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Author Topic: New Phase Camera Body, Back and Programs in the Works...  (Read 19687 times)
MAmaro
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« on: September 28, 2010, 01:41:43 PM »
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I had posted this over on GetDPI but, figured the audience would appreciate the information as well.  Just saw this news this morning at BJP and didn't recall see it posted on LL so, I figured I'd share the link. It talks about Phase's development of a possible new body (DF2), a new Phase back based on the 80MP sensor, its new "Investment Protection" program and hints at their current financial standing. Take a read:

http://www.bjp-online.com/british-jo...-camera-design

-Marq
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JonathanBenoit
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2010, 02:12:05 PM »
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http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/news/1735801/phase-one-were-brand-camera-design
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eronald
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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2010, 02:34:33 PM »
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Now Phase says they will, one day, bring out a decent camera. And of course they cannot tell you what they will announce because they don't preannounce. Hahaha. The Hasselblads and Pentax products have decent viewfinders, decent back displays, decent AF, and are available *today*.

Edmund

PS Why are all the MF companies treating their customers like sh*t? A friend ordered his HD4-60 upgrade a long time ago, and the local rep tells me they have a camera in stock waiting to be sold - why isn't it going to the customer who ordered?
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 02:36:50 PM by eronald » Logged
MAmaro
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« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2010, 03:05:03 PM »
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Jonathan thanks for the link fix!
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David Watson
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« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2010, 03:33:19 PM »
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It is like watching two political parties slugging it out to win public opinion.  Each one scoring points of the other, each one trying to emphasise the benefits of belonging to their clique but mostly slagging off the competition.

The truth is that both Phase One and Hasselblad are great systems and far better than their 35mm competitors in many ways.  Perhaps if they focussed on the benefits that MF offers over the professional 35mm competition they might find that produces a better return for their efforts.

Here we have a knee jerk reaction to Hasselblad's announcements at Photokina with a lot of spin and a lot of promise just like Hasselblad's launch of the HD4-60.  Both companies locked in a dog eat dog fight cannibalising their own market with unaffordable trade-in offers financed by artificially high list prices.

The simple truth is that for serious photographers both Phase One and Hasselblad offer products that are streets ahead of both Canon and Nikon in terms of the quality of the images they can produce.  Having used both Japanese company's products at the top end and found them wanting, for my purposes, I am more than happy with my Hasselblad system.  That is not to say that I would not be equally happy with Phase One because I would.

If I was running either company I would be focussing on the many benefits of MF against top-end 35mm.  There are many more D3X and 1DSMk3 owners to persuade/attack than there are MF owners.

 Huh
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« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2010, 03:51:43 PM »
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Quote
All-in-all Håkonsson is confident about Phase One’s prospects. “We’re up 50% this year,” he tells BJP. “We take that as a signal that medium format market is getting better.”

(emphasis mine)

Assuming he's talking about year-on-year revenue growth and comparing apples to apples (same quarter or year-to-date), that's pretty damn impressive. By comparison, Canon's revenues are up 22% YoY in Q2, and Nikon's by 17%. Both companies of course do much more than cameras, but in any case 50% YoY growth is a figure which shows that lot of people are investing in MFDBs.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2010, 06:20:54 PM »
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I guess the key questions for people in charge of the spec define of new gear at companies like Phase and Hassy are who their real customers are. Are they fashion shooters, are they rich amateurs willing to buy what they perceive to be the best, are they landscape guys? Probably all of that, but what is the dominant category?

Depending of the answer, the specs of the body and lenses will be very different considering that those small companies probably cannot afford to develop many new things simultaneously. The 4 technologies that they fully master right now are sensor image quality (although the lack of live view is a significant downside for landscape usage), fast tethering, some excellent lenses and flash photography. These developments appear to have been mostly driven so far by fashion and product photography.

Most of the rest is basically below par compared to high end DSLRs. What do you improve to close the gap and make MF really appealing for D3x/1ds3 users? That will depend on the target audience.

Pentax seems to have a very clear view of this, they focus on medium format landscape photographers and have designed with the 645D a body that fits perfectly their needs within the limits of existing technology (read lack of live view on sensors larger than 35mm).

