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Author Topic: 645D or Phaseone P45+  (Read 2944 times)
delaphotography
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« on: March 08, 2013, 03:23:52 PM »
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I'm finally making the leap into the deep dark world of MF! Need some help/opinions on which direction you would head in.

Trying to decide between going with the Pentax 645D or a Phaseone P45+.

I am a fine art photographer who will probably never use the camera in a studio. I primary focus on landscape long exposure work. The main reason for the switch is the need to print large with quality. My canon 5d mkII is just not cutting anymore. My buyers are constantly asking for larger print size than I can get with the 5D MKII.

What I like about the Pentax 645D:
1. Price is nice!
2. Lens are relatively inexpensive
3. Weather sealing
4. Long exposure seem up to the task
5. SLR like interface

What I like about Phaseone P45+:
1. King of LE until the new back comes out)
2. Path to upgrade is clear
3. Nice lens to chose from

Price is always a consideration but I really want is the right system for me. The P45+ seem to provide the best quality for my type of work but the Pentax seem like it could do the same for less. I'm just not sure which way to go.

Any opinions would be of great help.

Thanks!
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2013, 03:37:36 PM »
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Well, having a P25+ back, I went with the Pentax 645D. It is a great camera to use. The viewfinder is excellent and really great if you can get the Refconverter--90 degree angle finder. Battery life is really great--I can spend all day out in the field with sub-freezing temps with one battery, although I do carry two. Batteries are cheap. I use 9- and 13-stop ND filters with the 645D. The IR remote will start and end the bulb exposure and so you don't have to put a cable in the body. However, get a cable in case the remote dies on you--no, you cannot change the remote battery. I got a cheap $6 remote cable that just needed the plug to be shaved down to fit. The double tripod sockets on the body is a great touch for vertical or horizontal orientation--say goodbye to L brackets!

Supposedly, Pentax will release the Pentax 645DII this year.

I hate the GUI interface on my P25+ back. The back takes beautiful images and is well built, but it is clunky and the display is not very good. I was not impressed by the Mamiya viewfinder or camera. I use my back on a Linhof view camera. If you wanted a view or technical camera, then the back is the way to go. As a DSLR package, it is less appealing.
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delaphotography
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2013, 03:57:34 PM »
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Thanks for the reply!

How is the long exposure performance with the 645D? Can you point me to any examples?

I would love to know what Pentax will do about its next generation 645d. I want to upgrade as soon as I can. Waiting for Pentax is to uncertain.
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2013, 04:01:17 PM »
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Likewise I'd suggest looking at a P45+ on a tech camera.

- rise/fall for composition
- tilt/swing for focus control
- incredibly good lenses (both sharpness edge-to-edge and look/color)
- image stitching within an image circle (rather than pan-and-shoot stitching)

Also, many tech camera users enjoy the tactile, traditional, visceral method of shooting a tech camera. That's obviously a personal-preference thing.

Is "SLR like interface" on your list because you're sure it's what you prefer, or because it's what you're familiar with now? Presumably whatever you get will be something you shoot with for many years, so the "learning curve" period of a few shoots to get used to a new format/camera-type is, in the grand scheme of things, quite short.

Re: weather sealing see the recent comments of two [tech camera + P1 back] users:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=75930.msg607821#msg607821
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=75930.msg607814#msg607814

As always I suggest making the majority of your decision by doing your OWN analysis.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 04:10:43 PM by Doug Peterson » Logged

DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
Dealer for Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Profoto
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Phase One IQ250 FAQ
delaphotography
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2013, 04:06:55 PM »
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Humm I never considered a tech camera before...where would I start???
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2013, 04:09:55 PM »
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Humm I never considered a tech camera before...where would I start???

It's an obviously self-interested suggestion but...

We (Digital Transitions) would be glad to have you in our Remote Demo Center (screen+audio+video+file sharing) to show you the Arca tech cameras and Cambo tech cameras. After that we'd be glad to do an evaluation rental so you can see how well it fits your shooting style, wants, and needs.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 04:12:54 PM by Doug Peterson » Logged

DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
Dealer for Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Profoto
Office: 877.367.8537
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Phase One IQ250 FAQ
delaphotography
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2013, 04:30:04 PM »
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It's an obviously self-interested suggestion but...

We (Digital Transitions) would be glad to have you in our Remote Demo Center (screen+audio+video+file sharing) to show you the Arca tech cameras and Cambo tech cameras. After that we'd be glad to do an evaluation rental so you can see how well it fits your shooting style, wants, and needs.

