Home > gear talk > The G.A.S. attack continues

The G.A.S. attack continues

Click HERE for today’s photos.

The GAS attack strikes again.

What do I mean by gas attack? The G.A.S. stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
It all started back in 1999 before I came to Japan when I bought my first digital camera, the Olympus D340r. A fantastic little piece of kit, 1.3 megapixel, no zoom, AA batteries, and SmartMedia cards. And at that time I was spending about $100 for a 64 MB memory card. Hard to believe that I recently picked up some 16 GB memory cards for about $38 each.

From the D340R I progress through quite a few different cameras sticking with Olympus for a while: C3000, then an E-10. But then I believe in 2004 I got my first digital SLR, a Canon 10 D.
And Man that I love that camera!

But it was was then that the gear acquisition syndrome or really started to affect me. Because the beauty and at the same time curse of digital SLRs is all the fantastic lenses that go along with them.

As the years rolled by I traded my 10D for a 1D Mark II, a great camera with loads of functionality, but also unfortunately loads of mass as well.   So after getting tired of lugging that brick around, I “downgraded” to the Rebel XT. (Which I ended up just loving due to its diminutive size)

Then Canon released the 5D which I immediately bought, selling the XT to help fund the purchase. IN the meantime I continued to acquire new gear, an Epson R-D1, then a Leica M8, and more film cameras, mostly medium format, than I care to admit.

bout a month ago I was trolling around on eBay. Not really looking for anything in particular, just window shopping. But what did I come upon, but a Mamiya AFD with a Kodak DCS Pro back!
The Kodak DCS Pro back was one of the original medium format digital backs that did not need to be tethered to a computer for shooting. And since I do absolutely no studio shooting, this was the optimum shooting solution for me.

I did not plan on buying anything, but the “buy it now” price was less than 200,000 yen for teh camera boody and back, along with a box full of batteries, memory cards and the like.
An added bonus was that the seller was from Japan so the camera was delivered to me very quickly. The camera did not come with a lens, so I went to my favorite camera store, Map Camera in Shinjuku, and picked up a couple of Mamiya AFD lenses: a 45 mm f2.8, and 55mm F2 .8. They’re both pretty close in focal length, but the price was right so i got both of them.

So far I am enjoying the 55mm more, but I’ll do some more shooting before I decide if I want to get rid of the 45mm.

I had heard how great medium format digital was, but to be honest I wasn’t expecting entirely too much from a digital back built in 2001, which is literally eons ago in the digital camera world. And the rather crappy LCD screen on the back of the pro back did not serve to further increase my confidence about the output quality of the camera.

But once I dumped the file onto my computer and viewed them on my 24 inch monitor I was absolutely blown away by the image quality. It absolutely blew the doors off of any digital camera I had shot with so far; The 5D, the 700, the Leica M8, all of them. The dynamic range was incredible, and the sharpness was truly breathtaking. Straight out of the camera the files look great, and in many cases no post processing is needed.

Just this past weekend I was up in Shinjuku shootings pictures with the Tokyo Cameras photo club. And I brought my brand-new used camera long to put it through its paces. We started shooting in the late afternoon. So by the time we’re finished the light was gett9ing pretty feable so I pushed the ISO up to 200, and shot the 55mm wide open at f2.8. But even still, the picture quality was amazing, due inpart no doubt to that fantastic mamiya glass.

It does focus really slow, but with such a big bright and beautiful viewfinder is relatively easy to do manual focus with the camera as well. I am also pleasantly surprised at how well I am able to handhold this camera at slow shutter speeds. It’s a relatively big and heavy camera and has a big beefy handgrip. Very comfortable ergonomics, but I do wish it was a little bit smaller.

I could go on and on about picture quality, but I think the pictures from today are the best explanation of what this camera is capable of producing.

Categories: gear talk
  1. June 23, 2009 at 8:41 pm


    I first saw the “Shinjuku Rickshaw” on POTD. You suggested large, but that’s nothing compared to the original size on your Smugmug. Amazing clarity all the way out to the edges.

    Pretty dang amazing for eight year old technology.

    Excellent GAS attack!

  2. June 23, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Wow…absolutely stunning!

  3. June 24, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I think it was 2 or 3 month ago that I forecasted this to happen 🙂


    And BTW, you bought the 10D in 2003 😉


  4. 2yen
    June 24, 2009 at 9:38 pm


    Yes, it’s pretty incredible.


    Thanks Heather



    Has it been that long?! Yes, you were right. So, what will I get next? 😉

  5. June 25, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Wow, cool stuff Jeff! I’m amazed!!!
    Does the back come separately as well, or is it matched with the body?

  6. C
    July 24, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    where have you been? been looking forward to your next post, but….come back to all of us here

  7. Roger
    August 7, 2009 at 3:13 am

    Hmm.. Has Sushicam finally gone the way of Hunkabutta?

  8. January 11, 2010 at 3:49 am

    hehe – I started off with the same camera! I’d still have it if my daughter hadn’t dropped it down a flight of stairs when she was a baby!

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