Cheers,
Bernard
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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2010, 06:41:34 PM »
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Most of the rest is basically below par compared to high end DSLRs. What do you improve to close the gap and make MF really appealing for D3x/1ds3 users? That will depend on the target audience.

Incidentally that's exactly the market segment Mr Håkonsson says they are going after.
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Steve Hendrix
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« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2010, 12:21:58 AM »
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It is like watching two political parties slugging it out to win public opinion.  Each one scoring points of the other, each one trying to emphasise the benefits of belonging to their clique but mostly slagging off the competition.

The truth is that both Phase One and Hasselblad are great systems and far better than their 35mm competitors in many ways.  Perhaps if they focussed on the benefits that MF offers over the professional 35mm competition they might find that produces a better return for their efforts.

Here we have a knee jerk reaction to Hasselblad's announcements at Photokina with a lot of spin and a lot of promise just like Hasselblad's launch of the HD4-60.  Both companies locked in a dog eat dog fight cannibalising their own market with unaffordable trade-in offers financed by artificially high list prices.

The simple truth is that for serious photographers both Phase One and Hasselblad offer products that are streets ahead of both Canon and Nikon in terms of the quality of the images they can produce.  Having used both Japanese company's products at the top end and found them wanting, for my purposes, I am more than happy with my Hasselblad system.  That is not to say that I would not be equally happy with Phase One because I would.

If I was running either company I would be focussing on the many benefits of MF against top-end 35mm.  There are many more D3X and 1DSMk3 owners to persuade/attack than there are MF owners.

 Huh


David, did you read the same article I did? I didn't see any competition slagging. And I thought Henrik addressed medium format's advantages pretty specifically over 35mm, while also acknowledging that most Phase One users also continue with 35mm. Very fair assessment.

I liked Phase One's low key approach to this past Photokina. However, I think it created some confusion, especially with Leaf introducing an 80MP product. I don't believe Phase One felt any pressure to try and answer Hasselblad's "announcements of their new camera and digital back and lenses and software". None whatsoever.

However, I do believe it makes sense to at least get some sense of where things are heading and I didn't see anything that surprised me in the article. I think it's pretty clear they have done about as much as they can with the Mamiya 645 core product, turning it into a surprisingly usable camera, especially compared to past versions. So, my assumption has been that these things do take time, when it's a new design on something as complex as a camera. I also expected that Phase One would have the same 80MP sensor available to them but that the implementation will take longer as they are also re-designing the entire digital back chassis (my assumption), which has been requested for years.

So, no surprises, just clarifying a few things, and I don't see anything that Hasselblad announced at this Photokina that threatened Phase One at all. So I don't agree with the "knee jerk reaction to Hasselblad" perspective.

Being up 50% also does not surprise me. We have also seen sales exploding at our own company this year (actually started last year).

I think Henrik's perspective on users with 35mm and with medium format and the respective strengths of each is spot on. And the loyalty program sounds awesome. 18 months guaranteed to recoup 90% of the value of a digital back if you upgrade? So for 18 months, your penalty is only 10% of the purchase price if you trade in...basically the price of a one week rental?

From what I have been told, there are quite a few very interesting things that Phase One has not even mentioned. So, to me, this was a rather conservative release of information.

As far as product announcements, etc, I see them getting better, not worse.


Steve Hendrix
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« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2010, 02:04:33 AM »
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I don't wish to intrude on a Phase thread, but for the sake of accuracy in the article the following quote...

The programme is reminiscent of a similar trade-in deal Hasselblad used to offer to its customers. However, Hasselblad discontinued the programme in late 2008 in a bid to lower the price of its integrated medium format systems.

...is incorrect as we still very much offer a trade in program for our own products and competitors products.

Thats all,

David

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« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2010, 03:04:54 AM »
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Steve

Yes I did read the article and no I still think that both Hasselblad and Phase are to focussed on competing with each other rather than addressing the bigger opportunity represented by high end 35mm users.  I spent two weeks in Iceland recently (shooting with my Hasselblad which worked flawlessly in difficult conditions) with a colleague using a D3X outfit. I know he would love to move to MF but feels he cannot afford it.   If Hasselblad and Phase One offered a competitive upgrade from high end 35mm they might find a surprising number of takers and by definition new customers.  The part exchanged products can easily be resold through Ebay (cf Canon's Ebay store as an example).