Thanks Doug for that suggestion. I have not though about this route but it does interest me. I am a complete novice when it comes to tech cams and don't know the market at all. I am not afraid of learning as that's half the fun for me...but will this move put the budget into the stratosphere? How can I get an idea of some preliminary pricing for what will it take to put together an system?
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2013, 04:41:42 PM »
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Thanks Doug for that suggestion. I have not though about this route but it does interest me. I am a complete novice when it comes to tech cams and don't know the market at all. I am not afraid of learning as that's half the fun for me...but will this move put the budget into the stratosphere? How can I get an idea of some preliminary pricing for what will it take to put together an system?

"Tech camera" turns out to be a surprisingly wide ecosystem.

A Rodenstock 32HR and Cambo Wide AE would put your budget much higher.

A Schneider 35XL and Cambo Wide DS can be very affordable.

We can help you navigate the waters and learn where you can save money and where you should probably pony up. It's literally what we do every day.
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DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
Dealer for Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Profoto
Office: 877.367.8537
Cell: 740.707.2183
Phase One IQ250 FAQ
delaphotography
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2013, 04:50:53 PM »
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Thanks Doug...I will contacting you guys
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2013, 04:57:52 PM »
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Try this for examples.

http://www.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-digital-backs/43838-pentax-645d-2.html

The moonlit river was taken at ISO 800.
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2013, 05:04:31 PM »
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Tech cameras are great, but the workflow can get more complex particularly with wides as you need to deal with lens cast and perhaps center filters. I would try a tech camera--rent if possible. Nothing is particularly difficult, but you do need to learn a few more skills. Movement give real benefits, but if you don't like the hassle, then not much point in having them.
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delaphotography
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« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2013, 05:10:08 PM »
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Try this for examples.

http://www.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-digital-backs/43838-pentax-645d-2.html

The moonlit river was taken at ISO 800.

Some really nice one there! Thanks for the link!
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delaphotography
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2013, 05:14:11 PM »
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Tech cameras are great, but the workflow can get more complex particularly with wides as you need to deal with lens cast and perhaps center filters. I would try a tech camera--rent if possible. Nothing is particularly difficult, but you do need to learn a few more skills. Movement give real benefits, but if you don't like the hassle, then not much point in having them.

I will definitely take that into consideration...Right now I just want to explore my option as best as I can. But the 645D has been high on my list. I really had not considered tech cams, but it might be a way to go.

I don't like shooting to wide of lens but pano's from shifting in diffidently something i'm interested in.
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Paul2660
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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2013, 06:37:04 PM »
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Here are a few more thoughts:

1.  If you purchase a P45+, it will be used.  Make sure you purchase from either a authorized Phase One dealer or if you choose to go outside the dealer channel make sure to test the back before you buy it.  Many early P45+ backs would not get all the way to 1 hour exposures without a controller card change.  I owned one of those.  DT helped me through the fix.  A authorized dealer can certify the back, and give you a good solution. 

2.  The 1 hour exposures outdoors are limited to 69 degree F.  If you go 1 hour with outside temps higher, the quality will fall off very fast.    In my state, it's only 69 degrees at night about 6 months of the year.  You can still shoot shorter, say 30 minutes or less, but the 1 hour will not look good, it will pick up a strong red tint.  If you are working in a high humidity environment, this 69 degrees may drop even lower.

3.  The 45+ will require a dark frame that is as long as the previous exposure, i.e. 1 hour shot, 1 hour dark frame.  You must have continuous power during this or the frame will be lost.  On a older Phase One battery, you will get about (2) 1 hour shots, that is the first and dark frame.  You might get (2) 30 minute after that.  You can run the P45+ from a Canon video camera battery and get much longer times.  Do a search on this on this site as there are man pictures of it.

4.  The P45+ will work great with the lesser priced Schneiders, and older Rodenstocks along with the newer HR HW  Rodenstock and Digitar Schneiders.  You will be able to shift to a full 20mm on say a 43mm Schneider with almost no red/magenta cast.  You will still see light fall off, but the LCC totally fix this.  The P45+ is a great shifting back. 

5.  I found the  LCD on the P45+ is hard to work with period and if you add a tech camera then it's very frustrating. , I know many out there work with it but outdoors it's almost impossible to read it and it takes very long to refresh i.e. if you try to zoom into a 100% view.  Also the 100% view can cause more trouble than good as many times it fooled me into thinking I had a good focus, but in reality I was not there. 

