>When I mentioned lens shutters I was thinking of the Mamiya >RB/RZ series as well as Hasselblad, Bronica, etc. All have >leaf shutters with the Mamiya only going to 1/400 second. I >was just curious how the PhaseOne backs were able to perform >on these cameras at all.
If you haven't visited the site already, have a peek at the medium format discussion and support forums such the busy one at Luminous Landscape. Lots of authorities over there.
>Really not trying to buck the system, I just like to use small >apertures for maximum DOF, which necessitates a slower shutter >speed. I'm just trying to determine if I would be better off >with the D800 or possibly a used D3X for my particular needs.
Personally, I don't think you're system bucking at all. Your questions are important. Anyway, I don't know of anyone who can point to specific image quality improvements provided by the D800 over the D3X or vice versa. Mind you, if I personally had to make the choice, I'd buy the less expensive of the two. The pixel density of the D800 sensor is higher, but the pixel density of the 24.5mp D3x is still very, very high too.
>Thank you again for taking the time to respond and help to >clarify some of my concerns. It appears I have a considerable >amount of research left prior to my next camera purchase.
One of the things offered by the D800, D3x and D4 when comparing them to medium format digital is the high ISO/low noise performance of the Nikon bodies. At 50, 100, 200 and even 400 ISO the latest medium format digital backs and bodies produce gorgeous results. In comparable shooting situations, the D800, D3x and D4 do precisely as well for print sizes anywhere up to 16x20 (and exhibition and fine art shooters are printing competitively even larger using D800 originals). For the studio and fashion shooters, medium format rules because they need res, res and more res for the retouchers (among other reasons). However, the D800 is showing up in studios now because it's a 36mp bargain compared to the cost of a 45mp PhaseOne. The thing is, the D800, D3x and D4 shine just as brightly when printing big photos made above ISO800, above 1600 and depending on the scene and subject matter) all the way up to ISO3200. Medium format can't touch that at this time. Get anywhere north of ISO800 with any medium format back or body and things fall apart real fast - unusably so. I think that's the best case I can make for the D800.
I think you can shoot a D800 for landscapes just as you would any other top-of-the-range digital body, and you can do it at whatever shutter speed and aperture provides you with both the depth of field you want at the ISO that works for the intended eventual output. Nothing new there, and you need a tripod that is properly footed and anchored, a shutter release and mirror lockup technique that reduces or eliminates vibration, still air, and the loan of some of the magic pixie dust that I'm convinced the best landscape shooters secretly sprinkle around their locations.
What I hope landscape shooters will glean from my explanation of blur is mainly that whatever technique has been used to get your best landscape shots in the past with lower res cameras, can still be used as the basis for fine results from the D800. However, if a photographer never anchored his tripod with a sand bag before and his tripod is just a light duty model, he might have to start using a sand bag when he shoots a D800 from the same tripod. If he was hand triggering the shutter with his lower res camera, he might want to consider a remote trigger or the self-timer to trip the shutter when using the D800 on a well-anchored tripod.
The point is that we don't see digital medium format landscape shooters successfully using anything other than well-anchored, heavy-duty tripods, and exposing with fastest possible shutter and low possible ISO for their chosen aperture. I think that serious D800 landscape shooters have to do the exact same thing and for all the same/right reasons.