Mamiya DM56: For Times When Anything Less Won't Do

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When it comes to resolving power, I'm not sure if or when we'll ever get to the point where we can realistically say "We got enough!" But until we get to that point, we'll just have to "settle" for the Mamiya DM56.


The DM56 is available in kit form that includes a Mamiya 645DF camera body (with an 80m/f2.8 Sekor LS D (Leaf-shutter) lens or without an 80mm LS D lens). It can also be purchased as a stand-alone back, which can be adapted directly to Mamiya 645AFD, 645AFD II, 645AFD III camera bodies, as well as to Mamiya RZ Pro II and Pro IID camera bodies,  RB-series camera bodies and 4x5 view cameras with Graflock backs, via adapter plates.

Just as medium-format film cameras always had an edge over the best 35mm film cameras in terms of resolving power and tonal gradations, the same principles apply to medium-format DSLRs. But in the case of digital imaging it goes beyond impressively sharp and full-bodied image files, because at a certain point, physically larger pixels covering a physically larger piece of real estate result in the elimination of moire patterns and artifacting. And if you shoot finely textured fabrics, textiles, fashion and beauty photography, or if you shoot weddings for a living—i.e. brides in white satin gowns—you know how daunting these issues can be. Mamiya's DM56 puts the kibosh on all of the above.

Mamiya's DM56 is avalialble as a stand-alone back, or with a Mamiya 645DF camera body, with or without an 80mm/f2.8 LS D leaf-shutter lens.

 
     

The Mamiya DM56 CCD digital capture back is a hybrid product that incorporates and benefits from the combined pro-quality attributes and technologies found in cameras from Mamiya, leaf-shutters from Schneider and hardware, software and image processing-related technologies from Phase One and Leaf Capture.

At 56 x 36mm, the Mamiya DM56 capture back takes up slightly less real estate than a standard 645 (60 x 45mm) medium-format film back, though the DM56's 9288 x 6000 pixel count, which captures 16-bit Leaf Mosaic HDR-type image files with a dynamic range of up to 12 stops, far out-resolves the tone and sharpness levels of its film counterpart.

The Mamiya 645FD camera system handles well in the field or in the studio, and is comfortably nimble enough to use regardless of shooting conditions. ISO levels on the DM56 can be set from a native 80 through ISO 800. When coupled to a Mamiya 645 DF camera body with Sekor LS D leaf-shutter lenses (55mm/f2.8 LS D, 80mm/f2.8 LS D and 110mm/f2.8 LS D), the DM56 can be synced with studio flash at shutter speeds up to a fashion-friendly 1/800th-second, with a firmware upgrade on the horizon that will allow sync speeds up 1/1600th-second (with all Mamiya DM-series capture backs except the DM56, which for the time being will continue to top out at 1/8oo-second when used with flash).

Mamiya's 645DF camera body also works fluently with all Mamiya 645AF-series optics (28mm through 300mm) to provide enough creative freedom when it comes to actually capturing the pictures you see in your mind's eye.

Camera control menus and captured images can be set, reviewed and edited on the DM56's 6 x 7cm Touch Screen LCD, which takes up most of the rear surface of the camera back. Image files can be captured at the rate of up to 0.8 frames per second, which is comparable to the top capture rates of other medium-format capture backs in this class.

Depending on where, how and/or what  you are shooting, image files can be recorded to your choice of onboard CompactFlash cards (get the largest-capacity fastest ones available!) or tethered to your hard drive via a FireWire 800 cable.

For controlling the camera, processing and editing captured image files, Mamiya offers you a choice of Capture One software or Leaf Capture software. Both are excellent applications and each works equally well with the DM56. If you are already used to the look, feel and workflow of Phase One software, which is avaialble for use with numerous 35mm DSLRs and Phase One capture backs, your transition will be seamless. If, on the other hand, you are already familiar with the equal-though-different look and feel of the Leaf Capture imaging process, you are also good to go. It's purely a matter of preference. Similarly, you can also edit and process your RAW files in Adobe Lightroom (v2 or newer) as well as everybody's standard, Adobe Photoshop (CS4 or newer).

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33,000.00 for the DM56. Medium format remains expensive, while 35mm drops as time goes by. Back in the old days, you could buy a used Hassy for 1500.00 plus 2 more lenses and be good to go. Times have changed. Then again, so has photography.

If Canon and Nikon are smart, they create a 3/4 format, redesign their lenses and up the files size to at least 30 meg pixels, and price it around 10 to 12K. I have this feeling many other photographers dream of such a hybrid. Leica has S system, which is still too high in $.

Does anybody knows if this back works with the Mamiya RZ PRO Body (not the PRO II) . . .?  

Does anyone know who would insure this trophy if I bought it? I would have nightmares that my underwater housing leaked and I watched $33k wash away on a coral reef. I would probably swallow my regulator!

> physically larger pixels covering a physically larger piece of real estate result in the elimination of moire patterns and artifacting

If you know anything about signal theory, you know the above statement is jibberish. Generally, an image can contain detail down to the size of approximately 2 pixels. Anything smaller than that must be filtered out or it will result in aliasing. Has nothing to do with the physical size of the pixels.

