Friday, December 16, 2016

Visiting Moab Utah

Walking into Devil's Garden
Sony A7rII FE16-35 (35mm) f/9 1/250 ISO 50

We live in the Tucson Arizona area and commute to work with our latest commute being to the beautiful area of Moab Utah.  The images presented here were captured using a combination of Sandys Sony A7rII and Dons Phase One XF body and IQ1-100 digital back.
The Sony A7rII for those who might not know is a 42.4 megapixel full frame 35mm camera body that accepts various lenses all in a small package.  The Phase One system comprises of a separate body and digital back that also accepts removaleable lenses. The major drawback of the Phase One XF when compared to the Sony is the size and weight while the major advantages are the much larger sensor (35x24 versus 53.7x40.4) as well as the ability to remove the digital back from the XF and replace it with another; which is exactly what Don did just recently when he upgraded from an 80-megapixell CCD sensor IQ180 to the 100-megapixel CMOS sensor IQ1-100.  Sandy and Don are now both using cameras with Sony CMOS sensors,  The major advantage to the CMOS senor in medium format is higher ISO (50-12800) and a much better live view both functions the A7rII has had from the outset (ISO 100-25600).
Green River Overlook
Sony A7rII FE 24-70 (70mm)
Anyone who has followed us knows we believe in showing photography as art more than duplication.  Anyone can snap an image and leave it at that; what we do is try to convey emotion.  We are more interested in sharing the feelings of the location; to that end we “listen” to the image as after we open it for initial processing.  We use multiple tools at our disposal to include filters on the camera lens, processing software that includes Capture One Pro, Photoshop, Nik Software and Topaz Labs.  While our “darkroom” is now 100% digital we now have the tools that make it easier to do what used to be extremely difficult to perform in a wet-darkroom (and in some cases impossible).
An example of turning a simple photographic image into something slightly more.  Processing was done using a combination of Capture One Pro and Nik Software.
Sony A7rII FE16-35 (35mm) f/5 1/100 ISO 50

Sandy standing at the edge near Canyonlands National Park
Phase One XF Schneider LS40-80 (80mm) IQ1-100
Turning photographs into art.  The top image is the original as shot which at the time looked good however once looking at the image on a larger screen we agreed it looks bland but worthy of at least seeing if it could be saved.  The bottom image reflects after processing in Capture One Pro and Topaz Labs.
Phase One XF, Schneider LS 35mm IQ1-100
f/11 1/200 ISO 200

And a slightly larger view of why we like this one. 
There’s always the threat when capturing landscape images that the weather won’t cooperate.  Too much light, not enough light or you missed the light while setting up. Add to that too hot, too cold, blowing snow and just freezing weather can turn a normally beautiful spot into something else.  You need to think outside the box.  This is another example of that thinking.  The color image was “nice” but not “great” so we ended up making this into a stylized image of the Green River Overlook. The color image that’s directly below was taken with 90-seconds and looks great in color.  Both were captured using a Phase One XF, Schneider LS 35mm and an IQ1-100 f/8 1/320 ISO 200. Go figure…

There are times you might want to add drama to an image.  The following images are an examples.  The pothole was captured because we could see a slight reflection of the sky in the water as well as the heavy overcast sky with the sun trying to peek through.  The finished image is more of what we “felt” than what we “saw”.
Likewise the image of Park Avenue in Arches National Park is the finished image after cropping from the bottom and adding a little drama to the sky. Both images were processed in Capture One Pro before Topaz Labs.
Phase One XF Schneider LS 40-80 (40mm) f/8 1/2500 ISO 400 Handheld
Phase One XF Schneider LS 35mm f/8 1/5 ISO 50
You need to watch out for the unexpected.  We found this tight space near Sand Dune Arch.  While it didn’t look all that photogenic it did have a certain appeal to Don.  The space itself is very tight and showed the two rocks wedged in-between.  Phase One XF, Schneider LS 35mm, handheld f/3.5 1/160 ISO 400.  Processed entirely in Capture One Pro.

