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View Full Version : Why should I NOT buy a IQ back and ditch my 4x5s?



norly
20-Jun-2012, 08:43
Hi.
Ive now spoken with everyone I know and it didn't make me wiser. So lets try with all the ones I don't know. You guys.
Can you please explain to me why I shouldn't sell my analog 4x5 systems and buy a new digital one based on a linhof techno and the IQ180?

My lust for thing tells me this is an awsume idea to spend more money on a 12 cm piece of electronics then what a new car costs.

My logic tells me this is ridicules and 4x5" has worked just fine for the last 10 years of pro work.

Please help me decide against it... ;)

Daniel Stone
20-Jun-2012, 09:13
is 4x5 not giving you what you want?

I've used an IQ180, its a back capable of tremendous detail, but at a COST(not just $$$-wise):

1. Computer to process those IIQ files(Raw files). Your average "bargain" at Fry's/Computer World won't work very quick... You'll need some serious computer muscle to process out those files.
2. Lenses for that Techno: Image circle is pretty small. Definitely NOT like most 4x5 lenses which provide some(or ample) movement abilities.
So if you ever plan on using movements, you won't have much to work with before reaching max image circle...
3. What are you trying to get out of your photographs? If you're not technically proficient enough to use a 4x5, you're really going to botch up focusing/composing a MF view camera. FYI. Hard facts bud...

Lastly, it seems you like "new toys". I can't tell you how to spend your dough, but I work on sets almost every time with people who use/rent these backs(and the P+ series), and they're finding that getting accurate focusing with them can be a PAIN. Not to mention that most of the lenses for MF systems(Hasselblad H, V, Phase/Mamiya, etc...) literally CANNOT resolve to the necessary level to obtain what thes 80mp sensors are capable of delivering. You'd need the the best MF Rodenstock/Schneider lenses designed to work with these backs, and those are EASILY another $3-8k EACH, depending on model.

A nice, used Howtek/Aztek drum scanner will cost you less to run(if its a clean one from a good owner) in the long run than an IQ180, and with well-shot 4x5 chrome/negs, you can expect to see some fantastic results, to say the least! I've scanned some 4x5 transparencies I shot a few years ago, and they have so much fine detail(at a 30x40 print size too), I'd move to 4x5 only if I didn't like contact printing 8x10 b+w so much!

-Dan

Ken Lee
20-Jun-2012, 09:50
See IQ180 – First Three Months – Impressions (http://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2012/03/iq180-first-three-months-impressions/) by Joe Cornish in the online magazine On Landscape (http://www.onlandscape.co.uk), a wonderful web site.

If you have sufficient funds for one, why not purchase another for me? I'll be happy to evaluate it.

norly
20-Jun-2012, 10:10
is 4x5 not giving you what you want?

Very good question. I think my answer is YES!. I am actually having a workflow I really like. And a camera system I know always works and are very comfortable with. Ive been working professionally with my equipment for ruffly 10 years now and always considered the digital backs quite pointless ( <-- highly personal opinion only based on my personal kind of works). But the new ones are nice (I worked with them on several occasions, both on arcaswiss rm3d and the F-line), thats why I am thinking of going down the dark side. Also the feeling of not being dependent on film producers, labs, scanners and stuff like that is appealing.


Image circle is pretty small. Definitely NOT like most 4x5 lenses
Also a good point. I quite often end up with up to 20mm lateral shifts, and that works ok on my analog lenses.


See IQ180 – First Three Months – Impressions
Tried to pay for the 14 day access, but my account stops working. Ill send them a mail and will get back to this.

Still there is a lot of benefits to digital... i think

Lenny Eiger
20-Jun-2012, 10:59
Well, there are a few points. The first is that the IQ180 can't outdo a 4x5 scanned well. Not even close, no matter how much Luminous Landscape is paid to tell us that. Tim Parkin at On Landscape is the source of this.... he did the research and his engineer brain pulled out the essentials. A 4x5 at 4,000 ppi yields 320 megapixels. There are issues with what lenses can actually do, so the number is far from exact. However, it's a starting point, the digital camera also has lenses and a Bayer chip. My issues are more with tonal reproduction than with sharpness and I also like depth of field very much and these digital lenses are tuned for the opposite, so it isn't a good match for me.

However, let's just say you pay around $50K for that back. First of all, it will be obsolete in a year or two. If you a commercial shooter, for example shooting catalogs, and have made 50K with it in that time, then fine... If you haven't then you will be stuck with a dinosaur, and likely drooling over the next model. This can get expensive. If you have been shooting film during that time, then the extra years until film is gone will mean that you can buy that same back for a fraction of the cost. (The newer one will still be 50K or more.) All the while you will have more quality. Maybe a little more time getting there, maybe not, but more quality nonetheless.

They will ultimately get to a place where digital can match the quality of film - to everyone's agreement. It will likely include a full size (4x5) sensor, they will probably get rid of the Bayer chip and use a different strategy, or maybe light field cameras will come into their own. I will gladly move over when they get there. I don't really care about the process of developing film, altho' I like the results. When the results match, and the prices come down, then who would bother developing film? (Except maybe those folks who make their own for fun...) However, they aren't there yet, and until they are committed to getting there and not just satisfying the needs of smartphone users and the like, they won't get there. Of course, photography as we know it could also disappear by then....

Lenny

darr
20-Jun-2012, 11:03
Owning a digital back will save you a tone of time. I ran out of time for film processing and scanning. I grew to dread the scanning part a lot!

