Not the camera that makes the photograph..
I couldn’t agree more with this statement but we can’t ignore the fact that we have cameras that cost less than £50 and cameras that will cost you the same as a mid range, brand new BMW? The Camera must be important on some level, mustn’t it?
Phase One p45+ 28mm Schneider Kreuznach LS f/4.5 f/11 4 sec. ISO 100
Well yes, of course it must. Whilst it isn’t the camera that makes the picture, it’s the camera that reproduces the vision of the photographer and this is where things get interesting. A mobile phone can take a picture in the same way a £30,000 camera can, but when it comes to the quality of the image, the process of turning the artists vision into pixels on the screen or ultra fine droplets of ink on paper, there is no comparison. For some applications of course, the level of quality is not so critical while for others it certainly is.
A couple of weeks ago, thanks to Brian Tinsen, at DTek Systems UK , I had the opportunity to test drive the camera equivalent of the new BMW. A medium format Phase One 645 DF camera with a P45+ digital back along with a fabulous Schneider Kreuznach 28mm LS f/4.5 Aspherical Lens. As I’m principally a landscape photographer, I needed the SW150 filter system from Lee ,designed to fit lenses with fixed hoods to protect the convex nature of the super wide lenses. The P45+ digital back has a 49.1 x 36.8mm sensor giving 39.1 megapixels at a resolution of 7216 x 5412. What all this technical stuff amounts to is wonderfully sharp images with superb depth and range of colour.
Within ten minutes of the courier delivering the equipment, I had the camera unpacked and I was taking pictures. Using the menu system on the P45+ digital back, I was able to format my compact flash memory card and set the ISO. It was all very intuitive.
I took a half-dozen shots from my patio then came back inside, inserted the compact flash card into my card reader and uploaded the images to my PC. I already had Capture One Pro installed. This is the software created by Phase One to process the .IIQ RAW files that come from the camera. As soon as I put the images on the screen I knew I was dealing with images of superb quality. I could see immediately, even at 16%, that the photos were sharp with a fabulous depth of colour. It was when I looked at the image at 100%, though I knew I had to get me one of these cameras. :-)
I’ve posted one of those first pictures below in full resolution so you can judge for yourself. Click on the image and view at 100% and you’ll see what I mean.
We generally don’t go zooming into images to check the finer detail so does this level of quality matter? Well on a professional level it does and while the camera didn’t take this picture what it did with the data I gave it to process is on another level.
I went on a couple of dawn shoots to Trebarwith Strand and was really pleased with the way the kit performed and the results I got. The camera is big and heavy but packed away nicely in my Kata backpack and I use a tripod so I didn’t find this a particular problem. It’s not a camera I’d like to have around my neck all day long however. The Schneider lens is in a class of its own, the clarity and depth of field achievable with this lens just blew me away.
Below is a gallery of images I took while I had the medium format kit. Second hand, the equipment I had costs around £16,000. I’m now in the process of trying to raise the cash so if there is anybody out there keen to sponsor the arts, this particular photographer could do with some help so please get in touch :|
My thanks once again to Brian for the loan of the equipment and for showing me what is possible. It’s a lot of money. My current kit costs around £3,500 and in many respects, the Nikon D800 holds its own against a medium format camera. I love my D800 and the images it produces. Is the medium format kit worth 5 times my current kit? Well yes, for me it is. Looking at the images in the gallery below, the style is the same, these are Chillbrook images for sure and there’s not a whole lot of difference to be seen at this level However, these images could take being printed at billboard size without any problem and from a quality point of view, would satisfy the critical eye of the most exacting magazine photo editor. As a professional photographer, this is where it counts.
My sincere and on going thanks to everybody who has clicked the links to my new website, www.cornwallphotographicsales.com The site is doing really well in the Google page rankings, thanks to you all, and in several fairly general searches I have done recently found Cornwall Photographic sales on the first page of results. This is fantastic so please keep clicking..