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Author Topic: To Africa with MF Back - which one  (Read 1871 times)
sanzari
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« on: October 28, 2012, 02:35:29 PM »
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So I am still considering a second hand back for Africa.

I shoot large scale panoramic contextual portraits of Elephants all on 45 and 100mm lenses.

Currently all manual focus MF lenses on a D800 rig

Alas I am tempted by MF for extra quality reality is I will have a Mamiya DF but I could go Pentax or Hassleblad depending upon advice.

www.antonyb.com/gallery_amboseli.html

Is the current set up. I am hoping greater resolution 16bit files might improve this.

But which back. I am likely to need several batteries as I will shoot around 200 shots per day and may be away from power for 2-3 days.

There will be dust sometimes, perhaps a little cold other times, I would like the option of a useable 400iso

Lastly I think I can spend around 4-6k on the back. I can get the camera for 2k I would hire the lenses probably beyond the 80mm.

Any suggestions or comments ? Am I dreaming.

Thanks Forum
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2012, 06:17:47 PM »
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So I am still considering a second hand back for Africa.

I shoot large scale panoramic contextual portraits of Elephants all on 45 and 100mm lenses.

Currently all manual focus MF lenses on a D800 rig

Alas I am tempted by MF for extra quality reality is I will have a Mamiya DF but I could go Pentax or Hassleblad depending upon advice.

www.antonyb.com/gallery_amboseli.html

Is the current set up. I am hoping greater resolution 16bit files might improve this.

I don't believe that there is any back ou there with better absolute image quality at ISO400, besides the IQ160/180 or equivalent creo that are way above your budget.

You will get more details and DR with the D800 at ISO400.

Now, what is the limiting factor of yourcurrent set up? I could of course be wrong, but is it not focus accuracy?

Although I love my Leica 180f2.8 I would probably use an AF lens for images like yours because these elephants seem to be moving towards you are that may be enough to throw focus out enough that you may not get more than 20mp worth of resolution from your D800.

I am not sure what focal length you like to use, but a 200mm sounds about right. Have you considered the Nikkor 200 f2.0 VRII?

Cheers,
Bernard
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sanzari
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2012, 06:23:58 PM »
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Thanks Bernard I use 45. And 100mm Pentax 67 lenses manual focus with a shift two get the 3:1 ratio I love.

All manual focus. The 200 f2.0 is sweet but to long for me I spend my time close probably looking to get mobile a bit more.  Hmmm why do you think I only use 20meg pixel ? Did u think these are a crop from single shot ?
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Kagetsu
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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2012, 06:49:45 PM »
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I'd have to agree. Unless you're an IQ or Credo user, the D800 would be better suited to the purposes. Add to that, you can easily access longer lenses for a significantly reduced cost over all.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2012, 07:47:22 PM »
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Hmmm why do you think I only use 20meg pixel ? Did u think these are a crop from single shot ?

Again, just guessing so forgive me if I am off the mark. My experience with top of the notch MF primes is that it is pretty hard to get them in perfect focus even with live view, so that it is even more challenging with moving subjects, especially if the are not that far.

Only perfectly focused images really contain 36mp worth of detail, a slight inaccurately focused 36mp frame doesn't contain more detail that a lower res image of the same scene.

A well tuned AF image will probably contain more detail than a MF focused one on such moving subjects, be it slow movements.

The problem is that Nikon doesn't have any AF lens in the 50mm range that I would call excellent. They all feature levels of CA that are a bit too high for my taste. Now, the latest raw converters do a pretty good job at correction this, so it may not be a huge issue. The 50mm f1.4G is a good candidate, together with the 60mm AF-S macro.

In place of the Pentax 100mm, the Nikon 85mm f1.4 or f1.8 AF-S might be worth considering here. Both are extremely sharp between f4 and f8, have very good corner image quality and little light fall off which is important for stitching. The f1.8 might actually be a better match for your needs since it has less CA which should matter with subjects featuring subtle colors like yours.