6.  645D has a very modern LCD, allows a 100% view that can tell you a lot more data. 

7.  The P45+ with the latest firmware will shoot a very nice iso400 and will give you a useable iso800.  The 645D is rated to 1600, but I have not seen anything from that high, I have seen the results at iso800 and it's very useable. 

Both are very good cameras see if you can get a demo of both. 

Paul Caldwell
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2013, 10:38:50 PM »
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To add to what Paul said, the 645D will also take a dark frame on long exposures over 30 sec. and so you need to wait double the exposure time. ISO 1600 is very good on the Pentax 645D--I use it quite often. BTW, the 645D has a built in intervelometer. It can also do multiple exposures with RAW files up to 9 frames.
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FredBGG
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« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2013, 12:41:15 AM »
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If weather sealing is important to you then stick with the Pentax.

Just look at the memory slot door of a P series back and you will see clearly that there is not weather sealing there.

The P series Phase One backs are very nicely built, but the screen is really small and the live view is nothing like
what you get on a 35mm DSLR.

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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2013, 01:20:50 AM »
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Hi,

Technical cameras cover a very wide scope, personally I got very interested in Phase back and Hartblei HCam combination. It can be used with almost all lenses. It works well Canon T&S lenses (really!) and it can take Hasselblad lenses, or anything else. I bought a couple Hasselblad lenses for 500-700 $ (or so), those lenses were Sonnar 150/4 and Planar 120/4.

Stefan Steib, the owner of Hartblei recommended the P45+, in Contax mount as he says those are most affordable.

It is my understanding that a dealer like DT or CI makes sure that all backs they sell are in good shape, so going to a good dealer and getting a certified back with warranty is probably a good thing. Doing repairs on MF backs seems to be expensive.

This story is worth reading:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=70821.0
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=75602.0

Now, I would suggest that the backs are quite reliable. So if you buy a back, test it truly and make sure to have it in perfect shape before warranty finishes you will be happy.

This article by Anders Torger is quite informative: http://www.ludd.luth.se/~torger/photography/mfdb-guide.html

Regarding the Pentax 645D it is probably a very good camera. Electronics are probably top class and it is fully weather sealed, it is also a complete package and comes with a one year warranty.

If you get issues with warranty, be aware that within specs is your enemy. Vendor specifications may be not like your expectations.

A final question. What is the problem with the image quality of the Canon you have? It may be worthwhile to reconsider the problem you need to solve before spending a lot of money.

Visiting a dealer and making some tests sounds like a very good proposal.

Best regards
Erik







It's an obviously self-interested suggestion but...

We (Digital Transitions) would be glad to have you in our Remote Demo Center (screen+audio+video+file sharing) to show you the Arca tech cameras and Cambo tech cameras. After that we'd be glad to do an evaluation rental so you can see how well it fits your shooting style, wants, and needs.
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gerald.d
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« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2013, 02:57:33 AM »
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I've read a lot of good things about the Pentax, but have no personal experience, so will leave it to others to comment on.

On the Phase One side, if you're primarily looking at shooting landscapes, I'd highly recommend exploring the tech cam options - personally, I shoot ALPA and cannot say enough good things about both the equipment and the company. On this forum, you will find a very strong - and openly admitted - bias from dealers towards other tech cam brands.

One thing you should take into consideration is that if you go with the P45+, you can at a later date pick up a perfectly decent DSLR body (I'd recommend the Phase One AF) and nice set of old Mamiya manual focus lenses for what is relatively peanuts. I'd say there's no need to go for a DF or auto-focus lenses for your primary use. $2000 or so should set you up nicely with an AF and a few lenses. As an example, the 50 shift can typically be had for under $500, and it's hard to think of another lens that offers such value on ANY system.

Regards,

Gerald.
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« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2013, 10:23:27 AM »
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I'm quite happy with my 645D and if you are mostly going to be using it outdoors the form factor, controls and weather sealing are definitely a benefit. If you did not need a technical camera so far perhaps the Pentax will suffice. I still shoot my 4x5 for some subjects and the tilts and shifts can be a powerful tool i miss on the Pentax. When I shoot with he 4x5 however I miss the speed at which I can adapt to changing light, so each camera will have it's up and downsides.

I have not tried a one hour exposure with the 645D but I do 5 or 10 minute ones quite often. Here are a few samples of 5+ minute exposures. The one with the star trails was over 10 minutes.







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« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2013, 01:49:04 PM »
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Hi,

I really like that first image!

Best regards
Erik
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