Truthfully this was a very ugly spot however Don saw something here that he knew was worthy of at least trying.  Phase One XF, Schneider LS35, IQ1-100, f/3.5 1/250 ISO 400.  The image was processed initially in Capture One Pro as all our images are before sending to Photoshop.  Once in Photoshop he began working on the individual hue/saturation levels of the reds, yellows, greens, cyans, blues, and magentas experimenting raising and lowing the saturations until he arrived at the image below.
There are two parts to this story. There are times you just don’t have a wide enough lens to capture the scene.  Don’s widest lens he had at the time, a Schneider LS 35 wasn’t wide enough. Likewise Sandy’s 16-35 at 16mm wasn’t either.  This is a two shot handheld pano using the Sony A7rII, FE16-35 at 16mm. f/8 1/320 ISO 50.  Don tried the same thing with his 35mm and failed to get a usable file. 
The second part is the color.  The image was captured at almost high noon with the worse possible light.  The Colorado River was flat however is was extremely muddy and looked like, well crap. We processed the files and while we disliked the color we liked the overall image; thus we converted it to black and white saving an otherwise ugly image.
Another example of turning an otherwise somewhat dull image into something else. Turret Arch was a very quick snap Sandy took using her Sony A7rII and FE90mm lens. We were in the middle of a light snow storm that made shooting conditions difficult. The area we were in offered a great observation spot and rather than risk not finding it again Sandy decided to experiment and take the shot.  The file looked “okay” however we both felt it need “something” else so we decided to try it in Topaz Labs getting the result you see below.
There are also times when we’re shooting we “see” the scene in black and white.  We compose the shot knowing that once we open and begin processing the file we’d do it as a black and white image.  Sometimes we fail however most of the times we win. Huge...
The image below was captured by Sandy using her Sony A7rII FE24-70 lens at 40mm f/8 1/200 ISO 50.  Processed entirely in Capture One Pro.
Don likes to focus-stack images in order to achieve what he calls focus from his toes to the sky.  The following are two examples of focus stacking using a 100-megapixel IQ1-100 medium format camera.  Both were captured using a Phase One XF camera body and a Schneider LS 35mm lens.  A steady tripod is a must in doing focus stacking; in doing both of these Don used a new Platypod Max in lieu of a tripod in order to get low enough.
8-files f/8 1/160 ISO 50
7-files f/11 1/125 ISO 50
Platypod Max at work.  Don has the waist level viewfinder attached to the XF to assist him in low level shooting conditions as well as using a remote shutter release for a hands off approach other than to change focus.
Broken Arch, Arches National Park.  Both images are full frame with no cropping done. 
Sony A7rII FE16-35 (16mm) f/7,1 1/100 ISO 50
Phase One XF Schneider LS 35mm f/5.6 1/200 ISO 50
This was the first visit to Moab since Don upgraded to the 100-megapixel IQ1-100 digital back and once again he’s very impressed.  The following images were captured on the fly in the Garden of Eden area of Arches National Park.  While he would have preferred a longer lens like the Schneider LS 240 (which was sitting at home in Tucson) he was able to try the resolution factor of the 75-150 at 150mm.
f/5.6 1/200 ISO 50
The above image was taken at 150mm handheld through the window of the truck in a slight snow storm.  Processed in Capture One Pro then sent to Photoshop in order to run the shake reduction filter which helped a little.

The following is a 100% crop.
Not bad...
The following is a side by side comparison of another image taken seconds after the one above. The image on the left is the full fame while the one on the right is a crop.  Having the extra resolution available is a great tool to have.
Our final image is the result of 4-images stitched together to make a panorama of Arches National Park with the LaSalle Mountain in the background. The files were processed in Capture One Pro prior to stitching them together in Photoshop.  This is not the final image as Don feels it still needs a little more work.
f/6.3 1/640 ISO 100 (handheld)
Once again we want to thank our dear friend Dave Gallagher of Capture Integration for the love and support he and his company provides us throughout the year.  A big shout out also goes to Ziv Argov, VP Marketing Phase One.
This is our last blog entry for 2016 as the year is quickly coming to a close.  Next year, 2017 has a lot of surprises in store with new travel that we are anxious to share so please stay tuned.   Until then however, we’d like to wish everyone a very safe holiday season and a happy new year.
Sandy & Don




Sunday, November 20, 2016

Phase One IQ1-100 (100 megapixel medium format)


Abo Mission ruins is the result of 2-focus captures that were later stacked in Photoshop CC.  The original files were processed in Capture One-9 prior to opening and stacking in PSCC.  The final image also had a little help from Topaz Labs.  100-megapixel, Phase One IQ1-100, XF body using a Schneider LS 35mm lens.  Handheld shot, f/8 1/800 ISO 200.


