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Author Topic: "A Visit With Better Light" Article  (Read 5906 times)
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« on: August 26, 2005, 04:44:08 PM »
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I don't get it. Why should I haul around all of this 4x5/8x10/11x14 gear, sheets of film, film holders, light meters, changing bags, etc, when all i have to do is carry a pocket point and shoot.

I haul around a scanning back.. and it's really no more than what i'd carry around if i were using my 8x10. .. in fact, with the new control unit, it's not much more than i'd haul around with a 4x5 and film/film holders.

I find advantages to it. For the time i shoot, wind is minimal (morning light). If it's an issue, then i shoot with the 1dsmk2. The detail, color and insurance that a shot has worked and is complete (no soft corners, no film holders with light leaks, no lab to expose or develop improperly) offers me an advantage that makes me willing to carry it.

It's one of the two tools that i haul around with me. If the conditions allow, then i get the shot with the betterlight. if the conditions don't , then it's the 1dsmk2 and a t/s lens stitch.

          jim
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2005, 12:49:54 AM »
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there's not much i can't shoot with an 8x10 or 11x14 that i can't shoot with the Betterlight. When moving from 35mm to 4x5 or 8x10, i hear the argument against as well.. you're giving up the 'moment'.. spending too much time with the camera. can't catch the spontaneous moment.

and they're right.. that's not what i'm shooting when i take out the 4x5. If i'm shooting 8x10 or 11x14, then my exposure time is in seconds to minutes. I don't feel that those cameras aren't capable of shooting landscape photography.  i shoot trees, grass, mountains, meadows, shoreline (although i'll agree.. moving water can be troublesome.. but there are techniques that can help get around that).

I'm not about to argue that a Betterlight is the ultimate in landscape photography.. but it does a real good job for what i shoot

         jim

           jim
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Lin Evans
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2005, 11:56:56 AM »
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The article states "I’ll conclude with this general observation-–Better Light should be on the radar of every committed large format film photographer."

I don't get it. Unless I want to photograph rocks, what would I shoot? I push velvia and shoot ISO 400 digital to deal with wind now. What the heck am I going to be doing in the field with a $20,000 scanning back?
Obviously, no particular equipment is ideal for every task but begining with the predecessor to the BetterLight, the Dicomed Field Camera, some very good landscape photographers have been getting incredible landscape shots with scanning backs. I talked to Peter Grote at PMA in Las Vegas a couple years ago when he was displaying a fantastic pano of the Annapurnas which was a 4 feet by 17 feet uninterpolated print made on an Epson 9600. He used a BetterLight. Stephen Johnson has converted from large format film and says he gets better results from his BetterLight (he began with the Dicomed, years ago) than he ever got with large format film. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing his work in person, it's worth the trip to his studio next time you visit the SF Bay area.

There are always going to be issues of one kind or another which make certain systems better than others for certain shots. At the same PMA show in Las Vegas Max Lyons had an 8x12 foot print made with LightJet technology of a 1.09 gigapixel landscape shot from Bryce Canyon. The shot was composed of 196 overlapping images made in a 13 minute period with his six megaxel D60 Canon. The detail far exceeded anything possible in a single frame capture with 8x10 or even larger film format. Not your regular fare and not simple to do, but it works.....  

Different strokes for different folks guys.....

Lin
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Don Miller
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2005, 01:31:51 PM »
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The article states "I’ll conclude with this general observation-–Better Light should be on the radar of every committed large format film photographer."

I don't get it. Unless I want to photograph rocks, what would I shoot? I push velvia and shoot ISO 400 digital to deal with wind now. What the heck am I going to be doing in the field with a $20,000 scanning back?
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Don Miller
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2005, 05:26:07 PM »
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I don't get it. Why should I haul around all of this 4x5/8x10/11x14 gear, sheets of film, film holders, light meters, changing bags, etc, when all i have to do is carry a pocket point and shoot.

