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Author Topic: Pentax 645D vs Hasselblad H4D-40 vs Phase One P45+ w/645AF  (Read 16732 times)
TorontoSam
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« on: November 21, 2010, 07:56:58 PM »
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Hi All,

This is my second post.  So, again, nice to meet you all.

I am not a Pro at this time but used to shoot weddings many years ago.  Currently, I am using an 1Ds3 and have a bunch of Canon lenses.  As more quality is always welcome, I am thinking of going MF.

I take a lot of pictures of my children and do some landscape and travel pictures as well.  As I have never owned a MF system before, I am not sure which one to get.

The features I need the most are the following:
1) Autofocus -- kids do move around a lot;
2) Portability -- as I can't use a tripod most of the time;
3) Low noise at high ISO -- good high ISO noise as I often need faster shutter speeds to freeze the kids in motion;
4) Long exposure -- as I like to have the capability of taking night shots and long exposure water shots;
5) System readiness -- able to expand on that system with lenses and accessories.

It seems that Pentax is a good choice as I think it may have the best AF; it is highly portabable and has bulb.  However, it lacks a full line of modern lenses, especially tilt-shift, and other accessories.  Pentax is substantially cheaper too than Hasselblad and Phase1;

Hasselblad is also good as it has many lenses to offer, plus tilt-shift, plus it is on sale now.  I can get a H4D-40 with a 35-90mm for $1000 cheaper than a Phase1 P45+ 645AF with an 80mm.  I know the Trufocus is good for non-moving objects.  What about continuous AF tracking?  Would I be able to track the kids running around?

Now, Phase 1.  It is the most expensive of all.  It does have all kinds of supporting lenses and accessories, especially Schneider lenses.  Backs are highly interchangeable but I do not have another MF system to work with.  Unless AF and other features/quality are much better than the H4D, I don't know if it would be my preferred choice.

Please help and try to provide some valuable feedbacks to help me choose.  Thanks a lot.

Sam


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ndevlin
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2010, 08:49:42 PM »
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Hey Sam,

Your wish list reads a lot like a "why I shoot 35mm" list, to be honest. In MF you sacrifice convenience and usability - and seriously so.  The Pentax is the only system that comes close to meeting these criteria at the moment, but not strongly compared to 35mm.   I suspect you will find any MF system far more aggravation than it's worth for your applications. Do you really need a 34x40 of your kids?

Also, this being only your third post, I haven't seen you naked yet, so I don't know whether you're sporting 26" biceps, but have you picked up an H4 with a 35-90? There's a reason they make hydraulic jacks to life transmissions. Just sayin'.

I can't imagine why you wouldn't be happy with a D3x. The have a full line of excellent tilt/shift lenses, strong AF, great low-light capability and a heck of a lot of megapixels.

Just my 2c.

Cheers, and happy shooting whatever you end up shooting with.

- N.
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2010, 09:00:42 PM »
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1. Why do you think Pentax has better AF than Hasselblad? Hasselblad has 'True Focus', undoing the need for the outer unreliable focus points. Do some research on that.
2. Cheaper? Depends where you live. EU - $9995. both.  USA, $10,000 for Pentax  $13,000 for H4D31 with 80mm lens.

And i agree with the previous poster, given your requirements, MF is not for you.
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TorontoSam
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2010, 10:06:19 PM »
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Nick,  Thanks for your comment.  I did seriously think about whether I should change over to MF from 35mm.  With the 1Ds3, it is already one of the very best 35mm cameras (Maybe M9 can do better in certain aspects but nonetheless, it is not AF).  I do believe it would be more cumbersome to use a MF, but I ain't sure by how much.  I do not blow up huge prints all the time but I am greedy and always want the best possible quality just in case if I ever need to make large prints.  Also, better image quality would also be more pleasing to your eyes on screen when you pixelpeep.  Lol.........  I haven't picked up the H4D yet.  Thought I just want the forum members' opinions first.

