for courses.

Rob C
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2010, 11:58:22 PM »
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Yes,

Or more exactly you are. Just so convenient to look at an image at actual pixels.

Have you tried analyzing prints?

Best regards
Erik

Quote from: John R Smith
Are digital sensors really so demanding?

John
« Last Edit: April 19, 2010, 12:03:46 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

gwhitf
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« Reply #25 on: April 20, 2010, 07:44:21 AM »
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I have heard more than one trusted friend report that their V Hasselblad body, mated with digital back, has been very hard to focus. I just wonder if this is a common occurrence, and if anyone has found a good solution to help this issue. Maybe a better focusing screen, or larger more magnified viewfinder.

I'd love to purchase a V body (503), and work with either a Phase back on it, or maybe a CFV-39, but this nagging thing about focusing issues is holding me back. Many people won't admit to it unless you almost beat it out them. My concern is that maybe the use of a digital back now REQUIRES autofocus in the body, due to the tiny tolerances.

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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #26 on: April 20, 2010, 08:38:37 AM »
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*meh
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 08:47:23 AM by dougpetersonci » Logged

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gwhitf
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« Reply #27 on: April 20, 2010, 08:44:05 AM »
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Quote from: dougpetersonci
If you want to take advantage of the higher level of detail you can resolve with a 39 megapixel sensor then yes you will have to be extremely critical on focus. If you're off on focus your image will still be as sharp as it was in the days of film. If the fact that another area of the image is sharper bothers you simply down-res the file to the detail level of film and you won't have lost anything compared to film.

Come on, Doug. This is supposed to be comforting? Kinda like saying, "Here you can buy this $200k Ferrari, but if it's only hitting on two cylinders, then it'll still run as fast as your old '68 AMC Gremlin".

It's about looking thru a supposed precision viewfinder, and actually being able to trust what you're focusing on, without having to resort to LiveView, (which really isn't even available on a MF camera). It's about certainty; it's about eliminating doubt.

I'm actually wondering if we're really talking about that Autofocus is simply necessary, with these modern digital backs.
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KLaban
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« Reply #28 on: April 20, 2010, 09:00:49 AM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
I have heard more than one trusted friend report that their V Hasselblad body, mated with digital back, has been very hard to focus.

This is exactly my experience. When I told a friend that I was seriously considering buying a digital back for my V series cameras he virtually implored me to think again as he had experienced nothing but trouble with focus.

Quote from: gwhitf
My concern is that maybe the use of a digital back now REQUIRES autofocus in the body, due to the tiny tolerances.

I'm not sure if it's due to tiny tolerances, but my EYES now seem to require autofocus in the body. I'm fine manual focusing on reasonably close subjects and actually enjoy doing so on the H system but have increasing difficulty focussing anything remotely distant. I've found that really accurate dioptre correction lenses and waist level finders help with the V series when shooting 6x6 film but these finders aren't suited to 6x45 anything.

If there had been a really good V series solution I'd probably be using it now, but the fact is I'm really glad I decided to switch to the H series.
 
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gwhitf
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« Reply #29 on: April 20, 2010, 09:11:14 AM »
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Quote from: KLaban
This is exactly my experience.

My feeling is that the ground glass viewfinder simply cannot render the degree of tolerances that the digital back gives, thus, it's simply hit and miss, as you spin the focus ring on the lens, manually. It's as though that the Hasselblad V lenses need to rotate with a much further "throw" from minimum focus to infinity. As if the focus ring would have the capability of spinning around three or four complete turns, to show the degree of tolerance necessary to render proper focus on the ground glass.

The scary thing is, as I review jobs I've shot, is that there's no real rhyme or reason to the missed focus; it's literally hit and miss, when wide open. Yet, my memory is, while I was shooting, I never shot unless it appeared tack sharp on the eyelashes. That's the scary thing -- Doubt.
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KLaban
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« Reply #30 on: April 20, 2010, 09:39:42 AM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
It's as though that the Hasselblad V lenses need to rotate with a much further "throw" from minimum focus to infinity. As if the focus ring would have the capability of spinning around three or four complete turns, to show the degree of tolerance necessary to render proper focus on the ground glass.

