Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Digital Cameras & Shooting Techniques => Topic started by: on June 15, 2005, 06:41:09 pm

Title: ?Purchase Used DCS Pro 645c back?
Post by: on June 15, 2005, 06:41:09 pm
While there is no certainty, there is good reason to believe that the Contax 645 system is far from dead. I would not hesitate to buy a digital back for one.

As for the Kodak back, it it very good. I used one for a while with very fine results. But, it isn't in the same class as a current 16MP Phase One P20, for example.

If you can get one at a very good price, say under $5,000, then I'd recommend it. But, otherwise consider a more contemporary back.

Title: ?Purchase Used DCS Pro 645c back?
Post by: Graham Welland on June 16, 2005, 07:02:36 pm
As for the Kodak back, it it very good. I used one for a while with very fine results. But, it isn't in the same class as a current 16MP Phase One P20, for example.

How would you compare the latest 1Ds II vs. Kodak back these days?

I've been mulling over getting the Canon as a companion for or probably a replacement for my 645M but haven't had a chance to realistically compare them side by side to see if the change would be worthwhile. I have the relevant Canon L glass now so that isn't a cost to change factor.

Any thoughts?
Title: ?Purchase Used DCS Pro 645c back?
Post by: Graham Welland on June 17, 2005, 02:28:56 pm
Aha ... rtfm problem.

For shooting at ISO 100 there seems little if any advantage of 1DsII other than the convenience and equipment range of a 35mm DSLR system. However, this isn't an insignificant Canon advantage.

I consider the Kodak an ISO 100 device despite the ability to up the ISO as far as 400 because it gets noisey pretty quickly. The Canon obviously seems to excel here.

I think I'll stick with the 645M for the time being. The 1Ds appeals due to convenience and flexibility but its still hard to justify the cost to change at the moment.

Something to think about: If you got a 645c at $5k or less then it'll probably depreciate less in the next two years than a 1Ds series DSLR has dropped over the same period (as soon as the 1Ds II came out 1Ds values fell $3k and haven't hit bottom yet). Ditto for Nikon D1X etc.
Title: ?Purchase Used DCS Pro 645c back?
Post by: mikeseb on June 15, 2005, 11:12:52 am
I am considering the purchase of a used DCS Pro back for my Contax 645. When I bought the Contax system last fall--prior to its being discontinued by Kyocera--my objective always was to go digital when I could afford to purchase a back, and make do with scanned film until then. My "back" moment may have arrived, but I have some trepidation about it. Of note, my primary subjects are fine-art landscapes, portraits, and abstract work.

As you all know, the COntax 645 will be an orphan after the end of this year, though Kyocera or its successor ToCAD will support it for a time longer. The same is true with Kodak and its digital backs, although I was not able to find the end-of-service date on Kodak's website.

I guess I'm nervous about investing in an orphan back, new or used, to hang on an orphaned camera system. (I love the Contax--best camera I've ever used, bar none.) It's more serious an issue with the back, given that no one knows whether image-reading/manipulating software will be available for its format a few years down the road. My intention would be to shoot raw, open the raw images in ACR (which works with the back's raw files but is not officially supported, according to MR), then convert them to DNG format for future-proofing as much as possible.

With the Contax being discontinued, one wonders how long Leaf, PhaseOne, and the other back-makers will continue developing backs for it. I had counted on prices to decline over time into the affordability range, but I am concerned that backmakers will not develop newer, less expensive, and ?better backs for an obsolete camera. The DCS Pro would fit my requirements nicely in the here and now.

Any thoughts re the advisability of this purchase? Comments re the quality of the back and its images? Reviews I've read elsewhere are good to excellent--has that been the experience here?

Thanks to all.
Title: ?Purchase Used DCS Pro 645c back?
Post by: mikeseb on June 16, 2005, 12:37:12 am
Thanks Michael. From a practical standpoint, I don't think I am going to join the mini-flood of Contax users selling their gear on eBay (been tracking eBay prices--there was a surge, now leveling off, of Contax gear for sale in the weeks after the d/c announcement.) I'd take a bath on the equipment even if I wanted to sell the camera now. Of course, if it proves to be a dead end, then selling it later will mean even more of a bath. (Where's that !@$*##@ crystal ball? I know I set it down here somewhere!!)

Main issue is I'm getting impatient having to scan all that blasted film, tediously, and beginning to doubt that an affordable digital back will ever be available for this otherwise splendid camera while it retains any resale value.

I think my only sensible course of action, given the thousands I've got tied up in my Contax 645 gear, is to sit tight, continue to enjoy a great film camera until it breaks and I can't get it fixed, or until I can't obtain needed accessories at reasonable cost. Meanwhile I'll keep an eye open for a digital-back bargain for it; and hope that some other company picks up the Contax line; and that yet someone else continues to develop those digital backs.

Decisions, choices.

michael sebastian
Title: ?Purchase Used DCS Pro 645c back?
Post by: mikeseb on June 17, 2005, 02:56:01 pm
Thanks to everyone who posted here. I have examined, and passed on, two DCS Pro 645C backs on eBay the last few days, each of which sold for $4000-4200, one with 3200 (a deal!) actuations, the other with over 20,000.

I am a low-volume fine-art hobbyist photographer, not a working pro; I am getting stellar results scanning film, and for now can afford, grudgingly, the tedium involved. I'm just not shooting enough right now for the back to pay for itself until well after Kodak will have washed its hands of it; and by then the situation re Contax's survival as a brand will with luck be clearer. Perhaps there will be other choices at that point (I keep waiting for MR to pull a contax-branded rabbit out of his hat here!) re digital backs.

I figure that, scanning film at 4000dpd, I am getting something around 60 megapixels per negative, with grain that is barely perceptible, even at 17" print size (epson 4000 max). Of course I know that a direct-to-digital pixel is cleaner and "better" than a scanned-film pixel, so it's not an apples-to-apples comparison (read somewhere that 3 scanned film pixels equal about 1 dir-to-digital pixel ; but my current setup works except for processing, scanning, and storing hassles.

Of course if I win the lottery I'm flying straight to Denmark to claim my P25!

Best to all, and thanks for your input.

mike sebastian