Phase One Challenge!

I am excited to be beginning a relationship with Phase One, maker of high-end photography equipment, most prominently digital backs for medium-format cameras.

I first used Phase One equipment back in 2009. I managed to get up to a range of stuff in the short but sweet time I had with it: self-portraits on a carousel (above), collaborations with Rossina Bossio in Paris, and a personal fashion portrait commission in the countryside, sea and lake (example further below, pardon the ‘old’ pics in this post!) I was impressed with the quality especially when I had the images printed, as it was palpably superior to my norm, and evident to people who’ve seen the print even though they didn’t know of the different camera used. However, it still remains largely an area of mystery to me as to how beneficial shooting medium-format can be compared to DSLR.

Thanks to Phase One I will be embarking on a journey of discovery to find out exactly what those benefits are for my own work: using the same gear as last time (645DF camera body and P40+ back) for just under 2 months where I will be directly comparing shots taken with the same equipment in a range of shooting situations. This time I’m using a variety of Schneider LS (leaf shutter) lenses which have uber-fast performance in strong light – and for interesting results in direct light (see an example off Google) so I’m rather excited about those, as I plan to do some shoots in potentially problematic sunlight.

I was under no obligation to blog my Phase One challenge, I thought it would be very useful for others to read about my experiences as I go along. I’m certainly not under obligation from Phase One to say anything ravingly positive either. The whole point is to feed back a genuine response.

I will be doing a whole range of things over the next 7-8 weeks:

- I will be shooting a total of 10 models collectively, at my next TWO Production Shoot Experiences at MC Motors in London: these will involve flash, constant and ambient lighting using our Photoflex gear, and cover the fashion angle of my work;

- I will schedule at least 5 self-portraits (the more fine-art end to my work) each to be different in some way from the last, either using a particularly different location, lighting technique, costume/style, or prop;

- I’ll aim to shoot about 3 other separate situations involving other models, these could be fashion or fine-art or somewhere in between;

- The locations in the overall collection of shoots will include a variety of natural and urban places: from rundown streets in Eastbourne to the nature reserve & wetlands of Weerribben in Holland (during my trip to shoot collaboratively with another photographer); an abandoned vivisection building, a beach, a warehouse and also a studio set-up…

I also am keen to print up at least one final image from the experience, alongside another image taken with my DSLR (Canon 5d MkII) as a resultant comparison.

What I want to do is publish a number of blog posts (around 3 -4) over the course of the ‘challenge’ to talk about the different aspects to my results. I’ll be making my conclusions or judgments according to different factors in shooting in the different situations.

In the shooting part, that involves different lighting situations, the nature of the shoot (high-pressured or more laidback personal project, and indoor or outdoor); and also shooting tethered if I can (both iPad and laptop). In the processing, that will involve looking at: file rendering times, ease of use, differences in image degradation in processing, different results overall. Without becoming some spoffy technical journal, I’ll be recording my observations in whatever depth feels appropriate. I’ll also be filming as much as possible in order to make some share some of our adventures in a somewhat more stimulating manner.

I will also address what Phase One identify as ‘myths’ about medium format photography, such as: medium format is difficult to use, slow to work with, a bad investment, not of any advantage to using high end DSLR, of no advantage in print quality. I welcome anyone’s feedback along the way! I’ll of course be blogging about other things in between.

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Posted in Press/sponsors on April 7th, 2011 | 7 Comments |

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Comments for “Phase One Challenge!”

    1. Carolyn Mendelsohn
      11:56 am on April 7th, 2011

      How exciting for you. I am really looking forward to reading your thoughts on it, and seeing the results. Enjoy. Carolyn x

    2. Nate geslin
      12:33 pm on April 7th, 2011

      Very exciting indeed. When I first saw your work I was surprised that you weren’t already using medium format. I’m my opinion, your style is a perfect match for mf.

      Can’t wait to read your findings!

    3. Lash LaRue
      2:05 pm on April 7th, 2011

      I like the systematic variations you have built in. Most of us are dim enough to try out a camera by just walking around and pointing; you have planned ahead with a variety of challenges (some of which do involve the equivalent of walking around, and some more controlled).

      By the end, you should have a good feel for all of the pros and cons.

    4. Kate Echle
      5:07 pm on April 7th, 2011

      Natalie, what a wonderful experience! I also am looking forward to see what you come up with on your challenges. Your goals and forethought are very inspirational. Kudos to Phase One for recognizing your skill and potential and approaching you!


    5. Ian Mears
      7:48 pm on April 7th, 2011

      The images obviously contain loads more detail than lower res DSLR cameras but it will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable difference when printing A3/A4 size.

    6. Jessica Sweeney
      5:23 am on April 8th, 2011

      I’m looking forward to what you decide: how different the two systems are in terms of real use, throwing in the whole question of the price as well.

    7. zakton
      3:06 am on April 17th, 2011

      Your work is amazing!

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