Monday, 6 February 2012

Zack Arias - Another Phase One Convert

2012 looks like it could be a very interesting year- in terms of what some of the more notable names on the web are shooting with.

Firstly, David Hobby announced that he had bought a Phase One, and rather eloquently put his case forward as to why he made this choice.

Now, another big name on the web Zack Arias has chosen a Phase One, this time in the shape of the cutting edge IQ140.


Well, if you read his blog you will see he shares many of the reasons that David Hobby does.

Image Quality, Sync Speed, Slowing Down and 'That Look', amongst others.

Image quality is on a higher plane from anything else, without doubt in my mind and you can reach the heady heights of 1/1600 Sec sync speed with big flash which is unparalleled but I want to take a closer look at the two later points, Slowing Down and 'That Look'

'That Look' is rather difficult to put ones finger on but it is a massive factor for me. I believe that it is a culmination of sheer physical sensor size, dynamic range, 16 bit capture, optics.

There are other factors too, Zack does allude to it but I believe sitters sometimes do behave differently when in front of a medium format camera, even the most non camera aware sitter is often aware that this camera is different.

So, a sense of occasion and the formats sheer difference should be overlooked as in my opinion they are a factor.

Slowing down is such a big deal.

When you slow down you think, when I slow down my attention to detail is greatly enhanced, which makes a massive difference to the final shot.

Great photography happens in the brain.

At the end of this month I have a major exhibition (more details very soon.....), and not one of the prints are  smaller than a meter along the longest edge.

I would not consider anything else other than a Phase One for this.

The photograph of Shala at the top of this blog, taken at the excellent 'Nordlandsdagarna' in Sweden where I was invited to speak at last year, is shot on a (Borrowed) Phase One IQ 180 (and other than downsized is untouched)

The excellent IQ180 is not cheap, by any stretch of the imagination.

But take a look at David Hobby's approach, he bought a Phase One P25+, he wanted the big sensor and 16bit capture to give his photographs 'That Look'

I shot my 'Alice' series entirely on the Phase One P25.

These backs are available secondhand at very modest prices, if you want a foot on the ladder you could do much, much worse.......


Andor said...

nice results - especially the second shot!

Unknown said...

Thanks Andor.

Top shot was 'Just' a quick test



Craig said...

Firstly, love your work, from the portraits to the high end production stuff, its just awesome. I think the first image in the post is just, well, more than a thousand words.

I think Zack can give all the creative excuses, but at the end of the day to most people I have spoke to, it's just a case of "i wanna be like mike'. The whole clicky group of big web names like hobby, Jarvis and the likes use MF, and Zack wants to be apart of that. I have no issue with people wanting to shoot what they shoot, but for god sake lets not make excuses for other people.

On a less ranty note, I look forward to your exhibition (providing its in the UK).

Unknown said...

Hey Craig,

Thanks for the comment.

What people shoot with is up to them, at the end of the day a camera is a camera.

What you do with it is the most important thing...

My intention was not to make excuses for anyone, just to note that another 'name' has gone Phase.

In a world of many frames per second and zillion ISO, another voice talking about taking a more considered view cannot be a bad thing.

Thanks for your words on the exhibition, it will be in the UK. I have been working on it with Lucinda for more than a year.

I'm trying to put together a mini tour of the show for interested parties.



François Sechet said...

I have been "forced" for a major project of mine lately to make that jump. I went with hasselblad for one reason only: ergonomics. The phase 1 body just feels cumbersome in my hand.
Although: had I had more time, I would have consulted you first, knowing what you know about Phase one. But hat décision bas to ne done in less than 24h, and while it may be a good thing (forcing you not to think so much and just do), I know wish for my own mental health I at least gave phase one a try before. Now that I'm down 3 lenses... Not going to happen until quite a while!

Hope you're doing great! I might be in London at the end of the month/beginning of march so if your exhibition is at the same time I will check it out for sure...

Unknown said...

Hey F

Great to hear from you

Pleased things are going well for you.

I understand your choice with the camera, the H is a good body, which handles well.

Their backs on the other hand.....

The Hasselbald H4X does take the Phase back, but you have to already own a Hasselblad before they will sell one to you (I kid you not! no paranoia here at all....)

You have just made a big investment and I know, chopping and changing may well be out of the question but worth considering in the future perhaps?

Best regards


Bill Giles said...

I would love to move to a larger format, if I could justify the expense. As a recreational photographer, I just can't spend that kind of money. The quality of the images and the ability to get very shallow depth of field is very appealing.

Unknown said...

Hey Bill

It can seem daunting

And one can spend a TON of money on upgrading to Medium format.

But please do bear in mind my closing comments

You could buy a now discontinued Phase One P25 back, which utilises a large sensor and is sublime at low ISO, at a very reasonable price.

It is built in a peerless fashion too.

I know a Phase One employee who would stand on the back to prove how strong it is.

I would not consider any other secondhand back of similar vintage as the build quality and strength is nowhere near that of the Phase.



Craig said...

Thanks for the reply Drew,

I dare say Phase One will have a big smile and bunch more sales in their bag with the recent publicity, whereas Nikon/Canon will be shaking angry fists in air, but that what fuels innovation so its all good.