I shoot a P45 with an Alpa Max and two lenses (SK 47 and SK 72). I also use the P45 in the studio with an Arca M Line 2 with a SK 120 macro lens and a Cooke PS945. I have zero problems with focus or LCC issues. There are good deals on used digital backs right now; I would not go to the 180 unless you need the megapixels. I use a Dell workstation with 24 GB of ram (I am told over-kill) and run Capture One, Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 all at the same time--zero computer problems!

If I were you, I would buy into Medium Format Digital (MFD). :)

PS: This is not the best forum for MFD. I would visit: http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-digital-backs/ for info.

darr
20-Jun-2012, 11:28
As far as focusing goes, I shot this using a hyperfocal technique (easy):



http://cameraartist.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/120526-003811.jpg

1946 Clipper Deluxe
Alpa Max | SK 47 | F11 | P45

Frank Petronio
20-Jun-2012, 11:46
Note that for yourself to be really reliable and trusted, you need redundancy. Buying one medium format digital system may work out fine for the serious amateur or artist, but when you have to complete the shoot no matter what glitches occur, you need a near duplicate system as back up (and also to run two sets without breaking down between takes.) That's what the people who do this for a living have to do.

On the other hand, you can pick up a used Sinar F and a 210 Symmar-S or Sironar and knock yourself out for $500.

In any event, I think it'd be more professional and better to have two somewhat older, medium quality systems than to put all your eggs in one basket for one state of the art system that is overkill for 99% of the jobs anyway.

Bob Salomon
20-Jun-2012, 13:06
If I was trying to make that decision I would get in touch with the back dealer and have him bring the back to my place of business and have him set it up shooting next to my analog system and compare what the results are.

That means he shoots on a digital view camera like the Techno (you are doing landscapes) or an M679 (studio work) with digital lenses compared to your view camera with analog lenses and compare results head to head.

Otherwise all you are getting are personal opinions. And whatever ones you accept may be wrong for your needs.

And yes, you may feel better with a backup but lots of places rent when you need one. That doesn't mean that you have to be invested in redundant equipment.

Frank Petronio
20-Jun-2012, 13:39
Well I wouldn't buy one for work unless I had a retainer and long term contract sufficient to buy it outright... or incoming business was so darn profitable that it didn't matter.

Renting something last minute/day-of might prove difficult, even if you're in a major metro area.

And I'd look close at that new Nikon D800 which is a pretty good jump in image quality from previous full-frame 35mm-sized systems. I'd expect to see a lot more downward price pressure and competition in the next couple of years.

Pop $10K - less than half of a MFDB - on the Nikon with good lenses and backup - and keep shooting 4x5 for the highest quality stuff. Then you can have a decent production camera that can pay for itself easier (more versatile as well) and continue to enjoy the 4x5 too.

How are you scanning? If you just throw the 4x5 film onto an Epson, then the results will be closer to digital than if you are getting good drum scans for everything.

Drew Wiley
20-Jun-2012, 13:42
Appropriate shot, Darr ... because that particular car "as is" will have better resale value
in five years than any digital back being sold today.

darr
20-Jun-2012, 14:23
Drew, you may be right, but a lot of film cameras have dropped to the cellar as well. Have you priced them lately? I bought my P45 used and have used it for three years now and have no intention on upgrading--some of the medium format digital shooters with newer digital backs have regretted making upgrades to newer ones. Something about preferring the look of the older ones. Different strokes for different folks.

timparkin
20-Jun-2012, 14:28
See IQ180 First Three Months Impressions (http://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2012/03/iq180-first-three-months-impressions/) by Joe Cornish in the online magazine On Landscape (http://www.onlandscape.co.uk), a wonderful web site.


Having chatted with Joe further since the article the summary is probably thus..

- IQ180 makes a wonderful tool for producing great work
- Colour isn't better than film but is good enough - looks more like neg than transparency but you can get E100G style with a bit of effort
- Having to do an LCC for every shot is a pain
- You need a good scanner to get the most out of 5x4 (I offer drum scans for a resonable price - I suggest buying your own drum scanner though if you have the time/inclination, they aren't that expensive and the results transform 5x4 results)
- Velvia has colour you really can't replicate on digital yet
- You can't get the dynamic range of Portra on digital yet but you can get away without grads most of the time
- You can't beat composing and focussing on a full ground glass. IQ180 is tiny in comparison
- Linhof technical camera is good but not as mature as good 4x5 technical cameras
- A Chamonix based 4x5 kit will be a lot lighter than the equivalent IQ180 system
- insurance..

My recommendations - if you can justify the money, the IQ180 is a fantastic tool for commercial photography. The colour and dynamic range are by far the best on the market. If you are shooting for 'art' or as a hobby, you can't beat 5x4 yet..

Take a look at the comparisons here

http://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2011/12/big-camera-comparison/

Tim

Greg Miller
20-Jun-2012, 15:29
[QUOTE=timparkin;901405
- Colour isn't better than film but is good enough - looks more like neg than transparency but you can get E100G style with a bit of effort[/QUOTE]

Most recent testing has shown that even most cheap DSLR's have a lower Delta E than almost any neg film tested, and all pos film. Not that color accuracy is the benchmark for all genres of photography, but for those seeking color accuracy, good digital would indeed be better than film. Whether someone prefers the look of neg or pos or dig comes down to personal taste, rather than an absolute right or wrong.

Lenny Eiger
20-Jun-2012, 15:56
Most recent testing has shown that even most cheap DSLR's have a lower Delta E than almost any neg film tested, and all pos film.