 Smiley

David
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David Watson ARPS
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« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2010, 03:06:24 AM »
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Although I know nothing of Phase's financial success, I am always treating figures like '50% up' with care. I didn't work last Sunday, but had a really meager job on monday, how much did my business grow in this time?
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« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2010, 02:30:26 PM »
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Are the Kodak chips dead?  All the new ones seems to be Dalsa.  So no more long exposures for backs beyond the P45+?
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« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2010, 02:43:17 PM »
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Are the Kodak chips dead?  All the new ones seems to be Dalsa.  So no more long exposures for backs beyond the P45+?
Hasselblad uses Kodak in some of the new backs, Leica S2 and Pentax 645D also use Kodak.
The H4D40 can do several minutes (4 or 5 minutes or so...)
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fredjeang
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« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2010, 02:54:25 PM »
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I think that the world is changing very fast, extremely fast. On a photographic basis, and global as well.
Current economy is not feeling well and people are really looking twice before investment.
And the MFD are changing very slowly. They apply the same recepy that they improove of course but there is nothing ground breaking.

Is it bad? I would say that if the global context was the same as 10 years ago, it wouldn't be bad. But the society, techniques and demands are changing dead fast.

I think that they really need to be less computer dependant in a way or another. Reorientate a part of their comming products to the new chalenges.
Because their target is going to disappear step by step if they refuse to embrace those evolutions.

People don't care if live view is not possible because it is heating too much the ccd, they want live view. They scream live view. The cable to the computer (reminds me of the baby one) needs to be cutted.

MFD are great, they force to think and slow down. But that can be acheived with cheap film large format too.
Young people, generally with little incomes, have now second-hand MFD old generation they can afford...but when you put the 5D MK2 at 2000 euros with its capabilities...

For most people, MFD is a sort of unreachable elite, but like the Senat in the old Rome, it starts to feel a little too conservative.

I think that the comming years are going to be very important in the choices the MFD makers will do.

Just hope they won't make too many mistakes.
 

« Last Edit: September 29, 2010, 04:13:07 PM by fredjeang » Logged
David Watson
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« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2010, 04:02:46 PM »
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So the D3x is "King of the hill".  For some maybe.  I have owned and used this camera and believe me it is good but - and it is a very big but - the images produced just do not match up to what I can get from my Hasselblad (or Phase One if I had one).  Okay no live view, poor autofocus and so on but my Hasselblad 500cm did not have these features and somehow or other I managed to get the images I needed.  Some of the best photographers of the past 150 years did without this technology and produced wonderful gut-wrenching images. 

For me the important thing is just how much information I can capture and the quality of that information - be it on film or on a digital sensor - and nothing captures as much information as a high quality medium format digital back.  Ansel Adams famously said that "the negative is the score but the print is the performance" and this is just as true nowadays as it was then but if you start with a really good score you are far more likely to put on a good performance.

Yes the MF manufacturers need to make their products more affordable and yes they need to improve their software and their technology and they are.  Perhaps not as quickly as some would like and perhaps they do "pander" to the high end amateur (hobbyist).  Does that matter?  No it doesn't because higher volumes ultimately mean better products and lower prices for working pro's - far from killing the product for the professional market you could argue that they are keeping it alive.

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« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2010, 05:22:43 PM »
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Something just doesn't sit well with me about the new investment protection program. Not to be a party crasher, but the math would have to be so incredibly in Phase's favor to prosper so there's more to it than meets the eye. If someone buys a P65+ for $39K and in 18 months buys the new $39,001 eighty megapixel Phase back (hopefully new design, better screen and 20 more features to actually justify why these are needed by so many working pros, that's another argument all together) and only has to pay $3.9K and change to upgrade, I call B.S. Too much Kool-Aid to drink here.

I truly feel it's thrown out there so current users and owners keep going after the carrot. Nothing else really makes sense. We are talking about an item that costs as much as a car. I don't know any car makers who will sell you a new car after 18 months and buy the prior equal version for only a 10% sale price. I love how dpreview.com uses the word "scheme" in describing the program. That word fits well, has a shifty connotation.