Brendan,  I know True Focus is very good from what I heard.  However, I think it is only for focusing non-moving objects, such as focus first to the model's eye and do re-composition later but True Focus is not meant to be used for moving objects (please correct me if I am wrong).  Pentax is indeed substantially cheaper if we are comparing the 40MP (or 39MP) lineups.  You are right H4D-31 with 80mm is $13,999.  However, in order to compare with a H4D-40, Pentax is cheaper.  H4D-40 with 35-90mm or 80mm costs $19,999.  Pentax costs only about $12,000.

You guys could be right, maybe MF is not for me....  But, I just want better quality images and maybe a new toy.

Sam

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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2010, 03:45:11 AM »
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I suspect that none of the (other) members who have posted here have ever actually used an H4D-40, and are not aware how good they are at high ISO. (I have only used one in the studio at a demo event).

If you are an amateur, and you will not be using it all day, the weight will not be a problem, but Hassys are 4kg with the big lenses.
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gazwas
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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2010, 05:08:15 AM »
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IMO, unless you need to print really big there is no reason to go MFD over a 1Ds or D3X.

I shot Phase One for 10 years but for the last two have been using 1Ds. There is very, little difference (when printed) at regular print/publication sizes between the two formats IQ wise. However there is massive differences in ergonomics and technology between the two formats. For me, the only reason I'm looking at MFD again is its ability to hook up to some nice LF gear for product and interior work I do. As you want a DSLR this will be no advantage to you.

I've decided to wait and see what the next bread of Phase One backs bring to the party before I invest (big bright HQ screen for proper use on LF gear please) but I'm not holding my breath.

Its great you are in a situation where you can buy a toy for this amount of money as people like yourself are probably the ones funding the MFD R&D departments rather than us poor pros.  Wink However the last thing you want to do, toy or no toy is waste this kind of money out of lust rather than need. My advise would be to hire or at least have a demo of some kit as it might be an eye opener to see how behind the technology curve MFD SLR's are. Have you ever considered better lighting might be a better way to increase IQ than a better camera.

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TorontoSam
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« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2010, 06:46:22 AM »
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Dick & Gaswaz, Thank you for your comments.  The Hasselblad dealer here has promised to let me try out the H4d-40 this coming weekend and the Phase 1 dealer may do a demo on the P45+ soon too.  The only issue is with Pentax as I don't know when I can physically see or touch one.  I totally agree that the 1Ds3 is already an excellent camera, ergonomic and performance wise.  Maybe after the demos, I would just decide to stay where I am with the 1Ds3.

Occasionally, I go to friends' studios to shoot models.  However, this is very occasional and I do not own any of the lighting equipment.  I do have two Canon 580EX flashes.  I do not set up studio lighting at home.  Remember, kids do not like staying in front of backdrops.....  I also like taking landscape as well.  I thought as long as it is in an urban/semi urban area where it can be reached by car whether it is 2kg or 4kg, the weight may not bother me that much.  I really like the 3D look on MF.  When it comes to rurals, the 1Ds can be on duty.

Anyways, does anyone know if H4D and P1 can do any REASONABLE focus tracking (continuous AF) at all.  Thanks again.
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gazwas
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« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2010, 07:00:05 AM »
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Anyways, does anyone know if H4D and P1 can do any REASONABLE focus tracking (continuous AF) at all.  Thanks again.

H4D and P1 cameras will focus track ish but slowly and I'd use 35mm 95% of the time if motion tracking was the aim of the shoot. One big consideration is (especially with the older P45+) is the slow capture rate and also with MFD, the length of lime the viewfinder goes dark after exposure when following movement. Fluid controlled/planned movement then you have a good chance but random stuff like kids  Undecided Huh
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ndevlin
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« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2010, 07:21:09 AM »
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I suspect that none of the (other) members who have posted here have ever actually used an H4D-40, and are not aware how good they are at high ISO. (I have only used one in the studio at a demo event).

If you are an amateur, and you will not be using it all day, the weight will not be a problem, but Hassys are 4kg with the big lenses.