At this point I think it would be useful to reference the sources, rather than just say "recent testing". I have been very unhappy with certain testing, especially that of Luminous Landscape. Tim Parkin and his cohorts are experts, they can show you their research, tell you how they arrived at their conclusions. When you want to contradict him, which you are certainly welcome to do, you should quote someone or something so the rest of us can read both references and make a good choice as to the data.

As I read this it sounds a little rough. I don't mean to be. What I am trying to say in an non-personal, non-attacking way - is let's be fair.

Lenny

Greg Miller
20-Jun-2012, 18:00
At this point I think it would be useful to reference the sources, rather than just say "recent testing".

Lenny

How about all of them? Try to find any test of current DSLRs that has a Delta E of over 10. Then try to find any test of E100G that has a Delta E of less than 13.

Henry Ambrose
20-Jun-2012, 18:20
If you're working all the time, I can't imagine scanning that much film. I used to do it and its a huge time suck, though the results are wonderful. Now, there comes a balancing point with time and money. If that IQ180 and camera and lenses sets you back over $50K, you better be doing some good paying work each and every week of the year. That's over $2K per month to pay it off over two years. I suspect a $7K DSLR (or cheaper) would suffice and leave you lots of money in your pocket.

The first question might be, how good a file do I have to deliver to make my clients happy?
Unless you're working at the very top of the game no one needs or expects files any better than typical DSLR files.

Brian C. Miller
20-Jun-2012, 22:07
How about all of them? Try to find any test of current DSLRs that has a Delta E of over 10. Then try to find any test of E100G that has a Delta E of less than 13.

For those of us not in the know, could you please post a link or two? I did a Google search, and it came back including things like a car, an energy drink, and a four-eyed opossum from Venezuela.

welly
20-Jun-2012, 22:56
a four-eyed opossum from Venezuela.

I'd like to see this.

norly
21-Jun-2012, 00:29
hehe, yes that would be sight.

Thank you so much for the inputs, Ive had a lot of fun reading all the posts, and they have give me some new things to think about. The goal for me was to get deterrent from buying a new system, partly because it is a lot of money, but mainly because I am not 100% sure I will enjoy working with it as much as I do with the 4x5.

There is a lot of cons/pros to the digital system, most of them based on my personal way of working. I thought I would list the good stuff about my 4x5:

-No batteries.
-The viewglas, its a pure joy to work with it in all weather/light conditions.
-It never failed, I never lost a frame due to a technical error, only human ones
-Works in all temperatures, I've shoot polar cold and desert hot.
-My clients usually don't want more the 70 mb files and thats easily covered with the imacon.
-Still no batteries
-Its not a DSLR, I really don't like working with those cameras. Ive got a H500c for the small stuff.
-I have done a lot of 2 meter Analog C-prints and the quality is super.
-The grain that comes with film is nicer then the lack of resolution effects you get from digital.
-My LF camera is a pice of art
-I don't need to be that afraid of loosing it, since the value is relatively low.


To be honest these post has helped me to take a step back and revaluate my need for a digital system. Many thanks to everyone.

timparkin
21-Jun-2012, 00:42
Most recent testing has shown that even most cheap DSLR's have a lower Delta E than almost any neg film tested, and all pos film. Not that color accuracy is the benchmark for all genres of photography, but for those seeking color accuracy, good digital would indeed be better than film. Whether someone prefers the look of neg or pos or dig comes down to personal taste, rather than an absolute right or wrong.

That's ignoring metamerism and the goal for 'pleasing' colour as well.. The huge investment in Portra wasn't solely to get accurate colour..

Metamerism is much more important, especially for landscape photographers but it often bits digital photographers. e.g. the Leica M8 had excellent delta E values but shoot some fabrics and you ended up with purples instead of blacks.

Chlorophyll in landscapes causes similar problems - checkout my Big Camera Comparison (google it) and look at the landscape shots. No matter how you calibrate the film/digital response, certain colours in the scene won't match. Film seems to get it best if you look at aesthetics of colour.

Tim

p.s. In museum repro tests, film gets delta E of between 4 and 6 and digital can get delta E a bit less than this. Given that you can only really differentiate these levels of delta E in a low contrast clinical environment, it's irrelevant.

timparkin
21-Jun-2012, 00:46
I just got some scans from Lenny's 8000dpi scanner and here's a sampling (Thanks Lenny!) As you can see, the detail produced on 4x5 is substantially greater than that produced by the IQ180 (and that was mounted on an ALPA using the best Rodenstock Lens, focus bracketed and tested across all apertures)

75871

norly
21-Jun-2012, 00:56
I just got some scans from Lenny's 8000dpi scanner and here's a sampling (Thanks Lenny!)
And the film was?

timparkin
21-Jun-2012, 01:26
And the film was?

Provia taken on an Ebony 45SU with a Fuji 240A lens

Greg Miller
21-Jun-2012, 05:44
That's ignoring metamerism and the goal for 'pleasing' colour as well.. The huge investment in Portra wasn't solely to get accurate colour..

Metamerism is much more important, especially for landscape photographers but it often bits digital photographers. e.g. the Leica M8 had excellent delta E values but shoot some fabrics and you ended up with purples instead of blacks.

Chlorophyll in landscapes causes similar problems - checkout my Big Camera Comparison (google it) and look at the landscape shots. No matter how you calibrate the film/digital response, certain colours in the scene won't match. Film seems to get it best if you look at aesthetics of colour.

