High- End Digital Photography Tips

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Arca Swiss Rm3d

Arca Swiss has been making high-quality cameras for more than 80 years. And while the name may not be a household word, the company was a pioneer in digital camera backs. In fact, they have nearly 20 years' experience in the field.

The company's latest hot product is no back, though. It's another well-made camera - with the option of going film or digital.

The Rm3d is a boxy 7.25" x 8" x 1" (approx.), but the size allows for multiple formats up to 6x9 cm - including 645 digital backs. The Rm3d also features both horizontal and vertical displacement and tilt.

But what makes this model truly interesting is that it's designed for hand-held use - and features an optical rangefinder adaptable from 23 - 210 mm.

The Rm3d was introduced at the latest Photokina show... but this model doesn't appear to have hit US dealers yet.


Linhof Techno

Serious landscape and architectural photographers, take note: Legendary camera maker LInhof has introduced the Techno, a classic medium format camera for the digital age.

For a bellows camera, the Techno is light and compact - just over four pounds and about 7.75" x 7" x 4.75" (without back, bellows closed). But it has all the adjustments you'd expect from Linhof... both the front and rear standards shift horizontally and vertically, with a swing and tilt of +/- 10 degrees.

The Techno accomodates any lens - with mechanical or electronic shutter - that mounts on a Technika lensboard. Besides fitting digital backs, the Techno can be used with certain rollfilm backs from Linhof, Mamiya and Horseman. Many accessories designed for Linhof's M 679 also fit the Techno.

The Techno is aimed at demanding pros and should be available in the second quarter of 2009. But don't line up to buy one just yet. Though no US price has been announced, Linhof's cameras aren't cheap. The M 679 sells for around $8,000.


High-end Focus Goes Really High-Tech

Digital cameras with fairly large sensors ("full-frame" and larger) tend to have the multi-focus points clustered near the center of the frame.

With this arrangement, using auto-focus, means you still have to shift your camera's position slightly to shoot an off-center subject. And this shift typically results in a very slight out-of-focus situation.

Hasselblad addresses this problem with it's H4D line of medium-format digital cameras. These cameras employ a yaw rate sensor.

Think of a yaw rate sensor as sort of a tiny gyroscope. It recognizes the camera's movements. The camera's APL (Absolute Position Lock) processor then uses this information to micro-adust your focus.

The result is near-perfect focus every time... even when you're shooting off-center subjects.

Features like this may seem like overkill to the average snapshooter. But they're exactly why top pros are willing to fork over the price of a compact car for high-end digital cameras like the Hasselblad.


Mamiya Offers Two Shutters for Greater Versatility

Want ultra-fast flash synch coupled with truly professional image quality? Mamiya delivers with the DM56 medium format digital camera.

The DM56 is designed to work with two sutters. The camera has a built-in focal plane shutter that operates with more than 30 mamiya lenses. But for demanding situations, the company has introduced three new Schneider-designed lense with built-in leaf shutters. The leaf-shutter lenses come in 55mm, 80mm and 110mm focal lengths and allow flash synch speeds up to 1/1600th second.

That's the speed. Now for the image quality...

The DM56 features a 56mm x 36mm image sensor. That's 2.3 times larger than the "full-frame" 24mm x 36mm sensors available on high-end DSLR cameras. And it delivers 56 MP images.

As with other top-of-the-line digital cameras, the DM56 comes with a hefty price tag. Mamiya estimates the street price will be around $32,490. The camera should be available in November 2009.

For pros on a budget, Mamiya is introducing the DM33, with a smaller 33 MP sensor, but the same dual-lens technology. The DM33 is expected to sell for under $20,000.


The Best of Both Worlds

Medium format camera systems are expensive... but offer photogrphers clear advantages. And "clear" is the key word here.

Medium format film cameras use a much larger negative then 35mm, resulting in crisper prints that enlarge to much greater sizes. And, as we've discussed before, medium format digital cameras provide the same advantage.

With the introduction of three new digital backs for the Mamiya 645AFD and RZ67, Mamiya has upped the ante a bit. The M18, M22 and M31 fit either model, and offer 18, 22.1 and 31.6 megapixel images, respectively. And while those numbers don't sound impressive, these next ones will:

Most "prosumer" or advanced amateur digital SLR cameras use an "APS-C" sensor. These sensors are about half the size of a frame of 35mm film. HIgh-end digital SLR's use "full-frame" sensors - bout 24mm x 36m.

Mamiya's new backs carry much larger sensors. The smallest, the M18, is 44.2 x 33.1mm. That's nearly twice the size of a full-frame digital SR's sensor. And those larger pixels mean sharper pictures with much less noise.

Witht the 645AFD and RZ67, you have another advantage: both can handle Mamiya's film backs, offering you top-notch quality... and the best of both the film and digital worlds.


Medium Format - Digitized

When film ruled, commercial photographers preferred medium format cameras. With negatives many times the size of 35mm, medium format cameras provided far more flexibility than large format and superior quality to 35mm.

Well, medium format is alive and well in the digital world, thank you very much.

While most of the big digital news has focused on the megapixel race among digital SLRs, digital medium format cameras have been doing what medium format does best - kicking butt with unmatchable image quality.

Take the Hasselblad H3DII-31, for example. While a "full-frame" DSLR sensor is 24mm x 36mm, this low-end Hasselblad sports a 31 MP sensor that measures in at 33mm x 44mm. That's 68% more real estate than in the best DSLRs. And Hasselblad's H series cameras go up to an astounding 50 MP - twice the resolution of full-frame DSLRs.

Of course, digital dominance comes at a price. The H3DII-31 sells for about $18,000 with an 80 mm lens. And even the budget-priced Mamiya 645ZD will set you back $10,000 with an 80 mm lens.

But if you're looking for killer image quality, medium format still rules.

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Lynda Moultry