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Author Topic: Leaf Volare On-Location Kit - best laptop and battery?  (Read 1902 times)
ondebanks
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« on: April 16, 2013, 08:06:41 AM »
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Hoping that the MFD veterans can help me out here.

I recently put in a low bid on a Leaf Volare On-Location Kit and was surprised to win it for 200 smackeroonies.

My interest was that it's a monochrome back, with Peltier cooling, a large (by amateur astronomy standards) FF-35mm sensor, and the On Location Kit doesn’t tie you to a desktop Mac and mains power.
I do know that it is limited to 32 seconds max, which is a pity, and that it won't cool as deeply as a real astro CCD camera.
But it was 20 times cheaper than a used FF-35mm monochrome astro CCD camera like the ones based on the Kodak KAI-11000 sensor, so why not see what it can do?

The kit came in a large Leaf On Location carrying case and included:
...the Volare back,
...a Fuji GX680 adapter plate and camera cable (I have no interest in these, and will fashion my own lens adaptor),
...the colour filter wheel with RGB filters and LCD video shutter, 
...the heavy “Leaf On Location Battery” in its own carrying case,
...the Volare "Portable Power Supply" (it looks like a regular Volare power unit, except a note on the rear says that it cannot be powered by anything other than the battery),
...the charger for the battery,
...the all-important PC-card for a Mac laptop,
...a hand-release cable,
...as well as all the other connecting cables (battery to the Volare power unit, power unit to the Volare back, power unit to the PC card, Volare back to the filter wheel)
...little things like a 77mm whitebalance/LCC/gain filter, 77-95mm adapter ring (I guess that’s for reversing the filter wheel on larger lenses), a strange dongle for Leaf Colorshop, and a USB “A-Dongle” key for “oXYgen OPEN(HASP)” in Phase One packaging.
...original CD with Leaf Capture 5.2, and non-original CD marked “DCB/Leaf Ver 3.6”
...and a box of manuals – oddly they are mostly for the DCB/Catchlight rather than the Volare, and for Colorshop and Contact Sheet software rather than Leaf Capture.

So in theory all I need is a suitable older Mac laptop and I’ll be all set to play. I understand that Leaf Capture up to Version 8 will run the Volare, so I got V8.4.6 from the Phase One FTP site.

Questions!

1) What is the most recent Mac laptop that is compatible with the Cardbus PC card?

2) Any idea what the dongles are for, and if they are of any use or value now, in an era of better and upgraded software?

3) Is my reading of the Leaf Capture user guide correct – that the camera can trigger for the exposure time set in Leaf Capture in “Trigger Mode -> Camera”, using only the hand release cable? That no connection to a camera body is strictly necessary in order to get the unit to activate an exposure?

4) I suspect that the sealed lead acid battery is dead. At least, when I connected it to the Volare power unit, the LED on the power unit did not light, and the same happened when I charged it overnight (the charger LED lights, so that component is working). But perhaps nothing switches on because the system is not connected to a Mac yet?

5) I’ll see if I can find someone to test the battery. If it is dead, this seems to be an exact replacement - “Hawker/Enersys Genesis 12EP16, AGM-Batterie, Reinblei, 12V16Ah”, also here - but I’d rather not fork out so much if I don’t need to. Is there something special about this battery, or is it a standard type for motorbikes etc., and if so could I use a much cheaper 3rd party SLA battery instead?

PS. I look at the size of all this kit, and then at my not-quite-so-old Kodak DCS645M back...wow the Kodak seems tiny and amazingly self-contained in comparison!

Ray
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2013, 09:04:52 AM »
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This sounds like a recipe for a headache. But I wish you nothing but luck and if I had any experience with Leaf backs from the late 1990s I would gladly have pitched in!
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yaya
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2013, 03:17:11 PM »
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1) What is the most recent Mac laptop that is compatible with the Cardbus PC card?
You need an OS9 compatible laptop with a PCMCIA slot so a G4 Titanium is a good choice if you can find one that's not falling apart. You might also need a version of V8 older than 8.4.6 like 8.3.1 or 8.3.4
NOTE: for the back to work properly you need its personality files (gain and blemishes) which should be on a CD with the back's serial number on it. If that's missing then go back to whoever sold it to you and ask them to find it. The two files need to be placed in the Leaf Capture folder
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2) Any idea what the dongles are for, and if they are of any use or value now, in an era of better and upgraded software?
Colorshop at the time was the best tool for going from RGB input to RGB/ CMYK output, based on Scitex's pre-ICC tech
oXYgen Open was one of my last projects in R&D and was based on the Scitex/ Creo Eversmart/ iQSmart scanning software and that was able to process Leaf files, create ICC profiles and device-link profiles etc. The dongle basically serves as a scanner to enable the software...the colour correction and sharpening/ scaling tools in oXYgen IMO, at the time were the best (and to a degree they still are)
I don't think there's any value to these dongles unless someone lost theirs and are looking for replacements
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3) Is my reading of the Leaf Capture user guide correct – that the camera can trigger for the exposure time set in Leaf Capture in “Trigger Mode -> Camera”, using only the hand release cable? That no connection to a camera body is strictly necessary in order to get the unit to activate an exposure?
You set the exposure time in Leaf Capture and you can have a cable release connected to the back (with a phone jack)
Quote
4) I suspect that the sealed lead acid battery is dead. At least, when I connected it to the Volare power unit, the LED on the power unit did not light, and the same happened when I charged it overnight (the charger LED lights, so that component is working). But perhaps nothing switches on because the system is not connected to a Mac yet?
5) I’ll see if I can find someone to test the battery. If it is dead, this seems to be an exact replacement - “Hawker/Enersys Genesis 12EP16, AGM-Batterie, Reinblei, 12V16Ah”, also here - but I’d rather not fork out so much if I don’t need to. Is there something special about this battery, or is it a standard type for motorbikes etc., and if so could I use a much cheaper 3rd party SLA battery instead?
It's a motorbike (more like a scooter) battery. If you open the case you'll see it and the spec should be on it
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Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Mamiya Leaf |
e: ysh@mamiyaleaf.com | m: +44(0)77 8992 8199 | www.mamiyaleaf.com | yaya's blog
ondebanks
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2013, 04:05:00 PM »
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That's super, Yair. Many thanks for all that info!

So it's mostly good news. The one snag could be the original gain and blemish files - I'll try to get them from the seller, but that CD may be lost. Now as I understand it, I can expose a "flatfield" type of image to make my own gain file...but is there a way to make a blemish file? I guess I could live without the latter, and post-correct blemishes - that's quite normal for the application I have in mind.

Ray
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