Friday, August 5, 2011

Tech Tip: One Way To Check If Your Remote Control's Battery Is Dead

This is an old favorite of mine.

So, let's say that you've got a remote control - and I'm talking specifically about remote controls that utilize infrared (IR) technology, not raido frequencies (RF) - and you need to see if the batteries are working or not. Normally, you'd just point the remote at whatever it is that it controls, and test it out, right? If it works, the batteries are good, if not, they need to be replaced.

But what if you don't have access to the thing that it controls? You've only got the remote. And you need to make sure it works. Sure, you could just put fresh batteries in just to be sure, but where's the fun in that?

Here's what I do when I'm in that situation:

If I'm at my computer, I fire up PhotoBooth or iChat, or any other app that will turn on the built-in video camera and bring the picture onscreen. If I'm out and about, I'll just use my iPhone's camera app.

Next, I simply aim the remote control right at the camera and press a button or two.

If it's working, I'll see a white-ish/purple-ish light blinking from behind the IR cover on the remote. If it's not, I won't see anything.

Pretty neat, eh?

This has come in quite handy a number of times, especially when troublshooting.

You can also use this trick to see other IR lights, like the ones used on small closed-circuit security cameras.


Have fun!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ejecting disks from the Finder

As some of you may know, I've been a pretty hard core keyboard command guy for a pretty long time.

I just discovered a pretty handy trick that I thought I'd share.

I have a few external hard drives that have multiple partitions on them. It's not unusual for me to only want one or two of those partitions mounted at any given time, and the fastest way to unmount a partition is to selcet it in the Finder and hit command-E (for "Eject").

In the past, doing this would bring up a dialog asking you if you a) wanted to eject just that partition, b) wanted to eject all of the partitions, or c) wanted to cancel. You'd have to click one of the buttons, and off it would go.

Today, I was monkeying around in Lion, and found that if you select a partition on a multi-partitioned disk in the Finder and hit command-option-E, it would eject all of the partitions without the pesky dialog.

Additionally, I found that control-command-E would eject just the partition you had selected (again, no dialog).

I confirmed my suspicions, and found that these options actually do appear in the Finder's File menu when you pop the menu open and then hold down either the option and/or control keys (this is a handy way to discover other neat hiding keyboard commands).

Then as a lark, I decided to check out the Finder on my machine running Mac OS X 10.6.8. And how bout that - it's in there, too! I'm not sure if that's been in there since 10.6.0, but I'm pretty darn sure it wasn't there in 10.5, when that dialog was originally introduced (I don't have a 10.5 machine handy to confirm).


Share and enjoy.

Happy ejecting!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The best hand truck I've ever used...

As I've written in the past, I'm a pretty heavy user of hand trucks and carts. I'm pretty rough on them, and I've been putting my carts through a bit more use since moving back in December. While my new apartment is very subway friendly - I'm within 5-10 minutes of the A/C/E, F, 2/3, and 4/5, and all of the stations are handicap accessible (which means they've got elevators) - I still have to walk a decent distance to get to any of them.

This is why I decided to upgrade (or so I thought) to the Clipper 880. It had that nice little rear wheel "kickstand" feature, which would minimize the effort that I'd need to put into moving the cart. Instead of having to both hold it up and push or pull it, it would hold itself up, and I'd just need to worry about the pushing or pulling.

For the first few trips out, the Clipper was fine. But after about two weeks, the retractable handle began to get bent out of shape. It got so bad that I couldn't fully collapse it down all the way. I've seen this happen to similar carts, and it makes sense; it's just a bad design. I just didn't expect it to happen to my cart so soon. But that didn't render the cart completely useless; I could live with storing it with the handle half-extended.

The real hassle was with the rear wheel assembly. First of all, the wheels are a little too small and crappy. I've had the cart for less than 2 months, and the wheels are already falling apart, and are a bit noisy. Secondly, the way the rear wheels flip down and prop up the cart is very weak. There isn't any sort of locking or retaining system in place, and if you take a particularly big bump, the cart can actually bounce out of the little kickstand, and you're suddenly left holding all of the weight of the cart - which, if you're not expecting, can be a bit dangerous.

The final straw, however, was that the wheel assembly also doubled as stair guides. If you need to tackle a couple of stairs, or a particularly tall curb for example, you could flip up the rear wheels, and then use the metal guide rails to pull the cart up, kind of like a sled. The problem is that the assembly has a hard time staying in place. So as soon as you pull it up the first stair, it flips back down again, putting you in an awkward position, trying to kick the assembly back up into place so you can glide up the next stair.

