“Hi Soni I want to take some food shots with the Cambo ACTUS, can you help?” Soni is the studio manager at 51 Degrees North Studio in Ilkley, West Yorkshire in the UK and we have known each other a long time since the early days of digital scanning backs and getting to grips creating high quality digital workflows. I needed some food style images and was confident that Soni would shoot some for me.
Over the years Soni and her partner Martyn have both produced high quality food shots and images for many companies, such as Asda, Walmart, Morrisons, Waitrose and more recently Iceland Frozen Foods. They are ideal to try out the new ACTUS and give us their honest opinion.
“Okay I’ve been working on a food style project and I can set something up and see what we can do with the ACTUS and it’ll be cool to try out the Sony A7R” It was a positive response, so I arrived at the studio with the Cambo ACTUS; mini view camera, Sony A7R; mirror less digital camera and a couple of Schneider APO digital lenses; 80mm and 120mm Macro.
“We now have a daylight studio and I’d like to see what we can produce using natural light” Soni said. Hmm… I wasn’t all that impressed with the weather outside, it was blustery, raining and the light level wasn’t even on the Westonmaster scale. We were on the Moors in West Yorkshire in December! But it was an opportunity to try out the camera setup without using controlled light. The iPhone coped well taking the shot below as we were in very low light for the shoot.
I unboxed the ACTUS, attached the A7R and lens… “Wow is that it?” said Martyn. After using 8×10 and 4×5 throughout his career he was smiling a lot, as he had already experienced the downsizing of cameras to medium format and digital scanning backs to the portable single shot digital backs from Phase One & Leaf. “But how on earth do you focus it?”.
The A7R has a really good quality camera screen, its bright, sharp and has a zoom function to get close up and move to the area of interest. So focussing wasn’t that much of problem, more that we may lose the light in the daylight studio.
Studio Set Shot
It was around 2pm when we shot this image. Using the ACTUS with a Schneider 80mm APO Digitar lens at f11 and 4 second exposure. “The colour looks fantastic” said Martyn, Soni agreed the standard camera profile produced a really nice quality look and feel. It showed some really good shadow detail and when we check the blue channel, normally where noise creeps in, it was incredibly clean.
As you can see the tone range is good and the here is the blue channel where there are some nice deep shadows between the lamp and the logs on the right of the table;
For the next shot Soni wanted to get closer to the Tiger Prawns and use a little movement to get the head and tails sharp. We changed the bellows from 150mm to 250mm so there was less pulling when extending the rail and using movement. The 150mm bellows would work but the 250mm was more comfortable as it gave us extra flexibility.
For this close-up we used the Schneider 120mm Macro lens, 8 second exposure, f22, with a small amount of tilt.
As you can see the image is nice and sharp. “Wow, that lens is really good, it shows up all the scratches on the shell” said Soni. She also agreed that the colour was also an accurate representation of the product and the image really only needed to be resized for the print output.
It was getting late and the light level was extremely low. We used the same Schneider 120 Macro lens, 10 seconds exposure, tilt to control the focus of the fish head and tail. Its a sharp, clean image.
So what’s the verdict?
“The image quality from the A7R is outstanding, the colour was right first time and the tether option to Capture One is a real bonus for us” said Martyn.
“After using medium format digital for so long its great to add some movement to give a different perspective and control the focus” said Soni, “the controls of the ACTUS is precise and its a beautifully made compact technical camera. I’m sure with all the camera and lens mount options available there will be a lot of photographers looking to buy this system”
Many thanks to Soni and Martyn not only for the loan of their studio but also their time and effort in producing some images for us. Plus the very welcoming cups of Yorkshire tea! Check out their site 51 Degrees North Studios to view their work.
You can find more information about the Sony A7R click here: Sony Website Link
For more information about purchasing the Cambo ACTUS please contact Cambo UK email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0)7863 116150
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