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Author Topic: Tech camera advice  (Read 3755 times)
2jbourret
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« on: November 03, 2010, 02:20:15 PM »
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I am currently shooting wilderness landscapes and some architecture using a Mamiya 645 w/ a Phase One P30 (non plus) back. My primary lens for both is the Mamiya-Secor C 35mm f3.5 N, and I have what I think is a good copy, but it is decidedly soft at the edges, and suffers from some CA. Capture One helps w/ the CA, but can't sharpen up soft edges. My prints look good at 17x22, fair at 24x30 (good in the center), but the edges at anything larger just don't cut it for landscape print sales. I've never shot large format, but when I look at prints by skilled landscape photographers using 8x10 cameras and sacnned film, I can readily see that they are in an entirely different league.

I am therefor beginning to consider moving to a tech camera/digital back system, but recognize that the financial step is considerable, and won't be justified until I am able to sell more large prints, and book more architecture jobs. But camera decisions aren't always justified financially, and gravity is pulling me, so I want to try to answer a few questions.

1) I have been told by the good folks at Capture Integration that  tech cameras (when using movements) are not compatible w/ the P30 back, due to the angle of incidence of light on the sensor, and the cupped design of the P30 sensor sites.  Can the P30 back be used w/ 35mm or wider tech lenses if no movements (or a camera like the Alpa TC) are used?
2) If no tilt is used and one is shooting at the lens sweet spot f-stop (f11 or so), can classic landscape high depth of field be achieved? It's typical to want focus from 2ft to infinity, and obviously w/ lens tilt that is possible. f16 is the sweet spot for the 35mm Mamiya lens, so that kind of depth of field is do-able.
3) With current generation back displays and non-tethered shooting, what are the ideal methods for focusing for critical sharpness? The P30 display is utterly, completely, horribly (add other adjectives as desired) inadequate for critical focus checking of any kind. I doesn't seem that the newer backs offer much of an improvement, certainly not enough to justify moving to a newer back for that reason alone. (I rely purely on depth of field to be confident that I have focus)
4) (and ultimately, the most important) Is a tech camera system such as a Cambo, Alpa, or Arca-swiss with a moderately wide lens (and good technique) really able to deliver stunningly sharp prints at 36-40 inches? This is not about 'pixel peeping'. I believe that the buyer of a 40" landscape print is seduced my many qualities in  the print, but one of the most important is edge-to-edge detail resolution. I do not expect a print from something less that a P65+ to equal one from  8x10 scanned film, but that is the benchmark.
Comments on the merits of each of the camera systems above and some of the medium/wide Schneider and Rodenstock lenses would be appreciated.

Thanks





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JonathanBenoit
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« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2010, 03:20:09 PM »
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Capture Integration like most dealers are trying to sell you the best solution even if it isn't exactly necessary.

If I were you, I would rent a Cambo wds with a 35 digitar. It's widely available to rent. Test it out with the p30 and decide if it is "not compatible". Worst case scenario, you can sell your p30 and purchase a used leaf aptus 75 or a new aptus II.
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2jbourret
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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2010, 04:08:58 PM »
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That would be a great suggestion, if I lived where it is possible to rent. However, living in Idaho, no rental shop exists within many hundreds of miles. I can plan for that on my next trip to a larger city.
Thanks,
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2010, 04:28:59 PM »
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Hi Jamie,

As you have mentioned the lack of quality you are getting with the Mamiya 35mm lens and if you are happy with the Mamiya body and Phase back then my I  sagest you try the Mamiya 28mm lens first before you go and invest in a new camera system.

I have this lens and it is superb.


Cheers

Simon
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Simon Harper
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2010, 05:05:07 PM »
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Capture Integration like most dealers are trying to sell you the best solution even if it isn't exactly necessary.

I would argue that we show/explain what the benefits (and drawbacks) of a solution would be and only the customer can decide if it is worth the price. "Necessary" is not a word very suitable to photography - you can "make do" with just about anything above a Canon G10. But I guess it's semantics.

A tech camera with Schneider/Rodenstock is a full level of quality above any SLR system and a full level of difficulty more to use.

I strongly discourage any of our customers from  P30 on any wide angle tech camera with wide angle lenses regardless of movement.

I agree that you might try the Phase One 28mm D before, the Phase One 45mm D or the announced-but-not-shipping Phase One 35mm D. Or go all the way and get a back which works well on a tech camera (e.g. 25+/40+/45+/65+ and a tech camera. But don't go halfway. A P30 with a tech camera is not a solution you will be happy with.

Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 05:10:20 PM by dougpetersonci » Logged

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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2010, 05:13:29 PM »
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I am currently shooting wilderness landscapes and some architecture using a Mamiya 645 w/ a Phase One P30 (non plus) back. My primary lens for both is the Mamiya-Secor C 35mm f3.5 N, and I have what I think is a good copy, but it is decidedly soft at the edges, and suffers from some CA.

The Mamiya 35mm has soft corners. It is one of the weakest lenses in the line. We're hopeful about the newly announced Phase One 35mm D lens but will reserve judgement until we've tested it.

The Phase One 28mm D and Phase One 45mm D which are available today are both significantly better lenses than the Mamiya 35mm.

2) If no tilt is used and one is shooting at the lens sweet spot f-stop (f11 or so), can classic landscape high depth of field be achieved? It's typical to want focus from 2ft to infinity, and obviously w/ lens tilt that is possible. f16 is the sweet spot for the 35mm Mamiya lens, so that kind of depth of field is do-able.


If you shoot today with your 35mm at f/11 and find the DOF enough then yes. However I suspect you'd benifit greatly from a degree or two of tilt. Consider the Cambo Wide Compact with which you could use any number of wide angle lenses WITH tilt/swing using Cambo's TS lens panels (e.g. a Rodenstock 40mm). The Alpa TC is the same basic concept but has no provision for wide angle tilt. For best results you'll want to stay away from f/16 as the glass is capable of such sharpness you'll be missing out on some of the quality due to diffraction.

3) With current generation back displays and non-tethered shooting, what are the ideal methods for focusing for critical sharpness? The P30 display is utterly, completely, horribly (add other adjectives as desired) inadequate for critical focus checking of any kind. I doesn't seem that the newer backs offer much of an improvement, certainly not enough to justify moving to a newer back for that reason alone. (I rely purely on depth of field to be confident that I have focus)
My preference for landscape applications: set it and forget it.

The first day you own it set your lens with 1 (or 2) degrees of tilt at f/11 and shoot a series of shots with something highly detailed out at infinity. Find the closest distance where infinity is still sharp (the hyperfocal point) and mark that spot on the lens (or write a note on a piece of tape inside the lens cap - whatever). Then always use this point.

Some prefer ground glass focusing; I find it mostly an exercise in frustration when you're trying to focus capture 6.8 or 6 micron pixels.

If you have the budget for it there is no system as elegant as the Arca Swiss RM3Di with the "e-module". It will tell you exactly where you are focused and exactly where depth of field extends forward and back of that point, calculated based on the pixel size of your digital back, and calibrated to your specific digital back.

4) (and ultimately, the most important) Is a tech camera system such as a Cambo, Alpa, or Arca-swiss with a moderately wide lens (and good technique) really able to deliver stunningly sharp prints at 36-40 inches? This is not about 'pixel peeping'. I believe that the buyer of a 40" landscape print is seduced my many qualities in  the print, but one of the most important is edge-to-edge detail resolution. I do not expect a print from something less that a P65+ to equal one from  8x10 scanned film, but that is the benchmark.

A four image stitch (without moving the lens - you are just capturing four sections of the same continuous image circle - no need to do any warping or geometric recreation math) from a P40+ (39 megapixel) will provide you with around 120 megapixels of sharp pixels when used with, for instance a Schneider 47mm XL. That is your 40" print at 300dpi.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 05:25:11 PM by dougpetersonci » Logged

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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2010, 04:25:06 AM »
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A four image stitch (without moving the lens - you are just capturing four sections of the same continuous image circle - no need to do any warping or geometric recreation math) from a P40+ (39 megapixel) will provide you with around 120 megapixels of sharp pixels when used with, for instance a Schneider 47mm XL. That is your 40" print at 300dpi.
Schneider do at least two 47mm XLs, the Super-Angulon and the Apo-Digitar.

I have opted for the Sinar view camera for my Hasselblad back, and I have bought, on eBay, nearly all the components I need for the full-blown Sinar System with the LC shutter and daylight live view.

It is difficult to get advice on tech cameras, and it is difficult to get retailers (except for our Doug) to take you seriously until you have made a commitment and spent 10s of thousands.

Doug...

Do you have an Apo-Digitar 47XL mounted and working?
...on a Sinar? 
...in what type of lens board?
...recessed by how much?
...with what shutter?
« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 03:42:34 PM by Dick Roadnight » Logged

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2jbourret
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« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2010, 04:47:56 PM »
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Thanks for your replies.
Dick, you are right, it is frustrating when one is trying to collect needed info and are not taken seriously by a dealer. However that has NOT been my experience w/ Capture Integration. On the phone and in his comments above, Doug has been very forthcoming and helpful. I do however, want to get input from independent, in-the-field users base on their experience w/ these systems.