You know, I'm not sure about this. As you would expect from a manual focus lens, and by comparison, the V series lenses have many times the throw of the H series lenses and yet I find it easier to manually focus the H series. But why is this? The H screen is certainly the best I've ever used and it sure helps having the infinitely variable dioptre correction, but is this really the reason?

Apart from autofocus, the other thing I wouldn't be without now is manual focus confirmation; but I'll admit, it could be this is just tired ageing eyes speaking.

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tesfoto
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« Reply #31 on: April 20, 2010, 10:11:09 AM »
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Could any RZ users with digital back give feedback:

Do you have the same focus issues as the Hasselblad V photographers seems to have ?


I am using Contax mount with P45+ and dont seem to have issues with manual focus - but I am concidering a mout swift (to Mamiya or Hasselblad V), as I love working with a WLF (portrait mode).

TMARK if you read this: I think I remember you said in another thread to go for the RZproII and Not the RZproIID - It would be great to work without cables, so could you please tell me the advantages / disadvantages between the two RZ models.

Thanks

TES
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TMARK
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« Reply #32 on: April 20, 2010, 11:35:14 AM »
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Tes,

The RZ is a joy.  It gets heavy, but when you are in the zone shooting with it, its your best friend.

With the RZ, if there is enough light to see the subject clearly, and you calibrated your screen and use the magnafier, you can get a very high hit rate.  The ProII has the fine focus control, which helps.  I took a trick from Andre Napier from this forum:  if I can, I'll throw a HMI Par light on a models face for more light than the modeling lights provide, but not really enough to change the exposure.  When I do that, I get 90%+ sharp focus.  Otherwise, I can hand hold the RZ really well, down to 1/30 with the 110 2.8 and the grip.  There is no real mirror slap, which is amazing for such a huge mirror.

As to the RZ model, if you are shooting a Phase back that needs a wakeup signal, the ProIID is the best bet.  The electronics in the ProIID wakeup the back.  Otherwise you would need a seperate wakeup signal from a cable release.

The cables don't bother me.  What bothers me is the ProIID's crappy, flakey electronics.  Dead batteries, power drains, bad synchs, no wakeup signal, etc.  I bought an H mount Leaf 54s which I use on a Leaf H to RZ, rotating adapter.  Its a dead plate, meaning no electronics aside from the sync cable.  Reliable and cheap.  

 



Quote from: tesfoto
Could any RZ users with digital back give feedback:

Do you have the same focus issues as the Hasselblad V photographers seems to have ?


I am using Contax mount with P45+ and dont seem to have issues with manual focus - but I am concidering a mout swift (to Mamiya or Hasselblad V), as I love working with a WLF (portrait mode).

TMARK if you read this: I think I remember you said in another thread to go for the RZproII and Not the RZproIID - It would be great to work without cables, so could you please tell me the advantages / disadvantages between the two RZ models.

Thanks

TES
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shutay
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« Reply #33 on: April 20, 2010, 12:18:58 PM »
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Really just chiming in with more of the same - I am shooting with an Ixpress V96C (square 16mp chip) on Bronica SQ bodies that I'd been shooting film with for years, mounted via a V-mount adapter plate. Table-top photography on a tripod and macro lens is always spot-on. Head and shoulders portraits are always sharp, with focus right where I put it, focusing with the waistlevel finder. Full-body shots are extremely difficult to focus reliably with any lens and viewfinder I've got, and I never experienced this with film. I did all the focus checks and shimming of the Ixpress when I got it, so I know what I see in the viewfinder is what is being captured. It simply seems that there are certain distances & scenarios for which the viewfinder is simply not up to the task.
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tesfoto
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« Reply #34 on: April 20, 2010, 12:22:08 PM »
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Quote from: TMARK
Tes,

The RZ is a joy.  It gets heavy, but when you are in the zone shooting with it, its your best friend.

With the RZ, if there is enough light to see the subject clearly, and you calibrated your screen and use the magnafier, you can get a very high hit rate.  The ProII has the fine focus control, which helps.  I took a trick from Andre Napier from this forum:  if I can, I'll throw a HMI Par light on a models face for more light than the modeling lights provide, but not really enough to change the exposure.  When I do that, I get 90%+ sharp focus.  Otherwise, I can hand hold the RZ really well, down to 1/30 with the 110 2.8 and the grip.  There is no real mirror slap, which is amazing for such a huge mirror.

