1DX - Portraits vs. Sports - The 1DX can do both - Next step Mamiya?

Started May 13, 2014 | Discussions thread
OP tvstaff Senior Member • Posts: 2,044
Re: 1DX - Portraits vs. Sports - The 1DX can do both - Next step Mamiya?

marcio_napoli wrote:

Hi tvstaff,

As a DMF shooter myself, I love to give some imput about digital backs, but I can't compare it to the 1DX, as I've never shot with one.

I'm currently shooting with a Phase One P40+ digital back, on a 645DF camera and 80mm f2.8 lens.

For all purposes, it's the same thing as the Leaf Credo 40 (same sensor).

I'll report pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision:

IQ first.

Shadow recovery:

At base ISO (50), it's a solid performance.

Considering a Nikon D700 and a Canon 1DX are around 12 / 12.5 stops, I'd say this back has 13 / 13.5 stops (resized to 18mp).

Lifting shadows at 100% view, will give you mildly noisy shadows, but once you resize it to 18 mp, the P40 is definitely better than the Canon.

To give it some context:

Shadow performance is very solid (better than Canon's current gen, and better than Nikon's last gen), but I guess if your goal is insane shadow lifting, a Nikon D600 or D800 are still better.

Bottom line:

Shadows are very clean, but not the cleanest you can find. D800 is still your best friend in this regard.

Highlight recovery:

Both the P40 and Leaf Credo 40mp, as far as I can tell, share the same sensor.

And that sensor is particularly good at highlight recovery.

I'd say it's at the very best performances you can find, anywhere.


I overexposed a shot by 3 stops, almost clipping to 100% white, and was simply AMAZED to see I could fully recover it.

A 3 stops recovery is, needless to say, beyond amazing.

So, if shadow recovery "score" is a solid 8+, highlight recovery is a solid 10.

Pixel level sharpness:

40mp, no AA filter, and a tremendously sharp German lens? Expect eye hurting sharpness.

For people shots, expect to see more sharpness than you'd like.

You can see more skin imperfections on a 20 year old girl than you'd ever imagine to exist !

Simply put: it's insane sharpness.

A joy for landscapes, and a joy (plus also a nightmare) for model shots.

Overall rendering:

What happens when you combine these ingredients: super strong CFA, no AA filter, huge CCD, top notch German glass, and 40mp?

You've got a distinct look you'll never find with C / N.

No matter how many MP they pack in a D800, it will never have the "MF" look.

It's a different signature, period.

Now for the cons, AF:

Phase One's AF is the WORST I've ever seen.

It's slow and even worse, you can't rely on it.

The AF confirmation happens even if it's not really in focus, that drives me nuts!

There's a work around:

Once you get the AF confirmation, ask the camera to focus again on the same point, and then again, till you're 100% sure it's in focus.

That way it works, and you get home with razor sharp images, but man... really? Do I need go through this in a 2014 AF system???

P40 and Leaf Credo 40 crop factor:

Be prepared for 1.3 crop factor.

It's a different experience than 35mm cropped cameras...

APS-C cameras are everywhere, you've got tons of APS lenses to choose from.

Just do the math, buy the right lens, and shoot away.

But with DMF crop factor, it's a whole different story.

The 80mm Schneider lens (that for most shooters will be their only lens due to $$$), becomes a short tele.

I don't know about your shooting style, but I hate to live with a short tele for the rest of my DMF life.

Simply put:

Crop factor in APS-C cameras: no big deal.

Crop factor in DMF cameras: BIG, HUGE deal.


Imagine you've got a giant mirror flapping (huge vibration) + slow shutter speeds (ISO 50) + 40mp that you want maximum pixel sharpness + short tele (50mm lens with crop factor).

What happens?

You've got to have insane care when shooting. Only the very best technique will do.

Shooting a D800 is a piece of cake, with its tiny mirror and WA lenses... yeah, it's a piece of cake.

Shooting a D800 is for boys, and a taming DMF is for men HAHA just kidding.

Auto WB:

Forget auto WB. It simply doesn't work. Shoot RAW, and adjust in post.

Well, bottom line:

If you feed a DMF camera all the things it needs (superb technique, base ISO, lots of light, patience with AF...), you'll be rewarded with the very best IQ there is.

For most shooters, it's too much trouble, when they simply wanna shoot away.

One last thing, I can upload some P40 RAWs, if you really want.

This way you can judge for yourself if the IQ is what you expect.

I can upload it online somewhere, if you really wanna check them.

-- hide signature --

Marcio Napoli



Thank you! I learned a lot by reading your post. The last time I shot serious MF with any regularity was on film with a Rolleiflex and a friends Hasselblad 200.

Your note to me about focus is critical as I want to use the camera to shoot sports too. I know I won't get my 12fps but I can't refocus a few times as I could miss a single shot that is fleeting.

I'm kind of leaning towards the Pentax 645D to work with my 1DX as the 645D is pretty well sealed and the AF system seems in line with my experience.

Your comment about having more DR or recovery when it comes to highlights sounds like a dream come true.  I can see that working so well with type of shooting I do.

Best regards,


-- hide signature --

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