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Author Topic: Keep older MFDB system, or go latest and greatest 35mm ProDSLR?  (Read 3691 times)
sanvandur
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« on: August 26, 2013, 09:16:07 AM »
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I've been shooting MFDB since 2006. I currently own a Phase One P30+ on a DF body, 45mm, and 75-150mm lenses. I love it all. The results are always amazing. I shoot mainly landscape.
I'm wondering if its worth it now though. The quality coming out of current 35mm ProDSLR is quite amazing. They're more affordable, lighter, faster, more lens choices, etc. I don't really see myself putting down a second mortgage to upgrade to an IQ series back. Is it worth sticking with a rapidly aging P30+? Of should I just wait and see where MFDB goes in the near future? Should I switch to high end 35mm DSLR? Or just keep my system?
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TMARK
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2013, 09:45:01 AM »
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I had a P30+.  I also had every full frame Canon aside from the 6D.  I now have a D800.  I think the main consideration, as compared to a D800e, is how you work, format (4:3), camera, viewfinder, etc. 

In terms of IQ there isn't a huge difference between a P30+ and D800e.  People will quibble but lenses make more of a difference than the sensor in most cases.  The P30+ does beat out the Canons, if you look closely. 

I really think we are at a point that the most important consideration is the camera system and not the IQ.
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torger
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 09:50:26 AM »
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Should I switch to high end 35mm DSLR? Or just keep my system?

I'd keep it even if you look into upgrading in the future. There's practically only one 35mm camera out that make some users switch, the D800. In 1-2 years there will be more options. If Canon succeeds matching the D800 sensor quality that system will be an interesting option. And as said above, also think about that it's not all about image quality.

In the long-term the most economical way to deal with camera gear is typically to hold on to it for as long as possible :-).
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 09:51:59 AM by torger » Logged
ondebanks
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 09:51:01 AM »
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I'd say, keep it. Since you "shoot mainly landscape", I doubt that a D800E will match the colour response of the Kodak sensor in the P30+.

Also, in what sense is your P30+ "rapidly aging"? It's built to last and last. No moving parts, too.

That's the thing about MFDBs. Their owners age much faster than they do!  Cheesy

Ray
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Ken R
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2013, 09:51:15 AM »
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I agree. If the current setup is working for you then why not stick with it. Unless you go to the IQ160/180 and 260/280 you won't see a huge increase in image quality. No DSLR will absolutely destroy the P30+ in image quality either. (low iso). The DSLRs do offer wider lens selection, high iso performance and good live view. That and a smaller form factor and affordability are the DSLRs main advantages.
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sanvandur
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2013, 10:34:54 AM »
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Ii guess it's "aging" in the sense that the P30+ has been around for so long. Other than that my Phase system is functioning perfectly.
I guess I'll hold on to it and maybe upgrade to a better Phase DB in the future.
Thanks for the feedback!
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TMARK
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2013, 10:55:41 AM »
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Ray,

The color response is different, but closer than say a D800 versus a Leaf Aptus 75s.  I wouldn't say one is better than the other in terms of non-human subjects.  With people the Phase is better than the D800.

I'd say, keep it. Since you "shoot mainly landscape", I doubt that a D800E will match the colour response of the Kodak sensor in the P30+.

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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2013, 01:03:59 PM »
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Ii guess it's "aging" in the sense that the P30+ has been around for so long. Other than that my Phase system is functioning perfectly.
I guess I'll hold on to it and maybe upgrade to a better Phase DB in the future.
Thanks for the feedback!

The image quality was great when you bought it. It's still great today.

Service/Support/Repair are all still available and will be for years (if Phase's historic longevity-of-support is any indication).

You love the results.

By the way, don't assume that an upgrade would have to be to an IQ. A P65+ would offer you a larger sensor, better color discrimination, better tonality, sensor+ for high ISO, and compatibility with tech cameras. A tech camera might solve your search for more lenses and lighter carrying weight. A Cambo RC400 and three TS lenses can be lighter than a dSLR kit with three TS lenses. Likewise an Arca Swiss Factum or other brand's small-body tech cameras.
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bcooter
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« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2013, 02:11:09 PM »
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I had a P30+.  I also had every full frame Canon aside from the 6D.  I now have a D800.  I think the main consideration, as compared to a D800e, is how you work, format (4:3), camera, viewfinder, etc.  

In terms of IQ there isn't a huge difference between a P30+ and D800e.  People will quibble but lenses make more of a difference than the sensor in most cases.  The P30+ does beat out the Canons, if you look closely.  

I really think we are at a point that the most important consideration is the camera system and not the IQ.

