March 27, 2006
Following up his original article titled The Ultimate Digital System, Michael Reichmann of The Luminous Landscape has posted a new article called Counting Ants – Seven Days in the Field with a Digital View Camera.
Rain, Snow, Sleet, Hail, High Winds
Seven Days in the Field with a Digital View Camera
In mid-March, 2006 I spent a week shooting in central and northern California.
Our travels took us to Redwoods National Park, the northern reaches of coastal Highway 1, Yosemite National Park, Big Sur, Point Lobos, and numerous points in between.
Other than a lot of driving, not much makes this a trip worthy of special comment other than the fact that I was shooting for the first time with a new digital view camera system, consisting of a Linhof 679cs technical camera, a Phase One P45 39 Megapixel back, and four Rodenstock digital lenses.
Again – taken separately none of these items merits special mention, other than possibly the P45 back, which, because it is the highest resolution digital back currently available, and only started shipping recently, will be new to many people.
Also worth mentioning was that I was shooting with three other photographers (for the 2 days that we were in the Redwoods parks), and each of them were also shooting with P45 backs. Bill Atkinson was one, Charles Cramer another, and the third was Kevin Raber. The fifth member of our party was Chris Sanderson the videographer of the Video Journal.
Bill is widely known as a fine art landscape photographer as well as one of the world’s leading experts on colour management and printer profiling. He also was one of the original developers of the Macintosh computer. Charlie is a landscape photographer of repute, and also a well known photographic educator. Bill and Charles frequently teach together at some of the leading photographic centers, and both also write extensively for major magazines and technical publications.
Kevin is U.S. Vice President of Phase One, but was with us in his capacity as a personal friend, frequent shooting companion, and ardent photographer. And, just to keep the record straight, each of Bill, Charlie and I purchased our P45 backs from retail dealers. The advantage of having Kevin with us (other than his very enjoyable company) is that he provides a very direct pipeline back to the factory and Phase One’s engineers and developers. Since neither the P45 nor Capture One are perfect, working with Kevin in the field with a new product also provides his company with real-world feedback.
For both Bill and me this was our second Phase One medium format digital back. We both had been using the 22 Megapixel P25 for the previous year, and I had used the Kodak DCS Proback prior to that. For Charlie this was his inauguration into to using a digital back for landscape work. For the past thirty years he has been shooting with 4X5″ film.
What made this shoot of particular interest for me was not only the use of the P45 but also that for the first time in about 15 years I was returning to using a view camera in the field. I have used 4X5″ in the past extensively, mostly in the studio, as well as some architecture and landscape work. I’d also been the Sinar view camera product manager in Canada for several years, but I’ve been doing my fine-art landscape work for the past decade or so with medium format digital and film. I was very curious to see how the transition back to using a view camera would be. I’d made a fairly substantial commitment to the switch over, and was as curious as some readers as to how it would go.