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Archive 2013 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs
  
 
Johnny B Goode
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


Out of curiosity I began researching medium format digital camera/backs lately. I've noticed the $30k cameras of yesterday can be had for a more reasonable (yet still expensive) price. That made me wonder, how many exposures can you be expected to get out of a MFD back before it goes on the fritz? Or is it calculated in the duration of time the sensor is being exposed? Also, is buying an older used medium format digital back like buying a heavily discounted old (but not quite classic) exotic car - it's cool up front but the back end repair costs will eat you alive and the actual performance is marginal, at best on par with modern day sporty cars.

Kind of a noob question but I'm curious. I'll keep hunting on google for the answer but will appreciate any insight this forum can provide.


Cheers,
Peter



Jun 30, 2013 at 03:13 AM
JohnJ
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


Johnny B Goode wrote:
... it's cool up front but the back end repair costs will eat you alive and the actual performance is marginal, at best on par with modern day sporty cars....


You're assuming that you'll be able to repair them at all. Who will be able to repair these in the first place, that is after the manufacturer has wiped their hands off them and parts and expertise are no longer available? You can always machine or make a part for a car, you can't do that with custom electronics.

Personally I wouldn't go anywhere near them, but I only say that from 15 years in the electronics/computer business.

I suppose it also depends on how long you want it to last. If all you expect is a few years then maybe that's fine, but it's not like an old lens or car that could be there for another 20 years or more.


Edited on Jun 30, 2013 at 03:32 AM · View previous versions



Jun 30, 2013 at 03:25 AM
luminosity
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


You would be better off just shooting medium or large format film and then scanning it yourself.


Jun 30, 2013 at 03:31 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


Check out the size of the sensor in the old MF digital backs. You may be surprised to realize how small the sensors are. They are NOT the same size as their film counterparts as one might think. IIRC, the width of most of the older MF digital is the same as the length of FF digital. Not a huge gain in real estate, imo such that it makes it a gain worth the cost/risk.

What is a bargain though, is to use older MF glass on FF digital.



Jun 30, 2013 at 04:24 AM
jcolwell
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


RustyBug wrote:
...What is a bargain though, is to use older MF glass on FF digital.





Jun 30, 2013 at 04:25 AM
Johnny B Goode
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


RustyBug wrote:
Check out the size of the sensor in the old MF digital backs. You may be surprised to realize how small the sensors are. They are NOT the same size as their film counterparts as one might think. IIRC, the width of most of the older MF digital is the same as the length of FF digital. Not a huge gain in real estate, imo such that it makes it a gain worth the cost/risk.



Fully aware of that. 44x33 seems to be a common MFD size -merely a "crop" of the 56x42 medium format. Some are 48x36 but again that's Still a cropped sensor size. Even though I'm looking for a new system I didn't start this thread as a "what shall I purchase next" thread. It's more a "I was looking at more interesting options and found I could get a P25 Phase One back for under 5k with 40k shots on it. Yes it's not the 50mp/60mp/or even 40mp medium format digital, but it's unique and I let my mind dwell on it. The first thought that came to mind was the exotic car analogy. Current cameras have the shutter rated at 'X' number of actuations, but how long do sensors last?

I'm an odd ball though in my preferences. I like to manually focus. I only buy cars with manual transmissions, I prefer something unique over one that will make my life easier. Medium format film (as mentioned above) is an excellent compromise and something I've been itching to dive into. I like the control I have over the "digital developing" of a photo. If I shot film I know I'd have to set up a dark room in my basement to accompany it.

Still, I'm interested in anyone's experience with high exposure counts on medium format CCD sensors (I think most of the medium format type are CCD as opposed to CMOS longevity).



Jun 30, 2013 at 04:59 AM
ZoneV
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


I work at a camera manufacturer - we build machine vision cameras.
They are much the same like some of these medium format digital backs.
No own mechanical shutter - so no exposure count depending life span.

When I make some experiments I don`t care to stop image acquisition afterwards, so the faster ones probably take 5.000.000 images during the rest of the day. Our cameras are used for 24h/365day work - and thy do this for >10 years (both with CCD or CMOS). Or largest CCD sensor (24x36) takes ~3 fps, so it could take 250.000 images a day.

I suppose that those camera backs have well build electronics as well.

But in case your digital back get a defect, it could be hard to repair. Some parts may be easy to exchange with normal electronics parts, but other parts are most likely not repairable without original spare parts.



Jun 30, 2013 at 06:38 AM
H.Lux
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


Why not buy a Pentax 645D? It's cool, robust, it has excellent image quality. And it's actual, therefore it will still be serviced a long time.

Enjoy
Stefan



Jun 30, 2013 at 08:30 AM
justruss
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


Unless you have a purpose for an older MFD back, I'd suggest the film route as well.

You're not getting anything special resolution wise compared to 24-36MP current sensors in DSLRs. And while you do get a larger sensor, it's still not that large.

If I wanted a bigger "sensor," liked MF, and couldn't afford a newer, big-resolution digital back... I'd get a Mamiya 7 or 7II. You'll have to suffice with a rangefinder, but you'll get a massive 6 x 7 film size, world-class lenses, and a very compact camera.

