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Author Topic: Need Digital Medium Format Help!  (Read 7981 times)
EricDosSantosPhotography
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« on: July 09, 2010, 05:30:08 PM »
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Hey everyone,
I have been a contributing member of the Fredmiranda forum for quite a while now.  I posted a thread there asking about Digital Medium Format cameras and they told me this is the best place to go for information on that.  

I currently have a D3X and am considering selling it to buy a DMF camera.  I had never previously thought about buying one because I thought they were way too much out of my price range. But recently I've found that I can get an H3Dii 31 for about the same price as my D3X or a H3Dii 39 for a bit more.  I was wondering if its worth the change? From what I've seen, I can tell the difference between medium format and full frame just as I can tell the difference between full frame and crop sensor.  FPS and iso are of no value to me as I always shoot with my lighting and therefore my FPS are limited by my profoto 7B pack.  

Any information or recommendations on what to get besides the H3Dii would be awesome!  I am trying to keep my medium format setup under 12K

Thank You,
Eric DosSantos
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2010, 06:00:28 PM »
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Medium format digital gives you a significant increase in image quality for large prints, such as greater than 20x30" at the expense of much slower operation and increased weight.  Focusing is also more critical as format sizes increase.  I just finished make a print comparing a Leica M9 with 50mm summicron, Canon 1DS MkIII with 24-105mm at 50mm (not Canon's sharpest lens, though) and a Phase One P65+ back with 75-150mm D zoom.  Print size was equivalent to 30x40 for the P1 and 30x45 for 35mm format.  The Phase One P65+ produced a MUCH better image, while the Canon was in last place.  Although the Leica has fewer MPix, it lacks the blur filter of the Nikon & Canons, so with the produced intermediate results.

So look at how much you plan to enlarge your image, which is really a major deciding factor.

Paul
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EricDosSantosPhotography
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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2010, 12:31:49 PM »
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Hey Guys,
I'm mainly concerned about which medium format camera to buy?  I see most people out there have phase one backs.  or atleast people selling them.  Am I taking the wrong route going with a hasselblad?  Should I be getting a phase one?  My D3X is almost sold and I need as much information as I can get.  I would love to hear what you guys recommend within my price range.

Thank You,
Eric
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2010, 01:06:56 PM »
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you may also consider Mamiya. I have reviews of two Mamiya cameras, and the Leica S2 on my blog. Hope that helps.

David


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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2010, 01:58:04 PM »
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Quote from: EricDosSantosPhotography
Hey Guys,
I'm mainly concerned about which medium format camera to buy?  I see most people out there have phase one backs.  or atleast people selling them.  Am I taking the wrong route going with a hasselblad?  Should I be getting a phase one?  My D3X is almost sold and I need as much information as I can get.  I would love to hear what you guys recommend within my price range.

Thank You,
Eric

Hi Eric,

we always liked the Dalsa sensor better than the Kodak colorwise. Buying into MFD should not be done in a hurry. You need to take a deeper look at all your options. There are so many things to consider, it depends on what you are going to do with it. We are using the H Bodies with leaf backs, it is working fine for us, ymmv. I recommend to have a spare body though, we have to use ours regulary when the first one needs its service (which is happening around 70000 actuations).

Cheers, Ulf
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2010, 01:58:46 PM »
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Hey Eric,

You seem to do work (very nice work) which would benefit from the quality of MF, but do bear in mind that MF cameras are vastly less user-friendly or versatile than dslrs.  It's a lot of hassle for a meaningful but often not mind-blowing amount of quality.

Don't mean to discourage you, but just a word of realism.

As for 'Blad vs. Phase, both are good. If you're a working pro, your choice should come down to who will support you better locally, and which feels better in the hand.

Lastly, Pentax looks to have a very interesting entrant in the field coming, one which will be much more of a modern dslr-type camera than the existing choices, so you might want to wait a few months to see what happens.

- N.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2010, 01:59:38 PM by ndevlin » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2010, 02:08:46 PM »
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Eric, you seem to have interesting pictures but I simply can't get them to show without the most extraordinary amount of hassle. They act as if they want to evade the pointer - they won.

Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2010, 03:43:44 PM »
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Lots of info here at L.L. of course, but you will also find some good discussions on just such a topic at GetDPI. Some of the same folks post on both forums, but there are some who don't frequently show up in both places. There are some threads that are directly related to your quest.

MFD is a big step and deserves lots of research.

http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=10
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2010, 04:51:18 PM »
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If I were you, I'd seriously look at the Leaf Aptus-II 5. The resolution should cover your needs and provide the speed for the type of photography you do. It's a cheaper solution to the Phase One 22mp while providing a better LCD screen and (I believe) a Dalsa sensor over the Phase Kodak sensor. The camera body is a toss up. You can find great deals on the Contax 645. The H1 is the most widely used body with digital backs. Phase One and Mamiya have great options as well. Of course, this is something you will need to demo. No one can tell you what will work best for you. You cant really go wrong. They all have great options.
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EricDosSantosPhotography
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« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2010, 11:28:07 PM »
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Thank You so much for your guys' help!  As far as going with medium format, I'm pretty much decided that it is something I really want to do.  My style of photography is very concentrated on sharpness and clarity.  I absolutely love detail in photos and I love the look that medium format gives.  I don't know how I would be able to try out all the medium format cameras without renting them all.  And that will cost a fraction of the price of the camera.  Someone mentioned using a contax 645.  I believe contax lenses are all manual correct?  I am a pretty big fan of autofocus, and I know that autofocus isn't as good with medium format, so that would be a pretty big criteria for me.  That is why I was considering the H3D ii.  I read that they have a pretty decent autofocus system.  If there is anyone in the San Diego area that has a medium format camera or a few, and would let me come over and take a look at it.  I would love to take you out to lunch or buy a couple of drinks on me

I still haven't heard much advice about the value of the H3Dii 39.  I can get one for around 12.5K is that a good deal?  Or the H3D ii 31 for about 7.5-8.  Also, is the 80mm 2.8 lens that comes with the camera good?  What other lenses do you guys recommend?  I'm a fan of zooms, but I've heard that medium format zooms aren't very good, and the ones that are are pretty expensive and VERY heavy.  I have almost no use for anything wider than 24mm on full frame 35mm.  Not sure what that exactly equates to on medium format.  But I do like to go to atleast 135mm on 35mm full frame.  Any suggestions on lenses?

Thank You again for all the help thus far, you guys are awesome!

Eric
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EricDosSantosPhotography
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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2010, 12:00:51 AM »
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Also forgot to mention.  I can get a good deal on a P30+ back (slightly dented corner but still works fine) and an H1 body.  I have head that Phase one has a really good warranty program and a really good program for turning in old backs for newer ones.  Does any one have any more information on this?  If its as easy as people say this could be the route to take.
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« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2010, 07:56:45 AM »
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Eric,

You will be astonished at how much irritation $10-$15K buys you when you move to MF. For this reason, I really, really, urge you make contact with either your local dealers (preferably) or one of the big national outfits that are active on LL and get a professionally-guided walk-through on the cameras, lenses, SOFTWARE!! etc. For a well-heeled amateur, service is no biggie. For an up-and-coming professional, it can be the difference between a double-truck spread and leaping out a third floor window.  

If you can get through 'official' channels, it will cost more, but imagine buying a $10K camera and having an issue.  Ouch. I am NOT saying these are unreliable devices. I AM saying that you need to you someone has your back. This is true on the buying end as well. A good dealer will let you use the gear first. And I don't mean in the parking lot, I mean on set, in real shoots. That's what you need to make a meaningful choice.

This is perhaps even more true on the software front. The biggest hassle with blad (sorry) is Phocus, which I think you still have to use to decode their proprietary compressed camera RAWS into a useable raw format.  Also, they seem to have a LOT of lens correction tweaks in their software which you need to make the most of the glass. When I last used a blad, I found Phocus to be a seriously Phucked piece of software. I have a few hundred gigs of images from a trip I gave up completely because of the agony of using it.  

*That said, I gather it has been updated and is much better now.* Also, tons and tons and tons of pros use it successfully. But you need to know what it does and how it does it before you commit to the cameras.  