All I can figure is that the margins are getting much higher on the backs along with wealthy hobbyists buying and outpacing pro shooters to be the core reasons for the "50% increase". It's all such an odd business model, constantly a moving target. Around me I see some top shooters who have gone from DSLRs to digital backs to DSLRs as a 5DII, 1DsIII or Nikon D3x as new current king of the hill for commercial work.

Any dealer have the cohones to give the percentage of hobbyists vs working photographers who buy Phase backs? I would really be interested in knowing this little tidbit.

The single biggest life and business lesson I have learned is that it's easier to sell the buyer's dream than your own dream. Digital backs have their place for certain, but what I see overwhelmingly is the insecurity of hobbyists and photographers that is so easily prayed upon by the allure of medium format digital as a holy grail of photography. Content is the holy grail of photography regardless of the tool used to create it. And content comes from our heads.

I greatly enjoy all the images I created while I owned a digital back, but I hated using the digital back, clunky, slow, crappy screen, shitty focus (and no MFDB has the focus of a D3x type of camera so don't even try). And the whole time you can look at a sub $1K camera or phone or whatever and have more enjoyable features that make the process smoother.

Here is my list of innovation in the last 5 years w.r.t. to digital backs:
1) Phase/Mamiya leaf shutter lenses No that already existed 20 years ago with Mamiya 645
2) Sensor + technology allowing a large raw to be recorded as a smaller size raw and actual file dimension No Canon did that well before hand
3) 2-3 years for a vertical grip on Phase/Mamiya 645 No wait Contax and nearly every DSLR has that
4) better screens Don't make me go there
5) Hasselblad's newest focusing design, ding! I honestly think that may be the only innovative thing yet, to fix very old focusing designs.
6) the use of iphones and ipads is at least interesting, but the practicality of adding more things in the chain requires more time and people to make it work or act as tech support
7) physically larger sensors does require due respect, but the hodge podge of sensor sizes is silly. Was only needed in film to get better detail or different lens draw. But the physical sensor sizes are all squashed into a relatively small differential.

The reality is that the sensor is by far the only "new tech" that goes into these cameras now. All the other components are far behind the tech curve with no way of surpassing that curve. So innovation winds up being quite banal.



John, I guess we'll see when we get the details and the fine print. Honestly, we are scratching our heads as well, trying to figure out how this can work for them. I don't know how it can or how it will, but if it is as they state, and there aren't any details or gotchas (not saying there won't be, but I need to see them), then if the bottom line is a great deal for our customers, we're down with it. As long as our customers get the benefit and it's valid for them, I don't care how Phase does it, how much money they make, etc. Though I hope they make a lot of money.

Hobbyists vs Pros has always been a much higher ratio than was realized, and this has been for a long time. I've been told that 60% of Hasselblad customers even back in the 1960's were hobbyists. Working Pros shooting medium format has been reduced for some time, going back at least 6, 7 years as the type of photography demanded for commercial purposes has changed and DSLR technology has rapidly evolved.

Medium format has always been the slower big brother, and always will be. It trails 35mm in terms of speed (primarily), but also additional functionality that is largely a product of small scale CMOS technology. Medium format will never match the swift of foot that DSLR's represent. If they seem far behind, it is because they are working on it and it is difficult and time consuming. I don't see that as their fault.

We have an amazing range of clients who use these products. Yes, working pros - which is an extremely general/generic term as far as a categorical classification is concerned - that encompass many photographic niches, table top product, architectural, portrait, wedding (though not too many), fashion, lifestyle, non table top product, stock, reproduction, and more, as well as in-house studios for retail and product, fine art photographers - which is also a general/generic term - that encompass landscape, nature, travel, archival, abstract, and more. Our hobby clients - enthusiasts, amateurs, whatever you'd like to call them - often do impressive work under challenging conditions. Not to mention forenzic, medical, educational, and reproduction segments.

All of these clients have demanding applications from an image quality standpoint, and even from environmental and situational standpoints. If their needs stray outside of what medium format offers, they turn to Canon/Nikon and other products.

