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Archive 2013 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my cho...
  
 
Sneakyracer
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Hi, after weeks looking at countless tests / reviews, opinions, test images (raw) and just reading every hands on experience I could find online I think I have made my choice.

Let me explain my situation.

I have a Canon 1Ds3 and a 5D3 and about 12 L lenses. I know what I want/need from my gear and use it professionally almost every day. I will keep all my Canon gear since its the perfect tool for quite a few jobs.

I wanted/needed a higher resolution body to make very large prints (60inches) of landscape images and also some people photography and after making a few test prints it was apparent that the Canon's are only good to about 20x30in, after that, it gets nasty. And that is with perfect technique using Canon's best lenses at optimum apertures and settings. (did a bunch of tests to determine that).

I rented a Nikon D800E and a few of the best wide angles available for that Camera. (Zeiss 15mm, Nikon 14-24 and the 24 PC-E). I did side by side tests with the Canon photographing a scene that represents the type of image I want to produce. Conclusion? The Canon lenses are top notch, the sensor is behind the lenses. The Nikon has an amazing sensor (DR and Res.) and the Zeiss is amazing then the 14-24 and the 24 is ok but not great.

I absolutely did not like working with the Nikon though. The lens mount is small and mounting lenses is not that easy and tricky in low light. The live view is pretty useless a lot of times but the viewfinder is good although both are better in the Canon.

The Nikon prints did look better. The performance in the shadows is pretty amazing and a huge advantage. The resolution advantage is real. Corner performance is good but not great. One problem with the Nikon is that I believe due to smaller pixels diffraction sets in at a wider (numerically lower) aperture than the Canon. I did not test extensively for this but it might be an issue in certain situations.

All this lead me to Explore medium format Digital.

After lots of searches and info I concluded basically that the best backs are the Phase One backs. Mainly the P65+, IQ140/160/180. They are VERY expensive though. The best camera for them for landscape is a technical camera. The best MF DSLR body is probably the Hasselblad H4D/H5D. But its a quasi integrated system (you can take it apart) with the Hsselblad backs. Yes, you can get a H1 and use a phase back but that body does not have true focus, which is one of the big advantages of the Hasselblad. The 645DF+ body is good but not great (inherited form the mamiya 645). The AF is hit or miss and MF requires a magnifier to do it precisely. I was almost decided with the Hasselblad until I found some credible info that it does not work well at freezing and below temps and also noticed that the sensor gets dirty easily. The Hassy lenses seem great but very expensive and heavy.

I went back and forth over this and at times though that I needed a technical camera AND a SLR body for some of my work. It was becoming a very expensive proposition.

I make money with my gear but I still have a budget.

I then came upon the Pentax 645D and started looking into it quite a bit and found some great info about it from actual users. Although there are only three lenses available new for it there are a LOT of FA 645 lenses avaibale used. And at great prices. I also have a few Pentax 6x7 bodies and lenses (can be used with adapter on the 645D) from my film days. I looked at a few raw files (which lightroom processes perfectly and with lens correction presets) and was VERY impressed at how smooth it rendered dusk and dawn skies. Even when using long exposures (the Phase One backs were terrible at long exposures, nasty shadows). On top of that the body has multi point AF (only MF digital camera to have it) and also sensor shake clean (also unique in MFDigital)... and weather sealing (lenses and body).

So after weeks of looking at my options I ordered one (arrives next week) and will be testing for a few days.



Mar 28, 2013 at 02:17 AM
dgenx24
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


I was also looking at pentax 645d reviews the other day. not that I needed one.
It definately has good reviews and seems like an awesome high quality camera. One negative side about the camera was the slow preview time of a few seconds. I don't know how that will effect one's work flow.
I'm going to subscribe the thread, let us know how it goes!

thanks for sharing.



Mar 28, 2013 at 02:39 AM
kdphotography
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Congratulations! I'm sure you'll enjoy your new camera!

Ken



Mar 28, 2013 at 02:50 AM
Beni
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Did you have the chance to test and compare the 40 megapixel files for your uses as you did with the canon and nikon?


Mar 28, 2013 at 06:54 AM
carstenw
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


I don't quite understand how the Nikon wasn't enough and the 645D is? Because of the larger pixels? The difference in size is very small in real terms.

But congratulations, very neat camera. I hope Pentax continues to release new lenses for it.



Mar 28, 2013 at 08:16 AM
Sneakyracer
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Beni wrote:
Did you have the chance to test and compare the 40 megapixel files for your uses as you did with the canon and nikon?


I did makes equal size prints of each but the Nikon and Canon were shot side by side under identical conditions the 645D raw files were downloaded from the net and hence was a completely different image although similar in nature (longish exposure shot at dusk/night). I will test the 645D thoroughly once I get it.



Mar 28, 2013 at 12:24 PM
thedigitalbean
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Curious that you found the 645D lenses up to the task. When I did a similar evaluation a couple of years ago, I liked the 645D, but the found the lenses leaving much to be desired.