If you think that MF is not the issue, then top (again, just guess here, they may not be superior) MF lenses like the Zeiss 50mm f2.0 might be worth considering. The newly announced uber Zeiss 55mm may be the lens you need also, if you are willing to spend 3,000 US$ on a 55mm lens of course.  Wink

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: October 28, 2012, 08:05:52 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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sanzari
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2012, 09:23:48 PM »
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Arigato Bernard

You are certainly giving me something to think about in the Zeiss world on a D800. Even the 135 f2 might be worth a punt.

My next question of course on Medium Format is why do I need live view, would I not rely on the Mamiya DF autofocus, or even manual focus through a lovely viewfinder ? The animals are moving yes , are you suggesting the AF in the Medium Format world is so bad my hit rate would be better sticking with 35mm. ?

I guess I am starting to wonder if Wildlife needs to be photographed on 35mm because of long lenses most of the time or that MF is so bad at it no body tries unless its a iQ180.
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DanielStone
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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2012, 09:54:44 PM »
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SHOOT FILM



Seriously... The new Portra 400 is f***king AMAZING, and with a Technorama 617(Linhof) or a Fuji G/GX617 with appropriate lenses for FL req's, I'd go thris route, since you mentioned 'panoramas'.

I'm dead serious on this mate. Shoot film for this. Here's some BIG +'s for shooting film still(especially the new Portra 400):

1. It has pretty much ENDLESS DYNAMIC RANGE, it beats the living shit out of anything digital. I've exposed it @ ISO 40, and still had a usable piece of film. Not 'ideal' but it had useful information.

2. REAL ESTATE:  think 'shear mass here... When drum scanning P400 negatives on my drum scanner, I can EASILY make 6' long prints(long edge) that would make your eyes bleed. This stuff is SHARP.

3. It DOESN'T require batteries(unless you're using a meter which does). This means you can be untethered, and disconnected from batteries and technical 'stuff'. Nice IMO...

4. You have a hard-copy original. Ya ya, some said back it up in multiple locations and you'll be safe... I say BS... With this you can scan/have it scanned to WHATEVER RESOLUTION YOU WANT, you decide the size file you need, not the camera...


Rant off, but IMO, your best option for what you're describing on the budget that you've stated you have, shoot film mate..

Its the best stuff on the planet since wet plates were being poured to shoot the rhinos and elephants, and should afford you some wonderful shots whilst on assignment/holiday.

Cheers,

Dan
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2012, 10:03:33 PM »
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My next question of course on Medium Format is why do I need live view, would I not rely on the Mamiya DF autofocus, or even manual focus through a lovely viewfinder ? The animals are moving yes , are you suggesting the AF in the Medium Format world is so bad my hit rate would be better sticking with 35mm. ?

Not enough experience to be able to provide useful comment here.

AF on 35mm is generally speaking superior but I don't know if the Phaseone is good enough for your applications, it may very well be.

Cheers,
Bernard
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sanzari
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2012, 10:32:31 PM »
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Dan your details are sadly missing from the bio and in fairness my are out of date. That said :

I purchased a spot meter and a Fuji gx617 a with 2 lenses. I shot 3 rolls of film taking me back 20'years and then used my new Epson 7500 scanner to scan them in preparation for selecting the best image to drum scan.

It may be the UK but the camera was around 4k with a couple of lenses. The film was about 8 to process and the scans I got we're awful probably as the film was not that well exposed. So technique was bad all the way I'm guessing.

But the truth of my concern :
1. Kodak are finished, Fuji stops a film per quarter, how long before Kodak does the same.
2. I am guessing Linoff is the right choice as the Fuji I had the shutter did stick and they are finished now
3. I don't have a drum scanner and the service is about 20 each neg in the UK
4. In Africa I will likely shoot 500 images 8 per film, so that will be 100x everything plus scanning time
5. I know film is still amazing, and I love the idea of trying this approach. But even Peter Lik has moved over these days, how long and how realiable will a film set up be in reality ? I am asking your opinion here

Thanks for the new angle, it certainly is reviving thoughts and feelings of old :-)
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DanielStone
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2012, 11:22:10 PM »
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I shoot film almost exclusively, simply because I feel that it simply delivers the best results for ME.