I have no doubt that the HD4-40 will be within spitting distance of the 645D's high ISO performance, given that they run off the same chip. The problem with Hassy, for me, is the weight of the lenses. The leaf shutters are important  for many professional applications, but add tremendous bulk to the glass.  The cost of the glass is also staggering.

True Focus is an interesting technology, and solves a serious problem, but again, it's for static subjects much more than what Sam describes as his core uses.

Sam, I totally know what you mean about wanting more IQ, and especially about wanting a new toy  Cheesy Cheesy

Sometimes mixing it up a bit helps our vision, too.  I just wanted to try to help you avoid the disappointment every new digital MF user I know, including myself, feels when the reality of how challenging (and in so ways limiting) it is to get the full IQ bang from MF.  In this respect, digital is very different from film.

I haven't found any MF that focus tracks competitively to modern dslrs. 

- N.

ps. I would never, btw, recommend an M9 (or any other M) for convenience. Coupled RFs  were a great way to focus a camera back in the 1940s. But compared to modern AF, they are a pain to use, and should be used only by people who really derive pleasure from relating to their camera the way one relates to a small RF. IQ is spectacular, but use is challenging. Try tracking a running child with one sometime!

pps. Since you sound serious, you should try to arrange to demo one.  imho, The Camerastore is the best shop in Canada, so if you're close to Calgary, go in and tell'em I sent you.  They carry the 'blads, and won't look down their noses at you. 
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 07:24:22 AM by ndevlin » Logged

Nick Devlin   @onelittlecamera
TorontoSam
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« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2010, 09:52:24 PM »
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Gaswaz & Nick,  Thank you so much for your continuous assistance.  Afterall, it looks like MF will not offer everything that I need (maybe not everything that anybody needs).  Even if I go ahead with MF, I will still keep my 1Ds3.  As a side note, I've been waiting for a long time for Canon to come up with the new 1Ds4 or alike but it still hasn't happened.

I paid so much for the 1Ds3 when it first came out.  Therefore, the 645D is within my budget.  The thing is, however, I would have to spend a great deal more on lenses and accessories.  The biggest issue right now is I can't even get one.  I sent an email to Pentax Canada last week asking them when the camera will be available in stores but they still haven't replied.  The dealer in Toronto and The Camera Store also did not know the actual arrival date last week I spoke to them.

I live in Toronto and The Camera Store is out of my reach when it comes to doing a demo.  As mentioned, I should have a chance to play with the H4D-40 this weekend.  I'll see how it goes.

Good point with the capture rate being slow.  I hope it is just the screen that goes black for a second but not the actual viewfinder.  Don't worry, after reading everything you guys have said, I will not be too disappointed when I try out a MF as you have really lowered my expectation.

Don't worry Nick, I won't go with the M9 unless the S2 has a huge price drop.  But then, it doesn't have ultrasonic dust removal.....  It will be a pain to clean the sensor frequently in tight space.
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gazwas
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« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2010, 03:21:58 AM »
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Good point with the capture rate being slow.  I hope it is just the screen that goes black for a second but not the actual viewfinder.  Don't worry, after reading everything you guys have said, I will not be too disappointed when I try out a MF as you have really lowered my expectation.

Yes, viewfinder as there is a lot of mirror to move in MF DSLR's but it is perfectly livable with some practice.

Little youtube vid example of capture rate/viewfinder dark here (P65+ so faster than P45+)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKZe7M1h_G0&feature=related

I'm sure you won't be disappointed because these expensive cameras are great to use and the detail in a well captured file is amazing. Just not sure your expectations for a complete 1Ds replacement exists in MFD land yet, or ever will.  Smiley
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sanzari
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« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2010, 11:48:26 AM »
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So I did this whole exercise a short while ago as I was travelling to Africa and wanted to bring back the highest quality images.
I went from Phase One to Hassey and Pentax. Basically on searching and doing loads of research one discovers:

1. the great sensor in the world at present is the P65+ closely followed by the Nikon D3X and D3s
2. Reliability of backs is questionable under extreme conditions, these babies are built for studio
3. if you are printing up to A3+ the difference between the two Nikon sensors is not really visible except "hair" seems to pop on the D3X
4. Flexibility and accessories for the Nikons are available and a lot more lens options.