Tim

p.s. In museum repro tests, film gets delta E of between 4 and 6 and digital can get delta E a bit less than this. Given that you can only really differentiate these levels of delta E in a low contrast clinical environment, it's irrelevant.

I should remind that I stated that color accuracy isn't necessarily the end goal of all genres. But it is quantifiable, which "pleasing" is not. I used to prefer Velvia, but it certainly isn't color accurate, and it's color palette is not something that I personally find pleasing any longer. Pleasing is very subjective and personal.

The Leica M8 was released in 2006. My comment was about current DSLRs. The M8 also has a reputation for its color flaws in certain areas like black fabric ("We ran into some image-quality surprises along the way, including an abnormally high sensitivity to IR radiation that produces a purple cast on some dark fabrics and objects" - PopoPhoto), and is hardly representative of current color accuracy in even entry level DSLRs of today. Even at the time this Popular Photography test (http://www.popphoto.com/gear/2008/12/camera-test-leica-m8?page=0,0) found in JPG mode "barely made it into the Extremely High rating, with an average Delta E of 9.98. That's not bad in itself, but noticeably lower than the excellent color accuracy (Delta E of 8 or lower) of many DSLRs in its resolution category." (in RAW mode it measured much better).

A seven year old camera with known color issues is hardly representative of current technology. But even so, with a Delta E of 9.98, it's overall color accuracy is better than any positive film out there.

Tobias Key
21-Jun-2012, 06:22
I would be dubious about buying into a MFDB. DSLR's are getting closer to them all the time. Digital is all about R&D resources and all the MFDB are relatively small companies comared to the DSLR big boys. Also they can't recoup investment in their pro cameras buy trickling down innovation into their consumer ones. Look at this review


http://www.circleofconfusion.ie/d800e-vs-phase-one-iq180/ (http://www.circleofconfusion.ie/d800e-vs-phase-one-iq180/)

In it's conclusions

"And we were stunned just how close the D800E ran the IQ180 when the files were printed at 6040 inches, which is bigger than many dining room tables."

I would be concerned how much future there is in a MFDB when cameras like the D800E are getting you in the neighbourhood at a fraction of the price. The D800E is not as good as the IQ180 but then Iphones aren't as good as compact cameras, and that market is going down the toilet.

Drew Wiley
21-Jun-2012, 08:52
The bottleneck is that lenses have become so advanced that any future improvements
are merely going to be incremental and can't keep pace with the rapid evolution of digital
capture. At some point, there's simply no away around a bigger capture surface if you want high image quality. Somewhere down the line someone will invent a true electronic
substitute for film. Imagine something just like a conventional 4x5 holder. I don't think it's
beyond the realm of impending technology at all. But would there be any financial incentive? If you don't have to buy an expensive proprietary camera too, and don't have
to buy film as a repetitious expendable, who in the damned instant-obsolescene electronics
industry would even want to bother? They'd probably buy up the patent and table it.

Jim collum
21-Jun-2012, 08:57
I just got some scans from Lenny's 8000dpi scanner and here's a sampling (Thanks Lenny!) As you can see, the detail produced on 4x5 is substantially greater than that produced by the IQ180 (and that was mounted on an ALPA using the best Rodenstock Lens, focus bracketed and tested across all apertures)


Thank you Tim... this is probably one of the clearest answers I've seen to the MFD ( ... or D800, D30, Nokia cell phone) can out resolve 4x5 film ( or 8x10 film ) debate :)

Frank Petronio
21-Jun-2012, 09:20
Thank you Tim... this is probably one of the clearest answers I've seen to the MFD ( ... or D800, D30, Nokia cell phone) can out resolve 4x5 film ( or 8x10 film ) debate :)

Yeah that is quite definitive. And while the Fuji 240/9 is no slouch, it's an older design lens on a wooden camera no less!

Drew Wiley
21-Jun-2012, 10:54
I just find it annoying on a forum like this when people start quoting Pop rag reviews
catering to the geek mentality, when the goal of these guys is really just to put anything
they can in print because that's how they make they're living, and are basically baiting an
ignorant techie-biassed audience to begin with. I've done my share of equip reviews for
magazines (non-photo mags -they never paid well!) - so I know how the system works.
So it's nice to counter this tendency with people like Lenny who actually know what they're talking about, based on real-world experience.

timparkin
21-Jun-2012, 11:16
A seven year old camera with known color issues is hardly representative of current technology. But even so, with a Delta E of 9.98, it's overall color accuracy is better than any positive film out there.

I understand, however the point was a general one about metamerism and delta E being separate. Would you say that the Leica M8 is worse or better than film for instance (let's say, kodak gold which scored 13 according the popular photography test).

Regardless of that though - delta E is a single measurement that doesn't take into account any metameric effects which can be some of the biggest influences on colour. e.g. compare the P45+ and the IQ180 - they have very similar CIE-D50 colour variance (the IQ180 worse if anything) and yet the colour out of the IQ180 is way, way better than the P45+ (don't take my word for it, the comparison is on the website where you can compare the P45 and the IQ180 alongside the excellent A900 which I think beats them both in the colour department).

The aesthetics of a colour response just can't be assessed without including a full metameric analysis as well - especially when shooting foliage or many artificial fabrics, paints, etc.

Tim

Lenny Eiger
21-Jun-2012, 12:49
So it's nice to counter this tendency with people like Lenny who actually know what they're talking about, based on real-world experience.