I think reasonable used price is very much upto the interpretation of the word, I took a scout around the vast interwebs and a DF body, 80mm LS and P25+ is still gonna be around 8-10K in the queens money which is still a helluva lot for most people and as rare as anything.

i DO get the MF look and it is pretty amazing, I use to shoot a 6x6 which i loved, I was thinking about getting a mamiya afdii just for fun, but everything I have read doesnt paint it in the greatest of lights, however they can be picked up for 1k ish which is kinda winning.



Unknown said...

Hey Craig


Please bear in mind that there is no absolute need for a '+" Phase back... the non '+' backs are cheaper again if you are trying to do it on a budget and the AFD may not have been Mamiya's finest hour.

Who says it has to be a Mamiya? The backs were made in all sorts of fit.

I do hear you, is it ever going to be cheap? No

But if you are determined it CAN be done without spending Porsche style money.



Libby said...

Beautiful light in that second shot Drew, the rim light on the tree helps frame and caress her. That's Magic Light ;-)

I almost pulled the trigger on the Leica S2 a few years ago. And I'm so glad I didn't. I wasn't ready, and it would have been for the wrong reasons.

Now though, I have skipped the Nikon D4 preorder. And while my paid work doesn't even warrant MF, when I do it, it's going to be for me. I don't even care if I ever get a paid frame out of the camera. I have been hooked on medium format ever since I saw one old Monte Zucker wedding shot done on film. Nothing since has ever matched the feel and perspective of that image (80mm lens I think).

There is a shooter friend here who uses MF for commercial. I try and hook up with him when I can on jobs and I do some postwork for him. When I'm a good girl he even lets me borrow the camera. The images have a "feel" you just can't get with 35mm. For me it's not about joining the crowd or being like someone else. MF has been a long time desire.

Unknown said...

Hi Libby,

Thanks for you comment from the heart.

MF gives a great look and feel that you simply cannot get from 35mm.



Unknown said...

Hi Drew

The big news of the today is the mega pixel D800 with many who have trie it, extolling how MF it is. I find this hard to believe since the sensor sizes alone should mean there's a significant difference in favour of the MF camera.

Shoehorning so many pixels into a FX camera seems to smack of 'just because they can shouldn't mean they should' but without seeing it maybe they're right - time will tell.

Me, I'd love to get a MF camera and will e saving my pennies like crazy to do just that.

Unknown said...

Hey paul,

I think we are on the same page on this one.

In all probability Nikon has produced a very good camera.

But anyone who thinks this competes with MF is deluded.

Not quite sure where the comparisons come from, maybe some agency somewhere or just fan boys.

Its all about the performance, not the spec sheet.

Wether second hand or not a Phase One is worth saving for, believe me.





R. J. Kern said...

Drew, I appreciate the followup, as I have been following your $5 tutorials and work for awhile. Not to jump on the Arias/Hobby/Gardner band wagon, but it wonderful when the 'higher-ups' remind us that pixels don't matter, but the medium does.

So far, very happy with my P30+ and 645DF/ 80mm LS combo, even after the D4/D800 announcement.

Shot a wedding in Hawaii my new PhaseOne MF tool here :


MF does slow us down, in a good way. This is really no different than going back to shooting film. The process becomes much more enjoyable, the creative results shine. I handed the B&G 400 final edits, instead of 800-900. I shot less, processed less, and the results will stand up very well in a 16 x 20 album. Do I owe that to the medium? Yup. Slowing down shooting MF forces my brain to catch up with my trigger finger.

Image Quality w/ MF, stuns. As photographers, offering a great client experience is one thing… but let's not forget it is all about the final image really matters to an artist. In a highly competitive wedding market, when it comes to the difference in an A vs A+, which our tools allow us to inch across the finish line first… cute thank you notes and pretty packaging eventually get tossed when the final images hang proudly.

Drew, thank you for sharing your thoughts... when it seems when we pour our thoughts into the computer, it is good to know that humans on the other side of the screen appreciate the gems you provide.

A Golden aspect Ratio. 35mm is too skinny for me, which is why I like to print at native 16x20 resolution, or better yet, 30x40. Even with a D800 (higher resolution), you'd end up cropping for this size.

Unknown said...

Hi RJ Kern ( I looked for you first name but could not find it)

Thank you very much for that.

It means a lot to me, I have upped my blogging output considerably(sometimes it is a challenge) and its good to know it is appreciated.

I don't really think it matters too much about what other camera's come out, Canon's or Nikons, MF will always be MF

And there is no real substitute.

You make a really good point though, the 35mm aspect ratio IS too narrow for my liking too.

And I did not mention it at all.

I blame the stream of consciousness that is my blog these days.

Thanks for following me and supporting my projects.



Iden Pierce Ford said...

The shot is pure art. A creative expression by you that is typical of your work. Typical in the sense that you set the bar for both story, lighting, composition and most important...execution. What I don't see is what shooting with a phase one system has anything to do with the photo. I am sure you could have captured exactly the same image with your 5d mark 2... Am I correct?

Unknown said...

Hi Iden,

Thank you very much for your comment, I'm pleased you like the image.

A camera for me is just a tool, a bit like a pen for a writer I like to think.

One could have shot it with a different camera and you would still have the picture.

But with every camera there is a difference.

Shooting with the Phase I had advantages

In lens or leaf shutter, allowing me to use big flash outdoors at high shutter speeds,should I chose to use it.

Aspect ratio, 35mm CAN be a little too long for me.

16 bit colour capture and super dynamic range.

The shot WOULD have looked similar on another camera but not the same.

Have a good weekend