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02/06/14 Low light viewing of Live View on the Phase One IQ250–most impressive

Live View IQ250 Phase One

A view provided by Alpa camera corp of the Live View at night on IQ250

From some night photography testing that was done by Alpa, maker of fine Tech camera solutions for Medium and 35mm format, it appears that the Live View Screen of the IQ250 is going to work exceptionally well in low light.  This is a huge deal!!.

Currently the only other DSLR with Live View in the 30MP or greater size is the Nikon D800/D800E and to be honest their Live view implementation suffers here..  Nikon is working with a 36MP CMOS sensor and in normal or bright light, you can see the image fine to get a good sharp focus.  However in low light or near dark, the screen is covered up with noise and it’s really impossible to see anything well enough to focus the image.  I have tried many different solutions, but no matter what you do the image will be covered up in large banding and noise.  I have tried increasing the gain by temporarily increasing the ISO to around 3200, which makes things much worse, and by opening up the camera to the widest aperture, but you still can’t really get enough information.  The other issue is with many Nikon lenses, you will see a bit of focus shift from say F2.8 to F 5.6.  So what may look in sharp focus when focusing with Live View at F2.8 will be out of focus enough not to get a good image.

What Alpa noticed during their testing is that when using Live View on the IQ250, in low light or even dark conditions (see image above taken after dark), is that the Screen almost becomes a night vision device.  This is really a nice feature and one that is not getting much notice, which surprises me.  This is truly a revolutionary feature for sure.

With Canon, I have found that starting with the 5D MKII, and up, it seems that Canon developed a way to buffer out the noise when using live view in low light.  For my night photography working with a 3/4 moon or more, most times I can still use Canon live view with my lens wide open to help frame the shot.  Not really as much to focus as the image will not be that sharp.  But if you tried the same thing with a Phase One IQ250, it seems that you would be able to not only see the entire subject clearly, but be able to gain full focus on it.  I am sure that Alpa was using one of their tech camera for the testings not a Phase One DF+ camera body so no AF was used.  Since the image can be seen so clearly it would be most interesting to see just how well Auto Focus does work!

This is not a cheap camera by any means, but it’s clear that Phase One thought ahead on this one and designed a way to allow the photographer to best utilize the IQ LCD in all lighting conditions.

Here is close up of the same shot showing a bit more of the details that can be captured from a totally dark scene.  This reminds me of some of the middle of the line Sony all in one cameras, like the Sony Cybershot F828,  which some people felt actually did have a night vision system since you could see so well at night with it.  Of course that was a 8MP solution from 2004, and now Phase One seems to have something similar in a 50MP solution.

IQ250 live view night

Alpa test shot showing Live View very low light capabilities

Photo credit goes to Alpa camera, of Switzerland

Read the entire Alpa Blog post here: Alpa Blog post on IQ250








06/29/12 Alpa finally announces their ability to tilt shift, well sort of !!

With this announcement on their newsletter, Alpa of Switzerland has announced that they will now offer a solution for photographers using various Alpa cameras that will let them have tilt/swing on lenses shorter than 70mm.  Here is the link to the Alpa newsletter:

As I understand it, you will be able to get tilt or swing, but not both at the same time, as only Cambo has that ability.  Maximum tilt or swing will be 5 degrees.  Current camera bodies will have to be retrofit for the adapter.  The following lens range will now work:

Schneider:  no wider than 60mm
Rodenstock: no wider than 32mm

This means that the Schneider 28XL, 35XL, 43XL, 47XL, will not work with the adapter and the Rodenstock 28mm and 23mm.  OK, lets look at this a little more.

  1. From my use, the ability to have tilt is more important on a wide than on medium telephoto.
  2. Alpa has left out 4 of the best Schneider wides and 2 of the best Rodenstocks.
  3. If want to use 1 of these 6 wides, you will have to take the tilt/swing adapter off the Alpa camera body, and mount the lens.
  4. From the pictures on Alpa’s site, I can’t see if there are any guides to show you how far you have tilted up or down.  They must have something for this, it just doesn’t show in the pictures.
  5. It appears that if you want to tilt up, you would have to take the adapter out and rotate it 180 degrees and placing the knob at the bottom or turn the whole rig upside down.
  6. The knob to me looks very smallish and depending on where it’s located with a lens attached may be hard to get to.

Overall, in the land of tech cameras, there are 3 real players, Alpa, Arca and Cambo.  When I was looking to make a decision and realized that each of these has their own unique lens mounts I realized that I really needed to make the right decision as there would be no going back or switching brands without a big loss. [Read more…]

05/26/12 Adding a grip extension to an Arca Swss rm3di


Since I started using the Arca Swiss rm3di technical camera, one of the problems I run into was how to get a good grip on the camera  There are 3 main tech camera solutions on the market, Alpa, Cambo, and Acra.  I choose Arca for many reasons, but mainly for the control the user has over focus.  If I was to point to a weak spot on the Arca design, it would have to be the handles.  The handles as they come with the camera are smooth plastic resin.  They are a yellow color and make for a nice contrast to the body’s black finish.  This design however is a potential issue for users with larger fingers.  The handles are smooth, without any notches or finger indentations.  Whereas the grips for the Cambo have a great look and feel to them and allow you to have a very secure feel when working with the camera.  This security is important when you consider that you are working with a a solution that includes at a minimum:

[Read more…]