Image quality is so user dependent.  If I shot cars, product, non moving subjects, I'd probably be more concerned with detail, but shooting people my first concern is the "look" of the file when first placed in a software suite, then what I can do with it later in post.

I find the dslrs (I have only briefly used a d800 so no real experience there), are more global in color, with hard light can be pleasing, with softer light can be problematic, but it's all subject dependent.

i have a 1dx, bought it because over 18 mp doesn't really concern me and it shoots fast so we can use it for a cut frame look in video.  Anyway, like the camera, don't like the file as it's out of the can very warm (especially in lightroom, less so in c-1) and just doesn't look special to me.

I know that someone can show something to refute this and for them, they're probably right, but as I've always said, digital is very user, subject dependent.

The upside of an older p30+ (which I have) is it's paid for and it makes a tremendous file.   Really I'd be surprised if I ever needed something more robust in file quality.  Since I have my phase backs on older contax, I would like a more modern platform.  Looked at and came close to buying an H5d, or a Pentax 645 (still like that camera) even a Leica S,  but passed as I wanted to wait and see what/when phase came out with a new camera.

Actually that's not 100% true.  I passed because the Leica doesn't have a robust tethering suite, the Pentax shoots and buffers slow and doesn't tether easy, the Hasselblad reviews on tethering were mixed from ok to worse.   That left Leaf and Phase.  I think the new Phase One's are very high in price, the Leaf seemed better in price, but didn't offer pixel binning and most packages were based on the Mamiya DF which isn't my favorite camera.

But if my studios only produced still projects instead of motion, motion/stills, I'd probably be all over a new back, just because they have come up a few notches in usability.

For us, in the end, it's all about what you shoot and how you want to shoot it.  For people that stare at pixels at 100% quality and file size go hand in hand, but for people that shoot, process, retouch and deliver for almost any use, how good a file looks at the starting point and how well it works in post processing probably is more important than actual pixel detail, though the d800 proves that high pixel count sells.

Actually, the acceptance of a digital file has changed so much since I made the transition of film to digital.  At first client's always asked for ______ppi, or as they said dpi, non interpolated.  Now they just accept a file, without softproofing, usually from our ftp servers and never ask or question original file size.

What clients do notice is the "look", which is one of the reasons so many photographers have gone back and forth from digital to film, to give a different look.    Today film is kind of a magic word.

One thing that happened to us twice this year was two separate AD's from two separate projects, looked through our website and selected imagery they both thought were film.

Each image (about a dozen from each AD) we shot with a ccd based camera, either our Phase, prior Leaf or Leica cameras and backs.

Now this is a very small straw poll, but they really believed they were looking at film.  

These two images are always selected as a "film" images, even for clients that are not looking in these genre.

Left a p30+, right Leaf Aptus 22


I just think what they saw looked different and different works today.



IMO

BC
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 02:27:05 PM by bcooter » Logged

Don Libby
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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2013, 02:22:23 PM »
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For me your third sentence "I love it all." says a lot, added to the fact that you say you shoot landscape.

Other than that, my first MFDB was a P30+ when I made the move from a 1DsII.  As good as 35mm is getting I just don't see the same quality in files when I compare them to our current 35mm (1DsIII).  MF has some drawbacks (slower focus among them) however if I say "I love it all" - which by the way I do - I'd keep the P30+ with an idea of maybe going to another back sometime along the way.  My progression in backs (and I shoot mainly landscape) has been P30+, P45+, P65 and currently the IQ160.  I also shoot a combination of DF and tech camera so my experiences are slightly different.

Bottom line, as long as you can honestly say "I love it all" then stick with it.

Don
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TMARK
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« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2013, 03:37:39 PM »
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Firstly, as a general disclaimer, I'm not arguing the MFD v. d800 thing.  These are simply my observations regarding file quality.

The P30+ is fantastic.  I can't really fault it up to 200iso.  Good out of the box color for people, not as good (to me) as an Aptus 75s. The D800 color blows until its worked in post, but when you hit it, its as good as anything else, especially with a different lens, such as a Hasselblad 80CF.  The P30+ and all the backs I've used can have very subtle color transitions, clearly rendering slight differences in a really beautiful way.

I also agree with the Cooter when it comes to ambient versus hard strobe lighting.  The DSLRs look incredible when lit with a hard key.  In fact, I think its a waste to use a back if you are going with hard light.  Fortunately that hard lighting style is dead, except in workshops.   Ambient with DSLRs always looks a little washed, needs more post to get it looking how I like it.

For me the bloom has worn off the D800.  The color is such a pain in the ass that I mainly use it for B&W, where it is amazing. I mainly use an M9.  I realized I was spending all this time in post making the D800 files look like m9 files that i just started with the m9 again.  I do plan on getting a back again, probably an Aptus 75s or II-7.  Maybe the Pentax as I see them used for moderate prices and the focal plane shutter allows the use of Mamiya and V lenses.