Yes, I'm biased, but I'm also not part of the wealthy(yet, I'm 24) geriatric crowd here who feel that they 'need' to upgrade to the newest and shiniest DB's when the new models get released... I've had the chance to use IQ180's/ Aptus backs of various flavors/MP ratings, and frankly, I see no 'need' to change... I do not shoot for demanding clients time-wise, mostly for myself.

I own my own drum scanner, so yes, I'm biased this way as well Smiley

You mentioned EXPOSURE: if its off, its either your issue or your equipments, probably the former unless your equipment is sh*t Wink

Its taken me a few rolls to really get to KNOW how a particular film reacts to certain colors, exposure latitude, etc... I for one still GEL/filter the lens AT EXPOSURE, so that post work is much easier. I don't 'do' Photoshop whiz-bang, layers upon layers, etc... To me, "get it as right as possible in camera" is my mantra... It just makes post that much easier.

I shoot 120/220 6x4.5(Pentax 645), 4x5(mod'd Polaroid 900 rangefinder www.alpenhause.com ) and 8x10 film. I borrow a friends Linhof 617SIII system when i need a panoramic perspective. Color(transparency and negative) and b/w for all formats, depending on what I feel will capture what I want to see in a photograph.

Lastly, you said your scans were essentially 'worthless':
Sounds like you need a NEW LAB Wink... Lots of great labs here in the USA, no shame in mail-ordering it to get the best quality if you can't find one in the UK!

Dan

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lowep
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« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2012, 12:04:44 AM »
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hi, am currently using legacy sinarback emotion75 in conditions similar to those you describe. it is tough enough for the job and can do max 400asa though like many other mfdbs default is 100asa that i guess will be the main problem you will face going this route if you want to shoot in late evening or early morning depending on how much you are ready to risk to get what you want.

film is nice but does not tolerate high temperatures so you will either have to risk frying your images or get a portable cooler for your vehicle. another problem with shooting film in africa is good processing labs are rare so you will probably have to transport your exposed negs home through various airport scanners that may also fry your images.

good luck
« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 12:09:50 AM by lowep » Logged
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2012, 12:16:09 AM »
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Hi,

I was testing film, Velvia 50 and Ektar 100 on my Pentax 67 against my Sony full frame DSLR at 24MP. I used a CCD scanner for MF but also made 6095 PPI drum scans. I found the DSLR superior.

http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/59-sony-alpha-900-vs-67-analogue-round-2?showall=1

In the above test I had some camera vibration introduced by image stabilization not being disabled on the DSLR.

http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/16-pentax67velvia-vs-sony-alpha-900

I have not tested Portra 160.

I guess that the films I have tested are a bit difficult to scan, due to density range.

What you don't see in the tests is that the DSLR shot is essentially just pressing the button. The film tests are something like 10 rolls of film, waiting for development, hours of scanning work (think about focus bracket and scanning 5 negatives at 3600PPI so you can find the one with the best focus before sending to a pro lab in Germany).

I have made some more tests since these two, but didn't get any usable result, so I did not publish.

I'm considering trying Portra 160 and also testing some T-MAX 100, again.

Best regards
Erik




Dan your details are sadly missing from the bio and in fairness my are out of date. That said :

I purchased a spot meter and a Fuji gx617 a with 2 lenses. I shot 3 rolls of film taking me back 20'years and then used my new Epson 7500 scanner to scan them in preparation for selecting the best image to drum scan.

It may be the UK but the camera was around 4k with a couple of lenses. The film was about 8 to process and the scans I got we're awful probably as the film was not that well exposed. So technique was bad all the way I'm guessing.