I haul around a scanning back.. and it's really no more than what i'd carry around if i were using my 8x10. .. in fact, with the new control unit, it's not much more than i'd haul around with a 4x5 and film/film holders.

I find advantages to it. For the time i shoot, wind is minimal (morning light). If it's an issue, then i shoot with the 1dsmk2. The detail, color and insurance that a shot has worked and is complete (no soft corners, no film holders with light leaks, no lab to expose or develop improperly) offers me an advantage that makes me willing to carry it.

It's one of the two tools that i haul around with me. If the conditions allow, then i get the shot with the betterlight. if the conditions don't , then it's the 1dsmk2 and a t/s lens stitch.

          jim
Your images are beautiful, and I'm sure much more so in print. But Betterlight is not going to replace their (I assume) declining business with landscape photography. Phase One and Aptus are not only their competition in the studio. I'm stunned (or impressed with better light marketing) that Sexton says a camera that takes exposures in minutes is something landscape photographers should keep an eye on. Perhaps that was an editing mistake. Perhaps he said that the camera must remain unmoved for so long that " it's  easy to keep an eye on".
And I'm still a large format photographer.
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Don Miller
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2005, 11:15:44 AM »
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In many ways I'm an ideal betterlight customer (well, except for the sarcasm and thinly veiled contempt). I have a modern 4x5 system with high res lenses (80xl,  110 xl etc). I shoot readyloads  and am enough of a technogeek that I have a computer system capable of handling 1gb scans. But I stongly feel that the future of high-end digital landscape photography is going to be MF with digital backs (call me Michael R. Jr.).
Any current LF photographer can judge for him/herself if a 30 second exposure is going to be feasible for their work. For architecture, industrial,  and still life I can see their system working IF these devices are truly competitive with one shot MF backs.
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pchaplo
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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2006, 01:04:36 PM »
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My take on this is that there are a lot of long time large format landscape photographers like me who are now shooting 1Ds series digital but not quite satisfied. I work in digital now like I did when I did 35mm pick-up shots with my N90s. Somewhat looser than my 4x5 mode. Unlike some, we enjoy the 4x5 ritual and the deliberateness of the process. Perhaps the scan back is the new incarnation of that process. As the economics of digital photography settle down from their little tempest, I believe that affordable scan backs will be introduced, and that I will be a happy elf to dust off my Schneider LF lenses and my Nikon 300M and go dancing across the hills. (hopefully I can still walk then) We will look back at the $16K Betterlight like we look at the early 4mb pro digital cameras from Kodak that cost $10K and now sell on Ebay for a pittance.

Me? I would have no problem waiting for a long scan. I'll open my thermos of green tea and take in all the beauty around me. Remember that? The care in the set-up knowing you had only 3 sheets of Velvia left in your bag.  Ansel had one glass plate left when he shot Monolith. Ever wonder how that influenced his process of image-making?

Meanwhile I will try to slow down then Im shooting digital and try to think of some reason not to shoot a burst for backup. Perhaps saving electrons or some other noble cause

Pax,
Paul
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Wishing You Great Light!
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2006, 08:01:13 AM »
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As the economics of digital photography settle down from their little tempest, I believe that affordable scan backs will be introduced, and that I will be a happy elf to dust off my Schneider LF lenses and my Nikon 300M and go dancing across the hills. (hopefully I can still walk then) We will look back at the $16K Betterlight like we look at the early 4mb pro digital cameras from Kodak that cost $10K and now sell on Ebay for a pittance.

For the most part the shortcomings in speed won't be an issue to me (although I wonder how landscape photographers deal with a slightly windy day or flying birds). Prices on the other hand are. The cheapest Betterlight is around $6000 for a recycled CCD and 3750x5000 RGB pixels. To really make it worthwile $15000 - $18000 are needed. This sort of money allows a look at medium format digital backs with all their advantages (and the image quality these devices deliver can certainly not be described as 'compromised' anymore).
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