One more data point to throw in there, in my observation there is a difference in AF reliability between the 645DF and the 645DF+. The DF+ was a disappointing upgrade for a lot of phase users but reports seem to be that where the 645DF took two or three tries to reliably lock AF, the 645DF+ doesn't.

Also did you look at the Leica S2? The lenses are among the finest ever made and for medium format, the body is pretty darned good.

Regardless, hope the Pentax 645D works out for you and they really do end up getting some new glass out there.



Mar 28, 2013 at 01:15 PM
carstenw
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


A Leica S kit would be awesome, but the price is about 3x a similar 645D kit.


Mar 28, 2013 at 01:52 PM
harvey steeves
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


a local store has a brand new kit for $8k. I should have waited 2 years ...


Mar 28, 2013 at 02:16 PM
H.Lux
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Congrats, I did the same!


Mar 28, 2013 at 11:52 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



Sneakyracer
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Well, made the order:

New: 645D w/55 2.8 lens

Used: 120mm f4 A macro (manual), 45-85mm f4.5 FA (AF), 75mm f2.8 FA (AF) and 35mm f3.5 FA (AF) lenses.

Total Cost: about $10.8k give or take.

Well see what happens but this is going to be my main landscape and studio camera.



Apr 01, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Sneakyracer
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Here we go!

Just got it. Charging battery right now.

First impressions. Great camera. Smaller than I though it would be. Lighter too. Good to hold and absolutely awesome viewfinder. Really like the control layout. Not too many external buttons (like Nikon) and not too little (like leica). Im charging the battery. Should take some images in an hour or 2.












Apr 03, 2013 at 08:02 PM
wfrank
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Congrats. Would love to see some imagery. FM is not well fed with Digital MF.

Sneakyracer wrote:
The performance in the shadows is pretty amazing and a huge advantage [Nikon vs Canon].


This is what bugs me the most. I am locked up in various Zeiss' and can only wait. Flange distance make Nikon a no go. Perhaps a Sony NEX FF materialize and I'll bite the dust and skip the OVF. Digital MF will continue as a dream :-)




Apr 03, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Ben Horne
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


I've seen large prints from MF digital, but IMO the quality just isn't there for big stuff. Sure, they print big, but the fine detail is lacking and the images look somewhat sterile up close. That's why I went back to film. A drum scan of LF film will give all the detail one would ever need, combined with dynamic range that surpasses digital with you use color neg film. It's not for everyone though -- the entire process is much more involved than digital.


Apr 03, 2013 at 08:37 PM
Sneakyracer
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Yeah, the Nikon mount is too small and the flange dist. makes adapting Canon lenses impossible. We can always hope for a mirror less full frame 36MP sensor sony.

I will post images tonight. The battery is charging. Weather looks great for a great sunset/dusk.



Apr 03, 2013 at 08:40 PM
Mike Tuomey
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Very interested in your results and thinking. Thanks for taking the time to share.

I have the need to make a limited number of large prints, investigated MF digital with tech cameras and also with mamiya RZ IID body and lenses. Very expensive for what I intend to do. I have veered off into film (see Ben's post above), just finishing piecing together a Fuji GX680 kit (yes, it is one beast to handle but I'm budget-minded for this purpose). Intend to shoot mostly Ilford Delta 100 and some Provia, then get pro scans. Hoping that my ~30x40 inch prints meet expectations.



Apr 03, 2013 at 08:56 PM
Sneakyracer
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


I can tell you just by handling the camera (and having shot medium format film before) that the optics are very different due to the larger sensor. The dof is very different so the images should have a different look to them also the viewfinder is huge, awesome view. Thats great when working with people. Honestly I was getting tired of the 35mm format! Its no 6x7 (or 6x8) but its closer to it than the 35mm DSLRs!


Apr 03, 2013 at 08:59 PM
philip_pj
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Mike, if the viewers are not right up close they will look great, and with the bonus that so few people have ever seen a decent medium format film print.

Do watch the shadows with any E6, spotmeters earn their keep. That Fuji is one of the most amazing cameras ever made IMO, with lenses of great quality. They have always been an 'energetic' company - take no prisoners.

Film with best processes delivers 10x with ease, but unlike digital (billboards etc show this) film degrades very gracefully upon big enlargements.

Ben, I used to love seeing the histos on scanned C41, few ever get to experience what neg film is capable of. All the best with it, there is a lot of info in various forums around but I have the impression you know plenty about what you are taking on.



Apr 03, 2013 at 09:09 PM
Mike Tuomey
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


Thanks for your encouragement w/r/t the GX680, Philip. 10-12x enlargement is likely all I'll need. Have now almost all the pieces and parts, should be shooting soon.

Btw, do you have any recommendation(s) for med format C41 film? E6 and B&W I have some experience, but not color negative.



Apr 03, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Mescalamba
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Medium Format Digital Alternatives, I think I made my choice...


You made probably best choice from current MF market. Grats.

I wonder how well are 645D selling, pretty niché camera.



Apr 03, 2013 at 10:25 PM
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