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Author Topic: Leaf Aptus in outdoor use  (Read 3552 times)
torger
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« on: March 18, 2012, 09:28:18 AM »
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MFDBs are traditionally studio products. Therefore some design solutions seem somewhat odd to us used to weather-sealed DSLRs. I'm seriously considering a Leaf Aptus 22/75 to my tech camera due to its great price/performance ratio, and good LCC performance and no need for wakeup. However, it also seems to be very much a studio product from design

 - Fan.
 - Open battery mount.
 - Screen with poor visibility in daylight.
 - Possibly very battery-consuming (unclear to me if true).

I think my DSLR is rated to work down to 0 degree celcius in the manual, yet everyone knows that -20 degrees celcius no problems. DSLRs weather-sealing has no guarantees from the manufacturers, yet everyone expects it to handle a light rain.

I don't know where to put expectations for a Leaf Aptus. I usually don't drag my gear through the mud and has never really stretched the limits of my DSLR gear, but knowing where the limits are is helpful. Do I need to dismount the back when the first raindrop falls, can I use it in the winter etc.

I guess if you have paid up $30,000 for a back you probably don't want to take risks with it, so my guess is that these backs rarely see tough conditions. But old second hand stuff is more like $4000 - $5000 which at least for me is low enough to take some risks to get shots from less accessible parts of nature.

Another thing, I wonder how people see the screen in bright daylight. A screen shade? Can you access the screen with the stylus when screen shade is there?
« Last Edit: March 18, 2012, 09:51:59 AM by torger » Logged
Martin Kristiansen
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2012, 11:30:58 AM »
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I used the Aptus 7 in the field on many occasions. It saw service in Lesotho, a harsh place, and various other locations around Southern Africa. I now use the Aptus12R

In order to view the screen I use an old style dark cloth. White on one side black on the other. I am used to this methods of working from pre digital times and find it very comfortable. I carry a large golf umbrella in case of light rain but pack up the camera and back into a waterproof backpack if it gets really nasty.

This method and equipment has worked well for me. I can be in the field away from electricity and buildings living in a tent for weeks at a time. Solar panel charges a deep cycle battery and I run an invertor to charge camera and laptop batteries.
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torger
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2012, 12:45:14 PM »
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Thanks for the reply! I actually already carry an umbrella with my DSLR gear to avoid waterdrops on the lens. It seems like it is going to stand up to my expectations.
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Stefan.Steib
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2012, 12:51:44 PM »
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Torger

actually the open battery mount of the leafs is an advantage - you can mount larger 4200 mHa batteries with it and this will suit you very well when itīs cold (you canīt do this with a Phase or Hasselblad back and need to use a bulky external battery pack !
We have recently shot timelapse with an Aptus 8 at about 6-7 degr. minus and we managed to get up to 500 1sec. shots from a single 2400 mHa  from one fully loaded
battery, the large one (which I did not have at the shooting) have more than double the capacity as I think the decharge consumption does not put as much stress on 4 cells as on 2.

Actually we have chosen the Leaf backs BECAUSE they are very powersaving and efficient in comparison.

Regards
Stefan
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ced
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2012, 01:29:22 PM »
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http://www.custombellows.co.uk/bulldog.html
& Lee Filters may also make a bellows shade to click onto the back.
I think the Leaf backs will stand up pretty well in all kinds of terrain, and well worth the trip outdoors as the quality you get is outstanding.
They certainly don't need pampering.
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torger
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2012, 02:44:54 PM »
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http://www.custombellows.co.uk/bulldog.html
& Lee Filters may also make a bellows shade to click onto the back.
I think the Leaf backs will stand up pretty well in all kinds of terrain, and well worth the trip outdoors as the quality you get is outstanding.
They certainly don't need pampering.

I've seen that bellows, but I was thinking that perhaps it does not work that well together with the stylus, ie that maybe you need to fold away the bellows when you need to navigate the gui? A dark cloth is an ok solution to me though.
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Hank Keeton
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2012, 03:06:16 PM »
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I use a heavy black garbage bag. Keep one to lay on in the mud.....and one for the camera. Cheap-simple-effective! My Aptus-65 is my outdoor unit of choice. Almost sprung for the II-12R....but the rotating sensor needs to convince me!. Aptus indoors is coupled to a P-2, which also sometimes sees a woodsy trek!