Thanks, Drew.
There are a lot of folks more technically-minded than myself. I have struggled to separate out what is real and where the actual bottlenecks of quality are. I focus a lot on the printing, especially in b&w. One still needs a good negative, well exposed and enveloped, to make it all work.

Lenny

Greg Miller
21-Jun-2012, 16:22
I understand, however the point was a general one about metamerism and delta E being separate. Would you say that the Leica M8 is worse or better than film for instance (let's say, kodak gold which scored 13 according the popular photography test).

Well, It was your original comment about "better" that I was struggling with (better how and based on what???). it seems to be very personal and subjective. In this case where the same test was performed by the same party, the M8 has a better overall score than the Kodak Gold, then I would say the M8 is better. But whether you prefer the look of wither is up to you.


Regardless of that though - delta E is a single measurement that doesn't take into account any metameric effects which can be some of the biggest influences on colour. e.g. compare the P45+ and the IQ180 - they have very similar CIE-D50 colour variance (the IQ180 worse if anything) and yet the colour out of the IQ180 is way, way better than the P45+ (don't take my word for it, the comparison is on the website where you can compare the P45 and the IQ180 alongside the excellent A900 which I think beats them both in the colour department).

The aesthetics of a colour response just can't be assessed without including a full metameric analysis as well - especially when shooting foliage or many artificial fabrics, paints, etc.

Tim

The web site is very good for subjective judgement. I don't care for the color of the A900 at all. But then the Velvia 8x10 and Velvia 4x5 look nothing alike either - more different than the p45 vs. IQ180. So what is better?

rdenney
21-Jun-2012, 18:00
If you are comparing it to a car, it's perhaps a toy. Buy it if you have the money and want it. No further justification required.

The fact that you compared it to a car suggests to me that you haven't considered the business case. (Yes, I'm extrapolating perhaps incorrectly in your case, but it may be right for others asking the same question.) Had you compared it to the costs and benefits in terms of productivity of the alternatives, you wouldn't need to tap into the collective unconsciousness of a forum.

I think in a high-production shop a good business case could be made for the digital, but you probably have to go all the way in to make it productive and maintain commercial quality. I'm not sure there's much commercial work that would require more than what a skilled operator could get from an IQ180--personal aesthetic and workflow requirements and preferences may not be critical.

For low-production pro work and art, you have to make your own aesthetic comparison, it seems to me.

Since no two people on a forum have exactly the same needs and requirements, testimonials and even careful tests are likely to be misleading.

Rick "it's just business" Denney

B.S.Kumar
21-Jun-2012, 20:15
the collective unconsciousness of a forum.

I like your choice of words!

Kumar

darr
22-Jun-2012, 04:08
If you want serious user experience with working, owning, buying and selling digital backs + tech cameras, this is not the group of photographers to ask--you need to ask experienced users of this equipment. On this forum you will get mostly film shooters who do not own and use digital backs. They will use their collective imagination to steer you away from this technology. They will always go to the resolution testing which in the end is not the reason to not talk to experienced users. How big an enlargement is big enough?

Photography is all about content and it does not matter what gear you use if you get the content you are seeking.

A digital back is not a toy, it is a tool, albeit an expensive tool, but I can remember the early days of my commercial career and the amount of polaroids and 2 hour E-6 lab runs that made life not only expensive, but time consuming and nerve-racking. We are in changing times and if you decide you would like to see what some of the technology workflow changes are, then try it out, but I would not go top-shelf (IQ180) when there are so many good used backs for sale.

I myself got tired of the workflow that involved film and chemistry and could foresee the day when this becomes expensive and not just in the wallet, but also in seeking out and using the necessary workflow materials so I decided to give a digital back a try. For me it works and I have no intention of replacing my 39mp back with a D800 because it would not be the same workflow (tech cameras, lenses, etc.) or look.

My P45 is 7 years old and it performs like I need it to do. Will I replace it? Maybe as I do like the 'look' of the Leaf Credo files. I have given thought to buying a Leaf Credo 40 (40mp) in addition to the P45, but then I tell myself to wait and see what technology will bring us up ahead. For me, this is an exciting time to be in photography because we have so many choices to help us bring our content to the table.

Good luck with your decision!

timparkin
22-Jun-2012, 06:42
The web site is very good for subjective judgement. I don't care for the color of the A900 at all. But then the Velvia 8x10 and Velvia 4x5 look nothing alike either - more different than the p45 vs. IQ180. So what is better?

That's why we did blind print trials with non photographers (on 12x18 prints) - the Sony and film came top and then the IQ180 - in last place was the P45.. this was fairly consistent with some people mixing up the IQ180/sony/film but this tended to be people either liked saturation or not (i.e. those who didn't tended to go for the Portra and IQ180 those who did went Velvia) the P45 always came last though.

Tim

Ken Lee
22-Jun-2012, 06:58
Beautifully stated.


If you want serious user experience with working, owning, buying and selling digital backs + tech cameras, this is not the group of photographers to ask--you need to ask experienced users of this equipment. On this forum you will get mostly film shooters who do not own and use digital backs. They will use their collective imagination to steer you away from this technology. They will always go to the resolution testing which in the end is not the reason to not talk to experienced users. How big an enlargement is big enough?

Photography is all about content and it does not matter what gear you use if you get the content you are seeking.

A digital back is not a toy, it is a tool, albeit an expensive tool, but I can remember the early days of my commercial career and the amount of polaroids and 2 hour E-6 lab runs that made life not only expensive, but time consuming and nerve-racking. We are in changing times and if you decide you would like to see what some of the technology workflow changes are, then try it out, but I would not go top-shelf (IQ180) when there are so many good used backs for sale.

