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Author Topic: Choosing the right equipment for long exposure landscapes  (Read 4887 times)
pjtn
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« on: January 15, 2012, 02:31:04 AM »
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Hi everyone, this is my first post on this forum.

I've just started a new style of photography and have been trying to work out what equipment would suit it best. The new style involves a Lee 10 stop filter and long exposures (such as 5 minutes) cropped to square and converted to black and white. I want to make prints at 13"x13" and 20"x20" in size.

Currently I have a Canon 5D MKII and 24-105 ƒ/4 lens. However I have been looking at medium format cameras like the Pentax 645D or a second hand Mamiya 645 AFD with Mamiya DM-22 back.

Would I see any great improvement in image quality from a medium format camera such as these in a 13"x13" or 20"x20" print?

I've heard that on longer exposures MF digital starts to get noisier.

Otherwise I would like to get Carl Zeiss primes such as the 50mm Makro Planar and 100mm Makro Planar for the 5D MKII. Of course there are rumours of a 36mp Nikon D800 coming too and I wonder if this may be worth waiting for given the excellent DR of Sony's recent sensors.

Medium format digital is very expensive for me, but if the quality is really worth it I will likely make it a goal and start saving up.

Here's an example of the work I'm starting on:

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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2012, 10:28:42 AM »
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Five minute exposures are very good with the Pentax 645D. And can make longer as well. Some long exposure artifacts can appear, but they are easy to clean up.

Whether you will care about the difference in quality, I cannot say because that is your call. But there is a significant jump in quality from 35mm to MFD.

Whether a new high pixel 35mm DSLR will serve you better is a question mark. There is more to image quality than the number of pixels. But that would be your call as well.

Since you are not ready to spend, I would start saving and research you options. The camera market is constantly changing and who knows what is coming. When you are ready to jump, then look at your choices.
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fotometria gr
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2012, 11:07:08 AM »
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Hi everyone, this is my first post on this forum.

I've just started a new style of photography and have been trying to work out what equipment would suit it best. The new style involves a Lee 10 stop filter and long exposures (such as 5 minutes) cropped to square and converted to black and white. I want to make prints at 13"x13" and 20"x20" in size.

Currently I have a Canon 5D MKII and 24-105 ƒ/4 lens. However I have been looking at medium format cameras like the Pentax 645D or a second hand Mamiya 645 AFD with Mamiya DM-22 back.

Would I see any great improvement in image quality from a medium format camera such as these in a 13"x13" or 20"x20" print?

I've heard that on longer exposures MF digital starts to get noisier.

Otherwise I would like to get Carl Zeiss primes such as the 50mm Makro Planar and 100mm Makro Planar for the 5D MKII. Of course there are rumours of a 36mp Nikon D800 coming too and I wonder if this may be worth waiting for given the excellent DR of Sony's recent sensors.

Medium format digital is very expensive for me, but if the quality is really worth it I will likely make it a goal and start saving up.

Here's an example of the work I'm starting on:


Phase One P25+ and P45+, are without a doubt, the world champions (by far) for long exposures. Regards, Theodoros. www.fotometria.gr
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uaiomex
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2012, 12:26:23 PM »
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This is a link for pictures from an exhibit taken with a 5D2 2 years ago. Exposures were around 5 minutes. Of course you can go much more without building much noise. If you can afford them, as said by Theo, the P25+ or P45+ backs is the way to go. Actually my dream backs.
Eduardo

http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11310&highlight=zensorial
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2012, 06:24:21 PM »
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If you can afford them, as said by Theo, the P25+ or P45+ backs is the way to go. Actually my dream backs.
Eduardo

http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11310&highlight=zensorial

I have both the P25+ and Pentax 645D. For long exposures, the Pentax does much better.
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uaiomex
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2012, 07:00:33 PM »
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How about comparing the Pentax 645D to the P45+?

Thx
Eduardo

I have both the P25+ and Pentax 645D. For long exposures, the Pentax does much better.
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2012, 07:10:39 PM »
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How about comparing the Pentax 645D to the P45+?

Thx
Eduardo


I don't have one or access to one, so I have no idea. I understand the P45+ is very good for long exposures, but in reference to the 645D, I have seen nothing on which to base a judgement.
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pjtn
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2012, 07:58:37 PM »
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What I wasn't sure about is if the differences would be noticeable at these two sizes. It seems the general consensus here is that it will be. Pity there's no way to hire the camera anywhere to test whether the difference is enough to justify the price.

