For the past couple of years, I’ve been shooting a fair amount of medium format aerials and landscapes with my my Leaf Aptus 75 digital back mounted to my Alpa cameras or Hasselblad H series bodies.
In late December my friend Yair Shahar in London who works for Leaf in Europe, Franics Westfield of MacGroup , Westchester, New York and Steve Hendrix of Capture Integration in Atlanta arranged for me to test the new Leaf Credo 60 Digital back.
The Leaf Credo 60 is one of three Leaf backs that incorporate a new operating system and design. The new operating system is incredibly simple and easy to use. It is fast and allows you to view images at 100% on an incredible screen - a screen so good that if you needed to, you could forgo tethering. Another positive change from the Aptus is the battery now resides within the housing. Everything is controlled by using your fingers, so no more using the touch stylus supplied with the Aptus series of backs. You can double-touch the screen to bring up an image at 100% or swipe with your finger to view your the frames from your shoot.
The Christmas holidays and bad weather prevented me from going up in the air to fully test the Credo. I decided to shoot some long-exposure landscapes at infinity to see how much better the Credo 60 is than my Aptus. All of my aerials are shot at infinity and usually at f/11 with my 36 and 47mm Schneider lenses on the Alpa. When shooting with the Hasselblad H2 I am often close to wide-open on the 80mm or 50mm.
I wanted to see how the Credo handled the in-between light after sunset and before full on night. The Aptus 75 has a 30 second limit on exposures and the Credo will go out to one minute. The champ of long-exposures for medium format is the Phase P45 +. It is capable of going up to one hour.
This frame is a view from the Virginia side of Great Falls on the Potomac River. The exposure was 51 seconds at f/11 and an ISO of 50. The Credo backs require you to use Capture One for RAW conversions and Lens Cast Corrections. I’ve heard that Lightroom and the newest version of Camera Raw will also process the files but I prefer Capture One.
The Credo 60 is expensive and worth every penny if you need 60 megapixels for your shoots. The files are big and in the Leaf tradition, very film like. They’re smooth and can be pushed pretty far in Capture One and of course in Photoshop.
Overall I like the back: I only have two concerns with the new design. First, it requires that you use a DIN cable to connect to the PC socket on the lenses. I prefer the Aptus style of using a mini-plug that fits right into the back. Minor complaint but the DIN cable gets in the way of the CF card door. Second: the CF card door is smooth to the surface and does not have an indentation for slipping your finger into the door to open it. Not a big deal and only a problem when your outside in cold weather. On a Phase, Mamiya or Haselblad, all the connections are made between the body and the back.
Here are a couple of other reviews of the Credo series of backs. The first one is by my friend Steffen Jahn, an ace car shooter who lives in Germany. Steffen borrowed a Credo 80 for a top secret BMW shoot and talked about why he was reluctant to return it to Leaf.
The second one is a blog post by Frank Doorhoff, a fashion and beauty shooter based in the Netherlands who recently upgraded from an Aptus to a Credo 60. His test images are scary sharp!
Capture Integration is the place to go for medium format kit. Their main base is Atlanta with satellite stores in Miami and Boston. They’re good folks who understand the needs of professionals plus they carry all sorts of other goodies.
Thanks to Yair Shahar for the introduction to Francis Westfield and of course, to Steve Hendrix of Capture Integration.