Digital MF - my first taste

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Iron Flatline, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. Well, I finally got my grubby little hands on a dMF camera. And you know what? It's a little daunting at first.

    I am renting the Leaf AFi 5 with the "small" Leaf Aptus 22 back. Link to the Leaf site. It has a 36x48mm sensor, so twice the size of a Full-Frame 35mm equivalent SLR sensor. It can output 16-bit TIFF files that are 99 Megs a pop. Ouch. There are number of other formats and compression, making the shot-to-print process that much easier and more exact in terms of colors.

    The whole thing is obviously a pro camera, and comes with features that I haven't even seen on Canon's 1Ds Mk III - which I rented last week. For one thing, the LCD is also a touch screen, and allows for some really smart features. You can set the White Balance and color temperature by touching an area on the image, and using that as your neutral grey - which then sets it for the rest of the shoot. There's good file systems, there's the ability to do some basic editing in-camera, and a host of other features. I was shooting at ISO 25, for instance.

    Yes, a camera is ultimately just a camera... and to be candid, that becomes apparent the first time you look through the viewfinder. Any secret thoughts and hopes that might have been harbored about "the gear" somehow making you a better photographer are dashed instantly. What you see is exactly what you're pointing the camera at. Your neighbor does not suddenly look like George Clooney, and the hill does not turn into a Yosemite vista. The only difference is that you know a good shot will be richly detailed and can be printed at a size previously impossible.

    But WHAT a viewfinder it is! I was using the waste-level viewfinder, which means you look down into the camera... and then see everything mirror-reversed. This takes some getting used to. Composition becomes a different matter though, because you become slightly divorced from the actual scene, and can concentrate on the individual elements. The image is square, but the sensor is rectangular, so it takes some approximation. There are lines that help.

    I had it on a tri-pod. My goal is sharpness in low light, so that is part of my mission. I guess it is possible to shoot hand-held, but this is a big camera. It's bigger than the biggest SLRs. And frankly, holding a piece of equipment that costs $25,000 in the smallest version (up to $50,000 if you get the new big-MP ones) is very disconcerting. In London is a restaurant near all the ad agencies where photographers often go. I though it was an affectation to see people's H2 Hasselblads next to them at table, but I'm learning that a piece of equipment (which in Europe costs 50% more!) could walk off in a purse is cause enough to keep it real near by.

    The camera has auto-focus, but I found it annoying. First of all, it hunts like a DEA beagle. And secondly, when you're shooting an urban landscape like I was, focus isn't exactly hard. The giant viewfinder (you could lose your car keys in it!) makes focusing by sight fairly easy... and shooting at f/11 and beyond offers a huge margin of error.

    Ok, more on Thursday. I have it for three more days, but got whomped by a lot of meetings tomorrow... but the next day I cancelled a business trip and kept my schedule empty, so I will hit the countryside with this big camera.

    Although one question I will need to answer is whether the work I'm doing can't be achieved with a Canon 1Ds as well... the answer is sitting in a 16-bit RAW file on a CF card right now...
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'll be awaiting your final analysis.
     
  3. Seefutlung

    Seefutlung TPF Noob!

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    Good Luck

    Gary
     
  4. bigalbest

    bigalbest TPF Noob!

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    [​IMG]
     
  5. MarcusM

    MarcusM TPF Noob!

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    I want to see your shots with this thing!
     
  6. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes... your input on such a beast will be very interesting reading.
     
  7. Senor Hound

    Senor Hound TPF Noob!

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    Preferrably not in the current 99MB TIFF version...lol.

    I bet there's a certain rush to using such a wonderful piece of equipment. Please tell us how everything goes!!!
     
  8. I will be happy to post something, but I have to make one comment: the only reason to work with a camera like this is in pursuit of a large, detailed print. Anything I post as a JPG on the web will border on the irrelevant. There will be virtually no visual proof of the camera's ability visible at 800x533 pixels and 72 dpi.

    It's about the print on the wall, I'm really feeling strongly about that these days. All this web stuff is fun for my photoblog and street photography, but the print matters.
     
  9. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    I'd like to see a web sized version, and a small section at 100% to really see what the lenses can do.
     
  10. MarcusM

    MarcusM TPF Noob!

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    That is true, but I think we can still get an idea of the colors and dynamic range of the shot that this camera can produce. (depending on what you photograph of course).
     
  11. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    :)
     
  12. Well, at this point it's raining hard here in Berlin. Hopefully my day out-of-office tomorrow will be better. At least the current forecast bodes well.
     

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