Another example using the Schneider LS 35mm f/8 1/500 ISO 50.  This image was cropped from the bottom to taste.  Primary processing was done first in Capture One before sending to Topaz Labs for tweaking.
Non-cropped sample using the Schneider LS 240 (handheld) f/8 1/400 ISO 50.  Processed entirely in Capture One 9.
I’ve written about this new digital back twice; once after a quick trip south of Tucson to kick the digital tires and again after a quick full moon test using a Schneider LS 240 lens.  This time I’m writing after a much thorough time using it in the Socorro New Mexico area where we spent a week shooting late at night and sunrise.
Non-cropped, first nightscape test using the XF, IQ1-100 and an older Mamiya 28mm lens.  f/4.5 30-seconds ISO 1600.
Second night of testing this time using a slightly faster Schneider LS 35mm f/3.5 10-seconds ISO 1600. I’ve ordered a Phase One 45mm f/2.8 since this trip and will be testing it shortly.
We enjoyed our time in the Socorro area visiting the Large Array at night as well as the Bosque del Apache NWR for sunrise.  We also visited Fort Craig as well as the Salinas Pueblo Missions ruins.
What I took away from this trip is that I love this new digital back.  The IQ1-100 captures using a different sensor than I’m used to with medium format as up to now all my previous backs used CCD sensors and the new IQ1-100 uses CMOS.  Depending on how you do your math this is a 5% increase in resolution over the 80-megapixel IQ180 I had been using and frankly I didn’t consider adding an additional 20-megapixels all that much in deciding on the upgrade (more on this later).  What I wanted was a digital back that would allow me the chance to shoot a cleaner file at much higher ISO.  Shooting higher ISO also allows me greater flexibility in shutter speeds; faster/slower speeds depending on the situation.  Higher ISO will also give me more flexibility in aperture (f/top) settings with a good example being the Schneider LS 240.  Wide open, the 240 can shoot at f/4.5; however mount it on the 2x extender that doubles to f/9 which in certain circumstances is very slow.  Add the ability to shoot at a higher ISO; 400, 800 and a very clean 1600 you get to keep the f/9 and be able to choose better shutter speeds to suit the situation.  
The above was shot in the Bosque del Apache NWR around 9:30 in the morning using a Schneider LS 240 with the 2x attached making it 480mm.  The camera/lens was locked down on tripod using the Really Right Stuff long lens support bracket.  While I enjoy using this combination it nevertheless is very difficult to use. The entire system becomes too heavy to even attempt to handhold, you lose autofocus and it becomes extremely slow at f/9.   This was captured at f/9 1/250 ISO 100.  Processed in Capture One before sending to PSCC to run shake reduction even though it was on a stead tripod as I’ve found it helps about 50% of the time.  The bottom image is a 100% crop of the top.

The combination of the Schneider LS 240 and XF with the 100-megapixel IQ1-100 can achieve remarkable results with this image being an example.  Shot at f/10 1/400 ISO 400 handheld.  The file was opened in Capture One and instead of looking at it at 100% I looked at it at 200%.  This image is as close to a 200% crop as I could make it.  No other processing was done other than cropping.