After dealing with this three or four times - at the end of a long day, carrying a ton of crap, of course - this just got to be too big of a pain to deal with.

Enter the Gruv Gear V-Cart Solo. I stumbled across this cart when it was first announced, probably about a year ago, and thought that it looked really cool, but at $300, it just seemed to be a bit too rich for my blood. Bear in mind, this was before I had moved, and my dependency on hand carts had grown to what it is today.

My friend Claude had mentioned that he'd been hearing really good things about these carts from some musician folks that he knew, and he even went so far as to get in touch with the guys that make the carts to see about getting some kind of a deal on them. Unfortunately for me, I had forgotten about this, and decided to just go ahead and make the purchase on my own via their website.

It took a little over a week to arrive, but it came just in time for a weekend's worth of gigs, and I was very excited to give it a try.

The first thing I noticed about the cart is that it is quite a bit bigger and more substantial than any of the others I've owned in the past. The thing weighs a good 25 pounds, and it is very solid. The next thing I found was that the simple fold-up hinge-based design of the handle was vastly superior to the telescoping design of the Clipper cart.

My old Ruxxac flat-folding cart (still in use) has a similar design, but its locking mechanism is made of plastic, which, on occasion, will pop out of place under stress.

The V-Cart uses an elegantly simple notched metal pivot point (one on each side), which is then secured by easy to operate plastic-handled bolts. You simply loosen the bolts, then squeeze the handle in a bit, and you can rotate it into either of its two positions easily. There is a little bit of play and flex in the joint, but not enough to make it feel like it's going to give out under stress.

The V-Cart's answer to the rear wheel assembly is also far superior. They went so far as to make the assembly the same length as the whole cart, and it is held in position via a very simple and secure locking slider. When the rear wheels are not in use, the assembly is kept in place by a velcro cable-tie, which is quick and easy to fasten and unfasten. As soon as you undo the velcro, the rear wheels slide down into place, and it just takes a little nudge to lock the support into the first position. If you want to use the second position - more of a 60º angle than a 45º angle - just pull the locking pin (which has a nice, big, spring loaded handle), and it slides right into place.

Having the rear wheels that much further back has two benefits. First, it gives the cart a bigger footprint on the ground, which translates into greater stability. Secondly, it allows the cart to be configured into a miniature horizontal platform cart, not unlike the ones that you might encounter at a storage unit facility. This configuration could be very useful for larger, heavier items, like two big speaker cabinets, or two Tenba air cases (the kinds that are used for Mac Pros and monitors).

For its maiden voyage, I took the cart out with my "medium sized" drumset, which travels in two pieces. One SKB hard case (18" x 16" size), and one large backpack filled with hardware. The whole load probably weighs a around 200 pounds, I'd guess. When I loaded it onto the V-Cart, it felt very secure and comfy - despite the fact that this was a big plastic case on steel tubing. To be safe, I did use a pair of Gruv Gear's slick-looking flat bungee cords to secure the case to the cart. I then set the pack on top of the SKB case, and gave the cart a tilt back onto its rear wheels. No creaking, no wobbling - it felt really solid, and almost perfectly balanced.

What really blew me away was the fact that once I got onto the street, the cart seemed to practically drive itself. I'm serious. I have no idea how they managed this, but the way the wheels behave when under stress is really impressive. There was very little friction, and when rolling down hills, I had to really hold on for fear of the thing getting away from me. With other carts, the weight of the load always seemed to put enough pressure on the cart to keep it from moving very fast. That's simply not the case with this cart.

As soon as I got into the train station - no joke - a couple of guitarists approached me to ask me about the cart. I told them where I got it (pointing to the logo on the side of the cart), and they seemed really psyched about it. Our chat was cut short by the arrival of my train, but sure enough, as soon as I arrived at the gig, I got another two or three compliments from my fellow bandmates and other musicians about how much they liked the look of the cart. I let them push it around, and everyone was as impressed as I was with how fluidly the cart handled.

So here I am, having rambled on for 1400 words about hand trucks again.

I'll wrap up by saying this: I wish I had gotten this thing sooner. Great job, Gruv Gear. This is my new favorite hand truck, bar none.