As to the Leica S, I still don't trust Leica reliability.  We had a guy shooting with an S and the files were all wrong.  All wrong.  strange artifacts, tinged high lights.  This was a hardware problem, aparently, and the job was finished with a backup, but we lost two hours or so.

As the Cooter says "something special" is important.  Not just to shooters but to the clients.   

Image quality is so user dependent.  If I shot cars, product, non moving subjects, I'd probably be more concerned with detail, but shooting people my first concern is the "look" of the file when first placed in a software suite, then what I can do with it later in post.

I find the dslrs (I have only briefly used a d800 so no real experience there), are more global in color, with hard light can be pleasing, with softer light can be problematic, but it's all subject dependent.

i have a 1dx, bought it because over 18 mp doesn't really concern me and it shoots fast so we can use it for a cut frame look in video.  Anyway, like the camera, don't like the file as it's out of the can very warm (especially in lightroom, less so in c-1) and just doesn't look special to me.

I know that someone can show something to refute this and for them, they're probably right, but as I've always said, digital is very user, subject dependent.

The upside of an older p30+ (which I have) is it's paid for and it makes a tremendous file.   Really I'd be surprised if I ever needed something more robust in file quality.  Since I have my phase backs on older contax, I would like a more modern platform.  Looked at and came close to buying an H5d, or a Pentax 645 (still like that camera) even a Leica S,  but passed as I wanted to wait and see what/when phase came out with a new camera.

Actually that's not 100% true.  I passed because the Leica doesn't have a robust tethering suite, the Pentax shoots and buffers slow and doesn't tether easy, the Hasselblad reviews on tethering were mixed from ok to worse.   That left Leaf and Phase.  I think the new Phase One's are very high in price, the Leaf seemed better in price, but didn't offer pixel binning and most packages were based on the Mamiya DF which isn't my favorite camera.

But if my studios only produced still projects instead of motion, motion/stills, I'd probably be all over a new back, just because they have come up a few notches in usability.

For us, in the end, it's all about what you shoot and how you want to shoot it.  For people that stare at pixels at 100% quality and file size go hand in hand, but for people that shoot, process, retouch and deliver for almost any use, how good a file looks at the starting point and how well it works in post processing probably is more important than actual pixel detail, though the d800 proves that high pixel count sells.

Actually, the acceptance of a digital file has changed so much since I made the transition of film to digital.  At first client's always asked for ______ppi, or as they said dpi, non interpolated.  Now they just accept a file, without softproofing, usually from our ftp servers and never ask or question original file size.

What clients do notice is the "look", which is one of the reasons so many photographers have gone back and forth from digital to film, to give a different look.    Today film is kind of a magic word.

One thing that happened to us twice this year was two separate AD's from two separate projects, looked through our website and selected imagery they both thought were film.

Each image (about a dozen from each AD) we shot with a ccd based camera, either our Phase, prior Leaf or Leica cameras and backs.

Now this is a very small straw poll, but they really believed they were looking at film.  

These two images are always selected as a "film" images, even for clients that are not looking in these genre.

Left a p30+, right Leaf Aptus 22


I just think what they saw looked different and different works today.



IMO

BC

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markmullen
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« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2013, 03:51:06 PM »
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I wouldn't bother myself. If you're used to working with your back and getting the best of it I think you'd be disappointed with a dslr. I've come from a variety of pro level Canon dslrs, currently a 5D Mk3 and a 1Ds Mk2 and have just gone MFD with an admittedly old tech Leaf Aptus 22 and an delighted with the results compared to my dslrs.

I am hanging on to my canon kit for the moment for its high ISO for travelling but for my main landscape work I am loving the MFD.
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2013, 07:20:45 AM »
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I agree with Doug.  I use an Arca Swiss with a P65 - you might consider upgrading to this, but a lot depends on your shooting style.   One thing I will say is that I have yet to see a 35mm system where the lenses are as sharp edge to edge as the view camera lenses used on an Arca or Cambo system.  The other thing to consider is how big you make your enlargements. 24 x 30 the systems are pretty similar.  Larger than that print size - not so much.  I have a Nikon D800e as a second camera and love it for short distance & macro work - unbelievable quality, but the landscape shots just don't have the snap & precision of the P65.
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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2013, 08:18:42 AM »
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Hi,

There are 135 lenses that are sharp edge to edge, and some are even sharp corner to corner. Finding those lenses may take some effort.

