Thread: review day 1
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Old August 8th, 2008, 06:36 AM
Frank Doorhof Frank Doorhof is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Emmeloord, the Netherlands
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The back
What can I say, the first time I saw the Leaf Aptus series I was sold.
They are sexy, they are slick, they just call out "buy me, buy me, I will take really good care of you".
The back boosts a 6x7cm touch display that is just stunning.
Well inside....
That's the one negative I have to add about the backs display, it's great for setting settings on the camera inside and outside.
However when judging a photo, the displays on the new DSLRs are far superieur.
The Leaf is just to dark in the sun and the resolution is poor compared to the new DSLR displays.
I have to add that this is NOT ONLY LEAF, I have yet to see a medium format back with a good display (as of this writing).

What can we do from the back ?
Do you have an hour ?
I will make it short.
What can we not do ?
The software that Leaf uses in the backs is really stunning.
For example, shoot a graycard and just click on the touchdisplay on the graycard and it will set the whitebalance for you for every following shot. (after selecting setting whitebalance ofcourse).
But there is much more.
You can edit and rename files, you can select different crop modes (for example an overlay for different formats you need), you can add different profiles (like pictures styles from Canon DSLRs).
But most of all the menu structure is VERY easy to follow and works very fast once you get used to it, to be honest I never even use the stylus, just using my fingers work perfectly on the touchdisplay.




Software
My first experience with the Leaf software was a strange one.
I bought the Aptus 22 and never figured a company like Leaf would not have PC software :D
Thanks to the guys from Leaf I was up and running on a PC one day after I got the back (many thanks guys) and before I knew it I was testing the software.
To be honest it was one of the easiest testing jobs I ever did, the software ran smooth from day one.
So my experience with the software always has been great.

I recently switched to the mac because I wanted a notebook with powered firewire, I do alot of workshops on location and missing a powered firewire connection was really bugging me and giving me alot of problems.
So it was finally time to run the software natively.
Well ok, it ran smooth also......
Leaf is constantly improving the software and at the moment they added a compare option which is great for quickly deciding which captures to keep and which to delete.
They are also one of the only software makers I know off which included the dynamic range of photography into their histogram (2 1/3 stop over and 4 1/3 stop under) students of my workshops know what I mean. For me this means we are dealing with a company that thinks together with the photographer.

Why is this important ?
Simple.
The back has more dynamic range than a standard offset press can handle, by marking the dynamic range in the histogram you can adjust the ratios so that they fall in the dynamic range of the press AND you can still have more shadow detail for digital work or own prints.
VERY clever and something I think that should standard be on all histograms.

Leaf also has a very well working moire removal tool which actually works very well.
I was using the free plugin from phase one which worked nicely but left me often with a result that was 10x better than it was but not perfect.
I will not say the leaf solution is 100% perfect, but it's pretty close.

Now add a red eye filter and a batch rename function and we're done.

Resolution
Who needs 33MP ?
That's something that alot of people will ask.
Well to be short, most people don't.
I make perfect A2 prints from my 5D, I have done billboards with a 10D.
But I'm also someone who loves small details, when I shoot fashion I love to see the fabric of the clothing, when I shoot a street scene I love to see the toothbrush through the window in the building at the end of the street (ok now I go to far).

Anyway, 33MP is great, 56MP is better but you have to realise that it's something that is not necessary for most work.
For landscapes it's amazing I think, for city scapes it's stunning for pictures of the wife and kids, well....... it's fun.
Can we talk about fun with a price range in which the AFi sits ?

Yes we can and we should, photography should be fun. We all hate to go to work in the morning and hate our work.
Using materials such as the AFi will make our work just that much better (as if we modelphotographers need a AFi to enjoy our work with beautiful models :D)

But more seriously.
The demand for high megapixels will go on, and the disturbing thing is that most agencies will demand ridicilous ammounts of megapixels for ridicilous small prints, maybe it's a way to eliminate the GWC (Guy With a Camera) or it's just not knowing what it means.
For me the more MP's is something I love to use, as mentioned before I get a kick when I can see the different subtle strains of woll that makes a sweater, or I can see the eye full screen etc.
But that's personal, for my work most clients are more than happy with the 5D.

Then why buy the AFi 7 ?
First of all it's the sensor size, with a measurement of 48x36 it's at the moment the largest sensor Leaf offers (with the exception of the recently announced AFi10).
It's the same sensor size as the AFi 5 (22MP)
Now the choice.....

Now it gets difficult.
The AFi 5 has a working range of ISO 25-400
The AFi 7 has a working range of ISO 50-800
When I work on the 645AFD/III I want the ISO25 (outside sun/strobes/1/125)
When I work on the AFi series the sync speed is not a problem any more so ISO50 is a great starting point.
ISO 800 from what I have seen in a VERY VERY quick test is nice to have but I would not shoot an assignment with it (it's noisy).
But it's better than ISO400 on my Leaf Aptus 22 (one stop quicker and little more noise).

So for me it would still be the AFi7 I would choose.

Why not the AFi 6 ?
Well the answer is simple, the crop is larger.
The sensor measures 44x33 mm and that's for me a reason to get the 5 or 7, and to be honest also what draws me to the AFi 10 although I probarbly will NEVER be able to afford that one when it's on the market, but the 56x36mm sensor sure sounds sweet.

Why is the bigger sensor better ?
First of all, the bigger the sensor the bigger the pixels (in the same density that is), the bigger the pixels the better the quality.
That's why cellphone cameras are bad.
But there is something else and a lot of people dissagree with that.
I have found that the larger the sensor gets the more 3D effect I find in the pictures, lenses, light etc. play an essential part in this but the sensor size also.
I have seen the jump from the 20D to the 5D and after that from a crop leaf to the Aptus22 and recently from FILM 6x45 to 6x7 film.
So for me the bigger the sensor the more excited I get.


Have to know
Some things that are nice to know and important to know:
The autofocus system operates on a few levels.
There is one area of autofocus which is common with MF and in my opinion something that hopefully will change in a usable selection of points (and not like the AFD/III from Mamiya with ghost focuspoints that show not up).
The way the AF can be used is something I would like to give some attention to:
Of course you can choose for the standard AF in one shot or focusbracketing.
There however also is a focus trap in which the camera will fire when your object gets into the focus area, this is great for photographing moving objects and something that I think will benefit some photographers alot.

The camera uses a Leaf (what's in a name) shutter system, this means the shutter is in the lenses and makes it possible to sync at MUCH higher sync speeds than the usual 1/125.
In the case of the AFi this is 1/1000th of a second.
To compare, the 645AFD/III with normal lenses will top at 1/125 and the Mamiya RZ67ProII will top at 1/400.
Especially when working outside with strobes this is a TREMENDOUS advantage.

There is a mirror lockup button on the camera and the mirro is dampened to eliminate camera shake.

Also the firmware updates are a breeze, this happens in the Leaf software and is done automaticly when a new software version is released, it's the most easy system I've seen, just connect and the rest is done automaticly.

one more note for today
According to Peter the AFi was designed to be laid down on it's side, that's why all the controls are slightly below the side of the camera.
And that works great, I would almost say it's a great and clever design, but.........
One thing they probarbly did not think about (although I can't believe that) is that when you connect your trigger to the hotshoe (even the Elinchrom skyports) you can't lie the camera on it's side anymore and you have to lay it down the way you hold it.
When it's sitting like that it's a bit unstable, so watch out when you walk through your studio, it's a mighty expensive paperweight when it falls down.
I always lie my camera down in a place nothing can happen so I don't have that problem, but I think I will note it here.
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