Gruv Gear also has a bunch of other nice-looking products on their site, including a lighter-weight version of this cart, a nifty-looking expansion kit for the V-Cart (giving it twice the length when in platform mode), and some potentially cool-looking bags, as well.

I look forward to seeing how this cart performs in the long haul. Hah.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Digital Cameras: Medium Format, part 2

Now that I've gotten the basics of medium format out of the way, let's dig in a bit.

As far as I know, there aren't very many producers of medium format (MF) sized sensors out there. Not anymore, anyway. The big names in MF digital are Phase One and Leaf. Which, as I understand it, are now both owned by the same company. Hasselblad has their own system, which is exclusive to their current H system.

In the short amount of time that I've been into MF digital (less than two years), I can say that it seems that the most commonly used MF digital backs come from Phase One. I've spoken to several very knowledgeable people about this, asking them "why Phase One over Leaf?", and the answers I get are very similar to what you might hear with the "why Nikon over Canon?" question - it's a personal preference.

The pricing of all of these systems are relatively comparable with one another, generally starting at the $20,000 mark for the lower-end models. Phase One has made some interesting choices over the past few years, and seems to have the biggest company with the most products out there. Let's talk about some of them.

For starters, there are the H series digital backs. These have been around for over ten years. These backs were only usable in-studio, as they required tethering to a computer in order to work properly. The physical sizes of the sensors were actually not MF back then; they were 36mm x 24mm, which is actually what we know as 35mm "full frame" nowadays. But remember, ten years ago, that was pretty huge. These sensors started out at 6 megapixels, and eventually got up to about 25. As the megapixels increased, the sensor sizes did, too, and they got up to about 45mm x 35mm - a decent increase, but still not quite as large as a piece of 120 film.

These first generation backs were kind of finicky (I'm told), and marked the debut of Phase One's now famous digital capture software, Capture One. Capture One basically acted as the user interface to the digital back, providing all of the controls (setting ISO, white balance, etc), showing captured images on screen as they were being shot, and then processing the RAW files into TIFFs.

The next generation of Phase One backs were the P series. This is where things started to get interesting - the P series backs had integrated LCD screens, and CF card slots (in addition to their FireWire ports for tethering). This meant that you could actually take the camera out of the studio and even shoot hand held. Not very many people actually do that, but I think that this move really made a big impact.

As the P series evolved, additional features were implemented, such as faster capture times, better sensitivity, and the ability to do LiveView, as well. The most popular backs used today are the P40+ and the P65+, followed by their predecessors, the P30+ and the P45+. The P30+ and P40+ have nearly identical sensor sizes (about 44mm x 33mm, which would be a MF crop factor of about 1.25x (think APS in the 35mm terms)), and produce images that are about 30 megapixels (on the P30+) and 40 megapixels (P40+). Photographers choose these backs because they tend to be the most responsive, speed-wise. Because the sensors are a little smaller and the files aren't as big, everything moves a little faster. By "fast", I mean that you can capture an image almost once every second. I know, it sounds slow when you compare it to the insane 10 to 12 frames per second that the high-end 35mm size cameras can do, but remember - these files are close to four times the size of those. AND the mechanics inside these cameras just aren't built for that kind of performance. The mirror inside a 35mm camera is a lot smaller and more manageable than the giant pieces of glass inside MF cameras.

The Top end P+ backs are the P45+ and the P65+. The P45+ has a _near_ full-frame sensor (about 49mm x 36m), and the P65+ is the first back to get to (what Phase One calls) 100% full-frame - 54mm x 40mm. It's still a bit shy of the "645" MF film format (60mm x 45mm), and there still aren't any digital backs that can do the 60mm x 70mm or 60mm x 90mm formats that are sometimes used on MF film cameras. But it's progress, right?

The files that these backs produce are no joke. For one thing, the dynamic range is very impressive. These sensors are collecting so much light and so many pixels, that in the right hands, you can process terrific-looking images from what might otherwise be considered unusable exposures. I'm talking about 3 stops - and in some cases, even more. Additionally, these are 16-bit files, which means that in addition to the massive number of pixels, they are incredible deep, giving you even more flexibility when processing the files.

Earlier this year, Phase One announced a new line of digital backs - the IQ series. These come in two sensor sizes; the smaller one is similar to the P30/P40, and the larger ones (there are two) are the same size as the P65, "full frame". There are several significant innovations with these backs, including an iPhone 4-esque "retina" class LCD display, with an iPhone-esque multi-touch user interface. From what I'm told, some people feel that this improvement might actually be good enough to confidently shoot untethered, which is pretty cool. Additionally, they added a USB 3 port and a FireWire 800 port (both, but you can only use one at a time) for higher-speed I/O.