If I accept the notion that my first move is to upgrade from the P30 to a P40+,P45+, etc., I'd still like input on my other questions (2,3,4).

Thanks to all
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tho_mas
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« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2010, 05:33:35 PM »
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I'd still like input on my other questions (2,3,4).

Quote
2) If no tilt is used and one is shooting at the lens sweet spot f-stop (f11 or so), can classic landscape high depth of field be achieved? It's typical to want focus from 2ft to infinity, and obviously w/ lens tilt that is possible. f16 is the sweet spot for the 35mm Mamiya lens, so that kind of depth of field is do-able.
I consider f16 as very usable. f8 and f11 is better (mostly, depends on the actual lens) but f16 is still very good... IMO.

Quote
3) With current generation back displays and non-tethered shooting, what are the ideal methods for focusing for critical sharpness?
see for instance my post here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=47822.msg398111#msg398111

Quote
4) (and ultimately, the most important) Is a tech camera system such as a Cambo, Alpa, or Arca-swiss with a moderately wide lens (and good technique) really able to deliver stunningly sharp prints at 36-40 inches?
based on captures from a 30-40MP back... no doubt: yes!
I think an Aptus II 7 or P45 (so with a larger sensor plane than the P30/P40) in conjunction with the new Digitar 43XL is a very, very good kit.
As to the camera... to me the Cambo Wide RS offers a lot for a reasonable price. Especially for landscape you don't need for instance the super high focusing precission of the Rm3D/i (although it is an absolutely great camera).



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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2010, 10:43:35 AM »
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4) (and ultimately, the most important) Is a tech camera system such as a Cambo, Alpa, or Arca-swiss with a moderately wide lens (and good technique) really able to deliver stunningly sharp prints at 36-40 inches? This is not about 'pixel peeping'. I believe that the buyer of a 40" landscape print is seduced my many qualities in  the print, but one of the most important is edge-to-edge detail resolution. I do not expect a print from something less that a P65+ to equal one from  8x10 scanned film, but that is the benchmark.
Comments on the merits of each of the camera systems above and some of the medium/wide Schneider and Rodenstock lenses would be appreciated.

Thanks
I like to use 360 original camera pixels per print inch, but, at 180 original camera pixels per print inch the Sinar 86 H will do 44 * 33" (Epsom 9900)... in 4 shot mode how good would that look?
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2jbourret
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« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2010, 07:07:16 PM »
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3) With current generation back displays and non-tethered shooting, what are the ideal methods for focusing for critical sharpness? The P30 display is utterly, completely, horribly (add other adjectives as desired) inadequate for critical focus checking of any kind. I doesn't seem that the newer backs offer much of an improvement, certainly not enough to justify moving to a newer back for that reason alone. (I rely purely on depth of field to be confident that I have focus)
4) (and ultimately, the most important) Is a tech camera system such as a Cambo, Alpa, or Arca-swiss with a moderately wide lens (and good technique) really able to deliver stunningly sharp prints at 36-40 inches? This is not about 'pixel peeping'. I believe that the buyer of a 40" landscape print is seduced my many qualities in  the print, but one of the most important is edge-to-edge detail resolution. I do not expect a print from something less that a P65+ to equal one from  8x10 scanned film, but that is the benchmark.
Comments on the merits of each of the camera systems above and some of the medium/wide Schneider and Rodenstock lenses would be appreciated.



Other opinions/viewpoints on the above questions still welcome! Chime in, please.

Thanks
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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2010, 07:41:16 PM »
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how much does the e-module for the RM3Di cost? 
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« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2010, 08:07:32 PM »
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I use a Cambo WRS1000 and P45+ along with Schneider 35, 72 and 120mm lenses and have been doing so for over 2-years.  Before that I shot my landscape images using first a Mamiya then Phase 645 body and Mamiya lenses the widest at 28mm.  I agree with what's been said about the 28 and feel it was for me a very good lens.  I was also using a P30+ at the time and getting excellent result.  I wanted more and I wanted better thus I made the change to a technical camera and the WRS1000.  I also wanted to keep the P30+ however listened to the advice offered by my dealer (Capture Integration) and traded the P30+ for a P45+ and have been pleased with the decision. 