One more example of how well the combination of the Schneider LS 240 with the XF and IQ1-100 performs.  The top image is the full size with the bottom showing a 100% crop.  This was shot quickly handheld, f/8 1/1000 ISO 1600.  I would have never thought I’d be able to achieve the results like this with my older IQ180!
Sunrise at Bosque del Apache NWR.  Schneider LS 40-80 at 80mm. XF, IQ1-100 f/8 1/160 ISO 400.  Not entirely certain if I could have captured this at ISO 400 if I had been using the older IQ180 however I’m certain that I wouldn’t have been shooting at f/8.
One last 100% crop sample.  f/8 1/400 ISO 800.
One last non-cropped example of how clean higher ISO can be.  This was captured using the Schneider LS 240 (handheld) f/8 1/1250 ISO 1600.  Needless to say I’m very pleased with the full range of ISO that I’ve shot.  400, 800, and 1600 are all very clean with little to no noise in any file and what noise I found was easily cleaned up in Capture One.
I ordered a 45mm f/2.8 from my camera dealer Dave Gallagher,Capture Integration after explaining my need for a faster lens than the f/3.5 LS 35.  My thinking is that the primary purpose of the 45mm will be nightscape and limited day use when I might need a lighter weight system to carry around.  I received the 45mm and while I haven’t yet been able to test it at night I did use it briefly during the day and am very pleased.
We found this tack hanging on the outside of a building on a ranch we recently visited in the Cascabel Arizona area.  This is what you’d typically find on horse property.  Phase One XF, IQ1-100 ISO 200, Phase One 45mm f/8 1/250 ISO 200.  This was initially processed in Capture One before sending it to PSCC and Topaz Labs then cropped to suit.
Anyone who knows me by now knows I like doing large panoramas and multiple focus images.  Panoramas can be the result of 2 to 3 images while focus stacking and be 4 images or more.  This is 5-images shot at a dry stream bed.  Each file measures 32.2” x 24.2” (11608x8708) at 360 ppi and 16 bit depth for a file size of 578.46 MB each.  Loading all 5-files at once into Photoshop layers before running an auto align on the layers then auto blend those layers was a test I wanted to perform with the IQ1-100.  
The end result of 5-files focused stacked and processed using Topaz Labs after the initial Capture One processing.
I’m very pleased with the IQ1-100.  I’ve found myself changing my capture workflow by using higher ISO and in some cases much higher shutter speeds.  The additional 20-megapixel help for resolution however the biggest takeaway is the sensor and ISO.  I’ve found the higher ISO’s to be very cleaned with little to no noise and as I’ve mention before Capture One cleans what noise I’ve found easily enough. 
I can’t write about using high ISO without adding at least one sample of ISO 6400.  This was one of the first tests done at the Large Array in New Mexico using the older Mamiya 28mm.  The 28mm is a slow lens at f/4.5 so with that in mind I wanted to shoot as fast as I could at as high an ISO I dared.  The end result is f/4.5 10-seconds at ISO 6400.  There’s noise in it yet not so much that it becomes unusable.  Knowing now that I can use the LS 35mm at 3.5 and soon the 45mm f/2.8 I can cut the ISO back to 1600 and achieve the results I’m looking for.
My strongest recommendation to anyone who is interested in shooting 100-megapixel medium format is to try this out.  Phase One offers 2-100-megapixel backs with one geared more towards those who use a technical camera and those who don’t.  If you want more information I’d suggest you contact the kind folks at Capture Integration.
That’s all for now; I hope to add more nightscape samples in the near future so please stay tuned for the update.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

100-megapixel Phase One IQ1-100

This isn’t much of an update unless you count the two-images included. 
We had a full moon this past weekend and I took the opportunity to try capturing it using a Phase One XF, Schneider LS 240mm lens and the new 100-megapixel IQ1-100. 
My first thought was to use the 240 with the 2x extender thus making it a 480mm lens however I wanted to experiment seeing just how much of a crop I could get using the 240 as a standalone.  The first image show 2-moons; the top moon is the original as shot while the bottom moon is the same moon at 100% crop.  This was shot at f/11 1/200 ISO 200.
The image below is a 200% crop from the same night using f/11 1/200 ISO 100 for a setting.  While not included, the full non-cropped version is the same size as the example above.
This is just an example of what a 100-megapixel medium format digital back from Phase One can produce.  And yes I’m very pleased.
More to come