But the truth of my concern :
1. Kodak are finished, Fuji stops a film per quarter, how long before Kodak does the same.
2. I am guessing Linoff is the right choice as the Fuji I had the shutter did stick and they are finished now
3. I don't have a drum scanner and the service is about 20 each neg in the UK
4. In Africa I will likely shoot 500 images 8 per film, so that will be 100x everything plus scanning time
5. I know film is still amazing, and I love the idea of trying this approach. But even Peter Lik has moved over these days, how long and how realiable will a film set up be in reality ? I am asking your opinion here

Thanks for the new angle, it certainly is reviving thoughts and feelings of old :-)
« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 12:57:25 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2012, 01:10:01 AM »
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Hi,

As a bystander I can point you to some info.

In 2006 a few photographers converted from 4x5" to digital. What brought this conversion was the Phase One P45.

http://www.outbackphoto.com/artofraw/raw_28/essay.html
http://www.josephholmes.com/news-sharpmediumformat.html
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/back-testing.shtml


But, check also: http://www.josephholmes.com/news-medformatprecision.html

I guess that the above articles indicate that a P45 is good enough to replace 4x5" film, mostly. So I guess that P45 or P45+ would make you happy. Be aware that they can be expensive to repair. It can be a good idea to buy a back from a reputable dealer, like Capture Integration who tests the camera and offers some kind of limited warranty. Obviously they don't do this for free.

Bernards suggestion for stitching is a reasonable one, but does obviously not always work.

Tim Parkin published a very good test of lots of cameras, both digital and film. He has his own drum scanner and scans at 10000 PPI.

http://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2011/12/big-camera-comparison/

Best regards
Erik

« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 01:31:59 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2012, 04:22:32 AM »
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Bernards suggestion for stitching is a reasonable one, but does obviously not always work.

I did in fact mis-read the original message and thought the OP was stitching already.  Cry

Some of the images on his site would be good candidates for stitching, other would be more challenging. although it may be manageable but with some element of risk that he may not be willing to take for once in a life time opportunities.

Cheers,
Bernard
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yaya
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« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2012, 06:34:36 AM »
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So I am still considering a second hand back for Africa.

I shoot large scale panoramic contextual portraits of Elephants all on 45 and 100mm lenses.

Currently all manual focus MF lenses on a D800 rig

Alas I am tempted by MF for extra quality reality is I will have a Mamiya DF but I could go Pentax or Hassleblad depending upon advice.

www.antonyb.com/gallery_amboseli.html

Is the current set up. I am hoping greater resolution 16bit files might improve this.

But which back. I am likely to need several batteries as I will shoot around 200 shots per day and may be away from power for 2-3 days.

There will be dust sometimes, perhaps a little cold other times, I would like the option of a useable 400iso

Lastly I think I can spend around 4-6k on the back. I can get the camera for 2k I would hire the lenses probably beyond the 80mm.

Any suggestions or comments ? Am I dreaming.

Thanks Forum

Have a look at Nikolai Zinoviev's work:

On Mamiya Leaf website

On Nikolai's website
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2012, 07:30:14 AM »
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Have a look at Nikolai Zinoviev's work:

On Mamiya Leaf website

On Nikolai's website

Small world Yair, I was just about to post of I believe same gent from Getdpi;

He considered MFDB from D3X; http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-digital-backs/15166-mf-wildlife-photography.html

Eventually he switched to MFDB and produced some very impressive works indeed;
http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-digital-backs/4730-fun-mf-images-153.html#post364325
http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-digital-backs/4730-fun-mf-images-147.html#post356756
http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-digital-backs/4730-fun-mf-images-105.html#post269139
http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-digital-backs/4730-fun-mf-images-105.html#post267869
http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-digital-backs/4730-fun-mf-images-104.html#post266784


Amboseli, magical place Smiley Smiley Smiley

Attaching a shot I took in Amboseli in end of 2001 and likewise one from Masai Mara using 35mm Kodak consumer grade negative film in a Canon AV-1 with a 35-70 f/4 zoom with failing lens mount, manual focus of course. Yes of course it is fully feasible to shoot medium format film there also using manual focus. But to say you need DSLR or DSLR AF is obvious pulling someones leg...