I myself got tired of the workflow that involved film and chemistry and could foresee the day when this becomes expensive and not just in the wallet, but also in seeking out and using the necessary workflow materials so I decided to give a digital back a try. For me it works and I have no intention of replacing my 39mp back with a D800 because it would not be the same workflow (tech cameras, lenses, etc.) or look.

My P45 is 7 years old and it performs like I need it to do. Will I replace it? Maybe as I do like the 'look' of the Leaf Credo files. I have given thought to buying a Leaf Credo 40 (40mp) in addition to the P45, but then I tell myself to wait and see what technology will bring us up ahead. For me, this is an exciting time to be in photography because we have so many choices to help us bring our content to the table.

Good luck with your decision!

darr
22-Jun-2012, 07:17
Thank you Ken!! :)

Greg Miller
22-Jun-2012, 14:46
That's why we did blind print trials with non photographers (on 12x18 prints) - the Sony and film came top and then the IQ180 - in last place was the P45.. this was fairly consistent with some people mixing up the IQ180/sony/film but this tended to be people either liked saturation or not (i.e. those who didn't tended to go for the Portra and IQ180 those who did went Velvia) the P45 always came last though.

Tim

I'm truly not trying to be a PITA, but just trying to get my arms around the "better" color part? Are you saying it was based on the preferences of a blind test with several non-photographer family members?

Greg Miller
22-Jun-2012, 14:47
Beautifully stated.

Ditto

Lenny Eiger
22-Jun-2012, 20:34
Photography is all about content and it does not matter what gear you use if you get the content you are seeking.


Yea, but what is "content"? Some of your photographs have things in them I don't photograph, flowers, horses, etc. (You are welcome to, of course, this is a personal decision - of what interests me visually - vs anyone else.) Is that content? Is it the objects in the image?

Content is all about tonal information for me. If there is enough, then my images can do what they do. To get my "content" I have to have the right kind of equipment/workflow.

I don't think the digital equipment is there yet, but it is getting closer. I am also printing smaller these days. We'll see how that goes in the next year or two.

However, I will say I don't want to pay the kind of money the IQ180 costs, just to get the same place I am today - or a bit less quality. Even tho' I could get rid of the film developing and scanning steps - which would be welcome. It';s a lot of money. I think I will wait....

Lenny

mortensen
26-Jun-2012, 15:14
Yeah that is quite definitive. And while the Fuji 240/9 is no slouch, it's an older design lens on a wooden camera no less!

haha, you had to mention it was shot with a woodie - good one, Frank!
... btw, interesting thread and spot-on comparison as always, Tim

aluncrockford
20-Jul-2012, 18:07
I thought the point of this thread was the question why should I not buy an IQ back, what the questioner forgets to mention is what sort of work he does, if it is high end advertising there is no Issue if you are not shooting digital you are unemployed, if you are making a living from print sales, and as far as I am aware very very few people do, then stick to film because there is no way you will cover the cost of all the digital stuff you will need to produce high end results. As to the film digital thing, it is a utter waste of time, the two are different and if you are going to print then it is almost impossible to tell what medium the image was taken on, the whole debate appears to be conducted by keen enthusiasts who appear to have got confused between images and resolution, in the main no one at the purchasing end gives a monkeys what anything was shot on all they care about is the result, so to get back to the original question, if you are happy with what you are producing and if your clients like the results and are content to cover the f&P costs then stick with it , but be aware that around the corner might well be somebody with the digital equipment that will allow them to offer a more cost effective solution to the one you provide.

SergeiR
20-Jul-2012, 18:29
Get it. And keep 4x5. Then you can hook it up to 4x5 and shoot technical camera digitally when you have to. And you can shoot film when back isn't working for whatever reason. I.e just think of it as roll film back. Without all the film scanning.

paulr
25-Jul-2012, 21:13
I've been comparing systems for a long time, mostly rooting against medium format digital because I can't afford it. But since I've started working mostly in color, I can't afford 4x5 anymore, so it's a matter of choosing poisons: too much money up front with digital, too much money per image with film.

I think most of the image quality debates are flawed. It's true that 4x5 film captures more fine detail than an IQ180 back, but you're never going to see that detail unless you print very, very large. At medium sizes, thanks to the quality of individual pixels (s/n ratio) the digital backs can equal or exceed the big film. At small sizes you'll never see a difference.

I think color looks great on the IQ backs, but I understand that the chlorophyl issue is real. Dynamic range is better than that of any transparency film, worse than that of any portrait-type negative film. But it's pretty good.

In the end, for my purposes, I don't think medium format digital is quite ready for prime time. Even if I had the money, the value seems dubious. And the working style seems clunky. If the prices come down by half, and the backs get a decent screen and live view, with software that helps you focus and expose, it will be a very different story. The lenses for MFD are already the best lenses in the world. The cameras look interesting (although it seems there's room for improvement there as well).