As to the RZ model, if you are shooting a Phase back that needs a wakeup signal, the ProIID is the best bet.  The electronics in the ProIID wakeup the back.  Otherwise you would need a seperate wakeup signal from a cable release.

The cables don't bother me.  What bothers me is the ProIID's crappy, flakey electronics.  Dead batteries, power drains, bad synchs, no wakeup signal, etc.  I bought an H mount Leaf 54s which I use on a Leaf H to RZ, rotating adapter.  Its a dead plate, meaning no electronics aside from the sync cable.  Reliable and cheap.


Hey TMARK - Thanks a lot

Do you shoot the RZ with a WLF ? How does the WLF work in your opinion ?

Is it difficult or do you need special tools to calibrate the screen ?

I have a full RB system that I have used for portraits for a long time, and since digital I have been missing shooting with that system.

I am looking into buying a RZ system, I have tested a RZ with a Contax to Mamiya RZ adapter (dead plate too) but it bothers me that I need a special cable release (with wake up signal) to work the P45+. No problems for still life but a problem for portraits.

I think there are two options:

1. Mount swift to Mamiya but I somehow dont want to give up my Contax kit.

2. Upgrade to a P65+ (Contax mount) and here I think it is possible to shoot without wakeup cable with the Contax to Mamiya RZ adapter ? - I will have to test.

Any advice is appreciated;  I will work mainly with portraits with this setup.

Cheers

TES


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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #35 on: April 20, 2010, 01:48:48 PM »
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Hi,

This may give some insights on the issue: http://www.josephholmes.com/news-sharpmediumformat.html

You may also check: http://www.josephholmes.com/news-medformatprecision.html

The factors as I see it:

- Digital has fairly high resolution
- Focal plane is flat and thin
- Easy to look at actual pixels which really corresponds to gigantic print

Suggestions:

1) Make sure your focusing screen is focusing correctly
2) Get a very good viewfinder loupe
3) Try, test and gain experience

Best regards
Erik




Quote from: John R Smith
Folks

I'm just looking for some general guidance here. Since Christmas, I have been shooting digital for the first time on my beloved Hasselblads using a CFV-39 back. I suppose that there are not that many people in my position, where I am using exactly the same cameras, lenses and accessories which I have used for many years, and now instead of a film magazine there is a 39MP digital device hung on there instead. Well, only users of Hasselblad V-system and Contax 645, perhaps.

By now I have shot about 150 frames I suppose (the CFV had to go back to Denmark to be fixed under warranty, so I lost a month). And I am having so much trouble with focus and depth of field it is driving me insane. Where before, with scanned film, I would reckon to get at least 90% or more of my shots correctly focused and with adequate DOF, now it is about 50% if I am lucky. My DOF seems to have disappeared - using the DOF scale on the lens is pointless, and hyperfocal focusing (which I used to use a lot) is a total write-off. The other crazy thing is how sensitive the camera has become to camera shake - I am even getting blur from camera shake when shooting off a tripod, unless I am terribly careful and use the mirror pre-release religiously.

The really annoying thing is, that some shots are absolutely perfect, even hand-held at lowish shutter speeds. I try just as hard to get the focus pulled on every shot, but my results have become completely inconsistent, so I will get one brilliant result and the next frame will be pants.

Are digital sensors really so demanding?

John
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TMARK
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« Reply #36 on: April 20, 2010, 02:02:08 PM »
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I do use the WLF.  It has that flip up magnafier which is great and covers most of the digital crop.  I also use the ae finder as as an eye level.  Its dim, but works OK with longer lenses or when you have lots of light.  

MAC group in Elmsford NY will sell you the tool to adjust the screen.  It was about $50 when I bought it back in the day.  With digital you shoot tethered, on a tripod, locked down, focus on something (I use a ruler at 45 degrees), shoot, adjust, shoot, adjust.  I did this with Polaroids 12 years ago, and again when I started mounting my Leaf back on my RZ's.

I think the P65 in Contax mount would be the best bet.  No wakeup cable, dead, rotating plate, big sensor to fill that big viewfinder, then you keep your Contax and use have the RZ.  

T

Quote from: tesfoto
Hey TMARK - Thanks a lot

Do you shoot the RZ with a WLF ? How does the WLF work in your opinion ?

Is it difficult or do you need special tools to calibrate the screen ?

