Highlight Tech: Phase One Digital Backs on the MamiyaRZ67
Highlight Tech is a series where we show off the best-kept secrets of ARC’s photo & video arsenal.
Earlier, we described how the V Mount Phase One digital backs can be used on the V System Hasselblad bodies. Today, we’ll talk about another solution to shoot digital with a different medium format film body. MamiyaRZ67 lovers will be glad to know that there is an adapter made by Phase One to use the V Mount digital backs with the RZ bodies. Adorama Rentals offers the PROII body and Mamiya-Sekor lenses that, with the adaptor, will work with our V Mount P45+ and P65+ digital backs.
The adaptor attaches to the body in the same way as a film back. The digital back then directly mounts to the adapter. On the adapter is a fixed cable which connects to the body at the L bracket port under the lens. Another cable connects the lens to either the adapter or the digital back that we provide. All these are needed so that the electronic back can record the image when the shutter is fired. After setting the shooting mode to M (multi) you are good to go! All the mechanical functions on the body will work like normal except the ability to rotate the back, since rotating it would sever the communication between the electronic pins.
It’s best to use this setup on a tripod, or in the hands of a very patient photographer. The camera can get heavy to hold for a long period of time and is not designed for rapid shooting. If you are only using a CF card, it is important to be aware of how long it takes to process. Not allowing for the couple of seconds it takes for proper processing could lead to corruption or communication errors. Tether to a computer to speed things up. While this will be faster, it’s a good idea to keep tabs on the computer during shooting to make sure the files are downloading properly.
Also be aware of the crop factor. Using a 6×4.5 format back on a 6×7 body plus lens factor will definitely effect the composition. Masks to preview the crop are included in all Phase kits, though they are not put in the viewfinders by default. But we will gladly insert them for you if requested.
Though it seems there are many scary steps to making sure this system works properly, with a little time and patience you can take full advantage of this exciting setup. This option continues to give photographers the ability to take advantage of shooting digital with classic medium format film bodies. For those raised in the digital age, it is an avenue to experiment with camera systems that were before not as convenient to use. With the MamiyaRZ body and the Phase digital back, you can get that feeling of really being able to slow down and compose the shot. Peering into the RZ viewfinder and adjusting the bellows brings you one step closer to going under the dark cloth.
Jacquelyn Allen is a Digital Technician at Adorama Rentals. You can find her product and still-life photography on her website.