While medium format may be considered slow and cumbersome, it does produce work under the conditions it excels in that no other products can match. If it doesn't work for one's style of photography or the demands of one's clients, then it's an easy choice to not use it.

List of innovations in the past 5 years:
*Leaf shutter lenses that capture at 1/1600th of a second and also auto focus quickly (this wasn't available 20 years ago) that also are high resolving and minimize chromatic aberrations.
*Sensor Plus - yes John, Canon has optional smaller raw files (big deal), but they don't offer it on a sensor that is 54mm x 42mm and that also gain 2 stops of sensitivity.
*No wait for Contax on a vertical grip? Ok, I want a new Contax vertical grip. How long before I can get one? And I also want wireless built in to the grip that sync at 1/1600th. Oh, right...Contax never did that.
*Better screens? Well, well.....ah, ok. Well, Sinar has a good one!
*iPhones and iPads for client use to get them away from the monitor. Oh...this was a bad thing?
*Sensor sizes (for Phase One, as an example) are currently available in 44x33, 49x37, 54x41. Three sizes doesn't seem like such a hodgepodge to me. Canon has, oh let's see...36x24, 28x19, 22x15, 8x6...

But wait, there's more -
*The ability to do long exposures of 30, 60 minutes with minimal noise. Maybe extreme, but also had the benefit of getting 60, 120, 240 second images that are noise free a snap.
*Getting super clean images up to 80 megapixels at large sensor sizes. This is innovation to some, maybe not you.
*Getting 40-60MP images to show on screen tethered fully resolved in 2-3 seconds.

There's more, but my point is that some see what digital backs can do as innovation, rather than what they cannot do as the lack of innovation. Medium format will always have the handicap of SIZE as the restraining element in their innovation. But I don't expect them to ever abandon that. Shaping it to resemble innovation that is available in smaller scale technologies will certainly continue to be their focus. Believe me when I say it is now. They don't just blow off technical innovations and decide to only focus on big sensors with tons of megapixels. The focus is there for those technical innovations as well, but they are challenging, time consuming, and....expensive (as a result).

I agree, content is King. But the chariot that delivers it is often a factor. I don't think medium format is guilty of preaching this anymore than any other manufacturer - Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Samsung, Casio, BenQ...


Steve Hendrix
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« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2010, 05:53:20 PM »
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Steve, you are absolutly right in your description.
But to me, the coming chalenge for MFD (wich is: decisions now) will not be that much on usability-cost, like a lot included me would like to see that improoved faster.
The chalenge resides in the incredible evolution imagery is having.
We can not any more, IMO, like it has been said here before, taking word by word the Ansel Adams about the performance. Print is NOT the only possible performance. There are other mediums that are the performance.
The photographer, and this is going to be more and more true, is having more ways of expressions, and this is not only the case for the pros.
Video is really a key, and 3D very soon. The 15 year old boy, wich is a potencial future MFD buyer, is today using video+stills and actually as a communication lenguage. When the time will come to embrasse systems, the person will want to express himself also with these mediums. There is no clear distinction now, and this is not a Canon's or Phase problem. This is a social and cultural reality. MFD can not fail this turn, and this turn is right now for the comming products.
The other reality is that the notion of time (or speed) is changing. (accelerating), and again, this is not in photography but global. What could be considered as an healphy stability, can become easily an unhealphy conservatism. I think that MFD are facing a serious change and they are aware of that.
To me, and I know that some expressed their reserves for tech reasons and too narrow D.O.F, MFD has a real future in motion backs.


I agree.

....Thought I'd try to be a little more short winded than my last post.  Wink


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« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2010, 09:48:50 AM »
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snip......

I agree, content is King. But the chariot that delivers it is often a factor. I don't think medium format is guilty of preaching this anymore than any other manufacturer - Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Samsung, Casio, BenQ...


Steve Hendrix


Of all the talk, (mine included), of better lcd's, higher iso, live view I've come to the conclusion that it's quite fine that professional cameras are slightly more difficult to use.

I know, I've said the opposite for years and maybe I'm just going through a stage, but think about it for a moment.  

The world is full of flicker, tumbler,  cloned and copied images shot with inexpensive cameras and though some results are good, 99.9% of this content really hasn't added to the world of photography, advertising or art and surely  hasn't improved the standing of the professional image making  industry.