These new backs are just now hitting the market, and I haven't had a chance to play with one, but I'm sure they're pretty darned cool.

One of the neat things about the Phase One digital back system is that they are essentially camera platform independent. As I'd mentioned before, there are quite a number of different flavors of MF camera systems out there, many of which use interchangeable backs. Phase One has wisely made their backs available to work with just about all of the major camera systems.

Recently, Phase One decided to release their own camera system, the 645DF, based on the Mamiya 645 format (by which I mean you can use Mamiya lenses with it). What's interesting to me is that there are two other very popular MF digital cameras that look exactly the same as the Phase One 645 - the Mamiya DM and the Pentax 645. The difference is that these companies are making their own digital backs, which are considerably less expensive than Phase One's offerings. I can't really say what the quality is like, but I'm guessing it can't be that bad.

Capture One has seen a lot of development over the past couple of years, and I think it's safe to say that it's the most commonly used software for working with MF digital systems. They've worked with a few other camera manufacturers to produce software/plug-ins/drivers to allow cross platform compatibility, which is quite cool.

The latest version of Capture One is 64-bit compatible, and can process files using pretty much every ounce of CPU power than you can throw at it, which is pretty sweet. Watching it burn through a folder full of say, five hundred 65 megapixel images on a 12-core Mac Pro is something to behold. The other nifty feature that I think will catch on quickly is the ability to stream the contents of a specific folder (like the one you're capturing to, for example) to an iPad or iPhone, wirelessly. The iOS app is a free download, and once you get it set up, you can have as many clients connect to it as possible. The latest version even allows you to apply star ratings and color labels to the images instantaneously (it's kind of creepy, actually).

With the Phase One P series backs, the most commonly used camera systems are from Hasselblad and Mamiya. Hasselbad's 500 series film cameras use a what's called the "V mount". I think this is my personal favorite system right now. I really love the way the older manual Hasselblad lenses look and feel, the image quality is amazing, and the overall form factor and design is extremely tight, simple and efficient. The only thing to be aware of is that you need to use a sync cable to connect the lens (where the shutter lives, since these are leaf-shutter systems) to the digital back. A reasonable compromise, if you ask me.

Hasselblad also has a line of automatic cameras, commonly referred to as the H system. The first two iterations of this camera (the H1 and H2) are effectively identical; as far as I know the only differences between them are in software, and most people who have H1s send them into Hasselblad to have them upgraded to H2s. The successor to the H2 - the H3 - marked a decision by Hasselblad to enter the digital back game themselves, effectively ending compatibility with Phase One backs. The fact that photographers are still using the now nearly 10-year-old H1 and H2 systems (so they can use Phase One) says something to me about how well-accepted the Hasselblad digital backs are liked. I'm sure the H3 and H4 are fine cameras, but I've never gotten to play with one.

These cameras use autofocus lenses, which are also quite sharp, but they are made by Fuji in Japan. Because the camera is electronic, all of the manual controls are integrated into the body, and adjustments are made using buttons and dials, very much like modern 35mm DSLRs. These lenses only have one giant ring, for focusing. This is a good thing, because I have yet to see an MF camera system that can autofocus worth a damn. One of the nice features of the H system is that the backs do not require the sync cable; that connection is handled internally. This makes for a pretty nice, streamlined camera. The thing still weighs a ton, though, especially with a longer lens on it. Not really practical for hand-holding, if you ask me. But the fewer cables you have to deal with, the less likely something will fail, right?

In the fashion world, when you say "Mamiya", you're talking about the RZ67. The "67" in the name refers to the size of the image on a piece of film - 6cm x 7cm. Phase One makes a special adapter plate that fits onto the back of the RZ, allowing it to accept V mount digital backs. This is a good thing, as the V mounts are generally the most popular and easiest to find. The downside to this system is that there is an additional wired connection that has to go from the adapter plate to the camera body (since this system uses an electronic shutter), in addition to the sync cable to go from the digital back to the lens. And as if that weren't enough, these suckers are BIG. A fully automatic RZ rig - lens, motor winder, prism, body, and digital back with plate - weighs a good four or five pounds. And it's easily the size of small cat or a puppy. Not the kind of system you see people walking around with. But man - the images that this thing makes are pretty fantastic. Which is why there are still folks out there using it.

