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Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Alpa 12 TC

Incidentally, this is the camera used to make the picture in the posting "Digital Zowie, a la Leaf." It's an Alpa 12 TC, basically an extremely expensive aluminum frame (where is Keith Canham and his aluminum lathe when you need him?). You put a finder on top, a lens on the front, and a back on the back, and voilá, you've got yourself a camera.

Here (left) you can see approximately what it looks like with a Leaf digital back on it. (And a handgrip.) A very odd bird, but not unappealing for all that. Despite representing as much scratch as a good new BMW, it has scale focusing, and you've got to cock the shutter manually. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Still, as you can see from the fellow holding one at the right, it's possible that it's the neatest and niftiest little walk-around package in the uber-digital Universe at the moment. Unlike a lot of medium-format bodies that they're using medium-format digital backs on these days, at least the Alpa has the required precision. Frankly, I like that it has scale focusing and manual shutter cock. But then, that's me.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON

11 Comments:

Blogger Sid said...

How much would the complete concoction cost - with the hand grip etc., ?

11:30 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

With a film back it's not so bad--$1900 for the back, $1400 for the camera, $2500 for the lens, give or take. But a digital back is $15-25k. Kinda renders the cost of the handgrip insignificant....

--Mike

P.S. There's a price list at the website.

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Igor I. said...

I note that there are a couple of screws apparently made of gold. That would explain the price.

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Frank P said...

Gisele Bundchen or an Alpa 12 TC outfit? Tough call...

A ComboWide or Silvestri does the same thing for a few grand less but the Alpa is still the king of the milled aluminum frames.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Scott Kirkpatrick said...

Luminous Landscape got excited about a Horseman with an ultrawide ultra high resolution lens and Phase One back a while back. It looked rather like this rig, although there was some very elegant wood in the frame. Also used an external viewer.

How did the Hasselblad SuperWide work? Was that also just operated with a viewer, not a reflex any more? Perhaps the Speed Graphic will make a comeback, in digital...

You might be interested to know that the Gigapixel camera project (metal aerial camera body, big sheet of film held with vacuum, super lens, and then the image is scanned at high linear resolution) which you can find with Google, uses scale focussing. It's more accurate than ground glass.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Janne said...

Just to be heretic - I mean, I'm as big a gearhead as they come, in other fields - say that someone whipped up a similar unit, in wood or metal (doing a frame like that in aluminium isn't really difficult), what would you be missing?

Or to rephrase, what is it about it that makes it worth north of 100k yen when I regularily see what seems to be a lot more complex metal designs made to order for less?

Or for a third perspective, what about it makes you, as an accomplished photographer, ready to plunk down that sizeable chunk of money for it, rather than a lot less money for a different unit?

11:19 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Janne,
Well, I'll certainly never plunk down the money for it. But I suppose the "value" in it is not in the milled frame itself, but in the fact that Alpa has made all the other modular parts to fit it, and supplies everything to order. Which I guess is the reason a 7-cent piece of plastic can be sold for $7 if it's just the thing needed to replace a widget of some sort. Is that fair?

--Mike

11:35 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

The setup is far past the point of extravagant for me, but it makes for some good camera porn! I just wish there was a full frontal shot! :-)

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Janne said...

Ok, I realize there's more to it than just the frame. The way you described it, though, made me think a lot about the famed "soup stone", you know, just boil the stone together with some stock, vegetables and meat and it will give you a delicious soup every time. ^_^

8:10 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Janne,
Yes indeed. :-)

--Mike

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

large prints with 24mm lens and 22 mp-back did not look sharp to me. maybe 45mp would do better.

2:22 AM  

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