It will be an interesting few years. I'm excited that dslrs have edged up in quality to bridge the gaps between smaller and bigger formats. But I hope this doesn't put the squeeze on companies like Phase in a negative way ... stealing customers and forcing them into an even less favorable economy of scale.

cosmicexplosion
25-Jul-2012, 23:07
get an 8x10
get real mofo!

darr
26-Jul-2012, 14:35
I took my P45 and ALPA tech camera to Iceland in 2010, camped in the glaciers and had zero problems with capture or batteries (it was below freezing at times). I have photographed with the P45 here in Florida (my home state) in the summer where the temperature exceeded 100 degrees F. I have done long exposures up to 2 minutes without difficulties. There are different backs that will perform differently. I chose the P45 for its long exposure capabilities. Is a digital back better than film? No, it is simply a different tool. Would I recommend everybody go out and buy one if they shoot LF? No, because the price is too much if you are using it occasionally. I am happy with it, but it is not for everyone.

pdmoylan
26-Jul-2012, 17:52
May I suggest that you visit the Phase.com website and view Joe Cornish's images with the 45+ and IQ180. Tell me truthfully if those images have thesame image charactistices of 4x5 images. THere are simply too many issues with DOF (check out the distant subjects),color accuracy and of course it is not always desirable to obtain 12 stops of dynamic range detail. I have always been impressed by Joe's images of the seacoast using traditional film; whereas, his IQ images dont' seem to render the same impact. The holy grail (at least for color) of greater DR is simply overstated. These images have plenty of resolution but the dynamic range reduces contrast and, in my opinion, makes the image quality seem frail, thin and without power. It's almost as if the resolution and DR overtakes the photographer's statement about the character of the light. I would question the color accuracy of many of the images as well. Having spent years looking at dynamic outdoor lighting, I can say that few of these images seem real to me.

mcherry
26-Jul-2012, 18:30
darr has it exactly right. You can tell right away who shoots for the "love" of it, or for the "art" of it right away - and there's nothing wrong with either of those pursuits. I love photography. I shoot fine art in addition to commercial work. I LOVE film. Having said that, I can't imagine using a film based workflow in a major market (or even a medium market) for commercial work (other than editorial fashion, which is far more art than commerce, but that's another discussion and one which I fear would not go well here). Even if you were masochistic enough to do it, I can't imagine an art director going for it in this day and age.

Sorry to say, but some shoot (maybe most for many) are just about the money - and there's nothing wrong with that either. Whether or not you could benefit, professionally from a $50K back should be very easy to evaluate. What are your billings and how long will it take to make a return/amortize out? Are you losing jobs because you don't have it? Can you increase your sales by expanding into new markets? Etc.

Of course, if you just want it, that's cool too. There's nothing wrong with digital, even for art. I made about 25% - 30% of my income from fine art sales the past two years. Half of it was digital. I prefer a finely crafted silver gelatin print hand made in my darkroom, the market doesn't always agree with me.

If it's work, make a good business derision. If it's for the love of it - then do what you love.

Patrick Raymore
8-Aug-2012, 14:24
Let me come to the question from another angle. Considering that I could use digital (and did and still do some) here are a few reasons why I continue to use (film) 4X5. Please remember this is just one persons opinion. One man's food is another’s poison.

1) Digital is cranky. Electronics in general tends to be cranky if not fragile. I need very few features to my tools to make my images, but I need the features to work and work consistently. The features that I need should be accessible, reliable, and easy to implement. Digging through menus and pushing too many buttons distract me. The image needs my full attention.

2) There is something to be said about viewing your image on a large surface. Viewing images on tiny little electronic screens distract from my creative processes. Yes, yes I know you can zoom in etc but it is not the same.

3) The upgrade cycle. I am not just speaking cost for software and hardware. Companies need to be feed and they will make sure you keep them feed. Beyond that however, there is another cost I find far more objectionable. That is the need for me to constantly adapt to these changes (in my tools) in order to continue do what I need to do. The image is the objective, not constant adaptation to new menus, methods, buttons, routines, tools, etc.

4) Know yourself. I love the view camera because it is a tool focused on the basics of imaging and around getting the focal plane into the image plane (one of the ways to cheat diffraction). This is important to me. It may not be important to you. You need to now what is important to your image making and then the answer to your question will be obvious.

norly
8-Aug-2012, 14:26
Good replies. Thanks.

Amedeus
10-Aug-2012, 18:35
I shoot more digital MF (Leaf Aptus 56mp and Hasselblad 39MP) but I equally enjoy shooting LF (4x5 and 8x10). I even mount my digital backs on my Sinar and stitch landscapes ...

As a few have mentioned ... it's a different workflow and either one has pro's and con's ... it all depends on what you're trying to accomplish. The immediate feedback from digital does it for me in terms of the more customer demanding work but when it comes to creative processes, I turn to LF and scan to then further manipulate digitally (at times).

OTOH, my panorama's are purely digitally stitched and I don't see myself doing these the analog way ...

As for the cost of MF backs ... it is high but I never bought "new", always gently used at 50-60% of new. The results are the same. Digital MF backs do have a plus compared to the high res 35mm such as the Nikon D800E etc. You can mount your digital back to your LF camera with all the creative options that come with it.

Your mileage may vary ...

cosmicexplosion
10-Aug-2012, 20:02
buy $50,000.00 dollars worth of your favourite films and relax.

ROL
11-Aug-2012, 09:32
Hi.
Ive now spoken with everyone I know and it didn't make me wiser.

That's because experience (mostly bad) makes you wiser, not opinion.

IMO (:p), since cost is apparently not particularly relevant, it comes down to some soul searching and brutal self analysis. Are you a taker or a maker of photographs?

If you're more of a taker, which your dependence on outsource labs suggests, it doesn't matter much what tools you decide use. OTH, if you are a maker of photographs, the closer you get to your process in attaining your visualization, the better. In that case and still at this moment in history, it would seem better to invest in darkroom skills and techniques.

