digital back on film body?
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Old 09-20-2014   #1
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Default digital back on film body?

Can a digital back be mounted to a film body and work or does one need to stick with a body like the Mamiya 645 AFD or an H1 for a digital back to function? I want to get bigger than APS-C and am debating between D3S or old digital medium format, both of which seem to be similar price wise. By old, I mean Kodak DCS 645 era. I'm attracted to the possibility of independantly upgrading / changing sensor and body down the line. Not to mention desiring better wide angle and lower noise long exposure shots. Time frame for purchase is 6 - 12 months.

Thanks!

Apologies if this has been asked and answered, my searching has not yielded a result.

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Old 09-26-2014   #2
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Default Re: digital back on film body?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mek42 View Post
Can a digital back be mounted to a film body and work or does one need to stick with a body like the Mamiya 645 AFD or an H1 for a digital back to function?
Notable film systems you can mount a digital back with few restrictions include Hasselblad V, Contax C645, Mamiya RZ. Also, the Rollei 6008 can take certain digital backs.

The most common mounts for used digital backs are Hasselblad V and Mamiya 645AFD (which is used by the current Phase One DF+).

What kind of a system would you be interested in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mek42 View Post
I want to get bigger than APS-C and am debating between D3S or old digital medium format, both of which seem to be similar price wise. By old, I mean Kodak DCS 645 era.
I wouldn't get a Kodak DCS 645. They usually have some extreme limitations in workflow; requiring giant cables plugged into the thing, external power, can only bet set to one ISO, or all three of the above.

Personally, I like the Phase One P25 from 2004. 22 MP, beautiful Kodak CCD, better than the 5D Mk.III at low ISOs. From a Phase One dealer, it'd be more than used D3S but less than a new D4S or 1DX.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mek42 View Post
Not to mention desiring better wide angle and lower noise long exposure shots.
What exactly are you hoping to accomplish with medium format digital?

You're not going to get either of these going to medium format digital on a budget.

For small format, two of the best wide angle lenses around are Nikon's 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S N Nikkor and Canon's 17mm TS-E lens. They have massive image circles, and some users even use what are called "technical cameras" to adapt these lenses for use with medium format digital backs.

Most backs in your price range don't have "full frame" 645 sensors. You're not going to get true wide angle with these smaller sensors with most legacy systems.

Also, I've not been particularly impressed with the performance of interchangeable medium format wide angle lenses. The recent Schneider 28mm LS for Phase One and Leica 24mm Super Elmar-S are pretty good, but one must stop them down considerably to get perfectly sharp corners; I'm not even sure they're better than Nikon's 14-24mm or Canon's 17mm. To truly get better wide angle lenses on medium format, you will need to use a Rodenstock or Schneider lens mounted on a lens board and fitted to a technical camera. Setting aside the cost of such a system aside, you also no longer have a viewfinder, automatic cocking shutter, etc.

NOTE: Make sure you get your 14-24mm or 17mm adjusted by Nikon/Canon if they perform subpar; their quality control has been hit/miss lately, and there have been some real dogs lately.

For long exposure, a more recent CMOS DSLR should fit the bill nicely; they have much improved noise handling with long exposures. If I remember correctly, you have a Nikon D2HS; a D3S would let you share batteries and accessories.

Medium format digital is actually pretty bad for long exposure noise, except for a certain few specialized digital backs. The traditional leader in this category is the Phase One P45+, which is a 39 MP digital back and still runs $15,000 USD.

The new Phase One backs with the Sony CMOS sensor also offer great long exposure performance, but the cheapest unit it is the IQ150, coming in at $29,990.

I don't know how the Hasselblad brand CMOS backs perform with long exposure, but traditionally their CCD backs have struggled with long exposure noise despite using some of the same Kodak CCD sensors as Phase One.

-----------

Let me know via PM if you'd like me to put you in touch with my local dealer; they have two of the most knowledgeable Phase One folks in the world there, and I think they might be the original Phase One dealer in the U.S.. They can advise you better on how to proceed.

Disclaimer: While I do not work for Phase One nor my local dealer, I am a member of the Phase One Certified Professional program. I work with a number of these systems as an assistant and a photographer.


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