Leaf Valeo 22 medium format digital camera backs.

Digital Camera Parrot

A 22-megapixel digital camera is enough to make even Nicholas smile. The camera was picked up at Parrot Digigraphic (imaging@parrotcolor.com) on Monday, and was at work in Guatemala, Central America on Tuesday.

We do most of our test photography in Guatemala because of all the photogenic opportunitities here.

Leaf has a long history of digital cameras and scanners as well. The Leaf 4x5 and other dedicated toaster-shaped slide scanners were way ahead of the day both in hardware and software many years ago. However these scanners did not survive the takeover by Scitex. Leaf was bought by Creo, and Creo was bought by Kodak.

The Leaf Volare, Cantare XY, and Leaf C-Most are earlier models. Some of the Leaf backs were the original backs for the Sinar cameras. For several years Sinar sold its own branded backs. But the development costs were so high, and the Sinar backs were not portable. So Sinar dropped out and now uses backs from Jenoptik.

The Leaf Aptus 17 and Leaf Aptus 22 are the new models to replace the Leaf Valeo 17 and Leaf Valeo 22.

The exposure metering tools and gray balance capabilities strike me as precisely what is missing in the Kodak system. So far I would rate the Leaf Aptus and Leaf Valeo as one of the better semi-tethered portable systems yet designed. This statement is made before our upcoming test drive of the MegaVision E5 22 megapixel camera back with OQO monitor/computer.

An 11 megapixel image is plenty for basic portrait photography, publication, product shots, and 90% of what a normal photographer shoots. 17 megapixels is even better. But downside of these chips is their lens reduction factor (we explain this in Nicholas Hellmuth's popular course on digital photography, DP 201 ).

Sony, Cambo digital cameras and others
Leaf Mamiya digital Camera

In the meantime, if you need a portable system that may actually function outside, take a Leaf for a test drive.

In nature photography a tripod is essential: here we are using a Bogen carbon fiber tripod with either a Gitzo or Manfrotto ballhead. Camera is Mamiya 645 ADF, macro lens, and Leaf Valeo 22 digital back. If you take a FLAAR course, or order the FLAAR Reports on digital cameras, you can learn the differences between the Mamiya and the Hasselblad H1 (we have used both).

Once Kodak took over Leaf our demo Valeo 22 unit was withdrawn. Thus we are not able to comment on the Leaf Aptus 17 or Leaf Aptus 22 because we have never had one available.

We are comparing the results of the Leaf Valeo 22, a Nikon D100, and an 8-megapixel Sony F828. The quality of the Leaf is superb but you have to see the original prints rather than 72 dpi JPEGs where you can't appreciate the quality. FLAAR has a long range project to compare medium format cameras with other formats to assist photographers who come to us to ask which format they should buy for their work. We find that medium format has many advantages. Later this autumn we will be issuing our findings in PDF format.

Professor Hellmuth also teaches medium format digital photography via the Internet, so you can take this course anywhere in the world . This course also includes large format digital photography and 35mm, so you can learn the pros and cons of each format.

Orquidea, Leaf Mamiya digital camera
reviews Leaf digital camera medium format backs

Here is Nicholas in his natural habitat, photographing orchids blooming next to the FLAAR office in Guatemala.

 

Most recently updated January 17, 2006.
First posted Dec. 12, 2002. Previously updated March 2003 after PMA photography tradeshow. Updated July 13, 2004, updated August 1, 2005.

Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by october 2008
Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by octuber 2008
Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by october 2008
Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by october 2008
Gitzo Tele Studex Tripod
Available by october 2008

 

Nicholas Hellmuth’s Medium Format Digital Camera Initiative

For over 40 years Nicholas Hellmuth has used Rolleiflex and Hasselblad cameras to record the flora, fauna, and archaeology of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Now for several years he is extending his medium format experience to digital photography.

Since FLAAR works both in a studio as well as out on location, we are an ideal focus for judging portability. We have experience with large format digital scan backs (the excellent BetterLight) and we also use Nikon and Canon digital cameras. A full-service digital pro should have at least one medium format digital system and should consider large format digital options as well.

Although we started with a Leaf Valeo 22 coupled with a Mamiya 645 AFD body and lenses, we are open to showcasing all bodies as well as other digital backs. Indeed we have tested an Imacon 4-shot back on a Hasselblad H1 body. Then (February 2006 onwards) we are evaluated a MegaVision black-and-white dedicated back for fine art photography. Next we are testing a 33-megapixel Phase One P 30. Since 2008 FLAAR has used a Phase One P25+ (a great way to update an aging Hasselblad ELX body with its excellent Zeiss lenses).

Camera resellers or manufacturers who wish to have their cameras, lenses, and backs included in this initiative are welcome to send their equipment for evaluation.

FLAAR is the de facto source of information because we have been university based, independent, blunt, and we are one of the few review sources that dares to review advertising specs, advertising claims, and advertising hype. We can afford to reveal all the pros and cons because FLAAR is a research institute. Photographers feel they can trust a university research professor who has devoted years to understanding the pros and cons of each aspect of a digital camera system and workflow.

Notice you are not blinded by blinking, flashing, or pesty ads for low-bid camera stores on a FLAAR photography review. I am always amused by a pseudo-review that obviously is simply paid to send you to a camera store.

You can download our colorful FLAAR Reports on our medium format digital camera initiative.

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