Shoot film and scan.  It's almost as good and **** of a lot cheaper.

It's expensive to be a photographer. How long does it take to pay this behemoth off? Before or after it's obsolete or no longer works?

Is it just me, or does film seem like a good idea? I shoot weddings in black and white film. My expense for my Hasselblad camera was $1,200. Two bodies, three backs, and two lenses. It's long since paid off. I watch very carefully what I do every time I trigger the shutter at a wedding, and spend about $40 in film every wedding for about 80 good pictures.
I love profit margin, is all I can say.

I have the film processed and proof scanned within two days (never a problem). I can then either make inkjets or darkroom prints immediately upon request.

But, I can't deny the Mamiya looks impressive. Would I love to own one? Sure! Would I pay for one? Never in my life, even if I had a million dollars just itching to be spent.

i know....photography sucks now.

I have just got out of the field after a 17 year career...just sick of it all..

another uber camera at uber price Yawn.....when will photoshop create another "essential" upgrade marginal upgrade at huge profit for them ....how exciting photography has become.

Clients want you to drop your rates , retouch everything and supply images clipped on a white background ......

 years ago i shot with a hassleblad, now a 6.1 megapixel d70i and never had an unhappy wedding/potrait client. I can shoot 1500 picts without reloading. you don't need all those megapixels unless you shoot commercial

Don't be that fish biting into a shiny lure!  Don't be a sucker.  I'll say it again.  "DON'T BE A SUCKER!"

The better part of $35,000.00 and it still won't produce the dynamic range of film without using HDR multiple image techniques?

Sorry, Mamiya. I believe I'll pass and stick with my Mamiya 6x7 and 6x4.5 kits.

Article is incorrect in saying "a standard 645 (60 x 45mm) medium-format film back", whereas the film frame is actually 56 x 41.5mm (plus or minus a bit for different brands). So this 56 x 36mm sensor is getting really close to the film size, though in a 2:3 proportion.

leaf  shutter  is  nice to  use  with  flash,  but  i"m not  spending 35k for  that.

my Bronica  6x7 did  that  at  a fraction  of  the  price and  the  IQ  was  impeccable.

I'm  not  going  back  to  film, but  if  a  leaf shutter  was  important  to me  I would get  a  Bronica .. they  are  giving them away on  Ebay.

same  for Perspective  control on DSLR  .. you  can  buy a 4x5 with  good  german  glass and  have all the  control  for  what  you  would  spend on a  new PC lens  for  a  DSLR.

DSLR  is great- very  happy  with mine,  but  it  isn't  the  answer  for  everything 

 Does anyone know if I have to throw away my Mamiya 645 pro TL?

Is there a digital back for it bias an adapter, maybe? Will this new back work on it? Maybe in the future?

I really hate having so many lenses for it and not being able of using it in the 21st century.

In today's market with everyone watching their dollars go down the drain and more customers getting their friends and family to take their pictures, what makes these companies think it's a good idea to make such an expensive camera? They must be marketing to those over-rated photographers who only shoot for over-rated magazines and rich customers.

Heck, even some of those over-rated photographers are using 35mm Cannon digital cameras.

Really, how many of us even have a hard time paying that much for a car?

The prices on these digitalbacks are outrageous not that anyone is asking me to purchase one even if I am making that much buck i will not dish out that ridicupous amount for them. I know the trend . The prices will eventually fall. I still have my rb 67 workhorse stuck away till the day I can use a digital back with it that do not cost more than the camera itself. Right now I have a dslr 15 mega and will eventually upgrage to more..........Mamiya ***** to make a universal back that is affordable for all the photographers with these cameras.

The prices on these digitalbacks are outrageous not that anyone is asking me to purchase one even if I am making that much buck i will not dish out that ridicupous amount for them. I know the trend . The prices will eventually fall. I still have my rb 67 workhorse stuck away till the day I can use a digital back with it that do not cost more than the camera itself. Right now I have a dslr 15 mega and will eventually upgrage to more..........Mamiya ***** to make a universal back that is affordable for all the photographers with these cameras.

I seriously can't believe anyone in the real business of photography these days can afford such a beast. Amazing piece of kit, I'm sure. But seriously, who the **** can buy a single piece of gear that costs more than my Altima!!

I hate to sound like such a luddite. Switched to digital at our newspaper waaaay back in 1998 and didn't look back until recently. I'm sick of the endless expensive upgrade paths we're forced to take just to keep up. And now that cheap cameras are 'smarter' than most photographers, just 'good enough' is taking the place of real professional work. We're doomed. Sorry to be such a downer, but looking at gear like this makes my head swim. What's the point?

"outresolves it's film counterpart" my aching behind!  Bullshit.  Even if all you do is shoot good slide film and have someone like North Coast Photo do their Enhanced Scan, you're getting a better image, due to the original having three layers of true color capture.  If you do your own scanning on an Epson V700, you can get images in excess of 80MP.

Get back to me if Mamiya ever sticks a 17MP three layer sensor at a full 56x45mm size in one of these things at a reasonable price.

Until then, Bayer sensor interpolation is removing all the appeal the insanely high cost had left behind, which isn't much, I'll admit.