Friday, October 14, 2016

Shooting 100 megapixels medium format

f/10 1/4000 ISO 400 "parent file"(handheld)
Crop from parent file
My first digital medium format back was 16-megapixel Kodak DCS connected to a Mamiya 645 AF body.   Little did I know that within a little over a decade I would be shooting a 100-megapixel medium format digital back!
Shooting the ceiling
f/12 1/30 ISO 1600
Phase One introduced their first 100-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor late 2015 with delivery shortly afterwards.  The IQ3-100 is so packed full of options one should expect it to weigh much more than a normal digital back; WIFI, HDMI and full integration with the new Phase One XF to mention just a few.  And of course the price is just as hefty even with a generous trade-in/upgrade program.  As much as I liked the back I saw too many things that I wouldn’t use thus didn’t want to pay full price; opting instead to wait until they came on the used market (which they have).

f/8 1/25 ISO 400
Early September this year I decided I had waited long enough.  I’ve been shooting nightscape landscape images being forced to use a Sony A7rII and wanted to use medium format.  I remember calling my camera dealer and very close friend Dave Gallagher and caught him literally as he was headed out the door to fly to Photokina 2016.  I told him what I wanted and his rely was no, I’m not selling you anything – yet.  Dave wouldn’t tell me why as he was on an embargo against disclosing details of upcoming Phase One releases that would be announced within the next couple days.  Since I trust Dave with my family I also trust him not to steer me wrong. So I waited.  Image my surprise when Phase One released the new I00-megapixel IQ1-100. 
f/8 1/1000 ISO 200 (handheld)
The IQ1-100 is everything I wanted without spending extra money for things that I no longer need/require.  Since I’m no longer shooting with a tech camera I don’t need HDMI and since I can tether using my Surface Pro I don’t need WIFI.  There are other differences which fit into what I consider “nice to have” however I’d much rather save several thousand dollars to use for say trips.  A trip to Japan to shoot the snow monkeys or Alaska for northern lights or .. you get the idea.
f/8 1/2500 ISO 400 (handheld)
f/8 1/320 ISO 50 (handheld)
I believe Phase One released the details on the 100-megapixel IQ1-100 on September 20th.  The following week we were in Moab speaking to Dave Gallagher on the phone and ended up ordering it on September 28th taking delivery on October 8th.   Not bad at all.  The only thing that didn’t work in our favor was coming down with a cold which was bad enough to stop any work until just yesterday.  In the meantime the 80-megapixel IQ180 has been returned as part of the deal and my credit card company is smiling. 
So, what do you do to test a CMOS sensor that has beautiful live view, high ISO capabilities? Go someplace where you are in a dark place lit only with natural lights from very tall windows.  We traveled south past Tubac to Tumacacori and visited a Spanish Mission founded by Jesuit Eusebio Francisco Kino in 1691 and is currently a National Historical Park.
f/11 0.5 seconds ISO 800
f/9 1/8 ISO 800
Equipment used: 100-megapixel Phase One IQ1-100 digital back attached to a Phase One XF body using a Schneider LS 35mm lens.  Since I wanted to shoot low and not use a tripod I opted instead to use a Platypod Pro Max with KPS geared ballhead.  Since I knew I might be taking longer than normal exposures I also used a Hahnel remote shutter release for the XF.

So, was the upgrade worth it?  Yes.  Will I miss shooting with a CCD sensor now that I have a CMOS? Too early to say but I’m willing to bet no.  How was the live view?  Worked even better than I had hoped.
f/12 1/4 ISO 400

I’ll have more to share later from this trip as well as an upcoming trip to New Mexico where we hope to capture nightscape images so stay tuned.
This IQ1-100 makes the 3rd IQ1 series digital backs I’ve owned and a total of 6-Phase One backs; all purchased from one source Capture Integration.  I wouldn’t keep returning if I didn’t like how they do business.  They won’t sell something you don’t need (yes, I’ve tried).  The stand behind everything they sell; new or used.  Their customer service model of what others should study and strive for.  Dave and his crew started out as vendors and over the years surpassed that into dear friends.  If you want a camera dealer that stands behind you look no more. Click the link found on the right column of this page or give them a call; you’ll be glad you did.