In terms of quality, as between the 31MP and 39MP backs, you need to test this for yourself. The advantage of the 31MP chips is speed of capture. Some also had micro lenses I believe, which had some utility in avoiding moire. (Don't quote me on this - you need to research this)  But you must try them in action to know which is right for you.

I also echo the 'Fer Chrissake don't sell your D3x" comments.  There's virtually no working pro in your field without a 35dslr....for a reason!! Unless you think you can rent cost-effectively every time you need a quick, convenient camera, or serious AF, it's a mistake to sell the Nikon. Pros need a camera they can just pickup, in any situation, with one lens, and go 'bang-bang-bang' with focus and exposure automatically spot-on. You capture a lot of low-hanging fruit from a business stand-point this way.

If you just absolutely have to sell you Camry to buy that Lotus Elise   at least keep the lenses so you can worry about only renting a body. If you're not close to a great rental shop whom you like. DO NOT GO WITHOUT 35mm......  If you MUST, then get a Sony or something at a fraction of the price to fill the gap.

Have fun with this -- a lot of us know what it's like when this bug bites....and do share your adventure (and pictures!) with us.

Cheers,

- N.

ps. Don't bother with Contax. It's a well and truly dead system. It was absolutely beautiful (and fully AF) but it's gone. Buried. Don't go there, it's a dead-end. It doesn't make you cool to have one, just obsolete :-)   Those who use them have generally had them for years and keep them because they are so solid, but don't go there now. (And I say that as a devotee of the mechanical ethos which Contax epitomizes)
« Last Edit: July 11, 2010, 07:58:26 AM by ndevlin » Logged

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EricDosSantosPhotography
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« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2010, 02:08:20 PM »
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Quote from: ndevlin
Eric,

You will be astonished at how much irritation $10-$15K buys you when you move to MF. For this reason, I really, really, urge you make contact with either your local dealers (preferably) or one of the big national outfits that are active on LL and get a professionally-guided walk-through on the cameras, lenses, SOFTWARE!! etc. For a well-heeled amateur, service is no biggie. For an up-and-coming professional, it can be the difference between a double-truck spread and leaping out a third floor window.  

If you can get through 'official' channels, it will cost more, but imagine buying a $10K camera and having an issue.  Ouch. I am NOT saying these are unreliable devices. I AM saying that you need to you someone has your back. This is true on the buying end as well. A good dealer will let you use the gear first. And I don't mean in the parking lot, I mean on set, in real shoots. That's what you need to make a meaningful choice.

This is perhaps even more true on the software front. The biggest hassle with blad (sorry) is Phocus, which I think you still have to use to decode their proprietary compressed camera RAWS into a useable raw format.  Also, they seem to have a LOT of lens correction tweaks in their software which you need to make the most of the glass. When I last used a blad, I found Phocus to be a seriously Phucked piece of software. I have a few hundred gigs of images from a trip I gave up completely because of the agony of using it.  

*That said, I gather it has been updated and is much better now.* Also, tons and tons and tons of pros use it successfully. But you need to know what it does and how it does it before you commit to the cameras.  

In terms of quality, as between the 31MP and 39MP backs, you need to test this for yourself. The advantage of the 31MP chips is speed of capture. Some also had micro lenses I believe, which had some utility in avoiding moire. (Don't quote me on this - you need to research this)  But you must try them in action to know which is right for you.

I also echo the 'Fer Chrissake don't sell your D3x" comments.  There's virtually no working pro in your field without a 35dslr....for a reason!! Unless you think you can rent cost-effectively every time you need a quick, convenient camera, or serious AF, it's a mistake to sell the Nikon. Pros need a camera they can just pickup, in any situation, with one lens, and go 'bang-bang-bang' with focus and exposure automatically spot-on. You capture a lot of low-hanging fruit from a business stand-point this way.

If you just absolutely have to sell you Camry to buy that Lotus Elise   at least keep the lenses so you can worry about only renting a body. If you're not close to a great rental shop whom you like. DO NOT GO WITHOUT 35mm......  If you MUST, then get a Sony or something at a fraction of the price to fill the gap.

Have fun with this -- a lot of us know what it's like when this bug bites....and do share your adventure (and pictures!) with us.