I wanted better images quality and easier multiple image stitching for panoramas and have found the WRS1000 to fit the bill.  Using a technical camera isn't fast however once you get used to the basics it becomes easy.  Moving the back around the lens allows for a better use of the image circle and it gives the added benefit of flat stitching.  I use Schneider lenses which I have found are better than any of the glass I used while shooting the Mamiya and P30+, including the 28mm.

I live in Tucson where there simply isn't a decent camera dealer for well over a hundred miles and with a leap of faith stumbled on Capture Integration several years ago when I made my first move into medium format.  They aren't just after a sale - they're dedicated to helping a photographer find the right equipment for their needs so I strongly recommend listening to what they tell you.  I remember the conversation we had about the P30+ not being suitable for technical camera use.  While it could do in a pinch it nevertheless will also cause hours of problems with images and that's the main reason I listened to the advice given me and made the switch in backs.  Yes you could probably use the P30 without movements however you'd be giving up the major reason for using a technical camera. 

And to answer the print quality question - my prints are generally in the 20x30 range and I have had no problems nor complaints.  One of my better sellers is 30x60.

Just a couple thoughts here to help you along the way.

Don
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2jbourret
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« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2010, 09:03:57 PM »
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Thanks Don, your comments are very helpful. Do you use a ground glass, or rely on hyperfocal distance/dof for focus?
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« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2010, 08:02:30 AM »
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I used a groundglass when I first started using the WRS however I quickly found that for the types of landscape images I do I really didn't need it.  Plus not having a sliding back it was a PIA to use.  Once I got used to the characteristics of the individual lens I found it much easier not to use the groundglass and sold it.  I also now use a viewfinder with a mask that helps in the framing.  As to focus I've not had a problem there and yes I do use hyper focus. 

I've very pleased with the setup I have and to tell the truth my major concern when I first made the switch was framing and focus however I very quickly found that not to be the case instead making sure the lens cap was off and cocking the shutter was.

Don
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« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2010, 08:43:33 AM »
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...  making sure the lens cap was off and cocking the shutter was.

Shocked)

Don, we have all been there!  Even after shooting LF for 25+ years, and now MF+DB, I still have to slip around the front of my lens to make certain, the hat is off!
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2jbourret
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« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2010, 07:12:39 PM »
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Thanks to all of you for your comments on your experience w/ these systems. I am fired up! For the money and for compactness, it seems the WRS w/ a viewfinder really is the way to go, as long as it can accommodate tilt lenspanels. I am thinking that for my purposes the 43XL or 35XL are the place to start. Now all I need is the money!

Thanks again,

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David Klepacki
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« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2010, 07:36:53 PM »
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4) (and ultimately, the most important) Is a tech camera system such as a Cambo, Alpa, or Arca-swiss with a moderately wide lens (and good technique) really able to deliver stunningly sharp prints at 36-40 inches?
Short answer: yes, as long as nature complies with your shutter speeds.  Your question encompasses the entire challenge of landscape photography.  In order to get larger depth of field, you must stop down the lens.  The more you stop down the lens, the more you will be challenged by slower shutter speeds (as well as diffraction).  The slower your shutter speed, the less likely your image will be sharp due to subject motion during exposure (e.g., from wind) and additional noise from the sensor.  So, this is why tilt is so desirable in landscape photography.  Tilt can offload some of the burden of having to stop down as much in order to achieve a more effective plane of focus in your image, thereby allowing faster shutter speeds at lower ISO settings for a better overall image quality in terms of less noise and more sharpness/detail.

Comments on the merits of each of the camera systems above and some of the medium/wide Schneider and Rodenstock lenses would be appreciated.
I don't think you can go wrong with any of the newer Schneider or Rodenstock lenses.  We mostly use the Rodenstock lenses for landscape, as some of their lenses offer higher contrast at wider apertures, although at the cost of more distortion.  As for technical camera, we currently use the Arca-Swiss RM3D, since we like their helicoid focusing precision and its ability to tilt with any lens, including ultra wide angles.  We happen to like that the tilt is built into the RM3D camera body and not on every lens, but other tilting solutions work well too (e.g., WRS).
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ucs308
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« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2010, 08:15:25 PM »
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Remember to add about 1k to the cost of each lens to have it mounted for use in the WRS.
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2010, 08:19:08 PM »
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Thanks to all of you for your comments on your experience w/ these systems. I am fired up! For the money and for compactness, it seems the WRS w/ a viewfinder really is the way to go, as long as it can accommodate tilt lenspanels. I am thinking that for my purposes the 43XL or 35XL are the place to start. Now all I need is the money!

All the Cambo Wide products can accept the tilt lens panels including the DS, RS, and the Compact.
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DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
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