So with all this in mind I decided to buy the D3s for flexibility, quality and adaptability. I will let you know how my trip goes but it was interesting that speaking to Nikon this was the Pro recommendation for my trip.

I think that the Phase One 65+ is a legend but needs the new DF camera from mamiya. The older AF camera the focus sucks.I still want the romance of using the MF however at those prices and the flexibility and weight I guess 35mm is still king in this area.

Just some info as you requirement and desire was so similar to mine, plus travel
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jduncan
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« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2010, 12:02:33 PM »
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Glad you found the right balance. Just for the sake of completeness, I will like  point out that  something.
You say:

1. the great sensor in the world at present is the P65+ closely followed by the Nikon D3X and D3s

We don't know that for sure. We don't have the DxO sensor ratings for any of the H4D series, I don't know why.
Also we have to keep in mind that the way P65+ achieve that ratings is by turning itself into a pretty expensive hight dynamic range 15Mpixel camera.
They guys at phase one did an extraordinary work with the pixel binding. But it's  still pixel binning.
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sanzari
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« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2010, 12:12:40 PM »
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You are right, these figures can be played with its all maths. I discounted the Hassey HD -31 because of weight of the lenses.

The DXO figures are a start point, i think that for usability the Phase One was at the top, the Pentax is just not available in the UK and given I went from a D3 to D3s and saw the difference, I still fancy a nice MF one day.

But I agree figures can be cooked, but as the user just wanted some opinions I offered to decision flow, not faultless but a decision. LOL
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« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2010, 02:26:21 PM »
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Forget it. MF is good for high quality studio photography, on location work with flash and assistants, and landscape work.

The sensors are good, but the cameras are worse than 15 year old film SLRs.

Edmund

Hi All,

This is my second post.  So, again, nice to meet you all.

I am not a Pro at this time but used to shoot weddings many years ago.  Currently, I am using an 1Ds3 and have a bunch of Canon lenses.  As more quality is always welcome, I am thinking of going MF.

I take a lot of pictures of my children and do some landscape and travel pictures as well.  As I have never owned a MF system before, I am not sure which one to get.

The features I need the most are the following:
1) Autofocus -- kids do move around a lot;
No hope, MF doesn't do decent follow-focus.
Quote

2) Portability -- as I can't use a tripod most of the time;
MF weighs a ton and works best on a tripod due to the large mirrors
Quote

3) Low noise at high ISO -- good high ISO noise as I often need faster shutter speeds to freeze the kids in motion;
No MF camera has the high ISO quality of a pro Nikon or even Canon.
Quote

4) Long exposure -- as I like to have the capability of taking night shots and long exposure water shots;
Yes, here the appropriate MF is ideal.
Quote

5) System readiness -- able to expand on that system with lenses and accessories.
All the MF makers have decent systems, but none are as cheaply flexible (fast wides, TS, super-telephoto) as dSLRs.
Quote


It seems that Pentax is a good choice as I think it may have the best AF; it is highly portabable and has bulb.  However, it lacks a full line of modern lenses, especially tilt-shift, and other accessories.  Pentax is substantially cheaper too than Hasselblad and Phase1;

Hasselblad is also good as it has many lenses to offer, plus tilt-shift, plus it is on sale now.  I can get a H4D-40 with a 35-90mm for $1000 cheaper than a Phase1 P45+ 645AF with an 80mm.  I know the Trufocus is good for non-moving objects.  What about continuous AF tracking?  Would I be able to track the kids running around?

Now, Phase 1.  It is the most expensive of all.  It does have all kinds of supporting lenses and accessories, especially Schneider lenses.  Backs are highly interchangeable but I do not have another MF system to work with.  Unless AF and other features/quality are much better than the H4D, I don't know if it would be my preferred choice.

Please help and try to provide some valuable feedbacks to help me choose.  Thanks a lot.

