Hello everyone at LuLa,
I have been lurking this site for a few years now. I have to thank you for all the discussions you've had here over the years, which have really helped me understand a lot of things. I can't think of a better place to ask the next question I have.
Before anyone asks, this is not another thread about "Whether it's worth it". I know it is. I have done my homework. This is a thread about some very specific MF related questions.
I am a fine art photographer mostly into thematic portraiture. You can see some of my work here: www.sandeepmurali.com
. I am a long term Nikon user and currently shoot with a D800 and a D7100. 35mm DSLRs sure have come a long way and while these cameras do a lot of things really well, there are some things lacking which are really limiting my creative flow.
Things like detail resolution:
Now both cameras have plenty of "Resolution", but that's all megapixel numbers. When it comes to actual detail resolving, I find them lacking for my needs. There's a "Bite" that I see in medium format files that are simply not there in the files from both my cameras. I've tried everything. Lens micro adjust, getting sharp primes, shooting outside diffraction zone, everything. It just isn't the same. I got the D7100 because I think it's the "AA filter effect", but even that doesn't come close to the MF bite. My current workaround is to do hi-pass sharpening in Photoshop, but even that looks too "Digital" to my eye, not organic.
This is very important to me as I like to retouch skin and keep other detail like hair and eye lashes razor sharp. I have a Bronica ETRSi kit that I bought for peanuts and I see that "Bite" in the rolls I get out of it, but film is not a viable long term solution. At least for me. It's a "Hobby camera" for me at best. One that I love to death, though.
This is my biggest gripe. I just HATE the way I have to fight 35mm cameras to get great skintones. I got myself a Color Checkr and while it does help, the gradation in the tones is simply too digital. And that goes for Canon files too; just in a different way. I do miss the grace that print film has in the gradation as well as the beautiful highlights. I've tried film emulation programs and all that, but the files just don't look the same. Maybe I am too picky.
I am a simple kinda shooter. Pocketwizard Plus III, Elinchrom Quadra, Sekonic meter, shoot. I don't have time for cludgy things like ND filters on the lens, hypersync this, HSS that etc. I like to have 1/800 sync out of the box and you know all roads lead to one place witht hat goal in mind.
My biggest revelation came when I got myself a copy of Capture One and opened a Leaf file downloaded from the Mamiyaleaf site in it. Holy cow, everything just looked "Right" from the word go! The skintones and gradation were stupendous and there was very little sharpening, if any, needed (Granted, that was a Credo 80 file, but since then, I have looked around for files from everything from the 22MP back to the 80 and have found the same characteristic in them). That made me realize that I need to go MF.
I've been reading and researching for the past few months. Lots of things to learn in the MF arena. Kodak this, Dalsa that, Sensor + etc. etc. It's all pretty dizzying. I finally have a rather clear understanding of what I want, I think.
I find that the Hasselblad offerings are the most cost effective, but I don't like the closed system approach. It's like getting a slightly bigger 35mm DSLR. If they improve their APL for instance, I want to have the ability to replace the body and keep my own back. i don't want to pony up 5 figures again to get an all new kit. It all seems counter intuitive tot he modular MF approach.
The Pentax 645D just doesn't appeal to me at all. From the files that I have worked on, it barely has an edge over my D800 and the 1/125 flash sync kills it for me. Also, this one isn't modular either.
I have been seeing some rather neat deals on used PhaseOnes. But 30MP+ backs still command a pretty stiff premium. Also, I am really not sure if I can live with that rear display for very long.
...and then we have Leaf. From the first Leaf file I processed, I somehow knew this was the direction I had to take. I like the Leaf skintones the best of all and the prices are quite reasonable in the used market. Moreover, there are some good deals even for brand new kits right now. Now all I need to do is choose the right one for me.
So here's my dilemma.
The Aptus II 7 and the Aptus II 8 kits are the exact same price, brand new. One is 33MP and the other 40MP, as you know. The former is a bigger sensor, but still not full frame. Try as I may, I can't make up my mind between the two. As I said, I mostly do fine art portraiture, so I'd almost always have a tele on it. But at the same time, I also do environmental portraiture and I LOVE the 24mm focal length for that in 35mm system. See an example below:
Please advise me, in the Mamiya system, is there a leaf shutter lens that will give me 24mm equivalent FoV on the cropped sensor in the Aptus II 8? If not, it's a major dealbreaker for me. Also, how prone is the 33MP back to moire compared to the 40MP? As you can see, I work with some pretty intricate fabric patterns and I want to keep moire retouching to a minimum if I can.
In terms of tonality, are both backs the same? This is VERY important to me. "Only" 33MP" is fine as long as it delivers great tones. It is very difficult to tell from the samples I have with me as they are of different subjects.
My budget for this switch is about USD 12,000 and I hope to save up this amount by February next year. I really hope you guys can help me make the right choice too.
Thanks in advance!