I think at this point I would be leaning towards the Pentax 645D if I go in that direction. My plans are also to purchase an Epson 7890 soon. Although it had occurred to me to purchase the Pentax and have a lab print my work instead. It doesn't make as much business sense though as the Pentax is much more expensive and won't save me any money. 20"x20" prints are around $100 so it doesn't take long for it to add up.
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pjtn
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« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2012, 08:04:22 PM »
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Uaiomex what sizes did you print your photographs to?
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uaiomex
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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2012, 01:05:19 PM »
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The whole work for the Zensorial exhibit was printed 24X24 and 24X36 upsizing with Genuine Fractals. I used Harman FbAl and an Epson 7880.
For long exposures it would be a nightmare or plain impossible to do stitching, so all the prints are only one single frame. I don't see any problem with sharpness or detail.
I dream of a p45+ though.
Eduardo

Uaiomex what sizes did you print your photographs to?
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pjtn
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« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2012, 04:38:37 PM »
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Thanks. I'm starting to wonder if my tripod might not be up to it. I had planned to get a new one at some point but I think I'll get it now. I think the Gitzo GT5541LS looks like a very good tripod, not sure about the 4 leg sections though, I've always preferred three. I'll probably get a nice heavy Arca Swiss head to go on top too.
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JohnBrew
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« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2012, 06:39:20 PM »
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Yes, a sturdy tripod is a necessity for long exposures. I'm having very positive results with a RRS 33, a three section tripod which exceeds my requirements.
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K.C.
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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2012, 02:56:01 AM »
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I'll probably get a nice heavy Arca Swiss head to go on top too.

You don't want weight in the head, you want it underneath. Hang you camera bag, a bag of sand or rocks, whatever, under the tripod. Gitzo and RRS tripods have a hook underneath for just this purpose.

Also, if you haven't already, you might want to check out Michael Kenna's work.
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pjtn
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2012, 05:07:18 AM »
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Thanks K.C. I was wondering about the weight distribution of the tripod and you have just confirmed it. I think I'll get the Gitzo GT5541LS because that is about 2.8kg and the Arca Swiss Z1 which is 680gm. I've never seen the Z1 before so I'm not sure how big and sturdy it is.

I'm leaning towards the Pentax but have also been considering getting a 4x5 large format camera. I would have to scan with an Epson v700 though so I'm not sure what the quality would be like from a rig like this.
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bill t.
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« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2012, 02:54:00 PM »
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A useful technique with DLSR's is to stack several back to back exposures as layers and average them out.  Noise simply evaporates into creamy smoothness equal to the best large format cameras, and you have the effect of an exposure equal to the sum of all the individual exposures.  Short inter-exposure periods have no noticeable effect.

If you have a stack of 5 images, adjust the transparency of the top image to 1/5 = 20%, the transparency of the second image to 2/5 = 40%, etc with the bottom image totally opaque.

This also can produce wonderful tonality on product shots and such.  If the camera is on a good tripod there is also some apparent sharpness increase in non-moving areas, not to mention glorious weirdness in portraits with a model trying to stay steady.  And light-painted, multiple exposure product shots...ooh!
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David Sutton
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« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2012, 01:25:08 AM »
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Hello PJTN. Here's another opinion FWIW.
I'm using a 5DII and printing to 24” on an ipf6300.
With the caveat that I've only gone to two minute exposures, the 5DII is completely up to the job you want to do. You will see no difference on a 13 inch print between the Canon and a medium format back, and will be hard put with a 20 inch print to see any difference.
The problem is the 24-105 lens. It is not up to the task. It wasn't until I made 24 inch prints that I realised how really bad it is. I've purchased a Zeiss Contax 35-70 with Haoda adapter (for about US$450 all up) and the first comparisons with the 24-105 were absolutely astonishing. So much sharper, better contrast, better colour. The drawback is it's manual exposure, and although the adapter has focus confirmation I don't find it reliable so live view is a must. Also if you go down the adapter route be aware that if the adapter is not well made then it can short out the battery and your camera can burst into flames, or the mirror can break, or it may not be aligned and won't be sharp across the frame.
What I'm saying is that there are some nice Canon and Zeiss primes, and some new zooms in the pipeline, and I think other options would be a waste of money at present. Most folks aren't realising the potential of the 5DII because of poor technique, poor tripods, heads and so on. I also see a noticeable difference when I shoot with a 2kg beanbag on the camera. A pain to carry around though.
Nice photo by the way.
David
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pjtn
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« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2012, 01:33:08 AM »
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Thanks Bill T, I never thought to try stacking exposures. I'll give it a try, however I still like the thought of doing it as one long exposure.

It's funny David because both my fiancee and myself had basically decided we will get the 645D and then you had to say that ;-)
I certainly don't want to spend $10,000 on a camera to find the quality looks no different.
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David Sutton
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« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2012, 04:10:47 PM »
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It's funny David because both my fiancee and myself had basically decided we will get the 645D and then you had to say that ;-)

 Cheesy
Hello again PJTN. If I were in your situation I'd spend the money on things that would make an immediate difference. A good lens and the means to really hold the camera rock steady. The beanbag I use is particularly for the 70-200 lens, as it will pick up wind and very slightly vibrate. If you upgrade the tripod and head first then that will stand you in good stead if you go medium format later. But try before buying!
I too would like a 645D but I have come to the belief that with the latest digital cameras, the lenses are more important than the bodies (and number of pixels). Perhaps if I were printing larger than 24 inches things would be different. As it is, I frequently have to slightly blur my images to make them believable. The last thing I want is for someone to say “Heavens, that's sharp!” when they first look at one of my prints. Um, yes, but what about the content?
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2012, 11:25:19 AM »
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It looks like you are venturing into Michael Kenna territory.
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Ellis Vener
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Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
bill t.
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« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2012, 02:24:37 PM »
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But the market seems almost insatiable.  The only problem is not tripping over the deeply rutted footprints and tripod holes already in the sand.   Smiley
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