Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Three weeks from yesterday we set out in the road again. Needless to say the next 20 days will be full of packing and checking the equipment, cleaning lenses, making reservations, and securing national park permits.
Unlike many traditional DSLRs (digital single lens reflex) cameras, when you remove the lens from the body of the camera the image sensor becomes exposed to the elements. In a traditional DSLR, a mirror blocks most debris from being able to reach the sensor which ‘burns’ or records the digital image. However, the Arca Swiss body is no regular DSLR and because there is no viewfinder allowing the photographer to preview the shot, there is no mirror blocking the sensor. This requires either 1) the user to never remove the lens from the body this creating a closed camera or 2) the user to clean the sensor after working in the field with an exposed sensor, or back. We are using a Phase One IQ180 back which is currently the most advanced digital back in the world. Instead of capturing hues in 12-13 bit like most Canon and Nikon cameras, the Phase One IQ180 allows for 16 bit hue capture essentially making it 16x more sensitive to color.
The other issue when shooting to a higher quality camera becomes focus. When you blow up a picture to an 8″x10″ print it’s difficult to discern what subject matter is slightly put of focus. But when you blow an image up and print a 3’x9′ panoramic image, suddenly focus becomes very important. For this reason we shoot tethered with the camera directly connected via a fire-wire cable to a laptop which we take with us in the field. This allows for a couple efficiencies: first, we do not have to later import large image files to a laptop after shooting. And second, we can check for absolute focus and composition using a 15″ laptop screen and software versus a small LCD. Shooting to a laptop presents several challenges though, namely weight when backpacking, extra setup time prior to shooting, and ensuring the equipment is protected from the ever-changing elements.
All in all we have a unique combination of tools and techniques which allow us to capture the highest quality images. Until next time, thanks for reading. ~ImageryAdventures