I modified a regular battery pack to be merely a "connector" to my Digital Camera Battery. When it's snowy-rainy-chilly, I keep the battery in my vest pocket close to my chest for warmth, (the battery's....not mine!). Shoot dawn-to-dusk.

Dark-cloth for daylight....and focusing....which with WA is always a bear....

Cheers!
Hank

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yaya
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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2012, 03:16:22 PM »
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One proof of durability Wink
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Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Mamiya Leaf |
e: ysh@leaf-photography.com | m: +44(0)77 8992 8199 | www.mamiyaleaf.com | yaya's blog
torger
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« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2012, 04:32:07 PM »
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I modified a regular battery pack to be merely a "connector" to my Digital Camera Battery. When it's snowy-rainy-chilly, I keep the battery in my vest pocket close to my chest for warmth, (the battery's....not mine!). Shoot dawn-to-dusk.

What happens if you forget that you have the battery in your vest and turn away from the camera? I know I would eventually... I hope the cable releases easily :-)
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Hank Keeton
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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2012, 08:51:12 PM »
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Ah...famous old-timer's motto: KEEP BRAIN ENGAGED.....!!

"School of Hard-Knocks" graduate....

(I have a quick-coupler for the inevitable....!)

Sigh....

Hank
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siebel
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« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2012, 05:03:18 AM »
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This idea that MFDB's are somehow studio devices has been repeated so many times that you can be forgiven for thinking it true. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. I've been shooting on location, up hill and down dale with all my MFDB's since I upgraded from my H5 and H10 backs to the H25. That was a tethered back but Phase had a product the (laughingly) called the "Portable Solution" which was a 10"Sony Vaio on a belt with a couple of batteries to power the firewire circuit. Cumbersome, yes. Stuck in the studio? Hell, no!
Now that we have batteries and CF cards on the backs, there is really no distinction between studio and location work.
I currently field P45+, IQ180 and Aptus 12 backs and they all have been wherever I go. I am an architectural and industrial photographer and also indulge in landscape photography. In the last 18 months, my backs and my trusty Alpa STC have been in the Swiss Alps (both winter and summer), India, Iraq, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Germany, on oil rigs in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf as well as in the Arabian desert. Admittedly, since I've had the IQ, the Aptus hasn't seen much action, but I can assure you, I would have no hesitation taking it anywhere. Naturally it doesn't pay to immerse these things (though apparently freshwater mountain streams are OK for Leaf backs Grin) but I have shot in snowstorms and tropical thunderstorms with no more than a brolly for protection. The thing to remember is that this level of gear is designed for pro use. That means its designed for gung-ho clowns like me who get paid to ALWAYS get the shot. I certainly would not pay the amounts we do for this gear if I had doubts about its ability to deal with the daily bump and grind of pro use. With some commonsense provisos, this gear really is go-anywhere kit.
The Aptus screen does require some shading outdoors and several options have already been mentioned. I use no more than my hands and the brim of a black baseball cap and have yet to miss a shot because I couldn't read the screen. If you are trying to judge exposure from this screen image (an Eizo it aint!) then you are engaging in a exercise in futility, but all the info you need to compose and expose correctly is there and readily usable.
The Aptus 12 seems to run longer than the IQ on batteries. Power consumption depends on individual use, but relative to the cost of the backs, batteries are cheap. I carry 2-4 and have never run dead on a shoot.
Bottom line is, it's great kit.
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donkittle
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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2012, 03:21:40 PM »
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I've only owned my Leaf Aptus 22 (for Mamiya) for a few months, but I've used it outside on 4 different occasions, all of them very cold days (freezing or slightly colder).  The battery life is 'bad' (about 2 hours at best) so I always carry 2-3 fully charged batteries with me.  The screen is 'ok' to see outside on bright but cloudy days, but it can be a bit hard to judge sharpness on it in those conditions.  A loupe would certainly help.

On one occasion I went snowmobiling in a storm.  It was -6 Celsius (or so) and snow was coming down like crazy.  Visibility was often about 50-100 yards.  I only had one large glad freezer bag with me.  I put the camera in a backpack and drove around with a group until we found a nice spot for photos and burning around in circles.  I took the camera out, put the glad bag on top like a flat umbrella and did about 50 or 60 shots over the course of about 10 minutes in the snow.  The glad bag was just over the top of the camera but caught most of the snow.  I didn't have any problems with the camera nor the back - the photos came out great.