Cheers,

- N.

ps. Don't bother with Contax. It's a well and truly dead system. It was absolutely beautiful (and fully AF) but it's gone. Buried. Don't go there, it's a dead-end. It doesn't make you cool to have one, just obsolete :-)   Those who use them have generally had them for years and keep them because they are so solid, but don't go there now. (And I say that as a devotee of the mechanical ethos which Contax epitomizes)

Funny comment about the lotus elise, because I just sold mine 6 months ago lol to buy the D3X and get my photography career started.  I still have a D2X and a D700 so don't worry about me selling my DSLR's that is definitely not what I'm doing.  I still want my D2X for low end clients.  And my D700 for anytime I need high iso.  The thing about renting, is that I don't know if I went to spend almost a thousand dollars trying out all the options before I even get one for myself.  
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« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2010, 02:17:02 PM »
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I feel very passionately about this advice:

Do not find "deals" on backs/cameras and then evaluate if they are right for you. Instead find out what back/camera is right for you and then go find a "deal" on that. This will likely be a system you keep, shoot, expand, and upgrade for a long time so jumping in to save a few k on a particular deal on a system that doesn't fit like a glove will only waste major money down the road. In my (highly biased) opinion a "deal" should also include an evaluation of which dealer/source you trust with a large purchase and with the many after-sales questions, concerns, issues you may have as well as your future expansion and upgrades of your kit. I would (selfishly) offer us (Capture Integration) as a dealer with a history of highly rewarding customer relationships (here is a partial client list from across the US).

There are very few (if any) "bad" solutions in this market, but each solution will have its own advantages and disadvantages and as a few people have mentioned above you can have a very frustrating experience if you find a system weak in an area you find important. To suss out these subtle-at-first huge-in-the-long-run differences there is no substitute for actually shooting with the system. Many dealers, including us, offer free in-person testing of any system and discounted rentals anywhere in the country which can be counted towards purchase.

Some differences to look out for:
Body
- How does it "feel" (highly personal/subjective and highly important)
- Focal Plane vs. Leaf Shutter vs. Both
- Finish/Color/Look (may or may not be important to you)
- AF speed in low light, AF tracking for continuous subjects

Software
- Does it support dSLR raw processing / tethering: if so what are the limitations and quality of the support
- How stable/fast is the software, how fully featured
- Do other techs know/like the dedicated software (in case you need help on a shoot will they know what to do)

Lenses
- How well does the line of lenses perform
- Are there less expensive legacy lenses which can help fill in your lens kit
- Are there strong performing fast lenses (e.g. f/2.Cool
- How much does each lens weight, how large is it, is the weight balanced to the front or rear
- How quickly do the lenses exhibit diffraction when stopped down

Back
- How fast can you change important settings like ISO
- How fast can the back shoot a sequence of images
- Can the back accommodate your particular needs for ISO and long exposures
- What is the build quality of the back and what is their reputation for reliability

Financial/Other
- What is the history of the manufacturer's upgrade paths, have they ever been discontinued or suspended?
- What is the cost of the entire system including tax, shipping, a few lenses, accessories, warranty, batteries etc
- What discount/specials/"deals" are available; what is the difference between street and list prices for each system

I'm just gonna stop the list here as it's becoming obvious that I can't ask unbiased questions (actually several of them are so heavily biased they even make me twinge a bit :-P but raise valid points), and the list is too long and too specific to each photographers needs. Only highlights the fact that nothing other than personal testing will suffice for such a large/important purchase.

Doug Peterson
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« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2010, 02:26:08 PM »
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Quote from: EricDosSantosPhotography
The thing about renting, is that I don't know if I went to spend almost a thousand dollars trying out all the options before I even get one for myself.

Maybe you would enjoy a working vacation to Miami** :-). We'd be happy to go shooting with you over a weekend or during the week for free (whenever we are in-person we don't charge rental fees). Roundrip flight and hotels might be significantly less than a rental, plus you'd receive top-notch instruction and you could relax afterwards in South Beach - new home of Lebron James! We can get you nearly any Leaf/Phase system for evaluation and we have an H3D-II 50 for comparison*.