If anything cheap dslrs have democratized the industry and creativity is not a democratic process.

Early on in digital there was a lot of talk of NOT using the same camera our client's kids could afford and the recent economy and the resulting production levels have moved a lot us to dslrs, but today probably more than anytime it is important not to use the same equipment our clients can use.  Today it's more important to stand out from the crowd than ever before. (and it's a damn noisy crowd).

There are exceptions to every rule but usually easy simple production makes for uninspiring images.  

I'm not dissing any 35mm camera, I have Canons and Nikons and they are quite amazing,  but today I am firm in my belief that it's not a one camera, one system world.  It wasn't in the film days, not so in the digital age either.

I'm also not someone that stares for hours at digital images on the 200% level or truly believes in all the quotes of ultimate image quality, but some cameras that are larger, more difficult to use  allow us (me)  to produce imagery that in my view just looks different.  

Whether this comes from ccd's, no aa filter, using a proper tripod or slightly larger formats is irrelevant.   Different is different.

Now when you factor in price, or the comments that everyone wants larger cameras to costs less, specialty equipment always costs more, but usually has a much longer shelf life.  I may go through computers and iphones, ipads and monitors like water but nothing in our studio has had the shelf life of our medium format backs, no images in our library allow for deeper post production than the ones from the larger cameras, so at the end of the day, the costs of cameras are pretty much equal.

My current two backs have run for 6 years and are still going and the dslrs, their usually 18 months systems.

In fact I believe most of the reason many of us shelved our medium format cameras had nothing to do with the cameras, it was software, as every company seemed to have a period of software glitches, though today, most of them are stable, most are equal and even if my dslrs produce an in camera jpeg, we still process out every image for review so our back end post routine hasn't changed whether it's shot 35mm or larger.

Now where is that white Hasselblad on Samy's website?

JR

« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 09:51:16 AM by James R Russell » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2010, 09:50:24 AM »
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Gotta pull you up on a few things within your response, Steve:

*Sensor Plus - yes John, Canon has optional smaller raw files (big deal), but they don't offer it on a sensor that is 54mm x 42mm and that also gain 2 stops of sensitivity.

Yes, but in MFD this is mutually exclusive to the "ability to do long exposures". We still await a back/chip that can do both Sensor+ (binning for higher ISO) and Xpose+ (long exposures). Since these two capabilities come from two entirely different chip manufacturers and design platforms (Kodak and DALSA), I think we'll be waiting a long time...I so wish that it weren't so. Whereas for several years past, any good DSLR has delivered both capabilities off the shelf.

*Sensor sizes (for Phase One, as an example) are currently available in 44x33, 49x37, 54x41. Three sizes doesn't seem like such a hodgepodge to me. Canon has, oh let's see...36x24, 28x19, 22x15, 8x6...

That there are different sizes wasn't John's point. His point was how similar the sizes are in MFD. Compare the area increases:
MFD: 44x33 to 49x37 to 54x41: just 25% and 22% larger respectively. Or, 52% cumulatively.
Canon DSLR: 22x15 to 28x19 to 36x24: a much more significant 61% and 62% larger respectively. Or, 162% cumulatively.

*The ability to do long exposures of 30, 60 minutes with minimal noise. Maybe extreme, but also had the benefit of getting 60, 120, 240 second images that are noise free a snap.

Even so, only a small minority of MFDBs can actually do those multi-minute exposures. And CMOS DSLRs still produce less dark noise than MF CCDs. What's more, DSLRs give the user control over how and when the dark frames are created and subtracted - Xpose+ does not. So a DSLR photographer can keep shooting light frames, while a P+ shooter is waiting for up to an hour for the dark frame to expose! A DSLR photographer can stack umpteen dark frames (for higher S/N) before subtracting them, while a P+ shooter cannot! So the P+ shooter ends up with 40% more readout noise than in his original capture - the DSLR shooter does not. And all of this could be avoided if PhaseOne simply allowed the user control/over-ride over XPose+ !

I write all this as yet another MFDB user who is frustrated that we are not being given what we actually need, and instead we are told that life has never been better for the MFD shooter.

Ray
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