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| 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.