Mamiya has recently updated their camera systems, including a successor to the RZ - the RZ 33 - which uses a digital back from Leaf. I've played with one once, and it looked pretty sweet.

In addition to the obvious benefits of much larger images, higher dynamic range, and the ability to use all of that amazing glass, there is one other key advantage to using MF camera systems - sync speed. Since this post is already ridiculously long, I think I'll save that bit for next time.


Thanks for reading, and as always, any feedback is welcome.




Monday, June 6, 2011

Heads-up to photographers traveling to/from Brazil with small tripods

Recently, I traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to attend a wedding.

The trip was remarkably smooth, and all of the airport-related nonsense was surprisingly painless. That is, except for one thing.

When I passed through the security checkpoint at the Sao Paulo airport, I was told that I would be unable to board the plane with my little Manfrotto mini-tripod. It looked just like this:


Large bogendesktopkit


I've been traveling with this little guy for a good 4 or 5 years, and it's never been given an ounce of attention by anyone. But for some reason, the Brazilian version of the TSA was adamant about me not bringing it on the plane with me. Unfortunately, no one there spoke any English, and I don't speak Portuguese, so I couldn't really get any details about what the exact issue was.

This little combination is comprised of three components: the base (Manfrotto 209), the column/extension (Manfrotto 259B), and the head (Manfrotto 492) - costs a little over $100, and I was quite reluctant to part with it. My options were to either leave it behind, or check my bag. And considering that my bag was a ThinkTank ShapeShifter (not a hard case), which contained my camera, lenses, and and computer... That wasn't gonna happen.

What I wound up doing was disassembling the tripod, breaking it down to its three parts. I asked them if I could just take the ball head with me, figuring that it was the most expensive component, and definitely the least threatening-looking. Fortunately, they conceded. But I did have to leave the base and extension behind.

Had I been a bit more quick-minded, I would've tried this - instead of trying to resist, I would've taken them up on the option to go back out to the counter and check my bag. I would have then disassembled the tripod, and put the three different pieces in different spots in the two bags I was carrying. I would've then gone through one of the other security exam lanes. My guess is that would've worked like a charm.

Anyway, just a heads-up to any other folks out there traveling with a Manfrotto (Bogen) 209 mini tripod kit.

Safe travels!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Circuitous Conversations, Episode 39

In this week's episode, we talk about what goes into picking out the best camera (or anything, really).

We touch on some of the differences between NIkon and Canon, and even get into some personal preferences about how we use our cameras and why.

Here's a link to the show, and here's a link to the notes at Bill's blog.


Thanks for listening!

Digital Cameras: Medium Format, part 1

Medium format cameras have long been considered the tool of choice for professional photography. Sure there are tons of professionals out there using 35mm-sized camera systems, but if you were tally up every owner of a 35mm system and compare that list to a tally of every owner of a medium format camera system, I'd bet that there are way more pros on the medium format (MF) list. A large part of this has to do with the cost associated with MF; with the bigger size film/sensors, physically larger lenses and build quality, things can get pretty pricey. This is generally considered "the cost of doing business" in the industry.

One of the coolest feature of MF cameras is that they have a tendency to be very modular. Sure, there are some simplified "closed" systems, but the most common pro cameras can be broken down to their basic elements - camera body, lens, finder, winder, and back. For those of you less familiar with MF, I'll explain a bit.

35mm-sized cameras are small and self-contained. In the old days, with film cameras, you'd pop open the back of the camera, load your film, unwind the film out of the canister frame after frame as you shoot. Once you hit the last frame of film, you'd  rewind the film back into the canister (using a little crank with a flip-out lever; that was always one of my favorite things to do when I was a kid). Pretty straightforward stuff.

Now, let's say you've got a shot all set up, and you wanted to so some basic bracketing, just to make sure you got everything exposed right. You'll need maybe 8-12 shots to do this. Oh, and let's also say that you wanted to have that same image on both black & white and color film. WIth a 35mm system, where the rolls of film would come in lengths that would give you 24 or 36 exposures (frames), once you had the film in the camera, you'd have two basic options. You could either shoot all the way through the roll, or you could just end the roll early, wasting the remaining film.

With a MF camera, things are different. First of all, the film used is close to four times the size of the 35mm film. To keep costs reasonable, a typical roll of MF film will yield about 12 exposures. I say "about" because different MF cameras have different frame sizes and dimensions. For example, Hasselblad cameras make square images which are 5cm by 5cm, and Mamiya cameras make rectangular images that are 6cm x 4.5cm.