I'd take some precautions with your gear, especially with the fan vents on the sides - not sure I'd want to get a lot of rain in them.  But the equipment seems to be pretty resilient.
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nicolaasdb
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« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2012, 03:09:19 PM »
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I have a leaf 65 on a Mamiya afdIII for about 6 years, 99% instudio use...altijd stored in a pelican case and just had to pay 1500 bucks to get the FireWire board replaced..they wanted to rip me off a little more at the MAC group telling me they found some scratches on the IR filter.....another 800 bucks....

Honestly I can only wait till canon and Nikon are taking over the market with comparable image quality cameras...because these medium formats are like Ferrari's ...use very gently, don't take them outside.... Keep them stored in a dust free case and don't shoot more than 67000 shots because something will break!!!

And with all the changing from leaf to phase one to Mamiya to.......!??? They are constantly changing their upgrade path and even when you call leaf to purchase they never get back .... The only one replied was yiar and his market isnt even in the USA
If I would run my business like that I would be bankrupt right now!

Hope that the d800 I ordered has super picture quality .... So I can start focusing on shooting instead of maintenance .. And who cares if a $3k camera breaks.... Just get a new one...but at 12k it becomes another story!!!
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Gigi
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« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2012, 09:35:18 PM »
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Five dy trip into Amazon rain forest, desiccant each night. 5 mile hikes. No problems. Worked like a tank.
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rogerxnz
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« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2012, 09:36:37 PM »
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I have used Aptus 17, 22 and 75's. I have found the screens difficult to read in sunlight but have been able to get around the problem by linking an iPAQ PDA to these backs and being able to hold the PDA in a suitable viewing position.

Unfortunately, the latest backs have dispensed with that feature (and I will not upgrade because I need the feature, especially when the back is tilted on a Flexbody).

I understand you can get the same effect on an iPhone but only if you carry an Apple computer with you to act as a server. Good luck with that!

I find the backs very robust and I have used them in mild rain with a plastic sheet keeping them and the camera dry. Being able to view the output on a PDA without having to uncover the back helps considerably.

Hope this helps.
Roger
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 11:48:06 AM by rogerxnz » Logged

Roger Hayman
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NickCroken
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« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2012, 10:13:02 AM »
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I use an Aptus 65 on a 501cm and haven't had any issues in poor weather conditions.  I've been in -20C with it and it kept on trucking.  My tripod head once failed and it fell down a river bank, hit a rock and was covered in mud and it kept working.  I shoot exclusively with the double size batteries and I have never had any battery life issues.
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2012, 10:08:06 PM »
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I think my lesson is pretty much as all other USERS of Leaf backs posted above and all over internet, that Leaf backs are STELLAR.

-  Fan. --- Never had any issue, cold, hot, dry or humid climate, not even in dusty India.
 - Open battery mount. --- Is an advantage because simple to change battery quick. Also can act as a crash cushion, please see my post in link below. If very cold, to make battery last longer, keep warm in pocket.
 - Screen with poor visibility in daylight. --- Works very well in daylight, but in strong daylight you need to shade it. So what? It is not a picture frame for display in bright daylight but it is a tool. The display is excellent tool and largest in business, and DETAILED histogram based on RAW and spot picker to measure stops in a point of image.
 - Possibly very battery-consuming (unclear to me if true). --- For my prior Aptus 65 no. For my AFi-II 12 yes a bit but I have 80MP so what can expect?


+1 and this and more made me trade up to 80MP AFi-II 12, and I am mere an advanced amateur and the price was alot of $$ to me. No dslr thank you, no way. Image quality is inferior.

I believe some may go blind on weather sealing. Unless shoot unprotected in pouring rain I doubt most folks really needs it, or unless are complete wreckless with your gear. I also believe it is much a marketing hype... and if sealed too well, what happens if humidity go inside, it cannot come out??? Then again, about Leaf you may wish to careful read that thread linked above... There are many happy users and seems odd to find any that are not. Make a search and you will see.

Best regards,
Anders
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