In any case any costs you incur to rent or otherwise evaluate the system will be a small percentage of your total financial outlay and will be MUCH less than the loss you take to switch or sell your system if you make the wrong choice (for your needs).

*We do not have any H4D systems but I'm sure you can find multiple Hasselblad dealers who would be happy to help with that
**Or Atlanta

Doug Peterson
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« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2010, 02:36:34 PM »
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Hi Eric,

in your equation you should also add the Sinar Hy6 / Leaf AFi systems. Rock solid cameras and great Schneider AF lenses plus excellent digital backs from Sinar and Leaf. Regrettably Leaf does no longer offer the AFi line but its backs can still be found from several sources. The Sinar systems can all be had new. Check http://www.sinar.ch for more info.

Pascal
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« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2010, 12:13:13 PM »
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Moving from DSLR to MFD for the reasons you state makes sense but a couple things to consider:

1) Format will change unless you go with the Leica S2 or Leaf AFi-10.   I went to the square format p20 with Rollei 6008 AF camera so this was a big change, one that I loved.
2) MF systems take much more light - about 3 - 4 stops to get the same DOF as you were used to with the DSLR - though the can provide very shallow DOF too
3) On camera flash metering - there just isn't the same kind of technology in MF as Canon and Nikon provide with their flash units.  You can't use an off camera flash and get eTTL for example
4) AF - if you use autofocus on your D3x regularly you'll be dismayed by the slow low tech AF in MF camera systems.  There are some newer models that getting faster but nothing like in the DSLR's. But the viewfinder will likely be better on MF.
5) Workflow will likely be different.  

Considering all that you might have a transition time so be patient with whatever platform you go with initially until you feel you've really gotten to know it.  My personal choice was the Rollei 6008AF and I'm very happy with it.  I considered the Mamiya RZ and Contax 645 but neither was as good IMHO as the Rollei.  

Eric
« Last Edit: July 12, 2010, 12:17:00 PM by EricWHiss » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2010, 01:27:15 PM »
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IMO, you will not go wrong with H3DII-39, and Hasselblad zooms have perfect quality. 50-110 is a bit heavy and 35-90 is pricey, though.
I have 50-110 and have always been happy with the results. 35-90 autofocus speed is amazing. I will also be able to download free Phocus software, which is really good, after registering the camera.

But I wouldn't sell my H3DII-39 with a warranty for less than 14-15K. Lol. 12K is cheap.

You can also ask for an advice at the H forum: http://www.hasselbladdigitalforum.com

Regards,
Alex
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« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2010, 03:54:55 PM »
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Quote from: dougpetersonci
Maybe you would enjoy a working vacation to Miami** :-). We'd be happy to go shooting with you over a weekend or during the week for free (whenever we are in-person we don't charge rental fees). Roundrip flight and hotels might be significantly less than a rental, plus you'd receive top-notch instruction and you could relax afterwards in South Beach - new home of Lebron James! We can get you nearly any Leaf/Phase system for evaluation and we have an H3D-II 50 for comparison*.

In any case any costs you incur to rent or otherwise evaluate the system will be a small percentage of your total financial outlay and will be MUCH less than the loss you take to switch or sell your system if you make the wrong choice (for your needs).

[/font]

I would take them up on their offer if you can.
The guys at CI are the best. I just went back to MF after a long absence and they are incredibly helpful and will bend over backwards to make sure you have the right gear. In fact they talked me in to getting less gear than I was initially going to buy.
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« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2010, 06:52:12 PM »
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Quote from: EricDosSantosPhotography
Funny comment about the lotus elise, because I just sold mine 6 months ago lol to buy the D3X and get my photography career started.  I still have a D2X and a D700 so don't worry about me selling my DSLR's that is definitely not what I'm doing.  I still want my D2X for low end clients.  And my D700 for anytime I need high iso.  The thing about renting, is that I don't know if I went to spend almost a thousand dollars trying out all the options before I even get one for myself.



Doug's offer is very good! ( might have to take him up on this when time to upgrade)

I promise, if you don't rent a system or take Doug's deal (which is like renting a # of systems...)

You will surely kick yourslef in the as$ a few thousand dollar times vs. paying 1 or even 2 grand now to know what you are getting into... a system you will likely use over 2-4 years or more.
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