Which is all to say that this "decision" may be a turning point for you, larger than it at first appears.


FYI: I still carry a (film) LF into the field despite growing physical maladies, not because it gives me superior images, but because it allows me to express artistically what cannot be achieved by other means.

wentbackward
17-Aug-2012, 18:22
I went through a painful experience, going to an IQ160 + DF + Alpa to replace my Nikon and 4x5. I kept my Nikon film body but use a Sony DSLR because DSLRs work around poor talent (I cannot use an SLR).

ALL my 4x5 gear is less than 1/2 the price of one digital lens, I've kept it. I hated the DF. The Alpa was a disaster for me. Mainly I use an RF or WLF or field camera. The Alpa always needs one more thing that's extra expensive, no matter what you do. We didn't get on, it drove me nuts (but many friends and colleagues use it successfully). I was able to trade everything in and move to an RZ ProIID and a Techno. Those two cameras sit well with me. I find they become invisible when I use them.

I also had a lot of technical issues, Phase One support have been great (I've actually met the guy that helps me on the help desk when he came out here!!), I fully recommend getting the VA (which is insurance that supplants the need for two backs)

My first mistake was getting-in-to-digital, I almost made a second mistake getting out again at huge loss (no return in pictures). I had made the error of looking at the MF medium and not at the tools which suited me best. I concur with Darr on all her excellent points.

There is no reason to get into digital except convenience. That convenience does provide a workflow that for many opens more creative avenues. Personally I'm lucky to have a few hours per week to dedicate to photography. Digital certainly has the quality I need, but importantly allows me to keep at it and I feel that by constantly being able to dip my toes in-between the bigger trips makes me a better photographer, keeps the skills intact (use it or lose it).

With the techno I can mount all my 4x5 lenses up to 240mm, plus use some new, super lenses from Rodenstock and Schneider, I have a roll film holder for 6x7 format, I can swap my DB between the Techno and RZ for which I also have a roll film back. I'm just getting to grips with this setup, but it has been wonderful so far. My Docter 240/4.8 is wonderful on film and can resolve fine detail on the IQ wide open.

For me photography is very recreational and full of exploration and experimentation. My new setup finally fits me, and happens to support digital. That's the most important thing.

Ken Lee
17-Aug-2012, 19:31
"Those two cameras sit well with me".

Precisely !

Some clothing and jewelry looks very nice on others, but not on us. Some equipment just feels right and we get good images: it's largely a matter of "chemistry". This sort of chemistry is composed of many intangibles, but when it works, it works.

I recently re-acquired a 4x5 Tachihara field camera for this very reason. Once I got reconnected with it, photos started flowing again.

If someone were to hand me a $ 50,000 piece of new gear, it would have to pass the same fundamental test: Do we have an affinity ? If not, then let it find harmony with someone else :cool:

Most musical instruments are all capable of adequate sound, but in the right hands they can be more than adequate. Part comes from the instrument, part from the player. The line between them is blurry at best.

If I could better tune into the creative stream by attaching my camera to a baby stroller I would do so: let us all just find what works best for us.

paulr
21-Aug-2012, 09:47
For me photography is very recreational and full of exploration and experimentation. My new setup finally fits me, and happens to support digital. That's the most important thing.

Interesting post. I'm glad you posted your experiences. It's mostly money that keeps me away from MF digital, but I've heard enough now to not jump in too recklessly if that stops being a barrier. It seems like there's a hell of a learning curve and adaptation period with the tech cams and backs. It also sounds like the manufacturers have some things to learn about ergonomics. For instance, it would be delightful if one day the live view performance on a phase back would catch up with Nikon or Canon, so you could just focus there and be done with it.

cosmicexplosion
21-Aug-2012, 11:15
a leaf 80mp just sold for 20k on ebay
http://http://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/e11051.m43.l1123/7?euid=e296ac20f3244a229c3bcea1a5ace00a&loc=http%3A%2F%2Fcgi.ebay.com%2Fws%2FeBayISAPI.dll%3FViewItem%26item%3D251123313658%26ssPageName%3DADME%3AX%3ARTQ%3AUS%3A1123

GG12
29-Sep-2012, 12:12
Coming at this a different way - I've been shooting a MFDB for a few years, and very much enjoyed it. Managed to get a steal on a Leaf 40 mb back, totally happy. I have friends with the larger 80 mb back, but it has serious downstream requirements and is a bit too intense for this person.

Current thoughts are on how to get movements, still yearning for the joys of LF. An older 4x5 has been sitting for some time (film just seems to take too much time....which is short) , but the movements in LF are of course ideal. I've been pondering trying it with a stitching back for the Leaf, and see if the older lenses (58 and 90) can give enough satisfaction. General wisdom is not too positive, but maybe. The advantage of this is that the sliding back isn't too much (in the digital world at least), and can be reconfigured easily for different mounts.

High on the lust list is the Techno, with its ability to use simple lenses on lens boards, comprehensible movements and GG viewing. Maybe Techno, sliding back and Leaf back will make a nice combination, still with ability to shoot film. IQ180? While super nice, no real need to go there. Like Darr said, there is a lot of pleasure still to be found in using the older backs, and they are getting into the realm of affordable. While they may not match up at the extremes (thanks Tim!), there is a lot of good use to be found in them. They have helped me extend my work into more serious realms, getting closer every day to the carefulness of many of the posters on this forum. Getting there, still in progress!

Of course, today the 4x5 came out from slumber, with a 6x12 back, 120 film (easily loaded and processed) and maybe that's just good enough....