Rather than building the film transport mechanism into the camera body, MF cameras have a separate, removable mechanism. It's kind of like how a gun works, with interchangeable clips. You don't need to fire all of the bullets in a clip; you can swap out at any time without losing any shots. The mechanism that contains the film is referred to a "back", since it sits on the back of the camera. You load the back just like you would load a 35mm camera, but there's no camera on the front. Instead, there's a light-tight piece of metal called a "dark slide", which keeps the film from being exposed.

The interchangeable back system has some really great advantages. First, you can have several backs all loaded and ready to go, making continuous shooting a lot easier than having to pop the camera open and change film. With two film backs, you could have an assistant handle the loading and unloading of film, and as soon as you finished the roll in the back that you've got on your camera, you simply put the dark slide back in, pop the back of (just like changing a lens, only faster), hand off the back, grab the next back, attach it to the camera, pull the slide, and boom, you're back to shooting. Experienced pros can do this in like, five seconds.

The other obvious advantage of interchangeable backs is the ability to have different film types available on a per-shot basis. In high-end studio sessions, it is very common for prelighting and test shots to be made with polaroid film, so you can get a good idea of what you're going to get before you commit it to film. Polaroid backs are available for all of the major players' cameras. So you'd shoot your polaroids to check your exposure (not unlike how we "chimp" our LCDs on our cameras these days), then pop on your back loaded with black and white film, fire off a few frames, and then maybe swap that back with another one with some color film in it. This is just an example, obviously; I'm sure there are some pros who never went that far with it.

Here's where things get interesting. As the digital sensor (CCD or CMOS) evolved, and got more sensitive, bigger, and capable of producing higher and higher resolution images, camera designers began to develop digital backs for MF camera systems. Think about it - it makes a ton of sense - you've got thousands of dollars already invested in a great MF system of camera bodies, lenses and accessories, and now you can instantly turn your entire rig into a digital system, just by slapping a new back on your camera. Just like changing from black & white film to color film.

There are a few things to take into consideration, obviously. The most significant is that the sensor's size isn't as big as the area on a piece of film. This means that your lenses will behave/look a little differently, similar to how "cropped" sensors differ from "full frame" sensors in the DSLR world. What's more is that there are a couple of different size/resolution options out there from a couple of different manufacturers. While this does complicate things, I think it's an advantage to the consumer, in that you can get exactly what you need.

Another consideration - and this is a big one - is that these digital backs are really expensive. You know how a current top-end Macintosh has always been the same price, year after year? Year after year, they just make the machines faster and more capable, and the pricing pretty much stays the same. It's the same with digital backs. A current top-end back will run you upwards of $40,000. Yeah. Forty thousand. There are cheaper options out there, obviously, and there's a pretty active used/second-hand scene, but still - you can't really get into the MF digital scene for much less than $10,000.

Suffice to say, the majority of digital backs out there in use today aren't privately owned by individual photographers. Rental companies and studios tend to have full camera packages, which, all things considered, are pretty reasonably priced to rent.

The final thing to consider is how dramatically the digital back changes the workflow when taking pictures. In the early days of MF digital, the backs didn't have LCDs. If you wanted to see what your shots looked like, you'd have to connect the back to a computer via a firewire connection, and use some special software to render the RAW file on screen. Modern digital backs all come with LCDs now, but they are pretty small when you consider that you're going to be reviewing an image that is probably bigger than 40 megapixels in size. Because of this, the general practice when shooting MF digital is to always have a computer on hand for image review (talk about chimping!). In the studio, the camera stays tethered to the computer, and special software pops the image on screen a few seconds after it's shot, full-screen. This is imperative for checking focus. Out in the field, some people shoot to CF cards, but many shoot to laptops.

This has become such a standard that there is a whole niche industry surrounding it, called "digital capture". There are folks out there who specialize in putting together whole computer/camera rigs and workflows to facilitate this otherwise tricky and failure-prone way of doing things. I used to work at a company that specialized in this, and now I do that kind of work on my own, as a freelancer. Folks that do this kind of work are commonly referred to as "digital techs".

In part 2, I'll talk a little about some of the digital backs themselves, and what goes into using them.


Thanks for reading this, and let me know if you've got any thoughts or questions about this stuff.