Recommend you to ask yourself rather what pictures you want to come back with? Medium format slows you down and encourage you to make better pictures. Thus to plan each shot prior you press the shutter and arguably come back with better images. Nowadays I shoot Rolleiflex Hy6 with an 80MP Leaf back and would love to go back on safari travel in Africa again. I current only use 50 & 80mm lenses and believe I would add a used 180mm Xenotar for such travel, using AF of course because for medium format AF is very precise. Yes AF on medium format works (of course), unless you want to catch animals running in high speed in an attack or escape, which is most of time not how you see them!!!!!!!

Medium format will give you different images than DSLR. Look at Nik's... thus ask what type of pictures you will want to bring back, and what image quality.

For the amount you wish to spend, suggest you to look at Leaf's 28MP, 33MP or add more for the 56MP. For lens 45mm D (wide) is very sharp indeed, 80mm D, 150mm D, and for long tele the 300mm APO.

What has changed since film days? Already in film days stepping up to a larger format helped in advancing in photography. Still is.  Wink

Best regards,
Anders
« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 07:32:32 AM by Anders_HK » Logged
sanzari
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« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2012, 10:36:12 AM »
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Wow guys thanks for the extra effort. Nik is certainly a interesting angle I will reach out to him.

Just to clear up a couple of points in my though process and decision making.

Current images are a 2 shot stitch. I keep the lens still and move the camera hence no parallax. Manual focus and yes I miss loads of shots but all I need is a 45 mm or 100 mm lens as I get close and I wait for the moments. I work alone with a driver.

Film is magnificent, but in Africa unless I can stay in top lodges (no I can't) it's tent life for me and the heat and potentially access to film longer term seems hard nut ultimately the time and effort for drum scanning I might just be at the end of that curve. Perhaps if my images sold for $12,000 then I might be able to pay someone to look faster the images.

So onto the medium format back. Nik seems to be the only one I can find doing what I do. Close up work on specific wildlife. I think you either become a GP or you become a consultant surgeon specialising. I chose to specialise so I hope that MF will work.

I need nicer sharper images at large sizes but because I have chose colour as my style as opposed to B&W been over done in my opinion, the 16bit files, lovely large pixels and the DOF available with Mf is drawing me.

As per another post what is not drawing me is the support costs when things go wrong and the PhaseOne attitude to their products that are only used by pro on lease or with big budgets. They have no space for aspirationals and likely one day that new market they are not making or indeed working on will leave them high and dry. Even Leica are discovering they need to innovate and branch, you can only keep upgrading people to a point.

So thanks to all for the ideas and thanks for highlighting Nik really appreciate that.

T
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2012, 11:28:26 AM »
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Hi,

I would just add that rotational stitching works very well and is probably a lot faster than shifting lens. Speed may matter if you have animal life in the picture.

Best regards
Erik


Not enough experience to be able to provide useful comment here.

AF on 35mm is generally speaking superior but I don't know if the Phaseone is good enough for your applications, it may very well be.

Cheers,
Bernard

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« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2012, 12:04:04 PM »
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I just want to chime in here for quick second. I spend about 3 months every year out in the African bush, and I am currently shooting with an IQ160 with the following lenses:

28mm
45mm
80mm
75-150mm
300mm f/2.8 APO (manual focus)
2x TC

I have only been on 1 trip to Africa with this rig so far, and I have many opinions on the matter. First of all, ISO 200 really is the limit for me with the IQ160. ISO 400 works, but only if there is ample light and the exposure is dead on. The 300mm APO is a super amazing lens, but manually focusing isn't very enjoyable. I am picking up the 300mm f/4.5 so I have something I can use most of the time.

I am more likely to use 35mm (like a D800) for long lens work and my IQ160 for things that I can shoot with my 75-150mm, and that will make a great combination.

Feel free to email me at andybiggs@gmail.com or we can arrange a call if you have any questions. I am very happy to share what I have learned so far.
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sanzari
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« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2012, 12:05:18 PM »
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Erick may I ask what you mean by rotational stitching ?
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