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