Sam



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Edmund Ronald, Ph.D. 
Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2010, 03:49:24 PM »
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Forget it. MF is good for high quality studio photography, on location work with flash and assistants, and landscape work.
Written by someone who uses puts "Nikon" and "pro" in the same word!

A year or two ago the above quote was not far off... but have you ever used an H4D-40?
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« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2010, 04:04:09 PM »
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Hi Dick,

Some what arrogant comment to make Dick.

Im a Pro and I use Nikon.

Cheers

Simon
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Simon Harper
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« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2010, 04:03:03 AM »
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Written by someone who uses puts "Nikon" and "pro" in the same word!
Another fan of "How to impress people and make friends ".
Quote
A year or two ago the above quote was not far off... but have you ever used an H4D-40?
Yes, I even posted comparison images D3x and H4D here.


Hello Dick -

IMHO, The HD40 is as good as it gets in MF, with focus that works and 1600 ISO that is usable in some contexts, however as I tried to state above it suffers like any other MF camera from a degree of kludginess which takes us back by 10 years to film SLRs.

- H4D has very good DR, beautiful "look", and will outresolve Nikon.
- H4D Focus worked well generally, but was inaccurate near infinity. But with Nikon you have LiveView to set up exact focus.
- 100mm lens I tested had nice Bokeh, but left angly diaphragm cutouts all over my images. Ugly. Nikon has round openings.
- ISO 1600 on new H4D40 is decent (not too noisy) but running out of shadow detail (fake ISO), Nikon D3x is still going strong.
- Phocus software is usable but not yet quite as perfected as C1. This matters because one gets stuck in front of the software for hours.
- Nikon Jpegs are really good, and the D-light shadow compensation is useful. This can matter if you're under deadline.

I'm not saying the Hassy is bad, in fact for MF it is very good, much more usable than my own Mamiya, it's just that the Nikon has had many more engineering hours going into their camera, and it shows.

In the end, the Nikon can get you a clean, very usable, well-focused shot in almost any setting and lighting, the H4D40 will get you a decent image most times, but only in a fairly static well lit situation will the sensor really show its full abilities. Of course, in a studio setting the H4D40 will beat the Nikon all the time. Just like a big truck will haul more freight than a pickup every day, but you don't park the truck in your driveway.

Let me ask the question in the other direction: Have you ever taken the time to set up a Nikon D3x for 14bit Raw, and really compared it to an MF camera? It won't win, but it sure will get close. Don't confuse the D3x with the Canon 5D2, these are different animals.


Edmund
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Edmund Ronald, Ph.D. 
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« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2010, 05:02:58 AM »
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IMHO, The HD40 is as good as it gets in MF, with focus that works and 1600 ISO that is usable in some contexts, however as I tried to state above it suffers like any other MF camera from a degree of kludginess which takes us back by 10 years to film SLRs.

- H4D has very good DR, beautiful "look", and will outresolve Nikon.
- H4D Focus worked well generally, but was inaccurate near infinity. But with Nikon you have LiveView to set up exact focus....
Edmund

Thank you.

You can, of course use live view with an H4D, tethered.

I thought that my H3D was hand, stand or flash... but the H4D is better.

The H4D-60 is not as good at high ISO as the H4D-40, but it is still usable hand-held in good ambient light with a 300mm.
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« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2010, 09:42:41 AM »
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Hi Sam,

I am also a newcomer in this Form.  Smiley

And like you, I use now a Canon DSLR(5D) for my shoots. But I will switch over to the Pentax 645D, as fast as I can. I have bought 3 used 645 FA lenses(45-85, 80-160 & 120 Macro) in the last few weeks. I am waiting for the release of the camera in Germany since photokina, where I had the opportunity to take a few test shoots. One can you found here: http://www.imageload.net/view/31561-igp5524cr/ ISO 1600/f 5.6/ 1/100

The Pentax 645D is my first MF system. So I am much like you. Like me, I think the Pentax would suit you most.

Sorry for my English.

Sven
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