It’s in the Details

Some time ago I wrote my mid year update on what I’ve been up to.  I touched on some of the changes I’ve seen in my industry.  I also rekindled my passion with shooting beauty.  While I was thinking of something to write for the blog I realized that I didn’t share the pics from that a particular beauty shoot.  My initial intention was to write this post as part of my ongoing Behind the Shot series, but realized I wanted to share more than one picture from this beauty test.  And I also haven’t blogged about my “transition” to medium format digital.

A few weeks prior to the beauty test I picked up a medium format digital back from Capture Integration.  The digital back was a pre-owned, low mileage Leaf Aptus II 5.  It had 2 previous owners and a low actuation count like 4,000.  This is starting to sound like buying a car, but then again when getting into digital medium format its almost like buying a car considering the investment into a system. In any case I digress.

This particular digital back is considered to be entry level compared to other models in the Aptus II lineup.  22 megapixels from a medium format digital back sounds measly compared to the 80 megapixels from a Phase One IQ280, however there’s nothing entry level about it.

Rodney-Alan-San-Diego-Fashion-Beauty-Photographer-La-JollaI’ve always dreamed of shooting medium format digital and when the opportunity presented itself I jumped at it.  I figured what better way to learn and understand a medium format digital system is to actually own one.  I for one can only learn so much during a rental period. Being able to have a digital back at my disposal to shoot anything and everything.  I have found that I need to immerse myself to really understand the pros and cons of medium format digital.  And that’s what I did.  I shot fashion, beauty and even a few landscapes.  And to be honest I don’t even shoot landscapes!   But after getting results, like the one above, I may be inclined to shoot some more.

So let me set the scene of this beauty test.  It was 5 months ago so here’s what I remember.  The model is Charlotte with No Ties Management, however today she’s with Wilhelmina Hawaii.  The makeup artist is the talented Ty Marie Frost.

Rodney-Alan-San-Diego-Fashion-Beauty-Photographer-CM166Believe it or not we shot this in Ty’s living room.  The space we were working with was not the largest, but was still useable.  The room was large enough to have a 15 foot roll of seamless paper, one light, a C-stand and just the right amount of working distance.  The Aptus II is being used with a Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with a 180mm lens.  I’m shooting tethered to Capture One.  By shooting tethered I’m able to guarantee in focus pics.  There are times I forget about the advancement of technology in cameras such as a built in light meter and auto focus.  Everything about the RZ67 Pro II camera body is manual.  So shooting tethered really helped to ensure the focus was spot on.  It also helped seeing a much larger preview for my team as well.


So after a couple of beauty shoots, what’s my take on medium format digital?  It’s not for everyone and it’s not a one camera does all type of tool. I’m a firm believer of using the right tool for the job.  This is certainly a speciality tool that will cater to a specific job or client needs. If high resolution and detail is your primary need then absolutely medium format digital is the right tool for the job. 

I’m pretty stoked on this digital back that I’ll share more beauty shots from other shoots in another blog post.  Be on the look out for it.

Note:  you can click on the pictures for a high resolution version.

-Rodney Alan

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