I have a full RB system that I have used for portraits for a long time, and since digital I have been missing shooting with that system.

I am looking into buying a RZ system, I have tested a RZ with a Contax to Mamiya RZ adapter (dead plate too) but it bothers me that I need a special cable release (with wake up signal) to work the P45+. No problems for still life but a problem for portraits.

I think there are two options:

1. Mount swift to Mamiya but I somehow dont want to give up my Contax kit.

2. Upgrade to a P65+ (Contax mount) and here I think it is possible to shoot without wakeup cable with the Contax to Mamiya RZ adapter ? - I will have to test.

Any advice is appreciated;  I will work mainly with portraits with this setup.

Cheers

TES
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bart alexander
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« Reply #37 on: April 20, 2010, 03:24:13 PM »
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I know the feeling too. Been adjusting my diopter on and on and ended up setting it at neutral (on my 5DII) I know the viewfinder shows more depth of field than will show in the final file, but I can focus very exactly when my eyes allow. What I mean with this is: in the morning my eyes SEE the subject in focus and the file has the focus on the same subject. But then in the afternoon things come out completely off focus. This can even vary with mornings, afternoons or evenings. Guess it's something to do with becoming of age. 50+ will give you eyes that aren't that good anymore. I do see very good, even trained myself reading without reading glasses. Stopped drinking alcohol and regained better vision. As with every muscle in the body the eyes have more souplesse too again. But still, not enough for precise focussing at any moment. So, when focussing is critical, I use live view enlarged 10x. 100 percent right. Disliked digital SLR's for quite a while, but going from film to digital in 2001 just was in sync with my eyes becoming less trustful. But if this helps  

Quote from: gwhitf
My feeling is that the ground glass viewfinder simply cannot render the degree of tolerances that the digital back gives, thus, it's simply hit and miss, as you spin the focus ring on the lens, manually. It's as though that the Hasselblad V lenses need to rotate with a much further "throw" from minimum focus to infinity. As if the focus ring would have the capability of spinning around three or four complete turns, to show the degree of tolerance necessary to render proper focus on the ground glass.

The scary thing is, as I review jobs I've shot, is that there's no real rhyme or reason to the missed focus; it's literally hit and miss, when wide open. Yet, my memory is, while I was shooting, I never shot unless it appeared tack sharp on the eyelashes. That's the scary thing -- Doubt.
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John R Smith
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« Reply #38 on: April 20, 2010, 04:23:44 PM »
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Well, I just printed two really good 'uns tonight. Tack sharp, three-dimensional, great depth. Can't last, can it? The next frame is bound to be pants . . .

John
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« Reply #39 on: April 21, 2010, 08:20:04 AM »
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Quote from: TMARK
I think the P65 in Contax mount would be the best bet.  No wakeup cable, dead, rotating plate, big sensor to fill that big viewfinder, then you keep your Contax and use have the RZ.

How bizarre, and what a statement on the state of the market, that you'd come up with that as your best bet, (and that I'd almost agree with you). It's funny: I have this little mental exercise that I do when I'm thinking of the ideal camera -- most of the time, it's me standing there by a window, shooting a portrait of someone, handheld, and I'm pushed for light, and I need asa 800, and I'm shooting vertical, so I need a vertical grip, and I don't have enough light to feel good about manual focus, so I need autofocus. Almost aways, it comes down to a decision of a separate back and body, and usually, the back is always a P65+. (Remember, this is just a mental exercise, so I only have to write a mental check, so it's no big deal). So if the back is a P65+, because I want the largest physical chip, then that leaves only the body, which is either H NASA Slap, or MamiyaPlastic, or Hassie V CantFocus, or ContaxDarkViewfinder. But of those, for me, the two top choices would be Contax, due to NoSlapNoLunge, or Hassie V, just because it feels like RealPhotographer.

I know there's some code wording in there, but I think you'll get what I'm talking about. The only others that leaves is the wild card of the new Pentax, or maybe a Nikon D3x, but those are way down the list.

In the end, the ideal camera would be the feeling of a Mamiya 6 body and grip, the way it fits into your hand, but with SLR, no rangefinder focus issues, but with P65+ glued to the back of it.

I am calling this camera: Walkaround, LowLight, WindowLight, HighASA, Handhold, FastLenses, GreatViewfinder. I see it so clearly in my mind.
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