If I had time to deal with film, that'd be my choice.



Jun 30, 2013 at 08:53 AM
luminosity
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


I could make 30x24 prints out of my 7 negatives if I wanted to do so, and I've made numerous 16x20 prints that look very nice. The 80/4 is as good as any lens in the world.


Jun 30, 2013 at 09:06 AM
 

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RustyBug
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


Johnny B Goode wrote:
Fully aware of that. 44x33 seems to be a common MFD size -merely a "crop" of the 56x42 medium format. Some are 48x36 but again that's Still a cropped sensor size. Even though I'm looking for a new system I didn't start this thread as a "what shall I purchase next" thread. It's more a "I was looking at more interesting options and found I could get a P25 Phase One back for under 5k with 40k shots on it. Yes it's not the 50mp/60mp/or even 40mp medium format digital, but it's unique and I let my mind
...Show more

Gotcha ... I looked into that a couple years ago and decided to pass ... instead opting for my Kodak SLR/C (did you mention "oddball" ) as an "oldie, but goodie" without an AA filter, even if it is only FF. The extra real estate @ 44x33 compared to 36x24 wasn't a big enough gain for me to make the jump to MF. Instead, I use MF glass on it. Kinda like shooting in landscape, but then cropping to portrait (if that makes any sense) @ relatively similar pixel size/density.

Granted, larger is larger, but the 44x33 sensor was just a bit of a surprise for me at how much gain over FF was to be realized for the commitment involved. GL with your "oddball" quest ... been there, done that ... likely to do it again.



Jun 30, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Makten
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


The problem is the same as has always been with APS-C cameras: The existing lenses don't do what you expect them to. An 80 mm normal becomes a short tele and the wide angles becoming normals are very slow (often f/4).


Jun 30, 2013 at 02:33 PM
mortyb
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


Still remember Paul Yi's shots with the Kodak Digital Back. Stunning IQ. Closest I've seen is the 645D.


Jun 30, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Mescalamba
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


You can buy old Phase One, they are if Im correct serviced almost forever. Or simply some of those cheaper ones.

I would personaly like 645 Kodak Pro back, its just 36x36 but it has some good pixels there.



Jun 30, 2013 at 03:01 PM
mawz
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


The Phase backs are certainly still serviceable, ditto the Leaf & Mamiya backs, although I'd stay away from the Mamiya backs which aren't simply rebranded, they were rife with issues.

But given a Pentax 645D can be had new for D3x/1DsIII money, why bother with a used back? Unless you already have a significant investment in glass for an alternative 645 system, you'll get far more bang for your buck from the 645D.




Jun 30, 2013 at 03:11 PM
Johnny B Goode
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


H.Lux wrote:
Why not buy a Pentax 645D? It's cool, robust, it has excellent image quality. And it's actual, therefore it will still be serviced a long time.

Enjoy
Stefan


I have been looking at that seriously and it's what made me look into the MFD backs as another option. Don't get me wrong I'll probably end up upgrading to a 6D but the 645D is tempting considering lens prices would make a relatively cheap, but still stellar, kit.



Jun 30, 2013 at 04:16 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


Makten wrote:
The problem is the same as has always been with APS-C cameras: The existing lenses don't do what you expect them to. An 80 mm normal becomes a short tele and the wide angles becoming normals are very slow (often f/4).


+1 @ 80mm=80mm ... I expect a MF 80mm glass on FF to be the same fov as FF glass 80mm on FF, i.e. no problem.

MF glass on FF doesn't bode well for UWA work ... so FF glass augments where MF on FF hits its FOV limits @ manufactured MF focal lengths.



Jun 30, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Mescalamba
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


Mirex kinda solves that issue, at least on regular FF. But its obviously bit more work and money..


Jul 01, 2013 at 02:38 AM
kdphotography
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


The Phase One P+ series of MFDBs are built like tanks, are extremely durable and reliable. I've owned the P30, P45+, and P65+ and currently use the IQ180. There are few moving parts on these MFDBs, aside from a few buttons and the CF card door. Phase One has great customer support and a history of supporting its products for the long term.

If you don't have the experience/background with MFDBs, I wouldn't guess here or try to compare with other systems without actually physically handling the MFDB system and using it----from capture to processing in C1 Pro 7, to printing large.

ken



Jul 01, 2013 at 04:45 AM
Makten
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Yesterday's medium format digital backs


RustyBug wrote:
+1 @ 80mm=80mm ... I expect a MF 80mm glass on FF to be the same fov as FF glass 80mm on FF, i.e. no problem.

MF glass on FF doesn't bode well for UWA work ... so FF glass augments where MF on FF hits its FOV limits @ manufactured MF focal lengths.


I don't think you understood what I meant. The problem is that you have to use a shorter focal length on a smaller sensor to get the same angle of view, and thus a normal 80 mm is no longer a normal. So you have to pick a wide angle lens instead, which are often slow and also large and heavy. This ruins the whole thing with medium format for me (which is the "look"), in the same way FF lenses ruins APS-C.

Personally I don't see any reason to use MF lenses on FF either.



Jul 01, 2013 at 12:08 PM
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