There is the Coastal Optics Apo Macro 60 mm, a few Sigma Macros, some of the newer Zeiss designs. Most lenses of longer focal lengths are sharp corner to corner.

On the other hand, I would say that there is a large difference in resolution between my Hasselblad V & P45+ and my Sony Alpha 99 (24 MP full frame). Possible a 36 MP DSLR would match the HBV/P45+ combo for sharpness, don't know. A higher resolving back would be even better.

If you are happy with your MFD solution, why not keep it and stay happy?

Best regards
Erik




I agree with Doug.  I use an Arca Swiss with a P65 - you might consider upgrading to this, but a lot depends on your shooting style.   One thing I will say is that I have yet to see a 35mm system where the lenses are as sharp edge to edge as the view camera lenses used on an Arca or Cambo system.  The other thing to consider is how big you make your enlargements. 24 x 30 the systems are pretty similar.  Larger than that print size - not so much.  I have a Nikon D800e as a second camera and love it for short distance & macro work - unbelievable quality, but the landscape shots just don't have the snap & precision of the P65.
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sbernthal
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2013, 11:16:49 AM »
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I don't see why the only options are IQ upgrade or 35mm.

There is plenty of middle ground - you can upgrade to a second hand back which is better and newer than what you have but still not on IQ prices.
Aptus II for instance - even new ones aren't that expensive.
I would get a bigger sensor back from around 2010.
Aptus II 10 can be found for ~$10K.

If you are used to the quality from the P1 system, you might feel downgraded by results from a 35mm system.
If you feel the need to walk around and take pictures with your camera handheld, then you should switch to 35mm.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2013, 12:37:55 PM »
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Hi,

After shooting a few months with MFDB I would not say the difference is that great. Resolution, yes. Color rendition? I don't know! White balance matters a lot, once correct WB is established color rendition is not far away. To put it simply, for me the resolution advantage is obvious but any other advantage less so.

It is quite possible that resoultion of MFDB can be matched by best DSLR technology and optimal choice of lenses.


Best regards
Erik




I don't see why the only options are IQ upgrade or 35mm.

There is plenty of middle ground - you can upgrade to a second hand back which is better and newer than what you have but still not on IQ prices.
Aptus II for instance - even new ones aren't that expensive.
I would get a bigger sensor back from around 2010.
Aptus II 10 can be found for ~$10K.

If you are used to the quality from the P1 system, you might feel downgraded by results from a 35mm system.
If you feel the need to walk around and take pictures with your camera handheld, then you should switch to 35mm.
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sbernthal
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2013, 12:50:33 PM »
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I don't have much experience with outside work, but my understanding is that technical lenses provide much better wide angles than 35mm. I've never had a good quality wide image with 35mm.

For studio work:
- Many clients want the extra resolution even if they don't need it - and sometimes they need it to crop
- In controlled studio environment I see a very big difference in colors. Maybe it's possible to get comparable colors with post, but I wasn't able to do it.
- Diffraction
- Lens consistency - Mamiya D lenses have very few problems. With 35mm there was always some problem with the lens either at extreme apertures or the sides of the frame.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2013, 01:03:30 PM »
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Hi,

Diffraction is the same for all lenses. It is solely a function of aperture. An MF lens needs to be stopped down more for similar DoF. A smaller format lens needs more magnification. In general I would say things balance out.

With a technical camera you can use Scheimpflug, and that is a game changer.

The link below shows some practical samples:
http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/76-my-medium-format-digital-journey?start=10

In a recent shoot I got the best images with a 14/2.8 Samyang on my Sony Alpha 99. Far better than 24-70/2.8 Zeiss zoom or 40/4 Distagon on the 'blad'. Horses for the courses.

Best regards
Erik

I don't have much experience with outside work, but my understanding is that technical lenses provide much better wide angles than 35mm. I've never had a good quality wide image with 35mm.

For studio work:
- Many clients want the extra resolution even if they don't need it - and sometimes they need it to crop
- In controlled studio environment I see a very big difference in colors. Maybe it's possible to get comparable colors with post, but I wasn't able to do it.
- Diffraction
- Lens consistency - Mamiya D lenses have very few problems. With 35mm there was always some problem with the lens either at extreme apertures or the sides of the frame.

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sbernthal
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« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2013, 01:09:32 PM »
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Diffraction tolerance increases with sensor size.
There are charts for that, I forget where, but my experience is very clear on it.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2013, 01:32:10 PM »
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Hi,

I actually measured it, here: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/76-my-medium-format-digital-journey?start=13


Don't forget that you need to stop down a few extra steps for same DoF.

Best regards
Erik

Diffraction tolerance increases with sensor size.
There are charts for that, I forget where, but my experience is very clear on it.
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